Is there a future for ‘the hopeless generation’?

Greg Laurie on how his boogie board illustrates power of God’s Word

August 23, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 34. And since 2000, the suicide rate has nearly tripled for young teen girls.

America’s youth are dealing with depression. They’re dealing with anxiety. And one thing that seems to permeate their lives is a sense of hopelessness.

With this explosion of cutting-edge tech and a relatively good economy, it seems as though we’d be happy, hopeful people. But instead we have a lot of unhappy, hopeless people. As writer Sheryl Nance-Nash pointed out, “Decades ago, young people had few real worries. The biggest issues were getting a driver’s license, passing the next exam, going to a party on the weekend, or finding someone to take them to the mall. The age of innocence is long gone.”

Experts have actually described this young generation of today as the hopeless generation. We have gone from what is known as the greatest generation, which is the World War II generation, to the hopeless generation.

Someone has said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, but not even minutes without hope. We all need hope in our lives.

On July 24, 2008, Cathe and I heard the news that no parents want to hear. Our son Christopher had left this world and had gone on to the next one in heaven. He was killed in an automobile accident. To say an event like that is devastating is an understatement. It was life altering.

The hope that has sustained me all these years, and continues to sustain me as other hardships come my way, is the hope that I found from my relationship with God.

Grieving and living in grief is a little bit like being out in the surf and wiping out on a wave. I can think of times when I’ve been out there and a big set was coming in. Each wave got bigger than the one before it.

My inclination was to turn around and paddle toward shore as fast as possible. But that’s a bad decision, because then I would get hit in the impact zone. What I needed to do was paddle out toward the waves and try to go under them before they broke.

But I can think of times when I’ve gone over the falls, as they say. It’s like being in a washing machine of white water. You can actually lose direction, and more than one person has gone down when they should have gone up.

In this situation, if you have a boogie board or some kind of a flotation device with you, it’s probably attached to your leg. So here’s what you do: Grab your leash and pull on it. Go in the direction of the leash. It will always take you to the surface.

When we’re dealing with grief and don’t know which way is up, when we’re losing perspective, the Bible is the leash we need. We grab the Word of God and pull on it, and it takes us to Jesus. We get our heads above water and take a big gulp of air before the next set comes in. The Word of God is what helps us in those times of need.

Life is filled with pain and sorrow, which includes the death of loved ones. You don’t realize this so much when you’re young. But as you get older, you start seeing loved ones pass. It usually starts with your grandparents and then your parents. Then it might be a loved one unexpectedly dying, such as a spouse or a child, which affects you in a dramatic way.

Despite the hardships of life, we must remember that God loves us. Shortly after our son went to be with the Lord, Pastor Chuck Smith came to visit me. We sat on the front steps of my home, and Chuck looked at me and said, “Greg, never trade what you know for what you don’t know.”

Never trade what you know for what you don’t know, because when crisis hits, your mind is filled with whys: “Why is this happening to me? Why? Why? Why? It’s not fair. Other people don’t suffer like this. Why?”

That is what I don’t know. But what do I know? I know that God loves me. I know that God is in control of my life. I know that when believers die, they go to heaven. Therefore, I know that the moment my son left this world, he entered the next one, and he’s there in the presence of God. I know that I will see him again.

You can spend all of your time asking the why questions, the what-you-don’t-know stuff. But go to what you do know. Replace what you don’t know with thoughts about what you do know: God loves you.

I have hope for the hopeless generation. I have hope for the millennials. I have hope for the baby boomers. I have hope for the greatest generation. It’s the hope of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ

Maybe you’ve been so despondent in life that you have contemplated suicide. I can tell you that hope has a name, and it’s Jesus. He standing at the door of your life right now, and he is knocking. He is saying that if you’ll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in.

Do you need Jesus today? He has everything you’re looking for. This culture doesn’t have it. This world doesn’t have it. But Jesus has it. He has it for you. And what you need to do is call out to him.

You do not have to be hopeless, no matter what you’re facing at this particular moment. When the worst-case scenario takes place, when you hear the worst news imaginable and wonder if you can survive it, the answer is yes. Yes, you can.

Read about Greg Laurie’s 30th Harvest Crusade event, this weekend in Anaheim, California.

Original here

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The Servant of the LORD, Israel, the Messiah; Old Testament Parables and Miracles

The Servant of the LORD, Israel and the Messiah

Isaiah 42:1 – “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”

Comparison List of Israel and the Messiah
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Similarities Similarities
Israel was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:7 The Messiah Was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 44:24 The Messiah Was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 49:1, 5
Israel was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 42:6 The Messiah Was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 51:6 The Messiah Was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 49:2
Israel was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 44:3 The Messiah Was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 43:4 The Messiah Was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 49:5
Israel was A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 51:4 A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 49:6
Israel Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 51:4-8; Isaiah 42:21; Isaiah 42:24 The Messiah Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 42:4
The LORD Is Glorified in Israel. Isaiah 44:23 The LORD Is Glorified in the Messiah. Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 49:3
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Differences Differences
Israel Despairs. Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 41:8-10; Isaiah 49:14, etc. The Messiah is Not Discouraged. Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 50:7-9 (also see Isaiah 49:4)
Israel is Rebellious and Sinful. Isaiah 48:4; Isaiah 43:27 The Messiah is Obedient And Sinless. Isaiah 50:5; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:12
Israel is Blind and Deaf. Isaiah 42:18-25 The Messiah Hears God’s Words and Obeys. Isaiah 50:4-5
Israel Suffers Gods Wrath Unwillingly. Isaiah 51:21-23, etc. Messiah Willingly Receives God’s Wrath. Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:4-9; (also see Isaiah 50:7-9)
Israel Suffers for Her Own Sins. Isaiah 42:24-25; Isaiah 43:22-28; Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 50:1 The Messiah Bears the Sins of Others Although He Did Not Deserve It. Isaiah 53
Israel Will Be Redeemed. Isaiah 43:1-7, etc. The Messiah’s Mission Is to Redeem. Isaiah 49:5

Isaiah 49:6 – “And he said, It is a small thing that thou should be My Servant… I will also give thee as a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/types-servant.html


Parables in the Old Testament

Habakkuk 2:6 – Won’t all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases that which is not his, and who enriches himself by extortion! How long?’

There were many parables spoken in ancient times and especially in the Bible. The Hebrew word “mashal” referred to a comparison of a familiar earthly thing with a heavenly or spiritual truth that was to be understood.

Parables pointed to the fact that man is made in God’s image, he is of the earth but also of the divine. The power of a parable lies in its ability to use a simple every day experience to help the hearer to understand a truth set forth about God’s kingdom. Parables help man to perceive the difference between man’s kingdom and God’s kingdom. The parable leads the listener to a choice, to choose this day whom to serve.

Jesus confirmed all of the parables mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

Below is a list of several Old Testament parables.

