Why Such Choices?


Why does someone say there is no God? Why does someone believe they cannot be saved, even though the testimony of the Gospel says otherwise?

Why does someone continue to trust their own strength, even though they have seen themselves fail miserably time after time, and have no hope that that will change? Instead of looking up to God and asking for help, in everything, they resign themselves to failure.  


Scarred through and through, they continue to lead a helpless and hopeless life.  


Why?


I don’t have a PhD in psychology. I don’t even have a Masters of anything. But I’m going to take a stab at the answer with one word, and I am absolutely sure I’m right.  


PRIDE 

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Toward Release


What does it look like when someone trusts Jesus?  What does it look like when they put all their confidence in the power of Christ to save?

Polycarp was burned at the stake.  But when he was encouraged to run and hide from his captors, instead he invited them to a dinner in his home.  Later he said, “80 and 6 years he has served me well why should I deny him now”.

Legend has it that Peter was crucified upside down, hardly feeling worthy to suffer as his master did.  But readily willing to suffer for the one he loved.

Apparently the Apostle John was boiled in oil before he was banished to the Isle of Patmos.  In that place he told us in writing about the beauty of the living God’s Holy Son.

There is a story of a mother and her two daughters who were captured by the Romans.  On the journey to Rome, understanding that they were beautiful women, the mother fained a desire to bathe before entrance to Rome.  A raging Creek was near, so the Romans let them go and bathe.  At the side of the torrent she grabbed her two daughters and through all of them into the raging river, choosing to drown rather than be molested by vulgar men (and this for the sake of purity in regard to the name of Jesus).

If I had time I could fill up far more than 100 thick volumes of testimonies.  Even today there are stories of people who are suffering brutally because they trust Jesus.  Beheadings, burnings, stabbings, and on and on.

I knew at least one faithful loving Christian, who up into his eighties, loved the Lord more than anything else in the world.  Even to his death bed he waved us away lest we interfere with his communion.

“If you love me you will obey my commands.” 

“Never will I leave you or forsake you.”

Such a short few years we are asked to trust him like this. 

Then FREEDOM!

Positive Thinking


I just read that stuff about Olsteen.  I don’t follow the news anymore,  so I didn’t even know there was a problem.

In a way he’s right.  But only in a small way.  A very very small way.

Our Lord didn’t say, “Come be happy”.  He said “Come and suffer and die with me”.  And he made that point lot more often than he talked about happiness.

When he met with his disciples again, he didn’t chide them for their grief.  Before he was crucified, he warned his disciples that they would have grief.  But he assured them it would turn to joy.  He urged them to have faith. 

Remember how he told them the horrible things they would endure for his namesake.  Does that sound like today’s teaching about joyous positive thinking?

Olsteen, you forgot about the brotherhood of suffering for the name of your Lord. 

Hoorah for the broken hearts!   Shame for the hearts who binge themselves on joy. 

Integrity of faith is tested in the crucible of suffering.  How some people miss that is beyond my understanding. 

Research the English saying, “Stiff upper lip”.  You’ll find it reflects an honor even a godless man can respect.  How much more the servants of Christ?

Rule of thumb:
If a Christian teaching gathers a vast multitude of followers, be suspicious.

The Enduring Promise


Many times death comes unannounced.  People fall in their tracks, as they work out the things of the day.  Sometimes death comes in a protracted celebration.  Some people suffer on their bed for moments, while others suffer on their bed for years.

If I am blessed to spend my celebration on a deathbed, there will be joy in me.  Though my face be racked with pain.  Though my body convulse in agony.  There will be that unspeakable joy of his promise.

How is it possible for any Christian to have a differing view of these things?  As we believe, so is his promise extended.  As we believe, so the Christian receives.

By His Grace

Christianity Demands a Choosing


In everything our God told us, it is our joy to suffer for him.  As he was cast out, so will his disciples be, simply because he spoke what is true.  As we speak what is true, they will treat us like they treated him.

Everything he taught (and by the Holy Spirit of God within us, he still teaches) contains the element of extreme choice.  The teachings of Jesus do not offer mediocrity as an option.  The best examples of this can be found in Matthew chapter 25, and Revelation 3.

Matthew 25 tells us what became of the wicked and lazy servant.  Revelation 3 tells us what became of the Church of Laodicea. 

The world describes joy as happiness, peace, and pleasant prosperity; “Let’s all just get along”.  Christ Jesus describes his disciple’s joy as having the honor to suffer in His Holy name. 

Our joy is hidden in his promise.  The Christian’s joy is not revealed to him as the world defines joy.  For now we die.  But his promise is the eternal joy of eternal life.

As we openly associate ourselves with him, the world will come and try to take away our toys.  They will try, with everything they have, to destroy our right to speak; to mock a life of holiness.  That’s how they treated him.  He has promised, that is how they will treat his disciples.  For that is how they have treated every godly man.  I promise you in Christ, nothing has changed.

Christianity is divided about their response to this.  Some say, “That’s for the prophets only”.  Others say, “This applies to every Christian.  Everyone has to make up their own mind about this. 

10 “We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come”.  (Hebrews 13 New Living Translation)

It is like humanity to choose the easy path.  It is like Christ to choose the path that leads directly to crucifixion.  But let every man make his own choice.  Only let us be sure that every Christian understands these things.  Teach them well, that they may make an intelligent and willful choice.

By His Grace

Mr and Mrs pryde


“I feel bad about Who I am.  There is something lacking in the praises to me.  I am gorgeous and beautiful!  Why then, do all not bow down when I arrive?”

And so the flatterer was born.  His Father was the Most High God.  But those who raised him up were called Mr and Mrs Wrongful and Ignorant Pryde.

What a couple they make!  How righteous and perfect do they first appear.  But spend a moment with them in conversation, and the reality of their hatred fills the air.

Men can come and go from their presence, as they please.  But to be reared in their house is a sentence of death. 

Nothing satisfies the Prydes more than dreams and ambitions of being God himself.  But even if it were possible for God to step aside, would they find the comfort of their thrones pleasant?

If these are your parents, it would be better for you to go live in the streets.  It would be better to die of starvation, than to live in the house of Lies.

Truth and humility live in the place of suffering.  Opulence and plenty fill the house of Mr and Mrs Pryde.  Every day and night they entertain many.  And flattery caps every conversation.

But Truth and Humility make their home in the open spaces.  They carefully teach all their children to endure.  They speak joyously about the things of eternity.  They never cease to praise their Father in heaven.  And holy respect caps every conversation.

They are from the lineage of reality.  Trustworthy and dutiful parents, they are adored by all their children.

Who are your parents?

By His Grace