The real reason angry marches, shame filled social media posts, and relentlessly beating someone with “research” doesn’t work.

The real reason angry marches, shame filled social media posts, and relentlessly beating someone with “research” doesn’t work.

“From the first moment a man meets another person he is looking for a strategic position he can assume and hold over him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

He goes on to say that this alone is enough to destroy any hope of real fellowship.

So what is the answer?  Bonhoeffer says that we must look at others as they truly are – people deeply loved by God.  So loved that in their (our) rebellious sinful state God sent His Son to suffer and die that they (we) might have a way to be rightly reunited with God again. 

If your interactions with people continually lead them to feel belittled and attacked there is a good chance you don’t see them through the right lens. 

If someone you deeply love is in danger you most likely wouldn’t chase them down with a closed fist ready to strike.  You chase them down with open arms.  Equally, if someone you love is about to jump off a bridge you don’t stand aside and wait to clean up the mess, you desperately and lovingly work to win them over.  To talk them down.  Yes, we should stand for truth, but we should do it the way God modeled.  In this age he sent Jesus not an army of angels to level Rome.  Love your neighbor, speak for those that have little voice, give to the poor, offer a helping hand to the elderly person who lives on your block, and absolutely let them know why!  Because you see them as God sees them.  Loved and desired by God.  I fully support standing for what you believe in, but the package, the means, the way that you deliver the truth may in fact destroy any hope of fellowship.  Please Christian, share endlessly about your satisfaction in Christ and gratitude in what He has done for you! Why? Because…

Real victory is seen in your brother standing beside you, not in you standing over him.

We are absolutely called to be his witnesses.  Spurgeon once said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” Yet, how we go about elevating Christ is very important. 

Do you see people as Christ sees them?  Do you want the same end result for their life as Christ wants?

To my friends that don’t believe in Christ, here is what I say.  I have placed my wholeness in Christ and I am beyond grateful.  My commitment to Christ, though imperfectly lived out, continually grants an ever deepening purpose and meaning that fills me with such wonder.  I don’t want to win you to my perspective so I can win a debate.  I want to win you over because I want you to taste and see how good it is to bask in the grace of Christ.  I want you with me.

Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Colossians 4:5-6

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

1 Timothy 2:3-4

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Don’t give it away!

dont-give-it-away

Don’t give it away

By Cathy Howie

This weekend a president becomes a former POTUS, and a president-elect takes office. Very few Americans have an ambivalent opinion about the change. Hysteria reigns on both sides.

There is, however, a massive group of people who won’t be affected by this changing-of-the-guard, even if people in it have strong feelings. These are America’s ordinary folks.

None of them runs in the circles that control much of anything in their lives. They can work hard, but nothing changes much, not really. They hold strong opinions, yet have few opportunities for their voices to be heard in ways that make a difference. It’s not that they don’t care—they care deeply—it’s just that the influence they have is less than the microbe on the mite on the flea on the feather… where the green grass grows.

You may be in this group, in fact, statistically, there is an incredibly high chance you are. Whether it’s the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, or the World Economic Forum, you can hope, wait, and plan, but your golden ticket is never going to arrive. Upward mobility is a myth; the Inauguration will come and go; and very little will change in your, and my, life.

Blame destiny, and put your hands up, and throw in the towel. The round is over; nothing to see here.

A good-sized bunch of ordinary folks live this way.

But some don’t.

Some know this is the way it works, but their towels are firmly tied around their waists. They would sooner give away their American dream than their influence and power. A hand reaches through burning ire to welcome a cousin to the table, and both attend to the scalded flesh so it will heal. A word crosses lines landing like a grenade, but ten are returned covering the crater with spring growth– beauty for ashes.

The real secret is that secret societies actually control very little in most of our lives. Attitudes have more power than national elections; kindness outshines all prestige; and charity’s fortune surpasses the greatest net worth.

The former and new president have no power over me. Unless I give it away, unless I abdicate; unless we devolve into a complaining mass of Jell-O that blames and justifies our inaction and unwillingness to initiate and to do what’s right in a thousand little interactions.

