I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power . . .to grasp . . . the love of Christ.
We all have root systems. Roots are life-lines. They seek out and drink in water and nutrients. And they provide stability in times of wind and erosion.
Unfortunately, many of us are rooted in the soil of shame. Roots in this rocky soil become bound. They cannot sustain growth. They are not able to provide nourishment or stability.
Recovery for many of us is like being transplanted. It is the process of allowing God to first pull us out of the parched and rocky soil of shame and to then plant us in the soil of love. In the rich soil of love our fragile roots can finally begin to stretch, grow and take hold. It is a soil in which real nourishment and real stability are possible.
But transplantation is not a simple matter. No matter how gently God pulls us up out of the soil of shame, there will be trauma. And sinking roots in new soil will feel like an unfamiliar and risky adventure.
As our roots sink deeper and deeper in the soil of God's love, however, we will begin to experience growth that never could have been possible in the soil of rejection and shame. We will become 'rooted and established' in love.
My roots are in poor soil, Lord.
They do not nourish.
They provide no stability.
My roots are bound, Lord.
Give me grace-full soil, Lord.
Sink my roots deeply.
Give me stability.
In your love.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery
I've always wondered what it would have been like to be present at Jesus' crucifixion. I wondered if I would have joined the disciples and disappeared. Or would I be like the only disciple, John, who stayed to witness Jesus death.
I was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to see Jesus being crucified. However, having been a participant in the Easter Musical, I became, at times, a little complacent about Jesus' crucifixion. It became a matter of rehearsal and the actor playing Jesus was a friend. However, one practice, I was struck with the reality of Jesus' compassion and love, how He died for me.
I walked onto stage and Jesus was on the cross. I looked up and just at that time, Jesus was looking down at me. I forgot that this man was an actor and my friend. I felt transported to the time that Jesus' was actually on the cross. I felt so overwhelmed. Jesus was looking at me and I was the only person there even though the stage and the audience was filled with people.
It was Jesus and me.
Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by two competing emotions: 1) I felt ashamed at my sin, and 2) I felt pure love. I felt no condemnation. A flood of tears came to my eyes and at that night's performance, I didn't have to pretend to cry. My complacency vanished.
My tears were real.
Jesus was real.
My sin was real.
The love I felt was real.
The forgiveness Jesus offered was real.
Salvation is real.
BE A MAN.
The world is a getting safer. For centuries, violence has been subsiding.
Really? Most people find this hard to believe.
But consider evidence presented by Stephen Pinker in his fascinating book, The Better Angels of our Nature
(a Lincoln quote), published by Viking in 2011. Pinker teaches psychology at Harvard University and has won awards for his prior research.
The book is subtitled, Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker argues, “The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species. Its implications touch the core of our beliefs and values—for what could be more fundamental than an understanding of whether the human condition, over the course of its history, has gotten steadily better, steadily worse, or has not changed?” (692).
Pinker argues that in point of fact violence has
declined over time and continues to do so.The Evidence
Pinker takes the long view, covering many millennia. But his primary focus is the last 2000 years. He marshals a wide range of data to prove his case that as a long-term trend, human violence has dropped dramatically.
Can it be? “Wasn’t the 20th century the bloodiest in history?” Pinker asks. “Haven’t new forms of war replaced old ones? Aren’t we living in the Age of Terror?” Yes, but
, he says. “[F]or all the dangers we face today, the dangers of yesterday were even worse.” Unlike the past, most people today “no longer have to worry about abduction into sexual slavery, divinely commanded genocide, lethal circuses and tournaments, punishment on the cross, rack, stake, or strappado for holding unpopular beliefs, decapitation for not bearing a son, disembowelment for having dated a royal, pistol duels to defend their honor, . . . and the prospect of a nuclear world war that would put an end to civilization or to human life itself” (30).
Such evils still exist, of course. But Pinker points to statistics. It’s true many people today—in some cases, millions—face lethal dangers like betrayal into slavery or the threat of genocide. But over centuries, and continuing today, the incidence of such horrors has been declining.
This can look like a cold, heartless analysis. Who cares about statistics when one’s six-year-old child has just been gunned down in her own classroom? And yet the very horror and immediacy of such violence can immunize us to the truth of larger trends. Or so Pinker argues.
Pinker focuses on the centuries-long decline in violence, particularly homicide, in Europe. He shows that in England murder rates have dropped dramatically since about 1200--“from the 13th century to the 20th, homicide in various parts of England plummeted by a factor of ten, fifty, and in some cases a hundred” (60). Unearthing this data, he says, “confounds every stereotype about the idyllic past and the degenerate present. When I surveyed perceptions of violence in an Internet questionnaire, people guessed that 20th-century England was about 14 percent more violent than 14th-century England. In fact it was 95 percent less violent” (61).
