Wednesday, February 21, 2018
We see him, the rebel, the forbidden temptation, complete with dreamy bedroom eyes, tousled hair and a certain taboo nonconformity, brooding in a dark corner; we’re smitten.
There’s something alluring, dangerous and promising about the bad guy, isn’t there? Its intoxicating argument of an exciting, romantic and perfect life, however that’s defined, leads us into taking the bad guy up on his offer. We make some choices- and, let’s face it, they’re not exactly great choices for us, are they?
I’m not talking about the boyfriend on the motorcycle, the latest “it boy” celebrity or even the famous rebel, himself, James Dean. No.
I’m talking about Sin.
Have you been properly introduced? I bet you have been.
Sin is irresistible. It promises us the world, whatever that world means to us. Yet it fails to deliver. And it’s not like we haven’t been warned. It’s just like our mothers or our girlfriends, trying to get our attention about “that boy” with the bad reputation.
Scripture, itself, likewise, also tries to caution us:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
But it’s still so appealing. It looks good; it sounds good. We’ll be happy, only if we take a chance on this opportunity set before us. Besides, we reason, we can “change him,” right?
Stop laughing. You’ve thought it and said it too at some point.
But that’s the seductive power of sin. It made the apple look delectable. It makes the bad choice look like the answer. There’s nothing new under the sun about anything we choose to be that “end all, be all” thing for us. Evil is still the core of it all. Temptation is the vehicle used. And guess who is doing the driving?
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
2 Corinthians 11:14
Nothing new. It can look attractive, beautiful, sexy, decadent, promising, comforting, validating or even good, possibly holy.
But, really, do we test its spirit?
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
1 John 4:1-3
Is it “too good to be true?” Do we poke under the hood and look around a bit?
What is “it,” really?
Are we falling for the “bad guy?”
It’s not to be hopeless and negative; it is about being realistic- and empowered in the process.
And let’s not forget a very big element IN that process: God.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
1 John 4:4
We don’t have to fall for every sin, every kind of bad guy which crosses our paths. We can, with God’s help, see him for who/what he is. And we can stand, in God, instead of falling for everything self-destructive. It is possible, even if it’s imperfect, via our human condition.
So, let’s not fall for that bad guy; God, after all, IS the ultimate “Good Guy.”
Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.”
The RCA logo of “His Master’s Voice” has long been one of my favorite images. In 1899, the then named Gramaphone Company acquired the image, originally from a painting done by the English artist, Francis Barraud.
According to publicity information, the dog, Nipper, once belonged to Barraud’s brother Mark. When Mark died, Francis inherited the dog; he also acquires a cylinder phonograph, with numerous recordings of Mark’s voice. Nipper, apparently, was quite interested in these recordings, responding to his master’s voice. Hence, the image of the adorable fox terrier cocking his ear to the phonograph’s speaker was captured on canvas and then later adapted in RCA logo form.
“Master.” It’s a hot button word. What do we think of when we hear it? Is it an oppressive association or a positive one? According to its definition, it means…
“somebody or something controlling or influencing events or other things.”
Yeah, that definition doesn’t seem to make us jump up and down with enthusiasm, does it?
And, let’s be honest, if we’re Christians, we struggle with obedience to the spiritual law. Let’s face it, no matter how long we’ve accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, no matter how much we’ve read the Bible or have gone to church, we still want to run the show- our way. We may say we follow Jesus, in theory, but, with regard to our feelings about the issue, we want to be our own masters.
“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”
And that thinking usually gets us into trouble. Addictions, compulsions, vices and bad decisions are usually some products of that independent declaration.
We get confused and distracted. We start depending on and exalting our way of living. We get enticed by it. And yes, that usually produces sin. And sin kills.
“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
It may not seem obvious at first. In fact, we may even think our way is working. We have everything handled. We found our coping strategy, our identity, our solution our answer in whatever we’ve chosen to focus on.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
But God remembers “we are but dust” (Psalms 103:14). We need Jesus as our Master, not because He wants to boss us around, but rather because He knows, left to ourselves, we will only head toward destruction.