Nobody has that kind of power over us. Just ask Corrie ten Boom, Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Nelson Mandela.

Who the president is doesn’t matter.

Don’t give it away.

Do justice.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with our God.

There is no power or law that can come against these, or the greatest, which is…

Love.

Used with permission.  Cathy Howie blogs at www.cathyhowie.wordpress.com.  Check out her work and follow her.

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Does God want you to suffer?

lookatthestars

Does God want you to suffer?

Pardon the lurid title.  I know it sounds like a mean thing to say.

Especially since one of the most common arguments I hear against God is pain.  Why would a good God allow pain?

The implication is pain is evil.  I am convinced that not ALL pain produces evil.

You find often in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, this teeter-totter of realizing how painful life is and how satisfying and good God is.  Why is this?  The flow of much poetic scripture goes like this: Life is awful, everything is empty and wasting away.  God is so satisfying, like drinking from a deep, pure mountain stream.

This teeter-totter of awareness is really important.  Not just the awareness, but the rhythms of how the Biblical authors become aware.

Imagine with me…

We live life surrounded by a cloak, a veil, of the temporal.  We place our security in it.  From our health to our money.  We place our joy in it, from influence and reputation to temporary quick pleasures.  Inevitably these things don’t last.  Our bodies fail, the striving for positive influence and reputation turns to regret, things can’t take care of us, and quick pleasures don’t last.  When these temporary veils tear apart and let us down it does two things.  It shows us how frail this life really is and also let’s us see through the transient to the imperishable. If you keep your gaze on what is torn, your health, your reputation, your things, your failed pleasures, your heart will be left in perpetual devastation.  You’re looking at the tear.  The flow of scriptures asks the reader to look THROUGH the tear.  If you discipline yourself to look through it, through the very holes that are torn, you will begin to see what is everlasting.

Some of the most whole people I have met have a shredded temporary life fabric.  Their wholeness doesn’t come from what is passing away, it comes from setting their hearts on what isn’t.  For them temporary pain is the window through which they embrace what is everlasting. This type of pain became the very vehicle that brought them face to face with “… an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven…” for them (1 Peter 1:4).

Oh, the depth of joy that comes when people see this!  This is how the martyrs of the past in prison awaiting execution had more joy than the “free” soldiers that stood guard over them.  In the end an untorn veil makes you more frail than a torn one.

Oh that God would allow you to set your heart on what can truly satisfy! Maybe saying God wants you to suffer is more like implying that a good surgeon’s greatest joy is the first incision and not the removal of the cancerous tumor or that the end objective of stitches is the needle piercing the skin.  There is a much deeper healing and much healthier you that comes from shifting your gaze.

The best is yet to come.

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S. Lewis

*blog photo provided by pexels

Why do Leslie and I do this blog? Click Here!

 

A new year’s resolution the ancient Greek theologians would be proud of.

greek-statue

A new year’s resolution the ancient Greek theologians would be proud of.

“Telos.”  This interesting Greek word you probably have heard, however only those with a background in etymology or philosophy know the powerful weight of it.  A quick google search will give you a definition along the lines of “goal” or “end objective.”  While this is correct, like so much information online it is deeply void of its true historical and contextual meaning. 

There isn’t a good synonym in the English language.  “Telos” refers to the full purpose of something.  For example, an acorn’s telos is not only to grow into an oak tree, but a healthy oak tree that reproduces many more oak trees.  It doesn’t stop here.  Its full telos isn’t achieved until it is seen to continually adapt to its environment and thrive by playing a key role in the ecosystem, when the single tree plays a healthy role within its species by making oxygen, providing a safe place to live for animals, nourishment for other living things to eat, and ultimately dies providing healthy compost for the next generation to achieve it’s telos.  Telos is looking at a grand majestic purpose from the perspective of one seed. Many believe that one of the deepest hungers in the human heart is to understand one’s telos.  What is my purpose and do I matter?  Not does “it” matter but do “I” matter?

Many people who want to debate Christianity or even religion in general miss a very important part of it.  They love to go back and forth on the historical piece.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great place to have debates and fun to do so!  However, it is only a very small piece of the pie.  Christ answers humanity’s telos and does so in a way that also addresses the complex sentient part of us. 

