self control

Been There, Done That, Now What?

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weiner comebackSan Diego Major

Ethical Culture (also sometimes called Ethical Humanism) is the name of an evolving body of ideas that inspires Ethical Societies. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity (Humanist Manifesto III). For Ethical Humanists, the ultimate religious questions are not about the existence of gods or an afterlife, but rather, “How can we create meaningfulness in this life?” and “How should we treat each other?”

Ethical Humanism is clear about the essential role that ethical principles play in human relationships. Despite how uncertain we might feel about our personal standards–or how best to apply them–for an Ethical Humanist, there are unquestionably acts that are good and evil, right and wrong. In order for human beings to have good lives, love must prevail, truth must be respected, honesty esteemed, justice secured, and freedom protected. Learning how to realize these ideals in personal and political relationships is the purpose of Ethical Societies.

I am not surprised by the moral decay of our leaders in congress nor the church, we are humans. There has been contingencies made by our “Ancient of Old” He gave his only Son for us to have life more abundantly. We are called to pray for our human community, the lost and regenerated. I remember not long ago I practiced serving my own desires. I thank God His spirit convicted me today of the thoughts I entertained to go back to that vomit He delivered me from. These men are no different than you and I. Use your God given discernment and not judgment to learn from these public officials that had it not been for the grace of God, there go I.

This is a generation with unparalleled opportunity:
We have travelled further faster than any people before us.
Any area we cannot visit in person, we can virtually experience via the technology of video.
Our music is replayed from Compact Discs providing fidelity unimagined twenty years ago. The next techology, DVD’s that provide higher highs and lower lows.
Immediate world-wide communication is available via the internet. I can begin plumbing the research depths of some of the world’s most outstanding libraries within five minutes of sitting down at my computer.
Education is available in any method you want to receive it.
Knowledge is doubling every seven years.
Somehow, in spite of, or perhaps because of some of these things, we have become a jaded people. It is hard to excite us. We are a set of phlegmatic personalities. We have seen too much, been too many places, dome too many things. In the words of young people who refuse to admit being outdone by one of their peers – Been there, done that!

Partied all night – “Been there, done that!”
Man, I had a hang over like you wouldn’t believe – “Been there, done that!”
Spent the night with her, (or him) – “Been there, done that!”