Deciding on and living out the commitment to follow Jesus and make Him our Master is a challenge. There are so many distractions competing for our attention; they’re often alluring and have loud voices, trying to reach our ears and hearts.
Like it or not, we need a Master and a Savior; we need Jesus. We cannot save ourselves. If we could have, we would have done so by now.
God is our first love; He’s programmed in every heart. However, life often distracts us and causes us to listen to other things.
Let’s respond, like Nipper. Let’s choose to be led by Him and live for Him. No matter how far away we may have strayed, we can turn back to Him.
Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse
Monday, February 19, 2018
I have a friend who insists on never saying “goodbye.” Instead, she utters, “Later” at the end of our conversations.
This word started me thinking. And the first thing which popped up was another word, procrastination. Its definition being...
“... the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the "last minute" before a deadline.”
Let’s get real; procrastination is never far removed from addiction. By its very nature, our addictive tendencies whisper such constant lies as “I’ll quit tomorrow,” “I’ll stop when I’m ready,” and “I’ll make things right LATER.”
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”
You’ve said it; I’ve said it. Perhaps, we delude ourselves with Little Orphan Annie’s musical perspective, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” There is such promise and hope then and there.
But what about now? What about today?
“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
Those of us who struggle with addiction, compulsion and disorder often have an unrealistic perfectionism which thrives on procrastination. When things are “just right,” when this or that circumstance changes, THEN we’ll get sober.
The hidden message in those theories is this: “But for now, I’m going for my addiction. I’m going to binge, get drunk, overdo it and live it up like there’s no tomorrow.”
And so, not surprisingly, nothing changes. There’s no sobriety, no different or healthier choice. There is only more of the same.
Still, this doesn’t absolve us from reality:
“For he saith, ‘...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’”
2 Corinthians 6:2
Scripture covers not just our eternal soul destination, but also a blueprint for how to live in the here and now. The Most High is not a Deity Who operates in procrastination (1 Corinthians 14:33).
And we are made in His Image (Genesis 1:27).
Therefore, we are not let off the hook concerning our innate spirituality.
“... ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods.’”
To attempt to wriggle free of responsibility is to come from a place of excuse, negligence and even agreement with the Adversary to us all.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
Isaiah 14:12 -
Isaiah 14:12 -
Sound too extreme and far-fetched?
Well, if we are refusing to deal with our faith, our health and our issues, aren’t we, in essence, asserting how we know BETTER than The Almighty?
“But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’”
Wherever we are on this spiritual spectrum, we cannot avoid or forfeit choice.
“... choose you this day whom ye will serve...”
We possess free will. However, what we do not possess is the opting out of the free will choice’s consequences.
“‘Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.’”
Now, at first glance, Isaiah 14 may appear to be too strong of a consequence. Surely, we wouldn’t be punished the same as the devil, right?
Well, if we’re lining up in agreement with Satan, who is to say we wouldn’t be responsible for a harmful downfall?
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Is not addiction, with its procrastination, a murderer?
Is not addiction, with its procrastination, rife with deceit?
Is not addiction, with its procrastination, choosing its way instead of Elohim’s as “the final say?”
Again, no one escapes choice. No one is excused from facing procrastination.
But it’s not hopeless. For we underestimate the power of today. We underestimate the power of NOW.
The Most High will work with whatever we commit TO Him:
“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Don’t you think that would also include the procrastination issue, even in the middle of our addictions?
There is power is STARTING.
What baby step can be taken right now? What decision? What can be accomplished NOW?
“‘...now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’”
2 Corinthians 6:2
Speaking of the word, “Now,” one more thing.
Years ago, The Most High spoke to me, telling me to observe the word... BACKWARDS. When I saw what “NOW” spelled, it lit faith and assurance regarding my momentary reality.
“NOW” spelled backwards is “WON.”
“O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.”
What is on the other side of our addictions, our beliefs and our responses concerning them?
What is on the other side of our procrastination?
Will we experience those blessings now... or later?
Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse