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Blogs I Follow

The Presidents Club

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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Our True Home Address

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‘Tis the Season . . . for L-O-V-E

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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Cherry Picking 101

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Love Sweet Love

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

Good vs Evil

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:21

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Joseph Brodsky was “born on May 24, 1940, and was persecuted in his native Russia and was forcibly exiled in 1972. With the support of poet W.H. Auden he eventually settled in the U.S. (quote source here). Brodsky “was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity.’ He was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1991” (quote source here). He died in New York City in 1996.

Joseph Brodsky once made the following statement:

“The surest defense against evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even–if you will–eccentricity” (quote source here).

Evil is insidious in nature “intending to entrap or beguile; stealthily treacherous or deceitful; operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect” (quote source here). Think Adolf Hitler, for example.

Ephesians 6:10-18 makes a very clear statement regarding the source and the all encompassing nature of evil and how, as Christians, we are to fight it:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

I’ve written several posts on the subject of evil (see The Problem of Evil–Habakkuk Revisited,” “Standing Firm,” “Satanic Rip-Off,” “Winning the Battle,” and Regaining Our Balancethe last post listed specifically relates to the passage above–to name a few listed under the category of Spiritual Warfare). However, in this particular post, I’ll be focusing on a specific statement Jesus made to his disciples in Matthew 10:16, which states:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10 is not an easy chapter to read. Jesus didn’t send his twelve disciples out into the world with a set of “ten easy steps to conversion and the life you’ve always wanted” or “how to win friends and influence people.” He knew exactly what his followers would be facing and he didn’t paint a pretty picture. He told them clearly that he was sending them out like sheep among wolves, but that they were not to be afraid and he also told them why (see Matthew 10:26-31). Unfortunately, his instructions don’t exactly describe the mainstream Christian climate in America today. And we are being devoured by our culture as a result.

In an article titled, The Great Deception in the American Church,” by Bert Farias, published in Charisma Magazine on May 19, 2014, he opens his article with the following statements:

“Eighty-four percent of the inhabitants of this nation say they believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, according to Barna Group, and 45 percent claim to be born-again Christians. Other studies show it is closer to 33 percent . . . .

“Yet America has the highest percentage of single-parent families in the industrialized world, the highest abortion rate, the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases, the highest rate of teenage birth by far, the highest rate of teenage drug use and the largest prison population per capita than any country in the world.

“Consider also the great moral decline of the last generation (50 to 60 years) and these telling statistics in America. The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen sixfold, couples living together out of wedlock have increased sevenfold, and gay marriage is now a legalized reality in a number of states, with many believing the end is not in sight” (quote source here).

We fail to even recognize the evil that has taken over in our own ranks let alone the culture at large (at least without pointing fingers). And those wolves are devouring us. When Jesus sent out his disciples and told them to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves,” what exactly did he mean? He didn’t mean anything remotely like what is found in most of our churches today.

Martin Luther King Jr Quote - 5-23-14

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke

The definition for shrewd is “having or showing an ability to understand things and to make good judgments; mentally sharp or clever; marked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen (quote source here). Wise is another term for shrewd. It’s not a namby-pamby niceness that is so pervasive in Christian settings today or going along with the crowd. It’s very much like what Joseph Brodsky stated above–extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even–if you will–eccentricity.In other words, it’s not going along with the crowd but rather it is focused on what Jesus taught his disciples when he sent them out into the world. Read Matthew 10 if you think that isn’t true.

In an article titled, What Do You Mean: Wise and Harmless?” by John McClain, he states:

“To be wise means to be marked by understanding of people and situations, to have keen and unusual discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment in dealing with people and situations. Prudent would also be an appropriate synonym.

“To discern means to detect with the eyes and with senses other than vision. It also means to read character or motives. We would all do well to have this ability. In place of ‘wise,’ other translations use ‘shrewd’ and ‘wary.’ Shrewd means to be practical and to be given to an artful way of dealing with situations and people. To be wary is to use watchful prudence in detecting and escaping danger” (quote source here).

On the “harmless” (or innocent) side of Jesus’s statement in Matthew 10:16, John McClain states:

“To be harmless is to lack the capacity to injure or to be free from inflicting physical or mental damage. Other translations use ‘innocent’ or ‘inoffensive’ instead of ‘harmless’ for this verse. Innocent means to be harmless in effect or intention. Inoffensive means to be giving no provocation.

