This is a tough Blog to write as it is innate in our nature to be Kingly and drawn to oneself. As fallen man we have a tendency to think that we have shed the curses of this world and bettered ourselves and our moral aptitude. After all, it would not be very becoming of oneself to attest that we have fallen short of the mark, or to even admit that we do not have an understanding of where that mark may lay.
The other day I was walking with my son at the KY Game Farm. I was watching as this woman walked her young child up to a measuring stick to see how tall the juvenile was. The backdrop was painted like a fish, and only went up to five feet tall. I was so tempted to go make a spectacle of myself, just to embarass my son. However, I refrained from placing my 6'7" frame underneath this measuring contraption, but I was motivated to write on this topic.
The question on the table is, "How Do You Measure Up?" My premise in posing this question has to deal with how you perceive yourself as a Christian (if you are a Believer in the One True God) and with what are your measuring your growth and depth as a Believer.
I am a firm believer that no matter how well versed you might be as a scholar of the Bible or close with your Maker, we must maintain a meek, humble, and contrite heart. Now let me clarify that I am not talking about a false sense of humility. We all know somebody that thinks that they are humble, because they do not have a problem telling you that they are. My friends, if somebody has to tell you that they are humble (rather than portraying this explicit character trait) than they more than likely are not.
There have been many times in my discipleship of men that I have exclaimed to them that I don't feel worthy of the adoption into the family of Christ. This is an open and aware realization that without Christ's all encompassing Grace in my life, there is absolutely nothing I could do to earn or deserve His love for me. Inevitably when I have made this statement, the comment back to me goes something like this:
"Greg, you are like a spiritual giant. You know and quote scripture, spend time in the Word and in Prayer, attempt to lead your family down the right path, etc... If you don't feel like you are measuring up, then who is? You stand head and shoulders amongst most around you (No Pun Intended)."
Now I would like you to dissect the above statement with me. The first thing that I would like to point out is a passage from the Apostle Paul:
"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." I Timothy 1:15 (ESV)
I feel like that a lot of days. I don't know if we can come into the knowledge and understanding of the saving grace of God until we embark upon the path of Total Depravity. I am a wretch, and there is absolutly nothing that I can do to earn salvation. Now with that being said, I also accept and claim my birthright of who I am now in Christ, and how He has washed me clean by the shedding of his Blood as the Perfect Sacrifice, and has given it to me freely to accept. So when somebody takes my acceptance of Total Depravity and sums it up into a lukewarm paraphrase in life, in so many words they are saying: "Awe shucks Greg, compared to the rest of us, you are a beacon of shining light into the darkness." Herin lies the problem.
With or to what are your holding yourself out to be measured against? If you are measuring yourself against the world, then you will fail everytime! If you are measuring yourself against fellow Christians, then you will fail everytime! However, if you are measuring yourself agains the Lamb of God who was slain on the cross for your sin, then you have a starting point. See, it is at that point that we don't fail everytime, but rather that we start to become alive to Christ and dead to this world, and the things in this world. The natural assumption of this world is to compare yourself with the Jones's, as they are marching on the same stage and are in the same pattern of life as you, and therefore are fair game. However, it is never natural or willingly accepted to measure oneself next to the One who laid it all down for you, Christ Jesus. Satan loves to whisper in our ear that we can never attain "Christlikeness" so therefore it is better not to even try and thus to measure our goods and services based on those around us. I am here to tell you that Satan has been called the Great Deceiver from the beginning for a reason.
In summation, I have to strive for Christlikeness on a daily basis, or I am falling with the masses that are heading towards destruction and utter despair. Unless I measure myself with the ABSOLUTE measuring device, then I can be assured of the variance and inaccuracy of any other form of measurement they will provide. Daniel 5:27 is a very sobering passage. It says "...you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting." I don't know about you, but for me and my household we have chosen to serve the Lord. Not merely in verbiage, as talk is cheap, but through our Actions. Have you been weighed and found wanting, and if so, with whom are you measuring yourself?
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I Peter 5:8 (ESV)
I have thought long and hard about writing this blog, and it has taken me several days to compose my thoughts. This is fitting for the season that we are entering into, with almost every retailer catering to Halloween. Let me state up front that my family has never celebrated Halloween, nor will we ever in the future.
I really hesitated and prayed long about whether I should even put this picture on the Blog. I am very cautious about not giving credit to satan, but at the same time I really felt a tugging from the Lord that people need to see evil for what it is worth. Now to me this picture depicts utter evil and the heart of everything satan stands for. To some, it might be this years Halloween mask that they have picked up at their local outlet store.
The question stands, "Have We Become Desensitized?" As always, I would love for you to respond to this Blog and give me your thoughts. I have been studying Numbers 11. When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt during the Exodus, the people cried out to Moses that their souls were dry and hungry for the Fish, Melons, Leeks, and Garlic that they had while in Egypt. Granted they were slaves and treated as utterly despicable while captives in Egypt, they still craved these items. They were in love with what the world had to offer. They would rather blend in with their surroundings, although slaves to the world, then to be set free by Almighty God and have Him provide manna for them on a daily basis.
