I like to read polls on trends and public opinions. Even though I don't completely understand the science of polling, who they poll, where they poll, etc., I find people's opinion fascinating. I am curious as to how they come to think the way they do, but since the polls do not deliver that info, I speculate the reasons of who, where, and why. When the latest poll is delivered regarding religion, my ears perk up. I have worked in various fields in my years of employment, and I notice that religion has increasingly diminished, (oxymoron), in day to day conversation, and in ways I am glad.
Too often, people talk about religion, or their beliefs, from traditional knowledge instead of personal study and experience. And because of that line of reasoning, you hear some off-the-wall ideas that, somewhere down the generations of family lore, these ideas were twisted and/or misinterpreted. Normally, and argument ensues, and the final statement normally goes as follows: That's how I was taught, that's how I believe. So if the topic was where in Bible teachings was the Easter bunny referred to, and if the individual said his parents told him it was in Genesis, by golly, it's in there. Polls, however, just ask a question without a long explanation, and get a social temperature in general.
The Gallup poll's index of wellbeing for 2011 reveals that very religious Americans do better across numerous dimensions of wellbeing than those who are less religious, or not at all religious. The finding, from Gallup and Healthways polled at least 1000 people daily, and their findings were the very religious experienced more positive emotions,(smiling, laughing, enjoyment, happiness, learning or doing something interesting), than non or less religious, that experienced more negative emotions,(worry, sadness, stress, and anger), on the day prior to the poll.
In May of 2010, Gallup surveys confirm a downward drift in religious indentity among Americans, as well as a slight increase in the number of Americans who view religion as old fashioned and out-of-date. Trending is a slight uptick in the percentage of Americans who say religion is not very important in their daily lives, ranging from 11-14% in the 70's-the 90's, to 19%, over the last two years.
You may find this interesting or boring, I find it disturbing and foreboding. In Charles Murray's book, "Coming Apart," he states that church attendance among the upper class has remained steady, while the working class church attendance has plummeted. The reason, he claims, are government policies toward the poor in the 1960's, (the Great Society), which have given the lower class a "entitlement mentality," destroying their self-respect, motivation, and sense of civic duty. Also, the lack of manufacturing jobs plays a role in the overall attitude of the working class toward God and religion. You can read an article at Breakpoint.com, by Chuck Colson. the article date was 2/23/12.
Combining these two polls, along with Murray's book, make me want to scratch my head and say a big hmmm. I don't disagree with either the polls or the book, and definitely with Colson's breakpoint commentaries. Without a doubt, and from personal experience, I am much happier and peaceful as a follower of Christ, than when I was drinking daily, and living a self-seeking existence. Laughing, joy, and learning something new daily, fill the better part of each day. Trouble is tagging along too. Sorrow doesn't hide from me because I'm too happy. Life happens.
I do not wonder why church attendance has plummeted among the working class. Pleasure it seems. It's simply just that "we the people," are much too busy with the "pursuit of happiness," to stop and express our gratitude for all we have. When God is ignored daily, in time, the recompense comes along. (Here's where the non-religious get to say,"what kind of a god would do that!) The pay day is evident, morally, economically, and politically. Of course, the unreligious do not accept that to be true at all. Historically, this has been the collapse of every empire, but not us, we are intelligent. I understand, and I disagree. We are no more intelligent with all of our technology and scientific advantange. If we were, we would not be where we are, where those societies were before their fall. Does this quote remind you of us?
"The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled,
the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled,
the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome
become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of
living on public assistance." Cicero, 55BC
In polls, books, and by observing the talk and spiritual temperature of the day, I'm baffled that the secular worldview sees progress, as corruption thrives, they say, all is well. Those things of God, and spirituality, are truly foolishness to those who are perishing in darkness. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Because I try to remain active in my personal recovery, and helping in the recovery of others, I get a slap in the face so to speak, when I hear of people that are "really trying," but never darken the door to a recovery meeting. That comment in my ears is like someone going up to a chalkboard and scraping their fingernails up and down on the board. I hear this one with regularity, "I can stay sober by praying, and going to church. I don't think meetings are necessary for me, maybe for others." To that, I have a really unreligious response...poppycock! I am not saying God cannot keep a person sober, nothing is too hard for Him. I know of people, that stopped using and boozing without AA/NA help, no rehab, no jail or bad consequences. That's a rarity.
