Be In Love with Yourself and Get Happy?

We are all just like, more and more totally awesome, right? We have to be! 

Just Consider the Following:

a. Our own testimony (see any social media) indicates we are more awesome with each passing year.

b. Our cameras on our phones improve every year to take better pictures to broadcast our awesomeness.

c. Social media expands exponentially every year – from Facebook to Instagram, to Twitter, to Snapchat – giving us an almost limitless and infinite universe to broadcast our awesomeness!

d. All the experts constantly advise that the secret to happiness is to have a passionate love affair with our awesomeness (and as a culture, we will ride that wave to oblivion).

Here are two experts:

“To love yourself is a never ending journey.” – The Oprah
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha.

bca98-laughing_buddha_statue-1016x1024
Who says love yourself more? This jolly old elf! And Oprah. But not Jesus.
With a, b, c being true, and d being embraced from the top to the bottom of our society, we MUST be over-the-top incredibly happy right? Right? Right?

Wrong.

Even though we have to be the most in-love-with-ourselves people in history, we seem to be the most unhappy people in history. Just one study (and there are many supporting this) reports that there is a 20% increase in diagnosed rates of depression per year (link here).
We live better than kings did 500 years ago (we’ve got flushing toilets, deodorant, Spam!).

fdad8-spam
Pharaohs didn’t have this! But you do! So get happy!!!

We are our number one lover, but the statistics say we’re so unhappy. Why?

The answer is as old as mankind. Happiness is not found in self-love.

It certainly seems like self-love and self-promotion would create a happier me.

The Greeks knew better. They had the story of Narcissus. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, couldn’t take his eyes of himself, and in one version, drowned. Wade through Instagram one day. You’ll find lots of Narcissus’ offspring – drowning themselves in selfies.

But even more significant, Jesus warned against a self-centered, self-seeking, self-serving life. He said If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. 

Lose it? How is that even possible? If I’m all about me, then I stack the odds in my favor!!

No. If you make it all about you, at least two things happen:

1. No one will like you. You will drive away all the normal healthy people (sycophants and emotionally unhealthy folks will stick close).

 
2. God and His creation will not cooperate with you.
When reality (universe doesn’t revolve around you)
smashes into your expectation (universe does revolve around you),
you will experience depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, etc.

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. 

The reality is this: The universe revolves around God. He created it and He keeps it going.

It really is all about Him.

So when I tune my life and tune my heart and tune my mind to reality (it’s about Him, not me), He promises great success, great freedom, and a great future.

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. BUT if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. Matthew 16:25 (NLT) 

It’s a simple truth: Self-love and self-promotion are the paths to self-destruction.

While God opposes pride (the self-centered, self-seeking, self-serving), He is ridiculously extravagant with the humble. He exalts the humble (I Peter 5:6) and He lives with the lowly and revives the contrite and lifts their spirits (Isaiah 57:15). As opposed to the proud as God is, He is loving and extravagant with the humble.

So you don’t have to get loud and proud and focus all your attention on yourself, you just have to get and live this: HE > i.

And when we get that and live that, HE pours HIS awesomeness on us.

And THAT is real awesomeness.

My prayer? That more and more I “get over me” and “get all about Him”.

 

 

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Famous Last Words

I think, “last words” are fascinating. You want your last words to be packed full of power, jammed full of meaning, and slammed with significance!

Here my top eight “last words”:

1. “You won’t get me alive!”  THINK before you throw down a life or death challenge.

2. “I bet I can fit in there!” I did laugh when I read this (it’s from a joke list-not an obituary-don’t have a cow).

3. “That birthmark on your head looks like 999.” RUN FOR THE HILLS!

4. Convicted murder Thomas J. Grasso just before his execution: “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s; I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” I can understand the frustration – Spaghetti-O’s are a superior noodle and tomato-based entree, but there just HAS to be something more significant say at the end of a misspent life. HAS to be!

5. “The earth is suffocating . . . swear to make them cut me open so that I won’t be buried alive.” Frederic Chopin, composer, 1849. He was cremated. I completely relate to this sentiment. Horrified me as a kid. Today I want to be cremated only because I see no point in buying real estate I can’t enjoy.