This week I led a funeral for a strong Christian family. In the last days of their loved one’s life it wasn’t historical arguments, apologetics, or even empirical evidence but Christ’s telos that gave deep strength to the family.  Ignoring this part of faith is like picking up a novel and discrediting it because of a misspelled word. Even if your right about the misspelled word you’re missing the point, what the powerful story is doing.  It’s interesting to me how some people can be right in what they observe and yet nearly blind to the actual point. The Bible is a collection of many different literary forms and styles written over thousands of years.  Some are detailed firsthand accounts, others are parables, synecdoche, metonomy, anthropomorphism and so on. However, they all work to explain one powerful telos – Christ.

This year I encourage you to look into the Bible beyond quick Google searches.  I want to challenge you to seek its telos.  Make time for the metaphysical.  It’s powerful and when people see it everything in their life changes.

 

Talk about THIS over the holidays with your families.

Family All Together At Christmas Dinner

What if I told you the way you talk could physically change your brain chemistry? You would probably think I was lying. We are who we are right? Well, that’s not exactly true.

Yes, there are dispositions that different personalities lean toward but your attitude, and dare I say personality, is more pliable than you think. We already know that our memories are greatly influenced by our emotions (click here for more) and now there is strong emerging evidence that the mind can be shaped through a thinking exercise.

Here is where it starts to sound too good to be true. The research states that a specific type of thinking (and talking) can reduce physical aches and pains, depression, anxiety, improve sleep, and can even improve your workout!

So, what is it? Gratitude. Yep, being grateful. Here is the cool thing. Gratitude isn’t just an emotional response to situations you like.

Don’t think of gratitude as a feeling, but a way of choosing to view the world.

Gratitude can precede an emotional response. You can choose to think gratefully and the body, over time, will begin to FEEL grateful.

There are many resources showing this thinking exercise to be incredibly powerful but Dr. Korb, a research neuroscientist at UCLA, says it clearest:

“The wide variety of effects that gratitude can have may seem surprising, but a direct look at the brain activity during gratitude yields some insight. NIH researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude. They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.”

What’s even more amazing is when modern science supports something a two-thousand-year-old text has been saying. Paul in the book of Romans chapter 12 teaches that thinking in the way of Jesus Christ, the way of hope and love, can “renew” your mind. Now we know objectively and scientifically that this is true!

So, this Holiday season when you are sitting around the table with friends and family take a moment to think and talk with gratitude. Try this question, “What are you most grateful for and why are you grateful for it?” The greatest gift you give your family may end up being a way of thinking.

To take this even further let this be your New Year’s resolution.  Every morning take about one minute and write out two or three things you are grateful for in a notebook. I encourage you to start the journey and see what happens to you as the months go by.  Just maybe, under all that fear, anxiety, and negativity that’s literally killing you is a new person.

Want more? Check out Dr. Korbs article.

Dr. Korb https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain

God wants to heal you from your view of healing.

heal

Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes as she stopped mid-sentence to compose herself. “It’s over. It’s not fair. I just wish God would heal this relationship.”  Her jaw clenched a bit as her facial expression shifted from sad to frustrated.

She continued, “Does God want me to hurt?!  Why won’t he heal this?!”

Interesting question. This poor young adult wandered into the wrong pastor’s office if she was only looking for someone to support her feelings without critical Biblical analysis. So I responded with, “I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘heal.’”

When MOST people ask me to pray that God would heal them, they really are asking for one of two things:

  1.  That God would give them back the life they had prior to their hardship.
  2.  That God would “heal” them into something that they admire, but what they admire may not be for their ultimate spiritual good.
  • Students want to be “healed” into the kind of person who could be popular at school.
  • People want God to reestablish a broken relationship with someone that they shouldn’t really be in relationship with at all.
  • An absent workaholic parent who lost their job desperately wants me to pray that God would return them to their job or one similar to it.
  • When cancer drives a non-spiritual person into deep spiritual searching,  blind to the real sickness that has already plagued them they want me to pray that God would take away the very thing that may actually be leading to a truer healing.