List of Parables in the Old Testament
The Parables The Speakers The Bible Verses
The Poor Man’s Lamb Nathan to King David 2 Samuel 12:1-4
The 2 Fighting Brothers and the Avengers of Blood The Wise Widow from Tekoa 2 Samuel 14:1-11
The Escaped Prisoner A Prophet to King Ahab 1 Kings 20:35-40
The Fruitless Vineyard Isaiah to the house of Israel and the men of Judah Isaiah 5:1-7
The 2 Eagles and the Vine Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 17:3-10
The Lioness and her Cubs Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 19:2-9
The Boiling Cauldron Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 24:3-5

2 Samuel 12:7 – “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says…”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/parables.html


Miracles in the Old Testament

Mark 6:52 – For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

God did many miracles throughout the Bible, and in the Old Testament there were many miracles surrounding the nation of Israel that the entire world heard about. Below is a list of several Old Testament miracles. A Miracle is when God intervenes in a situation or event that cannot be explained in scientific terms or by human reasoning.

Jesus confirmed all of the miracles mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

List of Miracles in the Old Testament
The Miracles The Bible Verses
Egypt
Aaron’s Rod Is Turned into a Serpent Exodus 7:10-12
The 10 Plagues
1. Water Is Turned into Blood Exodus 7:20-25
2. Frogs Exodus 8:5-14
3. Lice Exodus 8:16-18
4. Flies Exodus 8:20-24
5. Murrain (Anthrax) Exodus 9:3-6
6. Boils Exodus 9:8-11
7. Thunder and Hail Exodus 9:22-26
8. Locusts Exodus 10:12-19
9. Darkness Exodus 10:21-23
10. The Firstborn Are Slain Exodus 12:29, 30
The Parting of the Red Sea Exodus 14:6, 21-31
The Wilderness
Healing the Bitter Waters of Marah Exodus 15:23-25
The Manna from Heaven Exodus 16:14-35
Water from the Rock at Rephidim Exodus 17:5-7
The Death of Nadab and Abihu Leviticus 10:1, 2
The Burning of the Congregation at Taberah Numbers 11:1-3
The Deaths of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Numbers 16:31-35
Aaron’s Rod That Budded at Kadesh Numbers 17:8
Water from the Rock at Meribah Numbers 20:7-11
Lifting up The Brazen Serpent Numbers 21:8, 9
The Parting of the Jordan River Joshua 3:14-17
The Land of Canaan – Joshua
The Fall of Jericho Joshua 6:6-25
The Sun and the Moon Standing Still Joshua 10:12-14
The Land of the Philistines
Dagon Fell and Philistines were Cursed 1 Samuel 5:4-6
The Land of Israel –  The Kings
The Death of Uzzah for Touching the Ark 2 Samuel 6:7
The Withering Of Jeroboam’s Hand 1 Kings 13:4
The Destruction of the Altar at Bethel 1 Kings 13:5-6
Uzziah is Smitten with Leprosy 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
The Land of Israel – Elijah
Replenishing the Oil and Meal at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:14-16
Raising the Widow’s Son at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:17-24
The Sacrifice and Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel 1 Kings 18:30-38
The Burning of the Captains and their Host 2 Kings 1:10-12
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:7, 8
The Land of Israel – Elisha
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:14
The Healing of the Waters of Jericho 2 Kings 2:21, 22
The Destruction of the Mocking Children at Bethel 2 Kings 2:24
Water Is Supplied to the Armies in Moab 2 Kings 3:16-20
The  Multiplication of the Widows Oil 2 Kings 4:2-7
The Raising of the Shunammite’s Son 2 Kings 4:32-37
Curing the Deadly Pottage 2 Kings 4:38-41
The Feeding of the 100 with 20 Loaves 2 Kings 4:42-44
Naaman the Syrian General is Cured of Leprosy 2 Kings 5:10-14
Naaman’s  Leprosy Clings to Gehazi 2 Kings 5:20-27
The Iron Axe Did Float 2 Kings 6:5-7
The Syrian Army Was Smitten 2 Kings 6:18-20
The Dead Man Was Raised by Touching Elisha’s Bones 2 Kings 13:21
The Mediterranean Sea – Jonah
Jonah is Released from the Great Fish Jonah 2:1-10
The Land of Israel – Isaiah
Destruction of Sennacherib’s Army 2 Kings 19:35
The Sun Dial Returned 10 Degrees 2 Kings 20:9-11
Babylon During the Captivity of Judah
3 Jews in the Fiery Furnace Daniel 3:19-27
Daniel is Delivered from the Den of Lions Daniel 6:16-23
The Writing on the Wall Daniel 5:22-31

John 6:14 – Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/miracles.html


Infertility Prepared Me to Reach Other Childless Men

This overlooked group is more isolated than you realize.
SHERIDAN VOYSEY

Infertility Prepared Me to Reach Other Childless Men

“Hi, Sheridan. I hope you don’t mind me, a complete stranger, contacting you, but I can’t talk to my family or friends about this.”

“I am a church youth worker, and my wife just showed me your book. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but could we meet? I feel so lost.”

“I can’t think of anyone to turn to. I feel embarrassed and ashamed.”

Brad, Neil, and Simon (as I’ll call the men who reached out to me with these introductions) weren’t contacting me to confess some secret sin or addiction. The burden they carry is childlessness. For Brad and his wife, six years of trying to conceive had produced only heartache. For youth worker Neil, multiple failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) rounds left him questioning his faith. And Simon feels responsible for the agony his wife feels with every period and negative pregnancy test. With infertility rates rising, these men are not alone in their situation. But they are isolated.

recent study from Leeds Beckett University confirms that infertility can negatively impact a man’s mental health, self-esteem, relationships, career, and finances. With masculinity in our culture tied so closely to raising children and infertility often viewed as a “women’s issue,” men in this situation often face the crisis alone—even in their churches.

We can help them.

My Story

For 10 years, my wife, Merryn, and I tried to start a family. Our journey included special diets, healing prayer, rounds of IVF, and a year of assessment as potential adoptive parents followed by an agonizing two-year wait for our hoped-for adoptive child. We pursued our dream with all the energy we had, but it never materialized. Exhausted from a decade in the infertility wilderness, we brought our dream to an end on Christmas Day 2010 after doctors had told us, just days before, that our final IVF round had been successful. They’d been wrong.

I shudder when I recall the isolation of those years. I didn’t want to talk about our infertility—it was a large, dark topic I preferred to ignore rather than face, and I couldn’t think of anyone to open up to who would have any idea what I was experiencing. My feelings grew deep and complex.

Those feelings included guilt. As I watched my wife’s face contort in pain as the needle extracted the eggs for an IVF round, or as I held her as she sobbed when her hopes were dashed yet again, I felt guilt that I was the biological reason she couldn’t have what she desperately wanted. I felt sadness too, especially when I saw fathers playing with their giggling sons or watched proud dads walk their veiled daughters down the aisle. And there was jealousy and confusion. When news reports came of neglected children or another infertile couple announced their “miracle” pregnancy, I wondered why the abusive folks got the kid or why God answered others’ prayers but not mine.

