Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Was thinking this morning about consequences - unintended, intended, ancillary, etc.

In a conversation with a friend of mine, he stated that his ex-wife wanted to readjust a portion of their divorce settlement because financial circumstances in the real estate market had changed since the time their divorce was final. There are a lot of nuances attached to this that I do not have time to explain in this setting, so you will have to take a bit of a leap with me here. Her statement was that since the value of the home had decreased, that the amount they had settled on several years before was not valid and that he should share in the decreased value.

What struck me about this was her desire to negate one of the consequences of a divorce - an unintended one that was outside of both of their doings, but a consequence none-the-less. If they were still married, if there were still one, then they would mutually share in the decrease in value of the house. A consequence of being married and the real estate market declining - unintended consequence, but a shared consequence. But they weren't married so the consequences of the decision made many years before was hers to bear and hers alone.

This seems to be a universal concept within our culture: we desire the positive consequences of our actions, but don't want the negative consequences. When I write this, it seems to be an intuitively obvious statement intellectually and emotionally. The problem is, we don't get to make this choice.

In my years in working with people, I have found that most people focus on the positive consequences of their actions and forget to consider and weigh the negative consequences. They emotionally move toward the benefits and dismiss the drawbacks. When the negative consequences come, and they will, they attempt to get around them, attempt to push them out, deny them, etc., so they can justify their decision.

Adam and Eve are classic examples of this. They wanted to be like God and so they ate the fruit. They did not want the death that came along with it. The death of innocence, the death of weedless gardens, the death of painless child birth, the death of humanity.

I know that this is not the only factor in decision making, but I know that it is a contributor. Why else would someone start or continue to smoke knowing that it could lead to lung cancer? Why else would someone continue to eat fatty foods knowing that it could affect their cholesterol and increase their odds of a heart attack? Why else would someone continue to carry an angry persona knowing that it will affect the relationships around them?

The Bible speaks of it in these terms - the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25). It also calls living like this foolishness (read the first few chapters of Proverbs about wisdom vs. foolishness).

Think long term. Think holistically. Think of the positive and negative consequences the next time you think about an action. Weigh them carefully and think through future scenarios. Consequences will come, the idea is to keep as many in the positive arena as possible! You can keep consequences positive by being obedient to God in every decision you make!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It never ceases to amaze me how some people form their belief system. What they think, what they feel, what culture around them dictates, etc.

Some of the staff at Ada are dealing with a person who does not agree with some of our teaching. A person noted in a recent conversation with a couple of our elders that they really didn't agree with one of our doctrinal positions - didn't give a reason, but didn't agree.

When it really comes right down to it, this is a form of idolatry. Who is the idol? They are. When one has no basis for their beliefs other than what they think or what they feel, they are playing god (note the little "g" - did that on purpose). They have set the way they view the world up as the standard. The way that they view or feel about an issue is the basis that they judge everybody's beliefs. They play God.

It is pretty easy to identify someone who is playing God. Listen for personal pronouns - it really is that simple. Listen for "I" or "my". I think. I believe. As I understand it. My thoughts are. My perspective is. I am God. My opinion is the rule.

Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to fall into this trap - even if we really don't want to be god. Watch your speech and thought patterns. Listen to the words that you say.

What should one do instead? How do I avoid being God? Begin by looking to scripture FIRST. This is our objective standard. These are the words of God. This is where the real God communicates His desires, character and commands to us. What does God say? What does God think? What are His thoughts on the matter. Secondly, look at scripture. Third, examine what the Bible says. Fourth, apply what the Bible talks about or illustrates to the situation at hand. Fifth, if what you read in the scriptures doesn't jive with what you feel or think, refer to step one, two and three and believe it and allow God to be God.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just a quick one...in my last post I indicated Mark 6 records the first time Jesus went back to his hometown. Not true. Luke records another time, apparently before the Mark 6 event, where Jesus went back to Nazareth. I have corrected the post to be more accurate!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Familiarity breeds contempt - a saying from Aesop's fables that comes from a Mark 6 (OK, so that last part is something that I made up; there is no historical evidence that this is the case).

Mark records a snapshot of Jesus returning home to the Nazareth area (Mark 6). This is the second (see Luke 4 for the first one) recorded time that he went back to the town where He grew up. Kind of a family reunion of sorts, except his dad has passed away.

On Saturday, He goes to the local synagogue and teaches. The local religious establishment viewed Him as a teacher, a Rabbi and he was allowed to take the platform and speak. Mark records that the people were "amazed" at his teaching and the fact that he was performing miracles.

As they begin to critically look at the situation, more factors enter their thought process. Isn't this the same dude that we used to play ball with? Isn't this the guy who added that room on to my parents house? Isn't this the construction worker that was a laborer on his dad's crew? How can he be teaching this stuff to us? Isn't he an ordinary guy just like us? Their amazement quickly turns to something else - offense.

The amazement then shifts to Jesus - amazed at their lack of faith. Mark records that he COULD not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. They stopped him from working in their lives. Their offense at who Jesus was and what he claimed to be prevented him from doing a work of God in their midst.

OK - the big question. Do I stop the Holy Spirit from doing a work in me because of my lack of faith? Is God prevented from changing me because I will not trust Him? When I face the tough times in life, do I walk through them with faith in what God is trying to do in me or do I gripe and complain?