Songs We Don’t Sing in Church

As a worship leader flipping through the song book week after week to get ready for Sunday morning, I am amazed at the vast array of songs we don’t know. Occasionally one will catch my eye, and I will do a quick search on YouTube to learn it.

That happened to me today. I came across song #93 in Songs of Faith and Praise. The tune was composed in the early 1800s and the lyrics were written in the mid-1960s.

It’s called “God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens.” Not the catchiest title, but check out the lyrics:

God, who stretched the spangled heavens
Infinite in time and place
Flung the suns in burning radiance
Thru the silent fields of space
We, Your children, in Your likeness
Share inventive powers with You
Great Creator, still creating
Show us what we yet may do
We have conquered worlds undreamed of
Since the childhood of our race
Known the ecstasy of winging
Thru uncharted realms of space
Probed the secrets of the atom
Wielding unimagined power
Facing us with life’s destruction
Or our most triumphant hour
As each far horizon beckons
May it challenge us anew
Children of creative purpose
Serving others, honoring You
May our dreams prove rich with promise
Each endeavor well begun
Great Creator, give us guidance
Till our goals and Yours are one

I wish we knew this song! I think I will try to teach it sometime soon. How cool would it be to sing in church about space travel and atom splitting?

But not only that. I think this song points out a fact that we don’t really acknowledge a lot. Humanity was created to share in the creative process. That’s why God gave us the cognitive skills to rule, subdue, and fill the earth. That’s why he allowed us to name and categorize the animals. He entrusted us with the power to create, to explore, to discover, to enjoy, to advance.

The debate between science and faith is not going away any time soon, as far as I can tell. As God’s children, we should not think that any scientific discovery could somehow “disprove” God. If we think the universe is too mysterious, too complex, too vast for it to be created by God, then our idea God is too small.

The author of this song also points out that our scientific and technological advancements have the potential for either great evil or great good, to heal or to kill, to create or destroy.

Read these lyrics again. Let the message really soak in deep. With this song in mind, go back and read Genesis 1-4.

And let us all pray that God will be the one to guide us in our scientific and technological advancements, that He will lead us as we join in the creative process with Him until our goals and His are one.

Destroy Your Ba’als

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Exodus 20:3-6

How much more plainly could God put it? He’s God. Period. Don’t serve or worship or exalt anyone or anything else. Just don’t do it! This is one of the most clearly stated commands we’re given. He even goes to great lengths to explain all the things we’re not supposed to do and the reason for the command.

You don’t get that a lot. 

Yet there is one name that keeps popping up: Ba’al.

It literally means “Lord,” similar to adonai or kyrios. Various deities were given the title “Ba’al” from Ur to Canaan to Carthage. A quick word search through the NIV shows the name “Ba’al” in its various forms and contexts used 134 times from Genesis all the way to Romans.

Ba’al is hidden inside the name of Babylon (Ba-baal-on). The name was even tossed around during the time of Christ. The head of the demonic forces, according to the Jews, was Beelzebul, which means “Lord of the High Place,” or “High Lord.” But the Jews, clever with word plays, switched the name to Beelzebub, or “Lord of the Flies.”

Ba’al took on various forms and functions from place to place. In Canaan Ba’al was known as the God of Thunder, Rain, Weather, and Agriculture. Knowing this helps us understand the actions taken by YHWH through his prophet, Elijah, in 1 Kings 17-18.

Ahab married Jezebel, a woman that today’s rappers would write ugly songs about. She lured Ahab into Ba’al worship to the extent that Ahab built a temple and an altar to Ba’al in the capital city. Elijah says don’t do it. Ahab says I’m gonna. Elijah says stop it. Ahab says make me. Elijah says okay.

So Elijah prays to YHWH, not Ba’al, and God withholds rain for three years. Ba’al is powerless to do anything about it. The ground dries up. Crops fail. The economy collapses. People suffer. But YHWH, not Ba’al, provides for his people.

That leads up to the famous showdown on Mt. Carmel. Two altars, two bulls, two deities, only one pillar of all-consuming fire.

God wins. YHWH is Lord.

Ba’al should have bit the dust. Word should have spread that Ba’al is utterly powerless. All his worshipers and prophets should have raised the white flag and turned to YHWH.

So if God could display his supreme power over all other gods, then why are false gods still being worshiped long after the BC-AD switch over??

I think it’s because idols and other gods are things we think we can control. We make up these gods and then think we can manipulate them into giving us what we want.

We create the iPhone and think that if we just use it correctly then it will bring us a sense of connection, fulfillment, entertainment, and efficiency.

