Archive for Bobby

The Fragility of our Tent – The Stability of our Building – the Strength of our Desire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 11, 2009 by Todd M.

My post today comes from one of my absolute favorite chapters in the entire Bible; 2 Corinthians 5. More specifically the first 11 verses. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth for the 2nd time, and in chapter 5 he is very candid with them as he has been throughout both of his letters to this wayward church. In verse 1, Paul contrasts the temporary status of our earthly bodies and time on this earth, with the eternal status of our heavenly inheritance. He uses a metaphor to help it make sense to us. “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  He compares our earthly bodies to tents. And that makes a lot of sense, because Paul was a tent maker. That was his trade. He was first and foremost defined by Christ, but he provided for himself by making tents. So what better metaphor to explain his point than what Paul did for many hours a week. And if any of us have ever been camping, we know what Paul is talking about here. I, or Paul don’t have to tell anyone that tents are fragile, even the good ones. It doesn’t take much to make them collapse. One big gust of wind, one branch from a tree, and the entire structure can come falling down. That’s what Paul is comparing our earthly lives to. How come? Is he just using hyperbole to make a point, or are our bodies really that fragile? I was just at a funeral the other day. My wife’s grandfather just passed away at the age of 81 from cancer. I looked at his body in the casket and thought about this passage. All I was looking at was a man’s tent; his earthly shell. It wasn’t him, his Spirit was in Heaven with Christ. And it got me thinking…a couple months ago this man was healthy. The cancer had attacked his body with force and quickness and in a matter of a couple months, he passed away. Well the man was 81 years old, he had lived a good long life. However, it made me think of the fragility of our lives. What’s to say that couldn’t be in that casket, or you? What is keeping us from getting cancer, being in a car-wreck, having a heart-attack? If you understand the human life to any degree, you know that it’s here one moment and gone the next. I’m sure every one of us have experienced death at some point in our lives. And according to Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” We all have an appointment with death. It’s coming. It may be closer than we think. Should that cause us to worry? Not unless you’re an unbeliever. If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation from your sins, you have every right to worry, because you will have to pay for your own sins someday when you stand before God in judgment. And according to Romans, the penalty for our sins is eternal death in the lake of fire. But that can be taken care of today. We can call upon the name of Christ, admit we’re a sinner, repent of our sins and turn to Him, and accept His free gift of salvation through faith. If death were to come upon us suddenly today, if we’ve made that decision, we know for a fact that we will not have to pay for our sins but spend an eternity in Heaven with Christ. What a hope! But the Word of God promises that everyone will pass away. It may be when we’re 81, it may be when we’re 21, we have no way of knowing. So we had better prepare as if it were a certainty; because it is.

Now let’s look at the 2nd part of verse 1 which talks about our Heavenly inheritance through Christ, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Paul now compares our Heavenly inheritance to a building. Again, I don’t have to tell anyone how stable a building is in contrast to a tent. Even the buildings in Paul’s day were vastly more stable than any tent that is sold in today’s market. And that is what eternity is to every believer. Just as fragile as a tent is and as guaranteed as death is to every human being, we have something much more secure and stable waiting for us. For any of you that may have ever wanted to go camping so bad when you were young that you decided to talk your parents into setting your tent up in the back yard, you for sure can picture this in your mind. Imagine being in that tent, roasting marshmallows over a candle, telling ghost-stories, sitting on rocks that protrude through the tent floor and having a great time; until a storm comes. It starts off as a drizzle and then proceeds to get ugly. The wind picks up, the rain starts to pound and suddenly you’re not having that much fun in that tent anymore. In fact you’re worried about the strength of it holding up under such pressure. But then you remember you’re house, that building just on the other side of the lawn. Oh how sweet that feeling is to look over and see it standing there so secure and safe. So you pack up everything in the tent you don’t want to get ruined and you head towards the safety of that building that you call home. Well what a perfect glimpse of Heaven and Earth. Our earthly bodies are extremely weak and fragile and once a storm hits us, it may be the last time we reside in that tent. But if we’re believers in Christ, how sweet the assurance of that Heavenly building that awaits us. It’s created by God, provided by God and protected by God. Nothing will ever rock or shake the foundation of that building. It is the most secure thing we could ever imagine. According to 1 Peter 1:4-5, Heaven is referred to as “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” That building we have waiting for us is built on the foundation of faith through Jesus Christ. It’s like a house built on cement; firm and secure.

