Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The "Feel Good" Gospel

There are many churches and preachers out there promoting the "feel good" gospel. Some of them are even mega-churches. They shy away from controversial issues such as abortion, homosexuality, morality, etc . It reminds me of the "I'm OK, You're OK" book and movement in the 70's. The lines between right and wrong are blurry; I'm a good person and you're a good person and the way we live our lives matters little. What matters is that we believe in Jesus. Jesus wants us to be happy and prosperous.
  These preachers gather large crowds not because they are preaching the truth, but because they are preaching what people want to hear. People don't want to hear about repentance and sacrifice; about changing their lives; about following Jesus words in the revealed Word of God, the Bible. In other words, they don't want the cross, only the Resurrection. And they think that everyone except the very, very evil people like Osama Binladen, is going to Heaven because God loves us. They don't want the truth.
  But St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:17:  "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with wordy "wisdom," however, lest the cross of Christ be rendered void of its meaning!"
  Jesus said "He who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of Me. He who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to nought for me discovers who he is." (Matthew 10:38-39)  "If a man wishes to come after Me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)  "Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)  This doesn't sound like a "feel good" gospel to me!
  Belief in Jesus is not enough; we are called by Him to follow Him. So beware of those preachers, churches and authors of best sellers who promote the "feel good" gospel. If we examine the lives of the apostles and the early disciples in the Bible or the lives of Christian saints and holy people throughout the ages we will see that their lives were anything but easy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Career Vs. Motherhood--Can You Do Both?

There is an ongoing debate in the United States about whether a woman can be a "good" mother as well as having a full-time career. I heard on the news recently a statement by Kellyanne Conway, President-elect's campaign manager, who reportedly was being considered for a position in the new administration. She said that "her children will always come first." She has twins, age 12, an eight year old and a seven year old. How can she possibly be there to raise and nurture four children and also serve full-time in the new administration? It's a physical impossibility! If her children come first, then she will not be able to do her best at her job. One person can't do both well. I know this to be true because I have raised four children myself and have observed the lives of many families for many years.
  Radio personality Dennis Prager once had a show titled "Does a Full-Time Homemaker Swap Her Mind For a Mop?" (www.DennisPrager.com). In it he logically pointed out the truth that a woman can't have a career and be a mother and do both well. There are no Super Moms!
  For those women who have to work outside the home for financial reasons, and for single moms, this should help them feel less guilty about not being able to give their all to their jobs and not being able to do everything necessary to manage a home and family well. If a woman has to work outside the home she can just do the best she can to do both jobs as well as she can manage and then let go of the rest.
  For those who don't have to work outside the home, they can be thankful that they are able raise their own children, maintain a nice home for their husband and family and have time to contribute to the well-being of society.
  For those women who choose to have a career, be aware that your choice limits the time and energy you can devote to your marriage, your children, your home and society in general. Don't think you can do both well. You will have to rely on others, either paid or unpaid, to help you raise your children, clean your house, provide healthy meals and chauffeur your children.
  This is the age of "choice" for women. Choose wisely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Difference Between Joy and Happiness

Very often we confuse joy and happiness. Whether we are happy or unhappy is due to our circumstances. We can have joy regardless of our circumstances.
  One of the most difficult Bible passages about joy is found in the Book of James: Count it all joy when you are subjected to trials (1:2).  It sounds strange to be joyful about having to endure something painful, difficult or unpleasant. But he continues, Realize that when your faith is tested this makes for endurance (1:3). So going through trials makes us stronger; makes us a better person. It's something like lifting weights. We lift weights to make our muscles stronger. There is even the saying "No pain, no gain." How much more important it is to be strong spiritually than physically.
  In the Book of Acts, Chapter 5, the apostles were arrested for preaching about Jesus, imprisoned and then whipped before finally being released. Verse 41 says: The apostles...left the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been judged worthy of
ill-treatment for the sake of the Name (Jesus). They were joyful because they were doing God's Will although they were not happy about being whipped!
  In the Parable of the Silver Pieces (Matt 25:14-21) the servant is rewarded for his wise use of the money the Master gave him. The Master says: Come, share your master's joy! Joy comes from a job well done.
  In the Gospel of John, Chapters 14 and 15, Jesus gives a long discourse to His disciples, teaching them the way to have joy. He says in verse 11: All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete.
  So we can see from these few examples from Scripture that we can have joy despite our circumstances. One of my favorite sayings is "No one can steal my joy." No matter what's happening in our lives or how others may treat us, it can't take away our joy. Only we can give it up.

Working For the Lord

"Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
  and for nothing uselessly spent my strength,
 Yet my reward is with the Lord,
  my recompense is with my God."  Isaiah 49:4

Whatever work you do, do it for the Lord and not for the praise of men. This gives meaning to all your work, no matter how menial, repetitive or boring.
  Praise and thanks from others--your boss, your spouse, your family--is rewarding, but the value of your work doesn't depend on the opinion of others. When we look to others for affirmation, we will be disappointed and frustrated.
  People are often self-centered and focused on their lives and what's happening to them. They are often oblivious to the work and sacrifice of those around them; they take others for granted. But God sees all you do and loves and appreciates your faithfulness to the tasks you have been given. In Him is your reward.

Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being.
Do it for the Lord rather than for men,
since you know full well you will receive an inheritance from Him
as your reward.  Colossians 3:23-24

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

On Ragged Jeans and the Influence of Advertising

This may only apply to those who live in the United States since I don't know how people in other countries dress.
  It seems to be the fashion presently for people to wear ragged jeans, both men and women; but since women tend to be more fashion conscious, it applies more to women than to men. And it's not just a young person thing. I have seen several women over fifty wearing them--and even a minister at his Sunday service!
  At the New Years Eve house party I attended there was a young woman (21) with the most ragged jeans I have seen yet. They had so many holes and frays, there was little left to cover her legs. I asked and found that she not only bought them in that condition, but paid top dollar for them.
  I couldn't help but think what a person from a third world country, or someone from the 60's, would think about a wealthy American actually buying such a thing.
  Where have we come in our society! It shows not only the stupidity of the masses, but the power wielded by the advertising and fashion industry. To take intelligent, middle and upper class people and convince them that ragged jeans are not only a good thing to wear, but actually becoming!
  It's such a good example of the Biblical principle of most people being like dumb sheep; so easily led that they'll go so far to even jump off a cliff.
  It's good to reflect from time to time on our values. How much are the choices we make in our lives based on wisdom, knowledge and good reasoning. How much are we influenced by the culture, the media, our friends. Is who we are and what we do what we were meant by God to do and be or are we manipulated by the masses?
  It's a much more important decision than what kind of clothes we wear. But ragged jeans is a good example of how ridiculously far people will go when they're just being dumb sheep.