One of the most difficult things for anyone to do is admit their shortcomings and character defects. We are prideful in thinking that we do not have such, or that others do not notice our flaws. Over the course of our life we have on Earth, we develop many resentments, bad habits, and attitudes that define us. The deception that we cannot change, or that we are too old to improve, robs us of life and enthusiasm to flow with all God has for us.
It takes nourishment to exist. The food and water we receive not only keep us alive but also cause our healthy growth. If we grow up eating junk that is not good for us, the cells may not properly develop, and we may have a life of sickness, and may die prematurely. It is important to eat a proper diet for health and long life, but we still want to eat junk from time to time or we may become bored with eating...so we think.
This is true for our spiritual side, our mentality, and character and personality. Feeding daily on positives will build strong healthy character, and outgoing personality. Positive living can make the difference in how we see things and people, through empathetic eyes, or seeing what others can become, and how to solve problems instead of being a problem.
Spiritually, the knowledge of who I am in Christ, and how I approach God in prayer, and studying His Word, all come by the nourishment fed to my spirit. How do you and I nourish ourselves spiritually? It is our desire to know the Creator and search Him out that drives us to the place of prayer, and causes us to dust off the Bible and actually read it. Some unfortunately, never get to the nourishing part of spirituality, and remain babies...no growth.
That is true for self improvement in our total being. In recovering from addictions, we have to face our character flaws and remove ourselves from the thought that we can get well without others help, and God's help, or staying clean and sober will be short lived. Resentments, attitudes, and bad habits have become our "babies" that we nourished while in the throes of addiction, we were the only person who mattered. We felt unique, no one was like us. Our babies wanted fed...and we nourished them with poison.
"Maturity consists in no longer being taken in by oneself." - Kajetan Von Sclaggenberg
"Do not pray for easier lives, pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks." -Phillips Brooks
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)
We must feed on goodness if we want self-improvement and a full life while we are here. To look back and say I gave it my best is good, but is it true? Think about you. (We should be good at that) Not in a way you see you, but how others see you. Will they say of you...he/she is a good spouse, a good father, a great employee. They go out of their way for others. He will give you the shirt off of his back. She is consistent, never thinking of herself. And the ones closest to us, our spouse, parents, and children, what do you think they think?
If we stop feeding our "babies" with self-deceit, and move toward maturity in service to God and others, intentionally putting our wants and needs behind everyone else's wants and needs, we will be on our way to a full, mature life. Give thought to how you feed your body, what you allow in your mind, and feed the real you...your spirit every day with prayer and God's Word. The effect will be felt by others around you.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Jesus was a story teller, and by the use of parables, taught great spiritual truths. There is one parable that left every hearer baffled and none seemingly understood, even His disciples. So He explained it to the disciples when they were alone without the following crowd.
"A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on the footpath where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks, and began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seeds fell among thorns that choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted...anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."
Jesus explained the seed was the Word, the hearer is the soil. The seed that fell on the footpath and eaten by birds, were those who hear the Word, and here comes old "scratch" saying in their ear, surely you aren't buying this crap? This guy is saying someone you don't know actually died for you..c'mon now, you are a good guy, everyone likes you. If you believe this, everyone will laugh at you. He has had several milleniae to improve his art. But the lies are always the same as with the conversation in Eden, has god said ? These hearers reject truth and believe the lies. Is this you?
Other seed fell on rocky soil and didn't make it either. The reason, Jesus said, no moisture. They received the Word gladly, and believed with their tongue...not the heart. They went about their business and the Word was forgotten. Many of us have been there. Fair-weather believers, that fall apart the moment trouble comes. Nothing changes with this individual. These talk the same, act the same, think the same ways, but tell everyone their a believer. The life-style is the same. I was there, confessing Jesus, living like a pure devil. Is this you?
Some of this seed fell into the weeds or thorns, and Jesus said these are the ones that believe the Word, but life here is more important. Material gain and the cares of life have preminence in their lives. These poor folks have placed their homes, cars, their children, and jobs all ahead of God and the Word. They really want to believe, as long as their busy life and things gained aren't disturbed. God is placed on the shelf with all of their deities, pluralistic theology. Is this you?
The last example are the ones whose hearts were fertile soil and received the Word in sincerity. These are they who are not only hearers, but doers of the Word, and devote themselves to the truth of the gospel. The doers produce because they give what they receive, they die to self, they hold nothing back. Is this you?
