“My Soul Magnifies the Lord…”

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“My soul magnifies the Lord…” Luke 1:46

Spontaneous joy that just has to burst out—don’t you just love it?!  Have you ever felt those kind of moments?  But this isn’t like some little kid that is so happy and thankful because they just got the best gift ever from their parents, and are hopping around, smiling, bubbling over and leaping into their arms.  I’ve seen that before, like one day when one of my sisters thought she was getting the exact same Christmas present as the one she just saw her sister open.  And then when she found out it wasn’t, well, let’s just say that kind of joy was short-lived.

Mary’s response is different.  It comes from somewhere deeper.  It carries her for her whole life through good times, unsure times, confusing times, shadowy times, despairing times, unforeseen times, and overwhelmingly joyful times.  I think I should look at Mary’s response here and where it issues from.  Maybe then, I might have that kind of response flow out of a life living upon the right issues.

Let’s catch up.  Mary has been told by an angel of God that she will bear the Son of God.  How?  Not by means of a man, the normal way, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the same way that the Holy Spirit hovered over the chaos of the waters to create the world, so He would create this only begotten Son of God in her for the salvation of the people He had created.  Mary was a chosen vessel for the gift of God that would reconcile us to Himself.

And who does God choose to bear the weight of carrying the Son of God in a world where most people will not understand?  A girl somewhere between the ages of 12-15.  He chose a girl.  But not just any girl.  He chose Mary. 

Six months earlier, he chose a woman beyond child bearing age who had been barren all this time.  This woman’s name was Elizabeth, the wife of Zecharias the priest.  He chose her, and her husband to bear a child as men bear children, in God’s time, for His purposes; to prepare the way of the Lord, the one who would come from Mary’s womb.  He chose a relative of Mary’s who lived far away, yet they were relatives.  One was old; one was young.  One was barren; one had never been with a man sexually.  One was admired; one would be cast out and shamed.  It was a much easier road for Elizabeth than it would be for Mary.

I’ve heard that one of the hardest things to bear, is going through the death of a child.  I have a feeling that Elizabeth never had to witness the death of John, that he was the one to walk through the sorrow of watching his parents die.  But Mary, she was pierced through the heart, wasn’t she?  And yet, we know that her heart lept for joy three days later when Jesus was risen from the dead, not as her son, but as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

But Mary isn’t there yet.  Right now, she’s a girl, expecting with the Son of God, with only the words of God to trust, in a world that, most of the time, was not lined up with God.  I’m assuming this is soon into Mary’s pregnancy that she travels to stay with Elizabeth.  Who would have had a problem with that request?  After all, Zecharias was a priest.  What better influence on her life?  And when she arrives, the Holy Spirit in the infant John within his mother’s womb leaps and kicks his mother’s abdomen in joy.  Why?  Well, the Holy Spirit must have let Elizabeth in on things too, because she rejoices that Mary is carrying the promised child within her womb!  Hey, there was no mail or other way she knew.  She knew what was happening within Mary, she knew that Mary had trusted the words of God, and she rejoiced because she was trusting the words of God.

Why Mary?  Why did your soul magnify the Lord?  What caused your soul to declare God’s greatness?  What caused your spirit to rejoice in God as your Saviour?

First, you realized that God noticed you and acknowledged you even though you were but a humble servant.  Maybe we don’t get that because we come from a part of the world where people don’t have servants anymore.  So, I guess I don’t totally get that either.  I mean, I could research slavery and reiterate what others say, but that’s not the same as living in that culture, is it?  So help me to grasp what Mary is saying here, Lord. 

Mary is a teenager.  She’s a woman.  She’s a Hebrew.  She’s a human.  And now she’s a pregnant teenager before her husband has “lain” with her.  How humble can you get?  On being a “child” have you ever heard the expression, “Children should be seen but not heard”?  So, children can be seen as a non-important entity.  And what of women?  They had very little rights back then.  And being a Jew?  In a Roman world?  Must I say more?  And being a young woman pregnant before the finish of your betrothal and not by your betrothed?!  Oh, and I forgot to add that she’s just a human, you know, compared to Almighty God.  Mary realizes her humble state and that she is God’s servant first and foremost.  What about me?

When I realize that I’m “a nobody” to most people and in terms of comparison to You, how do I handle that?  Do I try to make myself heard as a somebody?  Do I try to say, “Hey, notice me!  Notice me!”  Or do I respond like Mary, and say, “Wow!  God, You noticed me!  You, who don’t have to notice me, because Your greatness is so great, notice me!  And because You noticed me, others will see that You have noticed me!”  It’s all about God, not about Mary.  She’s just overwhelmed that God chose her, that He is using her.

Mary sees herself as lowly.  How low?  The word in Greek is tapeinosis.  Think of abject condition.  What does that mean?  Abject, according to Noah Webster means “to throw away; to cast out.”  As an adjective it means “Sunk to a low condition…Worthless, mean, despicable, low in estimation, without hope or regard.” And as a noun it means “A person in the lowest condition and despicable. Psalm 35.”  This is where Mary sees herself and yet…

God, who is mighty, has done great things for her.  She has read that His name is holy, but she is experiencing His holiness as well.  The mercy that she has read about for those who fear him in what ever generation they live, is being experienced in her life.  The strength that she has read about, where He has scattered the proud, brought down the mighty, and exalted the lowly; she is experiencing that for herself.  Where she has only read about the hungry being filled with good things, and the rich being sent away empty; now she is experiencing first hand.  Where she has read of Him helping his servant Israel and speaking to them; yes, she is experiencing even that for herself.

Do you realize that where Mary has come, to this day and moment of rejoicing and being overwhelmed in the Lord, that it is His word that has brought her here?  All through this magnificent rejoicing in the magnificence of God, she is sharing what she has learned from scripture.  Oh, it’s not quoting it, with book, chapter and verse.  It’s deeper.  She has been reading scripture, or maybe so listening to scripture and meditating on it in her mind over and over again so that it has become her life and prayer.  This word of God is what she has been trusting in and hoping in and praying for, the fulfilment of all His words.  And He sees her and acknowledges her faith in Him. 

