I'm Not Howdy Doody!

I haven't ranted in awhile, so here goes. I guess I'm just a stick in the mud, or a party pooper, or something. But I don't think it's really necessary to look to social media to determine what my "sexy" percentage is. Are you kidding me? I don't think it's necessary to look to the same to give me my Hollywood name, my Biblical name, whether I am part Winston Churchill, Putin, Reagan, or Howdy Doody!

Come on folks! You're wasting productive time with all that stuff! And for some of you it makes you look....well...kind of stupid. Especially those who claim to follow after Jesus Christ. You are who you are. Your name is what your parents named you. You are who and what Jesus made you to be. You don't need social media to even make suggestions about you, even though it's supposedly "All in fun." You have a powerful destiny, determined by Jesus, not by what social media inadvertently spits out about you.

And another thing, is it really necessary for you to put "everything" on social media. Don't get me wrong, I like you, but I don't necessarily need to know that your cupcakes just came out of the oven.

And for those little games at which you post everything, from your blood type to how many fillings you have in your mouth, (and then copy and paste it), beware...you're giving up some vital information that could come back and bite you where it really, really hurts one day in the future. In the military one of the lowest levels of security, if practiced, is one of the most effective levels of security. It's called "Need to know". If someone wants some information from you, you ask yourself the question, "Do they have a need to know?" If they do not have a need to know, don't give them the information. I think that would be a good practice on social media. Before you volunteer everything, at any time, ask yourself, "Do they really have a need to know?" It's just common sense my friend. Don't be sucked in by every little game presented.

And yet another thing, whether I like, share, and copy and paste something - in know way determines my opinion, or whether I have read it or not, or whether I am a true follower of Jesus or not. Don't let anyone or any post manipulate you to go along with anything. The Bible calls that witchcraft. Just saying.

And one last thing. Don't fall for any of that nonsense that says, "If you will share this you will receive a blessing from God by 5:32pm today!" It doesn't work that way! Blessings certainly do come from God. But they come according to His Word, not according to social media.

Social media is a very powerful form of media. And used productively can change the world. For the Christian, let me say, you need to use social media for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus; and for spreading the love of Jesus. Don't air your dirty laundry here. Don't put yourself in some kind of danger by volunteering all your information, and every single thing you do. It's OK to be social, but don't be foolish about it. Rant over!
 

All Things

I am intrigued with a Scripture verse penned by the man Paul in the Book of 1 Corinthians. "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it." (1 Corinthians 9:23) You cannot deny that "all things" means "all things". This man doesn't do "most things" for the sake of the gospel. No, not even "a few things" for the sake of the gospel. But according to Paul, he does ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel.

The gospel, of course, is the good news of the Kingdom of God. Here is why Paul was committed to the proclaiming of the gospel, and nothing else. According to his very own writing, the gospel is:
  • The power of God. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it (the gospel) is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16)
  • Light that reveals the glory of Christ. Paul also writes, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:3-3)
  • Designed to be heard. The gospel must be heard in order to have the faith required to believe and receive it. Again, Paul writes, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-15)
To the man Paul, there is no shame in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He understands that the gospel contains the power of God. The word "power" here is the Greek work "dunamis". This is the same word (translated power) used to describe the outpouring/receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "...but you will receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The gospel of Jesus Christ contains the very power needed to create vacancies in hell! Somehow Paul got this. This is one of the reasons he did everything, ALL things for the sake of the gospel.

The gospel not only contains the power of God, it carries supernatural, divine light. Paul said that if our gospel is veiled, it is because the god of this world (the devil) has blinded folks minds, resulting in unbelief. Blind minds are unbelieving minds. When a person truly sees the glory of Christ, most likely they will trust in Him. But only the gospel contains the light that reveals the glory of Christ to the unbelieving. Paul understood that the gospel shines the light that reveals the glory of Jesus, that enables one to trust in Him.

It is obvious that Paul did ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel because he understood that it must be heard. An unsaved person can experience God's power only through hearing of the gospel. And blinded minds can "see the light" only through hearing the truth of the gospel. So The "power" and the "light" are available only when the gospel is heard by people. And of course, the gospel cannot be heard unless someone proclaims it. By the way, to proclaim is to preach. To preach is to proclaim. And you don't need a pulpit to preach/proclaim. You just need to be willing to live for the sake of the gospel! You live to look for opportunities to tell someone about King Jesus and the Kingdom all the time.