Anyone saying they do not need recovery meetings, and are determined to willpower and take the, "me and Jesus" approach, are saying these things:
I do not want to go to meetings and hear a bunch of drunks and drug addicts yak.
I have no intention of helping others with their recovery.
I am unique, I am spiritual enough to make it.
I do not need no one's help, I never have, and I never will.
I do not think they will tell me anything I don't already know.
These statements, are statements from a person who is planning their next fiasco. Their saying that they are too good, special, and are not required to follow the directions to remain sober. Well, good luck with that. I don't believe in luck, but don't know what else to say to you other than a statement of fantasy, since you live in one. The recovering alcoholic and drug addict know this: they must ask for help from God, from others, and give back that help to others as they recover. The drug addict/drunk that determine they need no help, can say in truth: I am too embarrassed, too lazy, too good, or too holy, to ask a addict/drunk for anything, and I wouln't lift a finger to help another suffering human.
Now on Sunday, as they set in church, and the sermon is on serving, they bob their head up and down and "amen" the minister's words. "Man, the message was outstanding this morning, we all need to get more involved helping others." They ignore opportunities to help the suffering in recovery meetings daily, but don't see that as helping others, too wrapped up in how their friends and family sees them. Then, they wonder why the compulsion to use and booze will not go away, and they only hear the people around them say, "hang in there." When they suffer from multiple relapses, those same people say, "why don't you just quit?" Real helpful, huh. God helped you get sober. He will use you to help others, and use your broken past to change lives through your story, as soon as you humble yourself, ask for others help, and comply to working "the program," not your program. Snap out of it Narcissus!
By the way, the One who called you out of your darkness, brokeness, and separation from life, also said these words, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 (NKJV) I know your arrogance, or ignorance, does not cause your ascension above Him. I know better. But you have tried to hide it, like nobody knows your past, (self-deceived), and think you will start going to meetings out-of-town real soon, (procrastinator), meanwhile, relapsing with regularity. I know I'm being hard-nosed on this topic, but I really want to see you, and me, stop the excuses, swallow the pride, and get busy healing others, and being healed ourselves. And I am really tired of watching people die, really.
Okay, that's all I have for you today. This may not apply directly to you. You may know someone it does apply to. Tell them, or direct them to read this. This may be a "last call." Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
There is a saying for the person who sees everything from a spiritual perspective, or quotes a Bible verse in each conversation, "They are so spiritually minded that they are no earthly good." I agree with that, but also see the exact opposite in some, "they are so earthly minded, they're of no spiritual worth." Some see everything as good or evil, and are tagged as, "fanatic." Some do not find anything good or evil, right or wrong, day or night...it is what you think it is, time and space are illusions, everything is meaningless. Those poor folks I feel sorry for, so full of man's wisdom and opinions that they are missing the purpose of their living.
In John 5, there is a story of a lame man, lying by the pool of Bethsaida, where the lame, blind, and any who were invalid laid, waiting for the stirring of the water. During certain seasons, an angel from God would come and stir the water, and whoever of the disabled enter the waters first, were healed. The lame man had been in that condition for 38 years, and could not get into the pool first, because no one was there to help him get in. Jesus asked him, "do you want to get well?" Then said to him, "pick up your mat and walk." He did so. This was on the Sabbath. When the Jews saw the man carrying his mat, they told him, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat. Who told you to do this?" The lame man did not know Jesus' name, later saw Jesus in the temple, and blew the whistle on Him.
The Jews missed the miracle. They were so law minded, they were no spiritually good. How often are we the same? If the miraculous happens before our very eyes, in Jesus' name, resulting from prayer, but doesn't agree with our doctrinal beliefs, we reject God's participation in the miracle. "God does not operate like that today, miracles died out with the apostles!" some exclaim. The "spiritual," however, does not see anything but the miracle, and from that moment on, look only for the miraculous, and spend their waking hours in a fanatical trance, so to speak, with their minds in the clouds, and want to witness God's power only.