Most people want God to “heal” them back into their previous life or “heal” them into someone that isn’t really healthy at all from God’s perspective.  Let me be clear – this isn’t healing.

God doesn’t heal backwards or heal you into someone that is further from Him.  God wants to heal you into something new.  God wants to make you into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).  C.S. Lewis says it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  God wants to call you out, to wake you up to what truly matters most! When you get to heaven you may discover your sickness was actually leading to a much deeper healing.

Let me redefine the word healthy as clearly as I can.  A healthy person is someone who is right with Christ.

Anything that makes that relationship stronger is better for you even if it hurts a bit in this brief life.  Maybe that severed relationship, sickness, or job loss could ultimately lead to deeper healing.  I believe God does still heal the temporal things.  However, I don’t believe God wants to heal you into a person that is more spiritually sick.  Health, wealth, and prosperity are not the end goal in life.  The end goal is to be reunited with God through Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t matter if you have more money than the late Steve Jobs, bathe in hand sanitizer, workout every day, and take multivitamins.  You will eventually die and lose all this temporal stuff.  Don’t waste your life praying that God would give you back what may have been adding to your spiritual blindness.

Oh, but the news I deliver is so good!

I believe you are made for more – more than having money, more than looking good in the mirror, and more than quick sensual pleasures.  I believe you were made on purpose and that God is working you out and waking you up to an amazing eternity that will vastly overwhelm the greatest of temporary pleasures we find on this planet!  C.S. Lewis is correct. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.”  The Bible takes it even further in Rev. 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Remember your temporal hardship won’t last, but your heart will.

Here is what I pray for you and I believe what you should pray for others:  I pray that God would do whatever it takes to draw your heart closer to Him.  I pray God would make you truly, eternally healthy.  I pray God would make you ready for heaven where there is perfect peace and perfect joy.

 

 

How does the enemy groom a heart to walk away from Christ and despise those who follow Him?

woman-walking-away-1464338209st2

How does the enemy groom hearts to despise Christ and those who follow him and ultimately be proud of their rejection? (A modern version of Bunyan’s work.)

  1. He turns their thoughts away from the things to come and the promise that all will be made right in the end.  He draws primary attention to the pleasures and pains of what is happening right now.
  1. He convinces people the spiritual disciplines, like prayer and Bible reading, are boring or a waste of time. They may say things like, “It doesn’t make any difference anyhow” or “I’m just too busy.”
  1. They grow annoyed with lively Christians. They may say things like, “Who has time for people blind to what’s going on in the ‘real’ world?  Those people are silly!”
  1. They cease to participate in public faith expressions like worship services. They will continue to groan about how annoying those people are in a pious superior way.   Almost like they are too “good” to be around those who just don’t get it.
  1. They look for fault in Christians and use it as the reason for turning away. Their focus turns even more from the Creator to fallen creation.  They trade away grace towards imperfect Christians for judgement against their deficiencies or failings.  They may say things like, “I know how (he or she) really is.  I would rather they be genuine and open than live a fake Christian life! I would never do that.”
  1. They openly grow in the company of the immoral, sensual, and negative and feel “right” with them. They now praise their willingness to acknowledge sin. They call this “good” by twisting words like “genuine” or “authentic” to really mean acceptance.  You will hear them say things like, “I love being with people who are real!  Christians are so fake, they’re hypocrites!  I wish they would be authentic about who they really are.”
  1. They secretly indulge in immorality themselves and grow ever more entertained by those that do likewise openly. At this point they still feel some guilt in their hearts when they act in sin, only now they are bitter towards Christ, his teaching, and those that follow it because they blame Christian boundaries for the reason they feel bad.  Spiritual conviction becomes the “evil” they want to fight against.  They are blind to the real origin of their pain, a bitter rebellious heart, that will actually grow more unsatisfied if it indulges in what it wants.
  1. They play with little sins openly. They now work to actively defend not just the sinner, but the sin itself. You may hear them say, “Even if there was a god he clearly put this in us.  It’s natural.  To deny it would be wrong!”
  1. They show themselves as they really are, hardened towards the ways of Christ and proud of it. At best people at this level like things about Jesus, but only if it lines up with their subjective version of what is good.  They pick and choose texts to follow.  The central driver of their life they believe is their heart. However, they are blind to what has been grooming them all along.  At this point they see themselves as beyond the Bible, openly proud to flaunt their ways of living as superior or more refined than the antiquated ways of Jesus.

