The Good Ole Days

The birth of my first great grandchild reminded me of how scary newborn infants can be. I’d forgotten how fragile they actually were when each of my four were born. How can something be so soft, cuddly, and delicate and at the same time, be so scary?

Because of an infant’s fragility, they are totally dependent on their parents. They feel like a rag doll when you pick them up and you have to support their head and the rest of their body for fear of breaking something. The only things they know how to do is. . .drink milk, pooh, cry, and sleep. . .(until 3:00AM anyway). However, they eventually learn to sit-up, stand, talk, walk, run, and get into things.

Then something happens. They develop intelligence and minds of their own. With it come opinions, decisions, strange ideas, and rebellion. Then comes the influence of peer pressure, girlfriends, boyfriends, rings in the nose, tattoos, and more rebellion, but hey, we still love them because they are our kids, right?

This little person that was once totally dependent on me is now leaving home,  and striking out on his or her own. They know everything and forgotten all about me. They don’t visit as often as I’d like them to and they are learning different things than what I taught them and things I just as soon they didn’t learn.

All of a sudden the house is empty and quiet. . .very quiet. Hello-o-o, hello-o-o, hello-o. Anybody here, here, here, here.

The peace is great for about a week then I realize that their dependence on me affected me in another way. . .I needed them as much as they needed me. After all, I was dad, friend, nurturer, provider, teacher, counselor, protector, maid, chef, nanny, and personal guidance coordinator.

I supplied their food, clothes, roof, toys, medical attention, and even consoled them when they were down and gave them atta-boys when they did things good and right. I supported them at school plays, games, teachers meetings, PTA, and now. . .they were gone.

The many different hats that I wore were lost that day. They did not depend on me anymore but that’s the nature of the beast. Since the day they were born, their independence is what I groomed them for – daily, while periodically steering them in the right direction with an occasional correction across the knee. I hoped that things would stick when they ventured out into the world on their own.

I taught them my beliefs and values, and about God, and wanted them to learn from their own mistakes and gave them the latitude to do so with free will in hopes that they would derive a better than average chance of survival in the world. I would not always be there with them or to save them, at least until I was unable to do so.

I got excited about their independence, especially when they’d make the right decisions and then grew from them. However, many times I cringed when they went down a wrong path and I’d say, “Hey! I surely didn’t teach them that. UGH. Underline the word ‘surely.’” I must admit though that I miss the good ole days when they just depended on me. It’s purely selfish and clingy, I know, but. . .

As Christians, I wonder if the Father thinks about His children the same way we think about ours, as being fragile, soft, delicate, and drinkers of milk. We haven’t learned how to stand, walk, or talk the spiritual things of God yet and as infants we are totally dependent on Him [John 15:5].

v13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
v14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil [Hebrews 5:13-14].

To help us in our decision making process and giving us the chance of survival, God the Father also gave us the latitude of free will. As we grow, our worship and prayer time builds each day and we find ourselves more dependent on Him. He supplies all of our needs.

Then something happens. We develop intelligence and minds of our own. We venture out on our own with our own ministry, doctrines, opinions, decisions, beliefs, and like Martha, we get so caught up in those things of God that in the process we forget about our Abba Father. We have developed our independence through free will and have grown up in the Lord.

We don’t visit Him as often as He’d probably like but we’re learning, working in our ministry, and doing the work of God. We do our best at working at what God’s Word taught us but we neglect the visitations that He craves from His children just like we crave the visitations from our children while they are out providing for their kids and doing (hopefully) what we taught them. However, God still loves us because we are His children. He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5).

As a parent, I taught my kids how to take care of themselves so they could, one day, grow up, and have their independence and live on meat. However, I miss the personal validation of that dependence. I wonder if God feels the same way and doesn’t like giving His children their independence either because He just misses the good ole days, like I do. . .when they just depended on Him.