“Doves aren’t referred to as the birds of peace for nothing. Their temperament is calm and their disposition is sweet. Doves do not bite. At most they might slap you with a wing if they are guarding the nest or do not want to be picked up. Doves really are harmless” (quote source here).

Being able to do/be both at the same time (e.g., shrewd/wise and innocent/harmless) takes skill and the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance in our lives (see Jesus’ statement to his disciples shortly before his crucifixion in John 16:12-15). If we don’t spend regular, consistent time with Jesus Christ through the study of the Bible, praying also for wisdom and discernment/understanding, and developing a relationship with him, we cannot learn how to be both shrewd and innocent in our dealings with others and the circumstances that enter our lives. Indeed, we will often not spot trouble even if it is staring us in the face. If you want to learn how to recognize the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, here’s an article titled, How Can I Recognize the Guidance of the Holy Spirit?” on the topic to get you started (click here).

One other important area that is often overlooked when dealing with evil is found in the often quoted statement by Edmund Burke (quote source here):

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  

“Looking the other way” in the face of evil is, unfortunately, commonplace. Failing to realize that evil left unattended will eventually have enormously detrimental effects at some future point in time is one of the greatest failures of mankind that has been repeated throughout history (again, see the example of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany). As Wayne Greeson states in an article titled, When Good Men Do Nothing:

“Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right. There are numerous examples of this sad and awful scenario being played out over and over again in the scriptures . . . .

“Too many Christians and too many churches do nothing. They are standing idly by, they are mere spectators. They sit on the sidelines instead of actively participating and working for the good. If good wins, they join in the celebration though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they will complain long and loud though their own apathy helped produce the undesirable result” (quote source here).

This world of ours is a battleground, not a playground. At the end of the article titled, The Great Deception in the American Church,” the author makes the following statement that we all need to ask ourselves:

“Are you in touch with your true spiritual condition? Or are you allowing the pop culture around you to dictate your standards? Are you conforming to the world’s standards or to the Bible? Are you deceived? How can a nation of people among whom a large percentage claims to be born-again Christians experience the kind of degradation the above statistics reveal? Such deception is the state of America today, and the above statistics reveal the fruit of it.

“The problem has been that the real gospel has not been preached nor lived. Both the profession and the practice of many so-called Christians in this nation have not matched up. Our substandard message has produced substandard believers. Our departure from the preaching of the cross, repentance, holiness, and the real empowering grace of God has increased the level of deception in the church. How else can we explain the disparity of the above statistics in the church and the nation?” (quote source here).

The surest defense against evil in our world is a close relationship with Jesus Christ that takes the highest priority in our lives over anything or anyone else. Without it, we are defenseless and without guidance, catering to our whims and wants and our own agendas and neglecting to see and live in the world as it really is just as the Apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 6:10-18 (quoted above).

The question remaining for us to answer is this: Are we willing to stop straddling the fence or will we continue to maintain the status quo? As Edmond Burke stated so long ago . . . 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil . . .

Is for good men to do nothing . . . .

So let’s do something instead . . . .

YouTube Video: “From the Inside Out” (2009) by Phillips, Craig and Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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The Power of a Name

Names of God - 5-17-14
What’s in a name? In today’s world we might be named after a relative, such as a grandparent, favorite aunt or uncle, or a parent; or a famous person such as an athlete, actor, or politician. Our last names usually come from our father’s surname. In my case, my first name comes from my material grandmother’s first name, my middle name comes from my mother’s name, and my last name, of course, is my father’s last name. However, in Biblical times, a person’s name had significant meaning beyond giving them the names of relatives, famous people, etc. The meaning behind a name often did give a clue about the character or calling of a person (see an extensive list of Biblical names and their meanings at this link). However, and even more significant, are the many names that represent the character and attributes of God in both the Old and New Testaments. As Psalm 148:13 states:

“Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth
and the heavens.”

Here are just a few of the many names of God from the Old Testament (source here):

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Elohim (God)
Qanna (Jealous)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

As the opening line states in the following blog post (see below) from “The Daily Way:

“In biblical times, a name often represented a person’s character or calling. The same can be true for us today. Our names can reflect who we are, and what character traits we have.”

The names we are given today may or may not represent our character or calling (usually not in the way Biblical names did, especially if we were named after a parent, favorite relative, athlete, actor, etc.). However, our names are still very important to us. If someone misspells or mispronounces our name we are usually quick to correct them. Our name is our identity. And names are even more important when we consider the names of God. His [God’s] names are a revelation of His nature, identity, and sovereignty” (quote from blog post below). Here’s a link (PDF format) to a comprehensive list of the names of God (238) in the Old Testament as well as more names of God and Jesus in the New Testament from WiredMinistries.org (click here). (The free Abode Acrobat reader for reading PDF files is available for download at this link.)