So what? So our earthly bodies are as fragile as tents and our heavenly inheritance is as secure as a building. What should that do for us? How should that cause us to react? Well let’s keep looking at 2 Corinthians 5. In verse 7 it says, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” And then in verses 9-10 it says, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to the Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Paul makes sure he gives us plenty of things that those 2 previous facts should cause us to do. The head knowledge that our earthly bodies are fragile and temporal, and that our heavenly inheritance is secure and eternal isn’t good enough. It MUST strengthen our desire for Christ.

The only reason we have the hope that we do is because it was purchased for us with a very expensive cost; the death of Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind. If we trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, we must continue in the work that was started and make Him Lord of our lives as well as our Savior. If we don’t, we act as if His death was in vain. And we know it wasn’t. So what does it mean to make Him Lord of our lives? Exactly what it says in 2 Corinthians 5. That we make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him. That is why we were created, that is why we breathe, that is why we have any time remaining on this earth. If we choose not to live for Christ after accepting the free gift of salvation, we are a people to be pitied. You see when God created the world and created man, He did it for one specific purpose; to bring glory to Himself. However because of sin, that plan was temporarily thwarted. But insert Jesus Christ. Christ’s death not only purchased our souls out of eternal damnation, it also allows us to once again have a relationship with God and to be able to accomplish the one distinct purpose we were created for; to bring glory to God. Unbelievers cannot claim that. Sin is still blocking access to God, and no one without access and no one with the stain of sin is of any worth to God. The only thing that allows us to be able to please God, is the sacrifice of His perfect and holy Son on the cross so that His creatures could once again bring a stain-free, unblemished sacrifice to God. Thank you Christ!! And those acts that we do to please Christ, after we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, will last for all eternity.

Let me end this post with an analogy to help us consider this passage. Let’s say that our house is on fire and we are in the house at the time.  (according to verse 1 of 2 Corinthians 5, that is exactly the case. Our tents are dissolving.) So we smell the fire, maybe even see the fire down the hall and what do we do? We get out! Right? Well a wise person does. But a person who lives in contrary to this passage does nothing of the sort. They remain in the house until the fire gets to their room, in fact they get nice and comfortable as if they have no idea that at some point the fire will reach them. What would we call such a person? A fool! A person that knows that the house is burning will do whatever they must to get out; even if that means they jump out of a window, because the result would be much worse staying in the house. But let’s take it to an even more foolish level, because many Christians do. Not only do we NOT leave the house and instead get nice and comfortable, but we begin to move more and more possessions into that burning house. Sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? Well, many people (even Christians) live in such a manner. They can hear the Word of God on this topic, know in their heads that their tents are fragile, that their house is on fire and that at some point death will occur. But instead of getting out of the house (salvation in Christ) and instead of moving all their possessions into a more secure location (acts of service to please God through Christ), they remain in the dissolving tent with all their earthly possessions that are about to burn and they start moving more and more into the house. That is the definition of a fool.

We MUST act as if we know our tents will be destroyed, we MUST trust in Christ for salvation and have an eternal building waiting for us, and we MUST move all our possessions from the tent into the building. How do we do that? Live for Christ and not for us. Everything we do that isn’t for Christ, will dissolve like our tents. But everything we do for Christ, will be moved by God into that secure building where they will last forever and ever with our heavenly bodies and our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 9, 2009 by Todd M.

It seems there is a fear or a phobia for everything these days. A fear of snakes, Rattle-Snake-Coileda fear of water, a fear of the dark, a fear of public speaking, a fear of heights, a fear of spiders, a fear of flying, a fear of injections, a fear of tight spaces, a fear of germs; there’s even a fear of long words.  People are flat out afraid of everything under the sun; even Christians. Why? Why is it that we are so afraid of things? What is it about fear that causes us to change the way we act in certain situations? If we’re scared of snakes; we don’t go near them. SpidersIf we’re scared of the dark; we keep a light on. If we’re scared of speaking in public; we do whatever we must to avoid those situations. If we’re scared of heights, we stay on the ground. And you get the picture. But this post isn’t a study on fear. I’m not a psychologist. But, for whatever the reasons that causes us to be afraid, there are solutions to keeping away from being afraid.