Return to Christ and visit Him daily in His Word and through prayer. Set the rudder of your ship with the Word of God and through fellowship with Him. In Jesus name.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Next week (unless the Lord intervenes): Return to Me. As I watch the events of today manifest before my eyes and check it against the Word of God I am convinced that Christ is soon coming. The Lord has been building something in me for quite a while now and I feel that He is about to birth that word in me. The Good Ole Days blog is a perfect lead in to what God has been feeding my spirit and unless I have misread the timing, I will proceed, with the Lord’s leading, to next week’s blog, Return to me.

God bless you all and we’ll see you next time.

Thanks for stopping by and for supporting me and my writing,

Your Host: James Lindquist
Christian Author and Ebook creator: http://www.jameslindquistbooks.com

What Does God Want From Us?

Part Two: Helping Man Grow

Any discussion on why God seeks man has to begin with the knowledge of His nature. God’s nature binds Him to who He is because it cannot be any other way. God’s nature is one of love, holiness, and righteousness. His attributes and character are immutable.

Man, on the other hand, is also constrained by his nature. However, in an unregenerate and natural state, God’s Word says that he is deceitful and desperately wicked [1]. In this natural state, man’s entire psyche is in bondage to sin and his carnal mind is at enmity with God [2]. It can also be no other way. That is until Jesus Christ. Upon our repentance and acceptance of His grace, mercy, and the free gift of salvation, Christ gives us a new nature.

v17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new [2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV].

REPENTANCE AND ACCEPTANCE
Because we have repented, accepted Him, received our new nature, and are now “In Christ,” what does God look for in His creation? First, Father God looks on the heart [3] to see if Christ even dwells there. Is this enough for God? On our journey of faith, God also requires of us, a few more aspects on which we need to grow.

True repentance is not worrying about how badly you screwed up or worrying about the consequences of your sin, it’s about wanting to get back into the presence of God because sin separates us from god.

FAITH
We have already learned that it is impossible to please God without faith [4]. However, He gives us all the faith that we need and it is free of charge [5]. We have to grow in the allotted faith given to us by ourselves, but the initial seed God gives to us is free.

The amount of victory we have in our lives is commensurate with the amount of faith that we practice. Receiving victory is the hardest thing to do without faith. Another way of looking at receiving victory is by using an alternative word for faith, and that word is “trust.” So, how do we build our faith in order to please God? We do it through. . .

OBEDIENCE
Obeying God is for our benefit. How else can we build our faith? How can we conform to the image of Christ [6]? How can we become holy and righteous through faith, if not through obedience? God is not some tyrannical entity in the sky that has all these rules to keep us under His thumb, and if we fail, starts throwing lightning bolts at us. Good heavens no.

Our obedience is for our benefit so we can become Christ like and be holy because God is holy [7]. How can there be fellowship with God unless we work toward this goal of being “In Christ? What do we need to do to work toward this fellowship with God and the goal of being “In Christ?” Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

SUBMISSION
James 4:7 says that we should Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Many Scriptures talk about submission. Some talk about submitting to authorities [8], some speak to wives [9] and husbands [10], to each other [11], while others speak to submitting to masters [12].

The thing with submission is, in terms of definition, it can be either compulsory or voluntary. People can submit to another and still not like the idea of submitting because the submission is required of them. Sometimes when the Bible talks of submission it uses the companion word subject [13]. The word “subject” by itself, gives the connotation of requirement but it can also be voluntary.

COMMITMENT
Commitment, on the other hand, gives the connotation of a voluntary action. When we personally commit to someone it is from the heart and is not a mandatory action. Our only assurance that all is well and taken care of totally depends on the person to whom we’ve consigned a matter [14]. Consigned is another word for commitment.

We can be rest assured that when we not only submit to Christ, but commit to Him, He will take care of all matters according to His will for our lives. We can trust Jesus, and have faith “In Christ.” You cannot give commitment without the devotion to that commitment.

v5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass [Psalms 37:5 KJV].

DEVOTION
To be devoted to Christ is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. To have faith in Christ, to obey His precepts, voluntarily submit to Him, trust in Him and Him alone, and commit your life to Him. Other words for devotion are loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity. Those who do not live for Christ will not die for Christ. No builder starts a project and no king starts a war without counting the cost. Otherwise he/she becomes as salt that has lost its savor [15].