Today Europe is the safest place in the world to live.Violence and Human Culture
Pinker discusses violence within the larger context of culture and “the civilizing process.” As societies get organized into larger units, violence gradually comes under control—partly through government action (police or military, law codes) and partly because more civil behavior gradually becomes the cultural norm.
Drawing upon (with some qualification) the work of Norbert Elias (1897-1990), Pinker describes what happened in Europe over the past 800 years or so. “Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipated the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. A culture of honor—the readiness to take revenge—gave way to a culture of dignity—the readiness to control one’s emotions.” This shift first took hold among “aristocrats and noblemen,” but these new values “were then absorbed into the socialization of younger and younger children until they became second nature.” The new norms also “trickled down from the upper classes to the bourgeoisie that strove to emulate them, and from them to the lower classes, eventually becoming a part of the culture as a whole” (72).
More pacific values and norms got increasingly internalized.
This change brought an array of cultural benefits, Pinker argues. “Across time and space, the more peaceable societies also tend to be richer, healthier, better educated, better governed, more respectful of their women, and more likely to engage in trade” (xxiii). “Since violence is largely a male pastime,” he adds, “cultures that empower women tend to move away from the glorification of violence and are less likely to breed dangerous subcultures of rootless young men” (xxvi).
Pinker’s basic argument is that “we enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to reduce it, and so we should work to reduce the violence that remains in our time” (xxvi).Kingdom of God Reflection
Pinker’s evidence seems pretty convincing. It is important precisely because it is so counterintuitive. It is a reminder not
to take for granted, at face value, what we hear on the news. We all know that bad things make news in ways that good things don’t.
Pinker misreads history, however, in at least one important respect. He largely ignores the role of Christian faith and ethics as a key factor in reducing violence, and more generally in “the civilizing process.” He engagingly describes the results, in other words, but misreads the causes.
My point at the moment, however, is simply that we—Christians and non-Christians alike—easily misread our own culture. All of us are caught up with the news of the day and our current concerns. Necessarily so. We simply don’t have the data nor the historical perspective to see the big picture or know how to read it.
This is a key reason why we need constantly to immerse ourselves in Scripture and keep company with the saints, not only of our time but of the ages. Aside from everything else we can say about the Bible, we can say this: It wasn’t written in the last ten or one hundred years! It’s not of our age. It breathes other ages and cultures and stories. It (so to speak) operates on different assumptions. That is its strength, not its weakness; its relevance, not its irrelevance. It teaches the way of love and shalom
through Jesus Christ; the peaceable kingdom.
Plus, the Bible is the inspired, once-for-all written Word of God! We need it in order to “read” our own time and place.
The Bible of course doesn’t answer the question of whether violence is really increasing or subsiding over time. The Bible promises both that evil will increase (2 Tim. 3:1-13) and that God’s kingdom will come. His will done on earth.
The Bible leaves us with that conundrum.
But really, it’s not a conundrum. It is a challenge and a call to kingdom faithfulness. The two ways. The world will get better or worse, or both at the same time. A whole lot depends on the faithfulness of God’s people in responding to God’s grace and power and being agents of God’s kingdom coming in our world today.
Meanwhile, let’s not buy into the popular pseudo-Christian myth that our world is inevitably and irredeemably going to the dogs. The gospel is more powerful than that.This post was written by Dr Howard Snyder. For the original post with comments, go to: http://seedbed.com/feed/the-world-is-getting-safer/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Lord, the feelings are not the same
I guess I'm older, I guess I've changed
And how I wish it had been explained
That as you're growing you must remember
That nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
Lord, I remember that special way
I vowed to serve You, when it was brand new
But like Peter, I can't even watch and pray
One hour with You and I bet, I could deny You too.
But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I'm sure that my whole life would waste away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
But nothing lasts, except the grace of God
By which I stand, in Jesus
I know that I would surely fall away, except for grace
By which I'm saved
I was talking to a gentleman at a bar and he made an interesting comment. "You know Sam that goes to your church? You should talk to him. He used to be one of the meanest men I've ever met." He proceeded to tell about some of Sam's antics. Some of Sam's antics were funny, some were off-color, and some were downright mean. I knew Sam came to our church but I didn't know him very well.
