Superheroes

 

Superheros are all the rage lately. Movies are being made and the gear is everywhere. I think one of the reasons people love superheroes so much is for the most part they represent the best in us. They are typically noble, brave, strong, and almost flawless. It is not that they do not have flaws, but we usually overlook their flaws because we either like them so much, or because by and large their powers are more valuable than their flaws.

For example while Batman has no powers to speak of he is an amazing superhero but he obsessive and has never been able to move on from the death of his parents. The Hulk is ridiculously strong but to say he has anger issues would be an understatement. Superman, the man of steel, well his power is just insane but yet he has this constant need to be accepted and changes himself to fit in. Captain America is one of my favorites but he is stubborn and feels that his moral high-ground always makes him right. The amazing Spiderman has an amazingly low self worth and has a hard time balancing priorities. While Ironman’s suit may be iron his personality is Swiss cheese. I think you get the picture. These guys are great but they are not perfect.

There is another list of people that we sometimes idolize and make superheroes. They are found in Hebrews chapter 11. Your Bible might even call them the “Heroes of the Faith.” We can read Hebrews 11 and come away with an unhealthy view of ourselves because we are no Abraham, Moses, or Rehab. We can read about their greatness and think we are worthless when that is the opposite of what we should come away with. The point is not that they were great and mighty but that they trusted the Almighty. They are remembered for their faith in God not their shortcomings.

Let’s look at some of them real quick. Abraham who is considered one of the greatest men in the Bible did not trust God to give the promise and took his wife’s maid to bed. David who slew the mighty Goliath also slept with a married woman, got her husband drunk, and then had him killed. Rehab who saved the Israelite spies was a prostitute. Samson who was a Philistine slaying machine was also selfish and vain. Moses was stubborn and made God give him someone to speak for him. Samuel who was the greatest judge in Israel did a poor job raising his kids.

However, they are not remembered for these things. They are remembered because they served God. God works in people like you and me. James 5:17 says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours but he prayed for rain and God listened. We can get sidetracked and forget that God works through ordinary to confuse the mighty. You are not useless if you are in His hands. If you serve God and have placed your faith in Him then you are something special. God is able to do great and mighty things if you will just let Him.

Like I said superheroes and heroes of the faith are great but not perfect. There is one who is perfect though. Jesus lived a sinless life and lived in perfect obedience to the Father. He is worthy to be looked at in adoration and place our faith in. There is no better one to look at and think “wow isn’t He amazing.” When we put our faith in the right things then everything else changes. God made you and God wants to use you.

 

Just a thought,

Mike

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Dead and Free

As believers in Christ, we are dead and free because we are no longer part of this world. Jesus stated in John 17 that believers, like Him, are not of the world because He is not of the world and Paul takes this thought and says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we are ambassadors of Christ. I like to think of it in terms of nations. When someone becomes an American citizen they renounce their former allegiances and pledge themselves to the United States of America. They no longer have obligations to their former country but are now protected and must serve the US. They are in a sense dead to their old nation. We are still in the world but we are no longer servants of it, instead, we belong to the kingdom of God and are here in the world to do the bidding of our new King. Our allegiance is to God and we are to represent Him here on earth. This transaction has taken place because of Christ’s death burial and resurrection and our belief and receiving of that give us His benefits. We are not free to do as we please but have a new set of guidelines to follow. We now follow the Law of Christ. We are now dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Denying Yourself

 

As I sat down to write why it is important to deny ourselves I became distracted by taking a selfie and I suppose that underscores the importance of why we need to deny ourselves. We are naturally self-focused. We desire what will make us look good or be beneficial for our immediate need or personal pleasure. Because of that, it is necessary to deny ourselves as there is only room on the throne for one and it is either Jesus or us. He will not take it by force so we must give up control to Him. Jeremiah 17:9 points out that our natural hearts are deceitful and incurable. The natural hearts only desire is for self. But as Romans 12:1-2 point out we are to be a living sacrifice. We are supposed to continually deny the natural heart and that is spiritual worship. If it were a one-time sacrifice, I think it would be easier because the decision could be made in a moment of emotional connection to the Word or at an event. However, when there is no one else around to see it or applaud your choice to not fulfill your flesh you find that it is a struggle. That is when I think the real growth begins. When you don’t feel like denying yourself but hear the call of the Spirit to deny anyway. Denying yourself or dying to yourself however you prefer is hard, painful, and never-ending, but it is also necessary if you want to live the life of a disciple of Christ. In the long run, you will be glad you did it because there is great joy in hearing your Father say “well done.”

