Every once in a while, you will find an artist who sounds identical to another. Growing up in high school, I became a fan of REM. Although I never bought one of their albums, I liked most of their songs. Today’s song comes from the group Adam Again who in my opinion is the REM of Christian music. One of Adam Again’s famous songs is River on Fire based upon the real-life fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.
For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice, Psalm 63:7.
The lyrics of Dig are symbolic of subtle compromises that people make in life. This often begins with a lazy lie until it escalates as you dig a hole of deception that you often fall into. Unfortunately, stubborn people tend to keep digging this hole until bad choices end up becoming a lifestyle. May the lyrics of Dig awaken your conscience so that any bad habits may be conquered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Aroused is not one of those words associated with Christianity. Yet, there are two distinct chapters in the Bible that offer contrasting differences. The first occurs in 1 Corinthians 10 where the apostle Paul reflects upon past mistakes made by former Jewish leaders. These individuals were aroused by sin that resulted in disobedience and rebellion. Meanwhile, Hebrews 11 is dedicated to the Christian Hall of Fame. The common denominator of these special candidates was being aroused by and prompted by faith to act.
[Aroused] by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity and[f]become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Hebrews 11:24.
To understand the passage above, a brief history lesson is necessary. Exodus 2:1-25 details how Moses’ parents hid their child in the Nile where Pharaoh’s daughter found him. This sets the stage for Moses’ life to be saved and raised in the house of Egypt’s king. Rather than endure a life of poverty, Moses experienced the riches of Egypt, likely spoiled beyond belief by Pharaoh’s daughter. However, as Moses grew up and matured, wealth became empty to him. This is when Moses’ faith was aroused.
For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [b]adjusted and [c]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [d]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
After a list of past failures, the apostle Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 10 ends with a warning in verse 12 and advice to overcome temptation in verse 13. Verse 12 serves as a cautious reminder against becoming overconfident. Perhaps Paul is speaking of personal experience, a time in his life when pride led to failure. Conscious of this possibility, Paul lays out a spiritual blueprint of how to overcome temptation. Therefore, the next time you’re aroused by sin, look for the way out so that faith prevails.
Becoming a Christian is like new parents coming home from the hospital with their first child. Adults may take Lamaze classes in preparation, but once there are no doctors around to tell you what to do, you’re on your own. While most churches provide literature for new believers or offer classes to help prepare newbies for a new life in Christ, there are still more questions than answers. Subsequently, countless Christians often don’t know how to act after trusting in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions. 2 One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand, Romans 14:1-4.
While visiting the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul came into contact with new, immature and weak Christians. The passage above provides advice for coping and dealing with Christians who don’t exactly know how to act yet. As a former high school coach, Paul’s words remind me that not every individual responds well to criticism. Some people need encouragement, others need a pat on the back and the lackadaisical could use a stern talking to promote spiritual growth.
Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. 15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 16 But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:14-17.
The earthly brother of Jesus was introduced to the concept of sins of omission. Perhaps, the Pharisees became so concerned about religious practices such as resting on the Sabbath that they failed to see opportunities to help and serve others. When his older brother was crucified on a cross at age 33, James realized that life is too short to not to know how to act. Therefore, if your conscience or the Holy Spirit compels you to act and you do not, you’re just as guilty as a sinner. Therefore, seize each day and learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you begin to learn how to act as a Christian daily.
The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. 2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake, Psalm 23:1-3.
Sheep are mentioned more than 500 in the Bible, more than any other animal. Sheep were important to nomads and the agricultural life of Hebrews in the Old Testament. Whether you’re talking about the 23rd Psalm or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, this animal is used to symbolize the relationship between God and his followers. As you read the beginning of Luke 15, Jesus is like a shepherd who is willing to leave behind the faithful sheep to find the one who has wandered off.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:4-5.
Unfortunately, stubborn individuals are resistant to change. While people may experience moments of guilt from within their conscience to stop what they are doing, the disobedient tend to press on, full steam ahead. Regardless of how pure in heart that you may be, everyone dabbles in rebellion, especially when you come across a rule that doesn’t make any sense. However, until the Biblical Shepherd steers you in the right direction, you’ll do lots of wandering until you find your way home.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.
The disciple whom Jesus loved compared his spiritual leader to a good shepherd. Instead referring to an actual shepherd tending after his sheep, Jesus served as a father figure to shelter human beings from the Devil. While the attacks of this spiritual enemy have continued long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, just don’t read the Bible, get to know the Good Shepherd, aka God’s one and only son Jesus Christ. As you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see what it takes to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in the passage above.