But I pose to you today, no matter how many types of phobias there are; there are only 2 categories of fear. The sinful kind and the biblical kind. We mentioned the sinful kinds. It’s being afraid of anything that can harm the flesh. Matthew 10:28 tells us exactly that. “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (We’ll look at part 2 of that verse in a second.) The Word of God plainly states that fleshly fear is not only foolish, it’s sin. Why? Well God has promised again and again that He’ll protect us and that He’ll provide for us and that no harm will ever come to us unless our loving, caring God allows it. Jesus goes on in the same passage in Matthew 10 in verses 29-30 to tell us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.”

When we fear, we doubt that God can carry out what He has promised to do. And when we doubt God, we sin. There’s the equation of how fear equals sin. None of us can justify our petty little fears unless we contradict the Word of God. There is indeed something that God cannot do. In fact there’s two things. He cannot break a promise and He cannot let us down. So when we fear, we have once again bought into the lie that God can let us down and can break promises, and there in lies the sin.

And there’s someone who loves fear; Satan. In fact fear is Satan’s #1 weapon of choice. Whenever in battle with us, that’s the first weapon Satan goes to. Why is fear so potent even to Christians? Because even so-called believers can, in a moment, act like practical atheists. And when that happens, the flesh defeats the Spirit of God and sin occurs. But again, Satan can’t make us sin. Satan can only open the door of opportunity for sin. It’s you and I who must take the initiative and walk through. And once we walk through, no matter how many times we have claimed Christ and how many praises we have sung about our awesome God; in that instant, we act as if God doesn’t exist. Either that or we make His word void in our lives by reading it and not living by it.

So it doesn’t matter what our phobias are. Picture 13Satan’s like that NFL team who watches tape on their opponent before they play them to see where they’re weak. Satan will learn you. He will find your phobia(s) and he will squeeze them like a pressure point until we say “uncle.” But there’s always a solution.  TRUST GOD! If we put our faith in Him for Creator, Savior and Father; we should trust that His Word is the most secure thing we will ever come across. Satan is powerful, the flesh is weak, and fear is a deadly weapon; but God reigns supreme and will ALWAYS take care of His children, even when we doubt. What a mighty God we serve!

However, there IS a Godly type of fear; in fact it’s biblical. The fear of God. To my knowledge there’s isn’t a phobia for it, but that should be the only phobia that exists in a Christian’s life. Let’s look at the 2nd part of the verse in Matthew 10:28 “…But rather fear Him who is able to to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  That “Him” is obviously talking about God. Man can hurt the flesh (but only when God allows), and even then it’s only earthly, temporal flesh. God can DESTROY BOTH body and soul and He can do it eternally and permanently. That fear is biblical and it’s the fear that causes action; the action that points to Jesus Christ as our Savior. Without the understanding that sin leads to death (eternal death), and that God is able to carry out His eternal judgment, salvation through Jesus will never happen. So every Christian has at one time feared God. And that’s a good thing!

However, just like faith, fear of God sometimes ends with salvation. We fear Him enough to make sure our sins are taken away, but after that, fear of God stops or greatly decreases. It did in my life at least. How come? Why are there literally thousands of phobias, and no fear of God? And I suggest to you, go up to a Christian and ask them what they’re afraid of, or ask them what their phobia is. Usually 9 times out of 10, a Christian won’t hesitate to tell you what their earthly fear is. That’s how casual we’ve made fleshly, sinful fear. But rarely, rarely will anyone ever say, I’m afraid of disappointing God.

So what? Maybe I’m spiritualizing things too much?

Let’s look at another passage from the Word of God. This time from 1 Peter 1:17. “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;” Again you will see biblical, Godly fear commanded to us as believers. But this time it’s not talking about fear that saves. It’s talking about the fear of disappointing God. When every believer stands before God someday at the judgment seat of Christ, God will judge every Christian’s works while they were on earth. The good fruit (according to Matthew 12:33), will last for all eternity and we’ll be rewarded for. The bad fruit (any act, sin or not, that wasn’t done for the glory of God) will burn in the furnace along with those who rejected Christ as Lord and Savior. And the fear of disappointing God should be our fuel for the fire. Our motives to please and serve God should come from our love for Him (for saving us, protecting us, providing for us, allowing us to serve Him, etc. etc. etc); and also the fear of standing before our Creator, Savior and Father someday and having a large amount of our works being tossed into the fire, and for us to have nothing or very little fruit to give back to God for all the love He’s shown us.

If that’s not our phobia, then we have a problem.