While Merryn and I didn’t get the happy ending we wanted, we have seen our wilderness transformed into something redemptive. Prompted by a friend, I wrote a book about our experience called Resurrection Year, then followed it up with The Making of Us, a book exploring who we can become when life doesn’t go as planned. I started speaking at conferences on redeeming broken dreams. The media—fascinated by a man talking about a “women’s” topic—started calling. As a result, men like Brad, Neil, and Simon started reaching out to me.

Four Things You Can Do

After speaking at a large church one Sunday on this theme, the pastor joined me on stage to close the service. “How many of you have been touched by infertility personally or through a family member?” he asked the congregation. In the anonymity of a large crowd, many hands went up, surprising the pastor at the extent of the need. Most of the hands were women’s.

But after the service, men approached me—in a quiet corner of the building, out in the car park, asking if they could have a word. I wondered what would happen if their isolation were broken, they came together, and the circle of their comradery grew to reach other childless men in their community. What a ministry to an unreached people group that could be!

Men like Brad, Neil, and Simon are sitting in your church. Hundreds more like them are in your community, lacking a space to talk, get support, or find God in their wilderness. Reaching them is a pastoral and missional opportunity. Here’s how you can connect.

1. Reject false assumptions about manhood.

While writing this article, a pastor’s words popped up in my Twitter feed: “Moving from son to husband and father is the essence of manhood. #manup.” I’m sure the pastor was trying to echo Genesis 1:28’s mandate to multiply while calling men to responsibility and self-sacrifice, but I wonder if he considered how his words would affect men like me. Plenty of married fathers shirk responsibility while plenty of single and childless men live self-sacrificial lives. On this definition, wifeless-and-childless Jesus lacked the “essence” of manhood, and Paul even taught against it (1 Cor. 7:32–35). I wonder if the pastor would tell Jesus and Paul to “#manup” too.

Sadly, some approaches to masculinity in the church subtly reinforce the idea that men aren’t truly men until they’ve married and had children. What assumptions about the essence of manhood do you hold? Scripture talks less about masculinity than it does maturity—becoming Christlike—a call applicable to father and non-father alike (Eph. 4:13, Gal. 5:22–23). This is a bigger vision of masculinity than “man-up manhood” and it is the best grounds on which to reach out to men like Brad, Neil, and Simon.

2. Prepare to meet him in the shadows.

“I feel embarrassed and ashamed,” Simon said. This is a common experience for men facing infertility, even when they are not the biological cause of the problem. Don’t expect Simon to publicly respond anytime soon to an altar call for prayer in a Sunday service. If you want to address the topic of childlessness from the pulpit (and please do), invite affected men to email you privately. Research shows they will respond to confidential opportunities like this as well as closed online forums. Simon won’t likely come to a small group for men struggling with infertility—not yet. This begins as one-to-one pastoral ministry. You will likely need to meet him in the shadows before he will come into the light.

3. Help him find answers.

“I have so many questions about why this isn’t happening for us,” Neil told me, “and what we should try next.” For Neil, these questions included the ethics of using donor eggs or donor sperm, whether an adopted child would ever feel like “his own,” plus age-old questions about God and suffering. This is hard terrain to navigate, one I have seen precipitate theological shifts into unorthodox territory when people lack pastoral guidance.

Yet this is a pivotal discipleship opportunity for Neil and men like him. You can help him find answers by making space for his questions, helping him locate resources and advice, linking him with other involuntarily childless men, and journeying alongside him as he, like Job, encounters a bigger revelation of God through his pain.

4. Show him a deeper identity.

“All my friends are fathers and grandfathers,” another man told me. “And me? I’m nothing.” When infertility robs you of being a father, what else can you become? This can be a key question for infertile men.

Our Western tendency to define ourselves by our jobs or parenting status ultimately truncates who we are. This man may not be a father, but he is a husband, son, uncle, citizen, and friend—identities that can be forgotten when focusing hard on becoming a parent. One of infertility’s gifts to me has been discovering a bigger sense of self—resting more deeply in my identity as God’s child, rediscovering the importance of being a friend, realizing my character is a more important facet of my identity than my career path, and more. In time you will have opportunities to help these men discover that it’s often when we lose an identity that we can discover who we most deeply are.

Sheridan Voysey is a writer, speaker, and broadcaster, regularly contributing to the BBC and other international networks. His latest book is The Making of Us: Who We Can Become When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned (Thomas Nelson, 2019).

https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2019/july-web-exclusives/infertility-childless-men-ministry.html

Killing the Sin in Your Life

June 23, 2019 by John MacArthur

Colossians 3 is the text that we want to look at. I want us to look at this chapter because I’m concerned about this matter of sanctification. “This is the will of God,” 1 Thessalonians says – “even your sanctification. This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” That is God’s will for us between our justification and our glorification. From the time of your salvation to the time of your entrance into heaven, God’s will for you is that you be sanctified.

As I said last time, I’m afraid this is a doctrine that though it defines our entire Christian life on earth has been treated with indifference by this current generation of Christians and even preachers. But it is of grave concern to the Lord that we be sanctified; that means to be separated – separated from sin unto God, from sin unto holiness. We are to be increasingly like Christ. We are, as we learned last time, to live lives that essentially are heavenly lives rather than earthly lives, in that they manifest all the virtues that belong to the Lord and the saints in glory. So let me read the opening nine verses of Colossians 3 as a setting for what we’re going to see today.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”

Now we saw last time that we are called to live the risen life, that we are to reach the world by leaving the world. We are to live lives of “seeking” – verse 1 – “the things above.” Verse 2, “Setting our minds on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Now remember that Paul has in this letter in the first two chapters demonstrated powerfully the supremacy and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has laid out the realities of His person. The glory of His person is God in human flesh. He has laid out the realities of His atoning work. He has demonstrated that those who are believers in Him are complete in Him. We have in Him all that we need to feel adequate. We don’t need human philosophy. We don’t need religious ritual. We don’t need legalism, We don’t need visions and communications with angels or any other kind of self-denial practices. We have all died in Christ and have risen in Christ, and we live in newness of life. That is who we are. We are new creations, alive in Christ, alive from the dead.

But as we come to this third chapter it begins with the word “therefore,” and then down in verse 5 has another “therefore.” This is consistent with how Paul structures his letters. There will inevitably be a section of doctrine at the beginning of the letter in which he lays out truth about us, truth about what it means to belong to God in Christ. And then at some point you will see the word “therefore,” and the transition takes place from theology to behavior, from doctrine to conduct.

And that’s what we find in chapter 3. Because of who Christ is and what He’s done, because of the fact that we are in Christ and complete in Him, and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and we are complete in Him, because of these realities of our life and death in Christ, because we have everything we need, therefore we need to live consistently with that identity. This is who we are, and it sets the standard for how we are to live. No matter how deep Paul goes in theology, no matter how high are his thoughts, now matter how sweeping his sort of holy reasoning and logic as he unfolds great doctrine, he always comes down off of the mountain of these mysteries of God being explained down into the valley where we live.