American author Eleanor H. Porter wrote the novel Pollyanna in 1913. Actress Hayley Mills brought this character to life in the 1960 film entitled Pollyanna. Despite the hardship of being a missionary’s daughter all her life, Pollyanna refused to be negative. Pollyanna is symbolic of an excessively cheerful and optimistic individual who sees life with their glass half full. While no one likes to receive criticism, imperfect human beings will make mistakes. Whether through conviction from your conscience, guilt that consumes your soul while reading the Bible or a rebuke from a church leader, there will be times when you won’t like what God has to say about your current spiritual condition.
[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah’s impatience, saying] If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan? 6 For even your brethren and the house of your father—even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, even they are [like a pack of hounds] in full cry after you. Believe them not, though they speak fair words and promise good things to you, Jeremiah 12:5-6.
An Old Testament prophet reveals an unpleasant experience in the passage above. If you have ever watched a Few Good Men starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, these words from God remind me of the court scene where Lieutenant Kaffee cross examines Colonel Jessup. Just as the Colonel didn’t believe the Lieutenant could handle the truth, stubborn Christians have a hard time accepting the Lord’s rebuke. Instead of being open to criticism and teachable to alter their current path, many choose to turn a deaf ear, refusing to change course.
You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood. 5 And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; 6 For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. 7 You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? – Hebrews 12:4-7
The author of Hebrews unveils the purpose for spiritual discipline. Although you may not want to hear this, discipline is a sign of God’s love. The Lord isn’t like a human coach who would rather be loved than offend his players. Rather, God uses tough love to correct anyone who strays off course. If you truly want to reach your full potential, you need to surround yourself with others who are more advanced and skilled to reveal what you are lacking. While this may be painful and uncomfortable, if you want to grow, you must be willing to be pruned, John 15:1-7. The next time you don’t like what God has to say, submit and swallow your pride so that you’ll come out of this stronger than ever before.
Frank Costello was the inspiration behind Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone’s character in the 1972 classic film the Godfather. On Thursday, February 17th, America lost the Godfather of talk radio. Rush Limbaugh’s talent on loan from God has been returned and now conservatives are rushing to find a replacement for his voice. Rush Limbaugh has been a beacon of truth since 1988 when his nationally syndicated midday radio show began. At the height of his popularity, 40 million people tuned into Rush’s radio program. Former President Donald Trump recently said, “To these people who listened to him every day, it was like a religious experience to a lot of people,”
This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, direct). 4 This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him; 6 And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:3-6.
In the early first century, many Jews believed that John the Baptist was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. Long before the days of radio, John’s popularity spread through word of mouth. Despite John’s native appearance and attire, he was a man of great substance. As John preached on the banks of the Jordan River, hearts were convicted to change their current direction in life. Overwhelmed by guilt, exposed from their conscience, individuals confessed their sins and were baptized. Some of John’s followers may have viewed him as their spiritual godfather.
I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out, Matthew 3:11-12.
Despite the praise heaped upon him, John remained humble, recognizing the position God wanted him to play. While John baptized believers with water, Jesus introduced first century followers to the Holy Spirit. When John was arrested, some of his followers were hesitant to turn their attention to Jesus. Yet, as word of Jesus’ ministry began to spread, previous concerns faded away. Anytime you lose a great leader, it’s hard to find a replacement, a substitute to fill this void. Yet, if you believe in the promises of the Old Testament, Micah 2:12, God is always working behind the scenes to raise up a remnant of future leaders.
For a GPS to function, it must be connected to a satellite and fully charged by a power source. When one of these two variables is absent, these devices now part of every cell phone won’t operate. Meanwhile, a conscience is built into human beings, designed by God to serve as an internal means to guide souls. The book definition of conscience is acognitive process that elicits emotion and rational associations based on an individual’s moral philosophy or value system. In order for a conscience to work properly, it has to be cared for, maintained, and fully charged by a sound mind and pure heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit, Psalm 51:10-12.
If you want to know what a conscience sounds like, listen to David’s words above. David’s conscience awoke immediately following being confronted by the prophet Nathan. To avoid any chances of a complete denial, the Lord gave Nathan an analogy, relaying this in a moving story found in 2 Samuel 12:1-7. This old Testament parable drove David to anger and rage, wanting the villain to pay for his wrong behavior. The moment Nathan proclaimed, “you are that man,” David’s conscience was awakened. Struck to the heart with guilt, David ‘s affair with Bathsheba and plot to kill her husband is exposed, laid bare for the world to see.
But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.
The one scene from a Hollywood film that depicts a conscience that is awakened comes from Jerry McGuire. Playing a sports agent at the top firm in the nation, Tom Cruise visits one of his clients in the hospital. A professional hockey player who has experienced one too many concussions is hurt again. Instead of looking out for this man’s health, safety and well being, McGuire is focused on getting this NHL defensive stud his next contract. When the father’s son vehemently disagrees with Jerry’s greedy intentions, the screen writers describe this event as Jerry growing a conscience. Yet, this conscience was there the whole time. All a conscience needs is to be reborn and rejuvenated to start leading individuals to do the right thing daily.