I. The jaded face of “Been there, done that!” – Drugs and Alcohol
A. In the U. S. 1) 70% of high schoolers have tried marijuana; 2) 62% of teens believe drinking is bad, but continue to drink.
B. Teenage drinking, to use of the words of the Surgeon General, is “out of control.” Statistics from his office show that of the 20.7 million middle school and high school students nationwide, eight million of them drink alcohol at least once a week. Nearly 18% of them admit that they “binge” (take five or more drinks at one sitting) every week.
C. About 9% of the babies born each year (375,000+) have been exposed to illegal drugs in the womb. U.S. News & World Report, Dec 13, 1993
D. Cocaine was used by about 6 million Americans in the month before a survey was taken by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
E. Each year some 375,000 babies (approximately ten percent of all newborns in the United States) are exposed before birth to illegal drugs, most commonly cocaine. Some hospitals in major cities like New York and Los Angeles report that 20% or more of their newborn patients suffer from prenatal exposure to narcotics. “Innocent victims” by Anastasia Toufexis. Time, May 13, 1991. Pages 56-60.
F. The drug problem in America has become a national scandal. It is believed that use of marijuana, LSD, and heroin are no longer the major problem. Rather it is the 4 to 6 million regular users of cocaine, especially in its easy to use form called crack. Cocaine addiction and use knows no social or economic boundaries. A high lasts only 5 to 20 minutes from one dose, and is followed by an immediate crash.
G. “Crack is cocaine fast food.” It has been processed to a ready- to-smoke stage. When smoked, it can produce a full-blown high in less than 10 seconds. But the high doesn’t last long, and addiction may occur after one binge; with depression following. The setting for these binges centers around crack spots, where crack is sold for take-out, or crack houses where a high can be bought and experienced.
H. The problems most often addressed in company-sponsored employee assistance programs, according to The Wall Street Journal, are: substance abuse, dealt with by 99% of companies surveyed; . . .
I. Drunk drivers are responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people on U.S. highways each year, and another 300,000 are injured in alcohol-related auto accidents. In addition, 90,000 Americans die from alcohol-related conditions (cirrhosis of the liver, certain types of cancer, etc.) annually. Each year 5,000 infants are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Drinking drives the crime rate higher, too: 49% of all murders or attempted murders, 52% of all rapes and sexual assaults, and 68% of all manslaughter convictions involve alcohol. Friends Journal, Sep 1993
J. Church leaders seem blind to the drug problem within their congregations. 92% of pastors surveyed said drug abuse was a problem in their communities; only 18% saw it as a problem in their congregations. Yet, surveys of churched and unchurched youth don’t bear out that optimism. 80% of churched youth reported drinking beer as compared to 88% of the unchurched; 38% of the churched have tried marijuana, while 47% of the unchurched have done so. 22% of the churched have tried amphetamines/barbiturates with compared with 28% of the unchurched. 11% of the churched have used cocaine in comparison to 14% of the unchurched. “The church’s drug of choice” by David Lynn. Eternity, Nov 1988. Page 20.
K. In negotiating a new seven-year, $1 billion contract to televise its basketball tournament, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided to limit the playing time of beer commercials to 60 seconds per hour. NCAA officials said university administrators identify alcohol abuse as the number- one problem on campuses across the country
L. At 14, star actress Drew Barrymore had been in drug/alcohol abuse treatment twice. Group, Apr 1989. Page 12.
M. Almost 50% of U.S. college students are binge drinkers, according to a nationwide survey of 17,592 students, the results of which were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Washington Post Weekly, Dec 12, 1994
N. “An estimated 10.5 million Americans are alcoholics, but that is only a fraction of the number of people affected by the disease.” Approximately 67 million Americans (43% of adults in the United States) have had to cope with alcoholism in their families.
O. The economic costs of alcohol abuse, currently some $128 billion a year, are projected to hit a whopping $150 billion by 1995. “Everybody loves a drunk” by Joe Schwartz. American Demographics, Mar 1992. Page 13.

II. Sexuality –
A. 60% of 16-18-year-olds have had sex.
B. 1.1 million girls will become pregnant this year; about 400,000 will abort their babies.
C. Almost 33% of births are to an unmarried mother.
D. The median number of sexual partners for the American male is 7.3, according to a survey of 3,321 men aged 20 to 39. The study also found that nearly one out of four said they had had more than 20 sex partners, and slightly more (28%) reported having had only one to three partners. Single Adult Ministries Journal, Issue 99, 1994

III. We are a “Been there, done that!” generation. “If it feels good, do it, is the adage of our day.” We have become hard to shock, we have seen it all, heard it all, done it all. My question for this evening – “What happens when you’ve been there, done that and none of it has brought you satisfaction.” There are two individuals in the scripture who can give testimony.

IV. One is Solomon, the son of David. He is the writer of the book of Ecclesiasties. It is a virtual history of his life. Let’s listen in on Solomon’s quest for satisfaction in life.
A. Eccl 2:3 (KJS) I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what [was] that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. {to give…: Heb. to draw my flesh with wine} {all…: Heb. the number of the days of their life} . . . 2:10And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.

B. Wine – Solomon could say, “Been there, done that!” Now listen to his testimony. I’m sure yours will agree.

C. v. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun.

D. Now listen to his testimony concerning promiscuous sexuality, the free-love of our age – Eccl 7:25 (KJS) I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason [of things], and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness [and] madness: 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart [is] snares and nets, [and] her hands [as] bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

E. So Solomon, you’ve “Been there, done that, now what?” Eccl 12:13 (KJS) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.

V. Woman at Well
A. John 4:13 – Married five times, now living in adultery
B. John 4:13 (KJS) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

VI. When your “Been there, done that” is religion.
A. Nicodemus – John 3:
B. John’s Disciples – Acts 19:1-6
1. Baptized 20+ years ago
2. Received a revelation.

VII. The thing they both discovered could satisfy them – God

Thankfully, the Lord treats all of us alike, and He wants us to treat each other the same way.
In matters not what race or gender,
Rich or poor or great or small,
The God who made us is not partial;
He sent Christ to die for all.
Bribery displays partiality; love displays justice.

