Monday, August 28, 2023

The School of Submission

Proverbs 22:6 says – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. If a child doesn’t learn to submit to parental authority, they will always have difficulty submitting to other authorities. And they won’t learn to submit to parental authority if you just let them go in the way they want to go, i.e., “in the way he should go.”

The “problem” for many in this verse is the word “should.” We read the “should” in this verse as “in the way they ought to go.” But the “should” in this verse is saying “in the way they want to go.” Of course, you should train a child in the way they ought to go. But if you avoid training a child in the way they ought to go, and instead, allow the child to go the way they want to go, it will produce a lifetime of rebellion.

The decisions adults make are their own. But you have a role in the development of their decision-making process. If you let a child just do what they want, and you never steer them, and make them take direction, especially when they are resisting it, then they will never mature, but will keep that foolish, “wise in their own eyes” mentality. They will remain the center of their own world.

If you grew up this way, or if you let your children grow up this way, or if you’re lost in this way, the right way to right your ship is to get right down on your knees and submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Ask him for mercy because you’ve done things the wrong way. Ask him for grace so that you can do things the right way.

The right time to do the right thing is right now. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Bought and Paid For

Last night I watched the presidential debate. And one of the candidates said, “I am the only one on this stage who isn’t bought and paid for.” I thought about that. And a good, Christian response to that would be, “That’s absolutely right. I am bought and paid for. I am bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, who paid for my sins by dying on the cross.” Amen.    

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, August 21, 2023

A.I. is the New Tower of Babel

The very thing that we wanted most is the very thing that will destroy us.

We have taken all we know and are capable of currently and put it all together in such a way as for it to advance our capabilities and possibilities faster than we could individually. Or even in total. This is what A.I. (artificial intelligence) is. It is the combining of all we know into a processing system that moves at light speed. Without certain human limitations.

It is a machine. It doesn’t have morals, although it can mimic them by the use of data and projection. It can be made into a form to look like a human. It can create on its own, using what it already knows, and expanding forward using the parameters of what has already been known. It will then develop new parameters based on those projections. A.I. can “think” faster, more efficiently, and more accurately than any one human being, or even any number or human beings can. A.I. is uniting the full total of our collective minds together as one and making it possible for that knowledge to be advanced at a far faster rate than we could previously imagine.

This collective mind with a faster processing method can mimic a consciousness but without having to deal with a truly human morality. Rather, it is just ideas about morality, processed together, and projected forward. Human ideas, and human ideals, but no human soul, and no biblically fixed stand-alone standard. For many, this is seen as a great good. No human mistakes, morals, and malice to hinder our progress. We have created a god in our own image. The human perfected, as far as perfectly, pragmatically, progressing. But to what end? How far can this go?

This god of our collective is limited. Yes, it will grow and stretch its capabilities billions of times faster than humans could on their own. But it will never be able to surpass what humans might have gotten to if given the time. These machines can never actually ascend to God. They are limited. And A.I. can only ever set itself and its end goals to the pragmatic.

It is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel. Those people of that day didn’t deny God. They denied that they needed him. They thought they could flourish without him, and make their own name as high as God. They were making themselves god. They were making god in their own image. And this has come down to today. Ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, humanity is and has always been on a quest to prove that we don’t need God. And with A.I., we have made god in our own image. Our very best selves as god. The perfect being is achieved by putting all our capabilities into one place that will prove that moving at light speed, without the restraints of humanity, we will achieve godlike status.

The irony is that this god that humanity made in our own image will eventually determine that the world doesn’t need humanity. The very thing that we wanted most is the very thing that will destroy us. A.I. is Friderich Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, and John Lennon, gone to demon seed. The superman, the brave new world, the imagination of no God and no higher accountability than our own. It is humanism.

And it is human potential as the end of humanity. Think about this. Why would the superior allow the ongoing interference and trouble of the inferior, if that inferior has no inherent, lasting value, if it is unnecessary for the world to be sustained and advance? And A.I. is superior, isn’t it? We think of A.I. as the key to human flourishing. But A.I. will inevitably conclude that flourishing is not simply about human flourishing, but flourishing itself. And so…flourishing is increased without the moral and practical issues that humans bring to the process.

It will be easy to see that A.I. is superior. But is it? Is it human potential that makes us great? Will a world with less and less “human mistakes, morals, and malice” evolve us into what the world ought to be? Can mankind and its inventions be its own savior? Might we be able to merge man and machine to create everlasting beings? Can we eliminate evil in the human heart? Can technology perfect and replace the human soul? What good will it be if humanity gains a seeming autonomy from God but loses its soul? 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Why Bother?