So what’s in a name, you ask?

Read on . . .

Photo credit here

~see reblogged post from “The Daily Way” titled “Everything’s in a Name” below~

The Daily Way

In biblical times, a name often represented a person’s character or calling. The same can be true for us today. Our names can reflect who we are, and what character traits we have.

If names are important to us, they are even more important when it comes to our understanding of the Lord. His names are a revelation of His nature, identity, and sovereignty. If we really want to know God, we have to know His names and what they reveal about Him.

He wants us to know Him intimately and to praise Him completely. He desires a deep, abiding relationship with each of us. Hebrews 13:15 states, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.”

The sacrifice of praise that the writer of Hebrews is talking about is speaking the names of Jesus. Some of the names…

View original post 124 more words

Holy, Holy, Holy

Revelation 4:8

Revelation 4:8

I don’t often listen to the radio when I’m driving in my car. However, since returning to Orlando in April I rediscovered this great Christian radio station–Z88.3–that I used to listen to when I previously lived here. Twice in the past week or so I heard a song that I was very familiar with but had not heard in a very long time. It is, to me, one of the greatest worship songs out there today, and it always moves me to tears, which isn’t exactly safe when driving a car down a busy road in Orlando. Since I don’t have the latest technology (well, my car is almost ten years old now), I didn’t know the title of the song or the name of the group who sang it, but it was very familiar.

Since I wasn’t too far from a local Christian bookstore the second time I heard it, I decided to drive there and sing a few bars of the chorus to a store clerk to see if he knew the song as well as who sang it (I apologized in advance for the lack of any real singing talent). As I began to sing not only did the clerk recognize it but two young male customers did, too, but none of them knew the actual title of the song. One of the customers pulled out his smart phone and did a search using the words from the chorus and discovered the title, Revelation Song.” The song was written by Jennie Lee Riddle and it “first got national exposure by Gateway Worship (YouTube Video below) and was also included on Kari Jobeself-titled album. It was later released as the first single from an album titled, ‘Fearless’ by Phillips, Craig and Dean (quote source here). It was Phillips, Craig and Dean’s rendition that I knew (YouTube Video below).

The words to the chorus of the song come from the last part of Revelations 4:8 which states, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The Book of Revelation (the last book in the New Testament of the Bible), also known as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” details what will transpire during the tribulation period,” a seven-year period of time that transpires before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The “Revelation” was given to one of Jesus’ original disciples, John, when he was an old man imprisoned on the island of Patmos. The vision that John saw was, of course, described in 1st Century terms since that is when he lived, but it was describing future events that have not yet taken place. Many books have been written on the various interpretations of the Book of Revelation; however, I’ll leave that discussion to the scholars and anyone who reads or studies the Book of Revelation for themselves.

With that background information, there is a YouTube Video titled, The Story Behind Revelation Song,” that describes how the composer of the song, Jennie Lee Riddle, was inspired to write the song back in 1999 (click here for video). She describes how so many of the worship songs of that time were prayer focused on “I” or “me” and how she had “had enough” of “us.” The focus of “Revelation Song” is totally on Jesus Christ and his majesty, holiness, and power (and soon return). And he is the focus of our worship.

Praise HimThe frenetic pace of our 21st Century society leaves us little room on a daily basis to contemplate God, let alone truly worship him, especially without getting our own wants and needs in the way as the primary focus of our prayers. We may not even know what “true worship” looks like, and it’s probably not what we think it is, either. The fact is that true worship has nothing to do with us (except for our submission and our praise). A good definition of true worship (as stated in an article on GotQuestions.org that answers the question, What is True Worship?”) is as follows:

True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship, and how their worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things misses the point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. Worship can include praying, reading God’s Word with an open heart, singing, participating in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done properly when the heart and attitude of the person are in the right place.

It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants (Revelation 19:10). We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false gods, or Mary, the mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is done for God—because He deserves it—and for His pleasure alone. Worship can be public praise to God (Psalm 22:22;35:18) in a congregational setting, where we can proclaim through prayer and praise our adoration and thankfulness to Him and what He has done for us. True worship is felt inwardly and then is expressed through our actions. “Worshiping” out of obligation is displeasing to God and is completely in vain. He can see through all the hypocrisy, and He hates it. He demonstrates this in Amos 5:21-24 as He talks about coming judgment. Another example is the story of Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. They both brought gift offerings to the Lord, but God was only pleased with Abel’s. Cain brought the gift out of obligation; Abel brought his finest lambs from his flock. He brought out of faith and admiration for God.