Why will they call her blessed?  Because she bore Jesus?  No!  No!  No!  She is blessed because, just as Elizabeth said, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)  She’s not blessed because Jesus nursed at her breasts.  Don’t elevate Mary, because then she’s no longer a blessing.  They tried to do that in Jesus’ day.  Hear the woman in the crowd cry, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”  But what did Jesus say, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”  That’s why Mary was blessed.  Mary’s favor with God was in her humility and trust in Him. 

She wasn’t better than anyone else.  Scripture says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  Even Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned- every one- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)  All includes Mary.  And she knew that.  That’s why it was wonderful to her that God would use her, this girl who didn’t deserve it.  Let me reiterate the point that Mary is making in her “magnificat” and the point that Jesus reiterates as well.  Listen again, “While he [Jesus] was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.  But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’  And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Matthew 12:45-50)

Read Mary’s words for yourself.  She knew.  The only reason that she was chosen to bear Jesus, is the same reason that any one can be blessed in Jesus and know God.  Elizabeth wasn’t fooled.  She knew, a person is blessed by God to know Him and know His mercy by believing that He will fulfil His words and living in them.  Jesus tried to redirect us to get it.  Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!  Blessed doesn’t mean elevated in specialness.  Blessed means one with God, involved in His plans with Him, used and loved by Him, united with Him.  Mary wasn’t blessed because she had Jesus, she was blessed because she knew and trusted God even before she had Jesus.  And when she had Jesus, she was still as humbled trying to figure it all out just like the rest of us.  She was still in that humble process of trusting in God’s word as she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, 51)

Here’s something I heard in a seminar yesterday, from someone who used to be addicted to drugs and alcohol.  God set him free.  For a year or two, after crying out to God to be free, he was, and he pursued God and went to church, and was discipled, and searched God’s word.  When some friends told him he needed to get saved he said, “What are you talking about?  God’s already working in me.  Don’t you see what He’s already done.   I must be saved already.  How could God be working in me if I wasn’t saved?”

Think about it.  Have you ever thought about that?  I’ve thought about it before, and I’m like Mary, saying, “Oh, God, I am so grateful that You have been working in me since I was a child so that I can come to know You.  You’re mercy is so great to me and I don’t deserve it.  Even at times when I was kicking against You, You were still working.  Oh, the greatness of Your love for me even though I don’t deserve it!”

Now, keep thinking about that.  Because that’s where Mary was.  That’s where the disciples were.  That’s where Nicodemus was and Paul were even though we haven’t had them enter the picture yet.  We’re all addicted to ourselves and our own way like Isaiah said.  Only God, has already been at work.  Jesus told us He was.  “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’” (John 5:17) 

Here’s the truth.  God will work in us, but God’s working in us does not mean that we are His.  God is always working.  He is preparing us.  For what?  For His Son.  Listen carefully, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)  Here’s the test, are you like Mary?  Do you believe the words of God?  Do believe that in order for the work of God to be finished in You, in order to become a child of God, that You need to believe that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life that brings us into union with the God who is always at work?  Mary came to believe that.  I think Nicodemus came to believe that.  The disciples came to believe that.  Paul came to believe that.  The addict came to believe that.  And it’s why I’m writing this today, because when I was 15 years old, I trusted in these words of God and I trusted in His Son, Jesus, the Christ, and nothing else.

And to think that a nobody like me, a human who has so many times defied the ways of God, could be so loved and so blessed by His Son to be in union with my Creator and that my Creator would value me so that He would invest His Holy Spirit in me to shape me more and more like Him every day.  How could we not sing out daily the magnificence of God through Christ!  May You allow God to work in Your life, but even more so, may You surrender Your life to His greatest work, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of your soul and the only One who can unite You to the Father as His very own child.

The Monster Within

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“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  2 Peter 2:19

This is a verse that has woken me up at times.  This is a verse that has helped me to hold on to my faith in You, Lord.  Well, honestly, I never really thought a whole lot about the whole verse, but about the second half: “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  And it’s funny, that upon waking up extra early this morning and going to pray, another verse came to my mind over and over: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”  But that verse doesn’t really stop there either.  It continues, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6)

Peter has been spending time in his letter encouraging believers who have been going through or will go through some rough persecution.  Not only that, he’s reminding believers who their faith was established upon and to stand firm in what they’ve been taught through the scriptures.  Where we are coming to in 2 Peter, it’s not just persecution from non-believers but another struggle as well.  There is false teaching being set forth within the churches from those who profess to be believers.  This is why he was encouraging them to remember and to put what they were taught into action.  It’s just as important for us today because the same thing is going on rampantly in the churches today.

False prophets are not just a thing of the past.  They are a thing of today.  False teachers are not a thing of the past but a thing of today as well.  Heresies creep into churches in the same forms as then, denying Jesus as the Son of God or as the only way, following sensuality, indulging in “the lust of defiling passion and despising authority.  They are just as bold and wilful, just as irrational as animals, guided by instinct.  Insatiable for sin, they want to draw others in. 

Does that sound harsh.  It’s not my words, those are Peter’s.  And I’ve been there so I can attest of its truth.  Some of us find ourselves there without realising it, but some of us willingly dive right in.  Well, maybe we were believers, right?  But what about as believers?  Are we sometimes enticed by false teaching?  Does it tickle the fancy the way we want to be tickled?  Does it “meet a need or desire” faster than God’s way?  Does it feed my lust or my passion in some way?  The funny thing is, the more you feed a beast the more it grows.  If I follow the beast of sensuality in me, it will want to be indulged more and more.  It will draw me away from the truth, from grace, from love, from redemption, and defile me causing me to despise the truth.  Before I know it, when I give in to the beast of lust and passion, I wind up just as irrational as an animal guided by instinct.  Why?  Because I’m driven by my senses or sexual desires because I’ve abandoned truth for sensual pleasure.