We create cosmetic procedures and think that if we just get the right surgeon with the latest techniques we can turn back the clock on the aging process.

We create capitalism and believe that if we just use the system, invest here, spend there, sell that, buy this, then we will somehow come out on top.

We create social environments in which we put on our best show in order to gain acceptance and validation from those around us.

We create Ba’als in our image, and then they turn around and shape us into theirs. We become tools of our tools. We surrender power to that which we created to give us power. This is a miserable way to live!

River vs. iPhone – who wins?
Tornado vs. Mansion
Gravity vs. Cosmetic surgery
Death vs. Doctor
Time vs. Money

God wins. He won in Genesis, he won in 1 Kings, he wins in Revelation, and he still wins today. Everything you own will eventually end up in a land fill. You body will die and return to the earth.

So if your Ba’al is god, then worship him/it. But if YHWH is God, then worship him (1 Kings 18:21).

Bring Back the Real Refs!

The talk of the NFL season thus far has been the replacements referees. The veteran referees are holding out on some labor dispute with the NFL and have been in a lockout for the past few months. So the NFL decided to bring in a bunch of replacement referees.

I bet football fans never thought they would be wanting their officials back!

The discontent has been growing over the past couple of weeks. A bad call here. A missed call there. Confusion about the call followed by a five minute staff meeting on the field.

But last night and this morning, all of football fandom is in an uproar over a botched call on the last play of Monday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

On a last minute Hail Mary to win the game, the Seahawks’ quarter back tossed a jump ball into the end zone. The Packers’ defensive back came down with the ball. Game over.

Except that the Seahawks’ receiver had one arm wrapped around the defender with his hand touching the ball. The replacement refs signaled a touchdown, giving the Seahawks the victory.

Now, all of the fans, commentators, players, and coaches know the call should have gone in favor of the defender who clearly had first possession of the football. But the officials signaled the call, the officials reviewed the call, the officials confirmed the call. There is nothing else to be done. Game over. Seahawks win.

Think about it. The ruling of a few trumps what everyone else knows to be true. Even when the ruling is clearly inaccurate, the ruling still stands.

Now think about how this works in society.

Nietzche declared in the late 1800s that God is dead.

Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Hawking, Sam Harris, and others have devoted their lives to “proving” that God does not exist.

Philosophy classes in colleges across the country declare that God does not exist.

Okay. If you say so!

But who put these guys in charge? Why do they get to make the call? Where do they get their authority?

There are literally billions of people worldwide who would beg to differ. Why does the ruling of a few declare something to be universally true?

Their bad call could cost millions of people more than just losing a game. This missed call will cost people their souls for all eternity.

These “Brights,” as they call themselves, are no better than the replacement referees.

The Bigger Picture

Ya know, there are some verses in the Bible that I think we would rather ignore. I’m not necessarily talking about the difficult parts of Scripture dealing with war, slavery, women’s roles, hell, etc. I’m talking about the simpler, toe-stepping passages that make you think, Yeah, but… or even, He’s talking about someone else, not me…


As Mark Twain famously stated, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”


I agree, Mr. Twain.


And one of those passages is this:

Do everything without grumbling<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> or arguing, so that you may become blameless<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> and pure, “children of God<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Philippians 2:14-15

How many people in your church need to hear that preached from the pulpit? As you’re tallying the number in your head, go on and include yourself in that. I know I sure need it.


How many times have you caught yourself complaining about things at church? The sermon’s too long. The songs were all old and slow. The lady behind you has way too much perfume. The building is too hot. These young people have no reverence. Those old people need to loosen up.


Complaining is the norm, if you haven’t noticed. We have entire reality shows based around people complaining about other people. In this political season, especially, the poor complain that they aren’t being helped enough while the rich folks complain that they’re having to pick up the slack with their hard earned money.


We complain, grumble, and argue about everything under the sun. We even complain about complainers! If things don’t go your way, just throw a fit until someone greases your squeaky wheel. That’s what my two-year-old does, at least. If it works for him, it could work for me, right?


But I think most complaining and grumbling, especially in the church, occurs when we lose sight of the bigger picture. I mean, the return of Christ and eternal life with him in heaven should outweigh the date in which a song was written. Christ dying on the cross should force us to put things into perspective.


And that’s exactly what Paul was trying to get across. Christ emptied himself of all his rights, all his privileges, all his powers and became a man. As a man he became obedient to the point of death on a cross. And if you recall, he didn’t gripe and complain all the way up to Golgotha.


Jesus had the bigger picture in mind – the redemption of all humanity.


