Gaming disorders

Gaming disorders

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? – Romans 6:16

John 8:34 Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Romans 6:17-23

 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.

 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

 19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom.

 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.

 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

In May 2019, the World Health Organization added a new disorder to its list of addictive behaviors and substance abuse. The 2019 version of the International Classification of Diseases now has “gaming disorder.” Gaming disorder is defined as excessive and irrepressible preoccupation with video games, resulting in significant personal, social, academic, or occupational impairment for at least 12 months.

It is no secret that videogames are designed to be addictive. Videogame developers encoded their games using psychological techniques. They create an insatiable, almost unquenchable craving for more.

There are no real-world consequences for failure. Effort itself is rewarded. Videogames provide a sense of self-worth, purpose, and accomplishment. Players often are unable to obtain the same in real world relationships, activities, or work. In many cases videogames become a surrogate occupation.

In the real world, fallen people are easily enticed. Potential addictions are lurking everywhere. An addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.

Unrighteous, impious, addicting activities have a simple label in the Scripture, sin. Sin is an unseen master that enslaves us.

Romans 6:16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?

John 8:34 Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

REFLECT & PRAY

If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a ditch. – Matthew 15:14

Father thank You, that You made it possible to be free from sin and addictive behaviors. Encourage me to make the best possible choices and live in freedom.

INSIGHT

Being enslaved to a master, is somewhat of a paradox. Often, we think we are most free, when we most enslaved. Because we are born in sin, we are born enslaved to sin. Being a slave is what we know, it may be all that we ever know. We may have some choice regarding to the brand and model of our sin, but it is still sin.

Thanks be to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who have provided the path to freedom.

John 8:36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:31-32

 31 If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.

 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Freedom from the addictions of sin comes through choice. Because of the Lord Jesus Christ we can now choose freedom. We can exchange masters. For those with gaming disorders, their master is the videogame. Gamers are its slaves.

Freedom is possible through understanding the truth of the word of God and making a choice to be free. When we choose to let the Lord Jesus Christ be our master, our former master loses its power over us. We no longer have to obey its commands.

The apostle Paul is a perfect example of this. He was enslaved to self-righteous arrogance. He would go on rampages seeking the Father’s children to imprison or worse. He brought havoc and devastation wherever he went. And he loved it. An intervention was needed to turn things around.

Paul’s raging, ravaging behavior came to a sudden halt. His addiction ended in a moment. All it took was one brief, but rather tumultuous and devastating encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. What irony, what Paul had sown, he reaped. The devastator was devastated.

Acts 9:3-5 

 3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.

 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”

Paul instantly knew that he was in the presence of one of the Father’s messengers. Paul calls Him lord. But this was no ordinary messenger. This was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

He was flabbergasted and astonished. He was literally blinded. Paul was toast. He turned 180°. Instructions soon followed.

Paul was the Lord Jesus Christ’s chosen instrument to take His message to the Gentiles and to kings, and to the people of Israel. From that moment on, He served the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul immediately began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

Paul found real freedom, and ultimate satisfaction through his new Master. Paul had a favorite personal designation. Paul repeatedly self-identified himself as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mick Jagger never did, at least, so he sang.

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio

He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information

Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey

That’s what I say

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

I can’t get no, I can’t get no

Preach the Word

Preach the Word

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2

2 Timothy 4:2-4

 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

In 1924, Dallas Theological Seminary was founded. Its motto is: “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). On the seminary seal, these words are inscribed in the original Greek: Kerusson ton logon. Thoroughly equipping the Father’s children to know, properly handle, and preach the Word of God is the epicenter of its purpose for being. Over the years, their mission has slightly transformed. It now reads, “to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide.”

What makes DTS unique? They pass on the primary tool that the Father has provided for spiritual growth and development, the Scriptures. They teach the truth of the Scriptures and equip their students to do likewise. Every one of seminary’s ministry degree program covers all 66 books of the Bible. DTS trusts the living word of God to change lives.

Near the end of the Apostle Paul’s life, coming ever closer to the executioner’s axe, Paul wrote some final instructions to his disciple, Timothy. What was most important to him? That is what he passed on to Timothy. Think of it as, Paul’s last words.

2 Timothy 4:1-2

 1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

 2 Preach the word of God.

Paul’s words were riveting, solemn, and passion filled. In Paul’s mind, the stakes could not have been higher in light of what was coming for both Paul and Timothy. They share a common mission and purpose. They had both been called by the Father into His service.