I am convinced by everything around my sphere of understanding, from events worldwide, that these are the days Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, that Paul spoke of in 2Timothy 3, that Peter mentioned in 2Peter 3. These are the days that the prophets foretold, Joel, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc. The real danger for all mankind is that so many of the believers, have turned a deaf ear to the Message, the seed is being choked out, snatched away, and has died from thirst. This is us.
We, the body of Christ must, by any means receive the seed of the Word, and allow it to fully grow, shooing away the birds, weeding out the soil and the rocks, and watering and fertilizing it. In other words, putting the Word as priority in our life, in the lives of our children. If we allow its dominance, change will come in ways that we didn't expect.
I can say without reservation, that because of our neglecting the Word in our homes, and in our churches, (all churches in general, you may think the group you are with currently is super-spiritual and New Testament in action, that will change), that this is why we seldom see demonstrations of God's manifest presence...He shows up by the unity of the body of believers hearts in agreement with His Word and placing the Word and ways of God on a shelf of it's own far above any and everything in life.
Where are the healings, miracles, prophetic utterances? Are they dead with the apostles? Has God withdrawn them because we have the Word in written form, The Holy Bible? Many think so, mainly from traditional knowledge, you know, that church teaching we have never checked in to. If it is that when the written Word arrives the gifts are withdrawn...I guess the calling must be withdrawn too. It seems that when the miraculous is present, so are people.
Those who feel the gifts passed with the apostles, have boxed God in, and with unbelief eliminated healing for many, and in reality, it was over debating tongues or no tongues. The seed choked out by doctrinal difference, stolen from the evil one with ignorance. Doctrinal pride robs our God-presence mentality to receive the bounty of His blessings, and realize He doesn't withdraw, He adds, and adds, and adds.
I can say that my need for personal repentance never ceases to be a part of my walk with Christ. I must keep myself fertile soil for the sowing of seed, and the reaping of a hundred times what was planted in me. If these days are those leading to the consumation of all things, which day do we decide to be serious about it, and receive the seed of God's Word in our hearts for real?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
People can be cold and uncaring when they hear about the misfortunes of others. Things may be said in jest that reflect their indifference. I feel that when they say things like, "sorry about your luck," it is mainly for attention or to get a rise, or just because they are not wary that their words return to them. It is the person who knows their words, their attempt at control, and their desire to willingly do damage and hit their target, and they do it with glee, these people are hard for me to tolerate.
How someone, say divorced, but having visitational rights, can have their child kept from them is especially cruel. Or, if they constantly belittle their ex-mate casting shadows over the child toward the other parent, that is no less than evil. If the "cruel one" claims to follow Christ and behave in this manner, I have no problem confronting them, and doing so in love. If it is a family member however, I try to distance myself from the problem and pray. That goes much further than using principles to beat a family member over the head, because the closer someone is to you, the less they hear.
As I grow older, and as I grow in my walk with Christ, I really am not affected by cruelty directed toward me. I really could care less what is said about me, unless it is a result of someone I have harmed by my hypocracy. That, for Christ's sake I must rectify, so not to bring reproach on His name. When I have trouble with others words and actions is when it affects someone I love, or hold dear. I seem to lose my "religion" when my loved one is the brunt of another's cruelty. I want to do serious damage to that person...not physically, but with my pen and tongue.
I have a sure-fire way of getting rid of this cruel individual's effects. In the book of 2Chronicles 32, Judah was under seige by Assyria's king Sennacherib. Hezekiah was king of Judah. He was a godly king and had turned Judah away from idolatry, back to The God of Israel, and following His law. Sennacherib sent Judah a letter, belittling God and Hezekiah. Judah, and king Hezekiah were terrified. Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet cried out to God. In Is.37, the story actually has more detail and states that the king took Sennacherib's letter to the temple and spread it out before God in prayer. The king was saying, and I paraphrase, look at what this foreign king is saying about you, he thinks you are just like the foreign gods he aleady defeated...and then he ended his prayer like this..
"Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone." Is.37:20 (NKJV)
The story ends with Sennacherib and his army called to return to their land asap, and Sennacherib is murdered by his own sons, as prophesied. Like me, God does't take too kindly of those who try to mess with those He loves.