Of course, there are those who will say, the lame man wasn't really lame. If they saw an amputee's missing arm suddenly appear by prayer in the name of Jesus, they would think, this is merely a magic trick, and look around for the hidden cameras. There are still others who see, believe, rejoice, and continue their journey as a follower of Christ. They were not amazed at a miracle, they knew nothing is impossible with God, so they expected it, but don't stop doing as Christ taught them to do because of it. I read of many miraculous things happening in third-world countries, with regularity. Why there, not in righteous America? Believers there are not cluttered with things and events that they put ahead of God, He is first, they focus on his presence and will, sharing Christ in the face of persecution.
These people in developing nations also gather in expectation of something new from God when they meet. Their expectations are on God, not on a man standing in the pulpit, who we expect will work up God's manifest presence in our church services. They aren't preacher followers...they know it's all about Jesus. Above and beyond that, their faith is child-like, if the Bible says it, it is so. No doctrine of man can overrule the written Word, or the Living Christ. It is here, in child-like faith, that spiritual mindedness doesn't take the believer off on a tangent for 5 years, looking for the extraordinary to prove God's reality. We sensationalize, advertise, and charge admission. They hear, come, and receive...and rejoice!
We must stop missing what God wants to do in our lives by looking to the sensationalists, the doubting media, or the fence-riding believer that curse like a sailor, drink like a fish, but become suddenly spiritual when religion is discussed. Let us submit in obedience, walk in love toward all, and let God out of the box we keep Him in, so we can see, and not miss, the miraculous. God bless and keep you all, Keith.
I had the privilege of growing up in the 60's and 70's, and witnessed rock and roll's evolution. "All You Need is Love" was a popular Beatles song of that era that coincided with the "summer of love," in 67'. Peace and love were two words that were re-defined, rather, misinterpreted to meaning perversion and pacifism to many people. There were good and bad ideologies that sprang from those times, embedded in our culture to this day. People did discover that real love is a need in their life, we had to then...and still have to personally define the word.
SEX, FRIENDSHIP, and LOVE
We do tend to use the word love with broad meanings, and in English dictionaries, you look up the word and discover it reveals 25 methods of defining loves meaning, being a noun, a verb, and even a tennis score. We do have words we use to express different meanings for the word love, affection, friendship, kindness, etc, but instead of using those words, we throw the word love out there knowing everyone understands what you mean. Making love is having sexual relationships. We may say we love an acquaintance that we merely like. We say we love pepperoni pizza, but we really crave it. However, the mother-child relationship, that's love. The couple who have spent a half century in devotion to each other, that is love. Giving one's self in service to others, that's love. As I understand love.
I have been questioning my love for others recently. Mainly, those I work with in recovery from addictions, the people I work with on my job, and people in general. Why I question myself, is because of my claim of following Christ, who as the example I follow, laid down His life because of His love for mankind. Would I? No. For my wife, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, country...yes. My concern is that I am not sure that I love my neighbor as myself. I know, by faith, that Christ dwells in my heart and His love is there as a result of His Spirit's indwelling, so why do I struggle with loving others?
Whoever keeps His Word, truly the LOVE of God is perfected in him. By this we know we are
in Him. 1John 2:5
Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Fruit grows. Love grows. The married couple that last til death, could tell you their love for each other grew from deep affection to total devotion. As I become more dependent upon God, I have a greater love for Him, my understanding flourishes, and my compassion for others moves from a little seed, to a huge tree, loaded with fruit. I believe, that growing in love is similar to tending a garden. Weeding and watering, fertilizing and shooing off predator, and trimming, produces a beautiful orchard. I cannot expect perfection in a day, or even a decade. If I remain focused on Him, and continue serving others in need, love will be personified through my living, Christ will be fully formed in me. All I need is love. His love.
We become confused by the way people so off-handed say, "I love you." Sometimes I want to respond, really? what do you mean by that? I do not want to question their love, but make them think. I don't need to be a word cop, so I say nothing. I feel it necessary for myself, to show I love with action, rather than say empty words. But I'm getting better, and in time, I will be able to do both.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all! Keith
There is a ton of interest in vampires these days. What has brought this interest seems to have come through the Twilight series, a supernatural love story. I've watched each of the movies, more out of intrigue, and actually got bored on the most recent, and dozed some, read some, surfed the net some, etc. Buffy the vamp killer, Blade 1,2,3,??, et al had vamps as killers and nightime slime. It appears our hunger for entertainment has no bounds. Darkness is what seems to attrack people these nowadays, especially the young crowd. We are in search of heroes in the worst of ways.
