Good morning my friends. There are days I feel like starting over; just taking the slate and erasing everything and start rebuilding it all. Fortunately it is not possible. We do not get the opportunity to "throw out the baby with the bath water". Our good and bad experiences are what have made us who we are today. Our victories and defeats have shaped us. People we have met, good and bad, have had an impact on us. Even what we are facing today will be with us for the rest of our lives. We did not come with a "reset" button. However, it doesn't mean we can't change some things, improve on other things and perhaps get a fresh start with yet other stuff in our lives. One of the things I am desiring to do is simplify my life.
Often we can really complicate things that do not need to be complicated. For example, the Christian expression of our life, or the tone if you prefer, does not need to be a complicated thing. James wrote his epistle before much of the Christian language and doctrine was formed. He wrote this:
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:26-27)
Three very simple things to do to honour God in the way we live; watch what you say, look after the marginalized, in this case widows and orphans, and keep yourself from being polluted by the world. I think most of us understand the tongue problem even if we do struggle with it, and most of us can understand the need to look after those who society push off to the sides. We may struggle with these two things but at least we are aware of how they should be part of our daily living. What we seem to have completely forgotten is the need to remain different and separate from the activities and mentality of the world; to keep ourselves from being polluted.
I was shocked the other day when I turned on the TV at 7 pm to see if I could catch up on some news and instead found shows like "Vampire Diaries", "CSI" and other adult-type shows. These shows use to be on after the "water-shed" time of 9 or 10 pm. It is amazing to see how much our society, our culture, has changed when it comes to protecting the minds of our children. Obviously there are a lot of examples that we could give, yet, what is worse is the mental changes we have made as Christian adults toward such things. We should be protecting our children regardless of what is on TV or in the movies. We have the power to say no and to turn things off. We seem to forget what power we have. We should not be surprised by what our culture does but we need to be on guard that we do not conform to it.
Looking just at my school with lunch time conversations about the latest vampire fade, cartoon shows like "Family Guy" and other anti-Biblical influences, we are not doing a good job teaching our children by setting guidelines and examples of proper, God-honouring behaviour. We are not following the instructions to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. I hear kids swearing like a trooper outside with their friends and then genuinely worshiping the Lord with the same mouth later that day. What example was set for them that they would consider this to be "normal" or acceptable? Too many of us are failing to see the danger to us and our children when we "go with the flow" and follow the crowd.
The danger is much deeper than the behaviours that are taught from movies and TV shows, from music and friends. There is a philosophy of thinking, a different perspective that is behind the behaviour. As we accept the behaviour we start integrating the philosophies of this world. We are muddying the waters to the point where it is becoming quicksand and we are being sucked under. The best instruction given to us to combat this problem of pollution is found in Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
My friends, we need to learn what it is to stand. Today, just note the negative influences that are in your life, attacking your Christian perspective, and then make a decision to do something about it.