There are people who fear and love God and it’s evident in the way they live. And there are people who fear man and things of this earth and who love themselves, and it’s also evident in the way they live. Everyone is afraid of something. I don’t know about all of you, but growing up, no matter how many spankings I received, I never ever wanted to hear either of my parents say these words, “Todd I am disappointed in you.” That phrase cut deep and hurt a lot more than any spanking ever did. Now think on a MUCH grander scale what it would be like to stand before God, and for the realization of all He has given you and all the heavenly paradise that is waiting for you because of His love for you; but to stand there with spoiled fruit while God judges your works, and without even a word from God, for your soul to know it as fact, “I am disappointed in you.” BE AFRAID OF THAT!

Why Would He Take the Money?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 22, 2009 by Bobby

In the Bible, the Old Testament is filled with the stories of ordinary people just like you and me who struggled in the “flesh”.  One of my favorite…well favorite in the sense that I learn the most from, is a man that maybe you’ve never heard of before.

Gehazi was an understudy to the prophet Elisha (2 Kings chapter 5).  In my imagination Gehazi was a gung-ho, WWJD bracelet wearing, knew the books of the Bible, could sing all the verses of Amazing Grace, wanting to be used of God kind of guy.  The problem was:  Gehazi had still not laid his flesh to rest.  One day a very needy leperous man named Naaman came to Elisha the prophet looking to be healed of his terrible disease.  After eventually following the precise directions of the prophet of God, the leper became clean.  zflytrapAs you can imagine, after a lifetime of rubs, ointments, salts, and spending every dime for the latest in leprosy removal care, Naaman was so thankful that he tried to pay the prophet for his service.  Elisha responded by saying, “as the Lord lives in heaven, I will not accept that.”  So what does this have to do with Gehazi?  Well…I’m sad to report that the Word records that part of the story too.  By reading on (verses 20-27) we clearly see that Gehazi was driven by the desires of the flesh.  Gehazi sneaked back to the healed man (when he should have been with the boss), spoke on Elisha’s behalf (without his blessing) and asked for the monetary gift (he lied and said that there were men that needed the money).  What would cause a man that was on an inside fast-track to relevant ministry and a close relationship with the God of the universe to fall so hard so fast?  I say its the “inner-terrorism” of the flesh.

That old dog needs to die.  It’s time to lay the flesh…your flesh to rest.  Next time, I hope to give you some practical applications on how to avoid being like Gehazi.

I’ll leave it at that for now.  (Part 2 coming soon)

The Difficulty of Serving God

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 5, 2009 by Todd M.

I remember the first time I picked up the game of golf. I think as a boy, no matter who tries to call golf a gentleman’s sport, there’s something very raw and primitive about whacking a little ball with a steel club. So at first, golf was very intriguing to me. My best friend played it pretty often and my very first job was at a country club where I spent my entire working time around the game of golf. And most of the guys who belonged to the country club were out of shape old guys who rode carts to and from the holes. So being an athletic 16 year old, I thought not only wouldn’t I have any problem picking this game up, I should probably do very well at it. golfWell, as like many of you know, that is a very ignorant thought to have about golf. So the first time I ever played a hole, and my first time swinging a club, I remember hitting the ball with some force, but I also remember losing the ball very quickly into the thick of the woods. “Okay,” i thought, “that was my first try, it will get easier as I go on.” Well, it didn’t. In fact, it got severely worse, because the more I tried to convince myself that I should have no problem playing this game, the harder and harder it got to hit the ball with strength and accuracy to make the ball go where I wanted it to go. And so I became very impatient and frustrated. Well, impatience is your worst enemy on the golf course. The more you try and tell the ball that you can hit it and hit it well, the more the ball says back to you, “I own you.” And the first round of golf I ever played, I played with my best friend. And this is where we get to the most irritating detail of the whole story; he was good. To be honest, he was very good. And it ticked me off. I am extremely competitive and I want to win at anything I play, and my best friend who was skinnier and shorter than me was rocking my world at golf. So as we went on from hole to hole with barely ever breaking double digits on my score per hole, my friend started to notice my frustration with golf. So like any good friend would, he decided to help me. “Hey Todd, if you keep your head down when you swing, you will not hit the top of the ball when you make contact.” Um, I’m sorry, I don’t remember asking him for advice. But the advice continued. “Try interlocking your fingers when you hold the club.” “Make sure your thumb is pointing downward on the club when you swing.” “Angle your feet more towards where you’re aiming.” “Sit your tee up higher and maybe you’ll get underneath the ball more.” etc, etc, etc. Being corrected when it’s so clear that you absolutely stink at something is one of the most humbling experiences. And I hated it. I kept my mouth shut and listened to his advice (didn’t heed it), but I remember thinking, this will be the last time I ever play this stupid game. But more than 13 years later, I tell you today that I love the game of golf. I am still far far away from ever being considered good at it, but I now know what to expect when I play and I don’t take myself too seriously. And every now and then I actually seek out advice so I can correct things in my game. I’ve come a long way haven’t I? Well, all that to say this; as I golfed that very first time with my friend when I was 16, all that advice he took time to give me was all a waste because I was more concerned about my ego than I was correcting my swing and improving at the game of golf. What would have been the best approach is very easy to see now. Realize I stink at golf and take his advice to heart and maybe improve myself so I could actually enjoy myself on the course.