In light of all these glorious truths there’s a certain way we are to live. To sum it up, look down at verse 17 in chapter 3: “Whatever you do in word or deed, so all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Everything you do, everything you do in word, everything you do in deed should be consistent with your identity in Christ, and should be an offering of thanks given to God the Father. That’s how you are to live your lives, that’s the sum of it all. Whatever you do, word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as an expression also of gratitude to God the Father for what He has done.

Now this means, on the positive side, that you need to live a heavenly life; and that’s what we saw in the opening four verses. Seek the things above. Set your mind on the things above, the things that are heavenly, the virtues that belong to the perfect, the perfect God and the perfected believers and the holy angels. Live above the world, leave the world to reach the world; that was the message last time.

Now reality would tell us that’s fine, we need to do that, we endeavor to do that. We want to live in the heavenlies. We want to live, as it were, in Christ-consciousness. We have died with Him; we have risen with Him; we have been seated on the throne with Him. He is in us and we are in Him, and we want to live in a heavenly expression of these realities, and we’re empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit. But with all that lofty thinking about living the risen life and living in a heavenly way, Paul comes down fast to earthly reality with another “therefore” in verse 5.

If you’re going to live the risen life, if you’re going to leave the world to reach the world, you’re going to have to deal with what remains on earth of your sinfulness; and that requires some very dramatic and consistent practical action, and of a strong nature. Look at verse 5: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead, as dead.” Some translations say, “Kill the members of your earthly body.” This is not talking about some monastic self-castration or flagellation, or inflicting some unnatural wounds or inflictions on your physical body like the ascetics once did; this is not about that.

It’s like what Jesus said in Matthew 5 when He said, in verses 29 and 30, that, “If your right hand offends you, cut if off. If your eye offends you, pluck it out.” He’s not saying that literally, He’s not saying literally do that. What He is saying is deal drastically with anything that causes your hand to act in a sinful way or your eye to see in a sinful way. Deal dramatically with the faculties of your physical body that have a propensity toward sin. And that’s what He’s saying here. When he’s talking about killing, he’s talking about killing in the spiritual sense. It’s Romans 8:13, “If you kill the deeds of the sinful nature, you will really live.”

If you’re going to live this Christian life to the max you’ve got to be killing the deeds of the sinful nature. If you’re going to live the risen life, that’s the positive side, you’re going to have to be killing that which threatens that, that which pulls you down into sin. We are new creatures on the inside, as Paul said in Romans 7, but we still have remaining flesh on the outside. And the members of our body, the faculties of our body can be instruments of righteousness, or they can be instruments of iniquity. But if we are new creatures, we want to be sure that they are instruments of righteousness. And so, we have to be killing the remaining aspects of our flesh; that’s part of living the Christian life.

Your members of your earthly body are the vehicles through which sin expresses itself. And by members, he doesn’t just mean the physical body; he means all your human capacities are still tainted with sin until you are glorified. Paul says, “I’m still a wretched man. I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I ought to do,” Romans 7. “With my mind I affirm the law of God as holy, just, and good, and I want to do that; but I find another principle in me, warring against the law of my mind, and I feel like I have a body of death attached to me,” and that’s a true expression.

So Paul says, “Look, not only on the positive side do you want to reach up for all the virtues that basically define holy living in heaven, but you want to remember that you have to deal with the fallenness which still remains in your own life, fallenness that will show up through the instrumentation of your human body – your mind, your speech, and your actual conduct.” Those are essentially the instruments in which your fallen flesh will express itself sinfully, unless you are killing it. It was John Owen who wrote so much on mortifying the flesh, mortifying sin, killing sin. That is the very heart of the Christian life of victory. So we have conflict. We are reaching for heaven and all its virtues, and at the same time killing what remains of this earth and the members, which become instruments of sin.

Now Paul wants to help us with this, and this is critical. There is a movement today that has an indifference toward sin. You can call it antinomianism, which means it’s sort of an anti-law idea that we have been called into grace, and God doesn’t care about our sins: “God loves us. Jesus loves us, He doesn’t care about where we sin or not.” I think it was The Bachelorette who said that this week, profound theologian, that, “It doesn’t matter what I do, Jesus loves me anyway.” That is a very, very popular idea of Christianity in our world today.

But Paul shows us that the Holy Spirit and therefore God Himself has a very different perspective. We are not to ignore sin, we are to be killing sin. We are to be considering the members of your earthly body as dead.

And then to be specific, he wants to help us, not only with a list of sins that we need to be dealing with. But there’s a certain pathology here that’s very helpful, two lists of sins: one in verse 5 – you can see it there – and the second list down in verses 8 and into verse 9. The first list deals with perverted love, and the second list deals with perverted hate. The first list deals with what we do, the second list deals with what we say. The first list is personal, the second list is social. The first list is how we feel, the second list is how we talk. So these are two very, very important lists that act as instruction for us, not an exhaustive list of sins. Paul gives many, many lists of sins in his letters. None of them is intended to be exhaustive, some of them are just samples of characteristic sins. This is that, but it is more, because built into these two lists is a certain pathology that will help us greatly in mortifying sin.

Let’s look at Catalog Number One in verse 5: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed,” – or covetousness – “which amounts to idolatry.” Now notice the sequence. It starts with evil action, immorality; and it ends with idolatry. So it flows from the action back to the motive. That’s the pathology you’re going to see here. It flows from the action back to the motive. In fact, you go back from immorality to impurity, to passion, to evil desire, and to greed, and to idolatry.

Now let me just kind of explain how this pathology works. The word “immorality” basically refers to any unlawful sexual act, any unlawful, sexual act. And to make life simple for everybody, there’s only one lawful sexual act, and that is a sexual relationship between a man and a woman who are married; that’s it, that’s it. So anything other than that is unlawful and falls into the category of immorality.

I’ll say it again. God forbids any sexual activity apart from one man and one woman in marriage. But we live in a world that has long since ignored that. We live in a world where virtually any sexual act between any people of any gender is not only to be accepted, but to be basically hailed as an act of personal identity, reality, and authenticity. But God says the only acceptable sexual act is between a man and a woman who are married.

Now this behavior springs from the next word, “impurity.” Impurity simply means uncleanness. Our Lord’s words in Mark chapter 7 help us maybe to see this. In Mark 7 and verse 21 – well, we can start in verse 20. Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” So when you see the defiling behavior, it’s coming from something inside the man. Verse 21, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these things proceed from within and defile the man.” The problem is not outside us, it’s what? It’s inside us.

Immorality is the product of evil thoughts. Sex in behavior is the result of sexually sinful thoughts. You control your mind, and you control your sexual conduct. And remember, now Paul is saying this to people essentially who had come to Christ in a pagan world, an utterly pagan world in which all kinds of immorality were acceptable. Having concubines was acceptable. Having women for no other purpose than sexual fulfillment was fully acceptable. Pedophilia was acceptable. Homosexuality was acceptable. Relations before and outside of marriage with virtually anyone was acceptable in the ancient, pagan world. And, in fact, much of it was part of their religion. There were temple prostitutes associated with false worship to accommodate these freedoms for immoral behavior.