Paul understood this. God help me to understand this too. Everyone needs Jesus. There is no lifestyle in existence too sinful or too far removed from Jesus to hear the gospel. Everyone must hear, see the light, and experience the power of God in order to know Him. The Scripture teaches, "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people." (Matthew 4:23) The power flowed, not because Jesus was God, but because He proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom! Let me prove this to you. The same thing was applied to the disciples, while Jesus was still here. "Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Matthew 10:1, 7-8) Just like it happened for Jesus, the power flowed, and the light shone! In the book of Luke it says they rejoiced because even the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name. Add to that, for you and me, we have the power and presence of Holy Spirit today!

And finally, the greatest hindrance to proclaiming the gospel is all the stuff the world has to offer. We're distracted by Hollywood, TV, and a whole lot of social media, among many other things. This makes it even harder to do ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel. But it doesn't change the fact however, that we must. No amount of being like the world to relate to the world will ever compare to the simple preaching and sharing of the gospel of the kingdom. When all is said and done, it won't be about the lights, the smoke, the show. It won't be about the latest flicks or TV shows. When all is done, it will be about King Jesus and how many folk you and I brought to Him. Will you join with me in making a commitment to live - starting right now - for the sake of the gospel? Ask Jesus, then trust Him to show you one step and a time, one day at a time how to live for the sake of the gospel. He will do it.

Are You Possessed By Your Possessions?

Connie and I like to watch those reality TV shows in which folks are looking to buy a house. I'm sure that, behind the scenes, they look at more, but on the show they look at three different houses. Then, at the end of the show, they choose they house they want to either purchase or rent.

It's amazing to me what most people want, especially if they are first-time buyers. Here are just a few things people want in their new home. They want to be near the center of the city, where all the activity is. They want at least 5 bedrooms, all with on-suite bathrooms. Even though it's their very first home, and it's only 2 of them (and a dog), they set their budget for at least $500.000. They guy usually wants his man cave in the basement. The biggest deal-breaker is a yard not big enough for the dog. I recently saw an episode in which the guy insisted they have a 3-car garage for all his toys. Oh, did I mention these were first-time buyers? I thought I might've. Then, if the house is more than 10 years old, it's completely "dated". Sometimes I'm embarrassed at Americans as they look to purchase or rent a home in another nation. The U.S. is not better, we're just a whole lot more materialistic. Listen to me. I'm not judging anyone. I'm simply sharing some observations I've made from watching a pretty decent reality show!

I have observed over the years of my life that things have drastically changed. I remember a time when a young couple got married, they began building a life together. This meant building their possessions together too. There was a time when most young folks had to begin with very humble means (Umble if you are from Texas). You worked and saved, and then purchased. The years of working and saving together bonded you together and protected you from the pressures of drowning in debt. Now most young folks want to begin their journey at the level it took their parents years to attain to. They want it all...now, at the cost of beginning their journey very deeply in debt.

Yes, times have changed. But that doesn't mean things are better. What has changed the times? The spirit of materialism. Materialism is a very powerful form of pride that says, "I want it. And I want it now!" Hollywood, TV, and media in general have planted, watered, and cultivated this seed over the years. Everybody has to be like somebody else. Everybody has to have what everybody else has....now! People are choking in debt because of the spirit of materialism. Even our government is constantly in danger of collapsing because of the debt and spending no one wants to bring under control.

We live in a materialistic society. It's ALL about stuff. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 was a prime candidate to become a follower of Jesus, and possibly one of the early apostles. But he was possessed by the abundance of property he owned. He walked away grieved from Jesus' invitation to follow Him because it meant giving up all he owned, and literally following Jesus from that day forward. He couldn't do it. He was possessed by his possessions. "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it either." (1 Timothy 6:7)

In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures here on earth for ourselves. Because thieves can break in and steal it, or moth and rust will ruin it. He said rather to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where they won't be affected by the above things. Jesus' point is that everything we do in this life affects our eternity. Never forget: The greatest threat to our treasures in heaven is the spirit of materialism here on earth. When Jesus commented on the rich young ruler's rejection of His invitation to sell all and follow Him, He stated that materialism can keep us from entering the eternal Kingdom of God. That is serious.

Let me challenge you right now to examine your heart. Are you controlled by materialism? Can you look at your life today with  a view to eternity? Or is your life all about building the "here and now"? Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." To be free from the materialism that has infiltrated the church today, we must be able to trust Jesus. We must know what He said and believe what He said.
 
And finally, to be free from materialism doesn't mean you don't have anything. It means your things don't have you. Yes, there are cases in which God requires one to give up all or some of their material possessions. But in most cases He requires that we be "willing" to give it all up. That's when He can trust us. Remember, God blesses good stewardship (management of all He gives us). And the way we manage ALL of what He gives us determines much of what we have when we get there.