The Sinister and the Saint

eyeI’m not sure if I should label it progression or regression, but I have gone from wearing no glasses, to bi-focals, and for several years now I have moved into the tri-focal stage.

Each step in this vision process involved a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for new glasses.  The last time I got a new prescription for eyeglasses, I noticed the abbreviations OS and OD. The OS is for the left eye, and it is a Latin abbreviation that means “oculus sinister.”   The right eye is OD and is the Latin “oculus dextrus.”

The fact that I have a sinister left eye, made me curious, and I looked at the etymology of oculus sinister and dextrus:

  • The Latin meaning of sinister speaks of that which is “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left.”
  • Dextrus has the meaning of being “right or ready.”

In these two words, we see the struggle that each of us face.  It is the conflict between evil and good or flesh and spirit.  In Romans 8:5, Paul said:  “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

Since your “outlook” is determined by the flesh or the spirit, you may want to take an “in-look” at what the Bible says about desire:

  • James 1:14-15: Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him.  Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
  • Proverbs 27:20: Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
  • 2 Peter 2:14: Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, they entice unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices.

Which one of your eyes guides you?  Do you see the world through the sinister side or the saintly side?   I encourage you to take a look at your life, and consider using the words of Psalm 119:36-38 as your prayer for today:

“Turn my heart toward Your Law, so I will not earn money in a wrong way.  Turn my eyes away from things that have no worth, and give me new life because of Your ways.  Keep Your promise to Your servant, the promise You made to those who fear and worship You.”

A Refresher Course

Refresher-Course1For the most part, I love the spring season of the year.  I did say, “for the most part.”  When it comes to the “part” that requires me to trim the 100 foot of hedges, I rethink my love affection for spring. There are some days that I work all day in the yard, and I am bone-tired by the time I finish.

When I read 2 Corinthians 7, I get the idea that Paul was bone-tired physically as well as spiritually: “In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were troubled in every way: conflicts on the outside, fears inside.”

The remedy for Paul’s affliction was encouragement:

But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival, but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more . . . In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you (2 Corinthians 7:6,7,13).

Paul said that both he and Titus were encouraged and refreshed by their interaction with other believers.  Does your presence encourage or discourage other people?  Solomon said:

  • A twinkle in the eye delights the heart. Good news refreshes the body (Proverbs 15:30).
  • Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).

This could be one of the blessings of the golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  When you refresh and encourage others, it refreshes and encourages you.

A Normal Failure

images (2)Success and failure are the topics of many discussions.  In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16

When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout.  Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.

With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:

  • Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
  • “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
  • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones

When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow.  This young man had a stellar career as a college quarteback.  When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some peole labeled him as a failure.

Tebow stayed in shape, continued to work hard, and he signed a contract with the Eagles this week.  He is anything but a failure, and he is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “

Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Photo1When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word.  I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.

In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said:  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

  • Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
  • Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.

In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

  • Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
  • Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.

In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

  • Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
  • Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.

Here’s the simple truth:  You can follow or be hollow.  When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places.  When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.

The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion:  “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”

TV Time

o-CHILDREN-TELEVISION-facebookAs I was watching the nightly news, I became curious about TV statistics.  Based on research by statistics brain, I found that:

  • 99% of households in the USA possess at least one television.
  • The average child will spend 1,480 minutes a week watching television.
  • By the time a child is 18, he/she will have seen 150,000 violent acts and viewed 16,000 thirty second commercials.

With these statistics in mind, answer the following questions:

  • Who or what is having the greatest influence in the life of your child or grandchild?
  • If 1,480 minutes are being spent in front of the TV, how much time is being spent reading the Bible, praying, or engaging people in a positive way?

There are two warnings from Paul that are worthy of mention:

  • He said you should not be like a child who is “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every false wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).”
  • Make sure that “no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8-9).”

The 1,480 minutes of TV wouldn’t be so bad if it was healthy and wholesome; however, I think much of it is detrimental to a person’s well-being.

 

Look at the language Paul used. How much of the 1,480 minutes is captivativing philosophy that can be describe as the “trickery of men, craftiness, deceitful scheming?”

Who is Jesus?

easter01This is a momentous week in the life of the church.  Because it has been framed by two monumental events of history, it is the week traditionally referred to as “holy week.”

It’s a week that began with Palm Sunday, and it will end this Sunday with the celebration of Easter.  Palm Sunday is associated with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and Easter is the joyful recognition of His resurrection.

There’s a three word question that was asked by those who observed Jesus on Palm Sunday. As He rode a white donkey through the narrow and dusty streets of Jerusalem, they asked:  “Who is this?”

The Gospel of John presents a group of witnesses that offer a line of testimony that answers this question:

  • John testifies that Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage supper of Cana.
  • The nobleman gives a detailed account of how Jesus simply spoke and his dying son was healed.
  • The man who had been crippled for 38 years jumps in the air and clicks his heels together to show the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed him.
  • The little boy holds up an empty lunch pail and says: “It had just enough food for my dinner, but Jesus blessed it and there was enough to feed 5,000 people.”
  • The seasoned fishermen relive the moment when they thought their boat was going to sink and they were going to drown: “The Master appeared out of nowhere, walked on the waves, commanded the water to be still, and we were saved.”

After listening to all the testimony, a man rises and says:  “May I speak?  I think my evidence is conclusive.  You see, I was dead, but somehow I heard the clear and loud voice of Jesus:  ‘Lazarus come forth,’ and I shook off the chains of death.  I’m living proof of who Jesus is.”

Who is this?  Jesus is:

  • The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
  • The Bread of Life.
  • The Light of the world.
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Resurrection and the life

Who is Jesus to you?

An Instrument of God

images (5)When I read John 9 this morning, seven words popped into my mind:  “The absence of Jesus demands my presence.”

When faced with the dilemma of a blind man, Jesus said:  “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).”  Because He is no longer in the world, I am responsible to proclaim the principles of light in a world of darkness.

God has equipped you and me for this ministry.  Peter said:  “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9 ~Amplified Bible).”

This theme was developed in the life of Noah who Peter referred to as a “preacher of righteousness.”  The world had witnessed wickedness, but God called Noah out of that darkness and into his marvelous light.  Noah was chosen to speak of the excellent qualities of God that were revealed in a single word picture—the rainbow.

In the language of the night and day or light and darkness, The Message emphasizes ythe ministry of those God has chosen:   “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

Last week I spoke to a friend that I had not seen in several months.  I said:  “Good to see you.”  He replied:  “Good to hear you.”   He has lost what most of us take for granted—the ability to see.  His blindness gives him the unique perspective to contrast the experiential difference between light and darkness.

In a spiritual sense, the believer also has a unique perspective.  He has been “chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (GWT Version).”

It is difficult to explain the wonderful sweetness of honey to someone who has only tasted the sourness of a lemon. Because you have lived in a sour world and tasted the sweetness of God’s Spirit, you are God’s instrument and you have been chosen to reveal the “night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

DDT: Harmful or Healthy?

DDT is an abbreviation for the pesticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane that was banned in 1972 due to its harmful effects on the environment and its connection as a cancer-causing agent.  It was effective, but also deadly.

In recent years there has been a renaissance of interest and a growing fan-base in DDT.  This form of DDT (Dirt Detection Technology) is not considered deadly, but very effective and healthy.

DDT is now associated with the IBOT Roomba series of vacuum cleaners. It uses Dirt Detection Technology (DDT) to distinguish between the cleaner and dirtier areas of a room, so it can use its patented 3 stage cleaning system to deep clean where needed.

As I read about the properties of this property cleaning device, I thought of God’s 3 stage cleaning system:

  • The Holy Spirit: “He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).”
  • The Word: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”
  • Prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).”

Casual cleaning is not always enough to get the job done.  Instead of sweeping the dust under the carpet, we need to employ God’s 3 stage system of cleaning–DDT will get the job done.

The Advantage

advantageFor a brief period of my professional life I was involved in sales. As part of my training, the company sent me to a week-long school to introduce me to the finer points of salesmanship.

Throughout the training, one phrase was emphasized time and time again: The advantage to you is . . . After making that statement to the prospective client, I would finish the sentence by highlighting the distinguishing characteristics of the product I was selling.

From a Christian perspective, you can complete the phrase several ways. The advantage to you is that by becoming a Christian, you can:
• Know Jesus as your Savior
• Be assured of a home in Heaven
• Find comfort in His Word
• Depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance
• Be reassured and find strength through prayer
• Have hope even in times of sorrow

Most viewpoints have both a positive and negative side to the argument. The real “advantage” can be understood sometimes by also considering the negative side: How would my life be different if I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus?

What are the positives and negatives of your life, and what are the advantages you’ve discovered?

A Five-Five Relationship

3-9-12-CMI-hands_of_god_and_adam-400-300x250One of my favorite sections of Scripture is Romans 5:1-5, and I read it again this morning. I call it the 5-5, and I share it with you below:

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

In these brief verses, we find a long list of truths that provide the secret of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ:
• You are justified and declared righteous before God when you accept His son as your Savior.
• The initial result of your salvation is that you now have peace with God.
• As a child of God you have around-the-clock access to God—24/7.
• You can gain a better understanding of your affliction because hard times increase your endurance; the new found endurance builds character; and, Christ-like character produces hope.
• The hope within you is based on the love of God which has been “poured out” into your heart, and it is always available because the Holy Spirit now resides within you.

There is a reason I like to think of this section of Scripture as the 5-5. The 5-5 is a mnemonic that I use to help remind me of the relationship I have with God. SpeedLimitReduction55MPH Whenever I see a 55 MPH speed limit sign on the highway it reminds me of this Scripture and the peace I have with God through Jesus Christ.