Paul also gives the example of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy, he says, is constantly putting the interests of Christ and others above his own agenda. Epaphroditus once fell sick and nearly died in the service of Christ – and he was upset that he caused the Philippians to worry about him!


Do everything without complaining or arguing. That becomes a lot easier once you realize how trivial most of the things in this life are.


Let’s keep it in perspective.


Unity in Christ is more important than our own agenda.


Preaching Christ is more important than the methods by which he is preached.


Our heavenly citizenship trumps our earthly citizenship.


The goal of eternity in heaven far outweighs any suffering here on planet earth.


The peace of God outshines the clouds of doubt and anxiety.


Paul, as tactfully and lovingly as I’ve ever seen anyone, basically tells individuals in the church at Philippi to get over themselves and start focusing on the bigger picture.


Is there a message today’s church needs to hear more than this?

Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, right?

Here’s a little sneak-peak of my sermon this Sunday morning.

These videos won’t be shown, but they will certainly help you understand one of the biggest threats to Christianity in the West.

Wow.

If you are a follower of Christ, a believer in His Word, then these videos should probably give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Somewhere along the lines we have failed. I mean, people don’t even know their basic info about the Bible – much less how to make it all fit into one coherent story of creation and redemption!

And we like to think that it’s just those people over there. Well, take a look around next Sunday. How many folks actually bring their Bibles to class or worship? Of those, how many people actually open them and follow along?

Somewhere along the lines we’ve gotten confused. We want to read Colossians 3:16 like this:

Let the word of Christ dwell in red ink on paper bound in leather collecting dust on your shelf next to your Grisham novels.

Or this:

Let the word of Christ dwell in pixels and bytes on your smartphone app that you only open so that people won’t think you’re playing Angry Birds during church.

But look what it ACTUALLY says:

Let the word of Christ dwell IN YOU richly as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom… – Colossians 3:16

You want to see change happen in America? You want the church to start impacting the world like we’re supposed to? You want to see Christians start living up to their namesake?

I believe we would see all this and more if we would unleash the power of the Word in our hearts and minds. Get in the Word and start changing the World.

Learn it.
Live it.
Love it.

Are We There Yet?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7



Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love.


We started this journey with faith. We’re ending it with love. If faith is the foundation of the house, love is the open door, the welcome mat, and the smell of fresh baked cookies. It is the storm doors that keep the chaos out. It’s the AC unit out back that no one notices but everyone enjoys.


I think Peter fastened all these virtues together beautifully. I think we often begin with faith and are all too eager to skip ahead to loving anybody and everybody. Yes, love involves risk. But it also requires a thick skin sometimes.


If all Jesus had was faith alone, he would never have been able to forgive and sincerely love those who were nailing him to that cross.


Our walk with Christ is not a “just add water” kind of deal. It’s less like EasyMac and more like an all out Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a process. You can’t skip steps.


Granted, loving comes more naturally to some than it does others. There are those people you meet that have never met a stranger. They’re all smiles and hugs and laughs. And sometimes that just makes you sick. These people will strike up conversations in the line at Wal-Mart. They will go to the ends of the earth to meet a need.


But how much self-control do they have? When was the last time they said no? Or how much actual Bible knowledge do they have? Are they content to keep Scripture in the “personal devotional” category, never really dealing with the down and dirty parts of the Bible?


You see, we will almost always fault someone who has all sorts of head-knowledge but very little outward showing of love. Yet we are hesitant to fault those who have this love-thing down but don’t really know the Word of God.


I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.


Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, then end of the great “Love Chapter,” that three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Think about it. When we all get to heaven, our faith will finally become sight. But faith in what is seen is not really faith anymore. Faith will have served its purpose in full. It will have reached its “Sell By” date. It’s the same with hope. We will no longer need hope because we will have the very thing we were hoping for. Faith – fulfilled. Hope – fulfilled.


Love will live on forever. For where God is there is love.


But take a look around. Are we there yet? I don’t think so.


So while we are still on this earth, by all means let us LOVE! But let us not forget faith and hope.


This is not to be taken lightly:

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. – 2 Peter 1:8-9

Notice he does not say, “If you possess love in increasing measure.” He says, “these qualities.” All of them. All of these combined will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive. Stated positively, all of these qualities will allow you to be effective and productive.


By all means, let us love one another as Christ has loved us. Let us continue to love our neighbors as ourselves. But love without a foundation is like a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers. It looks pretty. It smells nice. It will make someone feel happy. But that beauty is fleeting. The colors quickly fade because they have been separated from their roots – the source of life for the flower.


For true love to be sustained, it must be built on the foundation of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and mutual affection.