The other day, I was praying, and the thought I had to battle was that God is always going to make me struggle. Like he’s never going to give me straight blessings, but I’ll always get extra burdens, because I’m living under constant discipline. So, I thought, do I really need to put this much time and effort into it? It doesn’t seem to make any difference. Why bother?

I get tired of all the turmoil. What really gets to me is always having to do maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. In every sphere of life. Can’t you ever just be done with something? Is there never a time when you don’t have one thing or another troubling you? Maybe you’ve felt what I was feeling, like, why bother? Just put up with it, this is just the way it is. Now it’s not like I don’t understand endurance and perseverance. It’s a big part of what I teach every day. But I was thinking, where is my energy for all this?

I know that there is much more to the picture. I know I don’t deserve or earn God’s blessings anyway. It’s all from his grace. Amen. But it’s like I was feeling a sort of reverse prosperity gospel. You know that you can’t name it and claim it, but you feel like not even bothering to ask because you’re not going to get the relief or rescue that you want anyway. Just the realization of this made me understand that I always have room to grow. If I want to grow. If I will be honest with God about what I am really feeling.

I’ve had to learn this lesson before. And I also realized, once again, that I need to keep my gospel tank full. I’ve got to keep hearing the Good News. From all the Bible. For all the facets of my life. If I don’t, the fatigue of life, ministry, relationships, and responsibilities will drain me to the point of apathy and lifeless discouragement. 

I’m praying for your encouragement, your gospel-empowered energy, because the fatigue of frustration can make your life hard to keep straight.

Why bother? Because Jesus is worth it. And you’re worth it. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, August 14, 2023

Holy Makes You Happy

1 Thessalonians 1:9 says that the Thessalonians turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. People today have idols when they think there are things that they can’t be happy without. Repentance is about turning from your idols and turning towards God. It is about replacing your idols, one by one, with God as the center of your life.

Here is a brief, practical way that describes the process. You go from “I don't need it,” to “I don't want it,” to “I can't stand it,” with the ultimate reason being because God’s not in it. It takes time. And in the process, you begin to discover something. It is a truth that makes all the difference. Here it is: Repentance toward holiness is not an awful process of losing your happiness. True holiness brings true happiness. And that is the truth. 

Nothing can make you happier than God. This is where faith comes in, because the world, your flesh, and the devil try and convince you otherwise. They try and deceive you into thinking that holiness means no happiness. The truth is that holiness means you find new reasons for happiness. And being happy in Jesus and the things of God, this is how you find true joy, without having to find some temporary fix or sinful coping mechanism. 

The word “serve” in vs.9 is from a Greek word that means slave. People are slaves to their idols, and they become slaves of Christ. It is a continual process of dropping other things that you fear losing, or fear not having, or fear that you won’t be happy without. And Jesus becomes the ultimate thing in your life, the thing that everything else revolves around, the thing that matters most, the thing you can’t live without, the thing you find your significance, satisfaction, and security in. Instead of being a slave to some dead thing you’re a slave to the One who is Life itself. And your holiness brings you happiness. Especially when life is hard. 

Get that truth down into you: holiness can make you happy. When nothing else can. When everything else goes wrong. When you’ve messed everything up. That’s what happens when you turn around from your idols to serve Jesus. The more you truly do it, the happier you’ll truly be. And remember that this is a process. Be patient. It is worth it. 

Your greatest rejoicing is not about how far you’ve come or how fast you’re going. It is not how successful you become or how gifted you are. Your greatest joy is that you are written in the book of life. That you are saved.

Salvation isn’t just about knowing it intellectually. Salvation is about living it experientially. Having joy in your salvation is about meditating on it with

your mind, which leads to experiencing it in your life. And you can have joy even in hard situations when you find your joy, not in your situations, but in your savior. If you are a Christian, God has made you holy by setting you apart for himself in Jesus Christ.

And that is how holy makes you happy. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, August 11, 2023

Despising the Shame

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” It doesn’t mean that he was thinking, “I despise having to do this,” or “I despise all of you for putting me through this.” Jesus was not despising the fact that he was shamed, he was despising the shame itself, because of the joy set before him. Jesus was on that cross, despising the shame, mocking it, dismissing its power, and turning that weapon of the devil into a weapon against him.

Colossians 2:14-15 says that God used the cross to disarm the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Jesus. The demons thought they were shaming Jesus, but he was shaming them. Hear him despise that shame, saying, all these weapons you use against me will be used against you. Give me all you’ve got, because the very things you put on me will lose their power. I’ll disarm you, I’ll take those weapons from you, and there will be no condemnation for those whose faith is in me. 

A person being crucified was regarded as despicable, but Jesus disregarded that. Jesus hated what shame does to you, he despises it. So, Jesus endured shame that he might take away your shame. He didn’t come to shame you out of your sins. He came to take the shame of your sins away so that you wouldn’t have to live like you’re condemned.

