Pride Comes Before The Card Game

I am not perfect.

I hope that is not ground-breaking news to you.

Each week, and day for that matter, it is apparent that I am still in process. Thankfully God loves to work in and through us, in-process-people. God will use small things/events in our lives in order to refine us and develop our character.

Ultimately, the goal is that each day we look more like Jesus than we did the previous day.

Just a few days ago my wife and I were invited to a good friend’s house for a game night. Our friends introduced us to a new card game we have never played before. We were all a bit hyper and having loads of fun. After the first round, I still didn’t fully understand the game, but there was one thing that was crystal clear. I was winning….by a lot.

Now, I need to explain something for a moment. I am a tad bit of what you might call a “competitive person.” With that being said, for a couple of years now I have been working very hard to become less competitive. Sometimes with success, sometimes not so much. The other night was one of those “not so much” nights.

After I won the first round I made sure to let everyone around the table know about it. We were already having a fun time, but I made sure to let everyone know that I was, in fact, having just a bit more fun than everyone else. After the next round, I was still in the lead and it seemed near impossible that the outcome would be anything but my ultimate victory.

I was feeling good, I was bragging, my pride was oozing out.

And that’s when it happened. I lost the next three rounds. And when I say “I lost the next three rounds” I really mean to say, every bad and negative thing that could happen to someone in the game only happened to me during those three rounds.

In a matter of minutes, I went from “there is no way I can lose” to, “there is absolutely no way I can win.”

As I began to sulk I remembered Proverbs 16:18. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And also, 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” And Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Talk about a wake-up call. If I was able to get so prideful of a couple of short rounds of a game, what other things in life am I capable of becoming prideful in an ungodly and unhealthy way? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, I’m not the only one who has had a realization like this.

Pride is so dangerous because it leads us to think that we can stand on our own strength, and it causes us to selfishly keep glory that we do not deserve. Well, we cannot stand on our own strength, we are incapable of doing anything of eternal significance on our own strength alone. Additionally, God alone deserves all the glory and honor, there is nothing that we are, or have done, that hasn’t been given to/done for us by God.

Pride lies to us and tells us that we are doing okay and don’t need anyone else. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are so much weaker than we realize. We need others and above all, we need God.

There is no room for pride in the life of a person who is fully devoted to God. We need to do better. I need to do better. Thankfully, God gives us little reminders and teaches us small lessons during card games to show us how we need to grow. Let’s pay attention to those lessons and allow God to be at work in our hearts.

Lord, tear down our pride and make us more like Jesus.

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” -1 Timothy 1:17

Secured

Can a Christian lose their salvation?

Chances are this is a question that you have heard before. Maybe you have even pondered this subject yourself.

Well, in order to answer this question, we first need to define two terms, Christian, and salvation. Once we understand what those two words truly mean the answer to our question will hopefully be plainly clear. Just a heads up, there are a lot of Bible verses referenced in this post. I didn’t put them in here to make myself look smart, instead, I put this in here because I want you to check them out for yourselves. Digging into the Bible for yourself is the coolest thing you could ever do!

So, what is a Christian? A Christian is someone who, by faith, have put their trust in Jesus, and Him alone, for their salvation. A true Christian would affirm that: they are a sinner in need of a savior, (Rom. 3:23, 6:23) Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for their sins, (Rom. 5:6-8) Jesus rose again from the dead, (Rom. 6:9) and that they are saved as a result of God’s free gift of grace, not their own good works. (Eph. 2:8-9)

A true Christian is also made distinct because at the moment that they place their trust in Jesus they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13-14, Rom. 8:9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) The Holy Spirit seals believers and guides them in righteousness. (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1: 13-14) Once a believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit they are guaranteed a permanent inheritance as a child of God. (Ephesians 1:13-14) This promise of the Holy Spirit living inside of believers, guiding, directing, empowering, and gifting them, is a permanent promise. Believers do not need to worry about the Holy Spirit leaving, He never will.

Now, to define salvation. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…” Salvation is the free gift of God of eternal life and forgiveness of sins that is extended from God to sinful mankind. (Ephesians 2:8, John 3:16)

This salvation is only found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 4:11-12)

Jesus came to earth and died as a substitute (2 Corinth. 5:9, 1 Peter 3:18) in order to bring life that never ends. (Romans 6:10, John 10:10) This life that Jesus brings to those who believe is freely given, guarded, and guaranteed. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Another promise given by God is that true believers after they have been saved, will one day be glorified. (Romans 8:30) This Glorification means that one day believers will be perfectly free from sin, pain, fear, and death, and will forever be with God.

Now, since we have an understanding of who a Christian is and what salvation means we can now come to the realization that a person who is a true follower of Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation.

The true believer’s salvation cannot be lost because:

  • The Holy Spirit is indwelling them
  • The promise of the Holy Spirit is permanent
  • The promise of the life that Jesus gives to believers is permanent
  • The promise of Glorification is still yet to be completed

A true believer of Jesus can rest assured that God fulfills His promises to them and that their salvation is secure. (John 10:28, Philippians 1:6)

With that being said, security of our salvation is not a license to keep on sinning. We cannot just simply pray a prayer and then continue living our lives however we want to.

True faith results in true life-change.

Romans 6:1-2 Paul addresses this very thing. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

When we become a true Christian, we have died to sin and become completely new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, we cannot continue to live unrepentantly in our old sinful lives.

The security of salvation that we have in Jesus is not an excuse to keep sinning “because I prayed a prayer that one time,” rather it should motivate us to more fully love and obey Jesus in every aspect of our lives.

Good Pitching, Boring Game

Just a few days ago a group of friends and I went “out to the ballgame.” It was a beautiful night for baseball, 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

As we found our way to our seats my expectations were not very high. You see, I am still dealing with the fact that my favorite team is no longer the better team in the city. Our fan base once had 108 years’ worth of trash talk for the other team…and all that came crashing down just a few years ago. But I try not to be petty.

