OK Boomer

OK Boomer

Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:32

1 Timothy 5:1-2

 1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.

 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

Thousands of videotape recordings were made of TV commercials from the 70s and 80s. Actress Dena Dietrich made many memorable 30-second ads (1971–79) for Chiffon Margarine. Playing the role of ‘Mother Nature’ dressed in a white gown and adorned with a crown of daisies. The ads show ‘Mother Nature’ sampling what she believes is butter, coming straight from nature. She comments on how wonderful it is. An unseen narrator (Mason Adams) informs her, “That’s Chiffon Margarine, not butter.”

Perplexed, she replies, “it would be impossible for it to be margarine because it tastes too much like real butter.” The narrator responds, “the margarine is indeed so close to real butter that it could fool even ‘Mother Nature.’”

Dietrich angrily responds, “It’s not nice to fool ‘Mother Nature!’” She commands nature to act out and bad things happen.

Disrespect for authority can have major negative consequences.

The New York Times has written that, ‘‘OK Boomer’ marks the end of friendly generational relations. Their assessment is about 2800 years too late. But we’ll get to that later

“OK Boomer” is more than a flippant retort. It has become the unofficial rallying cry of resentment of Generation Z against Boomers. The Gen Z folks see a society in crisis that they are not responsible for and are fighting back. They fear seemingly irreversible global catastrophe that looms on the horizon. Somebody is to blame! It’s the Boomers!

The Generation Z folks are “woke.” The Boomers and others with a similar mindset, are “un-woke.”

A fast rundown on the generations since world war II: Generation Z late 1990s – 2010s, Millennials 1980 – late 1990s, Generation X 1965-1979, and Boomer 1946 – 1965.

But disrespect for earlier generations is nothing new. It is almost a time-honored practice going back thousands of years. As a matter of fact, Boomers felt the same way about those that preceded them. They rebelled against their parents. And what exactly had their parents done? Their parents survived the depression and won World War II. Had the greatest generation lost the war, we might all be speaking German or Japanese.

But also Boomers rebelled against the “Establishment” and the “Military Industrial Complex.” They gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement and helped end the Vietnam War.

Existential fear for the survival of planet Earth is nothing new. Boomers lived in fear of nuclear destruction and the end of the world. They built in-home bomb shelters and had frequent public-school bomb drills.

But not all of the Boomers’ “achievements” were considered stellar at the time. They issued in rock ‘n’ roll, disco music, Woodstock, flower children, hippies, the drug culture, and many now almost forgotten singing groups like the Beatles and the Doors.

Young people often see things with a keener eye. There’s lots of unfinished business that cannot be papered over or ignored. But utter disrespect and disdain for elders brings matters to a whole new level.

REFLECT & PRAY

Respect shows esteem, deference, or appreciation for others to whom it is due. Respect is freely granted by the Father’s children. It does not have to be earned.

Father thank You that You have provided guidelines regarding respect for those who have preceded us. Encourage us to follow the Scriptures and not the culture.

INSIGHT

The Scriptures set a standard for the Father’s children to honor and respect their elders. But as I mentioned earlier, disrespect for authority can have disastrous consequences.

It’s about 850 BC. Elijah the prophet had an encounter of the third kind. He had been miraculously taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha his protégé, had taken his place as one of the Father’s prophets. He was now prophet in charge .

Elisha was on his way to Bethel. Apparently, there was a group of young ruffians out looking for trouble. Perhaps much like a modern street gang. They were probably armed with knives and swords. Perhaps for fun it was their practice to pick on people, possibly mug them or worse.

Regrettably for them, on this day, they singled out the wrong man. Thinking of course there was not much he could do about it; they began to sneeringly mock him. They made fun of his baldness.

2 Kings 2:23-24

 23 Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of youths from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!”

 24 Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. 

To modern ears, the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. Mocking elders is never a good idea. But mocking elders that are the Father’s servants and have the power to bless and curse is a far worse idea. Disrespecting the Father’s prophets, shows disrespect for the Father Himself.

The gang had crossed a line. They had dissed the wrong guy. Elisha pronounced a curse upon them in the name of the Lord. Two bears appeared and 42 of them were mauled, but not killed. Their scars would be a constant reminder of their insolence and contempt for the living God and His servant.