My point to this is simply that I feel that as society we have become desensitized to the world around us. We crave certain items because it is the "Norm" and everybody else is partaking in these items. It is almost like we, just like the Israelites, have "Stockholm Syndrome." We have fallen in love with our captor, and the thing that binds us up and holds us back.
I know many that say that they are opposed to Halloween, yet they are the first to corral their cars in a circle for "Trunk or Treat" or their local "Fall Festival" at their church. To me this is total Apostasy to what the Bible teaches. We have to be so cautious and careful that we are not forming our churches based off of "Church Growth" strategies, when Christ is the one that grows His Church. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! God does not want us to blend in with the world by having "Alternatives" to what the world has to offer. My Bible has the following to say:
"Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
II Corinthians 6:17-18 (ESV)
I am not finding any passage in the Bible that says that we are to "Blend In" and be "Seeker-Sensitive" to those around us. My friends, we have become desensitized to the things of this world, because we are craving the Fish, Melons, Garlic, and Leeks just like the Israelites were. This might come in the shape of Addictions, Obsessions, and basically anything that is of the world and not of God.
For months now, I have been thinking about discontinuing my cable service. It had nothing to do with saving money (although that is always a positive), but solely to do with the fact that my family and I were watching way too much television. Whatever excuses you want to throw at this, nothing holds water if it is keeping you from communicating as a family, and spending quality time with Jesus Christ. So a couple of weeks ago I called and disconnected all of my cable service (we just get the Network channels). It has been interesting to see two seperate effects of this decision: 1) My family is really going through withdrawals on what they were addicted to watching, 2) My family has read more books in the last week, then the last 6 months. Although my wife and I enjoyed watching the Discovery and History channel, I didn't like what the world was teaching my kids about the dating scene on Disney and Nickolodeon.
So my friends, the question is out there about being Desensitized. Do the things of this world effect you, or are you numb to them? I recently rented a Tom Clancy Audio Book. About 30 minutes into the book playing, I had to turn it off. The cussing was more than my spirit could handle. Could this quite possibly be because The Holy Spirit is perfecting a work in me through the act of Sanctification? I believe that it is. I was at the local movie store the other night renting a few movies. I put most of them back on the shelf after seeing that they were Rated R. I have made a covenant with my eyes and heart not to watch anything above PG-13 (I might even get radical and have to lower this to PG).
So what things of this world are you so in love with that are of satan? What are you willing to give up to not blend in with your surroundings. God is calling us not to be a chameleon and simply blend in and camouflage to Babylon. No he is calling us OUT. He is sending us out from their midst as the II Corinthians passage above states. I am tired of having blinders on and using the excuse that "God just has not convicted me of that." If you would get in the Word of God and wear some holes in your carpet from praying, then maybe you would be able to see clear enough to see and hear what the Lord is calling you out from.
As always, this is meant to convict, challenge, and encourage you to Righteousness in Christ. This is not meant to be judgemental, but rather the Truth spoken in Love.
Oh peaceful morning, where have you been hiding. Upon the dew drops that nestle ever so gently on the slivers of grass, I see the handy work of your creator. In the fog that hovers ever so gracefully over the tightly trimmed grass of the green, I see your creator. As the wind rustles through the deciduous and evergreen trees, I see your maker. Through the rays of the sun, I can see the light of your everlasting power. Likewise, through the setting of the moon, I can grasp the full power of your creativity on the lunar landscape. As the squirrel scurries in front of me, I stand in awe of his creator as well. There is not a care in the world, no not one. All is silent and resting. The birds are roosting, and man has not set foot on the floorboards of life at this moment. Everything seems to just hover in humble existence. Nobody is awake to start the hustle and bustle of this thing we call life. Everyone and everything in nature are in a pause in honor of the one who made them.
Those are the words that come to mind from my experience of walking 6 miles around Clear Creek Park during the early morning hours. I snapped this picture this week and found it absolutely breath taking. I can get pretty deep and challenging in my Blog entries, but this one speaks for itself. It is about as simple of a blog entry that I have ever written, but at the same time, it is about as complex. Did you notice how I kept referring to their creator in the above paragraph? It is not that He is not my creator as well, but rather that sometimes I forget to stop and capture the beauty of my creator all around me. As Americans, we tend to get so caught up in noise and clanging cymbals, that we forget to take time out and realize the Majesty around us. When was the last time that you looked at dew this way, or is it just an annoyance on your wet running shoes? When was the last time that you viewed the awestruck power of fog on our level, or is it a matter for your high beams and wipers to contend with? When was the last time that you stopped to give a squirrel the right of way?
My fellow brothers and sisters, please take some time out of your busy schedule to take pause. To realize the Majesty and awestruck significance of how God manifests Himself around you. In order for me to also acknowledge Him as my Creator, I must also give creedence to all those other creations around me.
Upon searching in scripture for the word "morning," I found multiple references to "early morning." I am not talking about intoxicating oneself with coffee, then sitting down and watching the morning news. I am talking about finding oneself humbled in the presence of an Almighty God early in the morning before the day begins. Before you start your day and begin your journey, how about asking God for clear direction. We are so dependent upon our GPS when we travel, that we forget that God should be the GPS of our lives. In order for Him to program that direction, try humbly submitting to Him in quietness and solitude and acknowledging that HE IS KING OF THE UNIVERSE!