Bunyan believes that only a divine act of God can spare a heart entrenched in this much self-assurance and pride.  “Now, being bogged down… they perish forever in their own deceiving unless a miracle of grace prevents it.” –Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress

There are active agencies working on your heart.  Read that last sentence again.  We even become agents of these greater powers to influence others.  The enemy is conditioning you to become pious, self-pleasing, and hyper focused on just this moment and will lower you into trusting the most dangerous of guides, an unguided heart running aimlessly towards whatever draws its attention next.

Christ is working to prune you, to help you see it is only through His work and our humble acceptance of it that we can become the eternal creatures we were designed to be.

Take a moment and evaluate your heart.  Where are you at?

*I adapted these from The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan to fit a modern audience.

My wife’s feet…

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Last Friday was beautiful. The temperature hovered in the mid-70s and huge puffy white clouds painted a soft blue sky. My wife and I were each enjoying a cup of coffee on the back porch as we shared about our week, the kids and what we were learning in our personal Bible study. I looked down and noticed my wife’s feet. They were calloused with chipped red toenail paint.  After noticing the obvious wear and tear I started thinking about all that those feet have done. Long before kids and marriage those young feet would prop up on the passenger side dash of my old pickup truck as we drove down the roads of the little town we grew up in. She would beg me to pull into Sonic and I couldn’t resist where those perfectly painted cute little feet wanted to go. A few years later I remember those feet carrying a gorgeous blond in a white wedding dress. It’s amazing, the church was full of people and I can only remember her. Over the years those feet followed me all over the country as a youth pastor. They warmed themselves many times on my leg during cold winter nights. They have climbed the Rocky Mountains while mentoring students and helped build churches and schools in impoverished countries. Then came babies. I’ve seen those little feet so swollen my wife could have worn clown shoes. I have watched those feet quietly sneak out of a sleeping baby’s room many times with multiple kids. Those feet have also carried a broken hearted woman into my arms a time or two. I clearly remember how painful it was when we lost one of our babies or when her grandmother died. Though the feet are a bit more worn these days and I long ago traded my truck for a van, they still sometimes pop up on my dash and even find my legs in bed when they are cold.

Those feet, calloused with chipped paint.

I love them more today. Not because they are perfectly painted and young. I love them because of the journey they have taken.

Here’s to the future with more memories, adventures, and yes… a few more callouses. I am beginning to see – real beauty isn’t something found, it’s something built. I am learning that some of the most beautiful things come in worn packages.

I also interviewed my wife a few weeks ago as we talked about our marriage. She is so awesome! It’s worth checking out.
MikeLeslieVideo

Don’t go to another counselor until you read this.

Don’t go to another counselor until you read this.brain

Years ago I was approached by a young lady looking for advice.  She was clearly frustrated, her eyes filling with tears, as she began her story.  She grew up in a large family with a father who was fairly distant and cold.  She had years of pent up frustration at the distance and lack of understanding in their relationship.  However, this time he had crossed the line…

At this point, in most conversations about a painful situation, people tend to protect someone and downplay something serious or they tend to exaggerate an event.

Early on I did something I have since regretted and learned to STOP doing.  Hold on, you’re not going to like this…I had to STOP fully believing their stories.

You read that correctly.  I have wrongly reprimanded people that didn’t really deserve it and have neglected to engage when I later realized I should have all because I believed people without looking for the truth.  Listen to Dr. Julia Shaw, a memory expert and researcher at London South Bank University: “Much like our ability to switch the name John with Jack without realizing, we can quite easily change details of more important events in our memories without noticing. We can come to remember seeing and doing things that never happened, and the sneaky part is that in our minds these errors look and feel just like our other memories. These kinds of memory errors are called ‘false memories,’ and they are the subject of considerable study around the world.”