It is doubtful, Elisha was taunted or ridiculed again.

2 Chronicles 36:16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the LORD’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.

They were very dry

They were very dry

He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and they were very dry. – Ezekiel 37:2

Romans 4:17-21

 17 Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”

 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb.

 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

The Battle of Gettysburg, was fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863. It was the bloodiest engagement of the American Civil War. There was tremendous loss of life. There was a total of 165,620 soldiers involved in the conflict: Union – 93,921, Confederate – 71,699. The total estimated casualties were 51,112: Union – 23,049, 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded; Confederate – 28,063, 3,903 killed, 18,735 wounded.

After the fighting ended, a gruesome account of the carnage left behind on the Gettysburg battlefield was written on July 4, 1863. Burial parties were sent out to bury the fallen soldiers, Union and Confederate alike wherever they had fallen. The bodies were everywhere. Some 7058 soldiers were left on the field. It was gruesome work, and the stench of decay filled the air. As horrific as this was, the American soldiers who died at Gettysburg, fared far better than the dead soldiers of the army of Israel in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:11).

Ezekiel 37:1-2

 1 The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones.

 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and they were very dry.

The vision of the valley of the dry bones is the scene of the aftermath of a horrific and ghastly battle. Why were the bones strewn about in the valley and very dry? There were no burials! All that was left were the skeletons of the dead. The corpses had long ago decomposed.

But there’s more. Matthew Henry wrote his commentary over 300 years ago between 1687-1712 AD. He realized that the dry bones represented the hopeless condition of the Jewish people. “The Jews in Babylon were like those dead and dry bones, unlikely ever to come together, to be so much as a skeleton, less likely to be formed into a body, and least of all to be a living body” (Matthew Henry).

But Ezekiel’s story does not end with dismal death, destruction, and disarticulation. What seems utterly hopeless becomes a promise of ultimate restoration.

REFLECT & PRAY

Why do we find ourselves in hopeless situations, far outside of our comfort zone? The Father employs many strategies to develop His children. Overcoming impossible situations is but one of them. The improbable, if not impossible, circumstances of life develop great faith. Great faith prepares His children to fulfill the Father’s dreams and plans for their lives.

Father thank You that You bring hope and encouragement where there is despair and hopelessness. Father thank You that You create life where there is death.

INSIGHT

Consider this hypothetical situation. Suppose the Father whisked you away in a vision and took you to a graveyard. All you saw were gravestones, properly tended graves, a few trees here and there, and flowers left in memory of loved ones. The Father asks you, what do you think? Can these people come back to life again?

If I would’ve been there, I would’ve been tempted to be somewhat disrespectful and ask, “are you kidding me?”

That’s pretty much what happened. The Spirit of the Lord asks Ezekiel an astonishing, seemingly absurd question.

Ezekiel 37:3 “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

Ezekiel the prophet was wise and strong in faith. He deftly and deferentially put the ball back in the Father’s court. He recognized that the Father alone knew the correct answer and what the ultimate outcome would be.

Yet, Ezekiel also knew in his heart, that if it could be done, only the Father could do it. For the Lord God Almighty, all things are possible. It is the Father, “who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing” (Romans 4:17).

Ezekiel 37:3 “O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Indeed, the Sovereign LORD most certainly knows. But remarkably, He wanted to involve Ezekiel in the process of restoring life.

Ezekiel 37:4-10

 4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD!

 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!

 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

 7 So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons.

 8 Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

 9 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

 10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet – a great army.

Did the Father need Ezekiel’s help? Of course not. But this was an opportunity for Ezekiel to grow mighty in spirit.

Lots of times when remarkable things happen, good or bad, we ask why? Often, we don’t get an answer. But the Father graciously explained to Ezekiel what the vision was all about.

The dead, disarticulated, dry bones represent the Jewish nation. Israel and Judah were divided for some 300 years. Untold numbers of them had died. Those who remain alive, are in exile, far from home. For all practical appearances, they are a doomed, dispersed, dead nation without hope. They are like bleached bones on a battlefield. They said to themselves, “our nation is finished.”

But they are not finished! They will live again and return home to their own land. First will come physical restoration. But of much greater importance, they will be spiritually regenerated. The Father will live within their hearts.

