Is any human debacle more disruptive than idolatry – that of spending a lifetime, or even one day, with the wrong god?
Yes, there literally is “hell to pay” – the question is, “Who is picking up your tab?”
And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NLV)
This world is full of exceptional people. There are great numbers around us who have heard the GOOD NEWS of the Savior JESUS and have even read the Holy Scriptures for themselves, yet they remain unconvinced of its promises, uncertain of its purpose, and unchanged by its power. Yes, these are exceptional individuals – women and men with exceptionally closed minds and exceptionally calloused hearts – who refuse to believe there is any need outside of which human ingenuity and intellect has the wherewithal to meet.
There is no such thing as a “used to be” believer – only never to be believers, now believers, and not yet believers.
Life is all about connection. In order to fulfill its mission, life requires proper connection to a power source – a means by which it can be animated, motivated, and energized. Plant life and animal life are innately connected to their Creator. GOD supplies and supports their existence so that they do as they are designed and have no say in the matter.
Our homes, automobiles, appliances, electronics, machines, and all such contraptions, are found to be useless and worthless without proper connection to their power sources, energy services, and networks which allow them to function properly. With the right connection though, these items do what they are supposed to do – and they have no choice to do anything otherwise.
Human life is different. Human beings enter this world dis-connected. The instant we’re born, the doctor cuts the umbilical cord to dis-connect us from our mother; and due to The Fall that occurred in Eden, we also find ourselves dis-connected from our life source as well. And what makes human beings unique is that we can choose to remain dis-connected forever. Our free will gives us the capacity to think things over, the ability to act in a variety of ways, and the liberty to accept or to refuse.
Yet here’s the drawback, human life has neither value nor purpose when it remains dis-connected from its source of life – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. When dis-connected from JESUS, human existence is a meaningless march toward death – forever dying a forever death in a garbage dump (hell); but when connected to JESUS, it becomes a magnificent transformation into life without measure – a full and free, whole and holy endless existence in Kingdom come.
It’s all about connection.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
Ephesians 1:7-14 (The Message)
I have found that life outside is so much better when the sun is shining. Even a frigid, windy, winter day is quite pleasant when the added warmth and brightness of the sun shining down on me.
I have also noticed that life inside is much better when the Son is shining. My outlook and attitude toward the challenges, frustrations, and irritations of life are more bearable when I begin the day in the clarity of His Word and invite Him lead the way.
I don’t believe it is any coincidence how the words – sun and Son are pronounced the same and how similar their affects are upon life – life outside and life inside. In life outside, the closer the relationship in proximity to the sun (nearer to the equator), the more abundant is the life to be found; in life inside, the closer the relationship in proximity to the Son (nearer to the Savior JESUS) the more abundant is the life to be found.
This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. 1 John 5:12
In 1998 Tom Brokaw released a book titled The Greatest Generation, that tells us about the generation of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, and then fought in and/or contributed from the home front, in World War II. Though I haven’t yet read this book, I agree with Mr. Brokaw that this was (and is) a great generation which accomplished much. What stands out most to me is at the core of who these men and women were (and still are for those living today) was a true willingness to make sacrifices and go without, to share and direct resources where they were most needed, and to voluntarily serve one’s country and community for the greater good of all. Sacrifice, sharing, and service – three characteristics best expressed in the life of Jesus Christ.
But, by enduring so much through an era of depression and then war, these men and women from The Greatest Generation didn’t do the rest of us any favors in one aspect – for they vowed that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” – and this declaration, I believe, is where many of our problems today stem from. Though it sounds wonderful in theory, the results have been disastrous, because “better” has erroneously equated to mean “easier,” and as we now see, “easier” doesn’t turn out “better”. For in wanting their children and grandchildren “to have it better than I did,” each succeeding generation has had more and more given to it, with less and less expected from it. Thus, every subsequent generation has received a lesser degree of parenting as well.
Here are four different versions of two verses from The Bible on the topic of parenting:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (King James Version)
Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life. Proverbs 22:6 (Good News Translation)
Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (New Living Translation)
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24 (King James Version)
Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to correct them. Proverbs 13:24 (New International Reader’s Version)
If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don’t love them, you won’t correct them. Proverbs 13:24 (Common English Version)
A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them. Proverbs 13:24 (The Message)
Effective parenting requires training, teaching, pointing, and directing; it also includes lots of correction through loving discipline. Unfortunately, when parents decide that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” it often ends up like this:
Not saying “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop It”, “Knock It Off”, “Quit That”, “Cut It Out”, “Wait”, etc…
Giving in to all wants (which soon turn into demands);
Rewarding all “participants” as well as not keeping score to determine the winners and losers in anything;
Excusing inappropriate behavior;
Ignoring a lack of manners;
Foregoing common social courtesies.
As Proverbs 30:15 (The Message) states:
A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Three things are never satisfied, no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!”— hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire.
Since WWII, we have produced multiple generations of children who cry out “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Thus we have millions of spoiled brats and crybabies in our society who have entered into adulthood and run into roadblocks, because they have never had to wait for or work toward anything in their lives, nor have they developed the ability to think and speak intelligently for themselves. Now, as adults, they are unable to discuss and debate important life issues, so instead they call foul, cry victim, and play the “hate” card. They accuse, attack, and attempt to silence those who disagree with them, and continually jump from bandwagon to bandwagon in their support of popular causes endorsed by celebrities and perceived “social victims.”
Compounding this has been the ever increasing divorce rate over past decades, that is now around fifty percent. Think about it – at least half of all men, women, and children in the United States are products of at least one broken family unit, which carries varying levels of emotional and relational baggage. Parenting is difficult enough in homes which have never experienced a divorce, but after divorce occurs everything becomes more complicated for an infinite number of reasons. This isn’t to place blame, just to state the facts of a situation that has greatly contributed to our current state of affairs, as divorce is usually accompanied by things like guilt, fear, confusion, misunderstanding, struggle, bitterness, pain, etc…, and often leads parents to give more and expect less from their children.
Of course, at the root of this is our broken human nature. The more we have handed to us, the less we appreciate it, the less we care about it, and less gratitude we show for it. Getting something for nothing breeds contempt. It produces disrespect for ourselves, as well as for those who give us what we know we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. Deep inside we realize there is something wrong in not having any of our own “skin in the game”, but we are too under-developed and undisciplined to do anything about it.
Having it “better” (easier) has cut short the critical character-building required to produce offspring who are as honest, hardworking, committed, disciplined, and responsible as those from The Greatest Generation were (and are). By having it “better” (easier), most of us have no clear concept of what sacrifice, sharing, and service even mean.
Today, so much of American culture is centered around “self” – self-expression, self-indulgence, self-promotion, self-satisfaction – it’s all Me, Myself, and I (along with my Homies, of course). But what made The Greatest Generation so great was that for a brief period in our history, the notion of “self” was removed, because the survival of our nation demanded it to be that way. Life became an all-encompassing matter of country and community with everyone making sacrifices, sharing resources, and serving in whatever way they could.
How do we get that back? Will it require another depression or recession? Will it take another world war to unite us again? I hope not, but with so much self-interest, self-love, and attention seeking taking place, it will take something significant to wake us up, to shake us up. Perhaps this is why GOD allows us to wallow around in our sin sometimes; why we endure suffering, and experience pain. We need to get to a place where we can actually understand what true mercy, grace, and love really are. Even though The Greatest Generation may never be duplicated, we can certainly turn out Better Generations in our future if we start teaching, training, correcting, and disciplining our children and grandchildren in ways that create greatness, since we are living proof of what doesn’t, since “easier” hasn’t turned out “better”.