We get distracted by the completely superficial and the memory of wrongs far in our past  – TV, what others think about us, betrayals, magazine covers, you name it.

We follow the temporal – money, jobs we don’t like, people who aren’t really our friends, celebrities.

How much time do we actually spend praying, in church, in deep conversations with family, following our passions and using our gifts?

Managing our time is one of the most important steps to finding hope and living a life of peace and happiness.

We are going to make this a week of hope! Hope is moving forward, having a clear idea of where you want to go, and a plan you believe in to get there.
 
Our primary goal this week, in achieving hope, is to move forward toward clarity. Each day we’ll discuss a step, and by the end of the week, hopefully, all of us, including myself, will be on a path that is a well lit and clear.
 
In today's episode we examine three factors of who we are that must be examined in order to achieve clarity and hope: 1) How we are made, 2) How we've been influenced by others, and 3) The consequences of the choices we've made.

Evil is a lie. It seduces by appearing as light. Its only goal is to consume us and take away our freedom. Evil desires that we become slaves to all the baser elements of life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about this in his letters from prison, where he faced first hand the evils of Nazi Germany. He was witness to its rise, and its lies, and his dissent cost him his life.

“The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison — 1967; 1997)

We want to infect the world with our faith. We don’t want the world to infect our faith.

Evil wants one thing, for us to live by the Flesh. It only brings death.

Fear and Anger are by-products of losing control. If you believe you should be able to control all the factors that influence your life, you will live in a constant state of fear, and even anger.

If you understand that your focus should be on what you can control, your own decisions, you begin to live in a healthier mental state.

We have a generation of people being taught you can control the uncontrollable: others thoughts, weather, speech, viruses, etc. That is impossible. But if you believe it is, well, you get what we are seeing, fear and anger.

It’s why Grace, the Amazing kind we talked about yesterday is so powerful. It requires surrender, an acknowledgement of just how much is out of our hands. Yet, it does require one thing, a decision. That human act we have power over in any circumstance.

Preaching today folks, you'll like it.

“How industrious is Satan served. I was formerly one of his active undertemptors and had my influence been equal to my wishes I would have carried all the human race with me. A common drunkard or profligate is a petty sinner to what I was."

John Newton, 1778

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

 

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

July 28, 2020

Doc Brown and True Faith

So, you think you have faith do you?

Doc Brown, our chiropractor is still going strong in his mid-90s. He was only 19 when he began his service in World War II. Working in a factory while he waited on his orders, he asked a friend, know any good looking girls who work up front?

His friend said sure and took him up front where he saw the one, Elva. He knew what their future held. On the spot, he walked up to her, put out his hand, and said,

“My name is Jim Brown, and I’m going to get to know you.”

"I guess you will." She replied.

Recently, my wife was seeing Doc Brown and his departed wife came up. Dr. Brown speaks eloquently about faith in God, and how God can do anything. My wife wanted to know how he had dealt with his wife’s death from cancer many years earlier. Especially considering he believed Doctor’s had made mistakes and she had died much too young. Why didn’t God do something?

Doc Brown was direct. "I was mad. I told God, 'you did me wrong. I’m not going to tell anyone about you anymore.'"

Then he said he heard a clear voice speak to him, “I let her die to test your faith.”

So, how deep is your faith?

A hard rain is going to fall friends. It’s falling, but it’s going to get worse.

A recent Yelp survey said that 60% of restaurants that shut down during the lock-down are closed for good.

In my recent travels, there are shut-down businesses everywhere, big and small. A poignant quote from the NY Times, quoting a small business owner, “I can’t keep doing this.”

This is why, if you think the Antifa riots are bad, wait till these folks take to the streets. No one had to shut down because they or their employees were too sick to work. They had to shut down because the government reaction to Covid-19 shut them down.

Bob Dylan in a 2004 said, “We degrade faith by talking about religion.”

Bob is mysterious, that statement could mean a thousand things.

In another interview, he asked about what he believed, pushed to express a specific faith or creed, he just said, “I believe in the resurrection.”

About the same time I watched these videos I saw a conversation on Facebook between some Christian “theologians”. At one point a participant expressed, “where can I find a theology blog or podcast that is more scholarly. I need something deeper than sermons or amateurs.”

I immediately thought to myself, what does he know about faith.

We all have a hole to fill. We can try to fill it with drugs, with faith, with tattoos, exercise, or a million other things, some good, some not so good.

In my experience, only one satisfies completely. Following the one who died in order to give us another way. The one who went down into the hole to reach in and help us out.

I remember visiting Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside is Christ's tomb. To enter you must bend over and kneel as you enter. You enter a tomb to find life. Such a lesson. In humility we find Christ, in humility we fill the hole that can’t be filled any other way and we find peace.

I remember being bullied as kid. I fought back. But I’ve struggled with this desire to fight back ever since. What people think of me is a poison that infects me.

Lately, I’ve been rewatching Stranger Things. One thing in particular has stood out, bullying and the desire of kids to fit in, regardless of how stupid or almost evil that might mean.

But the good book shows us another way. A way of power founded on love and self-discipline.

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