I bring up that stupid analogy to make one point. Advice from someone who knows how to do something correctly should always be heeded and given heavy consideration. But many times our egos get in the way and we remain mediocre at something we should have figured out a long time ago. With the exception of maybe Tiger Woods, no one picks up the game of golf in one day and succeeds at it. It takes practice doing the right things over and over to improve so you can do it excellently. So the topic I want to discuss today is the topic of serving God.

Any time I think about the topic of serving God, I picture the narrow, difficult road mentioned in Matthew 7:14. The gate is narrow, the road is narrow and the path is difficult. Great! Hard to be optimistic about doing something that even Christ Himself calls difficult. narrow pathAnd that’s where I was for so long in my Christian life. I rarely put time into understanding the word of God, I rarely spent time praying to God and I rarely spent time discussing my spiritual walk with other believers. And guess what, just like golf, I stunk at it. Oh, I kept hearing advice. I grew up in a Christian home with two of the most godly people I know; my parents, I pretty much went to church every week where I would hear 2-3 lessons from the word of God every Sunday, and I even enrolled into Bible college to further my understanding on the word of God. But somehow after 2 decades of being given advice on one single topic, I still stunk at serving God. How did that happen? Is the path that narrow and difficult where so much time can be spent preparing for it, and yet the path gets no easier and the attitude gets no more optimistic about staying on that path? Either that was the case or I was doing it all wrong.

Well, advice from godly people is never something to be discredited, but if Christ calls the path of serving God narrow and difficult, shouldn’t I be heeding advice from the One who perfectly served God on that narrow path; Jesus Christ? And I truly think Satan is doing a bang-up job at getting our minds to focus on the narrow path instead of the tools necessary to serving God successfully in the Christian life. The text I want to highlight for this thought is found in 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. The Apostle Paul seems to be talking to a church who reminds me of my friend giving advice to me on the golf course 13 years ago.  The Corinthian church wasn’t the church who was doing a good job. They were the church with dissension and the church who was listening to philosophy instead of the words of Christ. Therefore, Paul, like any friend and brother, saw the need to give this church sound advice to help them on their endeavor. So I find the instruction and encouragement he gives the Corinthians very interesting in the beginning of the first chapter. He starts telling them how thankful He is to God that the Corinthians have been given every tool necessary to serve God successfully in the Christian life. Pardon? Paul, why are you highlighting that instead of highlighting how much they have dropped the ball while trying to serve God? Well, maybe because Paul was an encourager and always thought it best to urge someone forward, and maybe it was because he was right. In verse 5, Paul tells them they are “enriched in everything by Him (Christ) in all utterance and knowledge…” And then in verse 7, he tells them, “so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul, buddy, this is the church that is stinking. Either they don’t have what your telling them, or they have no idea how to use it.

The exact thing Paul was telling the believers in the Corinthian church is the same thing I needed to hear in my mid-twenties while on the difficult, narrow road searching for the easy, broad road instead. You see, just like the Corinthian church, I have been given every tool necessary to live the Christian life and serve God successfully. The only reason they didn’t and the only reason I didn’t is because I chose not to use them. Just like the advice of my friend when I was golfing. He was right! If I had humbled myself and actually listened to what he was saying, I could have corrected my swing and started to hit the ball correctly. But my ego got in the way and I saw the difficulty of the sport and my lack of success instead of the solution to correct it.