Now from Hezekiah's story, I have a way for you to exercise your hurt feelings away...completely! What would you expect to pay for this? $99., $89., $79? No...today you can have this wonderful advice absolutely free! Three steps, that's it.
Step one: Write a letter to this cruel person detailing every incident, every hurt, and completely how you feel, without reservation. Make sure you are completely honest, thorough...leave nothing out!
Step two: You need to proofread your letter to them. You have to do it this way if you want success. Take the letter to a quiet place, spread the letter out and read it aloud to God in prayer. Every word, every detail. Make sure God understands how you really feel. Then remind Him that you are His kid, He is God, and He now owns the care of this problem. Then express gratitude to Him.
Step three: When you finish your prayer, burn the letter, or rip it to shreds and say, my bad feelings for this person are like this letter, burned up and gone. I forgive, (insert their name), and pray that God gives them their every desire and need. Now you are free. Now you can welcome this person in love without the concern of how they feel about you.
Doesn't that feel great? We cannot expect the individual to change. That poor person will have to go through much sorrow if they continue. And also remember that they are in your life for a reason, so pray for them, forgive them, and bless them instead of cursing them. If this helps you, HIT THE LIKE BUTTON. If it is no help, comment NO HELP.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
I was, and I am grateful for finding sobriety. There is no doubt that had I not been given this gift, I may be either dead, or near death, or in the "slammer." Those are three undesirable places. In truth, I was in prison in those final years of boozing, using, and losing. My gratitude is directed God-ward, for it was prayer to Him that led me to the AA rooms of recovery which, in turn led me back to God. That may sound simple, well, it is simple and the truth of what happened to me.
I was grateul to the point of promising God that I would devote the life I had remaining to helping others recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. I can say so far, so good. I only have a daily reprieve, so for these 24 hours, I ask God to keep me one more day. Simple prayer for a simple person...and this is simply true.
I have since tried my best to over-complicate the simplicity of recovery by trying to improve it, and analyze its success rate, as though I could help God out with His poor performance rate with those recovering from addictions. I have since learned that AA/NA is a simple program for complicated people like myself. I have relinquished control.
The message of the Gospel is the same. Christ came to Earth and died for the sins of all mankind, rose from the dead, and will return to gather His own. We somehow try to help God's performance by trying to help the hearers of the Good News with the rules of free grace. We do not draw men to Christ, God, by the Holy Spirit does. We don't clean up their past, God does through Christ's sacrifice.
"No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." John 6:44 (NKJV)
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty." 1Cor.1:27 (NKJV)
I have watched the Billy Graham Crusade telecast on several occasions. As the simple sermon came to a close, a simple invitation to come to Christ ensued...and hundreds came and made a decision to follow Christ. I was awed by the simplicity, and the effect. This same thing occured repeatedly over several decades, and millions have been affected. There was no rules on how to follow the 10 commandments, no message on prosperity, no Babtist doctrines of church expectations for your new life. Yet over this span of time, Graham's simple message had a ripple effect, for many who came to Christ through BGC, became ministers that won many more.
We have, at least I know I have, felt that my efforts should be placed in knowing how to defend the Gospel, and stand against the Dawkins, and the Hitchens, with reasoning. How wrong can I be? When I am presented with how do you explain that science has proven this or that, my response should be, Christ died for You, if you believe on Him, you will be saved! I do not have to explain why, but I do have to rely on the Lord through the Holy Spirit to draw them to Himself for salvation.
Don't misunderstand what I am saying. I firmly believe that knowing what I believe, why I believe it, and why it is important, is vital to growth and understanding to my faith. Study and gaining knowledge is a wonderful thing. But it is the presentation of truth that enters the heart, and plants the seed. Faith to believe arises from the ears to the heart through the mouth in confession of Christ's lordship. Simple.
I am learning as I go, and have no desire to leave bodies in my wake from trying to convict and convince. Let's keep sobriety simple. Let us keep the Gospel good news for real, without depth of explanation. Simple.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
I heard the fateful news yesterday of the passing of a man that I never met, but had profound influence on my life. Chuck Colson, of Prison Ministries, passed away at the age of 80. This was a life well lived, at least in his final decades, though many may see his entire adult life as a total success. How he affected me was his all-out drive to tenets of truth and to the lives of the forgotten, rejected, and despised.