So Paul is saying something to the pagan world that is, frankly, stunning. The only acceptable sexual behavior at all is that between a man and a woman who are married; that’s it. And if you don’t want to fall into immorality, then you have to make sure you don’t have impure thoughts, because if you cultivate impure thoughts, if you purposely put yourself in a position to expose yourself to the things that produce impure thoughts, you’re playing with fire obviously. So you go from immoral behavior back to what causes that, which is impure thinking.

And then the next word is “passion.” Passion is describing for us something behind impure thoughts. It’s some rumbling from deep within our nature, some almost passive term, something that lies latent in us. It reflects a deep-seated fire that can easily fan into flame.

And then behind that is the word “evil desire,” or the term “evil desire.” Evil desire reaches down a little bit deeper into what we really are. We’re susceptible to passion because built into our fallen flesh is evil desire. John calls it “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” James 1:14 and 15 says that sin starts down in those categories, in those catacombs, in those deep caverns of lust. That’s not necessarily something that’s stimulated by something we see, it’s who we are.

We’re getting close to the bottom here. People do immoral behaviors because they have immoral thoughts. They have immoral thoughts because they have a built-in propensity to be inflamed in the direction of lusts. They have those passions because there is an evil desire component inside every human being. It’s there, it can’t be denied. But we’re not at the bottom.

What activates evil desire, that inflames passion, that leads to impure thoughts and immoral behavior? The next word is “greed,” greed. Now we’re getting close to the bottom. Greed. Some of your translations might say “covetousness.” Essentially, it’s the same word.

Greed or covetousness is the last sin listed in the Ten Commandments, the Decalogue; but it really is the basic motive of all sin. It is the last sin in the Decalogue, but it is what is behind all the other sins. It is what was behind Satan’s fall. He was greedy; he coveted God’s place. It is the desire for what isn’t yours. It is the desire for what is forbidden. It is the desire for what is against the will of God. It’s the desire for something you have no right to, you’re not entitled to, pleonexia, from two words: pleon, more; exein, to have – the desire to have more than you have. It is the absence of contentment, it is the opposite of contentment. It is the desire to have more; and in the case of the fallenness of the human heart, it is the desire to have more of something you’re not entitled to. Jesus considered the covetous heart to be the very source from which all evil rose.

The Greeks defined it as the insatiable desire that can never be satisfied to want what you don’t have. And the Greeks actually said to satisfy that in the human heart is like trying to fill a bowl with no bottom. And this, of course, is self-seeking pride. When it directed toward money, it ends up with stealing. When it is directed toward fame, it ends up in boasting. When it is directed toward worldly success, it ends up in selfish ambition. When it is directed toward power, it ends up in exploitation, intimidation, and tyranny. And when directed toward a physical relationship with someone, it ends up in sexual sin. It is the desire to have what you don’t have. It is a lack of contentment. It is covetousness.

Listen, every sin comes from this. The reason you do any sin is because you have decided that you will do what you have no right to do. You will take what you have no right to take; that’s what sin is. And Jesus said even in the longing there is sin, Matthew 5, “If a man looks on a woman to lust after her he’s committed adultery in his heart.” You hear people today say, “Well, you know, I’m a same-sex attracted person, but that’s not sinful in and of itself.” Well, of course it is. Opposite sex attraction is sinful, same-sex attraction is sinful, because it’s a reflection in the heart of a longing for what you don’t have the right to have.

So are we at the bottom with greed and covetousness? No. The end of verse 5, “which amounts to idolatry.” What is idolatry? Worshiping someone other than God, right? What’s at the top of Ten Commandments? The first one: “You shall have no other gods.”

So idolatry is the root of all sin. Now we’re at the bottom of this pathological process. Idolatry is at the bottom of every sin. It’s when you stop worshiping God and you decide you’re going to worship yourself. It’s like saying, “I will not submit to you as my Sovereign. I want what I want. I will be sovereign. You’re not going to tell me what I can and cannot have, I will determine what I can or cannot have.” Mark it.

Though covetousness is the last of the Ten Commandments, by definition it is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments to have no other gods, especially not you. It is self-worship. It isn’t even so much sex worship or money worship or power worship or fame worship. It is self-worship. It is the opposite of this. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added.”

Instead of seeking what is righteous and what is the will of God, you seek what you want. That is idolatry, and you have replaced God. This is how the pathology of sin works. You worship yourself; you become greedy then to satisfy yourself; you begin to covet what you have no right to. That rises out of your evil desire and flames passion, begins to circulate in the mind, and then shows up in the behavior.

Back in the previous book Paul wrote, Ephesians 5, there is a very parallel instruction: Ephesians 5, verse 3, “But immorality or any impurity or greed” – there’s the same words, three out of the five, and these in the same sequence; immorality comes from impurity, which comes from greed – “should never be named among you, as is proper among saints.” These things don’t belong to be any part of your life. The Lord does care about these things. “There must be no filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

“Let no one deceive you about these things with empty words, because of these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you’re Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (and the fruit of Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),” exact same message as Colossians. The link is from sexual behavior, back to impure thoughts, back to inflamed passion, back to the deep-seated lusts that are part of our fallenness, back to the fact that we are greedy for what we don’t have a right to, back to the fact that we worship ourselves rather than God. So don’t be so ridiculous as to say, “Jesus doesn’t care what I do because He loves me.” It isn’t just what you did, it’s what you think, it’s who you are, and it’s blasphemous rebellion against sovereign God.

So, starts with idolatry and ends up in sexual behavior. And, of course, those two come together with everything in between a lot of times in the Old Testament whenever we see idolatry on display. Many places in the Old Testament we see that sexual immorality was part and parcel of idolatry. It is in those very religions of the ancient world and even the modern world. So mark it for what it is. Sexual sin is the product of idol worship, and you’re the idol. That’s the progression. The root of your sin is self-worship. That develops covetousness. Covetousness rises out of our innate, evil desire, is flamed into passion, creates evil thoughts, and ends in immorality.

So you understand that you have to deal with it, at what point? Well, the easiest point to deal with it is at the level where it begins, right? So you deal with it on the basis of what it is. It is idolatry.

Anything that you have no right to that you want is a test of who you worship. If you worship God, you say no at that point. If you worship yourself, you say yes at that point; and that’s what James says lust wants, because then lust conceives and brings forth sin. And ultimately, sin brings forth death.

That is why it is so important – listen carefully – for you to know that the ability to live the Christian life is not related to somebody giving you a pep talk, it is directly related to what you think about God and what you think about yourself. And if you have a superficial view of God and an elevated view of yourself, you’re set up to worship yourself and not God. That is what’s wrong with all man-centered preaching. It does no help, provides no strength against sin, because your strength against sin does not come from feeling good about yourself, it comes from feeling terrible about yourself. It comes from a broken and contrite heart, as we saw in Psalm 51. Isaiah 66, God says, “Who am I seeking? Whoever has a broken and a contrite heart and trembles at My word.”