This gets even scarier!

Listen to what happened during one of the research projects:  “I recently conducted a study that elucidates this, published in the academic journal Psychological Science. Through a series of three interviews, my participants came to believe they experienced a highly emotional event that never happened.” 

She goes on in her research to share that this is accidentally done all the time in highly emotional questioning situations like police interviews or counseling sessions.  Yep, you heard that right.  Bad counselors can actually make your events MORE traumatic.  Every time you recreate the event, the mind can literally paint a more superfluous image.  Your ex grows ever more into a monster.  Your childhood becomes just as bad as living in a concentration camp.  You mix real events with emotions and retell the story over and over again with no objective guidance and end up with a new “real” memory based on something that isn’t actually true.  This sounds terrifying.  At this point I should interject.  DON’T go to bad counselors that may “seed” your memories. They can make a bad situation much worse in your mind and in your heart.

So, how can you tell if a counselor is bad?

Pay attention to how counselors probe your memories.  Closed questions are less than ideal.  “What was the color of his shirt?” Leading questions are dangerous.  They write memories as the brain tries to fill in the gaps. “He was angry, wasn’t he?  His fist was closed, wasn’t it?” Dr. Shaw’s research led me to two conclusions:  1) The best way to probe a memory is to just listen. Don’t over ask or “seed” their memories. 2) If possible corroboration is absolutely much better. Find out who else was there or if the event was recorded.  It’s best to compare stories like a good police officer asking each witness separately and drawing core conclusions off of the similarities.  Look for real evidence.

Back to the story.

As she shared what happened her emotional response didn’t seem to align with the reported misbehavior of her dad.  Yes, her dad is kind of a jerk.  Abusive? Her unseeded stories never revealed physical abuse, not even a spanking. She didn’t even recall a time he raised his voice.

Oh, I could have seeded that memory!  I could have added things like, “He was really angry with you, wasn’t he?”  That would have been absolutely wrong on my part, but bad counselors do it all the time.

I stopped the conversation. I didn’t want to proceed and make things worse.  I needed another perspective.  So here is what I asked.

“Do you trust your siblings?”

She responded. “Yes, absolutely!”

“Can I ask them about this?”

She said, “Yes.”

All of us gathered in a room as I asked her to recall the situations again.  At least one of them, if not more, were present as she remembered her dad’s “cruel” and “harsh” rules.  As the family conversation progressed it didn’t take long for a sister to speak up and say, “That’s not exactly how it happened.”  That sister then told the story with less creativity.  Yes, dad said you had to be back by 11:30, but there was no door slamming, no shaking of the fist, and no yelling. I noticed when the other witnesses, who she knew and loved, spoke into her life, they didn’t feed a false memory, they helped her build a memory closer to reality. Then we used the example and teachings of Christ to build a right response.  I didn’t ask her to do what SHE felt like doing.  I asked her what she thought JESUS would have her do in that situation.

In the Bible the heart is to be formed not by looking within, but by finding anchors outside of ourselves.  Jeremiah states that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9).  Our hearts (and minds) are prone to lie, especially to ourselves. Even the Apostle Paul says that a renewal of our mind, by committing to the ways of Christ, gives us the capacity to test what will really honor God (Rom. 12:2).  John says that by following the work and way of Christ we are literally set free from the deception within and without (John 8).  Like being lost at sea, one can get caught in deep cyclical bondage as their mind constantly replays and rewrites their story, led by an imperfect creative mind.  They even pay people lots of money to listen to them replay events over and over again.  The Bible says there is a guide who can successfully pull you out of yourself.  You will have to do what is objectively right over how you may feel, but he knows the way.  Restitution of relationships, the way to racial equality, dealing with past hurts or current issues of the heart can all be safely and wisely discerned. The guide knows you and knows the way you’re to take.  Choose to trust him.  John 1:14 says that the Word, literally Truth, came and made his dwelling among us to show us the way.  Since our minds are objectively and scientifically proven to be unreliable, who will you follow?  Pop psychologists come and go.  New self-help strategies that fly off the best seller list are quickly forgotten, but that man named Jesus of Nazareth who lived thousands of years ago has given unimaginable hope to billions and still guides today.  Yep, I choose to trust him.  That’s my guide.  Even over my own heart.