I was still in high school when the "Watergate Scandal" erupted in America, and changed forever the way American citizens view leadership in the USA. Chuck was an aide to Nixon, and served time for his loyalty. God had plans for Chuck. He became a follower of Christ in prison. Many people who villified those imprisoned for standing by Nixon, had no idea what giant had been awakened when Chuck became a follower of Jesus.
I was sitting on a love seat in front of the fireplace, reading a book entitled, "The Christian in Today's Culture," half-drunk, and miserably reading Christian writings, looking for a secret passage out of alcoholism. This book, authored by Colson, was used by the Holy Spirit to draw me back to God, seeing my broken condition as I read this book. I remember my eyes filling with tears, and asking God to save me from myself, and He did in time.
My life continued to improve by Chuck's ministry as I continued in sobriety. His daily "Breakpoint," commentary was a short 5 minute word to the Christian world, that dealt with our worldviews and conduct. I received it by email and read it daily, even copied many, or saved to my PC. His book "The Faith," was helpful to me in understanding the early church, and to understand the importance of knowing what I believe, and why it is important.
Chuck Colson also stood firm on what so many believers teeter on in societies battles regarding the sanctity of life, the importance of traditional marriage, and falacies of celebrity focus on embryonic stem cell research, as well as media and political bias toward the followers of Christ. All of these topics can be read in depth by going to breakpoint.org or visiting the Colson Center via the net.
My life changed. Everyone I have been able to help in recovery, every person helped by my blogs, and everyone who God will use my upcoming book to help in their full life in sobriety, Chuck Colson has a part in. And I am one of thousands serving in God's kingdom, and the least of those, for many influenced by Chuck are doing ministries that affect nations. Who knew? When we all witnessed his arrest back in the 70's, and called him a crooked politician, we would see a spiritual lion emerge from total defeat, with a mighty roar!
We have lost many great, noted people in the past. Chuck Colson wasn't known, or a household name of fame, yet his life for Christ exceeded what even he expected. You and I can have a similar "ripple effect" on every life we encounter while we live, if we are willing to be reshaped, and redefined as Chuck's life was. Farewell, dear friend.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
I would think everyone living has heard the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." That's how we were taught to respond to someone saying hurtful things to us as children. I'm not sure who coined the phrase, I do not believe it. The truth is, sticks and stones will break bones, and words can do irreparable damage...life altering damage.
I have both played the victim and the inflictor of painful verbage. It has always been okay for me to inflict others with hurtful words, but they are wrong to hurt me by the way they talk. The measure of the wound can be according to the extent you and I believe the statement intented to harm us. A really healthy self image may not be affected by words from anyone. That is a great reason to take a look at how you see yourself.
"There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health." Prov.12:18
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." Prov.15:1-2 (NKJV)
I think we have used the little "sticks and stones" saying to ensure our little ones aren't harmed by the sharp barbs from others, but what about how you speak to your kids? Words from parents are as damaging as words from anyone, and often, more so. Don't walk in the door and proceed to scream over things that are of little importance. The house may be cluttered, the grass may need mowed, but let me ask you, is that worth possibly injuring mentally your child forever? You do know that your behavior is mimicked by your children. What? You want to make sure your grandchildren's lives are messed up too? Keep working at it, you are sure to succeed.
I'm sure no one wants to be bullied. The bully does not want to be bullied, of that I'm sure. Words bully and intimidate others. Do not think for even a second that your child is not a bully. Hopefully they are not. If your children bully others, there is a chance they are being bullied...by you perhaps, and you may be unaware that you are. You may not know if your child is a victim of bullying because of your communication gap, especially teenagers. This is heart breaking. They are afraid, and guess what? Their greatest fear may be their fear of disappointing you. With you making a decision to open communication lines with your kids, you may find out about some darkness they are living with. Don't let your child deal with this alone. Be there, it is hard, but be there.
There are words that heal. If we are wise, we tell our children these words over and over and over again. Then we repeat it...until they believe it to be so, because it is. These ancient words are God's Words directly to whoever will listen and do them.