Paul is created vivid images for Timothy to lock onto. It is though Paul mystically whisks Timothy away and transports him into the very presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Once there, with the Father and the Son as witnesses, Paul ardently exhorts Timothy to preach the word. When Moses exhorted the nation of Israel to do what was right, he did something similar. He called on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make (Deuteronomy 30:19).

It is somewhat analogous to being sworn in to testify a modern courtroom. Paul is essentially saying, “I have solemnly sworn to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God! Now Timothy, my son, you do the same!”

Anyone can understand this. But finding yourself in the presence of God, pierces the hearts of all those that have been similarly called. Consider Isaiah the prophet.

Isaiah 6:1-8

 1 I saw the sovereign Lord seated on a high, elevated throne . . .

 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim . . .

 3 They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

 5 I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal . . .

 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your evil and guilt are removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

 8 I heard the voice of the sovereign master Lord, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!”

REFLECT & PRAY

Putting first things first. The Father has commissioned all of His children to share the good news and teaching of His redemptive work bringing salvation to the world

Father encourage my heart to fulfill the tasks that You have given to me.

INSIGHT

The Father tasked His Son with a mission. The mission statement was outlined in a messianic prophecy (Isaiah 61:1-2a). In Luke 4, the Lord Jesus Christ visits Nazareth and goes to worship in the local synagogue on the Sabbath. In New Testament times, part of the worship service, was reading from Old Testament scrolls and commenting upon what was read. Commenting upon the Scriptures had become a Jewish tradition called targuming. This particular day the scroll of Isaiah is handed to the Lord Jesus Christ. He read it aloud.

Luke 4:18-19

 18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,

 19 and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

Jesus handed the scroll back to the synagogue attendant and sat down. All eyes were fixed upon Him awaiting His Targum. He exclaimed, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21) On that particular Sabbath day, Lord Jesus Christ began to preach the good news and to proclaim liberty. Jesus in turn, exhorts His disciples to proclaim publicly the things which He taught them (Matthew 10:27).

The word herald is somewhat archaic to modern ears. Throughout history, heralds were entrusted with a message and were dispatched to proclaim it. The Greek word for herald is kerux. Kerusso is the verbal form of herald. It means to proclaim, announce, make known extensively, and preach. The Greek word translated preach in 2 Timothy 4:2 is kerusso.

Preaching is all about communication, proclaiming publicly the Father’s redemptive work of bringing salvation to the world. The preacher is not to offer his own opinions or conjectures. He is to preach the Word, the Father’s eternal, authoritative Word of truth.

Just before His ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ shared with His disciples what was most important to Him. In much the same way as Paul, they were His last words.

Matthew 28:18-20

 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Each of the Father’s children have the same commission. It is been called the Great Commission.

Sand or rock

Sand or rock

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. – Matthew 7:24

Matthew 7:24-27

 24 Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.

 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.

 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is a skyscraper in Dubai, UAE. Begun on January 6, 2004, it was completed October 1, 2009. It is 2722 feet tall and has 163 floors.

Such a structure required a deep and solid foundation. The Burj Khalifa’s foundation is made up of 192 piles of steel and concrete that go nearly 17 stories into the ground.

To build up, you need to build down. It all begins with the suitable location. Who would build in a flood zone or a dried-up riverbed? The ultimate folly is giving no thought to the location or foundation.

To build strong, vibrant lives also requires a firm foundation. Sadly, most people never give the foundation any serious consideration. They just start building haphazardly, a little here and a little there. When the storms of life come, it can lead to disaster.

Wise choices begin by asking wise questions. Upon what are you building your life? Advice is plentiful. Bad, deficient advice is even more plentiful. Some will say to follow your passion. Others will say to seek wealth and material success, that will lead to a life of ease. Some people will counsel to pursue love, find the right person and settle down. But in the end, the advice given by fallen creatures in a fallen world, is lacking.

Seek the best advice available, choose your advisor well. The Father, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, have a solid track record for building successful lives that spans the millennia.

The Lord Jesus Christ shows the way. Listening to His teaching and acting upon it, provides the sure foundation for life.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Joyful obedience to Christ creates a firm foundation for living. Those who obey out of love for Jesus build a solid life for themselves of strength and endurance. Terrible storms may hit them, but they can never destroy them.” (Stanley).