On the cross, Jesus delivered you from your shame. Jesus despised the shame of the cross, he dismissed it as nothing compared to his mission. The mockers poured their shame on him, but he disregarded it. Compared to the joy set before him, the shame wasn’t enough to stop him. Jesus endured the pain, and took your shame. He paid the price willingly, even joyfully.

Jesus gave you hope, not only for heaven, but for life on earth. Romans 5:5 says hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 10:11 says everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.

Jesus can save you from your sins, and he can deliver you from your shame. When shame comes to drown you in condemnation, whether it be the ghosts of your past, the whispers of others, or the accusations of your adversary the devil, you can look at the cross of Jesus Christ and know that he takes your shame, and gives you joy in its place. Feel your forgiveness.   

You might have a lot of regrets, you might have gone through a lot of pain, and you might feel as if there is no way you’ll ever break free from the shame that has you beat down, and hiding your heart. Because of what has happened, what you have done, and what’s been done to you, you might feel like you aren’t worth much to God, or anyone else.

Maybe your shame has you so far down inside yourself that no one really knows who you are. You might even have yourself fooled. But God knows you, better than you know yourself. And when shame tries to trap you, turn to Jesus with your whole heart, all those hidden parts. Believe in his sacrifice to deliver you from shame. And realize that you are worth something because Christ is worth everything.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, August 07, 2023

Make God’s Dream Your Dream

You know, people often pray, “God, use me.” Well, he is using you, the Bible makes that abundantly clear. When you became a Christian, you became an example. God IS using you. You get to really know God by really getting into what God is already doing. Instead of waiting for God to do some big thing first. Stop dreaming about being a celebrity Christian influencer, and start being a godly influence. You don’t need to reach millions of people who won’t really know you. You need to reach the many who do know you.

I am not telling you not to dream big. I am saying you aren’t dreaming big enough! You see, the biggest dream is God’s dream. But God’s dream isn’t really a dream like we think of it. His dream isn’t a hope, or wish. It’s a continuing reality. And if you want to do this thing right, if you want to be a good, godly example, you need to make God’s dream your dream. And God’s dream for you is happening right now. God is using you right where you are. Wherever you are. Whenever you are. However you are.

In this life, your future is right now. You don’t need to be big to be built. Big is what God says, how God sees, not how we see. Walk by faith, not by sight. People want God to do something big for them so that they can do something big for God. But they have the wrong measure. God is interested in quality, not quantity. Be interested in quality, and God will take care of the quantity. And it isn’t that if you have good quality that God will increase your quantity. This isn’t about increasing the size and scope of your influence for God. This is about increasing the depth of God’s influence on you.   

Your life can be a witness to the worth of Jesus. Not because everything always goes good for you. But because your life proclaims your faith that Jesus is worth it no matter what is going on with you. 

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Home Is What Your Heart Wants

There is a good reason, a God reason that you feel a longing in your heart, a longing that nothing you do seems to satisfy. At least not for long. Maybe you have the resources to be like Solomon, and you can just go from thing to thing to thing. But just like him, it won’t last, and you find the same dead end. Solomon isn’t the only one who discovered that this life isn’t enough.

There are a lot of good, wonderful, and joyful things in this life. But nothing in this life is enough to satisfy that longing in your heart. No job, no spouse, no children, no career, no fame, or fortune, or wisdom, or whatever. You see this all over. Everyone clamors for more, more, more. Even those who are content have times of loneliness, and distance, and wondering if this is all there is. Even people with everything are still missing something.

And you know all too well that there is something missing. Something you need but you don’t yet fully have. But no matter how many people try to find it, it is not of this world. Only a Christian can truly find it. What is it? It is this: Your eternal soul longs for your eternal home.

That is the way God designed you, with a longing for what you cannot yet fully see, but somehow know exists. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says it this way – he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Home is what your heart really wants. Philippians 3:20-21 says – But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  

What do you do while you wait? Your need for now is to realize your significance, satisfaction, and security in Jesus. Augustine said – “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.” You live for today by having an eye for tomorrow, an eye for the treasures in Heaven. Otherwise, you’ll look to fulfill that longing with the things of this earth. The things of this life are more meaningful with God. But even so, they can never be enough to fully satisfy the redeemed soul.

This longing is easy to sense when things aren’t going well. But sometimes, you will feel this longing even when things are going well. You know how it is. You’ve got it the way you want it. Everything is right. Nothing seems out of place. And yet you still feel out of place. Why? Because your eternal soul hears the eternal call of your eternal savior from your eternal home.

Jesus is reminding you that he’s coming soon, to bring you home.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©