No one can give you anything more powerful than a deep and wide, high understanding of God. If you are consumed with the glory of God, if you are consumed with the truth of Christ, if the word concerning Christ dwells in you richly, if your theology of God is deep and true, you are a true worshiper, and sin is dealt with at the very foundation level, you are not going to be an idol worshiper who puts yourself in the place of God. When you hear people preaching trying to make people feel better, this is absolutely antithetical to true sanctification. So the Christian needs to be killing the corrupting things, and at the base of those corrupting things is idolatry.

How serious is it to kill sin? Look at verse 6: “It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience.” The kind of things that we’re talking about here – immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, and idolatry – are the sins that damn people to hell forever. These are the sins upon which the everlasting wrath of God is spent on the sons of disobedience. In other words, people are sent to hell forever for these kinds of behaviors. Why would you engage in them? You have been rescued from the wrath of God. You have been empowered by the Holy Spirit. Verse 7 he says, “In them you also once walked, when you were living in them.” Look, for two reasons you don’t do this. One, these are the very things that God punishes unbelievers in hell for forever, and you know better because you have lived there before. Why would you go back? Why would you go back?

Modern attitude of antinomianism, the modern attitude of condoning any kind of sin finds no support from God at all, because you are to live out heavenly virtues. You are to be mortifying sin all the way down at its core, which is idolatry, because these are the very things that God pours out eternal wrath on, and these are the very things that you were saved from. That was your former life. First Corinthians 6, “Such were some of you; but you are washed,” – verse 11 – “and you are sanctified.”

There’s a second catalogue here in verses 8 and 9. Catalogue Two is perverted hate. There are some things we ought to hate – all sin, all unrighteousness, all that offends God. But here is a kind of hate that is directed at people. “Now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another.” That’s Catalogue Number Two. Here he begins the opposite way.

The first catalogue, he began with the deed, the act, and went back to the foundational motive. Here he begins with the motive and moves toward the deed. The motive is anger that develops into wrath, that releases malice, that turns into slander and abusive speech and lying. Paul is just saying, “Look, put off,” – verse 8 – “put all aside.” Its’ a verb used to throw off dirty clothes.

Perhaps it’s a picture of the life of early Christians. When they were baptized they would come and put off their old outer garment and go into the waters to be baptized; and then when they came out they would be given a new white robe as a symbol of their being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And Paul is saying, “You need to lay aside the old lifestyle.” And in this particular category he’s not talking about what we do, but what we say – the vicious, vicious capacity that we have to use our verbal member for violent sin. And he looks down at what comes out of the mouth, and he goes all the way to where it arises from: anger, anger, orgē, deep down, smoldering hostility; deep down, smoldering hostility.

That too is a product of self-worship. “Somebody offended you, really? And you took it seriously like you were that important?” Your deep down, smoldering anger is idolatry; you’re worshiping yourself, not God. It bursts forth in wrath. That is thumos, that’s a blaze of sudden fury. You start then with this deep-seated anger that’s down in your self-worshiping heart, and it explodes. The Greeks use this word to describe the kind of fire that burned up grass or straw quickly inflamed.

Deep-seated anger explodes in wrath and leads to malice, a general term for moral evil. It’s just evil in a broad sense. And this has to do with how you speak, so it’s evil in your heart, evil intent that results in slander. This is the word for “blasphemy,” and not just God, but people, defaming people. This is part of our society, is it not? In my ever-lengthening lifetime there is more slander going on now than any time I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And it’s not just in the culture, it’s even among, quote-unquote, “evangelicals” who are slandering one another over issues like identity, racial ethnic distinctions. It’s a terrible, terrible expression of the deep-seated anger that is part of our remaining fallenness.

Slander then produces abusive speech, abusive speech. It’s not speech, to borrow Paul’s words in Ephesians where he says in verse 29 of chapter 4, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good to build up according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Exact same words as we saw in Colossians. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” We should be full of forgiveness, not constantly indicting everyone. This is unacceptable, abusive, obscene, blasphemous language that blasphemes other people. Why would we think for a moment that the Lord would be pleased with that no matter what we think justifies it?

Listen to what our Lord said in Matthew 12: “You brood of snakes, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” We ought to be speaking what is edifying, what is comforting, what is encouraging, what is virtuous, what is godly. But if there is deep-seated anger smoldering in our hearts, it’ll burst into wrath. It’ll result in evil, which shows up in slander and blasphemy of others.

And then on top of that, verse 9, “Do not lie to one another.” Lying. The truth will take a back seat to our agenda, and we will say whatever we need to say to express our anger or our self-worship. Lies, lies are protectors of self-worship. Satan lied in deceiving Eve. Adam and Eve lied to God attempting to evade responsibility. Cain lied to God about his brother. Abraham lied to Sarah. Sarah lied to the angels. Sarah lied to the king of Gerar. Isaac lied, denying Rebekah was his wife. Rebekah lied in the conspiracy against Esau. You’re still in the book of Genesis and you’ve got – everybody’s a liar. You haven’t even gotten out of Genesis; because Satan is the father of lies.

Paul is horrified that we would be so idolatrous as to live with smoldering anger that unleashes itself on people, and justifies itself, and even leads to lies to fulfill its agenda. Paul is horrified of that. We must be mortifying those things. And you’d better start all the way down at the bottom with that whole issue of self-worship. Your anger is connected to self-worship, and it smolders until something fans it. We should be marked, even when genuinely offended, by forgiveness. Where is that? Jesus said, “Seventy times seven, that’s how many times you forgive.”

So, we are told here in this matter of sanctification to reach up and live with heavenly virtues, that that’s the upside. The downside is to realize that we have to kill the members of our body that still are fleshly, and we have to deal with sin at its very foundational point, its very origin, which is idolatry. How do you control that? How do you do that? At the lowest level then where idolatry breeds all of this, if you are a God-worshiper and a Christ-worshiper, the battle is won. And the more you know about God and the more you know about Christ, and the more you love God and the more you love Christ, the more you submit gladly. Sin is simply a manifestation of self-worship and rebellion against God; see it for what it is. Deal with it at the level you have to deal with it. We live in the heavenlies, yes; but we also have to be realistic about the flesh; and Paul calls us to both.

Father, again we thank You this morning. It’s been such a joy and privilege for us to be together, to sing and pray and listen to Your Word. What a high and holy time we’ve had. And, Lord, we want to be a sanctified people. We want to be so consumed with worshiping You and loving You that we eagerly keep Your commandments. We thank You for revealing so much about Yourself, so much about who You are, the glory of Your person: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

We thank You for revealing so much about us, and warning us about idolatry. Lord, help us to live so conscious of Your glory and Your majesty, that we love You supremely, that we love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And if we love You like that, there never will be a replacement for you, certainly not us. And, Lord, remind us that sin is always the result of dethroning You and usurping Your sovereignty for ourselves. This is a violation of the first commandment. This certainly is a violation of loving you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And if we love You that way, we will keep Your commandments.

