Soon we will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.
I thought I would give you some practical ideas on how to give thanks.
1. The simple act of saying grace over a meal.
I love to see a family all bow their heads in a restaurant and say grace. You’re hungry, the meal is hot, but you just want to acknowledge God’s provision of it. (Just don’t pray for too long!)
Did you know that Jesus gave thanks? He did so in the feeding of the 4,000. “He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke
them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude” (Matthew 15:35–36 NKJV). We see that Jesus gave thanks for the necessities of life, like food. If Jesus did it, should we not do the same?
In the Lord’s Prayer, He taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” This is an acknowledgement that all we have comes from God. God may have blessed you with great wealth.
Maybe you made some strategic investments or created a business. But remember, God gave you that ability! Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (NIV). It is also an acknowledgement that all we need must still come from God.
So give thanks today for the food in your stomach, the clothes on your back. Give thanks for your good health, if you are so fortunate to have it. Give thanks for your safety and that you live in this country.
2. Remembering the Lord with your faithful giving of finances.
Proverbs 3:9–10 tells us, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (NIV).
When you separate a tenth of your paycheck, your income, and say, “This is the Lord’s!” that is putting Him first. Yet, this is an area we are very reluctant to turn over to God, not realizing the great joy there is in giving. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ . . . Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:6–7, 11–12 NLT).
Most of us are Christians today, and enjoy a place of worship, because of the faithfulness of others. Others who invested in the future. Others who remembered the Lord in their giving, causing us to “give thanks”!
3. We should remember to take time each day for prayer and Bible study.
When you get up in the morning, make time for the study of Scripture. As Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (NIV).
4. We should also remember to give thanks when things are hard.
“But Greg, that makes no sense at all!”
It makes perfect sense. When a law was passed that no one could pray anymore, here is what Daniel did. “He went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always had done, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10 NKJV).
We cannot only give thanks when things are going well. We must give thanks because the Lord is good and He is working all things for good. Paul reminds us, “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV).
I heard about an industrious farmer who wanted to make some more money. He raised turkeys, and he thought, There are only two drumsticks on a turkey. If only I could find a way to get some more. So he went to work in his laboratory and came up with a turkey that had six legs.
When someone asked him how this new turkey tasted, he replied, “I don’t know. We could never catch the thing.”
Thanksgiving is on the way, and then we’ll have that crazy event called Black Friday, where people attack each other in stores. Then the Christmas season follows, which kids especially love. There is so much excitement for them as they anticipate what is to come. They hope they will get that new toy for Christmas, and the best thing of all is they’ll be out of school.
For some, however, this season is rather hopeless. It’s a reminder that life maybe isn’t going the way they wanted it to. Maybe it is a marker of time as they remember a certain loved one who was with them at this time last year but is not with them now. Something has happened in their lives that makes this a difficult time of year.
We need to know there is always hope. And a good way to define hope is to remember it as an acronym for holding on with patient expectation.
When I see that definition of hope, I think of Job. Talk about a guy who had a bad day. I don’t know if there is anyone who has ever had a worse day than Job, apart from Jesus Christ himself going to Calvary. In one day, Job lost everything he held dear. He lost his possessions and even his health. He lost people who worked for him. And worst of all, he lost his own children.
Yet despite this horrific chain of events, Job still had hope. He said, “For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease” (14:7 NKJV).
The Laurie family I was adopted into is a Scottish clan. My father, Oscar Laurie, told me about the family crest, which is essentially a tree stump with tiny stems of growth shooting from it. The Laurie family motto is “Repullulat,” which means “It buds afresh.”
I thought about this and realized that describes my life. I was cut down. I was the most likely to amount to nothing. I was the most likely to end up like the notorious sinners in my family. But by the grace of God, he changed me. I was cut down, but life came out instead.
Fast-forward to 2008, when God called our son Christopher home to heaven. I was cut down again. Quite honestly, it was so devastating that I didn’t know if I could survive that. But with the passing of time, and though we still miss our son with all our hearts, life has begun to bud afresh again.