Father, help me to hear, reflect upon. and obey the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

INSIGHT


The sermon on the Mount was given near the Sea of Galilee. The soil surrounding the Sea of Galilee consisted of alluvial sand. It was hard on the surface during the heat of summer. But during the winter, when rains came, the alluvial sand surface would become unstable. However, approximately 10 feet below the surface of the sand, there was bedrock. All a wise builder had to do was dig down to the bedrock and begin there.

“Houses built on bedrock would be able to withstand the floods. Excavations in the late 1970s in the region uncovered basalt stone bedrock that was apparently used for the foundation of a building in antiquity” (Wilkins).

Matthew 7:24-27

 24 Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.

Hearing and listening to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ are vital. But merely hearing and agreeing with Him is not sufficient. It is one thing to hear what He said and even approve of it, it is quite another to obey.  

Everyone that hears His words, either responds positively and does them or responds negatively and does not. There is no other choice. There is no middle ground.

We “do” His words by making them our guidebook, our manual for life, and building our lives upon them.

Before the modern age, before the invention of planet killing nuclear weapons, people’s greatest fears were natural disasters. The Ancient Middle East was subject to periodic famines and earthquakes. But the most common and regular natural catastrophes were floods.

In modern times, those living in low-lying coastal areas receive frequent flood warnings when high tide levels and severe weather create probable conditions for flooding.

The Lord Jesus Christ issued a flood warning in the sermon on the Mount. Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you know Him, or just His vocabulary? 

Depart from Me

Depart from Me

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. – James 2:19

Matthew 7:21-23

 21 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’

 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

In our socially connected world it can be easy to confuse knowing about people with actually knowing them. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and 24/7 streaming info and updates, and the like, we are inundated with information about people. We can mistake reading through someone’s Facebook profile, looking at their tweets, or commenting on a Facebook post as really knowing them. Knowing about someone is not the same as knowing someone personally.

Relationships with people are two-way streets. They are social interactions requiring give-and-take. You cannot build a relationship with someone who does not even know you exist.

Knowing about the Father, is not the same as knowing the Father.

We may think that being religious, attending religious services, performing good deeds, doing the right thing, or being part of a religious family, indicates that we have a relationship with the Father.

Many have grown complacent because they genuinely try to live good lives and have faith in God. Having faith in the existence of God is not enough. It is possible to learn songs of the faith and religious jargon, even memorize Bible verses and still miss the mark.

The apostle James to jar people out of their complacency and sense of security. He explained that there is a whole cadre of creatures that have great faith in God and the Scriptures. They are not agnostics or atheists. They believe in the Father’s existence and recognize the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. But they are demons.

James 2:19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

The demons have great intellectual faith. They could easily sign off on most Christian statements of faith. But they have no security and tremble in fear, because they never placed personal saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are servants of the dark side.

REFLECT & PRAY

The stakes are high. Do we truly know the Lord Jesus Christ or just know about Him? “The final test is not what we think of ourselves, or what others may think. The final test is: What will God say” (Wiersbe)?

Father, thank You, but You sent Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. Thank You that when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are truly Your children (Romans 8:16).

INSIGHT

We may go through our lives, informed by the truth of the Scriptures. We may know about the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Apparently, many throughout the centuries have attempted to faithfully serve, but a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ was totally lacking. Many impressive and wonderful things have been done in His name. Words and works to not make the cut.

Matthew 7:21-23

 21 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’

 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

The Lord Jesus Christ fervently cautions that we need to make sure that we actually know Him. It is not enough to know about Him or even serve Him. What really matters is this: does He know us?

A time of reckoning is coming. Pretense and religious facade will not deceive the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we prepare and make sure we are secure? If the Father knows us, what does that look like in our lives? Genuine faith and obedience to the Father’s will demonstrates that He knows us.

John 6:28-29 

 28 “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

Where do we begin? We acknowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from the consequences of our sin. We put personal faith in Him and accept Him as our Savior and Lord.

Humility – not what you expect

Humility – not what you expect

Now Moses was very humble – humbler than any other person on earth. – Numbers 12:3

Matthew 11:28-30 

 28 Then Jesus said, come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. In

As far as we know, the well-known agnostic, Thomas Huxley, never put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father did touch his heart. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Thomas Huxley was staying at a country home. Sunday came around, and most of the guests prepared to go to church. Huxley did not desire to go.

But he approached a man known to have a simple and radiant Christian faith and said to him, “Suppose you don’t go to church today. Suppose you stay at home and you tell me quite simply what your Christian faith means to you and why you are a Christian.” “But,” said the man, “you could demolish my arguments in an instant. I’m not clever enough to argue with you.” Huxley said gently, “I don’t want to argue with you; I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you.” So the man did.