6. “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.” Joan Crawford, actress, 1977 to her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.  If you’re dying, don’t start mouthing off about God! Have some sense of your own mortality.

7. “You have won, O Galilean.”
Roman emperor and Constantine descendant Julian, when he tried to quash the original endorsement to Christianity of the Roman Empire. He was the last non-Christian ruler of the Roman Empire. Known as Julian the Apostate.
This is pure legend. But…as legends go, I like it! And Jesus did win.

And……….my favorite (humanly speaking):

8. “I’m going to be with Gloria now.”
Jimmy Stewart (who is just the best) to his family just before dying in 1997, referring to his wife, Gloria, who had passed away three years earlier. The actor, 89 when he died, apparently never got over his wife’s death. The two were married 44 years.

BUT…BEST Last Word…(it’s His second to last sentence but still falls into the category of, “last words.”)

Jesus said:  It is finished. John 19:30

The price has been paid. The blood has been shed.

He has done everything necessary for all of our sin to be washed away! Every other religion is about what we do to get to God. But in Christianity, Jesus did it all. That is so, so good.

Max Lucado says:

“Jesus places ‘do not enter signs’ all over the gateway to hell, and He announces to anyone who wants to go, ‘if you go you’ve gotta go over My dead body.'”

IT…IS…FINISHED. I love that Jesus said that! So I’ve repented of my sins and surrendered my life to Him as my Master and my Savior.

You should too.

Amen amen!

 

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Take This Job and Quit It?

One day in the land of Matthew 4:18, Jesus is walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He sees two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.

Wait a second!  Do not read ahead! Don’t gloss over that because it’s really significant.

They fish for a LIVING.

You got that? Are you sure? Because it’s a really, really big deal.

This is how they pay the bills, bring home the bacon, earn their keep, support themselves (ok-not bring home bacon-they are Jews. That doesn’t happen until Acts 10:13. Still way before I was born-praise God! Bacon=happiness). 

that-face-you-make
Dumb. But kind of funny.
They fish. It’s a job just like the job you have that pays the mortgage/rent, the electric bill, pays for gas and food for you.

So Peter and Andrew are doing their JOB.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!”

I can imagine many possible excuses people might offer. Sure Jesus! I’ll get right on that-

  • When I’m done making a living!
  • When I’m done paying the bills!
  • When I’m done catching all these big fat scaly stinky fish!
  • When I’m done taking the fish to town!
  • When I’m doing selling them!
  • When I’m done binge-watching on Netflix!
  • When I’ve paid off the mortgage, got a nice nest egg set aside, the kids are grown, and college is paid for.
  • How about I just follow you on Twitter?

But the Bible doesn’t say any of that! It says something really amazing:

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:20

As in…they left their JOB at once and followed him. Just think about that!

Peter and Andrew

walked…

off…

the job.

WHO DOES THAT? WHO WALKS OFF THE JOB BECAUSE SOME GUY WITH A MESSIAH COMPLEX SAYS, “COME FOLLOW ME?”

Positively insane. Nobody gives up everything! You pray a prayer, you tell Jesus you love Him, sing songs to Him, and you go to church when:

it’s not inconvenient,

it’s not raining,

it’s not so pretty that you want to get outside.

But they just walked off the job because that’s what Jesus told them to do!

Truly insane. Unless….

Unless what David?

Unless…instead of HAVING a Messiah complex, He really IS the Messiah. Then…leaving everything behind and following Him is the absolute sanest thing you can do!

And because they, “walked off the job” to follow Jesus, they changed the course of history. All of history after this, “following of Jesus” bit would be different than all of history before. They walked off the job to follow the one who divided history (BC and AD, or if you’re a secularist, BCE, and CE-sorry! Jesus still divides it).

So…Jesus may not be calling you to quit your job (although He may!).  But guaranteed 100%, Jesus bogatais calling you to follow Him in some real and tangible and concrete ways that change your world and life, for the rest of your life. He’s calling you to put all of your trust and faith in Him – as your Lord – King – Savior…and your Leader.

 

 

Follow Him.

Amen, amen.

