FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Set Free From…Me!

Writing for AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte suggests, “Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business will be happy to tell you that waiters always fight each other to avoid working Sunday lunch shift. Not because they want to sleep in, but because it’s a widespread belief that the post-church crowd is loud, demanding and unwilling to tip appropriately. In the food service industry, “Christian” is synonymous with “selfish.”

What?????

Followers of Christ – the example of love, sacrifice, selflessness? Jesus – the Good Shepherd (John 10:11); Meek and Lowly (Matthew 11:29); Obedient (Philippians 2:8); Peace (Ephesians 2:14); an Offering and Sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2) and Servant (Philippians 2:7, Matthew 12:18, Isaiah 53:11)?

Yes!

We are selfish. Sometimes, we are the most selfish.

At least I am.

Newsflash. You are, too.

In fact, the Scriptures tell us that all humans are born in corruption. We are born with a sinful nature that permeates our being – was passed to us through the first man on earth, Adam.

Romans 5:12 teaches “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (NKJV). The Bible describes our human nature as evil, and hopeless to be restored to order, apart from the divine intervention of God through Jesus Christ.

It is our nature to make gods of ourselves. Our view is egocentric; it is all about “I.” Read the writing of very young students. You will likely find the majority of sentences beginning with the personal pronoun, “I.” As we age, it doesn’t get a lot better.

Calvary Chapel South Bay blogs, “The most popular phone is called I-phone. Nowadays, the most popular thing in the social media is to take a selfie (a picture of yourself). Among the most popular magazines are names like “People,” “Us”, “All You,” and “Self.” This goes on and on in our modern narcissistic society. Everything around us is targeting to build up “self,” to feed the flesh and to make us cling to the things on earth. The modern message of the world is, ‘You are your own god. You rule over yourself. There is no sovereign God.’”

That may seem a bit harsh, but it is truth. Scripture teaches that we must deny self (Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24) and take up the cross of Christ to follow Him. To “deny” self means to say “No” to self, and to take up the cross of Christ is to say “Yes” to God – His will, His plan, His way. He sent His Son, Jesus, to set us free (John 8:36), including from ourselves!

So, you can’t have an “I-Phone,” snap a selfie or read “Us” magazine? NO!!!! God does not call us to asceticism – abandoning all earthly possessions, wearing sackcloth and ashes, not eating certain foods and never wearing make-up. He does call us to humble submission, to give Him first place in our lives – and not first among other things or other gods. He is first because He is the only God and His way is the only way! (1 Corinthians 8:6)

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Inextricably Linked

This semester I asked my college seniors to unplug for one weekend.  No cell phone.  No laptop, iPad, desktop, etc.  No Twitter.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No Internet.

“No way!” they said.

But they did.

And they shared their stories which were hilarious – the reaching for the phone that was not there, the lost “don’t know what to do with myself” feelings, the disconnect, the struggle to get anything done without the Internet.

People are more connected to one another than ever before because ours is an Internet and Social Networking world.  When we are not talking, we are texting or instant-messaging or Skyping or tweeting or something. We are connected, and yet we are not.

Michael Price writes in his work, Alone in the Crowd, that we are “more lonely and distant from one another” in our “unplugged lives.”  It’s true.  Most any teenager will tell you that they’d rather text than talk.  And while a lot of adults won’t readily admit it, they, too, would rather email than talk.

We live in neighborhoods but don’t know our neighbors.  We work in offices but don’t know our cubicle mates.  We go to churches but don’t know our fellow parishioners.  Sometimes we live in houses and don’t know our family members!  Not really.

We were made to be social creatures.  In Genesis 2, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and created for him a mate.  So why do we retreat behind locked doors, shut blinds and closed minds?  Well, probably for one – it’s just easier.  Less drama and less headache.  Admittedly, I’ve had my days when I have longed for an island.  But, again, we weren’t designed for long-term island living.  At least not in the sense that I mean – ALONE!

Like it or not, our lives are inextricably linked.  The choices we make affect others. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB) says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…” Every day you are choosing for yourself but also for your descendants. You must make decisions today with tomorrow’s impact in mind, and you must consider current choices in light of future generations.

Are you choosing wisely?  Someone’s life is inextricably linked with yours and the choices you make!  Ponder that this week along with the following Scriptures and questions.

Monday: Joshua 24:15 (NASB)

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Questions for Reflection:  Whom or what have you chosen to serve? What is the impact of your choice on your descendants – immediate (now) and later?  You may say, “I haven’t chosen.” Did you know that by not choosing you are choosing?

Tuesday: 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

Questions for Reflection: Make note of the choices you make today – what to wear, how to drive, whether to speak to someone you pass on the street or in the hallway at work, what to eat for dinner, etc. How many choices did you make? They may seem insignificant, but what is the impact of each decision – for you, for those around you – immediate (now) and later? Do your choices reflect well on you? On your Lord?

Wednesday: Romans 2:6-8 (NASB)

“who will render to each person according to his deeds:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”

Questions for Reflection: Consider two choices you have made in the past – one selfless, one selfish. What has been the return on those choices – for you? For those you love? What, if anything, do you need to change as you go forward?

Thursday: Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Questions for Reflection: How do you make choices? Do you do what you think seems right, or do you pray for wisdom and direction?

Friday: Biblical Principles for Making Wise Decisions

www.watermark.org/blog/decision-making-principles/

Questions for Reflection: After reading the given Scriptures, reflect on each of the 10 questions found at this site.