Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth of the matter, we might have some ability to love, but it is almost impossible to love others if we fail to love self. Guilt is a killer of self. Guilt, real or not, establishes a large gap between our joyful soul and the dark regions of anxiety. Of course, this all makes sense. How can we love ourselves or others if there is a lack of forgiveness? In the absence of atonement, there only remains a grudge. In this case, a self-imposed grudge against the inner being, the inner core of an individual (our self). An individual then, by repetitive behavior patterns begins to turn terrible screws as a final premise of GUILTY with big letters. Those who carry that guilt are buried in a cylindrical route of attempts only to always fall short of a goal. And why is this? The reason is that absolution will never occur until prior unresolved conflicts and guilt are resolved.
Once a person feels they don’t measure up, then the calamity of failures and excuses ensue. The person fails to try as hard anymore for the end result is seen always as the same—this is a perpetual cycle of YOU LOSE.
Another way to cope with the strong feelings of guilt is to turn inward. Some become cold, deadened and numb to self and others around them. Children at a very young age are susceptible to this as they possess high expectations of pleasing adults through their behavior. If the failure is perceived to be extreme or unrecoverable, then these conflicts are carried over to adulthood whereas the character defect actually grows and festers. My guess about Tom, in your example, is that this is not the first time Tom failed to face failure, conflict and resolution. In fact, my assumption would be that Tom is an old pro about eluding personal responsibility.
Thus, what we are actually confronting are the tenets of character. Are we able to face up to our behaviors and responsibilities or not? Are we avoidance driven or justice driven? Are we of the good stuff, the good stock that goes ahead with goodness, or are we that cloud of doom with a forever type of excuse of our actions.
For the thousands of prisoners I’ve spoken, all have expressed regret. Those that are successful, once released are those who carry their sense of guilt and atonement beyond the gates of prison and into regular society. Once in peril most of us vow all types of vows to God to get us out of a jam. However, once we are out of the predicament and back into our regular routine, most vows go by the wayside. Another name for this for the prisoner is jailhouse religion. For most, once out of jail, the faith, that burst of insight and matters of atonement are over. It is back to the same old approach to life once again.
None of this of course eradicates the need for forgiveness. However, for those lucky few who embrace the need for forgiveness are generally surprised at least one of the benefits of being forgiven. One major benefit of being forgiven is to be accepted.
As much as most of us would deny this, yes, we want to be accepted. In total forgiveness, we are accepted by Christ, by our creator, our self and by our fellow man. Once we have come to this apex in our life, we probably discover that the world as a whole is a whole lot nicer, warmer, joyful and good in spite of whatever bad and evil abounds.
I can’t really imagine going to my grave with a host of unforgiven transgressions. Personally, my own spirit-man inside me is unable to carry that type of burden. I am frail and weak and unable to operate unless I have been freed from such penalty. As much as I am the sum total of my thoughts, feelings and actions, I also have that great need of personal self acceptance. And with that virtue under my belt, I am also able to yield to my mistakes and forgive those around me as well.
Can anyone imagine Jesus holding a wad of cash in each hand and while standing on a hillside, screaming, “Come on up! You’re our grand prize winner today!”
Of course not.
Where there are some scriptures that address rewarding desires, most are flatly placed on attending to needs.
Or Jesus after the Sermon on the Mount explaining: “For those of you who send 10 talents will receive the top 3 parchments on controlling sin…”
This is all ludicrous, yet anyone who listens to some sermons will more or less envision a Jesus as the above if you were to listen to popular appeals to prosperity teaching and other modalities of the Gospel.
Years ago, my Dad stated that he believed the reason God didn’t make his presence known more often than he did was because most of us would be standing around with palms up asking him for a twenty to get by on. I find Dad’s observation more often than not to be true.
Yet, while the entire universe’s wealth belongs to God, our creator is NOT a banker. He is far greater than that, he is our friend and helper.
Bringing in the Sheaves are those multiple rewards attained as a result of remaining faithful. Too, I believe most of those rewards are purely spiritual and not physical at all, laying away treasures in heaven instead of here on earth.
Most important, Jesus is not a guy prancing around in a flashy suit—no it is not so much as for us to get as it is for us to GIVE.
With some preachers standing around with their hand in your back pocket reaching for every piece of friend chicken in sight, it is no wonder that the outside world most Christians as hypocrites.
If there truly is and I believe there is of Bringing in the Sheaves, then we should be bringing them not for ourselves, but for others.