Ezekiel 37:13 O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. They will once again realize and believe that their God, is God.

When difficult or even impossible things occur, how do you look at them? Do you see with the eyes of faith or the eyes of disbelief and cynicism? Do you see disarticulated hopeless skeletons? Or do you see a vibrant, powerful, living army whose commander-in-chief is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

Psalms 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

Genesis 18:14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord?

Him Romans 4:21 God is able to do whatever he promises.

So let it be written . . .

So let it be written . . .

Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may obey them. – Deuteronomy 4:5

Nehemiah 8:6,8

 6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

In 1956, Cecil B. DeMille directed his magnificent, sublime, epic film – The Ten Commandments. It had many prominent stars in leading roles: Charlton Heston – Moses, Yul Brynner – Rameses II, Anne Baxter – Nefertiti, and John Derek – Joshua.

The movie has many memorable phrases. Here are but a few.

“It would take more than a man to lead the slaves from bondage. It would take a god. And I am no god, I am but a man” (Moses).

“His god…is God!” (Rameses II).

“He has forgotten both of us. You lost him when he went to seek his God. I lost him when he found his God” (Sephora, speaking to Nefertiti regarding Moses).

“So let it be written; so let it be done” (Rameses II). What does this mean? The Egyptians were meticulous record keepers. When important decisions were made or actions performed, they were written down by a court scribe.

The Father has provided people with an accurate, written record regarding Himself, biblical history, His will, His standards and His plans for the future. To paraphrase Ramses II, “What has been written, is what is to be done.”

The Father has revealed what He wants His children to know and believe and how He wants His children to act. But sadly, people have poor memories. Do His children know what the Father asks of them or what He desires for them? Do they know where to begin to fulfill His dreams for them?

The remarkable story and the events portrayed in Cecil B. DeMille’s movie, The Ten Commandments, are often considered nothing but myth today. How can this possibly have happened? The Scriptures have been handed down through the centuries. The children of Israel were firmly warned about forgetting their history 3500 years ago.

Deuteronomy 4:9-13

 9 “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

 10 Never forget the day when you stood before the LORD your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, ‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’

 12 And the LORD spoke to you from the heart of the fire. You heard the sound of his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice.

 13 He proclaimed his covenant – the Ten Commandments – which he commanded you to keep, and which he wrote on two stone tablets.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father does not have grandchildren. He only has children. Each of us must individually make a decision to believe. It is incumbent upon us to eagerly desire to learn and follow what He has provided.

Father may I eagerly seek You. May I be attentive, hear, listen, and receive Your voice. May I respond accordingly.

INSIGHT

The story is told of two grad students having a conversation about the miraculous opening of the Red Sea recorded by Moses in the book of Exodus. The first student simply says, “I am dumbfounded, I just don’t get it! How could this possibly have happened?” The second student remarked, “It’s simple! The story of the Red Sea is the story of a miracle. When you believe in God, you believe in miracles.” The first grad student says, “Now I understand. I don’t believe in miracles because I don’t believe in God.”

Our culture has shifted away from theism, the belief in a prayer hearing God Who is there, and Who acts in the space-time continuum. The collateral damage has been considerable. Belief in the Father God revealed in the Scriptures has become almost absent. Reverence and worship have almost become outmoded concepts. The Father and His word have regrettably become irrelevant to many.

This is nothing new. It has happened many times in history. Before we criticize others, perhaps we should examine ourselves. Do we read the Scriptures with eagerness and understanding? Do we make life decisions based upon what we read? Or do we simply take the Father for granted?

Around 600 BC, the children of Israel had become complacent. And they were simply going through the motions of their faith. They had head knowledge, but the Father was far from their hearts. They defied the proclamations of His prophets. They ignored the warnings of coming judgment. Ezekiel and Jeremiah were poorly received and horribly treated.

There was no change of heart nor repentance, judgment fell. Jerusalem was conquered, the temple was destroyed, and the people were taken to Babylon.

Captive in Babylon, the children of Israel were demoralized, saddened, and afraid. So much had been lost. They lamented and longed for “the good old days.”

But in fact, “the good old days,” is what brought them into their present circumstances.

