It was Mr. T

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

               (Proverbs 21:23)   

“Mr. T” is my tongue.  He is powerful and at times difficult to control.  Mr. T can be a tree of life, he can also crush your spirit.  He can both praise the Lord and curse men.  At times I wonder whether I control him, or he controls me.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)

The Bible speaks much about the tongue.  In fact, scriptures can be found relating the tongue according to the following attributes: lying tongue, flattering tongue, proud tongue, overused tongue, swift tongue, backbiting tongue, tale-bearing tongue, cursing tongue, piercing tongue, and the silent tongue.  That’s a lot of tongue talk!

“…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)

Mr. T has been known to hit with a quick jab, land solid right hooks, and at times pursue utter destruction.  Don’t be fooled by his size…. he is one solid hunk of muscle.  Most of the time he is calm and pleasant, for the most part people tend to like him.  However, be careful because he can turn ruthless before your very eyes.  You’ve seen the the mild-mannered Bruce Banner turn into the Incredible Hulk, it may take 30 seconds for this transformation to be complete… Mr. T. can turn on you in less than a second.  He is a quick and explosive muscle.

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11)

Personally, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mr. T. lately.  I’m kind of upset and disappointed with him right now.  I know you can relate with what I’m going through and this is why I tell you.  As much as I’d just like to blame everything on him, I know that ultimately he is my responsibility.  Mr. T is controlled by self-control, a vital aspect of the Christian life.  The funny thing… “self-control” does not come through “ourselves,” or our own strength.  Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit, produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to rule in our life.  (See Galatians 5:22)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

                                  (Galatians 5:16)   

“I pity the fool” who chooses to gratify the desires of the flesh instead of desiring to walk by the Spirit.  I challenge you this week to examine your “Mr. T.”  If he is causing you problems in your life, or causing pain in the lives of others… you’re going to need some help because you’ve got no chance of taking on Mr. T one on one.  You read earlier of the many ways Mr. T can cause damage… don’t let him.  Allow the Holy Spirit to fight this battle for your, for Him this will be easy.  Your part in this battle is to recognize the enemy, confess your failures, and ask God to lead you in this battle.   Blessed is Best!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Time For a Bro-Mance

“Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13:1)

Superficial friendships… men are notorious for these.  They tend to revolve around safer subjects such as sports, business, jokes, or anything other than what is most important in life.  At our most recent men’s breakfast we dealt with the topic of lust… the battle of every man.  The speaker shared some astounding statistics regarding the prevalence of pornography addiction both outside and inside the church.  50% of Christian men admit to being addicted to internet pornography as well as 20% of women.  Did you catch that?  70% of Christian men and women admit to being addicted to internet pornography.  Please see the link at the bottom of this page if you’d like to view these or other stats for yourself.

Discussion of this topic within the Christian community seems to be almost taboo.  Christian men discussing this topic amongst trusted friends is almost non-existent.  We are often too busy discussing those superficial things in life… the things that mean basically nothing in regards to eternity and salvation.  The Bible speaks of “brotherly love” quite frequently… I wonder how we are doing with this considering the way so many of us ignore discussions regarding the challenge that is the greatest to so many.

It’s not like this is a topic you can just throw out there casually.  I’d not recommend starting the conversation thusly, “So how about those Eagles? Are you addicted to porn?”  After researching what men need to do in order to develop a true-friendship in which honestly is rooted at the core, I discovered 5 C’s.  Let’s look at it as “How to Develop a true Bro-mance.”

1. Consistency

The principle of frequency, meeting regularly and connecting on an ongoing basis gives men a go-to guy for all things besides the typical chit-chat small talk. Breaking consistency can lead to isolating, which is the enemy to forging new character in Christ.

2. Confession

The principle of authenticity provides men a confidant who you can be honest with, and who will tell the truth even when it hurts. This may be men’s highest hurdle, because we are afraid of lowering the veils and opening our lives, beliefs and concerns and (gasp) sharing our feelings. Your friend will not have all the answers, but will be someone to confess true struggles that all men fight. This is a friend who is authentic, not synthetic, and will be frank instead of flatter.

3. Care

The principle of empathy gives men an ally in the “good fight of faith,” one who cares about the needs, hurts, hopes and dreams of another. It’s masculine empathy from masculinity, which is not femininity. When tough times arise, and they will, men need men who care enough to be attentive, available and willing to assist.

4. Confidentiality

The principle of safety gives men an environment to dig deep without being condemned for struggles. A true friend will honor the code of confidentiality, and be able to “talk about anything.”Within this umbrella of safety, men can confide true issues with living a life serving Christ and others, transforming concerns into convictions. But it takes a brother who will help hold you accountable within the code.

5. Completion

The principle of maturity involves having a friend who can hold a position of authority in your life. God is designed for vertical authority, but a friend can provide horizontal authority, standing in your blind spot. He will be able to see things about yourself that you may not, and have the ability to guide you towards completing the character maturity issue in your life. This kind of friend can bruise your ego so it may be healed by Christ.