"My son, (daughter), give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the middle of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you; let your eyes look straight ahead." Prov. 4:20-25 (NKJV)
I am very sorry about some of the words I have used on others in life. I feel that since I have entered recovery from alcoholism, that my objective to grow up and really be someone that cares and is concerned for people, has been key for me in watching things I say and how I say them to others. I feel that many hurtful words directed towards another was mainly to get a rise out of them. More joking, than sincerity with intent to harm. I try to be careful even when I kid with folks these days. I have no desire to make anyone feel hurt.
I must realize that I have to be watchful in my kidding around, not everyone has a good sense of humor. In truth, I have been offended from words that were nothing other than someone joking around with me. I can look at the little childhood saying today, and know nothing said to me for harm can touch me, if I remain spiritually fit. When I see myself in the light of God's Word, sticks and stones bounce off of me as though I have a force field...and I do. In Christ, I am part of God's family, royalty, a new creation.
Words can hurt, words can heal. Today I choose to speak words that bring health, and not allow words intended to hurt me to have an effect. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Lessons in life always come with a price. Cheap, exspensive, or priceless are words I use to describe those events that taught me through pain, normally, how to, or not to conduct my existence. Of course, the cheap lesson would reflect a lesson without pain. An exspensive lesson is reflective of learning through monetary consequence like, I should have slowed down through that speed zone, I hope the fine is not more than $500!" The priceless lesson, however, is always a doozey. That's the "big one" that can cost you everything short of death. Who would think that a simple statement could possibly turn your world upside down?
"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." Prov.21:23 (NKJV)
I have observed and experienced how a statement can do just that. When I was younger, I was very involved in a particular church group, teaching, working with youth, asst. music "dude," janitor, deacon....and arrogant. I had the "works" down pat. I didn't think I could fall from grace because God "needed" me. Observing worldly behavior of the unbelievers, I made this foolish statement, How do they live like that? I'll NEVER BE like them! I could NEVER LIVE that way! That's the short of what happened. It began with words, and ended in actions that were "priceless." Eighteen years of debaucherous living ensued.
"You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth." Prov.6:2
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." 1Cor.10:12
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and those who love it will eat its fruit." Prov.18:21
My observation of others in recovery with a "never" problem, have made this statement, I said I would NEVER be like my parents, all they knew how to do was scream and yell, drink and party, and my life was not going to be like that! Yet, there they set in a recover meeting, just like their parents, broken, desperate, lives completely unmanageable. As I work with others in recovery, one of the first things I try to instill in their thinking is to consider changing the way they talk.
I really don't care how people talk in society. Seeing the perceived "intelligent" speak with foul, offensive words is bad enough. But when their words are mimicked by society at large, because of their status, or they're so "cool," those words become an infection that does irreparable damage to their admirers. However, I do not want to make the mistake of saying, I'll NEVER talk that way. No siree, that's too "priceless" of a statement for me. In fact, I try not to judge that person either. To even think I'm above that way of speaking causes me to stop and alter my thoughts immediately.
I have to say that the statement I made all of those years ago, along with my pride, took me down a long road of "hard living" for myself, and caused loved ones much pain. But today I am able to see how God uses every event in our lives to His glory, even our sin. This must be clear, He did not tempt me, nor open the bottle for me. He did not cause my sin. I chose that path. He cared enough to allow me to walk that path and now, as I relate this priceless lesson, the one, or the many heading down that treacherous road, may change direction. I pray that would be the case.
"Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." Prov.17:27
Think about words you speak. There is an ripple effect to every action, and every word spoken to others...and to ourselves. Self talk, self-affirmations are good, or at least okay. But I have learned how to use them in light of God's Word, or in this manner using the word never; with God's help I will NEVER.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith.
I don't think I have any right to judge without expecting the same judgment in return. I really want to see people through God's eyes. I know that isn't possible, if for one moment I could see the worst person who ever lived through God's eyes, my life on earth would be useless. His eyes see through grace that transcends the greatest love I could have for another human. If God allowed me to see any person with His eyes, the rest of my time on earth would be devoted to that individual's needs. His love doesn't compute in our brains. He loves all 6+ billion people on this planet, that is multi-tasking! We can forget the questions of evolution, age of the earth, or if there was a big bang, and why these unanswered questions cause people to doubt God's existence. His love for all could make many doubt, because it doesn't seem possible.
The love of God is greater far, than any tongue or pen can tell.
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.