Instead, I look to the future. The team has fully embraced the concept of a “re-build” as they have traded away stars in order to acquire young prospects. They have told us, the fan base, “we are going to be bad now so that we can be good in the future.” It sounds weird, but I’m on board. After all, this approach did work out well for our Northside frenemies.

Anyway, back to the game. My expectations were low, but I was looking forward to seeing a few of those new young prospects in action, particularly the one who was on the mound.

The starting pitcher for the home team has been absolutely incredible of late, and he has been the talk of many local sports radio talk shows. So, even though my expectations were tempered I was excited.

The game began, and one inning slipped to the next inning routinely and mercilessly uneventful. The pitching was very good, particularly from our new young pitcher who finished 8 innings with a big fat zero earned runs and only gave up 4 hits.

But, aside from the stellar pitching and a pair of exciting doubles from our offense, the game was one of the most boring games I have ever been to.

We were entering the 9th inning still tied at 0-0. My wife and others in our group had gotten to the point of cheering for any batter, home or away, for no other reason but to end the misery of a scoreless game. No one wanted to prolong the boredom.

And that’s when I realized. Good pitching produces boring games. The average fan doesn’t sit there and analyze the pitcher’s performance. Casual viewers do not appreciate the beauty and skill that is involved in the pitcher just simply doing his job well. Instead; flashy catches, line drives, wild pitches, and close calls are what is preferred.

Good pitching can easily be undervalued and yawned at.

And you know what? Unfortunately, we can also be guilty of having that same attitude in life as well. A life well-lived, free from scandal or offensiveness, can easily be undervalued and seen as boring by many.

Following Jesus is NOT boring at all, I promise you. However, there are times where a certain, steady faithfulness is required.

Steady faithfulness when you can’t hear God speak.

Steady faithfulness when the mountains don’t move.

Steady faithfulness when church seems routine.

Steady faithfulness when all you see are plateaus.

Steady faithfulness when doing what is right is hard.

Steady faithfulness when doing what is wrong is easy.

Steady faithfulness when life is boring and dull.

Steady faithfulness when you don’t receive recognition for your hard work.

Steady faithfulness when life “over there” seems so much more exciting.

Colossians 2:6 encourages us who have received Jesus to, “walk in Him,” and to be, “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” And Colossians 1:23 describes those who continue in the faith as “stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.”

The Christian life is not a boring one, I can assure you of that. But there are times when being stable and steadfast and unshifting in the faith may seem like a boring way to live. The reality, however, is that the things that our culture calls “exciting” are often the things that lead to the most frustration and destruction.

I am committed to following Jesus, if the people around me call that “boring” then so-what, my mind is made up and my game plan is set.

By the way, there was only a single run that was scored in that game I went to. It was a walk-off solo home run that sent the entire crowd into roaring celebration. That celebration was only made possible because of the good pitching that kept the other team’s score at zero.

There is a celebration in store for those who follow Jesus, and that party will be anything but boring.

 

 

The Lion, The T-Rex, and The Movie Theater

There I was eyes wide, fingers buttery, with popcorn spilt across my chest, oohing and awing like a little kid…but let me give you some context.

My wife and I just recently saw the latest dinosaur movie, I forget its name, something like Jurassic Park: Return of the T-Rex Strikes Back. Honestly, I’m not sure how many of these movies there are, but I do know they will keep making them as long as the money keeps pouring in.

But I digress…the movie itself was very enjoyable. But it was one 2-second scene towards the end that captivated my attention. This particularly brief shot did not add much to the movie’s plot itself, but it did, however, send shivers down my spine and cause me to think about it hours after I had left the theater.

So, let me set it up for you, the dinosaurs have just broken free (spoilers, sorry…but the trailer kind of already gave that away) and the no-longer-extinct creatures are now running around places they don’t belong. Then suddenly the camera pans to the T-Rex’s feet which break down a sturdy metal fence as though it were made of toothpicks. There is a pan out and we see the entire T-Rex in all of its terror. He lets out an eardrum-rattling roar and then we see the full, wide angled shot. The T-Rex’s roar is met with an equally loud, but different and recognizable roar. We see a lion, standing defiantly on top of a cliff, face-to-face with the dinosaur king.

This is the shot that raised the hairs on the back on my neck. The King of the Jungle fearlessly facing off against a seemingly unstoppable foe.

As I sat and thought about this picture I couldn’t help but think about the day to day frustrations and problems that we face. When they come one at a time the problems may not seem too big. But problems, frustrations, and stresses all add up, and before you know it, we have a dino-sized weight dragging us down.

My favorite thing about imagery is that it helps us to wrap our minds around bigger and deeper truths. The Bible uses a lot of imagery as well. One picture that it paints is of God, specifically Jesus, as being the Lion of Judah. (Genesis 49, Isaiah 31, Revelation 4-5)

Pictured as the Lion, Jesus is unequaled in power, royalty, majesty, and triumph. He easily destroys His enemies and fervently protects His own. He is to be respected and feared, honored and worshiped.

C.S. Lewis chose a lion as the main character in his allegorical epic, The Chronicles of Narnia. And I believe that Lewis really gets to the point of it all when one of his characters, when speaking of the wonderful lion Aslan, says, “Safe?… Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our God is not safe, but He is good. He is the king, I tell you!

We can be sure of this, if we belong to Him, the Lion will fight for us.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our most terrible and overwhelming struggles are spiritual, not physical. And Romans 8 gives us wonderful news, “If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter how big or scary the dinosaurs in our lives look and no matter how loud they roar, we must be confident that our Lion is still unquestionably the King.

 

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. -Proverbs 18:10