God’s Blessing To His Kids “Laughter”

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Two good old boys bought a couple of horses during the summer. But when winter came, they found it cost too much to board them. So they turned the horses loose in a pasture where there was plenty to eat.
One said to the other: “How will we tell yours from mine when we pick them up?”
“Oh that’s easy,” replied the second. “We’ll cut the mane off my horse and the tail off yours.”
By spring tho’, the mane and tail had grown back to normal length.
“Now what are we going to do?” asked the first.

“Why don’t you just take the black horse?” said the second man, “and I’ll take the white one.”

Now that’s silly. Nobody would overlook anything THAT obvious. But there are Christians that do it all the time. And, one of the most unfortunate topics some Christians tend to overlook is the importance and value of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus taught that He was going to send us a powerful force – His Holy Spirit.
We were promised this Spirit if we repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins(Acts 2:38).
According to Ephesians 1:13-14 the Holy Spirit is the mark of our salvation.
And Rom 8:9 tells us that without that Holy Spirit within us, we wouldn’t belong to Jesus.

If the Holy Spirit is that critical to our lives – why would we overlook it?

I. One of the reasons is that some Christians just take the Spirit for granted. These Christians are a little like the woman who told her friend that she had gotten in her car one day, started it up and saw the “Check engine” light blinking on and off on the dash. She told her friend, that she looked under the hood, but she didn’t know what the problem was – the engine was still there.

In Galatians, Paul tells us that you can’t take your connection with God’s Spirit for granted. Paul gave a warning to the Galatians: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

In other words, it is critical for us to know if walking with the Spirit and if He is within us, filling us with His strength to help us contend against the power of the sinful nature. This is a serious matter. How do we know if we have the fullness of the Holy Spirit within us?

It would be SO much easier if we had a simple way to gauge the Spirit’s presence. Kind of like a gas gauge in our cars. A gauge that would helps us to know how much of God’s Spirit we had within us.

Now, in the Early Church, people had all kinds of “showy gifts” – like prophecy, speaking in tongues, healings and so on – that would have helped in assuring them that the Spirit was there. That’s why Charismatic churches have such wide appeal to so many today. With all their emphasis on “prayer languages” and “ecstatic” experiences of the Holy Spirit – they (at least) think they have the Holy Spirit. It serves as a “gauge.” It meets a very critical psychological need. And it can be a very deceptive and very appealing experience.

Just as an example of how appealing this type of experience can be – back in 1995, Newsweek (Feb. 20, 1995) reported something called the “Toronto Blessing,” so named because it started out in a charismatic congregation called the Vineyard Christian Church in Toronto, Canada. As Newsweek reported it: “It began when a dozen pilgrims from Oregon got up to introduce themselves and then began to fall to the floor, laughing uncontrollably. An hour later, the huge new church looked like a field hospital. Dozens of men and women of all ages were lying on the floor: some were jerking spasmodically; others closed their eyes in silent ecstasy. A middle aged woman kicked off her pumps and began whooping and trilling in a delicate dance. Scores of others proclaimed deliverance from emotional and physical pains. ’I’ve been living in my spirit,’ said a woman from Long Island, N.Y., still giggling after 20 minutes on the floor.

“In all, more than 100,000 people have experienced the ’Toronto Blessing,’ which believers interpret as an experience of the Holy Spirit much like the ’speaking in tongues’ mentioned in the New Testament…. ’It’s a gusher of the Holy Spirit,’ says pastor John Arnott of the Toronto Vineyard, who now travels around the world spreading the hilarity of the Lord.”
Newsweek finished its report by noting that some worshippers had developed a “beastly” twist on this phenomena: some in their congregations were now “roaring” like animals.

Now why would they do this? Why would they behave like this? NOT BECAUSE OF GOD. No this isn’t of God. They who did this did it BECAUSE (in an emotionally charged atmosphere like the one in Toronto) there was a powerful motivation to be able to “show off” what they thought was the Spirit’s presence.

For various reasons I reject the Charismatic teachings on tongues & prayer languages. BUT in the early church it would have been easy for every Christian to have such outward manifestations. ALL you would have needed (in those days)was for an Apostle to come and lay hands on you and you could have had any of the miraculous gifts listed in Scripture.

