Tattoos, bumper stickers, and marketing programs are noted for their catchy slogans. Some of these serve as a life motto, and they are original, or they are borrowed from movies, songs, or some other source. Two that come to mind are Born to Be Wild and Born in the USA.
Among these inky statements, there is a third and lesser known phrase: Born to Lose. Before statements like this appear as a tattoo on a person’s arm or as a proclamation on a bumper, they were deposited in the memory banks of the brain long ago.
Born to lose is a concept that is foreign to biblical thinking. Each of us are born with the potential to become: “As many as received Him [Jesus], to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).”
Don’t limit yourself with negative thinking, realize that in Christ, God has given you the power to become His new creation:” if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
When 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?
I had to get my atlas out last night to make sure I wasn’t lost. It seemed like whether I was listening to my radio, watching TV, or reading the newspaper, people were whining: “I deserve this,” or “I didn’t deserve that!” I thought I had been mysteriously transported to Whinersville.
Whining, mumbling, and grumbling is a worldwide problem of epidemic proportions. Europe, South America, Asia, Canada, and the good old USA are afflicted with this debilitating attitude.
This must be a centuries old problem because both Peter and Paul said people should be careful about the expression of their attitude:
- Peter said we should, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (I Peter 4:9).”
- Paul said to, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation (Philippians 2:14-15).”
Before you complain to God, and say: “This is something I don’t deserve.” Think about it. Do you really want Him to serve you a plateful of what you deserve? When God fills my plate, I’m like a child: I want a tiny portion of the Brussel sprouts of His judgment and heaping-helpings of His mercy-filled dips of mashed taters and cream gravy. I never want what I deserve—the wilting heat of His anger. I’d much rather bask in the Son-shine of His forgiveness.
Like David, we can find comfort in the loving nature of God and shout: “Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; and, Your abundant loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You . . . guide me along Your path, so that I will live in Your truth (Psalm 86:10-11).” Even whiners grow mute and their grumbles are silenced when they turn their thoughts to God’s “abundant loyal love.”
After he met with a sex abuse survivor group on Sunday morning, Pope Francis addressed a group of 300 bishops: “It continues to be on my mind that the people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones, violated that trust and caused them great pain, and God weeps.”
Another report from last week focused on a culture of corruption that the U.S. Military is reluctant to confront. According to an article in the New York Times, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases.”
When some of our military have intervened, their careers haven been jeopardized. Captain Dan Quinn, a former member of the Army Special Forces, gave an American-backed militia commander a thrashing for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.
Quinn isn’t the only soldier to be punished. Because Sgt. First Class Charles Martland helped Captain Quinn the Army is trying to forcibly retire him.
Even if “boy play” is culturally permitted and a sign of status in some parts of the Middle East, it doesn’t take much sense to know that it’s morally reprehensible. Whether it’s in the USA, Afghanistan, Russia, or China, people would do well to recognize the love of Jesus for children:
Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ~Matthew 18
Immigration is one of the focal points of discussion now that the political campaigns have begun. A question being asked is: “What should be done about the border dividing the USA and Mexico?”
The scope of the immigration question is not limited to the USA. The European Union (EU) is trying to resolve the same dilemma, and it is perhaps even more difficult.
The decisions of some countries will be influenced by the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire when their army of Muslims conquered Hungary and other nations. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, has attacked EU policy. He believes the influx of Muslim refugees is a threat to Europe.
The Washington Post has reported that, “Some European countries have been criticized for offering sanctuary only to a small number of refugees, or for discriminating between Muslims and Christians. There’s also been a good deal of continental hand-wringing over the general dysfunction of Europe’s systems for migration and asylum.”
Why is Europe and even the USA being criticized? The solution to this problem and the responsibility to act, falls directly into the lap of Syria’s Muslim neighbors. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the other wealthy Arab states along the Persian Gulf have a vast supply of oil, but they have turned a deaf ear to Syria’s squeaky wheel.
As I think of the plight of these downtrodden families who are trying to escape the horrors of war, I’m left with two questions: Is the EU practicing discrimination when they try to limit the number of Muslim refugees from Syria, or is the action of the EU discriminating wisdom?
When the EU opens the door to their borders, they open them to more than innocent migrants. They also open the door to terrorist wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Is it just me or do you also think it’s odd? The same countries that refer to the USA as the Great Satan are now appealing to our Christian values to help their outcasts? Since Saudi Arabia has been blessed with the oil can, they should oil the squeaky wheel of their neighbor.
The life of some people can be defined by their focus on giving or getting:
- Givers ask: What can I do to help you?
- Getters ask: What can you do to help me?
When I think of giving and getting, I think of the words of two wise men:
- President Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
- Solomon: “A giving person will receive much in return, and someone who gives water will also receive the water he needs (Proverbs 11:25).”
Think about the people you know. Are there some among that crowd that sap you of strength due to the demands they make? Are there others who are a delight to be around because they refresh and re-energize you?
This was the topic of discussion when Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth:
In the midst of all that has happened, though it has been difficult, we are comforted and encouraged. When we saw the relief and joy on Titus’s face, we celebrated even more because his spirit had been totally refreshed by you. Now if I have bragged in the past about you to Titus, I have nothing to be ashamed of. Just as we’ve spoken the whole truth to you, I’m glad to know that our boasts to Titus about you have proven true as well. His love for you overflows even more as he recalls your obedience and how you respectfully and somewhat nervously, with fear and trembling, took him in. I have great joy now because I have great confidence in you. ~2 Corinthians 7:13-16
Titus isn’t the only person who has been refreshed by a friend. Paul said that Philemon was a source of joy to him: “Because you are out there encouraging and reviving the hearts of fellow saints with such love, this brings great joy and comfort to me (Philemon 7).”
Think of today as your day to be the giver who makes a difference in the life of another. Give someone an encouraging word; share an act of kindness; and, revive someone who is struggling through life.
Whether you live in the USA, England, Europe, Africa, or Asia, there is one thing you hold in common. You and the rest of humanity want peace in your piece of the world–certainly, this is the case in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio this morning.
I know I’ve grown weary of all the protests, murders, shootings, and rapes that I see on the screen of my TV. The headlines of the newspaper are depressing with stories of theft, scandals, and abused children.
Here is what I am going to do in my piece of the world today. Instead of being, “overcome by evil, I’m going to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).” I am going to try my best to, “pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Romans 14:19).” J.B. Philipps translated this same verse in these words: “Let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of one another’s character.”
Will you join me and make this your goal for today:
- I will pursue and concentrate on bringing peace to my piece of the world.
- When confronted with the off-key and unkind remarks of others, I will try to bring harmony to the situation.
- I will do my best to be a positive presence in the life of those I encounter.
So what in the world are you going to do today? I encourage you to bring peace to your piece of the world.