In Matthew 6:24, these words of Jesus are recorded, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other…”  It continues by stating, “You cannot serve God and mammon [wealth].”  But that is not all it means or means to compare.  You can’t serve God and anything else.  You could put wealth there, self, fame, family, sexuality.  There is only one Master, only One we are to serve. 

I can’t help but think of the current gender issues.  It’s not just in the U.S.  It’s all over the world.  The U.S. has already legalised homosexual marriages.  Numerous churches are condoning the same.  Right now, here in the Philippines, there are some other issues being voted on, that if it passes, would lead to legalisation of homosexual marriages here as well.  Why aren’t believers standing up against this?  Why is this creeping into the churches? 

It’s the same reason it could and did in Peter’s day.  Believers didn’t take scripture seriously.  They didn’t take the Word of God for the Word of God.  They changed it or avoided it to suit their feelings.  Peter is warning us against this.  It’s not a lesson in hate or discrimination.  It’s not telling us not to love sinners.  It’s telling us to remember who has the mighty hand here.  “Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you in due time.”  Have we forgotten that God is in charge?  He has a mighty hand that will act.  Will I be on the side that receives His blessing or His anger?  That’s my choice.  Do I want to be debased or exalted?

You tell me it is about choice, just like whether one gets to take the life of a fetus inside a mother or not?  Well, yes, it is a choice.  But the choice isn’t what you think it is about.  The choice is who’s side you will be on.  The choice is who you will choose to serve, God or “mammon,” God or “some other god.”  You see, since the fall, there is the god of the air, Satan, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whomever he can to devour, and then there is God, the lifter of our heads.  You can’t serve the god of this world and God Almighty at the same time.  You will either “hate the one, and love the other; or else [you] will hold to the one, and despise the other.”  That’s what’s happening.

People who were following Jesus grabbed on to the teaching of the god of this world, and his promises of freedom.  They bought in to the god of this world and became his slaves.  They surrendered to him, instead of holding onto Jesus, and became slaves of corruption, more and more as every day of worshipping this false god and his doctrine continues.  And then they promise that same “freedom” to others who will be led astray.  When scripture says, “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved,” it means that whoever we let vanquish us, who ever we bow down before and let rule over us, we become their slave.  I don’t want to be a slave of the god of the air and of this world.  I want none of that and I want to keep others from that as well.  What friend or family member wouldn’t fight to save someone from that master?

I can fight to win people back!  I can fight to remember God’s word faithfully as it was intended to be known and lived.  I can determine that I will only be overcome by You, God, because You are a Master who loves and Your promises are all true and all “Yes.”  I don’t have to be guided by my passions.  After all, my passions are selfish and greedy, but You are not.  In You, I am transformed.  In You, I can love as love was intended.  In You, I find my identity.  In You, I am accepted.  In You, I know that You created me specifically for me to glorify You in my life.  I have a divine purpose in You.

If we are alive, there is hope for us, no matter where we are at this moment.  Because Christ came, lived, died for us, and rose again, we can find forgiveness and redemption and a family in Him.  Don’t be overcome by sin.  Don’t believe the liar.  Freedom, real freedom is only found in Christ and He is waiting with open arms to transform us.  It doesn’t matter if I’m a prodigal or the son who stayed home, God’s arms are open wide for us to run home to Him.  You can’t serve two masters.  Serve the one who loves you and cares for you.  Let Him do the transforming that will make things right inside and out of you.

The Source of Faith, Grace, and Peace

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Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham.

“…to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…” 2 Peter 1:1

Where does faith come from?  How do I find grace?  How do I find peace in my life?  Those are good questions, important questions, aren’t they?  That’s what the letter of 2 Peter is trying to help us with, to be able to understand how we can find those things and how they can be the things that shape our lives.

Whether this letter was written by Peter himself or Jude wrote it with Peter’s blessing, I don’t know.  It’s evident that if so, he did it on behalf of Peter and with his blessing and under his authority.  But isn’t that even aligning with everything here?  I mean, here Peter is introduced as a servant and apostle of Jesus.  He’s an authority as an apostle but that isn’t the first thing in his introduction.  First comes servant.  Now, doesn’t that mirror the image of Christ who came to serve and not be served?  It seems that Peter learned from Jesus that “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25,26)

So right from the start, I see that humility is the foundation of my authority in Christ.  This is true for the design for every believer.  And what is a believer?  One who has obtained a faith of equal standing by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  That tells me two things.  For one thing, it tells me that faith puts all believers on equal standing.  Remember when the disciples were all excited because even demons were listening to them and they were healing people?  But Jesus said, “Behold, I have given you authority . . . Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this . . . but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19,20)  John Piper shares, “No matter how much authority a believer is given by Christ, he should never forget that the great joy of his life should simply be that he is saved by faith like all the other saints.”  Therefore, I don’t have to compare myself to any other believer.  I can be who God created me to be.  I can rejoice in what God has done and is doing in and through me.  I can serve and faithfully walk in the authority he has given me, whatever that is.

But why can I do that?  How do I obtain that faith, that same faith that changed Paul’s life and every believer who walks in it?  I allow our God and Savior Jesus Christ to exchange my unrighteousness for His righteousness.  I put my trust in Him alone.  I hand my life over to Him.  I hand my thoughts over to Him.  I hand it all over, humble myself before Him, and allow Him to have control and be my everything.  I let Him have His way in me.