And one final benefit to going through this process – it will give you assurance of life everlasting.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:10-11

What a promise!


Always remember that neither faith nor love, knowledge nor godliness, is an end in itself. All these qualities are but a means to an end – that glorious end in heaven (which is really just a whole new beginning).

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection…   2 Peter 1:5-7


How many Facebook friends do you have? Go ahead. Open up a new tab, go to your profile, and see what it says.


I have 612. Six hundred twelve “friends”.


But can anyone really have THAT many friends? Is it even possible?


I know what you’re thinking. Most of your Facebook friends are more like acquaintances. You’ve met them once or twice and now they blow up your news feed. Or they’re people you went to high school with and now you want to catch up – and by “catch up” you mean you want to see how much better your life has turned out than theirs.


Yet study after study shows that we only have a handful of true FRIENDS – and that number tends to slide as we get older. When you’re in preschool, everyone is your friend! As you get into elementary, you begin to weed out those you like best and those who have cooties. Entering into junior high, cliques begin to form. Those cliques solidify in high school, yet even within your clique you have some you like better than others.


Then comes college. For most people, if they don’t find their niche as quickly as possible freshman year, it can be a long and lonely road through higher education.


Then you graduate and enter the work force. Think about it. This is the first time in your entire life that you have not been consistently surrounded by people your own age. For 20-25 years of your life you have had a peer group by default. But now the closest person in age at work might be 15 years older than you, married with children.


And it’s not that much better in the church.


Jack Johnson had a song several years ago that asked, “Where’d all the good people go?” I look around the church and I think, “Where’d all the young people go?” I can testify that for a twenty-something, the church can be one of the loneliest places. Oh sure, the older people are nice and friendly. Some might even invite you over for dinner on occasion. But the fact is that sometimes we just NEED mutual affection, brotherly love, philadelphia.


Jesus had that need. He had hundreds of “followers.” He had dozens of “disciples.” He had twelve “apostles.” But he only had a few friends – Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.


I think there is something inherent within us that drives us toward connection with others. Humans were meant to live in community. Think about it – even GOD lives in constant, loving community within Himself. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all loving, glorifying, and encouraging each other for all eternity.


I think that Peter is giving us a reminder – we can’t do this Christianity thing on our own. I also think this is why philadelphia comes before agape. Yes, we’re supposed to agapao (love unconditionally) everyone. But it’s practically impossible, even for Jesus, to have philadelphia, brotherly love, with every person we contact.


When it comes to Christianity, there are no lone rangers. There is no flying solo. If Jesus couldn’t do it on His own, then neither can or should we. We need brotherly love friendships in our lives. We need companionship, encouragement, laughter, accountability, a shoulder to cry on, a phone to call at 2 am. We were built for relationships. Without that support system, our godliness, perseverance, and self-control won’t last very long.


We need each other.


Faith – Goodness – Knowledge – Self-control – Perseverance – Godliness – Brotherly Love

Spiritual, Not Religious?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> and to knowledge, self-control;<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”> and to self-control, perseverance;<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”> and to perseverance, godliness… – 2 Peter 1:5-6


We now reach a critical junction. Anyone who pays attention to the religious climate of the West will probably understand why this next one is so huge.


There is a sort of secularized spirituality working its way through our society. It’s the idea that one can be “spiritual but not religious.” In the name of religious tolerance and understanding, people will pick, choose, and blend whatever they like from the various world religions.

A little prayer here. A little service over there. Some inspirational quotes from this book. Top it all off with the gravy of love, and you’ve got a dinner plate of religious comfort that anyone could scarf down.


Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, and perseverance are all well-respected virtues for anyone who claims to be a “spiritual.”


But now we come to godliness. Dictionary.com defines “godly” as an adjective meaning, “conforming to the laws and wishes of God; devout; pious.”


The problem with the buffet line spirituality is that you only pick the things you like. If it bothers you, just don’t put it on your plate. But to kick things up a level from spiritual to godly, you’ve gotta go all in.


Jesus himself said (in other context, but the principle is well applied) that no one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and Buddha. You can’t serve God and Krishna. You can’t serve the God of the Bible and Allah of the Qur’an. To try and serve them all is to slap every one of them in the face.


Religious syncretism in the name of tolerance is really just intolerance at its ugliest because you are essentially saying that no one God is good enough. Every God or religion is lacking, and it’s up to you, human, to correct God.