Eventually, Babylon fell to the Persians, and the people of Israel were allowed to return home. The Father raised up Nehemiah and Ezra. The word of God was once again available to be heard, understood, believed, and followed.

It was read aloud to the people and translated as needed, and explained. Truth and sound teaching were again within reach. The people were eager and attentive. Hard times have a way of turning things around even for the hardest of hearts.

Nehemiah 8:2-11

 2 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand.

 3 He read it from early morning until noon to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

 6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

 10 This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!

 11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.”

The time for mourning and weeping was over. A new day had begun. They had rediscovered and embraced the Father God and His word and soon discovered that indeed, “the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10))


Israel’s “good old days” were not much different than our own. In our fast-paced, streaming culture, it is easy to take for granted what is commonly available. As children of the King, our most valuable possession is the Father’s precious gift, His word.


Today can be a new day for each of us. The Father is made His word accessible and continues to speak, are we listening?Oh, that today you would listen as He speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (Hebrews 3:7-8).

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. . . – Hebrews 3:7-8

Hebrews 1:1-3

 1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.

 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Paul Marcarelli is best known for being the ubiquitous “Test Man” character in Verizon Wireless commercials from 2002 to 2011. He was repeatedly checking to make sure that the Verizon signal was reaching the desired area. He appeared in all of his Verizon commercials wearing a gray Verizon jacket and his own horn-rimmed glasses.

The spokesman in the background asks, “How do you build America’s largest wireless network, by never being satisfied. So no matter where you go, your call always goes through. Verizon wireless, we never stop working for you!”

Paul switched to Sprint in 2016 and is currently their spokesperson. He often refers to his switch from Verizon to Sprint in the commercials. In the Sprint ads, Marcarelli calls attention to the fact that Sprint’s network is vastly improved.

“Hey, I’m Paul, and I used to ask `If you could hear me now with Verizon?’ Not anymore.”

After mentioning that he’s moved to Sprint, Marcarelli goes on to say that, “guess what, it’s 2016, and every network is great. In fact, Sprint’s reliability is now within 1% of Verizon.”

Sprint’s pitch to consumers is that you can get a network with reliability that is nearly the same as Verizon’s but at rates Sprint claims are half what you’ll pay Verizon.

The Father has spoken and continues to speak, are we listening? Can we hear Him now?

The Father has not spoken exhaustively but always truthfully. Being their Creator, He knows exactly what people need to know. The Father has disclosed truth regarding Himself and His ways to us in the Scriptures. We get some inkling of this in the Gospel of John.

John 21:25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

John 20:30-31

 30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book.

 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father asks, and rightfully so, “can you hear Me now?”

Father thank You that You have revealed true truth! Thank you that you have provided enough information in order that anyone can believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life in His name.

INSIGHT

Hebrews 1:1-2

 1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son

The Father spoke in many ways, over many centuries, through many people, and culminating in the revelation of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible was written over two millennia. Yet there is unity and continuity to the message. The theme of the Scriptures can be summed up in one word: Redemption. The main characters are the Father and the Son.

The Scriptures answer many of the primary philosophical and theological questions echoed down through the centuries by diverse cultures and faiths. Is there a God? What is He like? Where did the universe, the world, the animals, and mankind come from? How did it all begin? And when?

The Bible doesn’t pretend to answer these questions. It doesn’t postulate fluctuating scientific theories of the day or use guesswork. It categorically answers them. Only the Father has firsthand knowledge of these things. In modern times, the Scriptures are simply ignored or worse, rejected as a source for knowledge of such things.

Obviously, people have shortcomings and limitations. Knowing that, how can we come into a relationship with the living God?

A large number of people pretend to search for truth. Often, “truth for now” is found. But it doesn’t last long, and it is replaced by a new “truth for now.” Only a minority of people sincerely search for the Truth. And for those that do, the Father provides it.

If you were working in a bank and at the end of the day the cash on hand was only half of what was expected, what would people think? Well most of us don’t work in a bank. But something analogous to that has happened our understanding of the universe in our lifetime.

Before the Hubble telescope, the universe was estimated to be approximately 25 billion years old. That was the best guest of many of the greatest scientists of the day. But after Hubble, something remarkable happened. The estimated age of the universe was cut in half. About 12 billion years were simply gone, missing.