Sometimes we are cut down in life, and we think this is the end. Not necessarily. God can intervene. He can bring new life. He can bring, as the Bible says, beauty out of ashes.
When the horrific news came to Job that his children had died, we read that “Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20). Seven sons and three daughters were gone, and what did Job do? He fell to the ground and worshiped.
Job had never read the book of Job. He didn’t know what was going on at the time. He didn’t know that God had given permission for the devil to bring calamity into his life. All Job knew was that one day he woke up, and everything that could go wrong went wrong. Yet when he heard the devastating news, he worshiped.
If Job had fallen to the ground and cried, it would have made sense. If he had fallen to the ground and began to shake his fist in anger at God, it even would have made sense. But instead he fell to the ground and worshiped. Why? Because Job was a godly man.
I believe that when godly men and women are pressed by life, prayer will come out of them. When someone says they’ve lost their faith through a certain crisis, my response would be, “Good. Get rid of that faith.” The faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Anyone can praise God when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. But if you can praise God when the roof caves in and when the bottom drops out and when things go wrong, it says to me that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ.
When we worship even if we don’t feel like it, when we worship when we are hurting, that is called the sacrifice of praise. We worship because God is deserving of our praise.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Notice it doesn’t say, “In some things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” or “When you are in the mood, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” or “When circumstances are perfect, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Rather, it says, “In everything give thanks. …” There are no exceptions. There are no excuses. Nothing is beyond those parameters. In everything give thanks.
In spite of his circumstances, Job offered his praise to God. He had an attitude of gratitude. Job didn’t know the rest of his story, but this is what he did know. He knew God was good. He knew God was in control. So Job worshiped.
I don’t know what circumstances you’re facing today. I don’t know whether you’ve had some pruning in your life or whether you’ve been cut down in some way.
But I want you to know that Repullulat can be your motto, too. Your life can bud afresh. You can give thanks.
Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” —Psalm 100:4
I really like Thanksgiving, because there is not a lot of pressure to go out and buy things. You have to get food, of course. But apart from that, Thanksgiving is not about shopping. It is more about getting together with family and friends and doing what most people love to do, which is eat.
We can enjoy the food. We can enjoy our family. We can enjoy our fellowship. But the real purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks. It is a day to focus on giving thanks.
Of course, that is sometimes easier said than done. It is easy when things are going reasonably well, the bills are paid, we have a roof over our head and our health is good. But when times are hard, we don’t want to give thanks at all. But here is what the Bible says: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1 NIV).
Notice this verse does not say to give thanks to the Lord when you feel good. Rather, it says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”
Someone might say, “Well, what if my heart is not in it? Should I still give thanks?” Yes, you should. Many times when we offer our worship to God, it is just that: a sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
The Bible not only commands us to give thanks regardless of circumstances, but it also tells us to verbally give thanks to God.
It would be like a husband never telling his wife that he loves her. She needs to hear it from him. And of course, a husband needs to hear “I love you” from his wife, too.
God knows all things. He knows whether we love him. However, He still asks for us to give Him verbal praise. Far too often, we fail to give God what is due him.
As Psalm 29:2 reminds us, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”
It is not going away anytime soon.
It’s just heart-breaking to think of more than 129 people murdered by terrorists in Paris.
Did you know that the Bible has predicted many of the things we are seeing happening today all around our world?
This is what I just talked about with author Eric Metaxas on his radio show that aired Friday.
BTW, this interview was recorded before the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
You can listen to it right here.
Let’s pray for our friends in France.
And let’s continue to pray for the protection of the United States of America.
Today is the 97th Birthday of Billy Graham!
To say the world is a better place because of Billy is an understatement.
The fact is,Heaven is a fuller place because of him as well!
From his farm in North Carolina,God put His hand on this humble country boy and used him around the globe as a mighty preacher of the Gospel.
Billy was a Pastor to Presidents and a preacher to everyday people.
In my opinion,Billy Graham is the greatest Evangelist who has ever lived.
It has been my privilege to know him as a friend,and I have applied so much of what I learned by listening to him as well as watching him over the years.
So to Billy,a very happy and blessed birthday!
Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, was a bit of a practical joker. One day he decided to pull a prank on his friends, so he wrote an anonymous note to 12 of his closest friends that read, “FLEE AT ONCE. ALL IS DISCOVERED.”
Within 24 yours, all 12 of Doyle’s friends had left the country.
That is what I call having a guilty conscience.
H.L. Mencken defined conscience as “the inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking.”
Another person has said, “Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.”
A conscience is something God has placed in every man and every woman. We all are born with a conscience. It is that sense of right and wrong, a smoke alarm, if you will, that goes off when there is trouble.
The Bible talks about a man whose conscience was dead. His is effectively the story of the life and death of a conscience. This man had no excuse. He had the greatest prophet in all of the Bible, John the Baptist, as his personal counselor, friend and confidant.
This man was known as King Herod.
There are a lot of Herods mentioned in the New Testament. All are from the same twisted dynasty, but they are not all the same person. The first of the lot was Herod the Great, who was in charge when the wise men came from the east, looking for the one who was born the King of the Jews. He wasn’t called Herod the Great because of his acts of benevolence or because he was a wonderful ruler. Rather, he was known for the amazing edifices he had erected. He rebuilt the Jewish temple, which was many years in the making.
Herod the Great also was known for his paranoia, for his wickedness and for having members of his own family executed because he thought they would be a threat to his throne. That King Herod was a wicked man.
His son, Herod Antipas, also was wicked. Historians tell us that Herod Antipas was cruel, scheming, indecisive and utterly immoral. He also had a conscience that was in the process of dying. Herod Antipas was without excuse because, as I mentioned, he had as his personal counselor none other than John the Baptist.
When John showed up and started preaching, Israel had not heard from God for 400 years. There hadn’t been a single miracle, an angelic appearance, or one prophet speaking for God. Instead, there was an icy silence from heaven. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, John the Baptist emerged, right on God’s timetable. He was powerful. He was fearless. And wherever he went, crowds gathered.
John was the greatest prophet who ever lived. He was the last of a long line of spokesmen for God. Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28 NKJV). John was greater because he, and he alone, was the direct forerunner of Jesus – the forerunner of the Messiah. He occupied a unique place in history.
John was everything Herod was not.
While Herod was unsure, proud and worried about the opinions of others, John was sure, humble and concerned only with the opinion of God. John was a man of immense moral courage, while Herod was a man of spineless weakness. John was a man who kept his conscience and lost his head, while Herod was a man who took John’s head but lost his conscience.
The Bible tells us that “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20 NIV). On the other hand, Herod’s wife, Herodias, hated John. Herodias had been Philip’s wife. While she was still married to Philip, Herod’s brother, Herod seduced her and took her as his own wife.
But it gets worse. Herodias also was the daughter of Herod’s half-brother, making her Herod’s niece. And if that weren’t enough, he lusted after Herodias’ daughter Salome, and Herodias was fully aware of it.
John called Herod out on this. He simply told the truth. John was honest with Herod, and I think, in reality, John was Herod’s truest friend because he told Herod the truth.
A true friend will occasionally wound – not to hurt but to help. If you have a friend who tells you the truth, don’t lose that friend.
John told Herod the truth, and it ultimately cost John his head. At the opportune time, Herodias got her daughter Salome to dance in front of Herod at his birthday celebration, and he promised to give her whatever she wanted. Prompted by her mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. So Herod gave the command.
Why did Herod do such a horrible thing? Two things prompted him: sexual lust and a desire to impress and please others. And unbeknownst to him, his conscience was dying.
When Herod started hearing reports about Jesus and his miracles, Herod said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” (Mark 6:16) He thought John had come back to haunt him.
Sometimes we think we can commit a “little” sin and just move on in life. We don’t realize that sometimes the repercussions of sin don’t hit us until later. But, as the Bible says, “Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
What shape is your conscience in? Is it tender and responsive? Or, is it dull and unresponsive? The Bible warns of those who have their consciences seared “with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV).
The death of a conscience starts with small things that invariably become larger things. When you do something you know is wrong, continue on and try to cover it up, your conscience becomes hardened, callous and resistant.