Across the newsrooms and internet we hear stories of pets that were saved from a fire or other calamity. While I love pets, it seems that at times, pets have a precedence over people and that the animals are more likely treasured than people.
A case in point is the manatee rescued recently and highlighted in the news. Yes, I love manatees the same as anyone, yet I know if this had been a person rather than a manatee in a storm drain, then that person would more than likely had died.
To cut to the quick with this essay, I believe that while animals are cool and creatures of God, that People are far more important. The manatee rescue required the assistance of over 10 highly trained first responders. A person would likely had gotten nothing, only people stepping over him.
No, pets are NOT more important than people. In fact, some people have relationships with their pets and none with people. Some people even refer to their pets and ‘children’ or other members of the family.
Something is wrong with this equation. Something is wrong where if a person kills a cat, then they’ll get a long stiff prison sentence and probably forgiven if it’s a person.
Is this how we want the reaction of God to be with us? Do we want God to respond to the prayer of a pet over a person? I find this highly unlikely. And believe too, we should respond first to people and then to animals.
The broke down spirits of men who have died
My God, Where are the angels, those who abide
Flesh and blood
Broken bones from hell
My God, we look to you forever
To love and to protect us
Father, where were you when we were on your side?
Those above us, those so wise
We believed in you
My Lord, we don’t know
I believe in you
As my friend and beyond
I believe in you, those here and gone
I believe in you.
The thunder in my voice
The silence in my tongue
Not knowing the answers we
Have known so well.
My God, in your answers
The silence is still.
Jesus said that ‘No greater love hath a man than he lay down his life for his friend.” Yes, it is all true that our Lord died on the Cross for our sins, but it started long before that.
Think about it. Jesus didn’t have to walk thousands of miles to be with the down trotted. He could have had an entourage, a chariot or something along those lines. However, Jesus chose to give up his life so that others should live. Apparently, he didn’t feel we should wait until we die before we lived, but began here on earth.
In this way, Jesus was not about getting. He was about Giving. And in the giving this is where we not only forfeit what we want (our desires and life) but actually gain a better life here and in the thereafter.
This is a tall order. Rather than pursue our own, personal goals, we are called into service to others. We are called out of selfishness. We are called to give and give and give where there is no more to give.
And it’s not like we don’t receive, yet we are called to receive transformation of spirit as a result of obedience into our faith.
The answer to happiness is so easy to state, yet difficult to do. We all want our own want. To that extent we are cursed because of our own thinking. However, God’s thoughts are so much higher than our own. This season we should have an introspection and tally up our true motives and desires. In serving people we are serving God. In giving we are obtaining the highest prize in the Universe and that is the favor of the almighty our creator. Give of self and contribute that which is no greater than the love which dwells inside of you.
Perhaps one of the most talked about characteristic of American life is the idea of Success and Failure. I, for one would like to examine some current trends and likely measurements.
Let’s examine the qualities of the: smart phone, hip-hop music, the video industry or various video games. Clearly, by ways of the world, they are all huge successes.
In terms of quality or upright virtues, the phone has NOT provided better communication. The movie industry as not added anything good to our society: anything but moral corruption and computer video games has only contributed to a blood and guts culture that permits people to become desensitized to murder, mayhem and gore.
Possessing an automobile or airplane or weapon of war that kills you is NOT a success! Performing a greater number of abortions like a factor machine is not success, it is failure.
For God say, “My ways are not your ways…”
Nothing could be closer to the truth.
For how do you know that that new job with greater pay is really good for you? Or then again, how do you assess that award for knowledge is really the best assessment of your intrinsic worth?
James teaches us that we aren’t even to say that we are to go to such and such a place on a particular day, for we are to listen to God’s instruction in all that we do.
The notion of either success or failure are impostors. We permit society to define who we are, what we are to do and how good we are at it. This is total nonsense.
All that you are in your total being: is what God has said that you are. No, you are not a teacher, or a policeman, or an attorney or any other label man has provided for you. More than that, you are a Creature of God: you are a person and a person has far great worth than the identity of either your occupation or position of attainment.
We are not to trust the world to tell us if we are victorious in a circumstance. No, instead we are to
Proverbs 3:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
In this way, we might feel we are the smallest of the small, but actually be the greatest. Anything else that defines you is a FRAUD.
A serious assessment of the God as spoken in the Old Testament and the God announced through Jesus reveals entirely different views of God. I am NOT suggesting we are speaking of different Gods, but yes, the emphasis of God dramatically changes with Jesus.
The God of the Old Testament is a God busy and concerned that people believe in Him, obey Him and when people are in error are punished: sometimes severely.