We desire to be a heavenly people. Yes, we desire to be focused on all the holy virtues that are present in heaven. At the same time, we want to be realistic and be mortifying the flesh at the very ground-level, cutting it off at the roots by never ever worshiping ourselves. Lead us in the path of righteousness and holiness for Your glory; and may we do whatever we do in word or deed all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with gratitude to You our glorious God and Father. Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/81-51/killing-the-sin-in-your-life

Keep Your Eyes on The Light

October 5, 2018 by Joe Rodriguez

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The Lighthouse and The Fishing Buddies

by Joe Rodriguez

Since childhood, both Mark and Joey would accompany their fathers on frequent fishing trips. As teenagers, they kept the tradition alive by regularly getting together to cast their hooks from the pier. That’s how they came to be known as the fishing buddies.

One day, when in their mid-twenties, Mark and Joey planned and undertook their very first fishing escapade miles away from shore. Even before they were surprisingly caught up in the storm, they had been aware of the lighthouse that stood tall and strong at the edge of the cliff. They knew it was there to guide those who found themselves lost at sea. Stories of previous shipwrecks and life-saving rescues reminded them that keeping their eyes fixed on the lighthouse would be their best chance for survival should they encounter any trouble out in the waters.

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The initial boat ride into the deep blue sea was smooth and without mishap. But just a couple of hours after anchoring their vessel, they noticed that the dark clouds and flashes of lightning, which seemed to be at a considerable distance at first, were moving rather quickly towards them. The lighthouse on top of the cliff was still clearly visible. Not wanting to risk being caught in the middle of the storm and pulled further away into the ocean, they decided to head back to shore. Within minutes, clear skies turned dark gray. The arriving clouds gave way to pelting rain, high wind gusts, and waves that rapidly increased in size and strength. Needless to say, both young men were gripped by fear as they tried to stay the course. But even in the midst of their misfortune, somehow seeing the flashing beacon and the majestic rocks at the base of the cliff was enough to calm their anxieties. As they battled through the turbulent waters, the lighthouse became their focal point; their source of hope and strength.

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Before they knew it, they were safely back ashore and inside their pickup truck. In spite of the fact that their much-anticipated trip was cut short and turned out to be a rather scary ordeal, they both looked up at the lighthouse then at each other and smiled. Joey asked Mark, “Shall we try again next week?” “Sure!” replied Mark, “As long as the lighthouse keeps shining, we can always find our way back.” Joey and Mark went on many more fishing trips together thereafter. And yes, some were cut short because of the weather, but they always made it back safely because they kept their eyes on the lighthouse. That was almost 50 years ago.

Mark and Joey are now both retired and remain fishing buddies. They still live in the same old neighborhood they grew up in. They don’t sail into the waters anymore but they still get together to fish at the pier and, on overcast days, they occasionally recount of how, during stormy days at sea, keeping their eyes on the light was what gave them a sense of peace and helped them find their way back to shore.

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During our life’s journey, there will be times when we are presented with the opportunity to go on wonderful adventures, both physical and spiritual. But we will also have to face stormy days that can and will dampen many of them. Days when the voices of those who oppose our faith will sound like boisterous thunder. Days when temptation and sin will flash before us like bolts of lightning. Days when physical challenges will blow against us like blustering winds. And days when spiritual battles will strike us like violent waves. For this very reason, we must remain focused on God’s word, His promises, and on Jesus. He is the guiding light that will provide hope during difficult times and help us find strength while we wait for the storms to pass. And like the fishing buddies, we can always look forward to other promising adventures simply because Jesus is the unmovable lighthouse that continuously shines the light of salvation. The light that will always guide us back to safety when we are caught in the storms of life.

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We may live long enough to reach an age and a spiritual maturity where we no longer have the same excitement (or strength) to go on new adventures as we once did. Yet, we can still recount about God’s faithfulness and how his light guided us whenever we needed direction. These are the stories (testimonies) that we must pass on to the younger generation. The stories that will help them through the many exciting as well as the less-desirable adventures they too will experience while navigating the sea of life.

So, whether we are jaunting through one of life’s many journeys or battling through one of its challenging storms, it would behoove us to keep our eyes (mindset, emotions) on Jesus at ALL times. We must be careful not to allow security, success, abundance, and momentary joys to cause us to ignore the warning light of complacency and self-sufficiency. Nor should we allow failure, discouragement, fear, and doubt to drag us deeper into the oceans of despair. Remember, navigating through the turbulent waters of life can make it difficult to get back to the shores of true joy and peace, but we will ALWAYS find our way if we keep our eyes on the Light (Jesus).

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Prayer: Jesus, you are the light of the world; the hope of all nations. Whether in times of joy or in times of turmoil, may my eyes remain focused on you. For your light is the only thing that will guide me to and keep me where your salvation rests. And should I be blessed with long life, may I  recount of your faithfulness and great mercies so that those who still have a way to go on their life’s journey may know where to find hope and direction. In your precious name, I pray, Amen. 

CREDITS
The Lighthouse and The Fishing Buddies – A fictional story by Joe Rodriguez. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Old Fishing Boat In A Storm LB is a painting by Gert J Rheeders.
Old photo effect on all images on this post was created by using image effects at http://funny.pho.to/

Keep Your Eyes on The Light

Eight Undeniable Truths That Are Going to Change Your Life

February 9, 2019 by Cristian Mihai

The truth does not change based on your ability to accept it.

I do my best to live life in a way that I am aware of what I do, while also trying not to chase things that are outside of my control.

Here are some of those truths that help me stay in control of my life.

Life is pain

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — William Goldman

The first person that comes to mind is Gary Vaynerchuk, whose constant social media posting encourages folks to chase happiness instead of money.

Well, sorry to break it to you, but life is pain. If you do not accept this, life is going to break your heart on a daily basis.

The pursuit of happiness? How does that even work? How does one go about it? How long does it last?

Don’t wish for fairytales. Just don’t.

The truth is that you have to make use of your suffering. That you must do your best to choose the battles you want to fight.

Do what is hard every single day, do what is meaningful, and happiness will come as a by-product of your actions.

Envy is the most stupid thing ever

“People always get what they want. But there is a price for everything. Failures are either those who do not know what they want or are not prepared to pay the price asked them. The price varies from individual to individual. Some get things at bargain-sale prices, others only at famine prices. But it is no use grumbling. Whatever price you are asked, you must pay.” – W.H. Auden

There’s a price that one must pay for anything. The price is sometimes time, sometimes energy, sometimes compromising oneself.

If someone has more than you, if someone is better than you at a certain skill, you can rest assured that they are worst than you in other areas.

We get what we are willing to sacrifice for.

I spent eight years writing before I earned a single dollar. I was living mostly on coffee, Coca-Cola, and cigarettes. I was also a recluse. I felt as if there was this invisible wall between me and the rest of the world. I cannot count the times I cried whenever I saw people who were in love or seemed to be.

I paid the price. To be able to write my stories, to share them with the world.

Think about that next time you feel like being envious of someone else’s success or achievements. They paid the price. You didn’t.