So what should you do? Go to Jesus. He can forgive sin and resensitize your conscience.
Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.
There was a time when one of the criticisms of the church, and of preachers in general, was that there was too much hellfire-and-brimstone preaching. If this was referring to some guy getting worked up as he talked about judgment all the time with a twinkle in his eye, then I’m with the critics.
Here is my concern, however. Where are the hellfire-and-brimstone preachers today? When I turn on Christian radio or Christian television, I rarely hear a mention of hell, much less a sermon on the topic of hell. What I do hear is a lot of preaching on how to be successful, see your dreams fulfilled and be prosperous. But I don’t hear any sermons anymore about the subject of hell.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to start preaching or writing about hell every week. On the other hand, I’m not going to skip it because it is awkward or difficult or makes people uncomfortable. Jesus spent more time talking about hell than anyone else in all of the Bible.
It isn’t unloving to address this subject. Rather, it’s the most loving thing I could do. If you were asleep in a house that was on fire, and I walked by and did absolutely nothing to get you out of that potential disaster, what kind of neighbor or friend would I be? I would want you to wake up. I would want you to get out. And if Jesus, the very author of grace, spoke about hell more often than anyone else, then it must be a crucial truth. If Jesus took the time to elaborate on it, then certainly we need to know more about it.
One thing we can all agree on is that death will come to every person. The book of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die” (3:1–2 NIV).
That time to die may come much later than you expected. Then again, maybe your life will be shorter than you had hoped for. We don’t know when our lives will end, but we do know this: Death is coming. Every second, three people in the world die. Every minute, 180 people die. And every hour, 11,000 people die. This means that every single day, 250,000 people enter into eternity.
Steve Jobs once said, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.”
After death we go to one of two destinations. Either we go to heaven, or we go to hell. Conventional wisdom is that most people are going to go to heaven, and very few people are going to go to hell. Yet that is the very opposite of what the Bible says. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14–14).
A lot of people use the word hell as a way to punctuate a sentence. And in 1841, some people in southeast Michigan chose to name their town Hell. A lot of people think hell is a big joke. But it’s no laughing matter. Hell is a real place in the afterlife that, tragically, is the future destination of far too many people. My desire is to point more people in the other direction, to point them to heaven and into God’s presence.
People criticize Christianity because we believe in hell. The late Christopher Hitchens stated, “Not until the advent of the Prince of Peace do we hear of the ghastly idea of further punishing and torturing the dead.” Actually, Jesus was not the first to speak on hell, though he elaborated on it. It is in both the Old and the New Testaments.
Bertrand Russell, an atheist, wrote, “I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take Him as His chronicles represent Him, would actually have to be considered partly responsible for that.”
I beg to differ. Those would be compelling arguments if you were to ignore history, which shows that a lack of belief in God and the afterlife is the root of atrocity.
If the atheistic Stalin had believed in a future judgment for the wicked things he did, do you think he would have slaughtered so many people? If Adolf Hitler believed there was a final court of judgment, do you think he would have sent 6 million Jewish people to concentration camps?
Hell could be viewed as a restraint on cruelty. Dostoyevsky’s statement that “if God is not, everything is permitted” makes sense.
If there is no God, there is no afterlife, there is no future judgment, there is no right and wrong, there is no purpose … and there is no hope.
As pastor and author Timothy Keller has pointed out, “It is the lack of belief in a God of vengeance that ‘secretly nourishes violence.’”
Take, for example, the estimated deaths at the hands of atheistic, communistic regimes: China, 65 million; the U.S.S.R., 20 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million.
It comes down to this: Belief in the afterlife, belief in God, as well as a heaven and a hell, affects the way we live this life.
You are on one of two roads today: You are on the broad way that leads to judgment, or you are on the narrow way that leads to life.
Which road are you on? If you are on the wrong one, then it’s time to hang a U-turn.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/hell-is-no-laughing-matter/#IzQkxcvQbwzkWjwI.99
In many ways it seems that our world is on fire right now.
I am not talking about global warming or climate change; I am talking about the massive eruption of Islamic terrorism around the globe and groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and Hezbollah. We have never seen anything like this in modern times.