Each of us has to carry our own Cross [16]. It could very well cost us everything in this day and age. However, the rewards are great [17]. Will we give up an eternity with Him for a few crummy years here on Earth? I for one, will not. I love you Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength [18].

v30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment [Mark 12:30, 31 KJV].

_____________________________________
[1] Jeremiah 17:9
[2] Romans 8:6, 7
[3] 1 Samuel 16:7
[4] Hebrews 11:6
[5] Size – Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6 Growth – Matthew 13:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19
[6] Romans 8:29
[7] 1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44, 45; 20:26
[8] Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13; Hebrews 13:17 There’s probably about 75 more
[9] Ephesians 5:22
[10] Ephesians 5:25-33
[11] Ephesians 5:21
[12] Ephesians 6:5; 1 Peter 2:18-25
[13] Ephesians 5:21-24
[14] Isaiah 26:3, 4; Psalms 37:5, 7; Proverbs 3:5, 6; Proverbs 16:3; 1 Peter 2:13-16, 23
[15 Luke 14:26-35
[16] Luke 14:27
[17] Matthew 16:27; 1 John 5:13; Revelation 22:12; Names: James 1:2, 1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:7,8; and 1 Peter 5:2-4. Plus there are rewards in this life.
[18] Mark 12:30, 31

GROWING THROUGH CHRIST

Part One: Do not be discouraged

The Bible tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith [1]. Therefore, how can we please Him without first beginning the growth process in the faith of Jesus Christ [2]. All of us falter in our faith but if we don’t become discouraged or disheartened, we can struggle through the setback. Keep in mind though that those great men of the Bible, who had powerful faiths, also struggled with their faith challenges as well when tested.

If we think we struggle, and we will, let’s consider these great men of God, keeping in mind that when we contend for the faith, God will open doors, bless us, and protect us.

v3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints [Jude 1:3].

CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH

Do you remember the story of Moses? He did not want to travel to Egypt to confront and speak to the Pharaoh [3]. He didn’t know what to say and furthermore, a person took their lives in their own hands by confronting the Pharaoh. However, God protected Moses all the way through the ordeal especially given all the plagues. God also allowed him to lead his people out of bondage.

What about Jonah? He did not want to go to Nineveh and speak to the Ninevites [4]. He went out of his way to disobey God and boarded a boat to Tarshish [Nineveh is representative of God’s plan and Tarshish is representative of man’s plan. Man goes to one of these cities everyday.]. Because of his disobedience, God allowed a whale to swallow him. However, through Jonah, over 100,000 souls repented. I think I’m responsible for three.

Jeremiah the Prophet also suffered. They put him in chains and imprisoned him [5]. They threw him into a dungeon [6] where he just about died [7]. Jeremiah did not want to prophesy to the people because he felt unworthy and incapable of speaking to the masses [8]. In fact, Jeremiah accused God of forcing him to be a prophet [9] and at one time even said that He’d not speak God’s Word [10] again. However, guess who won that battle. Jeremiah even wished that he’d never lived [11], and yet God made Jeremiah a prophet and gave him the responsibility of authoring a complete book of the greatest literary work of all time, the Bible.

As for Paul in the New Testament, he certainly struggled through the persecution of his faith in Christ. Consider that Five times Paul received 39 lashes, he was stoned once and beaten three times with rods, the king was after him, and three times experienced shipwreck. He was in constant danger. The list goes on and on. However, God allowed him to write 2/3’s of the New Testament [12].

I think we can safely say that these men struggled and suffered for the faith and look where they ended up and how greatly God blessed them.

HOW TO GROW IN THE FAITH

Faith is the conduit between the soul and the spirit. With the three parts of man’s psyche, our faith now becomes two (soul and spirit) against one (flesh) and is a majority. We use our faith in Christ as many times as possible to make it a majority and it is how we renew our mind and grow in Christ. On the other hand, disobedience is the conduit between the soul and the flesh. Disobedience now becomes two (soul and flesh) against one (spirit) and is also a majority. This separates us from God, and is enmity against God.