How do I know how to do that?  Let’s go to 2 Peter verse 2,  “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  I get to know God and Jesus.  I get to know God as my God, as GOD.  And I get to know Jesus as my LORD.  I get to know the Word of God by reading the Bible and believing it and living it and honoring it and loving it, not because they are in a book like it’s law, but because these are the words of the God I love who loves me even more!  As I fill my life with the knowledge of God and of Jesus, I really get to know Him more and more every day.  I experience His grace and peace more and more every day.

It’s like adding 1+1.  It’s simple addition.  You can’t know Him if you run away.  You won’t experience His grace and peace if you keep fighting Him.  If you think you can handle it all on your own, you can’t.  Not even our goodness compares to Him; it’s like filthy rags.  It’s His righteousness that blesses us in Him.  Jesus + Me leads to the answer I’m searching for:  faith, grace, and peace.  It’s that easy. 

But surrender isn’t easy, is it?  Yet, surrender is necessary.  Unless I can humble myself under God’s mighty hand first, I won’t obtain faith, and grace and peace.  They will continue to evade me because they are only found in God through Christ Jesus. 

The truth is that we don’t have a savior who doesn’t understand us.  He gets us.  He left heaven and was born to a virgin, and lived the life as a human, as a man, even while being God at the same time.  Yet, he didn’t exert his authority as God.  We saw a little of it, but not even close to a lot of it.  Because when he went to the cross, by His choice, He didn’t have the angels remove Him.  He didn’t wipe out humankind, or at least those crucifying Him and ridiculing Him.  He humbled Himself, and took on the penalty for our sin, for each one of us, you and me.  He chose to obey God’s will and die, no matter how it felt.  Why?  Because he knew God’s word was true.  He would rise.  Sin would be defeated.  We would be released from its power, if we could only humble ourselves to have faith.  We would be reconciled to Him and in Him forever.  It’s why He died and why He rose again.  It’s why I can have faith and why I can be humble even though I have authority too.  It’s why, in that faith in Him, I have grace and peace multiplied to me.  And so can you.  Surrender might not be easy, but it’s the only way to faith, grace, and peace.  I choose it.  How about you?

Humility- The Defining Quality

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“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” 1 Peter 5:8

Sum up how to get to where Peter is trying to take us and here it is—“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…” so that He will exalt you when exalting is due.  The problem is that we don’t want to wait.  In our impatience and pride, we run about exalting ourselves, and that’s always in the wrong way and at the wrong time and always out of sync with You Lord, so it doesn’t wind up having the effect we want it to.

This humility puts everyone on even terms.  It takes the highest leader and humbles him before the lowest servant.  It takes the lowest servant and humbles them before the highest leader or the other lowest servants.  There is no difference between race, color, sex, age, status, or whatever when we are in the body of Christ.  This doesn’t negate authority.  This doesn’t raise me above my authorities.  But without humility, there is no Christ-likeness in my authority or lack of authority.  Without humility I can not truly model Christ.

I want to listen to the rest of what Peter is saying here.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Peter 5:8-11)  What do I need to be reminded of by Peter’s words here?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…”  If God wants me to be humble and to not exalt myself, that’s o.k.  I will be fine.  I know I will because God is mighty to protect me, to keep me held, to never let me be lost, and to raise me up, whether in this life or the next.  He WILL exalt me.  My part is to remain humble so that my life has the effect He has created me for- to glorify You Lord, and not myself.  Funny thing is that by glorifying You, You bring glory to me.  The pain or heartache I may suffer will be worth it, is worth it.  I need to remember this in those times when I don’t understand why things are happening to me as they are.  My humility leads to Your glory which is also to my benefit.

“…[C]asting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  If I am humble, I can do this.  If I am not humble, I will not, because I will be busy taking care of my anxieties on my own, my own way.  If I am humble, I will remember that You are the one with the mighty hand, not me.  If I am humble, I will give my worries and pains and anxieties to You, because I know that You care about me and care for me.  It’s not just that you think about me with care.  It’s that I am what You care for.  I am Your object of care.  You take care of me, like a Father cares for his children.  You don’t just have feelings for me; You are there for me, rescuing me when I need rescuing, or letting me totter as I learn to stand so I can run to You.  You alone care for me like no other.

As one who cares for others, I understand that.  Sometimes, those I care for don’t realize when I need rescuing.  They don’t realize when I need care or how I need care.  But You are different.  You, Lord, know me.  You never stop caring for me.  You know exactly what I need.  I just can’t stop humbling myself and desperately needing You and Your care.  Humility will lead me to run to You every time, to fall at Your feet every time, to crawl into Your arms every time because I know that You are mighty and that You really care for me.

Unfortunately, there is someone out there who doesn’t care for me or for my good.  There is someone out there who wants my demise.  Therefore, I must “[b]e sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  The truth is, I will humble myself one way or another.  I will humble myself before God, or I will humble myself to something else.  Face it, humility is a sign of surrender, submission.  I let God overcome me or I let something else overcome me.  In Peter’s second letter he writes, “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” 

This is really important.  The Greek word “hettao” for overcome here means to be vanquished.  Vanquished means to be subdued in battle, defeated, conquered.  The Greek also carries the meaning of “rate lower:- be inferior…”  Now, think about it.  Satan wants me to be controlled by my anxieties, my desires, anything but God.  So he is prowling around, looking for how to trip me up.  He’s looking for that thing or things in my life that he can use to get me to surrender to those feelings or ideas instead of to the truth of God.  He promises me a lie of freedom, just like he did with Adam and Eve.  It’s a lie.  It leads to defeat and bondage.  It leads anywhere but humility under God.  It leads to humbling ourselves before Satan and defying God.  That’s the last place I want to be.  That’s the place of death and defeat.