Christians are being beheaded and crucified. Children are being slaughtered.
ISIS continues to grow in power and influence.
Then we have Iran, which funds terrorism around the world, yet we’ve negotiated with them as they continue their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. They have made it very clear what their intentions are. They want to use them on what they call the Great Satan and the Little Satan, which are their terms for the United States and Israel.
There is Russia, who has formed and unprecedented alliance with Iran in Syria.
Russia is showing aggression like we haven’t seen for years and taking territory with no opposition. And there is North Korea. They are engaged in some serious saber rattling, developing nukes and threatening to use them against the United States.
Add to this the fact that relations between the United States and Israel have never been more strained. This only leaves Israel more alone to face her enemies, whom she is surrounded by.
For many years, the United States was the world’s policeman of sorts.
Whenever there was a wrong, the United States would step in to right it. But we are currently in a state of economic and military decline, not to mention moral and spiritual decline. We have stepped back from that global position. And if we don’t change our course quickly, this crisis only will accelerate as our absence brings massive global instability.
However, there is another way to look at it. These events show a biblical scenario unfolding, as Jesus said would happen in the last days: “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity” (Luke 21:25 NKJV).
In the past, it seemed that every few months or so, we would see some kind of new conflict erupt. Then it was every few weeks. Now it seems that every day we hear about something in the news taking place in other regions of the world and even in our nation.
As crazy as things are, everything is going according to plan – God’s plan. None of this escapes his attention. In fact, he has laid it out for us in the Scripture.
Recently, I was interviewed by a magazine that was doing a story on the topic of end times events, and the writer asked me, “Why should we even study this subject as Christians?”
Some people would discourage it, saying it’s too complex. Yet in the book of Revelation, a special blessing is promised to the person who studies, understands and takes to heart what the Bible says about our future: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (1:3 NIV).
I think what is true of the study of Revelation is true, in principle, of the study of Bible prophecy in general. There is a blessing attached to it. And if God promises a blessing, I want it.
If we study Bible prophecy and process it as we ought to, it will cause us to want to live more godly lives. Remember when you were a kid and acted up? Your mom may have said to you, “Just wait till your father gets home.”
That probably caused you to change your behavior. In the same way, if we know that Christ could come at any moment, it keeps us on our toes spiritually. It has a purifying effect.
Have you ever played hide-and-seek when you were a kid? I’ve played this with my grandchildren a lot, especially when they were very young. One of my granddaughters always peeked. As she counted, she watched to see where I went to hide. Then they would come and find me. My grandchildren would like the hiding place I chose, so they would choose that place next. The problem was that after I found them, they would go back to the same place again.
Another game they like to play is monster. I pretend to be a monster and will go around and roar, but I can’t get too close, or they’ll get really scared. I scare them enough so it’s fun, but not to the point where there is any real danger. It kind of gets them moving.
In many ways, Jesus is saying to us, “Ready or not, here I come.” But he is not playing monster; he is Messiah. He is coming to bring judgment to the Earth ultimately. Before that, however, he will come for his church, so we want to be sure we are ready.
Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Maybe you aren’t completely confident you would be ready if Christ were to come back. Here is the bottom line: You are not fooling God. You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool God any of the time.
Jesus is coming back for those who are ready. And the way to be ready is to believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and follow him.
If you are pretending to be a Christian when you aren’t, or if you haven’t asked Christ to come into your life yet, why don’t you take care of that now so you can know from this moment forward that you are ready for his return?
Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.
We are living in a selfie culture. Nearly two-thirds of Americans have smartphones today. In fact, the whole planet is getting in on it. Two billion consumers worldwide will have smartphones by 2016. And all of those phones have cameras. Hence, the selfie culture. (In case you have been hiding in a cave for the last few years, a selfie is a photo of yourself taken with your smartphone.)
There are 80 million photos posted on Instagram per day. Facebook has 1.49 billion active users per month. Twitter has 316 million active accounts. Tumblr has 230 million. Pinterest has 47.66 million unique visitors from the US alone and is the fastest-growing independent site in history.