*The opening story was purposefully adjusted to protect the family involved.

Resources:

Want more?Abandon the American Peace machine

I take on the western view of inner peace in this quick easy read found by clicking here:  http://a.co/eeltLmR
(It’s 99 cents on Amazon.  I would make it free, but Amazon won’t let me.)

Below are a few places to explore our memories!

Introduction of false memories: (Scary stuff) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfPLTtlo2oY

The Memory Illusion.  Here is an introduction to the book and a link to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72dhjGWB0gg

Scientific America: A great resource with other resources. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-memory-illusion/

Ted Talks: https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory?language=en

 

Why your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal.

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Ever wondered why your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal?

“Pastor Mike, I have heard you say that it is God’s desire for us to save sex until after marriage. I want to be honest with you. I am sleeping with my girlfriend, and I think it’s great. With birth control and protection… sex is much safer today.”

“Pastor Mike, I have heard you say it’s best to limit, or avoid, alcohol completely. The truth is, I have been drunk a few times; it was really fun. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Think seeds.
You plant a seed in the ground, cover it up, stand there and look at a pile of dirt. You shrug your shoulders and say. “Ok, where is the giant oak tree?” People have an affair and after a few days say to themselves. “Ok, that was fun and I don’t see any big problems.” They drink a little too much at a party, or sample drugs, and think, “What’s the big deal? That was fun!” They experiment with a “live-in” relationship and after a few weeks think to themselves, “I like this! My parents just don’t get it.” It seems like nothing bad has really developed… not yet. The big bad consequences, their parents warned them about, are just not visible. Much like the seed planted in the soil, nothing is visible… not yet.

However, something else is happening, beyond what they can see. Something very dangerous. Something very subtle, very sinister. It’s something we may have unintentionally implied, all while trying to protect our kids.

“Trust your heart.” I believe this is one of the enemy’s greatest tactics. It isn’t really about getting people to enjoy sex outside of Biblical boundaries. It isn’t really about losing sobriety or a sound mind to have a little fun. It’s not about the selfish spending of money over living generously.
I believe the enemy’s greatest offensive weapon is convincing you that you can trust your heart. That these fun experiences are your greatest compass for living. Instead of trusting a truly objective, unimaginably wise guide, in God, you look within, and trust your own subjective, unimaginably deceived heart. Ancient wisdom teaches us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Why do your kids think drinking, sex outside of marriage, and many of your other “traditional” boundaries are no big deal?  Because you taught them to trust their heart and that is exactly what they are doing.

Here is the truth we need to tell our kids. Sex outside of marriage may be fun at times. Partying with your friends can feel good. Moreover, honoring God and obeying his ways doesn’t always “feel” good in the moment. I think it’s dangerous to imply that if they wait until marriage their sex life will be amazing or that loss of sobriety, through the use of drugs or alcohol, will always feel bad. That’s clearly not true, and ultimately very dangerous, because we are still centering our kids’
life compass on their own temporal, personal pains and momentary pleasures. Remember a heart, even a “Christian” heart, that is centered on it’s own temporal pleasures will diligently work to bend or rewrite boundaries allowing it to have what it wants.
Here is what our kids need to know. All of us are small, finite, and blind to true joy and true pain. Our own hearts will deceive us, so we need a loving guide. God understands and loves each of us. He gave his son to suffer and die to make right the wrongs we have done. Perfect joy is coming, but no human can get there alone. This comes through one road, one compass… Christ. The center of your life isn’t avoiding painful things or chasing pleasurable things. It is trusting in the heart of a loving, wise Father who plants seeds that will grow oaks of righteousness, that display the Lord’s splendor.(Isaiah 61:3). The right “seeds” or “compass” isn’t found within one’s own heart.  They are found in trusting the rich, time transcendent, word of God and work of Christ.

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