You can find Apostles laying hands on believers several times in Book of Acts, resulting in miraculous outpourings of God’s Spirit.

In Romans 1, Paul wrote saying that he wished to come to them so that he might impart spiritual gift (1:11).
In 2Tim 1:6 Paul wrote to Timothy saying: “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

So Paul, or any of the other early Apostles, could have laid hands on any Christian and that believer would have a legitimate sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

II. But now, wait a minute! If that’s true (that any Christian of that day could have had miraculous gifts as a result of an Apostle’s hands) then, some of Galatians should have had those kinds of gifts as well. Paul founded the Galatian congregations, and no doubt would have laid hands on them, just as he did on others in the other churches he began. There would have been “obvious” gifts in the churches of Galatia, just like there were in Corinth.

BUT Paul doesn’t tell the Galatians that they can tell whether or not they have the Spirit by their ability to speak in tongues or to prophecy, or anything else like that. Oh no.

Reread Galatians 5:22-26. It says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Paul didn’t want early Christians to measure their spirituality by how well they could “show the Spirit off.” Paul wanted the Galatians to measure their spirituality based on how well they treated each other.

Bear in mind, the letter to the Galatians was not a theological dissertation for a Bible Seminary to study. This was a real letter written to a real church, struggling with some real problems. AND the church in Galatia had a serious problem (a problem even churches today have) Look again at vs. 15 “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

I see gang-banging in churches all over today that I get to preach at and even my own church- for which I am very sadden. I’ve seen churches embroiled in just that type of self destructiveness. But Paul is telling them (AND any church that will listen)- you can tell if you are a Spirit led church. You can tell if you are a group of Christians under the Spirit’s control. You can tell if YOU are filled with God’s Spirit by what kind of fruit you bear.

Jesus said: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. Matthew 12:33

In other words, you can tell whether or not you are really in touch with the Spirit by your fruit. In order to contrast good fruit to bad, Paul explains what the “sinful nature” is like: The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-23).

What Paul is saying is that there is a contrast behind how we’d naturally like to do things vs. how God’s Spirit would have us do things.
For example: in the Galatian churches there were apparently a lot of people mad at each other. They were biting each other, devouring each other. They were bearing fruit God was going to condemn – acting according to flesh.

I ran into that once. The church I was serving was boiling with anger – some of it towards me and some of it towards other members. Now I’m not going to go into great detail on the specifics, but suffice it to say I was convinced that the congregation was on the edge of splitting wide open. I believe God led me to preach this specific passage (Galatians 5) to them. After spanking them from the pulpit for some very bad behavior, I proceeded to read Galatian 5:19-26. Then I said “I know there are people in this congregation that don’t like me very much. Some people are on ’my side’ and some are not. I want you to know I don’t really care about that right now. I don’t care if you like me or not. BUT I do care about the condition of your hearts and HOW you behave as children of God in this situation.

“I want to ask you to evaluate how you have behaved in this matter, in light of this passage of Scripture. Have you behaved with love towards each other? Have you sought to create an atmosphere of joy in this congregation? Have you worked to create peace? Have you been patient with one another? Have you been kind towards one another? Good? Gentle? (and so I went through each of the 9 fruit of the Spirit).
“Or, have you been behaving in accordance with the works of the flesh? (laying special stress on “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions – Gal. 5:20). I want you to notice that Paul considered it necessary to repeat a warning that he’d apparently given these Christians at an earlier time: ’”I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Galatians 5:21b).
“Now, I don’t care whose side your on. I don’t care if you like me or if you don’t. BUT, if you continue to behave according the acts of the flesh – you’re going to hell. And I don’t want you to end up there. You need to repent.”
Then I gave the invitation. Three women came forward to repent – and they were some of the ones who liked me. But the evil in that situation had spread so far that it contaminated these 3 very gentle women and caused them to be entrapped in the hatred that was consuming others. And they knew it.

The best gauge – that the Spirit is in control of your life – is discovered when you’re upset, angry, and frustrated… when you have to deal with people that cause your blood to boil. IF, in those situations, you can react with an attitude of love, a desire to create an atmosphere of joy, a longing to promote a peaceful solution, an attitude of patience, etc. THEN, you are controlled by the Spirit. If not – you’re in trouble.