Success, Significance, Sufficiency and The Serpent’s Siren Song: Part II

God teaches what is of ultimate importance: Jer 9:24  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. God also warns us, what not to boast about: Jer 9:23  Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; The serpent wants you active in your pursuit of Success, Significance, and Sufficiency on man’s worldly terms (which will not satisfy). And when you have spent your life in the pursuit of wealth, wisdom, and power you will come to the end of your life and conclude (as Solomon did) it was vanity, striving after the wind. In the meantime, you lose opportunity to know God, participate in His plan and model Jesus. To this end, you will suffer appreciable loss: 1Co 3:11-13  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 1Co 3:15  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. To be clear, God raises Christians to positions of increased power, wisdom, and wealth...

Success, Significance, Sufficiency and The Serpent’s Siren Song: Part I

Gen 3:3-5  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The serpent and the world sing the siren’s song consistently, loudly, every day and in every way. The song goes like this: “You can make yourself Successful, Significant and Sufficient”. The second stanza: “You don’t need God to realize your best self” (just like Adam/Eve before the fall).  Meanwhile, the worldly back-up singers affirm: “You are the man!”. The remaining question, however, is have you prepared your convictions now to avoid wrong pursuits for wrong motives? Developing your convictions today is the act of a reasonable man. The book of Ecclesiastes provides an unflinching and thought provoking picture of our lives (from man’s perspective) assessing the true value of the worldly pursuits to which we can give our lives: Ecc 1:14  I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. In this book, Solomon severely and repeatedly challenges man’s definition of Success, Significance and Sufficiency to only one conclusion; what men can spend their lives to “produce” is in reality vanity, striving after the wind. It is noteworthy, this is the conclusion of a man who was the wisest man on earth (by God’s grace) who possessed, pursued and indulged...

Do I Want What He Wants?

Romans 7:15-20 (NASB) reads: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.  So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” I became a Christian at age 34 at a businessman’s outreach breakfast on May 8, 1992 listening to a talk by Adolph Coors IV.  That was almost 30 years ago.  How can it be possible that I would still be sinning?  I have to acknowledge after years of studying scripture, leading bible studies, teaching at men’s retreats and discipling men that Paul’s words found here describe me perfectly.  I say to myself like Nathan said to King David: “You are the man!” Having studied Romans numerous times, Chapter 7 has always gripped me.  I have been deeply comforted to know that the great Apostle Paul wrote these words about himself toward the end of his life— explaining the struggle of...

Fissures in the Soul

(fissure: a narrow opening or crack of considerable length and depth usually occurring from some breaking or parting) Our Friday morning group recently finished a Bible study in the book of 1Samuel and it was a very rich study.  I knew there would be many things to learn from reading and studying about David.  What surprised me is how much I learned studying Israel’s first king, King Saul. Saul is a good study of a person that starts well and finishes really bad.  One reason why I believe this happened is that he didn’t deal with the cracks in his character and as time went on, they became large fissures in his soul. In the beginning of 1Samuel 10, Samuel the prophet anoints Saul as King of Israel and then Saul meets a group of prophets and prophesies with them, signifying that he is God’s anointed king.  After this Saul runs into his uncle and his uncle asks him where he has been.  Saul responds that he and his friend were looking for his father’s donkeys and when they couldn’t find them, they went to Samuel.  His uncle then asks what Samuel said to him. 1Sam 10: 14-18  “Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.” Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of...

The Glory of Easter

When a person has incredible ability or talent we often say that He or she was born to do such and such a thing. Michael Jordan was born to play basketball. Lionel Messi was born to play soccer.  Simone Biles was born to be a gymnast. Luciano Pavarotti was born to sing.  During their lifetimes they were regarded as among the greatest in their calling. They achieved fame and wealth. Jesus was born to die. He was not born to be an example or to show us how to live. He was born to be our Life. He was born to be crucified. In our place. For us. The manger led directly to the cross. The more common name for manger was “feeding trough”.  His parents probably lined the trough with hay upon which clothes were laid so the hay would not hurt the baby. There was no comfort on the cross. Jesus came in weakness and died in weakness. He was born in humble surroundings and died in shame. As a newborn babe he was surrounded by rejoicing angels, loving parents, worshipful wise men and joyful shepherds. Only a very small group were present at His birth, but crowds passed by the cross. On the cross, except for His mother, John and the two Marys, he was surrounded by cruel detractors, envious enemies, callous soldiers and disgusted passers-by. He endured the shame of being regarded as a bastard in his youth and as a blasphemer in adulthood. He was slandered and plotted against. His own brothers mocked him. The people in high society were jealous of him and...

How did you like the book?

Some time ago, I completed a nearly year-long process of review of a book with another brother. It was his first time to read the book whereas I had read it some 25 years ago. We had agreed to read this book together and interact over our impressions of the content due to a mutual interest in the subject matter. It was an interesting exercise for me to re-read a book I had read so long ago. In my previous reading, I had been impressed by the points made by the author and thought it an accurate, uplifting book.  During this current process, however, I was struck by the liberties the author had taken with certain tenets of the faith, his inappropriate application of Christian doctrine, and his inaccurate definition of words used in the Christian life. It became apparent to me how much God had matured my thinking in the intervening years and how He had increased my discernment to the point of providing this new knowledge as a basis for discussion with my brother for his edification. For example, it seems that reasoned discourse between individuals is a somewhat sparse occurrence nowadays. Because “tolerance” has been re-defined to mean “accepting all viewpoints that agree with mine”, “intolerance” re-defined to mean “any viewpoint that either disagrees with mine or proposes the existence of an absolute”, and the elevation of “offending someone” to a crime of near-capital proportions, many people are reluctant to engage in discussion (what  in days of yore was termed  “argument”) over differing perspectives in order to arrive at a better understanding of a matter. It...