True worship is not confined to what we do in church or open praise (although these things are both good, and we are told in the Bible to do them). True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him (Acts 17:23). Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our Father. ~Read more at www.gotquestions.org~

Another perspective on what is true worship comes from Kari Jobe, who is not only a worship singer but also as associate worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. In a July 2013 article titled, God Isn’t Looking for Performance But for True Worship,” in Charisma Magazine, she states:

In John 4:23, Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” This verse tells me that God wants our love and our worship toward Him to be pure. 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m striving and stressing to impress someone and make them love me, well, that’s not really love; it’s performance, and it’s not exactly what I would call pure.

The Lord wants our honesty and truth. He wants our hearts and spirits to be completely connected to what our mouths are saying to Him and singing to Him. He wants our pure worship. 

The only way for our worship to truly be pure is for us to receive His pure love for us. We must realize that no matter what, He loves us. His love is completely pure. He does not love us because we can give anything to Him or do Him any service. He loves us without an ulterior motive. He simply loves us for us and wants us to know Him and experience that love.

We can’t earn His love because He’s already given it to us! That’s absolutely incredible to me and makes me want to worship Him and give Him all of my love.

True worship takes the focus completely off of ourselves and places it on God and Jesus Christ. As Revelation 4:11 states: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” True worship glorifies God and no one and/or nothing else. And it flows from a grateful, submissive heart to the Creator of the universe. So let’s find time to praise him today . . . .

Holy, holy, holy . . .

Is the Lord God Almighty . . .

Who was, and is, and is to come . . . .

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
~ Revelation 22:20

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” sung by Phillips, Craig and Dean (many of the scenes in the video are taken from the movie, The Gospel of John,” a very powerful rendition of the account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (2-DVD set available at this link–contains both the shorter version–2 hrs, 9 min–and the longer version–3 hrs):

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” (Extended Version) led by Kari Jobe at Gateway Worship:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Patient Belief

waitingDid you know that worrying only leads to evil (Psalm 37:7-9)? Think about it . . . when has anything we’ve worried about ever lead to good (the worrying, I mean). No, it wastes precious time and energy and our own resources for thinking good instead of fretting about anything–especially things we have no control over. Worrying also tells us our true state in trusting God (ouch, that one hurts). In other words, do we really trust God? With everything? Even that thing we are worrying about RIGHT NOW??? Worrying is one of the hardest things to try to stop doing. And I know as I do it far too much.

Worth the waitThe other side of that coin in waiting. Nobody likes to wait, especially in a society like ours where most of our whims can be satisfied in a moment’s notice (as in 24/7 access). And when God reminds us to “Be still and know that I am God” and to “wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7), we wiggle–a lot.

Posted below is a link to a great blog post by A Devoted Life” on how we can learn to wiggle less . . .

And wait well . . .

Enjoy!

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A DEVOTED LIFE

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Everyone has to wait. I don’t know of anyone who seeks to wait. We are forced to wait. We wait for the doctor; we wait in traffic; we wait in the grocery line; we wait for results; we wait for opportunities; everyone is confronted with the necessity to wait. Therefore, we get a lot of practice in how to wait well.

Alone on the train

The advent of Smartphone game apps makes waiting a little more bearable for me. I play solitaire on my Smartphone to pass the waiting moment. I…

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Get Up and Dance

AbandonedWorshipDepending on how we grew up (e.g., our family dynamics), or what denomination we might have been raised under (if we were a part of a church at that time), or our personality type, or our own bent towards legalism instead of freedom (it’s a hard one to break), dancing is something we don’t easily do when it comes as a part of praising and worshiping God. Lifting up or waving our hands in the air and/or swaying slightly from side to side is most likely the extent of what we do if we even do that much, and even that might be frowned upon, depending on the denomination, in a public worship setting (the frozen chosencomes to mind but it’s not limited to any particular denomination or group). And it’s a real shame.

As my friend, Steve Brown, at Key Life Network, has stated, “It’s hard to hug a stiff kid,” (see his book, published in 2008, titled, Approaching God). It’s also hard to make a stiff kid dance (and that includes the adult variety, too). And it’s that stiffness that keeps us so confined. Here’s a test of our own stiffness: How often do we smile throughout the day for no particular reason at all (and not just at jokes)? It’s that “stiffness” that keeps us from truly being free.

