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A mere generation ago, seventy-six years to be exact, the world faced a series of crises of biblical proportions. It was what came to be known as World War II, a dangerously dark time in human history. Were it not for the courage of millions of men and women, and the prevailing sense of responsibility embraced by so many, we’d all be speaking German, Italian or Japanese. Far more than the issue of mere language, fascism, “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism,” nearly won the day. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, we’re facing a series of crises equally as epic – but in a very real way, things are very, very different. Complacency reigns. Courage and responsibility have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. One of my good friends recently shared For Want of a Nail with me, and I’d like to share it with you:
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
Exactly. It amazes me how so many of us Christians are more enamored with what I refer to as “the Evangelical escape clause,” the “Rapture,” than the God we say we’re waiting for. In fact, we’ve become so heavenly minded, we’re of little earthly good. Yes, I believe in the rapture – but at the end of the day, it’s irrelevant to me when it comes to how I live for Christ. I think it should be the same for you, too. In fact, if we don’t all begin to stop using the “Rapture” as our escape clause, we’ll never reverse the trend of complacency that has become the new characteristic of the Evangelical community.
Rapture or not, we Christians believe Jesus Christ is returning. The problem is that we all seem to be sitting on the side-lines at this epic time in history, when it’s being written, waiting for Him to do what He says is our part in the battle. Since when did complacency become the Christian battle cry? Complacency and battle are enemies. They have nothing to do with each other. Truth is, we Christians have lost our pulse on the battle between good and evil. We want Jesus to fight all our battles, to such an extent, that all we care about is the comfort of our lives.
There was a time when courage and faith marched together. There was a time when to be a Christian meant you were the agent of change in a distasteful, dark world. Complacency? Well, that would have been akin to being lukewarm. But lukewarm is the face of the typical American Christian. Lukewarm has so much become the norm for us that we think material blessings, not persecution, are the measure of mature, God-honoring faith.
We love to preach and hear the stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, David and Goliath, Gideon and his 300 men and the boldness of Peter and John when they were opposed by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). But do we realize that in every one of those instances those folks had their backs against the wall to such a degree that they (and others) were facing extinction? They didn’t throw it on God’s back. They didn’t just wait for God to show up – they stood up, with courage, against the tide – and did so because it was the right thing to do, as if the battle were up to them, not merely God.
Today, we are leaving everything up to God – and it’s killing us. Literally.
Gone is the idea of the divine partnership to which God has called us. If we don’t wake up now, the next generation will look back at us and wonder what happened to the faith that was once synonymous with courage, valor, honor, beauty and determination, no matter what the cost.
Where’s your faith at this epic time in American and world history? Is your life more characterized by living comfortably or courageously? If the course we’re currently on continues, where will that leave us?
Thoughts are things. They are either good, bad or neutral. Good and bad thoughts consume the same amount of energy – but one is priceless and the other costly. Why not use your limited energy to embrace good thoughts while disregarding the bad? What’s playing in the theater of your mind? It makes all the difference in the world. Here are some important things to consider about your thought life so that you turn it around, keep it on track, and live your best life for God right here, right now:
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .”
Every single one of us has the moment by moment choice to determine what plays in the theater of our mind. Everything we do was first done in the mind. Everything. Are you bitter? You’ll behave like a bitter person. Unforgiving? You will be an unforgiving person. Generous? You will behave in generous ways with others.
Think about it. Literally.You’ve been spending mental energy on negative, neutral and positive thoughts. Have any of your thoughts – except the positive ones – been helpful to you, others or God? The amazing thing is that every one of us has the same answer to this question: “No.” But not every one of us will do something about it. You have the power to make a positive change right now. You have the power to take captive every thought, to get rid of negative thoughts and neutral, space-wasting thoughts – and replace them with good thoughts.
YOUR SOURCE FOR POSITIVE THOUGHTS
Looking for good thoughts to replace the negative and the neutral? The Bible is filled with them. Start your day with a bit of reading from the Bible. Fill it with the same. End your day, just before bed, with more reading from the Bible. Put into action whatever you read. You will begin to take captive every thought. Space that was previously taken up by negative, neutral thoughts will be overwhelmed by your new, positive thoughts. Your entire life will begin to turn around – and it will all be due to one simple, powerful thing: you made the choice to play good things in the theater of your mind.
What’s playing in the theater of your mind? Isn’t today a good day to play positive things? Have negative or “neutral” thoughts been sucking up valuable energy that could be spent on positive thoughts? You have the power to determine what you think. Why not take your thoughts captive throughout each day, so you move forward in every single way?
If you ever find yourself between a rock and a hard place, take heart. Jesus did – often. The way Jesus handled his “no win” situations is the same way you can handle yours, and come out on top every single time. It all has to do with identity. A right understanding of Who Jesus is will help you land on your feet every single time. Settle this and you settle everything. Your entire life will positively improve.
This message, from Luke 20:20-26, will take your walk with God to the next level – and that will positively impact everything about you, your family, your church and beyond.
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It’s everywhere – even when we’re not looking. My young sons and I were standing in the checkout line, and there it was, again forced upon us through the headline of one of those strategically placed magazines. A famous actor was boasting about his alleged all-night (and humanly impossible) romp with a woman. If you have young children, there is one thing you need to: learn how to talk with your children about sex. And, you need to talk with them about sex – often. If you don’t, others will. Don’t kid yourself: your children are either already thinking and talking about sex – or they would love to – with you.
“Be encouraged. Talking about sex with your children, like sex itself, gets better with time.”
It’s ironic, don’t you think? Our children are here because of a decision we made, yet we are unwilling or embarrassed to tell them how they got here. And, you most likely either enjoy sex or wish you did. If you love your child, don’t you want them to enjoy sex in it’s God-honoring context when the time comes for them to take the plunge? Don’t you wish someone did that for you? Stop kidding yourself. Most of us didn’t have parents who taught us the good news about sex – yet we wish we did. You can be the parent or guardian you wish you had.
Be encouraged. Talking about sex with your children, like sex itself, gets better with time. The truth is, you are more afraid to talk to your children about sex than they are. The more you do, in healthy, God-honoring ways, the more healthy a view they will have about sex and all of life. Unhealthy views about sex and self are the root of multiple problems in and throughout life. By instilling a biblical view about sex into your children, you lay the groundwork for a biblical lifestyle that enjoys God and everything He has given us.
Your children need to learn about sex from you. They need to know that sex and emotional intimacy are intertwined. Don’t you wish someone had explained this to you? Boom. You just became your own case study. Why not spare your children from the confusion and awkwardness you went through, love them, and help them avoid the problems you faced? After all, this is one of the primary roles of a parent.
“If you shun this responsibility, you will unintentionally force your children to learn about sex in places and ways that can distort the truth – and ruin their understanding of one of the greatest gifts God has given humanity.”
Part of what it means to disciple your child is to help them succeed by learning from your failures and successes. Disciple your children.Teach them about sex. Let them know youare their “go to” person for not only the facts but also the purpose and context of guilt-free, steamy, satisfying, God-given, emotionally fulfilling sex. When you do, you will also help them realize that life, contrary to what the world has us thinking, isn’t all about sex. How you handle or ignore the issue of sex will stick with them every day of their lives. It will shape the rest of their lives.
“I learned about sex through my friend, Harry, as we sat on hay bales in the hay loft of our big red barn at the end of a long, hot summer. It was a talk I would have loved to have with my father . . . And I could have, if only he hadn’t believed the lies that sex was dirty, difficult to discuss, and unimportant to the rest of life.”
Even when our children hear about sex from other sources, they need to know they can come to you as their expert – the person who will put sex in its God-honoring, fulfilling context. If you shun this responsibility, you will unintentionally force your children to learn about sex in places and ways that can distort the truth – and ruin their understanding of one of the greatest gifts God has given humanity.
This is what happened to me. I learned about sex through my friend, Harry, as we sat on hay bales in the hay loft of our big red barn at the end of a long, hot summer. It was a talk I would have loved to have with my father. And I could have, if only he hadn’t believed the lies that sex was dirty, difficult to discuss, and unimportant to the rest of life. The truth is, Dad knew more about sex and life than me – so that made him qualified to lead the discussion. The same is true for you and your children.
There isn’t much that’s private about sex any more. If you don’t talk with your children, someone else will. In fact, they already are. The question is whether or not what they are hearing is from God’s perspective, the world’s perspective or the devil’s perspective. This is why you need to be the “go to” person for your children when it comes to the most intimate, formative and life-influencing topic on earth. Sex is not a dirty word.
Does the thought of talking to your child about sex scare you? Don’t let it. You can learn how to talk to your child about sex – and, you can enjoy it. I’ll be sharing some suggestions here, in my blog, so stay tuned. And, there are many great resources available, too. Ask God to guide you, and He will.