Cynicism is going to poison your soul

“Michelangelo’s great perfect marble David cries out to its observer: “You could be more than you are.” When you dare aspire upward, you reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise of the future. Then you disturb others, in the depths of their souls, where they understand that their cynicism and immobility are unjustifiable. You play Abel to their Cain. You remind them that they ceased caring not because of life’s horrors, which are undeniable, but because they do not want to lift the world up on to their shoulders, where it belongs.” – Jordan B. Peterson

Here in Romania a lot of folks tend to believe that rich people are all thieves. Corrupt. They did something bad to acquire their fortunes. And when I tell them that they could also steal, they look at me like…

Play by the rules, if you want to win. If you hate the game, hate the players, you’re only going to be bitter about it for the rest of your life.

You know those guys who call the police whenever a neighbor throws a party?

Well, they do so because no one ever invites them to parties. The same goes for guys who slut-shame women, people who hate on the rich, on the famous, on the talented, on every single other category.

The dog that can bite, almost never has to

“Morality is just a fiction used by the herd of inferior human beings to hold back the few superior men.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

We have a saying here in Romania: the dog that barks never bites. The people who are most vocal about their beliefs, about ethics, about the way that we should live our lives, they are most afraid of the chaos that life truly represents.

You know one of the best ways you can gain self-confidence and speak up for yourself? If you are strong enough to defend yourself physically. Funny. But true.

The thing is, unless one is capable of being bad, he cannot be considered good.

A rabbit is not good. It is harmless. Being harmless, being the nice guy, that’s not going to get you the kind of life you dream about. Avoiding conflict makes it so that you attract conflict.

Just take a look at the kind of kids that get bullied. As a matter of fact, take a close look at kids aged 2 to 4 and the way they play together. How mean and aggressive they are. They lie, they steal, they fight. Little monsters.

I think it’s almost a miracle we don’t all end up as serial killers.

There’s a certain darkness in each and all of us, and we must accept our own darkness, and we must be willing to face the darkness in other people’s souls.

Pretending otherwise? You’re just setting yourself up to be exploited by those who do accept the darkness that lies in each and every single one of us.

Think about it.. if you expect the lion to not eat you because you didn’t eat it, guess what’s going to happen?

Intentions don’t matter

“Remember, people will judge you by your actions not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold but so does a hard-boiled egg.” – Maya Angelou

A few years ago I was deeply in love. Or so I’d define what I was feeling back then. One fine morning, after a particularly long and tedious fight the night before, she decided to break up with me. I didn’t expect it, never thought it could happen.

All I could do was cry and tell her that I loved her as much as I could. That was it. All I could do. What I felt for her, I couldn’t feel more of. There wasn’t more to be felt. There wasn’t room in my heart to love anyone or anything else but her.

It didn’t matter, of course.

The rabbits from my previous truth on life are probably judging her as insensitive and cold.

Here’s the thing: in life, everyone except your mother is going to judge you by your actions. It does not matter that you tried to do the right thing. Did you do it? That’s all that matters.

It does not matter how much you love someone or what you’re willing to do for them, it matters if you love them the way they want to be loved, if you are the person they want to love.

Unhappy kids raise unhappy kids

“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth” – African proverb

A mother is supposed to love her child unconditionally. It does seem to be the one element an awful lot of successful people have in common, but not the only one.

Children are fragile, and you can even break them by giving them too much love and attention, or by never saying no, or by trying to protect them from what you consider to be a dangerous world.

It took me years and years to understand my own self, to get rid of traumas that I had the tendency to downplay.

And the demons that we acquire when we are kids (that we sometimes end up calling destiny) are not so easy to get rid out.

Habits, not goals

“Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.” – Jeff Olson

It’s February and I bet that the vast majority of people who set New Years Resolutions have already failed at them.

Goals are not as exciting as we think they are. As a matter of fact, most of the time reaching a goal is not as satisfying as daydreaming about it.

Habits, on the other hand, can last a lifetime.

Develop the habits. Focus on the twenty-four hours ahead of you.

Ask yourself who do you want to be, and do something today that brings you closer to becoming that person.

Be a king. Always.

“About this time he had the sarcophagus and body of Alexander the Great brought forth from its shrine, and after gazing on it, showed his respect by placing upon it a golden crown and strewing it with flowers; and being then asked whether he wished to see the tomb of the Ptolemies as well, he replied, “My wish was to see a king, not corpses.” – Suetonius

Be the king of your own life. Of your own soul. True mastery is mastery over oneself. Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes. Especially if your voice shakes. You are going to die, no matter what. Do not beg for moments or temporary comfort.

Be a king. Keep your head high.

And remember, always remember, that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything. It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

If the world asks you who you are, you speak loud and clear, because you if you do not, it will tell you and you won’t like it.


These are some of the truths that I try to remind myself on a daily basis. There are, of course, a lot more, like the fact that most people are wrong (and it always helps to stay away from what the majority thinks or believes in or does), or the fact that we must do something hard every single day, or that we must embrace uncertainty.

What do you think? What are some undeniable truths that you figure out about life?

Eight Undeniable Truths That Are Going to Change Your Life

Life and Death

Eva Green

After chatting with a colleague about the state of our humanity and sexuality and lack of roles and ownership of life, I continue to be impressed with the stronghold that gangs, mafioso, cults and community groups have within their cultures..  For our generic culture in the west we are, as described on t-shirts; ‘comfortably numb’ and ‘walking dead’… There is no sense of urgency or life or abundance, only a continuation of yesterday..

The ‘stronghold’ groups have a sense of living, of being on the edge of life and death, and an understanding that they may have to pay with their life for their lifestyle.  (And also true, if they desire to leave the stronghold.)  They seem to have an understanding of roles, of urgency, of fighting for what they believe, of no compromise.  They have an identity that is beyond their own individual lives.

God has created us all to live for more.  He has set eternity in our hearts.  To be part of something bigger than ourselves.

In our western culture of independence, comfort and taking care of ‘number 1’ we are confused and weak.  We have misplaced the order of God, man, animal and creation, and now have a twisted view of order depending on what our beliefs are.  Some people would fight for animals over humans, and most of us put man (ourselves) over God as priority.

God has placed an order in creation.  Man to rule over animals and land, and to take care and be responsible.  In His church He has placed an order of Himself being head.  In the family, He has placed the man to lead.  This is not to rule over and be abusive, but to be accountable to God Himself of how he leads in love (as Christ loves His church).

We have incredibly talented people giving their lives to use their talents (which is how God intended), but unless it’s done for God it is done in vain: the devastation of a life lived fully but with nothing left standing.  Life without legacy.

Jesus says in Revelation 3.20 that He is knocking on the door and calling us, and whoever opens it to Him, He will come in and eat with them.

In my own life, I so often put Him on snooze.  I have no urgency.  He can wait….

Jesus tells us that He has come to give us life in fullness and abundance.  He promises us a FULL LIFE and not one that just continues on from yesterday, but that EACH DAY has it’s own problems but that He has supplies to cover us, in every area- practical (manna), emotional (strength), and spiritual (mercy and grace).  He is for living life fully and free; we have the whole world to use but don’t own anything.

My prayer is that we have the urgency to live for God and search out for all the fullness that He has for us and our worlds, and that we have tight and secure families and communities that show God among us with freedom.

https://pondermentslife.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/life-and-death/