Counterintuitive 

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%2016%3A25&version=ESV

Definitely counterintuitive.  What leader, anywhere in our world today, would give such counsel or show by example the validity of such a course of action?  No one, nowhere, no how.  It’s antithetical to anyone’s worldview, that is anyone who is not a disciple of Jesus Christ.  

If you follow Christ, your goal is to live as He lived, do as He did, obey the Father as He obeyed the Father.  Jesus set the example:  He gave His life for us.  He lost His life and not only found it again at the Resurrection but He also enabled “whosoever will” to find our lives also.

Counterintuitive but exactly what I need.

Mr. Preacher’s non-Opus

via Daily Prompt: Cringe

You know what makes me cringe?  I will be happy to tell you.

I am an ordained minister.  I love to preach.  I haven’t preached in a church in a while, but I have preached my fair share of sermons over the years.  Over those years, I have preached my fair share of yawn-worthy sermons.  There have been sermons that I didn’t prepare well enough, sermons that I didn’t practice beforehand enough, sermons that I didn’t pray through enough.  Guess what happened to those sermons?  Yup, I bombed them.  They were cringe-worthy.  Most of those were early on in my sermon-preaching years.  I don’t bomb as often now.  Experience is a good teacher if you choose to learn from it.

So what makes me cringe?  It is when I hear other sermons from other preachers that are shallower than the ditch near my house.  I have heard way too many sermons over the years from fellow preachers, who know better, that are nothing more than their opinions, not rightly divided exposition of the Bible.  Each sermon should be a carefully researched, studied, prayed through, practiced, and in all other ways painstakingly prepared exegesis of the word of God.  My wife’s uncle, Richard Strauss, who was the pastor of the church in which I grew up, was incredibly thorough in his sermon prep.  His sermons, still available via the website spiritualgold.org, are thick.   They are incredibly deep, yet readily understandable.  Why?  Because Uncle Richard spent hours and hours in prayerful sermon preparation so that every Sunday he would be ready to give us the good stuff.  A preacher can only make the really deep readily understandable if they are willing to put in the long hours in careful, prayerful preparation.

So preachers, don’t make your congregation cringe when you preach.  Give them the good stuff.  Make sure you have 15-25 hours set aside to prep for your sermons.  Dig deep:  linguistically, culturally, grammatically, historically, and in all other ways that are applicable.  Dig deep in your prep so that you can boil it down accurately so as to communicate the deep things of God so that a six-year-old can understand it and not be bored in the process.

Too much to ask?  If so, get out of the pulpit and start selling insurance.  No one should preach who is unwilling to put in the hard work ahead of time.  Stop making me CRINGE!

Diabolos es caliente!

O how I abhor it, When foolish mortals, A species who wasted The gift of Free Will, And is on the verge Of destroying the planet With which they were gifted, Try to tell me, The Prince of Darkness And Ruler of Eternal Hellfire, That the current temperature Is hot as Hell! Such imbeciles! Why […]

via Hot As Hell (Not!) — The Return of the Modern Philosopher

“a species who wasted the gift of Free Will . . . .”  Austin, the self-proclaimed Modern Philosopher, has committed the writer/blogger’s unpardonable sin.  A writer must understand their protagonist for the express purpose of NOT putting fallacious words in his/her mouth.  Satan would never say that the gift of free will has been wasted.  He knows full well that every human being who is alive has full control over their choices.  We do not have full control over our circumstances, but we do have full control over how we CHOOSE to respond to our circumstances.  We won’t lose that until we are six feet under.  Most of us decide to CHOOSE poorly much of the time, but that is our CHOICE.  We are never coerced into making poor CHOICES; our CHOICES are ours alone and we are responsible for them.  Satan CHOSE to rebel against God; it was his CHOICE and he owns (not willingly, but justly) the full repercussions of his rebellious, foolish CHOICE.

Of course, Satan is the Great Deceiver, so he just might try to convince us that our free will is no mas, but he knows it is not true.

Satan is no idiot; he just acts like one.

It’s funny:  I tried twice to respond directly to Austin, the Modern Philosopher, on his blog post.  It disappeared both times.  Perhaps he has blocked me.  I guess God is getting under the skin of the devil.  He can run but he can’t hide.

American ME

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs16:18&version=HCSB

Yes, it is American ME, from the top down.  President Trump boasts about all the ideas he claims to have originated.  He’s got a really good brain after all.  