So does that mean that serving God and living the Christian life is actually easy? Well, no, I didn’t say that. But the message Paul was giving to the Corinthians is that they have the tools to do it and do it in a way that pleases God. So let’s look at the tools Christians have been given, because they’re powerful ones. The first one is salvation and a relationship with God. Yeah, wow! If that doesn’t make us think wow!, we need to re-read from the Scriptures just how lost and how doomed we were because of our sin. But because of the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ, we have literally been bought out of the bondage of the slavery of sin. Yes, we still sin. But no, we don’t have to. Our Master is now God and we are no longer under the rule or power of Satan. And not only that, but we can talk to God any time we want. We don’t have to make an appointment, we don’t have to get on a waiting list, and we don’t have to call ahead. Whenever we want to talk to God, we can right there on the spot because He has granted us a relationship with Him. Unbelievable. That alone is enough to live for God. But God didn’t stop there, He also gave us His Holy Spirit.SplittingOfTheRedSea-700686 Yeah, like I mentioned in my last post, the Spirit of God dwells inside of us to help us to serve God fully. So we actually have the power of God living inside of us. The same power that created the world in 6 days, the same power that separated the Red Sea, and the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, is not only accessible to us, it’s inside of us 24/7. Nope, that’s not the end. God also decided to give us His Word. The Scriptures, the Bible, the Daily Bread, all those terms we’ve used for the Word of God should never take away from the fact that we have the Word of God! As if salvation, access to Him, and His power weren’t enough, we also have been given His Word which plainly states exactly how we can live and please Him successfully even while on the narrow road. And there are so many more. If we had time, we could talk about the joy we’ve been given, the hope we’ve been given, the Christian friends and families we’ve been given, the church we’ve been given, the Christian authors we’ve been given, etc, etc, etc.

So why are Christians constantly getting beat down on this quest to serve God? Why did the Corinthians? It’s simple really, we don’t use the tools. How often to we truly talk to God? How often to we truly take time to study (not read) His Word? How often do we feed the Spirit of God and seek to use that power in our lives by simply making a request for it? I think, if you’re anything like me, it’s a little embarrassing to think about. And to continue my thought on the flesh vs. the Spirit, the flesh is dominating the Spirit because we simply don’t take the time and energy to use the incredible and awesome tools we’ve been given, to not only defeat the flesh, but to live for God excellently. Mist over cliff-edge pathAnd maybe like me, you wake up one day to a morbidly obese flesh, a dying love for God, and you’re sliding down the rocks of the narrow path because instead of looking forward to the prize of being like Christ, you’ve been gazing over the side of the hill towards the easy, broad road thinking, “Now that, I can do!”And all Satan has done is told you over and over is “Serving God is difficult! Serving God is difficult! Serving God is difficult!” And maybe all you need to have happen today, like the Corinthian church is be reminded of the tools you were given. That you’ve been enriched in everything, in all knowledge and you have come short of no gift as you eagerly await the revelation of your Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Fleshly appetite

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 25, 2009 by Todd M.

I’ve been wondering a lot over the past few months as to why Christians like myself find it so hard to live with a passion to serve God. For the bulk of my life I have been a believer. I accepted Christ at the age of five years old and even before then I was attending church and hearing Bible lessons from my parents, Sunday school teachers, etc. And not much changed in that respect after I trusted Christ. I remained in the church, kept hearing the Bible taught and always had an understanding of who God was and His Son; Jesus Christ. And somehow 20 years went by before I knew it. I was 25 years old and 20 years old as a believer in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. And yet, day in and day out, I struggled with a passion to serve God. And now being 29, it seems I’ve finally started to understand completely at what was happening to me at that time in my life. It’s not that I didn’t want to serve God. If you would have asked me in my mid-twenties if I desired to serve God, I would have proclaimed “yes” without any thought at all. And I truly would have believed it. And even though by my answer, I would have said that I had a very healthy appetite to please God, I lived in a very different manner.

The one thing I never grabbed onto, was that there was another appetite in my body. And this appetite was a hungry one. It’s the flesh. As most of us know, when someone trusts Christ as their Savior, they are no longer under the power of sin and now are blessed with an appetite to serve God. However, what many Christians may fail to understand completely, at least in their daily routines, is that the appetite to serve the flesh still remains. And by flesh, of course I don’t mean our physical body. I am talking about that inner-desire to serve ME. That’s the flesh. That is the sin-ridden, self-centered, egotistic nature still living inside of me that craves to be satisfied. And for 20 years of my life, I fed it. Oh did I feed it!

Don’t get me wrong; something definitely changed inside of me at age 5 for all of eternity. And it was a great thing. If it didn’t, I couldn’t honestly say to anyone today that I am a true believer. I know for a fact that at age 5, I was a changed person. I didn’t feel any warm fuzzy feeling or come out of any hardened sin that would make someone stand up and say “wow!” But, thanks purely to the love and hope of Jesus Christ, I now had eternity in Heaven waiting for me as well as a relationship with the God of the universe. And both of those amazing gifts were paired with a new appetite completely unlike the flesh that wanted to show love to God instead of myself. That had to happen. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit who permanently dwells inside of them at the moment of salvation. And even though I spent 20 years as a believer mostly investing in myself, there were evidences that God had changed my life and the Holy Spirit was alive inside of me. But now a war had begun. According to Galatians 5:17, whether I chose to accept it or not, every day that I awoke from my sleep I was at the front lines of a brutal war. The Flesh vs. The Spirit.

And the flesh was dominating…

Why? Why in the world would the flesh even have a shot at defeating the Spirit of God inside of a believer? That makes entirely no sense to me. Or does it? You see, these two appetites inside of every believer are both extremely hungry. And they hate each other. They’re not two buddies sitting down with a cold Pepsi watching the game together. According to Galatians 5, they want to destroy the other. And the phrase Bobby and I have coined for this war, is inner-terrorism. And it makes a lot of sense to me. If we think of real terrorism, it’s one of those wars we really don’t know how to win. It’s not like going to war with another country who, although they’re doing whatever it takes to defeat their enemy, both parties know there is a line they won’t cross unless they absolutely must. But that’s not the case with terrorism. Terrorism fights dirty. It blows up a bus of tourists, it flies commercial jets into skyscrapers filled with thousands of people, it straps bombs to children and uses them as weapons. That’s not a normal war. And I truly think that’s exactly how the flesh is fighting against the Spirit. The flesh knows it’s outmatched. As powerful as our desires to please every comfort and pleasure we have, and as mighty as Satan’s deception and God-hating propaganda is , when fighting a fair battle with the God of the universe, it will snap like a twig in a hurricane. And Satan knows that. So he must fight extremely dirty.

How does Satan do this to us? All he has to do is make us feed the appetite for the flesh more than the Spirit. If we do that, the flesh grows and Grows, and GROWS until it’s a human wrecking ball. While at the same time, we’re starving the Spirit until it’s nothing but a faint heart beat.  appetite sickly

And how specifically is Satan convincing us that the flesh deserves more food than the Spirit? Nothing new; he lies. Let’s take the Garden of Eden as an example here. Just off the top of your head, how many trees do you think Adam and Eve had at their disposal in the Garden of Eden? Hundreds? Thousands? Something along those lines? And how many did God tell them not to touch? One! The tree of knowledge of good and evil. One tree. That blows my mind. With the hundreds and thousands of trees that they had available to them, how did Satan highlight the one that they weren’t allowed to eat from? Because he lied to them and their flesh was hungry and they fed it. And going back to the example of myself in my mid-twenties, I had every possible benefit of Christianity and yet Satan lied to me and told me that my flesh was the one that could satisfy. Wow. And so the buffet began. Over and over and over I fed the flesh. Always with sinful things? No. In fact, often it was things that just filled my time. TV, internet, hanging out withobese-man friends, etc, etc, etc. But out of that, guess what happened. Well, exactly what happens to a stomach when you feed it over and over and over…it grows. And for 20 years of feeding my flesh, my appetite for myself was morbidly obese.

And if you’re feeding the flesh that much and it’s at brutal war with the Holy Spirit, guess which one is winning? I don’t even have to say it. And thus, at the age of 25, as God started to open my eyes to exactly what was happening in my life, I loved me very much and loved Him very little; and my lifestyle proved it. So I looked at myself in a metaphorical mirror and hated the sight of myself. And knew for the first time, something had to change. I didn’t know exactly where to start, but I knew I had to start helping the Spirit defeat the flesh by feeding the Spirit more and the flesh less. And how can Christians feed the Spirit? Draw near to God. Be in His word, not just daily, often daily. Be in prayer, all throughout your day. Fellowship with other believers by talking about your walks with God, encouraging each other, and motivating each other in your faith. And there are so many others. But if you read James 4:1-10 (which specifically talks about the war of the flesh), and read verse 8, it again gives the antidote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  It’s a promise from the God of the universe.

So the question I pose today is….who is winning the war? The flesh or the Spirit, and who are you fighting with?