Those days or moments in our lives that make us seem so far from God, because we don't feel we live up to His expectation of us, or because we blew our testimony, doesn't dent the grace He shows us. He never stops reaching for us with unconditional and unmerited favor. Grace is received by faith, totally free, totally incomprehensible. Acceptance of this free gift is realized the moment we believe, and forgotten the moment we become religious. When I, the believer begin this line of reasoning, I need to pray more, I need to read the Bible more, I need to get closer to God, I need to ask God to be with me today, I need to get to church more, and so forth, religion has set in, I move into the realm of the spiritually dead, and rigor mortis sets in, spiritually speaking.
That is hard to accept for me. I figure that somewhere along the line that there is a price to pay. I know that I have to "work out" my salvation...the Bible says so. I have to work for it. In a short time, my spiritual numbness becomes my spiritual dumbness. Then I can take my place in the pew with all of the rest of the religious atheists, praise God at church, give Him my whole being, and then take control back immediately after the service. I forget just that quickly...don't WE.
I don't need to pray more, study the Word more, visit the sick, imprisoned, or serve more. No siree, uh-uh, I WANT to! Grace is free received, freely given, I cannot earn this gift. Because of grace received, I desire to know God and crave any knowledge I can devour regarding Him. It is the goodness of God that led me to repentance, He was good to me before I ever knew Him. Now I want to defend what is said contrary about Him by ignorance and unbelief, those things different than what He says of Himself in the Word. I don't have to say God, just be with me today, or just be present in service tonight...O please, that's ridiculous. He is Jehovah Shammah, always here, there, now!
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Is.55:8-9 (NKJV)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Eph.2:8-9 (NKJV)
We cannot work our way to salvation, nor heaven. We cannot clean up our "act" to become acceptable to God, then repent...that's the dead religious thinking that many of us knew before Christ, you know, that thinking that we can help poor old God out. No, forget understanding it, just receive, it believe it, then give it away to keep. Oxymoronic, paradoxical, baffling, isn't it. I keep it by giving it away. I lose it by figuring it out, or trying to with religious thought. If we just accept this unmeritted favor from God, and remain grateful for it's freedom, we will not fall into religion, but develop a relationship that will give us a hint of the mystery of God's goodness.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
Holding resentments against others can cause me a lot of unhappiness. Unforgiveness is the number one reason for spiritual immaturity, hindering my relationship to God, and having clarity to see my own part in the problems of life. I really try to guard against grudges knowing that if I want to be forgiven, I must forgive. I become super-keen in self examination when it comes to partaking of the sacraments in Holy Communion. I take this spiritual practice very serious.
...and when He (Jesus) had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you: do this in rememberance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 1Cor.12:24-25 (NKJV)
So what does this have to do with forgiveness? It has everything to do with forgiveness. As a believer, if you're holding unforgiveness toward another, DO NOT take communion. People say this often concerning a grudge they carry; "I forgive them, but let me tell you what they did to me"... Needless to say, they haven't forgiven at all. The fact that this resentment toward another is living rent-free in your head means you won't let it go. You still have ownership of the grudge. Forgive and forget. It's hard but with God's help, you can do it.
You may say, communion is nothing more than a ritual, no one takes it serious. If we take the scripture literally, then we take the sacraments seriously. Paul tells us why we take this practice in sincerity in the following verses.
Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will br guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him take of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, eats and drinks judgment unto himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 1Cor.12:27-31 (NKJV)
It is our lack of understanding what we as Christians are to be about. We are about forgiveness, love, mercy, and the "O" word...obedience. We want all of the benefits of God without obeying the manufacturer's handbook. Taking Holy Communion must be a serious matter, Christ was broken in body, beaten with many stripes beyond recognition, for our healing. He was put to the brutal death on the cross, giving His life's blood, so we can live, really live. Taking this ritual in an off-handed way is a reflection of our spirituality as lukewarm and as though it meant nothing at all. It meant everything! Jesus said to do this in remembrance of Him. We do this practice once a year in some churches, once in a while in others, weekly in yet others. Is that how often we remember Him?
That sounds condescending on my part, doesn't it. That is not my purpose at all. The point I am aiming to make is that we should see that all our religion, is merely religious acts if we are not portraying Christ to the world. They are meaningless if we live with unforgiveness, anger, if we are deceitful, perverse in our manner of speech. In other words, live according to the world's standard. I heard recently, another Christian say after they overheard yet another christian drop an "F" bomb, "that's just the way people talk these days." I am not unforgiving toward the man for thinking that talking that way isn't wrong, yet I wonder, maybe the passages that tell the follower of Christ to not speak in a profane manner, and all of the dozens of other passages aren't serious.