Then there’s me on the other end of the pile.  I’m of no consequence, I’m certainly not POTUS, but I sure like my ego stroked just like President Trump.  I’m no different really.  I don’t work hard at being arrogant like some do, e.g. Rush Limbaugh and his tag line “talent on loan from God.”  I know, it’s just Rush’ schtick right?  Wrong.  It’s unrestrained hubris.  Call a spade a spade.  

But I’m no different at my core, at least at my dead core that still wants to act like it’s in charge.  I wrestle at times with wanting my way in my time in the manner I want it done because . . . the sun revolves around me, not my planet revolving around the sun.

Oh how totally different Jesus was.  He never wrestled with pride.  He was tempted to be proud, but He never succumbed.  Oh how unlike me. I wrestle to keep myself off the throne even though I know full well Jesus alone deserves the crown. 

What an idiot I am at those times.  I’m not alone.  Just look in the mirror.  Be honest with yourself.  Deep down, in our core, we are all self-preservationists, ego-strokers, hubristic self-worshipers.  If you think I’m wrong, go talk to your favorite counselor about the concept of “denial” because you’re swimming in it.

The only cure for pride is self-denial.  Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.

Kevin Durant:  True Talent On Loan From God

I just read the SI article on Kevin Durant and Golden State’s NBA finals victory over LeBron James and Cleveland.  It was a well-written article by Lee Jenkins.  

KD has ridiculous talent like King James does.  So why did Golden State win?  There is a variety of factors to be sure.  One stands out to me.

KD is all about the team.  He came to Golden State wanting to fit into the team, not wanting the team to fit around him.  He does what he does for the pure love of basketball, not because he wants to be known as the greatest.  He wants to play the game to the best of his ability; the accolades will come but they don’t define him.  KD is who he is.  He is not better than anyone else, he is not worse than anyone else.  He is himself.

Most importantly, he is a team player.  He plays his role.  Sometimes he is asked to take the ball and score, other times Curry, Green, Thompson, etc. take the ball and score.  Who cares as long as the team plays as a team and the team wins.  It’s a team effort:  either the whole team wins or the whole team loses.

Final thought:  I really respected King James’ final move.  He was the first to give a congratulatory hug to his friend and fellow basketball genius Kevin Durant.  Immediately after the final buzzer, he was quick to go to KD and offer his congratulations.  No pouting, no gamesmanship, just respect and heartfelt love for great friend.  Well done King James.

Trust . . . in Whom?

“but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 HCSB).

In whom do you trust?  If you are heartland, grass-roots, typical American, you would probably answer:  “God.”  You could be conservative, liberal, black, hispanic, male, female – the answer would still probably be the same.  Most of us though, even though we would answer “God”, prove by our actions that ultimately it is NOT in God that we trust.

Some of us trust in the system.  Oh we might rail against the liberals or cry about Trump, but in the end, it is correct politics that will save our country.  Yeah right.  Politics and politicians did not create us, therefore politics and politicians cannot save us.  Don’t put your trust in the system.

Some of us trust in our families.  If we just raise our kids right, spend meaningful time with our spouse, get together with extended family over holidays and vacations, then life will work out just fine.  Yeah right.  Families are given to us to be an expression of relationships done right, our first line of defense in this world against loneliness, despair, and hopelessness.  But as too many people can attest, families break apart all too often.  If your trust is rooted in your family instead of the Creator of your family, when your family goes south, your world can easily collapse.  Don’t put your trust in your family.

Some people trust in their work.  My job is great, it’s meaningful, I make an excellent income, I’m making a difference in my world, it’s all good . . . until your job moves to China and you’re given three month’s severance after 30 years with the firm and your 60 years old.  All of a sudden, your perfect work world is torn asunder and therefore your world is in crisis.  It happens all the time.  Don’t put your trust in your work.

Some put their trust in their intellect.  I can write the best novels; I do great research and teach at Stanford; I can argue cases and defend the rights of my clients before any court; I lead my district well and with brilliance as state representative; I am a trauma surgeon and can handle any emergency surgery.  Then the seizures start, followed by mini-strokes, followed by a massive stroke that almost kills you but doesn’t, leaving you trapped inside your own mind unable to communicate to the world outside, but still “alive.”  It happens every day somewhere.  Don’t put your trust in your intellect.

There are any number of things in which we can choose to put our trust.  Why not choose to put our trust in the only One to whom our trust is due, the only One in whom trust makes sense, the only One who is capable of rewarding and validating that trust?  Why don’t we go ahead and choose to place our trust in God?

 

Trust God