A Matter of the Heart: El Chapo or El Grande

seanpennWhen I heard the sarcasm in the voice of the news reporter, I paused long enough to hear him say: “He’s a man’s man.”   I wasn’t surprised to learn he was was speaking about Sean Penn’s debacle with the diabolical Joaquín Guzmán or El Chapo.

Neither one of the two come to my mind when I think of a “man’s man.”  One is a misguided political activist and lousy actor while the other is an infamous drug king pin.

When God sent Samuel to the home of Jesse to find and anoint a new king, Jesse gladly showed him his sons who were fine specimens of manhood.  Even though each of them had some physical characteristics that were desirable, Samuel was to consider more than just their strength.

Before this selection process began, God had reminded Samuel that the “Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16).”

Only one of Jesse’s sons had the “heart” that met the criteria, and his name was David.  This young sheep herder would become a successful King of Israel and the author of many of the Psalms.

When you read the Psalms, several verses speak of the qualities God desires in a person.  Psalm One is perhaps the most familiar, but there are many other verses that speak of a man’s attitude and his relationship with God:

  • The man whose life is out of hand due to his arrogance and unrepentant heart (Psalm 6:2-6).
  • The man who thinks he has the world in his hand (Psalm 30:6).
  • The man who is right because he’s never left God out of his life (Psalm 16:7-11).
  • The man who walks hand in hand with God and recognizes Him as the Lord, relies on His strength, and rests in Him as a personal refuge (Psalm 18:1-3).

When people observe you, do they see a person who has a heart for God, and one who is walking hand in hand with Him?

The New Miss Universe… Oops!

CWzg_NMUAAENSNoThis past Sunday, Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo, went from ecstasy to agony in the space of a couple of seconds.  When she heard Steve Harvey announce to the world that she was the new Miss Universe, the radiant smile on her face dazzled the crowd and lit up the stage.

Then the funny man shared the sadness news, Harvey said: “I have to apologize, the first runner up is Colombia.”  Her crown was removed, and it placed on the head of Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Philippines.

While Harvey took the blame for the epic blunder, FOX News has reported that there is a seven-second behind-the-scenes video of Harvey saying: “The teleprompter said Miss Universe – Colombia.”  The technology failed:  The cue card had the correct information, and the teleprompter was wrong.

To add insult to injury, when Harvey posted his first TWEET to apologize to Miss Colombia and all Colombians, he spelled Colombia with a “U” and not an “O”—Columbia.

While this crown meant the world to Miss Colombia, there are other crowns that are of greater importance, and they are found in the New Testament:

  • The incorruptible crown (I Corinthians 9:24,25): It’s also called the imperishable crown, and it will be given to believers who have lived a life of dedication and faith.
  • The crown of rejoicing (I Thessalonians 2:19, 20; Daniel 12:3) will be given to those who share their faith and encourage others to accept Jesus as their Savior.
  • The crown of life or martyr’s crown (James 1:12; Revelation 2:8-11) is the crown that will be worn by Christians who have endured trials, tribulations, and even death for the cause of Christ.
  • The crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) is mentioned by Paul, and it is for those who live in expectation of the return of Christ.
  • The crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4) has been called the “pastor’s crown” by some and it appears to be reserved for ministers who have been faithful shepherds of the flock of God.

In the 4th chapter of Revelation, there are 24 elders dressed in white robes and wearing golden crowns, and they kneel before Jesus “who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.

The crowns of heaven are not given because of a beautiful complexion or a pretty smile; they are given for a life well-lived—a life lived in honor of the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

May He one day say to each of us:  “Well done my faithful servant.”


Who Are You?

Baker, Brewer, and Butcher and Weaver, Woodman and Wright, are more than last names, they are the names of a craft, skill, or trade.  In times past, parents had some choice in the selection of their child’s first name; however, the last name was closely associated with the occupation in which they were employed.  If you worked in the meat market and your name was James, you were probably called “James the Butcher.”

Today, there is little connection between last names and occupations.   At least here in the USA, your name might be Butcher, but you could make your living as a Baker or  Candlestick-Maker.

When we think of identifying someone, we are more likely to think of the characteristic or physical feature that best defines the person.

If you were to be identified by a spiritual feature, what would distinguish you from the rest of society?  In Acts 11:26, a person’s relationship with Christ set him apart from the rest of the community.

The city of Antioch was the first place to call the avid followers of Christ, “Christians.”  Instead of focusing on what divided them, these Christians chose to identify with the love that united them.  No longer would they be called Jew or Gentile, but from this point forward they identified themselves as Christians.

1 Peter 2:9-10 speaks of our identity in Christ:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

When you think of who you are in your relationship with Jesus, I suggest you think in these terms:

  • You are completely accepted because you have been “chosen.”
  • You are incredibly valuable because you are “His own possession.”
  • You have a wonderful ministry because you are to “proclaim the excellencies of Him.”
  • You are totally forgiven because you have “received mercy.”

There is no mistaken identity here, and I know who you are:  You are a child of the King.