Here’s what it might look like in a practical sense.  You have a child you love.  They want to go on mission to a place that could be dangerous.  God is calling them.  You can humble yourself under God’s mighty hand and trust Him for your child and trust that God will care for You and Your child no matter the outcome or you can let up your guard and let the adversary slip into your thinking and next thing you know, you become your child’s ultimate protector because God may not have the same plans for your child as you.  He may not know best, and you pluck that apple.  Then, what your child sees is that we can determine for ourselves when God is trustworthy and when we are more trustworthy.  Sometimes, God isn’t the best one to get a job done ,right?  How many more decisions will that lead to?

Lack of humility is like a phobia.  I have some friends with phobias.  I think Satan feeds on phobias, on fear.  One friend who can’t swim was out in the ocean wearing her life vest.  She was swimming fine.  That life vest was caring for her perfectly.  She had so much freedom to swim.  Nothing at the bottom of the water could effect her or harm her with that life vest on.  But at one point, she saw a sea urchin on the ocean floor.  And though the vest was caring for her, her thoughts about the sea urchin overwhelmed her.  In fear of the the sea urchin, she began to take the vest off!  The vest was the only thing keeping her above water. 

If only we would resist.  When the thoughts start to creep in, if only we would stand up against those thoughts with the truth and cling to the truth.  If only we wouldn’t be so easily led astray.  If only I would live by faith and not by sight.  If only I would know and expect Satan to throw these ploys at me then I would also be sober and vigilant knowing how to respond because I wouldn’t be surprised. 

I don’t care who you are, man, woman, boy, girl, slave, free, president, doctor, nurse, missionary, teacher, student.  This is for each of us.  Humility is not a suggestion.  It ought to be our way of life.  Lord, may humility define me so that I can be defined in You.  Because if Your humility defines me, then I will also be defined by Your active grace in my life.  Then I will see the glory of Christ Jesus in my life.  Then, even through the suffering, I will see you perfect me, establish me in You, strengthen me and settle me.  So, Lord, let me be humble before You, so that all the glory goes to You, and so that I live like Your dominion has already begun in my life and will continue forever and ever.

Let’s Be Sympathetic

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Credit for photo to Beaba.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8

Here’s the “definite point or goal” you’ve set out for.  That’s what “finally” signifies here.  We, as believers, have a point that was aimed at as our limit or the conclusion of our purpose here in life.  It’s not just Peter coming to a conclusion.  This is for us.  This is for me.  This is my aim as I identify as a believer in Jesus Christ,  “…all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

This is not just for slaves.  This is not just for wives.  This is not just for husbands.  Those were just some of the relations in life we have trouble knowing how to handle.  But this is to all believers, including slaves, wives, and husbands.  Actually, Peter is telling us that the relationship between believers goes oh so deeper than even that of a husband and wife, should the husband or wife be yoked to a non-believing spouse.  Why?  Because there is a oneness in Christ that pulls us all together here, a deepness in unity, that isn’t attainable outside of Christ. 

I’m not saying that a married couple can’t have the deepness and oneness of being “soulmates,” so to speak.  You can be like one even if both of you are non-believers.  But you can’t be like one if one is a believer and the other not.  Because believers have a unity of mind and spirit with Christ.   How could I be unified with You Lord, and learning to think like You and love the things You love the way You do, and be unified with loving the world and the things of it as a non-believer thinks?  It doesn’t happen that way.  There’s a lonely gap in the middle.  There’s a distance.  There’s misunderstanding.  There’s a hole.

But where there is a relationship in Christ, there is unity not only with Christ, but with other believers, no matter who they are.  So in a world where there are slaves and not slaves, or anything like that, we are not looking at people that way.  We see each other through the mind and eyes of Christ.  In Philippians 5, Paul goes more deeply into this.  Are you encouraged in Christ?  Are you comforted from His love?  Do you get to participate with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit?  Do you receive affection and sympathy from His?  If you have put your trust in Him, then the answer is, “YES!”  Well, then don’t just basque in it for yourself!  Spread it to others!  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  So I must ask myself, “Are you unified with Christ?  If so, would I give like Jesus for the sake of others?  How does my humility look?  Do I draw a line on my humility?  Do I say, ‘God, You can ask this of me, but not that.  I won’t go that far.  That’s just too much.’?  Or, would I truly love You enough to empty myself in the same mind and humble myself in the same mind and become obedient even to the point of death if You so required?

“But we have the mind of Christ.”  That’s what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16.  But it’s not for the purpose of instructing God, that’s for sure.  We don’t become little God’s knowing everything He knows.  But we are blessed to be able to see God and others through the eyes of Christ, to have His understanding through unity with the Holy Spirit who brings us to know His will, to have His heart, to share His love. 

Therefore, everyone who is a true believer, ought to be unified in thought, in compassion to one another, fond of each other as brothers and sisters love each other, sympathetic and tenderhearted to one another, and courteous or kind to one another.  That ought to be a no-brainer, right?  But is this what my life looks like for real?  That’s what Paul and Peter and most importantly, Jesus, want me to ask myself.

I mean, let’s just look at being sympathetic.  Have you ever heard of a story where a husband winds up having pregnancy symptoms along with his wife?  It’s an actual syndrome because it happens occasionally.  It’s called Couvade syndrome or sympathetic pregnancy.  The partner experiences some of the things the expectant mother is experiencing.  Really.  Sometimes the husband experiences some weight gain, altered hormone levels, morning sickness, and trouble sleeping.  That’s quite a level of understanding, isn’t it?

Noah Webster defines sympathy as “Having common feeling with another; susceptible of being affected by feelings like those of another…”  He also defines sympathy as “Fellow feeling.”  But here’s the thing.  Our deepest sympathy should be with Christ.  If my deepest sympathy is with another person, I could be affected by their affections, which could lead us both where we don’t want to go.  But, if we are living in the mind of Christ, in that unity, we will be living in the deepest sympathy of Christ together, which is always for us, and not against us; which is always compelling us toward that unity in Him which brings us all into unity.

May Peters words remind me to look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Let me “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that [I] may not grow weary or fainthearted.”  Let me remember, that You have given me Your mind, this same mindset toward others and especially toward God.  Now let me live in it.