Following the unfortunate death of George Floyd, a new movement was spawned. White Millennials began to attend Black Lives Matter protests. Whether convicted from Critical Race Theory or White Privilege seminars, a large number of white women have publicly confessed their sins of racism, bowing down to the BLM Movement. This sign of allegiance has emboldened BLM leaders to publicly demand other white people to bow at their feet. Using peer pressure and force on some occasions, many are looking in the wrong place for conviction.
And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [How welcome is the coming of those who preach the good news of His good things!] 16 But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself), Romans 10:15-17.
More than 2 decades ago I attended a 2 day Promise Keepers event at Soldier Field. The opening night was amazing, headlined by a moving speech from founder Bill McCartney. McCartney inspired the 65,000 men who attended with a call to become leaders in their family and community. Day 2 was focused on unity, addressing the topic of racism in the church. Instead of focusing on an individual basis, the Key Note speaker assumed that every white man in attendance was racist. As some one who attended public schools, spending 3 years in inner city Wilmington, I was offended.
Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. 15 And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:14-16.
God designed human beings with a conscience, serving as a regulating force to convict wayward souls. Meanwhile, the Bible is the only book in human history that has been deemed living and active, Hebrews 4:12. This code of conduct was designed to be a source of light, providing direction and guidance to our feet, Psalm 119:105. You shouldn’t have to go to church, a protest, or rally to be convicted. Rather, the apostle Paul reminded first century Christians that the more you read, study and listen to God’s Word, hearts and minds can change. Therefore, don’t allow peer pressure to alter your beliefs. Instead, meditate upon God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:8. When you practice spiritual disciplines, conviction will come via the Holy Spirit.
In the hours immediately following a mass shooting, law enforcement searches homes, computer devices and social media to see if any clues can explain these tragic events. While some motives may include revenge or terrorism, most investigations turn up signs of mental health problems. When individuals stop taking their medication or reach a breaking point, one stressful situation can push souls over the edge, acting upon the whispers and voices of evil in their head.
Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever], Romans 8:6.
Apparently, the apostle Paul received a revelation about the human mind detailed in the passage above and below. The flesh has a mind of it’s own, placing individuals in direct conflict with their conscious. As people act upon, behave and respond to their own impulses, this seems natural and normal. Yet, Paul warns readers that daily decisions made in the flesh prevents the Holy Spirit from providing spiritual insight. If people aren’t careful, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the miseries which arise from sin.
[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. 8 So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him, Romans 8:7-8.
Just as professional caterers attempt to persuade customers to return to their establishment, the Devil works behind the scenes each day to ensure that souls become addicted to various sins. While appetites vary from person to person, demons are assigned accordingly based upon your own weaknesses. These two verses in the Bible highlight the spiritual dimensions of America’s mental health crisis. Until individuals are made aware of this internal tug of war, peace of mind is unachievable. May this blog help those living in bondage, enslaved by addiction find freedom through a personal relationship with Christ, Romans 10:9-11.
In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about a first century plot to suppress the truth about Jesus. Perhaps, this conspiracy began in Matthew 28:12-15 as the soldiers in charge of watching Jesus’ dead body were bribed by religious leaders to denounce the resurrection of Jesus. According to one of Jesus’ own disciples, this scheme was successful, deceiving the public after Jesus ascended into heaven. This fake news story claimed that one of Jesus’ disciples simply stole his body and hid it. The more this rumor was spread throughout the land, many came to believe that Jesus’ resurrection didn’t happen; merely a first century hoax.
For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative, Romans 1:18.
According to the passage above, this suppression of truth was inspired by a spirit of wickedness. As individuals crave, gratify and indulge their sinful nature, the flesh begins to influence minds, set on worldly aspirations. This invisible force compels souls to suppress the truth about God so people can continue to do what in right in their own eyes. This trend continues today as a wave of progressive teaching weekly attacks Christianity and Judaism. The ultimate goal is to make the good news about Jesus Christ inoperative. If the truth about the Bible ever gets out, lies about how people are currently living will be exposed.
For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], Romans 1:19-20.
According to the apostle Paul, you don’t need a degree to understand the truth. Rather, God created every human being with a conscience. This unique aspect of earthly bodies serves as a spiritual thermostat. When something doesn’t seem right, consciences are triggered. This internal system elicits conviction, concern or inquiry to seek further insight about what is really going on. As individuals begin to be still before God, the Lord’s attributes, eternal power and invisible qualities become clear. Thus, as societal leaders continues to suppress the truth, activate your conscience so that the truth about Jesus will begin to shine through.