I am not against the Twilight series necessarily, it has some descent moral lessons. I'm not against dark clothing, or much secular music. I notice that many churches have dark sanctuaries, maybe to make the congregation feel comfortable, no one can see them as they worship, or not even notice their presence. It's not such a bad idea if the speaker is boring, you can nod your way through his sermon. Extra sleep never hurt anyone.
Twilight, Blade, Buffy, and Bela Lugosi, (the best Dracula ever), all are ficticious characters that portray the living dead, but the real living dead are among us. This society, for many reasons, is filled with people who have lost their way, and in reaching their aims in life, died to goodness, kindness, and mercy. It is sad to see a person come to this. Thinking that by stepping on others that they will promote themselves to a greater position on the latter of success. Never satisfied with what they have, always wanting more, they feel that if they see to someone else's ruin, their position is established. It is so foolish, their life is death, their end is separation from the Eternal Light.
"All of a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord."
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished."
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall." Prov.16:2,5,18 (NIV)
For those who have fallen into this living death, there is hope. I think often about my motives and if my heart is lifted up in pride for any reason. I don't want to look down on anyone, nor look up at anyone. I want to maintain our equality as people, but as I look deep into me, I see that I do both. There is hope for me too. Every time I get too big for my britches, I fall. Hope arrives in time to help me see my folly, I can get up dust myself off and continue this journey. This life is for the living, not the dead. I find that living this life is giving this life. There is where the living dead have hope. They no longer have to suck the blood out of their fellow man if they want to really live. There is purpose and meaning, and feasting on the real meat of service to others...and on the bread of life, Christ Jesus.
If you or I asked anyone if they really know life, or to give a definition of real life, their answer would not surprise us at all. Real life to most is material wealth. There isn't anything wrong with having material wealth, but having it doesn't bring happiness, nor peace of mind. We may have wealth, it must not have us. We know real life is peace and joy found only in the reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory. We find life by dying to ourselves, our wants, and our dreams, only to be filled with abundant living, with perks.
There are other examples of people living but not alive. The alcoholic that sees no way out of their drinking, the heroin addict who lives in terror of running out of dope, the depressed that merely exist, and these a few examples. The day these surrender, humbly seek help from God, and become willing to do what it takes to really live, they will pass from death into life. Perhaps you are one of these, or know some who are. If so, ask God's help now. Don't waste another minute in death. He is there waiting, why are you?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
This word "enough," is one of those words used as an interjection, adverb, pronoun, or adjective. However we use the word, it is used a remarkable number of times throughout the day. We never seem to have enough material things, but have had enough, struggling for more. Some politicians aren't good enough to get elected to a higher office, and most we have had enough of. You may not have enough food to feed your family, or you make have eaten enough to choke a horse. Enough is enough, enough of that, and as you see, we use the word enough, enough.
It is a word of want, and a word of excess. When we use the word in relation to our living sober, we never can do enough in gratitude for our freedom, and we rely on the One who is more than enough. There is a passage from Proverbs I really love, and I feel that its meaning has depth, and can be viewed as an attitude for living.
"O God I beg two favors from You; let me have them before I die. First, help me to
never tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty or riches! Give me just ENOUGH
to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name." Prov.30:7-9 (NLT)
Just enough to satisfy, just enough to live. The word enough reflects balance in our life, having need for nothing. In Psalm 23, David wrote, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want... and Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 6, He said, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is ENOUGH for today." Having enough, being satisfied, are in direct relation to our focus on today. The most difficult thing for a person to do is live within the confines of this 24 hours. We project and always tend to look into the future. We procrastinate and put important duties off until it is sunny and warm, or until we feel like it. We also become gripped with fear of what tomorrow may bring. Enough.
How do we say, I have enough for today, and enjoy the bounty of this moment? I believe that is only possible by how we start the day in surrendering our will and life to God's will. We still must make plans. We have appointments, scheduled events, things to do later in the week. That's a good reason to have a calender, and write down things for the future, then return to today. Squeeze everything you can out of these 24 hours. In this 24, we give to God, give to others, and do what needs done without putting them off. Today, we let others know of their importance. Today, we attack the things we don't want to do because we don't feel like it. Today, our life changes for good, never to refocus on the failures of the past. Today, we surrender all to God. We understand the word enough has everything to do with satisfaction, not from things, rather spiritual fulfillment, serenity, enough.
