Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rules to live by

I am not a big fisherman but have been known to drown a few worms. One time a friend and I had exceptional luck and caught a number of white perch.

Me, "We should remember that spot, so we can return and catch more."

He, "I took care of it, I put an "X" on the side of the boat."

That is foolishness, the boat moves and cannot provide a reference point. However stupid this little joke is, it illustrates the point of this post. We live in an era when there is no stable reference point. Everyone decides for themselves what is right and wrong. This is dangerous for a number of reasons.

  1. Imagine driving a car in a nation with no speed limits. Great, you say? Okay, but there are also no stop signs, traffic lights or lane restrictions. You can drive in any lane you feel is right for you. Demolition Derby, here we come.
  2. Remember back in the third grade during recess - do they still have recess? The playground at Hollywood Elementary was overseen by Mrs. Cravitz. She kept all the kids in order using the eyes in the back of her head and the threat of detention.  When Mrs. Cravitz was out sick, the playground was a disaster. Everyone played by their own rules until the meanest and biggest kid in the yard took charge. He sets the rules and abuses everyone else. Lack of a reference point leads to violence, sexual abuse, and anarchy as those with power use it to their advantage.
  3. When we have no fixed point of reference we drift from truth to confusion. We develop points of tension. Newborn babies need to be held, they need the comfort of feeling secure. Our Shitz Zu, Rachel, will head for the security of her small cage whenever a storm approaches. There is nothing that makes us feel more secure than having boundaries. We may fight against them but we truly need them. Our son kept begging and pleading for his mother to let him go somewhere with a friend. Her answer was no! Later he came to her and thanked her for not letting him go. "No" is a boundary that provides an element of security.
  4. When "truth" is lost politics fills the gap. When people lose their grip on moral absolutes, then the rules are made by whoever can get the most votes, gain the most political power, or shout the loudest.

We once lived away from town, out in the country. Storms would come up and we would lose electricity. If you have ever been in a totally dark room you can understand the problem. The first thing that happens is we lose our bearings, we become confused and are not sure where we are. We begin to feel our way around until suddenly! we find the chair or another piece of furniture. Now I know where I am. That chair becomes my fixed point of reference. I know where I am. It's home base.  From that chair, I remember the door, the couch, and their relationship - unless my wife has moved the chair without telling me. I’m OK. I have a fixed point of reference. If you were placed in a large, empty room, with no furnishings, and no light, you would move slowly and cautiously around the room until you came to a wall, something solid that you could hold on to. then - if you were there a long time - you would probably sit on the floor and lean against the wall. The wall provided a point of reference.

God has provided us with reference points. Secular society tries to live apart from God. It is determined to work out all its problems without any reference whatsoever to God. We are pressured to conform. Even in the Christian community, we fight against absolutes. A.W. Tozer wrote: A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to accept Christ without forsaking the world.

Lately. I have come to love Psalm 119. Throughout this Psalm, King David extols the virtue of following the Lord's law, commandments, statutes, and precepts. David speaks clearly of his love for these valuable and "life-giving" rules of God. They provide David - and us - security, direction, and knowing the love of the Lord. Laws, statutes, commandments, and precepts often have a negative connotation, but I have learned about the freedom and joy that they provide to us.

So What are the rules

  1. Realize God loves us and wants what is best for us.
    John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  2. Recognize that we are sinners and must repent
    Turn and go the other direction. Real repentance comes when we can trust God.
  3. Die to self - daily
    The real issue is “Who is in control.” We must remove ourselves from the center of the universe. The function of the Holy Spirit is to install Jesus, more and more on the throne of our heart.

     Hebrews 2:14 -15    Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

    We do not fear physical death, we fear death to our sense of control.  We have to learn to trust God. When we trust God we do not have to be in control.
  4. Spend lots of time in Prayer
    Love God with all your heart, mind soul, and strength. Spend time with Him. Commune with Him. Pray the prayer of abandonment,
    “Lord, I want to be all that you have created me to be, Whatever it takes, I give you permission to change me to become more like your Son Jesus.”

 1 John 2:15-17     Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 

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