COMMITMENT

COMMITMENT

By Paul Van Dyke

MaryKay Corporation

COMMITMENT IS WHEN YOU HAVE INSPIRED YOURSELF INTO THE SISTERHOOD OR THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE UNASHAMED.

WHEN YOU POSSESS AN INNERMOST SPIRIT AND DESIRE.

WHEN YOUR DIE IS CAST; WHEN YOUR DECISION HAS BEEN MADE.

WHEN YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO STEP OVER THE LINE, STAND UP AND BE COUNTED AND BECOME A DISCIPLE OF THE DETERMINED.

WHEN YOU WON’T LOOK BACK, LET UP, SLOW DOWN, BACK AWAY OR BE STILL.

WHEN YOUR PAST HAS BEEN REDEEMED, WHEN YOUR PRESENT MAKES SENSE, WHEN YOUR FUTURE IS SECURE.

WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED AND DONE WITH LOW-LIVIN’, LIGHT WALKIN’, SMALL PLANNIN’, SMOOTH KNEES, DULLIN’ DREAMS, TAMED VISION, MUNDANE TALK, CHEAP GIVIN’ AND DWARFED GOALS.

WHEN YOU LIVE BY FAITH; WHEN YOU LEAN ON YOUR STRENGTHS; WHEN YOU WALK WITH CONFIDENCE; WHEN YOU’RE LIFTED BY PRAYER AND YOU’RE LABORED BY LOVE.

WHEN YOUR DIRECTION IS SET; WHEN YOUR GAIT IS FAST, YOUR GOAL IS REAL, YOUR ROAD IS ROUGH, YOUR WAY IS NARROW, YOUR COMPANIONS ARE FEW, BUT YOUR GUIDE IS RELIABLE AND YOUR MISSION IS CLEAR.

WHEN YOU CANNOT BE BOUGHT, COMPROMISED, DETERRED, LURED AWAY, TURNED BACK, DELUDED OR DELAYED.

WHEN YOU WILL NOT FLINCH IN THE FACE OF SACRIFICE OR PAUSE IN THE PRESENCE OF PROCRASTINATION.

WHEN YOU REFUSE TO NEGOTIATE AT THE TABLE OF FEAR, PONDER AT THE POOL OF POPULARITY OR MEANDER IN THE MAZE OF MEDIOCRITY.

WHEN YOU WON’T GIVE UP, LET UP, OR SHUT UP UNTIL YOU’VE STAVED UP, STORED UP, PRAYED UP AND PAID UP AND BECOME THE PERSON THAT GOD INTENDED YOU TO BE.

WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT, YOU BRING ABOUT.

WHEN YOU ARE COMMITTED, THAT’S WHEN YOU STAND OUT FROM MEDIOCRITY.

WHEN YOUR DESIRE DOMINATES YOUR DOUBTS, WHEN YOUR PERFORMANCE PRECEDES YOUR PROCRASTINATION AND WHEN YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE IS GREATER THAN YOUR PROBLEMS. . . .

                                  . . . . THAT’S WHEN YOU HAVE COMMITMENT!

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The Genie in the Lamp

The story of Aladdin and the magic lamp is fascinating to adults and children alike. Aladdin, an impoverished young man, obtains a lamp and inadvertently (with his mother’s help) discovers that, living inside, is a genie. This genie appears when Aladdin calls (by rubbing the lamp) and has the power to grant wishes. This idea is appealing, not just to children, because it fulfills a basic human desire for something or someone outside ourselves with the capacity to meet needs or supply wants, without requiring anything of the one making the request. In the fable the genie remains in the lamp until summoned by Aladdin, at which time he is so pleased to be out of the lamp, he grants wishes.

I believe many people in the affluent cultures, primarily in the West, have misplaced their search for God with a desire for the “genie in the lamp.” Most people believe there is a God or some force out there somewhere, and they suspect it has supernatural powers. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccl. 3:11). They will pursue that source of power to seek relief when in trouble, to help them by meeting their needs and/or their wants “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (Eph 4:19). They want that external ‘force’ to fulfill their wishes at their command.

In this type situation the seeker really would rather not have to develop a relationship with whomever or whatever the power is. They certainly believe it unfair to impose conditions. Therein lays the dilemma. For example, in the case of God, we can understand that He might want us to live a good life – but we want to define what that means. If I want to indulge certain of my physical desires, I don’t want there to be negative consequences. And I certainly do not want anyone (especially God) judging me for that indulgence. Voila! The “genie” satisfies that dilemma.