Jesus said to concern ourselves only about today, we have enough worries today, so fight today's battles not tomorrows. David reflects God leading us as a sheperd leading his flock and providing enough, and protecting us enough. The proverb's petition to God is for enough only, to survive, and is mirrored by the Lord' prayer...give us this day our daily bread. If you have been in AA/NA, celebrate recovery, etc, you know the theme, One day at a time, and that is key for sobriety. After we sleep, we have only 14-16 hours to concern ourselves with, this short period should be lived as though there is no more to come. Take it, embrace it, and enjoy it. This is God's daily gift of enough.
Well, enough of this, thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
The first time I went to an AA meeting, I thought it strange that most everyone in the meeting room was laughing and having a good time. Man, I was hurting from alcohol abuse, there wasn't much to laugh about. The reason for their glee was that they were sober, safe from the debaucherous way of living in their self-imprisoned misery. God had done for them, what they could not do for themselves. He gave them a reason to laugh. When I am in the presence of jovial people, I feel better, think positive, and relax. That is just the opposite of being around an old crabbie-pattie, negative, and hateful. This is not something made up, rather, there is a science to what laughter can do for you.
Dr Lee Berk, immunologist at Loma Linda University, after extensive studies, reports that laughter helps the brain regulate the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and antibodies as well as endorphines, the body's natural pain killers. Laughter kills pain? Norman Cousins, after diagnosed with anklyosing spondylitis, a chronic inflamation that can cause the joints in the spine to fuse, developed a healing system that combined massive amounts of vitamin C and humor. He recovered from near paralysis. These examples are only two of many. If you look up the effects of laughter on the brain, on google, bing, etc, you will find that there are ongoing studies on laughter, and its ability to keep you well.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Prov.15:13 (NIV)
There are some people that aren't the type that laughs at everything, and think slapstick, or one liners, etc, are stupid. That's okay, some of it is stupid, and that's why others laugh. But if anyone sits back and thinks of funny things that has happened throughout their lifetime, they all will laugh. That is an exercise recommended on one of the sites regarding laughter's brain effects. In fact, they suggest doing that daily. By focusing our thoughts away from daily drama in life, we feel better, our outlook becomes brighter, and people attrack to us because we are jovial. Some others, thrive on drama, and often cause drama in other's lives. My suggestion is to get away from these. If they question why the distance, in love, tell them why. They may not see this in themselves. Your honesty may improve them.
I know there are many followers of Christ who struggle living in joy, as instructed by the New Testament epistles. There is nothing worse than a person who has been redeemed from their past, and from eternal separation from God, and walk around like they have a mouthful of lemons. If anyone has a reason to laugh, it is them. But they remind us of the children of Israel after they were delivered from Egypt's bondage, desiring to return to the bondage rather than to follow God through the wilderness. Grumbling and complaining can separate us from God's continual blessings, answered prayer, and healthy, prosperous living. Avoid these people. Stick with happy believers who know they've been translated out of darkness into The Light.
Do you have laughter in your home? Observe how family members act in your home. Do the teenagers stay hidden in their bedroom? The husband out in the garage? The wife in the kitchen, or in her bedroom reading? Does everyone separate when they arrive home? If this is the case, your home may be suffering from general unjoyful syndrome. There is no medication that can be prescribed, so no need to go to your doctor. Try this simple little trick. Smile. If something is remotely funny, laugh big. Let laughter fill your home. Stop with dramas on the tube. If you read something funny, share it with the household. If something happens at work that was humorous, tell the family. Turn your home into a fun house, a place every family member enjoys being. Even if you live alone, make it a point to laugh at everything, and let this gift of laughter heal your home. It works here, it will work for you there.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith (:
In recovery meetings, I have often heard this expression, "be careful what you pray for, you may get it." That is said when the topic of patience, or some other virtue is discussed. The idea is that God will answer that prayer, and you will begin to go through a barrage of situations that are painful, and the result is we become very patient. We believe God will answer that prayer, but not prayers for help when we're in trouble. In spite of their warning, I feel the worst thing I can do is cower in fear from what may or may not happen, and stifle my development as a follower of Christ in recovery. Not only do I want to pray for patience, but for my daily needs without fear of what opposition I face from the evil one.