To Untwisted Humility

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Photo credit to bibleplaces.com

 

“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude: ‘Whom are you like in your greatness?’” Ezekiel 31:2

 
Maybe that’s a question we all ought to ask ourselves. “Who am I like in my ‘greatness’?” First of all, who am I comparing myself to? Am I really comparing myself to Greatness itself? Who am I lining myself up with? Do I think more of myself than I ought?
Maybe Pharaoh should have thought more about who he was comparing his greatness to. I mean, it wasn’t like he wasn’t great. Egypt had been a world power and then had been subjugated by Assyria but had made a comeback. Smaller nations looked to them as great again. The Expositor’s Bible says that verse 3, where it tells about the Assyrian, should be translated as “T’asshur,” which is the name of the sherbin tree, which was a cedar in Lebanon that was unrivaled among the other stately forest trees.

 
Egypt was like that great tree. But how did he get like that great tree? How did he get to be so great like this cedar in the garden of God that the others “could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his bough, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty”? Was he so great and beautiful for himself? If so, why is the picture of God’s garden? Was everything in God’s garden created for it’s own esoteric majesty? Or was it created from and for the majesty of something greater?

 
Who made Egypt great? Who made the greatness of the cedar? “I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.” Who said that? God. God had made him, Egypt, so great that others noticed and envied his greatness. God did it. God made Egypt great because all greatness comes from God. Without God there is no greatness.

 
What happened to Egypt. “Therefore thus says the Lord God; ‘Because you have lifted up yourself in height, and he has shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.’” What was the wickedness? It was puffing up his own greatness and forgetting where all good things and therefore all great things come from.

 
Let me think about that. “His heart is lifted up in his height.” His heart. That’s not just about his emotions. That’s about his mind, will, and emotions. It’s the part that drives the way I think and the actions I take. It’s the me of me. Only here it’s the me not as I was created to be, but the me that I desire to make myself to be. It’s the me that I lift up, that I raise. It’s when I exalt myself, my ways, my will, my emotions above God’s. It’s a haughtiness and pride. It’s presumptuousness and pride. It’s setting myself up. Actually, Strong’s Concordance says the word ruym even means to breed worms. Yep, I think when this is my philosophy of life, as it was for Pharaoh, it’s truly creating a can of worms. And when you think about it, being a worm isn’t something to be proud of.

 
When David cries out, in words that expressed his heart and humbleness before God, in words that also spoke prophetically from the heart of the Messiah, we hear, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Here’s David, king of Israel, a worm? It’s a different word than ruym. It’s tola, and a more of a maggoty type of worm used to dye clothes scarlet. Think about that. Did David see himself as something great in himself? Obviously not at this moment. Shortly after this in Psalm 22:8 he continues, “He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him.” God was his establisher and rescuer. And what of Jesus? I mean, come on, Jesus was the Son of God. You can’t get much higher than that? How did Jesus’ heart handle that knowledge? How did He handle that pat on the back, that commendation?

 
Let’s look at that question. How can I look at how Jesus, the Son of God, the Top Dog of top dogs, handled His authority and His power? How can I be put into a proper perspective of my own life from His? Paul thought about this. He shared his thinking with others. He lived by this thinking, this understanding and fellowship with Christ in God. As a matter of fact, he calls it encouragement in Christ. He calls it encouragement in Christ that gives comfort from love and that is all about participation with the Holy Spirit, affection and sympathy, completeness of joy, unity of mind and love. It’s devoid of selfish ambition or conceit. Wow, that’s just the opposite of Pharaoh’s problem, isn’t it? It counts others as worth more than myself and lifts their significance above mine, which must mean that I’m thinking about God’s significance more than mine.

 
It’s not like I don’t have concerns for myself. I still need food and shelter and love and other things. But it’s not just about me when I look through God’s perspective. I’m not alone. There’s this world with others in it affected just like me, with needs just like me, and maybe even greater. It’s bigger than me and better than me and interrelated with others. But it’s not just about us either. This whole encouragement is that it’s all wrapped up in God. And I can’t get the true gist of life without understanding how to look at it and understand it through the mind of Jesus Christ. If I don’t think like Him about it, my whole view of myself and others and the world and God will be distorted. So how did Jesus think about it?

 
Jesus, who was God, didn’t stop to think about whom He was like in greatness. Jesus kept His eyes on the greatness of God. His whole desire was to make much of God. And that is so fascinating. Why? Because He was God!  Here He was in the form of God, only He didn’t cling like glue to that as His claim to fame. His equality wasn’t what floated His boat. You know what He valued? God. He humbled Himself and emptied Himself. He lowered Himself to take on the form of a servant, of a man. Imagine that!  Jesus, God in human form, lowered Himself to come through the birth canal of a woman! That’s pretty inglorious and undignified if you ask me, I mean for the God of the universe? It’s an amazing process for us, after all, we’re worms, but God?

 
So here Jesus was, with us humans looking on, and counting Him, you know, God, as one of us. And we didn’t even realize the wonder of it all, the majesty of who was walking with us. But instead of being angry at us, instead of retaliating in His pride, He humbled Himself and became obedient to God the Father unto death, even that terrible death on the cross. Where was His pride? Where was His authority? Where was His heart? Obviously, not lifted up in Himself but lifted up in His Heavenly Father and lifting us up to Him.

 
So what does God, the Heavenly Father do? He highly exalts Him. He lifts Jesus up and makes Him the Height of heights. He makes Jesus the tallest tree, to which all else bows, whether of earth or of heaven. This is the attitude of the Lord. This is the attitude of the true King. This is the heart that God exalts, one who understands and lives in the humility of knowing Who we really belong to and Who is really sovereign.

