Living-dead living

Col 3:5  “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…”

It is difficult to live as a living-dead man. The seat of my desires shows itself in the different parts of my body. I like the old English word “members.” My body is composed of different members. All of the members are subject to earthly desires. The eye is different from the hand. The brain is different from the mouth. Yet the eye, brain, mouth and hand all feed information to the seat of my desires. This is where “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” are fed to the seat of my desires. In the Garden, where perfection reigned, the information flow was untainted. But the proverbial “I” rebelled and garnered the wrath of God. “I” was expelled. “I” now became a creature of idolatry. Now I live, as a citizen outside of the Garden, in a body of members who tainted by earthly desires that are hostile to a holy God. And the only remedy is death, but to not the physical members, as that would harm or even kill me. It is the seat of desires that will be dominated and killed. It is a beast; a wild horse that refuses to be broken. As anyone knows who has been horseback riding. The reins are for keeping the horse from running away with the rider. By denying domination to the seat of my desires I keep the control; I keep rein over  influence of my members from running away with me. My experience teaches me that not putting to death this pale horse allows it to gain power and morph into a raging bull elephant. It is warfare. In warfare, you kill the enemy bent on killing you before he succeeds.

Beginnings are not endings

Many people start life in difficult and incredibly ‘unfair’ circumstances. There many around us who begin life rejected by parents. Many grow up in families surrounded by murderers, rapist, treachery, addictions and con-artists. Some grow up in slavery or are sold into slavery, even here in the US. Consider Joseph, who is held up as a hero of the Bible. Jacob his father was a conniving and treacherous. He stole his older brother’s inheritance. Jacob’s sons took after their father. Joseph was the 11th son, the youngest. Jacob played favorites with his sons and Joseph was his favorite. This created animosity and jealousy among the other 10 older brothers. They made a plan and sold Joseph into slavery to some Egyptians slave traders. Then they created an elaborate lie complete with evidence to convince their father of Joseph’s unfortunate demise by a wild animal attack. Joseph started life as a loved and cherished son and suddenly found himself in a foreign country as a slave among foreign gods. But did he focus on yesterday? No. He remained faithful to his God and “The Lord was with Joseph…” [Genesis 39:2] That changes everything. That changes most of all our attitude. God being with us levels the playing field. He can change tomorrow. Many people go through life looking at the wrongs people do to us in the yesterdays. They fail to see that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8 ESV] God can help us with the wrongs and heal our hurts. That does not mean that God is necessarily going to ‘fix’ those who have wronged us. We may not escape the circumstance we are in or resolve it to our liking. The good news is that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” [Romans 8:31 NIV]. When everything is all said and done, if God is in us then it does not matter who is against us! Beginnings are not endings!

If You Love Them, Speak Clearly with Them

“…each part… helps the other parts grow..”. Ephesians 4:16

We have all heard the term “beating around the bush” to describe someone who is not straight forward in what they say. Part of the impetus for change is the wish to clearly help men to become the men that God intended. And that means being honest and transparent with ourselves and others. It is not about confrontation. It is about being honest and direct. I suspect that one of the reasons that Jesus, with little fanfare, was able to recruit four fishermen at the very start of His ministry [two were brothers nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” which today would sound like a motorcycle club] was His clear and unmistakable way of laying it squarely on the line. These were hard living men who worked hard to make a daily living. Words such as tenderness, diplomatic and tactful would not be very accurate in describing their personal communication style. In their world men screamed and chewed each other out; communication was verbally abusive. I have first hand knowledge, I worked in that world as a young man. Look for avenues open that provides us men the unique opportunity to communicate directly and honestly with the One who wants to speak to our hearts with love and transparency. That was one reason that those fishermen over 2,000 years ago dropped everything to follow Jesus. They recognized love and transparency without an attitude of judgmental condemnation. Jesus is committed to having us ‘be all that we can be.’ Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.

Interesting, is it not?

God is very concerned with all of me…my body, soul and spirit. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” [1Thess 5:23-24] It is so easy to forget or simply not want to remember God’s faithfulness. Experiential knowledge of getting to know the ways of God has shown me repeatedly how deliriously willing He is to bless me. I had an interesting thought. I will never experience the ‘God of peace’ as long as I am at war with Him. Now you may be asking, how are you at war with God? War starts at the moment that I decide to put myself first before others. War starts as soon as I think that my Plan B is better than God’s only preparation of Plan A. Jealousy starts war when I commit idolatry by putting personal power, prestige or privilege before my love of God.