I am reminded of the story in Daniel 3, about the 3 Hebrew friends of Daniel that refused to bow before king Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledging him as God. The penalty: death in the furnace of fire. King N said to the boys,
"who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" They respond to the king, ..."we have no need to answer you in this matter, if that is the case, OUR GOD WHOM WE SERVE is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and HE WILL deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image (of himself) which you have set up." King N then heated the furnace 7 times hotter than normal and had the Hebrews thrown in. The furnace heat was so intense, the men who threw the boys in perished.
That is resolve. that is facing fear head on knowing their confidence was in God, not themselves. They weren't praying at all, they weren't saying to God, Lord give us patience with this mean old king. When they were led to the furnace, they were not saying, "I knew we shouldn't have prayed for patience. Look where we are now, why did we pray that?" They stood tall in faith knowing the God they served would deliver! The king looked into the fire and said, and I paraphrase, "I thought we threw 3 in, there is four I see walking around in the flames, unhurt, and that fourth one...looks like the Son of God!" The Hebrews were delivered by faith in God, unwaivering faith.
I must pray for every need I have, whether it's faith or patience, love or wisdom, or anything that brings me to the point of standing in the fires of adversity, fully confident that the God I serve is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all I ask or think. Patience is a need I have, because my fallen nature is impatient. The results of praying and being tested by fire is exactly what I need to grow to maturity as a believer, and to be complete in Christ, so I am not afraid to pray for patience, or any virtue. When the flames of adversity overwhelm me, guess Who is in the fire with me? He is there.
Do not fear praying for your needs, in fact, don't be careful in prayer, be wreckless. The God you and I serve, El Shaddai, is more than enough. If you are being tested by fire, place your trust in Him. If you are struggling with addictions, stand strong and be confident, He is your help. If the fires of adversity are blowing the flames in your direction, get the extinguisher of serving others out, and go to work helping others. You will feel the cool breeze of peace and serenity, and you will smile confidently to yourself knowing He is in the flames with you.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
I have always had an interest with the coming of age ceremony for young jews. They call it a bar-mitzvah for young men, and bat-mitzvah for young women. This coming of age ceremony, or passing into adulthood, may be nothing more than a birthday party, or it may be regarded as a major part of a young person's life,where they are fully aware of their heritage and know Judaism completely. Their training is so intense that they know by memory, the Torah, (the first 5 books of the Bible), in their language, and in Hebrew. Although Judaism, like Christianity, is divided into sects that range from conservative to liberal, most all jews know about their heritage.
In protestantism, this endoctrination of young men and women from their youth has faded to becoming nearly non-existent. Many churches have omitted Sunday School for various reasons. This, I feel, is a major mistake for that is where those basic principles of the faith are learned. In fact, the lessons learned in the impressionable pre-teen years, are the lessons never forgotten. Many churches are satisfied to throw anyone in a class to just babysit while the adult service is being held. We then have a entire community of believers who are unsure of what their belief is about. Knowing that today's youths are tomorrow's church leaders, we had better prepare them to know what we believe, why we believe, and why knowing matters.
My early years in Sunday school was informative, and unforgettable, but there was much I did not know about the Bible and the faith. I learned the Beatitudes, the books of the Bible, and stories of Jesus, the disciples and apostles, and patriarchs of the Old Testament. Yet, I was ignorant in foundational truths that may have very well made a difference in the outcome of my life, including education, fatherhood, and knowing how to conduct myself throughout my life. If Christian education, at home, and on Sunday in church, was taken as seriously as Judaism teaches their youth, you would not have to worry about some godless professor in a secular college deprogramming young adult believers. They could change the professor's way of teaching.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. YOU shall teach
them DILIGENTLY to YOUR children, and shall talk of them when YOU sit in your house
when YOU walk by the way, and when YOU lie down, and when YOU rise up. Deut.6:6-7 (NKJV)
If we take the faith we believe, and teach it to our children, ahead of sports, ahead of music lessons, and ahead of Kings Islands season passes, their lives will not be average, and they will not accept mediocrity in any area of life. If we neglect to fully endoctrinate our children in belief in God, and in knowing just how reliable the ancient documents of scripture are, believe this, the secular world will certainly endoctrinate them into their disbelief. Your children will question every written word of scripture, and even if their faith doesn't completely turn away from God, they will not be able to answer the critics and disbelievers. That leads to compromise of the truth, Christ is truth.
We should re-think this elimination of Sunday school "basic training," and see it's value to the young. If you have young children to early teens, while they still look to you for answers, provide them, teach them so their young minds will be full of the knowledge of God and His ways. Parents must not fully rely on what Sunday school teachers teach, and should always ask, "what did you learn about this morning?" after every class. If you are a parent but lack understanding in your faith, take a little time each day and read, study, and pray for God to grant you knowledge. We only have the window of opportunity for a few short years. We also must understand the importance of eternity, and what forever implies to every living soul.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
My mind thinks critically toward my personal inadequacies. This can be a gift, in that looking at areas that need fixing, you work on, pray about, and work to improve. It can be a curse too. You worry about being perfect before you begin a project, so you never begin. The old proverb, (Chinese I think), says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. I agree. The thing is, stopping the work in the middle of a project, the project being me, is as bad as never beginning. In sobriety, AA has 12 steps to recovery. Many begin, but quit half way into the steps, or wait too long between steps, and drop off of the end of the earth and aren't heard from again unless they end up on the bar stool, or the obituary collumn. Tragic.
I can criticize myself, I can point out others complacency. That doesn't make me any sort of know-it-all, but does give me observations on how to stop, look, and listen...and improve. I see something wonderful and terrible in recovering addicts/alcoholics. God, by His grace, leads us to help in recovery and getting clean and sober, and that's wonderful. The help we receive points us back to God's direction, but too often the journey stops before completion, that's terrible. The path to self-improvement, serenity, and personal relationship with the Giver of Life, is suddenly hidden, because we look back at what we left behind, like the cares of this life and personal pleasures.
We are either in the fight, or spectating. Something in life must drive us to be determined to go all the way and finish those things in life that cause us to stand out, fulfilling God's purpose for us. So what can give us that drive? There is an old saying I heard as a child growing up, there is only one life it soon will pass...only what's done for God will last. What does that have to do with giving me a drive? That is a nice saying, taking it to heart is where the drive lies. What will give us the drive in a word: CONVICTION. If I believe in anything so strongly, and I'm persuaded that thing will help others and honor God, I will be convicted to go all the way, take every step to achieve His purpose in me.
I can now, critically view my shortcomings, yours too, without criticizing, knowing we are a work in progress, just in the early stages of perfection. With each trial we pass, we are being formed by God into the image of Christ, the only perfect One. Complacency, procrastination, sloth, and ignorance, are the frustrations that keep us from having worth. Unworthiness keeps us from God's presence, feeling, I''m just not good enough...when I get rid of all my sin, I'll pray more. When I get done with pleasures, I'll start living right, give up what I desire, to serve God and help others. One of these days I'll...and unfortunately, the day doesn't come. I knew, before I ever entered a recovery meeting, I was done for, I would never stop with pleasure, or decide one day to be God's man. When I went all the way, the other way, knowing I could never be free of me and begin to do right for God and man, then, God began to mold me, and draw me to Him.
People don't come into AA/NA happy and well adjusted, ready to serve and help others. People do not come to Christ saying I just figured out why I can't get my life together, okay I am now ready, let's go to work. Now God tell me what you need from me, and who do you want me to help. That my friends, is our expectation, when we get ready, then we will live right. Don't be self deceived. It is our surrender to the fact that we have no control over ourselves, and are broken by continual failures, then, only then, He can mold us into the perfect vessel. He is the Potter, I am the clay.
Conviction, brokeness, surrender. Knowing that I will self-improve and accomplish, (conviction), but I need God's help, (brokeness), and I will stop trying to force things done by my control, (surrender), reveals to me that I can enter the ring ready to fight with purpose, and achieve perfection one day in Christ. I give Him control, He takes the reins, pulls the strings, manipulates the situations, and I go from achievement to achievement, instead of failure to failure. I can go all the way.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith