“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:10
If you’ve been involved in Christianity for more that two weeks, you’ve probably sat around the dinner table with other Christians and prayed before you ate. This is a good practice, for reminds us that God is the source of all the good things in our life. However, I think our practice of praying before a meal can become nothing more than a religious habit, especially when we are in the presence of other Christians. To be honest, the only time I ever pray over a meal is when I’m with someone else. Otherwise, I just jump right in and eat.
Although I believe that gratitude for the gifts of God needs to be a 24/7 attitude, I find I’m usually grateful on a ½ /1 basis. That is, about a half hour one day a week. Then I go and stumble upon Deuteronomy 8:10 and I feel like a worm.
Deuteronomy is the farewell address of Moses to the Israelites. Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law,” since God gave all the commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the first year of the Exodus. Since most parents get really serious when they repeat something to their children, I figure God was very intentional about helping us learn the lessons found in this book. Continue Reading
I had a conversation with a young mother the other day who was dismayed at the way she’d been treated in church by other Christians. She told me the deepest hurts she’d ever encountered in life have come through religious people she thought should know better.
The more I considered this, the more I think the leaders in God’s Church have done their people a great disservice. As an Evangelical Protestant/Pentecostal, for years I’ve heard that the only thing a person needs to do to be saved is to “confess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.” I’ve seen people practically coerced into repeating those words, or some semblance of them, only to hear the announcement they’re now saved, cleansed, set free from their sins and ready to live their life for the Lord. Then follows the invitation that almost ruins this new, if questionable convert: “Come and go to church with me.”
Unfortunately, many times in our efforts to get someone to say the magic Salvation Formula, we don’t bother to explain what a Lord is and we forget that none of us knows everything God’s saved us from. We convince people that simply repeating a sentence after us will grant them eternal life and everything on earth is now going to be a big, warm fuzzy feeling of joy and happiness since Jesus paid for your sins and made you a part of the family of God.
However, once we’ve got them in the church door, we’ve conveniently forgotten to tell these new converts about self-righteous Sister Sally and judgmental Brother Bob, the self-appointed spiritual police who make war with anyone who disagrees with them, dresses differently, has divergent opinions on the proper music to use in church or reads an unauthorized Bible. We don’t warn them that some of the tongues they’ll hear will be lashings that won’t need an interpretation. We forget to tell them that not everyone in church believes that God so loved the world that He died for their sins. Instead, they believe we are all sinners in the hands of an angry God and it’s their duty to convey God’s anger.
In your face.
In the front foyer.
Before the first service.
And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. – Psalm 17:15
I like to think I’m a fairly simple man who doesn’t need much to keep me satisfied. I don’t run out after the latest models of most anything and still struggle to catch up and live in the 21st century. I drive a 1996 GMC pickup I’ve had for over ten years and I don’t have internet on my non-iPhone phone. I recently purchased my first TV, without 3D (do I hear gasps?) and would I rather read a good book that watch anything related to a reality show where in reality, the percentage of most people in any given setting aren’t that good looking.
What does it take to be satisfied in this life? How much is enough? When John D. Rockefeller, the noted billionaire and founder of Standard Oil, was asked how much money was enough, he famously replied, “Just a little bit more.” I don’t think Mr. Rockefeller was speaking just for himself; I think he was speaking for people all over the world. For most of us, the more we have the more we spend, so having “just a little bit more” becomes a way of life, not just a greedy aphorism spoken by a long-dead billionaire.
What is satisfaction? When will I sit back and say, “This is it. This is the good life. I’ve worked hard all my life to be here. There is nothing more I want, nothing more I desire”? Will I say that when I’m debt free with a million dollars in the bank? Will I say that when the kids and grandkids all live within walking distance of my house and I can spend all my leisure time going to their ball games and school plays? Will I say that when my next book sells 100,000 copies in the first week and I make the cover of Christianity Today and I’m invited to speak all over the world and share my massive knowledge about life and God?
So what will satisfy me? When will I get to the point where just a little bit more is no longer the goal? Continue Reading
“My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” — James 2:1
I was once in a Sunday school class where we studied James 2. Yes, the entire chapter. I don’t know why we talked about the whole chapter, because I had trouble getting past the first verse before I felt convicted.
Most of that conviction came as I felt God reminding me of the way I treat certain people. It seems I’m a master at showing favoritism. How easy it is to favor those who favor me, approve of my ministry or writing and have a similar sense of humor. And I’m always in favor of those who know me best and still, for some unknown reason, choose to not only love me, but also like me.
However, this flies in the face of the basic teachings of Scripture. James, in writing to his fellow Jewish Christians, shows how partiality, favoritism and discrimination breaks the law of God – the law that tells us to love our neighbor as our self. Furthermore, James uses a Greek construction in this verse that shows he is not prohibiting something they may do, but forbidding a practice that is already in progress.
Perhaps this is why the verse bothered me: I knew I was already in violation of God’s law. Continue Reading