 
I don’t work in me to make myself anything of eternal value. Oh, I could raise myself in the status of this world, but it won’t give me status in God’s eyes. Only God can do that and I can only get there through submission and humility to Him. And if I am truly learning to be humble before my God, then my life will demonstrate humility before others. Pharaoh should have worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling, meditating on the God who delivered the Israelites in such a powerful way. But he, like many of us, ignored the truth, and was too busy working things out his own way, in his own strength.

 

We still live in a crooked and twisted generation, but today is the day that we can untwist and get back to what we were created for. Today is the day that I can be a light shining in a twisted world to show it how to untwist. Today is the day that I can uncorrupt my thinking and my living and humble myself before my Maker and follow Christ into the heart of God. And I can be a part of leading others to His heart and out of corruption. Why? Because it’s not about me. “For it is God which works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) I’m God’s workmanship, not my own. I’ve got nothing to boast in outside of Him. I wouldn’t even be here without Him. My prayer is that my heart- my mind, my will, and my emotions- would be conformed to Your heart. May You be exalted in my life and may my life boast of You before the world. May Your greatness be my glory.

Let’s Get Over Ourselves

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Photo credit to theknot.

 

“…Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within your soul against the land of Israel…” Ezekiel 25:6

 
This chapter in Ezekiel really resonates in my life today. Here God was filling Ezekiel in on judgment of seven nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistine, Tyre, Zidon, and Egypt. And each one was pretty much guilty in one of the same ways—contempt. God starts with Ammon who was guilty of “despite against the land of Israel.” That means they treated it despitefully, pushed her aside with contempt. Moab and Seir called the people heathen, like animals or a flock of locusts. Edom despised them as a people also. They were just filled with vengeance, and revenge, and offense toward them. Philistia added to that hatred. Now I’m not saying that the other nations weren’t guilty of hatred. I’m just saying to think about these character markers of these nations that God condemned for their actions. And maybe think about our very own nation and how we respond to one another and others.

 
Here’s part of the bad thing. John Gill shares that the clapping of hands and stamping of feet were gestures that showed joy and gladness. He goes on to say, “they had a secret joy in their heart, which they expressed by gestures, in the most spiteful and scornful manner they were capable of; which showed the wretched malignity of their dispositions against the children of Israel; they hated them with a perfect hatred.” Now, stop a minute. It’s one thing to disagree with a person or to even dislike them. But it’s a whole other ballpark to hate a person and to despise them, to see them not as people any more but as animals and locusts. That is the saddest state of affairs.

 
Here’s the problem, we’re all people. We’re all people of one nation or another. And people of any nation can choose for themselves who and what they will serve. But the truth is, every one of us belongs to this One God who created us, whether we believe it or deny it. Truth does exist and it exists in the Ever-Existent One. By nature of how we were created and Who created us, we each, individually, and as nations, have a divine purpose. We each, individually, and as nations, are given the opportunity to choose to live in and fulfill this purpose in God or reject it. The choice is ours. But, then again, so are the consequences. And here they are, being layed out in Ezekiel for those who would have none of God.

 
But just so one can know that I’m not just pointing fingers at “pagan” nations, let’s look at Israel herself. Why would God judge her, His own daughter? Let’s go back a little earlier in Ezekiel 22:6-10. “Behold the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood.  Father and mother are treated with contempt in you,; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and widowed are wronged in you.  You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths.  There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst.  In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual purity.” Here’s that despising going on again, that counting others as of little worth. You know, it really matters. It doesn’t matter who is doing the despising if the despising is being done. This treating others as though they have no worth is against God, it’s against creation, it’s against humanity. And I don’t give a hoot if a Republican, or Democrat, or Millenial, or American, or Asian, or German, or White, or Black, or Fuchsia, or LGBT, or Heterosexual, or Alien, or National is guilty of it toward another, they are guilty. And this is a bad kind of guilty, folks! And it’s gonna be our destruction if we can’t see it in ourselves and eradicate it in our own hearts if it’s there.

 
Regular people get caught up in this, not just nations and political affiliations. David despised the Lord, Uriah, and Bathsheba when he committed adultery. He didn’t give a hoot at the moment about the community of Israel or the fear of the Lord because of his feelings about what he wanted. What about Esau? He’s remembered by God and man as despising his birthright. Poor Esau? Really? He kept throwing it away like it was trash, and worth less than a bowl of stew! Michal thought less of David for his religious zeal.
We can get so caught up in ourselves, we loose sight that we belong to God. And when we lose sight of belonging to God, it’s indicated in our lives, just like in the city, when she forgot her purpose. Holy things of God become of no worth. They’re done away with. In Israel’s day it was the festivals, Temple implements, the Levitical priesthood, the rituals, God’s Sabbath. They become unnecessary, burdens, worthless to fulfilling our desires because life now has become about us and not about God. And everyone has to feel my way. If prayer is useless to me, it can’t be useful to anyone else. Remove it. If listening to God’s word is useless to me, it can’t be useful to anyone else. Remove it. I can’t ask you to have someone else bake your cake or do your flower arrangement even though I want to value God’s value and purpose. And I still value you even though you don’t agree with me. That’s why I politely declined and shared why I couldn’t be the one to make your cake. But someone else can. I didn’t persecute you, I just said, “No, I can’t do that because even though you are valuable to me, my God’s ways are even more valuable.”

 
In reality, this whole thinking is idolatry. It’s valuing my desire over God’s. It’s so easy to do it though. I can find reasons for rewriting all of Scripture if I want. But there is just something about worshipping God’s way. And it’s so hard in today’s world. But obviously, it wasn’t easy in Biblical times either. God is God or I am god, it’s one or the other. It’s His Sabbath or it’s mine. He either determines the times and seasons and their sanctity, or I’m busy making up my own calendar and my own world and disengage from God. Then I say, “Look at me. This is what was always intended.”

 
I think about the verse about Jesus in Isaiah 53:3. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” We think of that part of Jesus being despised as being looked on with contempt and as worthless and pushed aside. And maybe that’s true. But there’s this older Isaiah scroll found with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Lancaster and Monson who did extensive study on the Masoretic older text shares that it portrays the servant as “unremarkable and ignored (disregarded).” In other words, the suffering servant “gave no evidence of exulted status.” Skip Moen says, “Moreover, to those who knew him he was chadal shim, ‘lacking the importance of me.’” No wonder the community of Israel didn’t give him a thought.

 

It doesn’t stop there. Lancaster and Monson believe the phrase “like one from whom men hide their face” should be translated “as one concealing his face.” “The point is that the Servant disguised his true identity, not that people turned away from him.” (Skip Moen) And doesn’t that make sense when we look at Paul’s writings? It wasn’t like God put a crown on his head for everyone to see. Even Jesus said of Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.” Maybe, just maybe everyone isn’t as obstinate as we think when it comes to denying God. Maybe our eyes had to be opened. Maybe we had to have a reason to look for Him. What if we can just be so content with our own truth we don’t even want to look for the real deal? And what if the Servant keeps His true identity secret until someone starts diligently seeking Him and the truth?

 

But what does this have to do with seeing others as worthless? Maybe it matters if I look at Jesus’ extreme example, of God’s glory and His love and faithfulness to us. In Philippians 2:3, Paul shares, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” We just saw God’s thinking. Here’s Jesus, who didn’t take being equal to God as something to wear like a robe. Here was God, who humbled Himself so that He looked and was just like everyone else around Him. Only He wasn’t really. He was still God. But God can only be perceived and experience spiritually.

 

Humility. Christ set the example. We really hate it, humility that is. It’s engraved in Greek thinking as deplorable. Aristotle, who most non-Jewish believers were later influenced by, declared “whatever prevents the development of virtue makes a person humble.” In other words, humility works against our being better people. To be someone, throw out humility. Can you see that in the world today? But that’s not what the Gospel shows. We can turn the world upside down through humility. We can turn the world upside down by becoming “servants, slaves, and lowly of heart.”

 

Do you want to see the truth of where despising people and despising God takes us? Listen to his part of Ezekiel 22:8-10 again. “You have despised My holy things and profaned My sabbaths. Slanderous men have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood, and in you they have eaten at the mountain shrines. In your midst they have committed acts of lewdness. In you they have uncovered their fathers’ nakedness; in you they have humbled her who was unclean in her menstrual impurity.” And we say, “Really, what difference does menstrual impurity mean anyway? Legalism!” That’s not what this is about. This is about sexual mores in society. It’s about how God purposed for us to be treated and to treat others versus our version of what we and others deserve. If you want to know where a country’s heart or a person’s heart lies, check out it’s sexual mores. Sex was established as part of a covenant relationship. Our sexual conduct tells a lot about that relationship or lack thereof.

 
When a society becomes so wrapped up in sex, everything else becomes unimportant. Education, health, public works, prosperity, politics, all fall to the wayside. Who is concerned about stopping terrorism when sex is the focus? Who is concerned with worldwide persecution of girls and women when sex is the focus? Who cares about right and wrong if sex has become the focus?

 
Stop and think about what God is sharing with Ezekiel. Is it important when men commit incest with mothers? That’s what “uncovering your father’s nakedness” really means. We’re not talking about genitals being exposed here. It’s an idiom about a guy having sex with his father’s wife. Hey, that was a capital offense in Leviticus. Now, so what if a guy has sex with a woman during her menstrual period? It’s not about that. It’s about humbling someone else, meaning NONCONSENSUAL SEX. Um, that means RAPE. Forced. Like, she didn’t want to disobey the law but he didn’t give a hoot, because he wanted it right then.

 
Is it really so hard to refrain for a time? It’s like a fast. When did sex become more valuable than obeying God? I mean, you can’t wait seven days? Are you gonna die? Really? You don’t have that much self control or respect for God or even for her? I guess not if sex is the food you hunger after instead of panting after God like a deer for water.
Let’s not be blind. Israel was also guilty of adultery with the neighbor’s wife, sexual lewdness toward their daughters-in-law, and incest with their sisters. (Skip Moen) Do you see an interwoven theme of violence? Can you pick up on the sexual aggression. Do you see the same thing happening around us today. “I demand ecstasy. Who needs honor, respect, and love?” Let’s open our eyes. Let’s look at our own hearts. Let’s stop pointing fingers and change our hearts and humble ourselves and be world changers.

 
Despising God and despising others is a dangerous place to be. Maybe it’s time to humble ourselves and live like we love others or else we’ll go the same way as all these nations. Don’t think we’re not close. Listen to these statistics shared by Skip, “In America there is a sexual assault of some type every two minutes. 44% of the victims are under the age of 18. 29% of these victims were under 11. 27% of these victims were raped by a family member. One out of six women in America has been the victim of rape or attempted rape…But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Internet pornography allows fantasy sexual aggression without criminal repercussions. The statistics are hard to pin down, but this much seems clear. One porn site had 100 million page views per day. Another site reported 4.46 billion page views from 350 million unique visitors. And there are no limits on sexual behavior via the internet. Ezekiel’s indictment of Jerusalem pales in comparison.”

 
Can I really go blissfully along my way. When I see people kicking and hurting others because of who they voted for, can I not do anything? When I see people so afraid they’re going to be persecuted when it’s not even happened yet, crying in safe zones on college campuses, I’m thinking, maybe it’s because you despised people so much now you’re afraid they’re going to despise you as greatly as what was in your own heart. It doesn’t have to be. There will always be people who know God and know what it is to value another person despite what they believe and there will always be a God, who sent His Son, to be the Savior and Lord, of all who really want to personally know and experience the truth. There is love just waiting to be seen and experienced. Let’s get over ourselves, and humble ourselves before God and others.