I read an article about people who have literally died taking selfies:
One woman fell 15 feet from a bridge while taking a selfie. She was visiting Spain and stopped to take a photo. She was balancing on the ledge when she fell to her death
A couple visiting Portugal fell off the edge of a cliff while trying to take a photograph. The couple’s children, ages 5 and 6, watched as their parents fell. The parents had crossed a safety barrier to get the perfect selfie.
A 21-year-old man from Spain was electrocuted to death after being struck by a high-voltage wire. He had climbed on top of a train in order to take a selfie and he touched a live wire and was hit with 3500 volts; he was instantly killed.
These tragedies illustrate how far people will go for the “perfect selfie.”
It seems people often want to project a far happier online life than they may really be experiencing. Many seem to be living two lives: one online and one off. And according to one article, “studies show that this makes us more vulnerable to depression, loneliness, and low self-worth.”
An article in the New York Post, “Our Double Lives: Dark Realities Behind ‘Perfect’ Online Profiles,” gives this example:
Take Madison Holleran, a beautiful Ivy League student, star athlete and all-around popular girl. Her Instagram account only underscored this image: parties, friends, track meets, her dad cheering her on. But Madison was keenly aware of the difference between her online life and her real one. She once corrected her mother, who told ESPN The Magazine that after looking at Madison’s photos, she turned to her daughter and said, “Madison, you look like you’re so happy at this party.”
“Mom,” Madison said. “It’s just a picture.”
On Jan. 14, 2014, Madison posted a photo of trees strung with lights, bulbs glowing against the twilight. An hour later, she leapt to her death from the ninth floor of a parking garage.
She was 19 years old.*
Deep down inside we all want to be happy, and there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.
We want our lives to match our “selfies,” but they usually don’t.
Perhaps that very word sums it up: “selfie,” or simply, “self.”
As one article says, we suffer from “low self-worth” and our real problem is low “self-esteem” and “self-love.”
The Bible, which by the way is the very user’s manual of life, offers a different view. According to Scripture, we already love ourselves. For instance, when you look at a group photo you happen to be in, who do you look for first? Yourself of course.
Acknowledging this truth, Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NKJV). Jesus is saying, “You already love yourself. So, love your neighbor just as much!”
The real way to find happiness in our selfie culture is not by loving ourselves more, but by denying ourselves. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23–24 NKJV).
There are people today who say they are trying to “find themselves.” Jesus in essence says, “You want to find yourself? Then lose yourself.”
You want to find life, purpose, and personal happiness? Then say, “Lord, here is my life. Here are my plans, my aspirations, my dreams—as well as my weaknesses, shortcomings, and sins. I believe that Your plans are better than mine, in the long run.” God says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you . . . thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
So I must “lose myself” to truly “find myself”! This flies in the face of the selfie culture commonly accepted today. We hear so much about self-worth, self-image, and self-esteem. Jesus does not say, “Esteem yourself,” but rather “Lose yourself.” And if you die to yourself, you will find yourself.
Let’s not die for selfies; rather let’s die to ourselves. Then we will find what we have been looking for: God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
Instead of a ‘selfie’ or selfish culture,we need a selfless culture.
The real cure for selfishness is selflessness!
Some people like to go to the gym and work out. Not me. I could never work out again and be deliriously happy about it.
But I do hit the gym a couple of times a week to stay as strong as I can and (at my age) mobile!
A lot of folks find themselves getting tired and lethargic and they say, “I’m just getting old!” Yes, that’s true, but it may be you are out of shape too! You can’t control the aging, but you can take practical steps to stay strong and even get stronger physically.
The same can be true spiritually as well. You may think, “I just don’t have any spiritual energy!” Maybe you need to get busy and do something with your faith. The gifts God gives are not to be displayed in a trophy case; they are to be used!
You break down muscle to build it up. If muscle is not used, it will atrophy.
Trials are like God’s gym, where we are broken down to be built up. Trials take our faith from the realm of theory to reality—so we can start living out our faith in the real world.
It’s been said, “Character is not made in crisis; it is revealed.” Trials make us stronger, not weaker.
Remember that as you go through times of difficulty.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).