Our ability to dance when we worship God is directly related to our gratefulness in being set free (which also includes being “set free” from what others think about us while we are doing it or anything else). And Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price to give us that freedom. To be freed from the slavery of self with all of its wants, needs, and idiosyncrasies is no small thing. In fact, most of the world doesn’t even recognize their own slavery to self. Our own society here in America worships self-promotion and success defined in worldly terms including that whole keeping up with the Joneses mentality that wears folks out and keeps them deep in debt while continuing to strive for “the good life.” And it’s usually not until something happens, often in the disguise of a crisis, that we even realize how totally enmeshed we were in that whole futile way of living.

One of the definitions of freedom is “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint; personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery” (source: Dictionary.com). While we may not recognize the quest for “the good life” as being a source of slavery, it is. What are we willing to give up and/or be enslaved to in order to achieve it? And what price do we end up paying if we are successful at it? And even if we became millionaires or billionaires, aren’t we really enslaved to all that money, power, possessions and trying to keep that status up until we die? And are the few years or decades of living in that lifestyle–if we can even attain it–worth the price we pay in the end? If the answer is yes, then we haven’t got a clue what real freedom is really all about.

With that being said, freedom isn’t about money or what it can buy. And it’s not about being a millionaire or a billionaire or being at the opposite end of that spectrum, either. In fact, real freedom doesn’t have anything to do with money, and it can’t be bought. I brought up what I wrote in the previous paragraph because as I’ve traveled through this life I’ve been amazed at the number of people, including Christians, I’ve run into who are constantly seeking after “the good life” and all it can buy them. In fact, many folks think it is a sign of God’s favor, and there are ministries that have been built on this very premise. However, a reading of the “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 clearly shows how contrary seeking after “the good life” really is in God’s economy.

It’s not about our assets–it’s about our availability.

The “stiffness” that my friend, Steve, mentioned, is what happens to us when we pursue life on our own terms, and then ask God to bless it. The focus is really on us, and not on God. We can’t dance because we are too busy singing our own song or our own praise, and we forget the price that was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross to set us free from ourselves, and, as Romans 12:1-2 reminds us, “the sin that so easily entangles us.” In our striving after “the good life” we have left the only life worth living in the dust, and that can make us very stiff indeed. And there are so many of us doing it in today’s world that we don’t even recognize our error until a crisis comes up in our lives that takes our focuse completely off of ourselves and puts it back where it has always belonged . . . on Jesus Christ. He didn’t die to give us “the good life;” he died to set us free from seeking after it instead of him.

why_worryJesus asked, What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25). Jesus never emphasized seeking after material possessions or worldly wealth or even worldly accolades. No, he stated, “But seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). What things? The previous verses in Matthew give us the answer (see Matthew 6:25-34):

“Do not worry about your life . . . what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matt. 6:25)

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:26-27)

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?” (Matt. 6:28-30)

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matt. 6: 31-32)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” (Matt. 6:33-34)

Jesus said that our Heavenly Father will take care of our needs on a day by day basis if we “seek first his kingdom” instead of trying to build one of our own. So much in our society pulls us in the opposite direction luring us to seek more and more of what this world has to offer in any way that we can, but the future is not ours to know until it unfolds day by day. That lesson came crashing home to me five years ago when I lost my job and my livelihood, and I had no idea how I would survive financially is if lasted more than a year. And here it is, five years later, and he has taken care of every need I’ve ever had over the course of this time, but even more important than that (and that is very important), he got my focus off of myself and back on him and what he is doing in this world of ours, and it’s a whole lot bigger than what we can even imagine.

And, I’m finally learning how to dance. While it’s taken some time, I’ve left the stiffness behind. And the dance is the dance of freedom that King David (and others) danced (see source here) and for the reasons he danced (see source here). Once we start to take the focus off of ourselves and what we want in this life and put our focus back on Jesus, the stiffness begins to melts away.

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And then he stated in verse 36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus is the key to the only real freedom there is in this world.

I’ll end this post with the opening lines to the song, “Get Up and Dance,” (2013) by Salvador (see YouTube Video below). And as they sing in the chorus, “You’re gonna want to get up and dance,” and here’s why:

One dose is all it’s gonna take
You’ll find yourself moving in a brand new way
One little bit, that’s all you’ll need
And then before you know it you’ll be feeling so free

~Lyrics source here~

So let go of the stiffness . . .

And the sin that snares . . .

And get up and dance . . . .

YouTube Video: “Get Up and Dance” (2013) by Salvador:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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