This idea has burst forth at various times in human history. Invariably, when a nation or a people prosper materially and experience safety within their borders, they will, over time, move to excess. The people will be numbed to corporate discipline, become mentally and physically soft and believe themselves justified to satisfy every physical desire in any way possible. If there is any recognition of a superior being, we want it to operate like the “genie in the lamp.”

At the heart of our desire for stuff we’re all just trying to fill a void in our lives. Humans are social at the core of our being. All too many are seeking to fulfill the desire for relationship through sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, it is an insatiable hole when filled with anything other than our Creator. We have forgotten that in our distant past, in the beginning, God created us in His image. Relationship with Him is the only way to satisfy that void. At our core, if we were honest with ourselves, we would give up the tiring pursuit for this elusive genie to find a genuine Companion, who we know will never turn His back on us no matter our physical, emotional, mental or financial condition. The promise of the “genie in the lamp,” to give us whatever we desire with no strings attached, proves painfully inadequate at that point.

When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel, and He was moved by compassion to restore broken humanity, the people thronged to Him to witness miracles, or to have their physical or mental lives repaired. However, when Jesus’ teaching moved to that of the ‘cost’ of a relationship with Him, the idea that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the throngs departed. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him,” the Apostle John noted (John 6:66). Only a hearty few remained with Him beyond that.

Fortunately for us, the true, living God of Scripture actually desires a relationship with us. “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jer. 24:7). He will not force it, though. His love and His sovereign justice demand that we be given full freedom of choice. We get to choose. Isn’t that great! I can choose to reject Him. No strings attached. I get to keep my personal freedom, to be self-absorbed, selfish and self-directed, and pursue my “genie in the lamp.” I am free to do anything I want to do within the confines of societal rules, at least, that is, until I die. That part is consistent with our search for the “genie in the lamp.”

However, just as a loving father or mother will deny certain things their child desires because, in their maturity and wisdom, the parent knows it is not what is best for them at the time; so, a loving God tells us to deny our selfish desires. Whereas the “genie in the lamp” compels us to believe we can have it all, our wise God shows us, by the example of His Son that self-discipline leads to a fulfilled life. Everyone who has entered into a genuine relationship with Almighty God by way of His Son Jesus has found the requirements placed on that relationship to be well worth it. The “genie in the lamp” pales in comparison to the glory and splendor of Jesus, the One who chose to die for us, has risen, and offers us a personal relationship with God the Father. He promises Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Isn’t that really what we all want?

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

“I have never felt able to describe my emotional reaction when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency…I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.”      General Dwight Eisenhower – Statesman, Soldier, President of the US

Today marks the day in 1945 when the Soviet army freed the remaining prisoners of Auschwitz; a day set aside to commemorate the Holocaust.

In today’s world of ‘information-overload’ it is easy to feel we just don’t have the time to think about history. As has been said by many – an indisputable truth – History forgotten will be repeated.

The Holocaust stands as one of the most horrific single attempts at genocide in the history of the world. However, the attempts to annihilate the Jews are continuing today. Unfortunately there are other, just as significant, acts of racial and religious hatred, propaganda, and attempts at genocide, even though they may not involve quite as many people.

The Christian – true disciples and followers of Jesus – must get off this fast-moving train of busy-ness and be willing to sacrifice ourselves in the cause of Christ. Our lives, our fortunes, our families, our jobs, our reputations – all is subject to our Master. The “religious” Christian will not bring about change. But by pouring out our lives at the foot of the cross of Jesus we can change lives and cultures and nations – just as the 1st century followers of The Way did it. We are compelled to act – don’t ignore the promptings of the Spirit.

We who know the Bible know there will never be peace in the Middle East until the Peace Accord initiated by the AntiChrist ushers in the time of Tribulation; and we know the Israeli’s have a right to be there. We can help to dissuade the growing view of the Jewish/Arab conflict that it is Israel’s fault by reminding people of the ‘history’ of that region. Use your blogs and your writing platforms to get the TRUTH out. We can’t afford to sit on our hands while the world slides into this pit again.

Let us not allow history to repeat itself.

How to BRACE for Difficult Times

For the follower of The Way, the Bible and the counsel of the Holy Spirit offer the most profound insight into God’s Will for us.

Here is a simple ‘acronym’ to remind the disciple of Jesus how to stand firm in difficult times. Take a moment to review the Scripture associated with each point; and then trust Jesus with every moment of your life.