When he had finished, there were tears in Huxley’s eyes. “I would give my right hand,” he said, “if only I could believe that.” Huxley had seen attractive, radiant spiritual vitality in the words and the life of a humble, Spirit-filled believer (Hughes).

Our lives are sometimes the only letter from the Father someone will ever read (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

Numbers 12:3 Now Moses was very humble – humbler than any other person on earth.

Why is Moses described as being very humble? Moses was one-of-a-kind. In the history of the human race, only Moses had a face-to-face relationship with the Father.

Exodus 33:11 The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.

Moses was selected to hear and receive the Law of God, which became the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. The method of communication was extraordinary.

Numbers 12:8 I speak to him mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles!

What does this mean that the Father spoke with Moses ‘mouth-to-mouth?’ The Father communicated with Moses in a very unique way. It was through one-on-one personal conversations. No dreams or visions are involved. We might say today, that they hung out together and just talked.

In the entire history of mankind, only Moses had a face-to-face relationship with the Father. Only Moses had the privilege of ongoing mouth-to-mouth, direct conversations with the living God. In turn, Moses was used by the Father in ways that were almost beyond our comprehension. His accomplishments are among the most impressive in all of the Scriptures.

Yet with all the privileges that Moses had, he never flaunted them. He never pulled rank and used the power of his unique position to get his own way. His humility matched his privileges and authority in. Moses was humbler than any other person on earth.

He was falsely accused of making himself judge and prince over the people so that he could lord it over them (Numbers 16:13, Acts 7:35). But that was simply Fake News.

Moses did not answer his accusers. Rather, Moses left his defense and vindication in the hands of the Father God. Father spoke and then took action on his behalf.

Numbers 12:8 So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?”

REFLECT & PRAY 

Where does vibrant, spiritual excellence originate? It begins with the foundation of humility and gratefulness.  

Father, help me to have an accurate assessment of my strengths and my weaknesses. All that I am and all that I have are from You.

INSIGHT

What is true humility? What does humility look like in action?

Humility was not considered a virtue by the ancient Greeks. It was considered a weakness. Worse, it was often considered evidence of pitiful servitude. The Lord Jesus Christ upended this understanding. When He self-identified as being humble, humility became more than dignified, it became honorable. What was formerly considered a fault, was now a strength.

Humility focuses on attitude rather than appearance. Humility is having an accurate and honest self-assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses. It is not about low self-regard, but rather accurate self-regard. Humility is without pride and arrogance. It is also devoid of self-abasement.

Nathanael exemplifies true humility. In his first encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, he is given a tremendous compliment. His humility is demonstrated in his reaction.

John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael responds, “How do you know me?” Nathanael’s identity and self-worth were established. He had accurately assessed himself. His strengths and weaknesses were well known to him. He does not fain false humility as many would, saying something like, “Ah shucks”, or “gosh”, or “you don’t mean it.” Nathanael’s response is humility in action.

John 1:45-48

 45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.

 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

The Greek word translated deceit is doloswhich literally means fishbait. It takes on the sense of deceit, treachery, duplicity, fraud, or cunning, the use of surreptitious and underhanded methods.

Nathanael was somewhat flabbergasted that Jesus, a total stranger to him, knew him so well. But his personal conversation with the Lord Jesus Christ, took it to a whole new level. For Nathanael, the question was, who was this Jesus of Nazareth?

Was He the promised Messiah as Philip suggested?

Nathanael soon found out, and proclaimed, “You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”

Outrage fatigue

Outrage fatigue

Lawlessness will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:12

John 14:1, 27

 1 Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

 27 I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 

We live in “The Age of Outrage.” Many thinking, caring people being confronted by national and global events have reached the point of exhaustion, hopelessness, cynicism, and apathy. This is been labeled Outrage Fatigue. They are simply exhausted by being upset. It is almost impossible to find the energy to take it anymore, not to mention deal with it effectively.

It is though our outrage button has been pushed so many times that it is broken. Our mental and emotional energy has been exhausted. Just when you think it cannot get worse, it does. What was once unthinkable, has become the new normal.

Sadly, what we see in our world today is nothing new. Good and caring people have been tormented by mankind’s wickedness and decadence for millennia.

2 Peter 2:7-9

 7 But God also rescued Lot because he was a righteous man who was distressed of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him.