So, next Sunday, I found Sam after church and stopped him for a moment. I told him that I met a man earlier in the week who told me about him. I started to tell him a bit of what I heard and he interrupted me. What Sam said next startled me. He said, "Dale, I'm a Christian now. I am so ashamed of what I used to be. I was not a nice man. I cannot talk about it." Sam said this in such a manner that it was obvious that I had really hurt him. I quickly apologized to him and he excused himself.
Sam taught me an important lesson that day.
Do I take sin seriously?
Do I take my sin seriously?
On another occasion, I was having lunch with a friend who was a new Christian. In the midst of our conversation, he made this interesting comment, "As I grow in my faith, I learn how my past behavior, though forgiven, was shameful and wrong."
That's one of many reasons why I love hanging out with new Christians. They don't have all those defenses that "mature" Christians have.
My new friend taught me an important lesson that day.
Have I taken my sin seriously?
Am I truly repentant of what I have done in the past?
I'm not saying that I need to wallow in my past sinful behavior.
I'm not saying that I need to live a life full of guilt.
I just wonder if I take too many trips down memory lane, thinking about how much "fun" I used to have. Do I take too many fishing excursions, trying to recall my past sins positively?
Do I feel godly sorrow for my past?
Do I feel regret for my past behavior?
These men taught me that a real man faces his past and takes responsibility for his behavior. A real man is sensitive to God's work in his life. A real man doesn't recall past sinful behavior in a positive manner. A real man is a new creation. He adamantly rejects sin.
BE A MAN.
Monday, I posted about how a young man used the retelling of the crucifixion of Jesus so that he could sin and take others with him in his sin.
Today, I want to share something beautiful from my experiences with the Easter Musical. In this church that annually would share the Easter story with its community, there was always a special private showing of the final dress rehearsal.
The final dress rehearsal was an invitation to individuals who were physically as well as mentally challenged. The church would clear out much of the seating so that people using wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes could easily navigate into the auditorium. This was a fun tradition in this community because these individuals got to see the musical before anybody else.
In this final dress rehearsal that I am remembering, Jesus was being taken down from the cross. This is a very solemn and quiet scene, taking a good ten minutes or so. Jesus is carefully removed from the cross, given to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea, John and Nicodemus. They lovingly prepare Jesus' body for burial, wrapping him in cloths.
Well, during this scene, one man in the audience who couldn't speak or walk due to his challenges, started weeping uncontrollably. It was quite a poignant scene that was enhanced by this man's sensitivity. I firmly believe that this man was so touched by this reenactment that he said "yes" to God's invitation to accept Jesus as his Savior. Needless to say, this man's behavior affected many others not only in the congregation but many of the actors and orchestra members as well. In my own heart, I felt a revival of my own commitment to serving Jesus. I'm sure that many had a similar experience. An unspoken revival of sorts happened right there because of this man's sensitivity to Jesus' gift of salvation.
I want to tell you that the man that was weeping was so much more of a man than many men I have ever met. Especially, more so than that young man from Monday who wanted to have sexual conquests to prove his manhood. That weeping man allowed God to transform him. Outside he was still the same but I believe that man left the church a new creation.
You may be wondering how the above picture of the mountain climber on the summit fits into this story. Well, I'm thinking that when this guy gets to heaven, he's gonna want to do the things he always wanted to do but couldn't because he was in an earthly body that didn't work as he wanted. I'm gonna find him and we're gonna do some mountain climbing. When we get to the summit, I'm gonna ask him, "remember when you were at that private showing of the Easter Musical? I want to know what you were thinking." I anticipate he will share with me his love for God and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life that night.
Together we will agree with the Roman Centurion, "Surely, this man was the Son of God!" and we will spend a couple hundred years on that summit praising our Savior and recalling all the wonderful things that God did.
Do you want to experience something beautiful?
You can right now as you ask Jesus to lead your life, turn from your sinfulness and allow God to transform you.
We want you to join us on that summit in eternity.
BE A MAN.
There is an important principle in handling temptation. Did you know that many times, you can resist temptation? God tells us to submit to Him and then when we resist temptation, it will flee.
Resistance can be a matter of remembering this acronym:
H - are you HUNGRY? If your stomach is rumbling, if you feel weak from not having eaten for a while and you find yourself entertaining ungodly thoughts, go get something to eat. The renewed energy will give you strength to think clearer. If it's healthy food, you will feel even better than devouring a whole pizza.
A - are you ANGRY? Harboring anger makes you susceptible to temptation. I'm not saying anger is always bad. But dwelling on angry feelings and not letting go of things puts you in a precarious position where its easier to say yes to temptation.
L - are you LONELY? Being lonely causes a man to do stupid things. If you find yourself doing things you need not do because you're chasing away loneliness, then find a good male friend and spend some time together praying for each other. In this modern society, you will have a number of friends immediately available by Facebook, cell phone, texting, and/or email .
T - are you TIRED? When you're tired, your resistance to temptation is greatly weakened. If you find yourself tempted to do something sinful, just go to bed. Get some sleep.
S - are you SICK? Take some medication to improve your symptoms. It will increase your resistance to the bug of temptation.
S - are you SAD? Find a good male friend and spend some time praying for each other. Remember that the joy of the LORD is your strength.
This is the principle to handling temptation: submit to God and remember HALTSS
You can't use the excuse, "I just couldn't help myself, after all I'm only human." God gave you a brain, you're not stupid. You're not an animal that just reacts. You can HALTSS temptation...
BE A MAN.
This posted was adapted from an article in the Grapevine in 1971
A Manchineri believer in Brazil, Genesio, recently told missionary Peter Rich, how ice cubes led to his salvation.
“I used to think that only people that preached God’s Word were able to have ice cubes. I didn’t know what they were. One day I asked my mother, ‘What are those hard things that missionaries have in their cups?’ ‘Son, she replied, ‘That’s just something other people do.
“But I was still curious so I asked Peter, What are those things in your cup? He told me that it was water made hard with cold. I knew he was lying to me. I went home and said to my mother, ‘I think Peter is lying to us. He said those hard things were just water. I know that’s not true.’
“Then one day after we had finished some work we were doing for the missionaries, Peter gave me some water with those hard things in it. I drank the water and asked if I could take the hard things home with me. Peter gave me some water with the hard things in it. I ran home as fast as I could and asked for a bowl to put them in. My mother and brothers and I poked them with our fingers and wondered what they could be. Around midnight we noticed that they were turning into something like water. What could it be?
“Later I was watching when Peter was filling a little tray with water. He said he was going to put them in that box they call a refrigerator and by the next day the water would turn hard. Peter said, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll show it to you.’
“The next day I went back and the water was hard. Peter showed me the back of the box and explained that the process that made heat which made the water get hard.
“Not long afterwards I was talking with my brother Tshiko. He was telling me that he didn’t believe the things that the missionary was teaching. I told Tshiko that I also did not believe at first but after seeing how a box made by mere men could take water and transform it into hard rocks I now believed that a God who created all things could surely transform the soul of a wicked person into His image.
“From that time on I looked forward to the meetings because I wanted to learn all I could about this God. I never had any trouble listening from then on. Now I know the true God.”
Genesio along with several other Manchineri believers continues to help Peter translate the Scriptures into the Manchinere language.
Pray that Peter Rich and his co-workers, Genesio and his brother Raimundo, will clearly and accurately translate God’s Word into Manchineri.
This post was written by D McMaster. You can find the original post here: http://usa.ntm.org/mission-news/52278/the-testimony-of-the-ice-cube
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
According to a recent newspaper report
, only 8% of British men attend church regularly, though 53% identify themselves as Christians. And the situation is similar in other Western nations, with more than 40% of U.S. evangelicals
not attending church weekly and more than 60% of American mainline Christians
not attending weekly. In short, millions who consider themselves Christians limit their church attendance largely to holidays, weddings, and funerals.
If you’re among these millions, please give church another chance. By getting involved, you’ll discover that what you once viewed as a chore is actually a blessing. Here are 10 reasons why:1. Gathering with a church encourages believers to love others and do good deeds
).2. A church is the main venue for using your spiritual gifts
(1 Corinthians 12:1-31
). God has given you abilities and talents intended to help other Christians. If you’re not involved in a church, others are being deprived of what you have to offer.3. A church helps keep you from abandoning the faith.
According to the author of Hebrews, the antidote to developing an “unbelieving heart” that leads you “to fall away from the living God” is to “exhort one another” (Hebrews 3:12-13
)—an activity that occurs most prominently in the church.4. A church helps you defend Christianity against those who attack it.
When Jude told the early Christians to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3
), he directed his instruction toward a group of believers, not a scattering of lone-ranger Christians. Answering challenges from coworkers, friends, and family members is always easier when you can ask fellow church members for help and wisdom.5. A church is a great venue for pooling resources to support missions and benevolent works
(2 Corinthians 8:1-7
; 3 John 5-8
). Your money combined with that of fellow church members can do a lot for Christ.6. A church helps its members maintain correct doctrine
(1 Timothy 3:15
). You might begin to adopt unbiblical ideas without realizing it yourself. But you probably won’t adopt unbiblical ideas without someone at your church realizing it, and they can help you get back to the truth.7. After your family, a church is the best group of people to meet your physical needs in an emergency
(1 John 3:16-17
; 1 Timothy 5:3-16
).8. A church supports you when you face persecution
). You may not be imprisoned for your Christian beliefs like the apostles were, but a church family is still a great source of comfort when you face stinging words or unfair treatment.9. A church is where you can be baptized and take part in the Lord’s Supper
; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
; Ephesians 4:4-6
). These two ordinances are a vital part of any believer’s walk with Jesus.10. A church provides the setting for corporate worship
; Colossians 3:16
). Though it’s a blessing to praise God alone, there is a unique joy that accompanies singing God’s praises with an entire congregation of Christ followers.
The list could go on, but you get the idea. It’s worth it to start attending church.This post was written by David Roach. the original post with comments can be found at: http://www.biblemesh.com/blog/2013/01/21/10-reasons-to-be-involved-in-a-church/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
20 Christmases ago, when our boys were young, we had a missionary assignment in Quito, Ecuador. One Christmas in Ecuador was especially memorable.
What do you want when you are living in a foreign country away from extended family and the comforts of home? Well, you miss American things.
Around the corner from our home was the Carolina Market. There you could get just about anything that you wanted, especially if you asked ahead. One time, I went in there searching for Dr Pepper and there was one lone can sitting in the corner of a vendor's booth. He wanted over 5,000 Sucres for it! (This was before the American Dollar became the currency of Ecuador) So that was well over $5. Did I miss America and Dr Pepper that much? Was I willing to spend that much money for it? Nope...
There was a short-term volunteer missionary team that was coming to Ecuador from the United States that was going to be in Ecuador for about a week. They had heard about us and contacted us ahead of time, wanting to know if there was anything that they could bring us for Christmas. So, what do you think we asked for? Yep, you guessed it. Dr Pepper.
Also, we wanted Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, the boys favorite cereal. They hadn't had this cereal for well over six months and occasionally would ask about it. We tried to to find it at the Carolina Market to no avail. We also searched other Ecuadorian grocery stores but did not find anything that resembled their favorite cereal.
So, we decided to make the trek to the city that the team was going to. It was a good 5-hour (one-way) bus ride to get there. It was a beautiful ride, thru the Andes mountains. There were chickens and goats on the bus with us as well. Our destination city was also the only city in Ecuador to have a Burger King. So, we were looking forward to having a Whopper as part of our trip. As we got off the bus and made our way to Burger King, we were sorely disappointed. The "whopper machine" was broken. I didn't know there was such a thing as a "whopper machine" So, we ended up not having it our way but rather got chicken sandwiches. They were good but they weren't Whoppers.
The meeting with this team was special. These were people we didn't know. Nor did the know us. Yet, they traveled from afar to bring us gifts. We talked about Ecuador, they told us where they were from and there were some connections made. These gifts that they brought us felt as valuable as gold. We were extremely grateful. They brought other gifts but the DP and the Cap'n Crunch stand out as the most memorable. You just couldn't get those in Ecuador.
You can imagine our excitement! The four of us packed up our gifts and placed them in a suitcase to take back on the bus. We talked about it all the way home (another 5 hours) and were very tempted to open some before we got home. Nevertheless, we were able to wait. Now Christmas was still a couple of weeks away. But wanting to be good parents, we opened one box and one can and had that for our supper when we got home. The rest were packed away for Christmas.
Christmas was special that year. The boys knew that they were going to get Cap'n Crunch and I knew that I was going to get Dr Pepper. We talked about it every day leading up to Christmas with Karyn teasing us that Santa may not make it to Quito. But we knew better.
The excitement mounted so that even though we knew what we were getting for Christmas, it was still a wonderful event: Having hot chocolate, opening presents, eating Cap'n Crunch and drinking Dr Pepper.
It's a Christmas I will never forget.
So, this Christmas, you know what Jesus is going to get. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Have you waited with excited anticipation as Jesus opened these gifts? Did you see the joy in His eyes as He enjoyed what was given to Him?
Do you approach this Christmas with excited anticipation?
You know what you're going to get.
The greatest gift of all time is given today.
Are you going to open it and enjoy it?
Jesus offers Himself.
He wants to see you enjoy Him. He wants you to enjoy Him as a little baby. He wants you to enjoy Him as a young teen in the Temple. He wants you to enjoy Him at the Wedding in Cana. He wants you to enjoy fishing with Him, learning from Him, becoming more like Him.
He also wants you to follow Him.... All the way to the cross.
If you haven't accepted the Savior of the World into your life, this is a great time to do it.
Make it a Christmas you will never forget.
BE A MAN.