Let's be serious. We have come to a place in this country, that the Cross of Jesus is under constant scrutiny directly because of Christian behavior, Christian division, and Christian apathy. It is often hard to tell the difference in unbelievers and believers. The secular world has no confidence that the religious take their belief serious. We're divided by many petty doctrines that have nothing to do with redemption, and the ones that are extreme, are the worst, thinking they are the chosen few that God will take to heaven. If that's where you attend...run for it! Not really, but give this thought, all of those thinking they're the "ones," should spend time with the four Gospels, and the conversations Jesus had with the Pharisees.
The greatest killer to the believer is apathy. Apathy toward understanding the tenets they follow. Many believers aren't savvy to the reason Christ died, or what the reason God had in requiring blood. We have to fix this. Foreign countries are sending missionaries to America to evangelize this country, you know, tell us about Jesus. We really need it.
I hope you are concerned as much as I am. I was one of the followers of Jesus that had no idea what Jesus was all about. It took me a long time to see many truths from endoctrination in the gospel of man, to the gospel of Grace through Christ Jesus. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith
This post could have a subtitle, "How to be the Best of the Worst." The idea comes from the misfortunates that have put their abilities to work, to reach the bottom, which may happen not to exist for some. Some are working toward the Abyss, the bottomless pit. I can give you some pointers, (don't call it advice because you don't take that), to reaching your aim. If you do not have addictions, but perhaps a relative, or a friend does, please read on. You need to know that those striving to achieve total underachievement, use tactics that you may be a part of. Your ceasing to help them may ruin their reaching bottom.
To be a successful alcoholic or drug addict, you may ask how do I "make it?" The ideal achievement is when you finally get under the roof of your new home, a shipping box, or a bridge for those fortunate to live near a river. Just knowing that you have burned every possible relational bridge, and lost everything, have fines out the ying-yang, penniless, and not even wanted by the penal system, you know, basically unnecessary, has it's rewards. You can say with your shoulders slumped, "I am a self-made individual." Waking up knowing you must have that drink or drug, with no way of that happening, being broke, you think about who you can victimize. But you have to be careful, you're so frail from working toward your goal, you may be harmed. Remember trying to rob the little old lady, and she hospitalized you with her purse? Bad memory.
So without further adieu, here's the pointers:
1. Do not listen to friends and family. Act like you hear what they say, but while you shake your head in total agreement, have ACDC's "Highway to Hell," playing in your mind. These people are trying to keep you from you goal.
2. Try to stay in control of everything and everyone. Manipulate all who are willing, especially the spouse and kids, play them first. When they are finished with your lies and abuse...there's always good old mom and dad. Always say your done with drinking and doping BEFORE you ask for money for food. If mom offers food instead of cash, tell her you have to have special food from the clinic. If she insists, let her go to the kitchen and cook while you go through her purse and personal items.
3.Remember AA and NA are for losers.
4. Take pride in what you don't have, and what you have lost. Reminisce with the others under the bridge, and be sure to add you were right, others were wrong about everything.
5. When you want out of the house, always start a fight with the spouse, get angry over nothing, break things and seem violent. They'll want you gone and that works great. Use this often. You may try the "addicted approach," nobody understands. The loved one may even go out and cop for you.
6. No matter what, DO NOT ask God for help. Seriously, you can't get to your goal if divinity interferes. Besides, look at all the suffering He let you go through, aw well, he don't exist anyway, look at all of the hungry kids.
7. Finally, be sure to criticize everyone, never help a neighbor. Remember you know everything.
These tips will get you to the bottom. You can be the "top of the bottom," with little effort. If you are reading this, you obviously have not "arrived" at the bridge level, there are no conveniences there. Keep at it daily. Eat, drink, and be merry. There is much suffering and loss ahead, so keep digging. Be sure that if you have children, you smoke a joint with them, and give them a couple of beers. They need to know the misery of a constant buzz, and how being high is cool. Keep looking down.
See the humor in this, but know that the High cost of Low living is reason to mourn. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith.