Monthly Archives: January 2013
Romans 1:25: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
My first question when I used to read this passage of Scripture is “Why would anyone ever exchange God for anything less? It doesn’t make sense!” Then my attention was turned to Israel. Israel seemed to be in a constant stage of rebellion against God throughout the entire Old Testament. At one point, they even wanted to return back to Egypt (read Exodus for more on that). I remember thinking, “Good grief! Why would you continually do things that grieved God? Why didn’t you learn?” Then one day, God told me this in my heart: “Austin, you do the same thing.” That was it. Not anything profound at all. However, I was completely humbled. I realized that so many times I choose worldly things, worthless things over God. The Lord also laid on my heart that often Christians want to return to what I call their “Spiritual Egypt.” We think it was better where we were before we accepted Christ. That’s just our flesh deceiving us though. That’s when I finally realized that God’s grace is so much greater than I had ever imagined. We, as Christians, often rebel against Him and yet He still chooses to love us and take us back when we repent of our trespasses. Our idolatry. Colossians 3:5 says this about our sin:
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Paul calls our sin or our rebellion towards God “idolatry.” And it really is. Whenever you put anything before God, that’s idolatry. You’re worshipping something else. As Jefferson Bethke puts it, “What defines you, what do you give ultimate worth, and what, if taken, would bring ultimate hurt. Now see, that is your god.” We often think of idolatry as literally bowing down to something else. That’s not necessarily true. You can worship money, drugs, your boyfriend or girlfriend, you popularity, etc. Anything you put in place of God is idolatry. Jefferson Bethke also said, “Where we exchanged ourselves for God thinking we could be Him, He exchanged Himself for us, absorbing all our sin.”
That’s grace. Even when we are in rebellion against the Creator, God still calls us our of the darkness. He doesn’t care where you’ve been. He wants you now. When Jesus was on the cross, He was dying for each and every individual that ever was and ever would be. His love will never fail you! Call out to Him in repentance and accept Jesus as your Savior! Only then will you be satisfied.
“Counterfeit gods, if you fail them, will never forgive you and if you get them, they’ll never satisfy you. This is the only God who will- Jesus and His resurrection.”- Tim Keller
Are We Losing Focus?
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look to God, you’ll be at rest.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
Sadly, the Christmas celebration came to a predictable end and I was once again forced to begin the drive back to Tennessee from my hometown in Michigan. This year, this also meant trudging through inches of snow lying on the Michigan and (northern) Ohio pavement. Ugh. Let the fun begin…
I decided to make a stop at a McDonalds in Ohio–not only to maintain my caffiene intake, but also to give my dog, Bagel, a much needed visit outdoors. The interior of this McDonalds was quite a suprise. It had a beautiful stone fireplace, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large decorative clock mounted on the back wall. When I was a kid, a McDonalds was considered fancy-shmancy if it had a ball pit or Ronald McDonald statue to shake hands with in the foyer. Now however, fast-food restuarants have apparently become a luxurious place to put our feet up, warm ourselves by the fire, and at the sound of the gong on a grand ole clock, make our way to the next looming appointment in our sometimes grueling days.
We have come a long way as a society. Perhaps the progression of a fast-food restaurant’s aestheic design isn’t the best example of this, but it does however paint a picture.
* * *
Each year, I see our American culture becoming busier, more advanced, and surprisingly maintaining an increasing “need” for acquiring more “things.” We have more toys, gadgets and fantastically tantalizing thingamabobs then we’ve ever had before. Practically everything seems to exist in a digital format, presented with the help of multiple digital devices that constantly remain in the race for which is the smallest, fastest, and containing the most storage space. As a result, information is more readily available, efficiency is improved, and yet…why is it that we still seem to maintain, and even amplify those busy schedules? Perhaps one reason is to continue paying for those gadgets that are supposed to make our lives so much easier??
Regardless of the reason, it’s happening. Our pace is in over-drive. Our destractions are rolling in with unstoppable force. And where does that seem to leave us? Most likely, this type of lifestyle does and will only continue to steal our time and focus from God, our provider of wisdom and rest.
We lose focus. We struggle. We’re surrounded by harsh realities on the evening news and we fear what our children and grandchildren will see on their televisions when the time comes. When does it end, and what can we do to stop it? I hate to admit this, but as long as each of us has a pulse here on earth, it won’t end. Devestating news reports will continue to roll in and technology will continue to steal our attention.
We may not have control over everything that happens in this world (we were never meant to), but we do have control over our focus. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He is our sturdy, picturesque oak tree maintaining the strength in His limbs for our protection. However, the further we stray from His shade, the more susceptable we are to destractions and self-destruction. Now more than ever, it is necessary to remain close to His branches, despite the rough weather in our midst.
Moreover, no matter what state our world is in, or where our personal footing lies, we must never forget the image we were created in and our purpose to shine for Him. Today, here and now, we’re not finished yet. There’s still time. There’s still hope. Dwelling on shortcomings won’t bring us or our nation any closer to God; it’s only one more distraction in our world of “things.”
Lets keep our focus where it should be, on His guiding Words, and His withstanding branches. If we focus too much on the distress, we may miss the beauty.
Provoking Thought: Have you recently been swept away by the world’s distractions? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone, iPad, or eReader. (God knows I do!) However, perhaps consider loading a Bible app to one of these devices during your next use. A little reading goes a long way.
**Do you have any suggestions to share on how you maintain focus? We’d love to hear!
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Alicia M. Smith
Brody Barcus (my 15-year old cousin):
America is nearly exactly like Israel in every aspect. Just like Israel, our founding was one of the most miraculous this world has ever seen. And, just like Israel, our society was to be centered around our God and not ourselves. Our nation was designed to be set apart from all others in the way it was run and the God that it served. But after all of this was set into place, we failed to teach younger generations of those miracles which led to Israel’s demise and will lead to ours.
How did this happen? A blind man could see that our country has a moral standard that changes every time that it is opposed. Laws that used to be based on morals are being considered “unconstitutional” and are being thrown out of the legal system. Moral values are now considered opinion and are no longer considered honorable but are instead made out to be intolerable and, in a way, dangerous to our society. But, unfortunately, this is our fault. We are letting this happen and it’s time for us to stand up, take off the diapers, and start making others aware of what’s happening and start doing something about it instead of idly complaining.
Note: I also asked my pastor to write a piece on this topic. However, circumstances have arisen and he will take a little longer to write his piece. I’ll post his piece in a part 3 when he sends it to me. For now, I will continue with my blogs as usual. Thank you everyone for your help in writing about this topic!
It’s time America turns back to God. I can’t promise that if we turn back to God we won’t implode. But if we don’t turn back to the Lord, wake up, and start running this country has it was originally intended; we face a guaranteed collapse.
It’s time to wake up! Time is of the essence.
I posted this over a Inspirational Christian Blogs. Check it out!
I wanted to write an article about how America has tried to moved beyond God. It seems this nation has almost turned it’s back completely on God. Given, there are still many, many strong believers in this nation, but as a majority, I fear this nation is collapsing from the inside. Imploding. We have pushed God to the side and have told Him that we don’t need Him any longer. We think we can take care of ourselves, but we can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I am extremely blessed to be a part of this country. I just feel like unless the United States turns back to the Lord, we will continue to collapse until this nation is no more.
As Mike Huckabee puts it, we have “personally escorted” God out of our society. It’s like the majority of the nation wants nothing to do with him…
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