My Way I Pay-God’s Way I Win

As a kid, I heard this crazy story in the Bible about Jacob putting on a goat skin to fool dad (Isaac). I had several thoughts about that: creepy, scratchy, itchy, liar, deceiver, scoundrel (deceiver came from Sunday school lesson – my vocab wasn’t that advanced).

But as I read the story today (Genesis 27), I have an entirely different thought. And it’s this: everyone – not just Jacob – everyone in the story is a scoundrel!!! It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean 2 or 3 or 4 – I forget which one – where everyone in the movie lies, and everyone is out for themselves. Everyone is a wretch!

Same in Genesis 27. I’ll explain.

First – Quick Synopsis: Isaac (dad) believes he can ignore God and give the blessing to Esau. Jacob deceives dad for a blessing. Mom conceives to deceive dad for the blessing. Esau demands that dad give him a reprieve from the loss of his blessing (which he willingly traded for a bowl of stew years earlier).

Bottom line? Everyone wants their way. In the words of that old song, “I did it my way.”

But here’s the catch: My way…I pay.

At Burger King – “Have it your way!” But I don’t have any money. Then “No way” and “Hit the highway” and “Come back another day when you can pay.” But if you can afford to pay, you can have it your way.

Genesis 27 everyone pays.



Bear with me – another “Quick Synopsis” on how everyone pays:



Isaac (dad) torched his family with a fire that would burn for years.

Rebekah (mom) lost her favorite son. Because Jacob had to flee Esau’s anger, she would never see Jacob on this earth again.

Esau: lost everything…literally. Lost his birthright which meant privilege, power, and possessions in inheritance.

Jacob: a life on the lam – ran from Esau to Uncle Laban, who was even a better deceiver than he.

Everyone demanded the blessings of God…their way. And for everyone, there was a steep price to pay.

So here’s the takeaway. For you. Today. 

Do it my way, I pay. And the price will always, always be higher than the benefit received.

Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob all paid a much much higher price than any benefit they received. And you will always pay a higher price any time you ignore God and do it…your way.

Do it God’s way, I win. Always. And the benefit will always, always be higher than the price paid.  

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. Psalm 37:4-5

The final word – you don’t have enough in you to pay the price of doing it your way. He already paid the price on the cross for that. But He has enough to pay it big when you increasingly bend the knee in every area of life to Him.

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Give It Up!


Surrender? REALLY?   
But I’m the captain of my own ship! The master of my destiny! I will make my own way!
People say those kinds of things all the time. “I don’t need God. He can go His way and I’ll go mine.” 

Awkward moment when you shout “Amen!” right
before Pastor goes on to explain why its obviously wrong.

 In 1875, William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus, as a response to the amputation of his leg. Years ago I announced the title as I was about to read it as part of a sermon one Sunday, and heard a lady from the second row say in a REALLY loud whisper “Oh, I love this!” Super Awk! Read on and see if you can understand why.

Invictus
OUT of the night that covers me,   
Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be   
For my unconquerable soul.    
In the fell clutch of circumstance        
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years   
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

This is the poem they quote in hell.

          
 God is thee force in everyone’s life. For good or for bad, for blessing or cursing, God is always proven to be in control. God will be a force in my life – to save, rescue, preserve me, and watch over me – or – if I reject Him – He will be a force in my life to ultimately thwart every strategy and every plan I make that parts ways with His. He will be “thee” force one way or another. 
The NT says it this way in 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials Godly – people who are made Godly through faith in Christ and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.Unrighteous – people who remain unrighteous b/c they reject Christ.
           
The writer of Invictus? Tragically, he died June 11th, 1903. He will remain…unconquered for all eternity.
BUT… a lady named Dorothea Day wrote a rebuttal version of this same poem:
MY CAPTAIN
Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud,
Under that rule which men call chance,
My head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,

Christ is the Captain of my soul.
What joy to surrender to the Lord in prayer, to honor Him as the Captain of my soul, who loves me and with deliberate will marched to the cross in my place, uttering to the Father “Not My will, but Yours be done.” How could I live unconquered and un-surrendered to this loving Master?
God Speed,
Pastor David
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