Like Jeremiah, we can work through our struggles and grow in the faith that Christ allotted to each one of us [13]. The Bible says that if we have the faith in Christ the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. To grow in the faith, we first need to repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and welcome Him into our heart.

Then through prayer, reading His Word, and obeying what we read, we thus begin a relationship with Him. As we have already read, when we accept Jesus into our heart, we are then “In Christ.” It is then just a process of renewing our mind [14] and growing into Christ’s image [15]. This is basically what regenerate man strives for. . .to be “In Christ” and to have fellowship with Him.

However, since God is perfect and immutable, we have to switch to God’s desires to see why He seeks us. Like we have learned, God made man in His own image, but something happened 6000 years ago under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and evil when Adam and Eve stopped by for a quick snack.

What is our take-away? The take-away is that no matter what the problem, situation, adversity, or judgement, God will always bless and give us the opportunity to repent and turn ourselves around. Remember that all things work together for those who love the Lord [16].

Although God is self-sufficient and doesn’t need anything or anybody, He does desire some things from us. What does God want from us that He would want to seek us?

Next week: What does God want from us?

<><><><><><><><><><><><>
[1]Hebrews 11:6
[2] Ephesians 4:15, 16; John 15:10, 11; 2 Peter 3:16-18
[3] Exodus 3, 4
[4] Jonah 1
[5] Compare Hebrews 11:36 and Jeremiah 37:15, 16
[6] Jeremiah 38:6
[7] Jeremiah 38:10
[8] Jeremiah 1:4-8
[9] Jeremiah 20:7
[10] Jeremiah 20:9
[11] Jeremiah 20:14
[12] 2 Corinthians 11:23-33
[13] Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6
[14] Romans 12:2
[15] Romans 8:29
[16] Romans 8:28

What’s Important?

This last weekend, while weeding out my DVD collection, I found a forgotten treasure; all eight copies of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone made for TV murder mystery series. So-o-o, I decided to have a marathon. Of course, anything with Tom Selleck, is worth watching. However, in case you’ve never seen any of these movies, here is a brief background blurb.

Following his divorce and loss of his job as a homicide detective for the LAPD, Jesse Stone travels to Paradise, Massachusetts, a quaint little coastal town where they hire him as their chief of police. Jesse Stone lost his job in LA because of his drinking problem due to his divorce.

By disc number four, “Sea Change,” Stone is seeing a shrink [1] for his drinking. During this session, Doctor Dix says something that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Because of the unction that I felt, I knew that I was going to do something with the statement. So guess what I did and who I consulted first. 🙂

Doctor Dix was curious as to why Jesse drank and asked him, “Do you drink while at work?” Jesse answered, “No, I don’t. It would be unprofessional.” He then asked, “Do you drink at home?” Jesse replied, “Yes.” After further discussion Doctor Dix came to an internal conclusion that Jesse drank because of his divorce and worried about what he had no control over, which in and of itself is an exercise in futility. I am sure that the doctor surmised in his head that the reason Jesse only drank when he got home, was because his focus apparently changed, to which Doctor Dix gives the take-away of the scene, “If you haven’t got anything to do, find something to do. If it’s not important. . .make it important.

Many of us today give the enemy a foothold in our lives when our minds become idle and we worry about things over which we have no control and do not give it to God.

v27 and do not give the Devil a foothold [Ephesians 4:27 NIV].

v27 Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. . .[Proverbs 16:27a TLB].

As with Jesse Stone, if we are going through a difficult period in our life and have much time on our hands, then I echo Doctor Dix, “If we have nothing to do, find something to do. If it is unimportant. . .make it important,” or as Jean Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise says, as he points to the observation screen, “Make it so.

If you have nothing to fill the void at present, a great place to start would be the Scriptures and time spent with the Lord in prayer. Time spent with Him has always helped me out of a tight spot. Now I do not know what you are going through (if anything right now), but here is a great Scripture to get you going.

v8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
v9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you [Philippians 4:8-9 KJV].
_______________________________

[1] Played by William Devane