 

Just a thought,

Mike

 

Recent Events

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1

I’ve been thinking about what I want to say about the recent deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterlin, and the officers in Dallas. I have stayed away from saying anything because I don’t want to stir up controversy or upset anyone but I have decided I will weigh in on the topic because it’s been a few days. I have had time to pray, process, and think and I have to a conclusion.

My conclusion is I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s like to be a member of the African American community. I don’t know what it’s like to have the talk with my son about what to do if stopped by the police or how not to appear to aggressive. I don’t know what it’s like to feel that your race is under attack. I just don’t know. I do however know that it is sad. It is sad that two lives are gone. I don’t know their character or morals or faith. What I do know is that they were made in the image of God and were on earth for a purpose.

Because of all the things I don’t know I will do what I do know. I will express the love that my Father has shown me. Jesus said that those who are forgiven much love much and I know what I have been forgiven for. So I will love.

I will show love to those who are hurting and forgive those who claim Christ but don’t show Christ in this situation. For those who feel like their life does not matter because they are black I will unashamedly say #blacklivesmatter. To those who protect and serve I will say #bluelivesmatter. These are not exclusive but point out a great truth #youmatter. You matter to God and you matter to me.

You are loved,
Mike

 

Spiritual Growth

In Hebrews 5:11-14 the writer scolds the people he was addressing by calling them lazy, unskilled and telling them they they should be teachers by now but instead they still require milk. He was calling them out because they had plenty of time to become teachers but instead they were still like babies. We can read something like that and look down on them or we can look at ourselves and ask am I growing?

We should be growing in Christ. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:18 that we should be growing in grace. Paul says in Philippians 1:9 that we should love more and abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. The Bible over and over again says that we should be growing spiritually and if we are not then we should figure out why and do something about it. But what does it mean to grow spiritually?

Spiritual growth is just like any other growth. We have to remember when we came to Christ we were born again meaning that we had all sorts of new things to learn and grow in. I have two analogies that might help.

If you go to the gym and you are just starting out then you are probably picking up everything you can in any way you can. You are trying out every machine they have and curling in the squat rack. You don’t know any better you are just figuring it out. Your routine might be jog for a few minutes, then curl, maybe do some bench press then go home. Now you are going to see some results because you are using muscles you don’t normally use. They are getting use so they grow even if just a little. Now if you have been going to the gym for a few months or years and still do this you not have additional growth because what worked for your muscles when you were starting out does not work once you get going. You need to mature in your workout in order to continue to produce results.

How about an instrument. I have tried to play everything except a wind instrument (sans the harmonica which may not count) and I can give you a little something on most of them, and by a little a mean a little. Really just enough for you to think I know what I am doing but I cannot really play. I know enough to pretend. I have never put in the work to develop that skill. If I had then maybe I could play but as it stands after all my “years of practice” I am on par with a two-week student. As someone said I don’t have 4 years of practice I have two weeks of practice 104 times (only the same two weeks over and over again).

Spiritual growth is the same way. If you do not use the new muscles beyond the initial workout they don’t get bigger. If you don’t use your spiritual gifts, don’t read your Bible, don’t worship from a joyful heart, don’t pray, and don’t fellowship then you don’t grow. God desires for us to grow spiritually. It is His desire for His children to mature and become more like Christ.

A second part to this is when you start pulling out pieces of what it takes to grow. When you start taking out individual pieces of what is required for spiritual growth you stop growing to your full potential and develop a spiritual limp. You might know all sorts of things but are not sharing it and teaching others so you limp around in a circle. You might worship with a joyful heart but have no love for those in need. There are a few combinations and I am sure you know someone with a spiritual limp. Maybe you even have one. I realized the other day I have one. The important thing again is that we notice these things and then take actions to correct them.

So if you are not growing then you need to evaluate why and fix the problem. It might be hard or uncomfortable but it is worth it.

Just a thought,

Mike