Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breathe! They Are Not Rejecting You

Hey gang!

Feeling a little down today, but still here to encourage you in your daily walk.

This past weekend, I had to do something I very seldom ever do. I had to delete a person’s post to one of my personal web sites. I didn’t do this in anger, even though what the person said didn’t exactly make my day. At first, the person told me that I was more or less living in a dream world of Christianity. I have people take shots at my faith all the time. It’s almost expected when you lead a ministry.

If you want a comparison of what it feels like to hear those kind of things, I’ll share a moment from a secular movie, Happy Gilmore. Happy begins playing well on the golf circuit and doing pretty well. Then, this mocker shows up and says things to Happy just to try to break his concentration as he is in his swing. These things do throw Happy off his game for a while, but eventually he is able to overcome it.

It upsets me that people do this, but I remember one thing. It is not them, but the influence of Satan on them. There are people that laugh at Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. “What makes them do that? Could it be, could it be, u-u-uum Satan?”, but the devil is very real and can influence good people as well. The second post was more of a curse fest and threatening of deletion. I beat the person to the punch. As Tony Rioli says, “He gone!”

The truth is that people try to break down God’s people trying to serve Him. It has always happened. It happened in the Garden of Eden with the serpent. It happened with Judas even while he was following Jesus. So we as Christians would be na├»ve to think that it won’t happen to us.

I’d like to share two stories today. The first is in the book of Exodus. Moses and the Israelites get to the foot of Mount Sinai and the people have an opportunity to meet with God personally. The people reject the idea. Not because they didn’t want to meet God, but because they were afraid. So they sent Moses to go alone. Moses did go and spent 40 days with him. He came back to find that the people of Israel had begun to worship a golden calf. If you read Friday’s edition, you remember that I said it was because the calf didn’t talk back and there was no reason to fear it. Moses was so discouraged by hearing this that he threw down the two scribal stones in frustration. Moses was thrown off his game.

The second story I’ll share is from the book of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a faithful serving priest of the Israelites, but he was also getting older. His sons were starting to work with him and let’s just say that the boys were not living up to daddy’s standards. This put a fear into the Israelites too. So they asked Samuel to place a king over them. On a personal level, the people were rejecting his sons as his helpers. They also wanted a man to be over them rather than God.

I’ll start in 1 Samuel 8:5.

“They (The Israelites) said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us such as all the other nations have.’”

Verse 6
“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.”

I this is where Moses went wrong in the Exodus. Moses shot first and asked questions later. Samuel was upset, but he handed the ball to God and prayed for a proper answer.

Verses 7-9
“And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you, Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

God responded like a great dad. Don’t worry kid (even though Samuel was old)! They’ve been like this all along. In fact, it doesn’t even surprise me.

The great part about taking time to pray before we speak in anger or even just being upset, is that God will do something for you. He will give you perspective. Not only will he give you time to regain a level head, he will often be straightforward about your response.

God doesn’t want people to take us off our game. One of my own personal sayings is that, “People are people.” They are going to live as they are. All of us have been given this sin nature that causes us to do and say things we shouldn’t, no matter where we are in our walk with God. But if we take a deep breath first, normally we can avoid paying comments back in kind.

Finally, when people criticize us in our faith, it is more often an envy wishing that they had the boldness that we do. I’m not saying that every person wants to be bold like a lion, but often it is because their own faith is more like the squeak of a mouse. So don’t let the squeaks take out your roar. You don’t want to be like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, “Oh what I would do for some courage.” Roar loudly when necessary and sometimes just to scare the devil into running in the opposite direction.

I love you guys!
Frank

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