Oddly, this didn’t seem to really trouble anybody. No charges were brought, and no one was arrested. There wasn’t even an investigation. Perhaps some speculated that it might have been an inside job. Instead new theories were offered to explain why the new estimate was correct.

The current measurement of the age of the universe is around 13.8 billion years (as of 2015) – 13.799±0.021 billion (109) years within the Lambda-CDM concordance model. Apparently, according to current theory, the expansion rate of the universe can be used to calculate the universe’s approximate age by extrapolating backwards in time. The assumptions involved in this new theory are almost incredulous, but rarely considered. Is it remotely possible that the expansion rate did not remain constant for 15 to 25 billion years?

If I were president of the Bank of the Cosmos, I would be very suspicious. I would want to know what happened to the missing 12 billion years.

It’s easy to take for granted what is commonly available, but we should never lose sight of the most valuable possession God has given us – His inspired, inerrant Word (Stanley).

Hebrews 3:15 “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

Self-sacrifice

Self-sacrifice

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

Romans 5:6-10

 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

“Praying Hands” is the famous ink and pencil sketch drawing made in 1508 by Albrecht Durer. The sketch is simple yet precise. It shows only the hands of a man praying. His body is out of sight.

But the back story is special, heartwarming, stirring. It speaks of familial love, sacrifice, deference, and loyalty. The most well-known account that is come down to us by J. Greenwald, and goes as follows.  

Albrecht Durer was the father of the family of 18 children. He was a goldsmith and reportedly worked almost 18 hours a day at the keep food on the table. Two of Durer’s sons, Albrecht, his namesake, and Albert and dreamt of becoming artists. But the cost of a formal education for both of them was way beyond the family’s means.

The two brothers worked out a plan. One would work at the nearby mines and use earnings to support his brother while he attended art school at Nuremberg. After 4 years, they would switch places, and the one brother would pay for the education of the other by either working in the mines himself or selling his artwork. This was all decided by the toss of a coin. Albrecht junior won the toss and went off to art school. Albert went to work in the mines. Albrecht’s etchings, woodcuts and oils were superb. He was soon earning large commissions.

Albrecht returned to his village, and the Durer family held a festive dinner on his behalf. After the meal, Albrecht stood up to drink a toast to his beloved brother. He ended by saying, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No, no, no.” “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands!”

The bones in every finger have been broken or crushed at least once. Arthritis had set in and he could no longer make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush.

Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of superb portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in many of the great museums in the world. But Albrecht Durer’s most famous work is, “Praying Hands.”

As the story goes, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s bused and broken hands stretched skyward in prayer. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands.” But the world soon embraced his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love, “Praying Hands.”

Praying Hands

Albrecht Durer’s masterpiece, “Praying Hands,” illustrates for all time the essence of self-sacrificial love. How does the dictionary define self-sacrificial love? It is the sacrifice of one’s personal self-interest or well-being for the sake of another. Self-sacrificial love is the willingness to make compromises and to give up things you value for the well-being and success of another.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self” (St. Francis of Assisi).

Oh Father, if only I had a smidgen of the immense self-sacrificial love that You and Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ possess.

INSIGHT

 John 15:12-13

 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

On rare occasions, we are willing to die for family members, friends, or even strangers who are good or upright. But who would be willing to die for evil people, enemies, or their personal tormentors?

But that is precisely what the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ did. We were vile sinners, willfully disobedient, and defiant enemies. Many of us who are now the Father’s children denied His existence, mocked Him, and even hated Him!

Romans 5:6, 8

 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

In our wildest imagination, we can’t envision this ever happening. But it did! The Lord Jesus Christ died for each of us individually when we were vile, disobedient, rebellious, defiant, godless sinners.

How can we be sure that the Father God really, truly loves us? It is summed up in one simple sentence regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, “He died on a piece of wood, yet He made the hill upon which it stood!” (Hal Lindsey)

Most of us comprehend and admire “big,” one-time sacrifices. But what about the little, day-to-day ones involving interpersonal relationships. This is where the rubber hits the road for each of us. Choosing to serve, yield, and compromise are among the difficult life-lessons that the Father’s children are intended to learn.

Are you willing to apologize when you’re wrong? Are you willing to forgive others when they are wrong? People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire (Job 5:7).

Interpersonal relationships can be messy. Difficulties, disagreements, offenses, sickness and health are part of the package. This is where personal integrity and strength of character are forged. Love and commitment enable us to face together life’s struggles. Self-sacrificial love does not take into account a wrong suffered or keep score.

It is though each of us maintains an internal scale of balances. The wrongs of others get piled on one side. The good deeds go on the other side. It is necessary to develop strategies to permanently remove the accumulated stacks of wrongs for our own emotional well-being. Without this, the scales will never be balanced. Have you learned to unload the wrongs from your scale of balances?

As we grow in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, self-sacrificial love becomes the norm. What we once considered sacrifices, no longer are. They are the language of the Father’s love that we have finally learned to speak.

Sadly, for most of us, it is the most difficult language to learn and become fluent in.

As the Father’s children, we have the perfect example in the Lord Jesus Christ of self-sacrificial love.

Analysis paralysis

Analysis paralysis

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. – Psalms 1:1

Hebrews 11:24-27

 24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.

 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

Analysis paralysis occurs when an individual or group over analyze or over think a decision or situation that causes the decision-making process to become “paralyzed.” As a result, no solution or course of action is decided upon.

The Cat and the Fox (Aesop’s fables)

A cat and a fox were walking and talking with each other. The Fox boasted he had lots of ways of escaping a pack of dogs. The cat on the other side so good for you. But I only know one way to escape dogs, climb a tree.

One day they were both attacked by a pack of dogs thoughts ran here and there but eventually was caught and killed. The cat on the other hand climbed a tree and was perfectly safe. The moral of the story is it is better to have one good plan that works than a bunch which are works in progress and fail.

How do the Father’s children make wise decisions and avoid analysis paralysis? Wouldn’t be nice if it was always the simple?

Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.

The Father always has a plan. As His children, we seek to pray His plan into existence. It begins with knowledge of the word of God, trust, prayer, and a desire to see His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Joshua 1:8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Psalms 1:1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

Sometimes the Father’s instructions don’t make a lot of human sense. But in fact, He already knows what’s going to happen before it does, and He calls us to participate in His plan. He wants us to pray and seek that the Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Joshua 6:2 I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.

The Father knew the end from the beginning. He provided Joshua with explicit instructions. But on the surface, they seemed nonsensical. The fighting men and priests of Israel were to walk around the city of Jericho for six days in a row carrying the Ark of the covenant. On the seventh day, they were to walk around the city seven times and then shout. That was the plan! Really?

The Lord promised that on the seventh day, at the sound of the trumpet the walls would collapse. And so, they did (Joshua 6).

Think about Moses and the children of Israel at the Red Sea. They were trapped and doomed to certain death (Exodus 14). But the Father mmiraculously opened the sea and they escaped alive, while their enemies drowned. Consider the destruction of the Assyrian army. A total of 185,000 soldiers, and surrounded Jerusalem and were about to attack. Miraculously they were all slain in the night (Isaiah 37).

The formula seems quite simple: depend upon the Father, seek His help, then a miracle occurs. Our daily and lifelong guidance may not require miracles of this magnitude. But depending upon the Father and seeking His help are mandatory.

REFLECT & PRAY

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil (Proverbs 3:7). Seek trusted, wise counsel from godly children of the King. It is far better than trusting your own.

Father thank You that You are trustworthy and desire me to depend upon You for making decisions, big and small. Encourage me to pray Your will into existence on earth as it is in heaven. Help me not to be overwhelmed or discouraged by the difficult, or even seemingly impossible situations in which I find myself.

INSIGHT

Being fallen people in a fallen world, we will probably never make perfect decisions. But we need to seek to make the very best decisions that we can.

Critically consider and evaluate the comments of President Theodore Roosevelt, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Of course, the best thing to do is the right thing. But what about Roosevelt’s second-best choice or what he considered the worse? I don’t think this is very good advice.

We can glean some wisdom from principles that fallen people in our fallen world have laid out. It is up to us to take what is useful and applicable and discard the rest

Where to begin? Define long-term goals for yourself, along with a few short-term goals. How do you see your life in the years to come? Do you seek to develop an ever-closer relationship with the Father? Do you aspire to become strong in your spirit?

How will the decision you make now impact those goals? Will the outcome of your decision be a step towards or away from your objective? Every choice has its pros and cons. Short-term decisions should move you towards your ultimate objectives. Our lifelong journey moves forward one step at a time. Plan on taking iterative steps, not quantum leaps.

There are a few more questions to consider that may prove to be helpful. How important is this decision? Will this impact me a year from now? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Set aside sufficient time to ponder and to liberate. Be sure to seek the Father’s face. Decisions with long-term consequences, may require weeks or months.

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time (Oswald Chambers).

Spiritual formation

Spiritual formation

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment. – 1 Peter 2:2

Ephesians 4:15 We are to grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head.

2 Peter 1:3-8

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,

 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,

 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Pan was not into spiritual formation. As a matter fact he wanted to avoid any kind of development at all. He had no desire to grow up and become an adult. His goal was to remain forever a child in Never, Never Land.

I won’t grow up; I don’t want to go to school.

Just to learn to be a parrot, and recite a silly rule.

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me!

I won’t grow up; I don’t want to wear a tie.

Or a serious expression in the middle of July.

And if it means I must prepare

To shoulder burdens with a worried air,

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me, not I, not me! So there!

Never gonna be a man, I won’t!

Like to see somebody try and make me.

Anyone who wants to try and make me turn into a man, catch me if you can.

I won’t grow up. I will never even try

I will do what Peter tells me and I’ll never ask him why

We won’t grow up! We will never grow a day

And if someone tries to make it

We will simply run away

I promise that I won’t

No, I promise that I won’t

I will stay a boy forever and be banished if I don’t

And Never Land will always be the home of youth and joy

And liberty

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up

Not me! Not me!

What is Christian spiritual formation?

Spiritual formation is the process of developing and growing the spiritual aspect of our personality. For children of the King, spiritual formation is becoming more like Christ. Spiritual formation is a relatively new term which many believers are not familiar with. More familiar terms might be, “growing in grace,” “becoming spiritually mature,” “becoming more Christlike,” “becoming sanctified,” or “walking with Christ.”

Spiritual formation is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual growth in our lives. The word of God is foundational. Learning it and meditating upon is the epicenter of spiritual formation.

Spiritual formation starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. When the word of God is understood, the process of a renewed mind is fostered and increased.

There is simply no substitute for knowing and absorbing the Father’s eternal truth. Convictions regarding right thinking and action follow. Remarkably and inexplicably, an inner compulsion to obey the Father’s Word develops within our heart. Conviction is the fountainhead from which confidence and passion flow.

REFLECT & PRAY

Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more mature in one’s relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone who is growing spiritually will become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father thank You that You are working to grow me up. Spiritual formation is Your personal goal for me and each of Your children.

INSIGHT

Many of the Father’s children fall in love with His truth. The more time spent in it, the more beautiful and delightful it becomes. It is like nothing else on planet Earth. Imagine your favorite food and how much you enjoy it. Over the millennia, that is what the word of God has become for many children of the King. Once this happens, there is no going back.

Psalms 19:10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

Spiritual formation cannot be rushed. Spiritual development is a lifelong process. Process and growth are seen everywhere nature. The finer more advanced the organism, the longer the process. The Father is working for eternity. It is not our concern how much time is involved or how long the process takes. That is totally in His hands.

Many of those who are new to the faith, have a burst of enthusiasm and began a fast and swift journey. But this does not last. The Father Himself modifies the pace.

“When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months” (Strong).

Spiritual formation is often seasonal. We can learn much by looking at the rings of a tree. Some years were marked by great growth, others not so much. So it is with the Father’s children. During the slow times, growth is solidified and strengthened, often through testing and even severe drought.

“Growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fiber is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July” (Strong).

The Father’s methods involve time and a variety of techniques that are all necessary for spiritual development. “The Husbandman’s method for true spiritual growth involves pain as well as joy, suffering as well as happiness, failure as well as success, inactivity as well as service, death as well as life . . .” (Sanford).

Spiritual growth and transformation is not based upon our striving to get something we do not have. Rather it is based on the knowledge and acceptance of, and reckoning upon what is already ours.