Maybe you have this kind of relationship in your life, if so, congratulations.  For those who don’t, pray for this special relationship.  The battle of “lust” is not defeated in the darkness, it must be exposed to the light.  Even David, a man after God’s own heart struggled in this area. You’re not alone…. Unless you choose to be.  Blessed is Best!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

2B or not 2B

John 14:15…. If you love me keep my commandments

When I look at the church as a whole in America today I wonder “where is the younger generation?”  As I once did, it appears that many young adults stay clear of religion.  I believe a large part of this is due to the perception that Christianity is just a set of “do’s and don’ts.” I’ve come to view it more as a list of “Be’s and not to Be’s.”

One estimate compiles a list of a total of 1050 New Testament commandments (link provided at end of blog.)  In that list there are 10 “Do’s” and 10 “Don’ts” listed, there are 74 “Be’s” and 28 “Be Not’s.”  Allow me to simply list several of the “Do’s”: Do good to them that hate you; Do to others what you expect of them; Do violence to no man; Do good; Do put God first; Do all to God’s glory; Do all things without murmuring and disputing. This list seems simple enough to me… no real reason to show a reluctance to participate.

When examining the “Do Not’s,”  here are several of the most prominent:  Do not kill; Do not commit adultery; Do not love in word only; Do not do you righteous deeds before men to be seen by them; Do not conform to evil desires.  Again, this list does not seem difficult… I’d say though that it is the “Do not conform to evil desires” that prevents most young adults from passionately pursuing God.  Honestly, it is what keeps most people regardless of age from desiring God more than anything in life.

The “sin nature” within us hungers for the evils of this world.  In Psalm 51:5 David writes, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”  The Old Testament prophets also affirmed that a sin nature exists in everyone born of human parents. Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The prophet Isaiah stated: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

It is only “In Christ” that we can find victory over the sinful challenges of this world.  We hear this often but how strongly do we believe it?  We have a choice every day… every moment.  Do we live and think with the mind of Christ or do we not?

I mentioned earlier that I tend to view much of the Bible as a guide on what “to be vs. not be.”  Having a mind of Christ allows us to be many things…… here are some of the things we should be:  exceeding glad, content, thankful, patient, merciful, temperert, steadfast, understanding, tender-hearted, courteous, vigilant, faithful, hospitable, transformed.  Here are a few things we should not be:  hypocritical, afraid, doubtful, troubled, deceived, conceited, ashamed.  Everything in the previous list can be found in scripture and we could easily list many more under each category.  Is there anything wrong or hard about these things we should or should not BE?

The Word of God was not given to us to deprive or restrict us, it was provided to give us life.  Not only eventual eternal life but a life now that is complete and fulfilling.  I’m afraid that so many young people have the wrong perception of God.  I’m afraid that so many older people have the wrong perception of God.  I’m afraid I have the wrong perception of God.  The things He desires us to be are the same things we’d desire our own children to be.  Although it may be hard at times…. may we each more fully understand what it is that our Father wants us to experience in life.  He wants us to experience Him.  Is anything… Could anything be better?  Blessed is Best!
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

The World Today

We grow up being warned to be careful about ever talking about religion and politics.  This blog is dedicated to religious writings, I’ll now venture slightly into the political.  Personally, I’m 100% Republican and Fox News is the only news channel.  I’ve had to learn limit the amount of news I watch or read because it tends to take my mind off the things I feel matter most.  As a professional educator however, it is important that I stay fairly current on what is happening in the world…. This is a fine line to walk as I can easily become consumed with the events of national and global politics.

The global events that take place are most important to me in their relation to end time Bible prophecy.  There are clearly events happening all over the world that attest to the truth of what is recorded in the Bible about end times.  Most recently, Russia is making many headlines as they cultivate division while simultaneously strengthening alliances with Muslim nations.  I’m no expert, but many Bible scholars agree that Russia will play a significant role in the Battle of Armageddon as they team up with Islam.

So why is all of this so important?  For me it serves to strengthen my belief in the Word of God.   The Book of Revelation along with several writings from major old testament prophets (Daniel and Ezekiel) give great insight into the events to come.  We are talking about things that were written and recorded thousands of years ago and we see them unfolding right before our eyes today.

At times I look into the eyes of my children and wonder if they will have the opportunity to grow old, experience such things as grandchildren and retirement.  In fact, will we?  I write all these things today to encourage you to dedicate more of your thoughts, time, life…. to things of God.  It can be hard to keep Him as the priority in our life and the foundation of our very existence.  You likely personally know more people in your circle of life who will go to hell then to heaven.  Does this concern you?  There may be sin in your life that prevents you from hearing God’s voice ask you to go talk to or pray for someone.  You may be so passionate about something that it distracts you from spending time with or serving God.  Maybe you have a strong personal relationship with our Lord but are reluctant to trust in Him enough to step out and do what He is calling you to do.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers … what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

Have you ever wondered why God created us?  You?  It is not because He needed us, “The God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Acts 17:24-25).  Despite not needing us, God chose to create us anyway, out of his great love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Yes, God loved us before he even created us. It’s impossible to get our heads around that idea, but it’s true; that’s what “everlasting” love means.

God is love (1 John 4:8), and because of that love and his wonderful creativity, he made us so we can enjoy all that He is and all that He’s done.  He created us to fulfill His eternal plan.  May we remember why we are here living the gift of life He has given us.  There are many instructions we can follow, may we understand and prioritize these 3 into our lives.  Blessed is Best!

1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

2. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

3. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Shared by Chad Hellenthal