2 Timothy 3:1-5,10-17

Be aware of the evil in the world (vv. 15)

Remember the example of others (vv. 10-11)

Accept persecution gladly (vv. 12-13)

Continue in the truth you have learned (vv. 14-15)

Equip yourself through Bible study (vv. 16-17)

Renaissance of the Disciple: #2 – The Growing Popularity of Hatred toward Jews and Israel

It seems every generation of the human race will be given the opportunity to address anti-Semitism. Odd, isn’t it, that the Jews are still identifiable after so many attempts to wipe them from the face of the earth? Makes one think that maybe they hold a favored position with a higher power. What a thought. Every nation that has sought to eliminate them ultimately failed and have never regained their previous position in the world

It was just 70 years ago (January 20, 1942) when the German National Socialist (Nazi) Party held the Wannsee Conference to discuss and resolve the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” legalizing and formalizing their de-facto hell-born campaign to erase all Jews from Germany and its vassal states. As many as 85% of European Jews were murdered. This well-known part of history (commonly referred to as “the Holocaust”) is probably the single most horrific example. Today, active anti-Semitism is again on the rise, with the most recent trend fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

In the past most anti-Jewish campaigns were geographically limited. Vitriolic outbursts and violence against Jews were local in nature, and not always considered newsworthy on the international stage. However, in this new millennium, a close look at the facts, globally, would cause any ‘reasonable’ person to tremble. The problem, of course, is that “reasonableness” is not at work in today’s ‘Internet-email-Facebook-Twitter-texting’ generation. Uninformed people, eager to be published in some form on electronic media, will say anything and (apparently) believe anything. The dissemination of ideas and opinions and lies regarding the nation of Israel and Jewish people is more widespread than ever in history.

Why is it, only three generations from the Holocaust, there is a growing ignorance regarding that episode? Perhaps it is that many schools in the nations that made up the WWII allies have begun to downplay the historical facts, partly as a result of the growing issue of multiculturalism. Children come to adulthood with virtually no knowledge of it. Oddly, in Germany, where one could see them wanting to sweep this subject under the carpet, the schools cover it thoroughly.

Then, of course, there is the radical Islamic campaign to disavow existence of the Holocaust, claiming it was created by the ‘infidels’ to amass sympathy for the creation of a Jewish homeland. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the current most vocal and persistent in leading this assault. Again, due to the ignorance of the truth by young people in the West, that mantra has become somewhat a cause-celebre. While, to many espousing such a position it is a point of intellectual debate, the reality is that it aids in fueling violence against Jews in many regions of the world.

The Christian Church has not exactly been the paragon of openness and truth on the issue. The Christians in 1930’s Germany, for the most part, heralded Adolph Hitler as their national savior. They were demoralized and hungry. The religious leaders allowed him (actually encouraged him) to take control of the national Christian church and make it a propaganda tool, as the Christians turned their heads and went about business as usual. However, long before that Christians have allowed and/or actively engaged in anti Jew bias. In the period of the Crusades, a particularly black patch of Christian history from 1095 – 1292 AD, a loose coalition of the Catholic Pope, European monarchs, and many knights sought to free the city of Jerusalem and surrounding areas where Jesus originally walked, controlled at the time by the Mohammedans. However, the crusaders massacred all “infidels” in their path who refused to be baptized on the spot to Christianity. There were large populations of Jews living in relative peace and prosperity in Europe by this time. As a result thousands of Jews were massacred, and many more driven from their homes and businesses, in Germany and France, in the ‘name of The Lord.’ It is interesting how both Muslim and Christian use the term “infidel’ to classify those who reject their position.

In the 21st century nations are beginning to line up against Israel in support of the Palestinians. Is it any wonder the nation of Israel today feels they cannot trust any nation to stand with them in defense of their borders for the sanctity of their cities and the safety of their citizenry? Let me be quick to define anti-Semitism as acts against the Jew, and not necessarily concerning the actions toward the sovereign nation of Israel. However, the two are not mutually exclusive

I will be writing more on the subject of historical anti-Semitism , as well as pointing out how and where it is playing out around the world today and the media blitz of propaganda against Israel. I will do that in later posts. However, for now I want to point out that Followers of The Way, disciples of our Master, Jesus Christ, must not only stand, but lead out against any form of discrimination against the Jew.

Jesus was a Jew, and although His death was perpetrated by the Jewish Sanhedrin (the first century religious rulers headed by the Pharisees) he was actually executed by the Roman (gentile) government. All of this, as anyone who believes in God’s sovereignty knows, was part of God’s plan set in stone before the foundation of the world. Jesus clearly forgave all those involved in His trial and execution, including His disciples who forsook Him. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus to the Gentiles, began most of his missionary work in Jewish synagogues, appealing to the Jews of that city.

A careful reading of Scripture reveals that God hates injustice of any kind. And while He allowed pagan civilizations to execute His wrath against an apostate Jewish nation, He also made it clear those same nations would pay the ultimate price for rising against and enslaving His chosen people.

“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever. I will bring upon that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands. This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” (Jeremiah 25:12-16)

In other words, vengeance is in God’s holy realm alone.

Jesus’ earthly life was an example of love for the downtrodden and social outcasts. Christians, those totally surrendered to Jesus as their Master, should be the most vocal opponents of all forms of injustice throughout the world. In the US, Christians led the way in the battles for women’s rights in the early 20th century, and later for civil rights for the black American.

Unfortunately, many campaigns against injustice are actually spearheaded by liberal-minded non Christians. I say ‘unfortunately’ only because it is a travesty that the people who know Jesus, who have the genuine answer to mankind’s ills, are far too often tongue-tied and hamstrung in the face of injustice. While we send and support missionaries to foreign lands we are blind to actions in our own countries that support or encourage injustice.

Through non-violent persuasion, living as light and salt in our communities, followers of The Way should be openly opposing any elements of anti-Jewish sentiment, speech or actions, including usage of slang terms and debasing depictions, as well as proliferation of jokes making fun of Jews. The reality is that when we allow any race, tribe or people group to be marginalized, for whatever reason, we set the stage for discrimination. To think that all people of any particular genetic heritage are sub-human or irrelevant is absurd. THEY do this . . . or THEY do that, we ignorantly say. Jesus paid the price of a cruel death on the cross, and shed His innocent blood to redeem all mankind. It is our mission to live out that example and lead people to knowledge of how to achieve peace with God (redemption).

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all , baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20 –emphases mine)

Christian, you may not be able, as an individual, to change the forces of your government or society, or even your church group. But you can change the actions of those in your circle of influence. And if everyone did just that to eliminate anti-Semitism, we would see a tidal wave of change for the good, worldwide, in this generation.

Disciples and the Victoria’s Secret Model

My daughter sent me a link to an article on BAYLORPROUD, a human interest news page covering activities of Baylor students and alumni, and supported by Baylor University.

The following story is a living example of how regular people, disciples of Jesus Christ, can make a difference. It also shows, by virtue of how quickly their You Tube video went “viral,” that the trend of desiring physical beauty over character has not completely overtaken our culture. (There is a link to the You Tube video at the end of this post.)

The title of the BaylorProud article and the first two paragraphs are as follows:

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Student movement: ‘I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model’

A five-minute walk through your local mall will give you a good idea of what American culture values: Beauty. Comfort. Entertainment. Wealth. In answer to that, five Baylor students have boldly stepped forward to carry the banner of a different message, launching what is now known as the Live 31 Movement.

It all began just after Thanksgiving, when freshman Alex Eklund posted a simple Facebook status update: “I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model.” Several of his friends copied the message to their status, referring to the “wife of noble character” described in that book of the Bible, and from there the word began to spread.

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I am not here to bash the Victoria’s Secret Models. Believe me, I am still a living, breathing male! And, the answer to the question – Can a women be beautiful physically and possess a Godly character? – is a loud YES.

But (can I say it) the curse of the beautiful woman has always been to try to avoid the inner pride and ego, and the temptation to use her beauty for manipulation, while trying to navigate the minefield of relationships with men driven by visual lust, to find a man who loves her for who she is. Go ahead, men, laugh at this, but you know you desire a wife committed to you and her family, rather than the one who is committed to the perplexing and impossible challenge to stay young. And the “woman of noble character,” (Proverbs 31) who is a servant of her Master. Jesus, is the ‘till death do us part’ lover and wife we really seek.

I know! I married one. And our two daughters “call her blessed.”

Link to Proverbs 31 Movement video:

http://youtu.be/4WAFFMF4iZY

Disciples and Sheep

Many years ago I read the book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller.

The book is an eye-opening look at the characteristics of sheep and their relationship to their shepherd, revealing why God chose this as the example of the disciple and our relationship to Jesus. This is written by a man who learned from a life as a shepherd and sheep rancher. I highly recommend it.

The following is a brief excerpt from his book:

Do I really belong to Him?

Do I really recognize His right to me?

Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?

Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?

Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under His direction?

Do I know rest and repose, besides a definite sense of exciting adventure, in belonging to Him?

If so, then with genuine gratitude and exaltation I can exclaim proudly, just as David did, “The Lord is my Shepherd!” and I’m thrilled to belong to Him, for it is thus that I shall flourish and thrive no matter what life may bring me.