We develop a childlike faith and trust and simply rest in the Father’s loving hands, ‘being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6).

Biblical spiritual formation is about actively engaging with the Father in His ongoing work in our lives. Our personal determination, fortitude, and character are often tested. Things were not always be easy, but sometimes seemingly impossible. Spiritual formation is not determined by the size of the task, it is determined by the size of the effort one puts into the task.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going (John Wooden).

Never, Never Land should be a distant memory. After all it was a fairytale for children.

Toxic Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.

1 Peter 3:7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

The Babylon Bee – a Christian satire website asks:

Are you Suffering from Toxic Masculinity?

More than 40% of men today suffer from it – and their loved ones pay the price.

Toxic masculinity is the latest disease to plague the nation. More than 40% of men today suffer from its detrimental effects. Toxic masculinity is social science term which identifies traditional, cultural norms for manliness such as self-reliance, stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance. Puzzlingly absent from the symptoms are courtesy, kindness, servant leadership, loyalty, self-sacrifice, love for country and family, and commitment to defend and protect those loved and cared for. It is incumbent upon every male to know the warning signs of this virulent disease plaguing the nation.

What are some of the early warning signs of toxic masculinity?

– A belief that men and women are at least a little bit different. If you’re a woman who believes this, then you suffer from an even worse disease called internalized misogyny.

– Eating meat on occasion.

– Holding the door open for a woman once in a while.

– Yelling stuff about freedom and charging into battle wearing blue face paint.

– Being a man who doesn’t hate himself. This is the most telling sign.

Of course this is nothing new. This social malady first began with of the Father’s instructions to Adam and Eve in the garden. The idea caught on and was expanded through New Testament teachings. The New Testament standards set the bar much higher. Men were required to treat women with respect as equal partners. In particular, husbands were exhorted to love their wives, be faithful to them, and be willing to die for them.

Is this toxic or admirable? Well, according to the viewpoint of fallen people in a fallen world it is a very toxic. But then they have no respect or regard for the Lord God omnipotent who reigns from heaven. He is the one who set the standard. It goes without question that if you don’t respect or admire the Father that feel only disdain for Him, you will reject His thoughts and absolutes.

REFLECT & PRAY

At the center of our values is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As our relationship with Him becomes more and more a part of who we are, what we do will become closer to the standards that He has set for us.

Father thank You that You have set forth righteous standards for how we are to live. Thank You for forgiving us when we fail. Encourage and strengthen us to strive to do what is right.

INSIGHT

Much of the criticism of biblical masculinity focuses on modern times and unfair practices that are everyday occurrences. But the ancient world was an entirely different situation.

The ancient world in many ways was cruel, brutish, and ugly. Societies were male dominated. Men had the rights and authority; women had the responsibilities and obligations. There was no balance when it came to authority and relationships.

The Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers started a cultural and social revolution. They introduced values and standards of mutual obligation. Duties and responsibilities existed for both males and females.

“The Christian ethic is one of mutual obligation, in which the rights and the obligations rest with every individual. It is an ethic of mutual responsibility; and, therefore, it becomes an ethic where the thought of privilege and rights falls into the background and where the thought of duty and obligation takes priority. The whole direction of the Christian ethic is not to ask: ‘What do others owe to me?’ but ‘What do I owe to others?’ (Barclay)”

Rather than toxic masculinity, according to the Father the symptoms, stipulated above, are indicators of godly masculinity. It is indeed contagious and seems to spread wherever the truth word of God is taught, comprehended, and put into practice. Wherever New Testament truth has spread, husbands attempt to understand their wives and treat them with kindness and love. Women are no longer considered property, slaves, or objects.

Men attempting to follow biblical principles are still fallen men living in a fallen world. Sadly, injustice, cruelty, oppression, and degradation remain. The bar set for godly masculinity is high. Sadly, too few men achieve the standards required. “One of the unfortunate truths about Christianity . . . [is that] over the centuries, many Christ-followers have fallen far short of the standard Jesus set in showing the worth and dignity of women (Dorothy Sayers). But the standard still exists. A good number of men are working really hard to measure up.

A short summary of the Father’s instructions for husbands is: Husbands, love your wives, never treat them harshly, honor them. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

There is only one cure for godly masculinity and that is not to strive for it.

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