Check out what Paul tells Timothy:

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> holding promise for both the present life<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>and the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8


There’s no doubt that being “spiritual” has it’s benefits in this life. Prayer, meditation, and charity all have positive affects on a person’s life. But true godliness – which encapsulates all these practices and more – has benefits in this life and in the life to come



So, the time has come. I’m not going to be content with being a “faithful” person, a “spiritual” person, or a “good” person. I want to be a godly person. Which one are you going to be?

Never, Ever Give Up!!

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance
2 Peter 1:5-6

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

There’s an odd dynamic in the American psyche. That’s psyche – not psycho… Anyway, one moment we celebrate freedom and encourage others to throw all inhibitions aside, and the next moment we value strength, perseverance, and endurance.

Which is it?

I think Peter shows great insight by inserting perseverance AFTER self-control. If you have no self-control, how can you possibly persevere in anything?

How many people do you know who have tried every diet under the sun and within a week they decide that it’s not working. (I’m guilty of that one!)

How many people do you know that resolve to work out three to five times a week but stop because they get too sore or tired? (That’s me, too…)

What about those Christians who resolve to read their Bibles and pray daily only to end up filling their time and minds with everything BUT God? (Yep.)

*A little bragging inserted here*
I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. This is the first year I have stuck to a goal – to read an average of two books a month, or at least 24 books for the year. I’m right on track with that.

I’ve also begun a routine where I *try to* run three+ miles three times a week. I began in about February and have kept it up so far.

I also took the “Daniel Challenge” found in the first chapter of the book of Daniel. He and his buddies ate nothing but produce and water for ten days – so that’s what I did. I was able to stick with a vegan, gluten-free diet for a week and a half. Talk about trials of various kinds! (see James passage above)

But all these things are trivial compared to the perseverance it takes to become a follower of Christ. You do realize that disciple and discipline are from the same root, don’t you? To become a disciple of Christ takes an extraordinary, seemingly supernatural amount of self-control – which leads to perseverance.

Jesus said that this world will be full of struggles. He said that following him could cost us EVERYTHING. He warned us that the path to life would be narrow and difficult.

But He also promised that those who have left everything will get it all back and then some in the kingdom of heaven. He promised that those who are faithful unto death will receive the crown of life. He promised that those who relied on God and in the power of His strength will become great in the kingdom.

Paul put it this way. I LOVE these words:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18

Faith.
   Goodness.
      Knowledge.
         Self-Control.
            Perseverance.

YOLO!

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. – 2 Peter 1:5-6


Now we come to one of the most neglected of the virtues in Peter’s list: Self-Control.

Again, this is awfully surprising coming from Peter. He was definitely the “act first, ask questions later” kind of guy. He never really thought to look before he leapt right into something. His tongue was always quicker than his brain. I bet Peter was a lot of fun at the parties…

Not exactly the poster-boy for self-control.

But, like I said about knowledge, everything began to change for Peter after the resurrection. Once he received the Holy Spirit, he was a new man. I think that serves to confirm that self-control is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

Now look at the culture around us. Self-control is view more as vice than virtue. The latest motto of the millennials is “You only live once” (or YOLO!). That is basically an excuse to do whatever the heck you want. Surf on top of a car? YOLO! Chug a six pack of Monster Energy Drinks and hang out at Wal-Mart at 3am? YOLO! Kiss a homeless person? YOLO!

Adults look at this, dumbfounded, and can only think, “Kids will be kids.”

But I think it has more to do with a sense of exhibitionism and monkey-see, monkey-do. People want to have attention, instant stardom. Ten years ago if someone “went viral,” you took them to the doctor right away. Today, that’s all most teenagers want. They will do just about anything to reach one million views on YouTube.

Then there are all the “reality” shows on the market today. All inhibitions go out the window when cameras and producers enter the scene. Anything goes, and I mean anything. Politeness is boring. Self-control and civility do not bring in the ratings. The more arguments, fist fights, bleeps, and blurs the better.

Yet as Christians we should have nothing to do with trivial quarrels and spats (2 Timothy 2:23; Titus3:9). We should be able to keep a tight rein on our tongues (James 3). We should outdo each other in showing honor and respect (Romans 12:10). We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). And as much as it depends on us, we should live at peace with EVERYONE (Romans 12:18).

The lifestyle presented in Scripture is essentially antithetical to the lifestyle supported by the culture around us. At the end of the day, God has called us to a higher standard.

It’s true that you only live once (Hebrews 9:27). But let’s not use that as an excuse to live recklessly and foolishly. Let’s make the most of the life we’ve been given to bring joy and peace to those around us, to leave this world better than we found it, and to ultimately enjoy the rich rewards of a life in the kingdom of heaven.

Faith
   Goodness
      Knowledge
         Self-Control