We see accounts where God destroys vast amounts of people at times, singlehandedly and on other occasions, ordered his Generals to kill every living creature: to include babies, women, and their animals.
Jesus portrays an entirely different God. We are not to fight, but to love. We are to pray, to love our enemy as our self. Jesus teaches a forgiving God, not one filled with wrath.
Apparently, where God’s character is constant, it is also apparent that God’s approach to people changed. Jesus speaks over and over and over about the love God has for us. Jesus teaches forgiveness, hope and above all else: FAITH.
Which God do you worship? Do we appeal to the facets of God as reveal in the Old Testament, or are we lured with Jesus to the New? Clearly, the two testaments do not overlap for Jesus changed our approach to the Almighty. Where the approach of the Old Testament was impossible as demonstrated by the history of God’s people, the approach through Jesus is extremely impossible for it requires even a greater task for obedience.
In the end, I choose God as he is revealed through his Son, the Christ. I choose love over justice, forgiveness over justice and grace as Jesus paid the full price to give us this gift.
Jesus declares a God of the living and one that is forward looking, not of the past, but of the here and now. I choose the reality of Jesus as the Son of the living God.
Luke 18:19 King James Version (KJV)
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
In the statement above, it appears that Jesus is denying his inherent goodness as being a direct begotten son of God. Yet, we could also suspect that He was not only referencing to Himself as a human, but also sure to give His Father His due glory. No matter how you view this statement, this is indeed humbling for if Christ himself is not Good then clearly we humans are not for sure. This statement enlists many ramifications as we find in the next statement.
King James Bible
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you
Lord? Are we to call Him Lord when in fact he states we are friends. Friends does not always mean co-equal, but it certainly hints at it.
These two scripture lessons are apart from what is normally taught at church. Yes, Jesus is in heaven now so we could infer he is now Good. Yet, I maintain he was Good while here and alive. Jesus, simply possessed a humility that none of us would ever be able to grasp. This thought is generated again when he refers to us as his friends. The comfort of this is that the Son of God reaches out to us and is willing to operate on our level: our level is feeble, weak and lacks true insight. In this way, Christ is able to make up for our inadequacies. So much so, I see these two scriptures as more than remarkable. They encompass the wisdom of God Himself.
I believe in everything which is good and wholesome. I believe in everything that is right and uplifting and everything that picks a soul up from this wretched ground. I believe in all who are down, those who struggle, those who pray and for those who fight all that is evil. I believe in taking the worst of the worst and believing in the best and in forgiving and accepting and healing and in giving and in taking in all those who are rejected. I believe in dreams, in hope and in better days ahead. I believe in looking forward and expecting God to amend and to tend to all things. I believe.
I believe in you. I believe that you can make it that things will get better that all is not lost. I believe in the good.
In whatever comes and go and in all the sin that is left behind, I believe the best in you.
I believe in a man who came to this earth and died a criminal’s death. I believe in a man who forecast all the horrors that would come become he also returns to this earth.
And in that meantime, I believe in you.
In all those things I will count you as a friend, in all that tension and all those things which go so very bad. I will remain and believe in you.
And in the end when everything is down and out, when there is no one standing except me in you.
Don’t you love the preachers who get on tv and tell you that all you have to do is believe some small passage of the bible, which is generally in the Old Testatment and then all will be well?
Anyone with real life experiences knows this is pure and total bunk. Yes, sometimes miracles do happen, but generally not. Generally, as a Christian, we are screwed just like everyone else.
So then, what is real, what is not?
What is real that our savior, our Jesus promises to be there with you in those difficult times. What is real is when a brother or sister in Christ is there with you to promise comfort. Those things are real and all hope and all promise for the future to get better is also real.
What is not real is some hocus pocus that will change things. What is not real is praying often enough some particular passage from the scriptures that will make all things alright.
However, the one thing we can depend on is that no matter how bad our circumstance or situation, that our Christ will make things as right as possible in His eyes at the right time.
Face it, some things just suck. A divorce sucks, cancer sucks, death can suck and a host of many, many other things.
The truth of it is: we know so little about faith to change most things. All we can do is cling on to our faith and trust God through our Lord, Jesus.
Don’t let the promise makers fool you. They don’t know God any better than you do. We are all equal before the Lord. I’m saying that whatever you do, you are good enough and that Jesus is always up to the task. Yet, in his keeping, we often don’t like or agree with the results. God is sovereign and will rule his kingdom His way and not according to ours. May faith remain with you.