 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.

 9 So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father is greater than all things on earth and in heaven. He is greater than the angry and wicked people of the earth. Nothing is His equal.

Father without question I have struggled with outrage fatigue. You saw these things coming and have provided what is needed for each of Your children to rise above, whatever brings us down.

INSIGHT

There are some folks in the world that have the “happy” gene. Apparently, their DNA has an abundance of “cheer up” written in their genetic code. They bring sunshine with them wherever they go.

The Father God is like that. With the singular exception of the day that the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son died, the Father never has a down day. He never suffers a setback, disappointment, or disillusionment. He is never taken by surprise.

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Even the best of us have physical and emotional limitations. Inevitably, human strength gives out. The Father’s capacity and strength has no such limitations. The Father is greater than our circumstances. He promises to share His strength with us when we are discouraged and need it the most.

Isaiah 40:28-31 

 28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.

 31 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

As we grow to spiritual maturity, an amazing transformation occurs within us. We develop the skill of trusting Him and depending upon Him. His unlimited strength flows into us. We are able to rise above, whatever brings us down.

The events and circumstances that provoke our outrage were known and expected before the foundation of the world. Current events were once prophecies. In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3).

2 Timothy 3:1-5

 1 You should know this, in the last days there will be very difficult times.

 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.

 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

Be circumspect. Select your battles wisely. Find your strength in His strength.

Paltry mediocrity

Paltry mediocrity

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for the light makes everything visible. – Ephesians 5:13-14

John 3:19-21

 19 God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Albert Einstein found great affinity with Mozart. Einstein was able to discover and extract secrets from the intelligently designed and created universe. Einstein enhanced the discipline of modern physics by quantum leaps.

Einstein sensed that Mozart had discovered and extracted his music in a very similar fashion. “Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe” (Einstein). Einstein suggested that, whereas Beethoven “created” his music, Mozart’s music “seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master” (Einstein).

The ethereal beauty yet sublime simplicity of Mozart’s music is depicted in the 1984 film, Amadeus. In the film, Antonio Salieri is Mozart’s antagonist. Salieri was a man of modest musical talent. But he had the ability to recognize the magnificent, unmatched talent of Mozart. Salieri adored Mozart’s music, but hated Mozart himself, due to seething resentment and envy.

Salieri glances at some of Mozart’s complete handwritten, original compositions. He recognizes the sublime genius and beauty of the music. The autographs were written at one sitting without edits or errors. Salieri exclaims, “music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.”

Under the guise of faux friendship, Salieri “assists” Mozart in writing the composer’s final work, the Requiem Mass in D minor. Salieri desperately desires to be the equal of Mozart in the composition of music, but recognizes he could never be. He acknowledges his own mediocrity. Salieri, dubs himself, “the patron saint of mediocrity.”

The Lord Jesus Christ identifies mediocrity as a form of evil. He is not referring to all mediocrity but rather He had something very particular in mind. It is not about lacking skill or capability. Every person has a continuum of skill sets. Some of their skills are excellent, others not so much. The mediocrity which the Lord Jesus Christ calls evil, is that type of mediocrity or inadequacy of which people are well aware, but pretend that it does not exist.

Rather than working to overcome their weaknesses and improve their skills, they hide their inadequacy and incompetence and put up a false face. The hallmark of this type of mediocrity is resentment. That is, the resentment of the capability, skill, and talent of others that produces success and achievement. In the presence of greatness, the mediocre shake inwardly, fearful that they might be exposed.

So it was with the religious leaders at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:19-20

 19 God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

REFLECT & PRAY 

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius” (Arthur Conan Doyle).

Father, the idea of living in paltry mediocrity should be appalling to the children of the King. Convict our hearts regarding this form of evil.

INSIGHT 

Two different Greek words are translated evil in John 3:19-20. In John 3:19, the Greek term translated evil is poneros. The semantic domain of Poneros covers a broad spectrum of evil. It has the connotation of being wicked, malicious, bad, morally wrong, morally corrupt, vicious, degenerate, or harmful. The English word pornography is derived from this term.

In John 3:20, the Greek term translated evil is phaulos. Phaulos does not connote something which is overtly evil or wicked. But rather consists of something far more subtle yet insidious: paltry mediocrity. The English word paltry is derived from Phaulos. It can be translated mediocre, insignificant, meager, worthless, good–for–nothing, depraved, or base. That which is mediocre is relatively inferior in quality, ordinary, substandard, or lacks in importance or worth.

The religious leaders avoided the light because they did not want their mediocrity or inferiority to be revealed. They refused to consider, or even recognize their own inadequacies. Perhaps they had become numb or blind to them. The Lord Jesus Christ called them blind guides. They were blindly leading the people astray.

Light exposes the thoughts and deeds of darkness. One tiny candlelight illumines the darkest darkness. The world hated the Lord Jesus Christ because He accused it of doing evil (John 7:7).

People living in darkness, learn to love the darkness. That is all they know. When the true light of the world comes, they reject it. They avoid the piercing light of exposure and humiliation at all costs.

The Greek word translated exposed is elegcho. It means to scrutinize or examine carefully, bring to light, set forth, to bring someone to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, or convince.

What differentiates children of the King from those who are not? “The difference between the believer and the unbeliever does not lie in the guilt or innocence of either, it lies in the different attitudes they take toward the ‘light.’ The unbeliever shrinks from the light because it exposes his sin; the believer willingly comes to the light so that his real motives may be revealed” (Tenney, EBC).

When the light is turned on in a dark room where cockroaches are present, the roaches scurry into darkness to hide from and avoid the light. The life, words, and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ exposed the evil and mediocrity of people. Their darkened souls were now unmasked. They were threatened. It is very difficult to admit their limitations. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge and accept that others might outshine them.

The fallen world is a very dark place. Darkness is a spiritual reality, a kingdom under the domination of the enemy of our souls. Mediocrity and degenerate wickedness are the two driving forces of darkness.

“The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same” (Billy Graham).

Penultimate – next to last

Penultimate – next to last

“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

Mark 10:37-45

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking!”

 40 “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

People everywhere have a strong desire to get ahead. They are driven by the need for respect, recognition, approval, acceptance, and esteem. It is often a matter of self-worth and identity.

It is almost as though there is some type of invisible caste or ranking system. This unseen pecking order enhances or distorts our personal sense of identity, worth, and well-being. Some individuals bubble up to the top, while others remain mired at the bottom.

Recognition and social status or the lack thereof gives birth to comparison, jealousy, strife, and intense competition. For some, a battle rages for a sense of importance and prominence. Others seek dominance and autocratic control.

The apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ were not immune. In fact, their internecine intrigues are publicly exposed in the Gospels.

Mark 10:37, 41

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

The request of James and John for special treatment, and places of honor, was bold and audacious. The Lord Jesus Christ corrected them with gentleness and kindness . The other disciples were furious. Why? Were they concerned about the feelings of the Lord Jesus Christ? This request came on the heels of a prediction by the Lord Jesus Christ regarding His approaching suffering and death. I think not.

Like most people, they were only concerned about their own feelings and well-being. They were probably all thinking exactly the same thing as James and John. But James and John asked first, beating them to the punch. The other apostles were jealous. They also wanted positions of prominence for themselves.

Were the apostles callously insensitive? I think not, they were clueless. They had totally failed to recognize the 500 lb. gorilla in the room. While they were getting ready to take their places in the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was getting ready for a funeral.

REFLECT & PRAY

Jesus did not abolish ambition or desire for greatness, He repurposed it. “For the ambition to rule, he substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us, he substituted the ambition to do things for others.” (Barclay).

Father encourage me to be a servant and quiet my self-assertive spirit.  

INSIGHT

The Lord Jesus Christ offered an entirely different philosophy of leadership: servant leadership. The whole idea was innovative, radical, if not revolutionary. He proposed a whole new arrangement, an inverted hierarchy. The road to honor and recognition, goes through an offbeat, out-of-the-way, often overlooked sidetrack, service. “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

The Lord Jesus Christ took the lead. He told them how things should be. But He didn’t just talk about it, He lived it. He modeled the behavior He wanted them to follow.

Mark 10:42-45

 42 So Jesus called them together and said, you know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

If you truly want to be great in the Father’s kingdom, you have to become a servant. Success is found in deliberately choosing to serve others, before we serve ourselves.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here is an unpretentious proposal. Be a penult. Instead of seeking to be last, settle for being in almost last. Penult is the nominal form of the adjective penultimate. Penultimate means “next to last” The word penultimate comes from the Latin word paenultima from paenealmost and ultima last.

In my fallen condition, I have learned not to take my strengths nor my weaknesses too seriously. It is pretty clear I will never be a perfect servant. It is also fairly certain I will never be dead last, either. So I will seek to be a penult.

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