Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do You Like the Way You Look?

Have you ever wondered why Michael Jackson keeps having plastic surgery to reduce the size of his nose? The story behind the nose is a sad one. Michael's physically abusive father constantly mocked him, telling him that he was ugly because his nose was too big. As you can see from the picture on the left, he looked just fine. But apparently Michael believed his father's lie, and that's why he has submitted to so many surgeries to change his appearance.

Do you like the way you look? The father of lies, who is also known as Satan, plants thoughts in our minds to hate ourselves and the way we look. If we believe the lie, we'll then question God by saying, "Why did you make me like this???" Scripture gives the answer, "The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make me like this?' will it?" (Rom. 9:20) God, of course, is the molder and we are the clay. The Lord didn't make a mistake when He made you!

The way to overcome self-hatred is to pray, "Lord, thank you for making me the way that I look. I accept myself as your creation!" David told God, "I give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . and my soul knows it very well" (Ps. 139:14).

It's a liberating thing to come to the place where you can embrace the way you look. Have you done this? If you haven't, you'll constantly be thinking about that plastic surgery you need.
Keep looking up!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Defeated by a Trumpet

In the war of the Rhine in 1794, the French took over an Austrian village without striking a blow. Here is how they did it.

The French were planning to attack the village at 10 o'clock at night. However, the 600 Austrian soldiers who were defending the city had found out about the attack and were ready for it. Instead of attacking, the French sent their trumpeter Joseph Werck into the city under the cover of darkness, who slipped in with the Austrian troops.

At 10 o'clock, Werck blew his trumpet for the Austrian soldiers to rally, and then a few minutes later he sounded for them to retreat. The Austrians, deceived by the signal, immediately retreated, and the French soldiers captured the village without any opposition! (Quote, August 1992, p. 248)

Just as the Austrian soldiers gave up when they heard the deceptive command of the French trumpeter, we can do the same when we listen to our fears. Satan tells lies through his trumpet, trying to keep us from doing God's will.

When the devil tries to makes us retreat through intimidation, God's Word tells us, "And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled" (1 Pet. 3:13). Which command are you going to obey--Satan's trumpet or God's Word?
Keep looking up!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheating to Win

Several years ago, a high school basketball coach in Kansas cheated in a game by making an illegal substitution. One of his players was injured in the first half. At halftime, the coach made the switch. He asked the injured player's identical twin, who was not listed in the official scorebook, to put on his brother's uniform and pretend to be him. The twins looked so much alike that no one could tell the difference. The twin wore his brother's number and led the team to victory.

But the sweet taste of winning didn't last for long. The coach couldn't live with his guilty conscience. "After the game, my conscience bothered me," he said. "What I did wasn't right. I voluntarily turned myself in to the state."

What motivates people to cheat? Cheaters think they'll benefit by taking the dishonest route. Students cheat on tests. Adults cheat on income taxes. Philanderers cheat on their spouses. Athletes cheat by taking steroids. They don't realize that God is watching and won't allow them to enjoy what they get. "Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel." (Prov. 20:17). The Lord refuses to bless illegal methods and will replace the initial pleasure with misery.

Proverbs 11:1 says, "A false balance (cheating others) is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight (honesty) is His delight." Merchants in biblical times would cheat their customers by using two sets of weights when buying and selling. They placed lighter stones on their scales when they were selling and heavier stones when they were buying. In that way, they would make an illegal profit with every transaction. They forgot that God was watching them and placed a curse on their ill-gotten gains.

Instead of cheating, try a different approach. Why not simply do what is honest and trust God with the outcome? If we will seek to please the Lord, we'll do what's right--even if it means giving up the immediate profit. But don't forget the end of the story. God promises that He will more than make up the difference for you in eternity. And sometimes He'll even do it in the here and now.
Keep looking up!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Am I Deceived?

I laughed when I read a quote by an Army spokesman, "We know of not a single case where the enemy successfully used camouflage against us." The fact is, a deceived person doesn't know that he is being deceived. The scripture continually warns us to not be deceived.

A few days ago, two Mormons came to my front door. One of them told me that he knew the Book of Mormon was true because he was sincere and he felt it was true in his heart. I told him that many people are sincerely wrong and that truth will stand up to the facts. I gave them a paper I had written, proving that Joseph Smith had copied out of the King James Version when he fabricated the Book of Mormon, which was supposedly written around the time of Christ. Joseph Smith had copied the italicized words out of the 1611 King James Version, which were not in the Greek text, but were added by the translators to give clarity of thought.

How could the italicized words get into a document supposedly written 1600 years earlier? Any thinking person, who wants to be undeceived, would have to know that Joseph Smith copied them when he wrote the fictional document called The Book of Mormon.

Even as Christians we can fool ourselves. We can be in denial and refuse to acknowledge those hurtful attitudes that are so easily seen by everyone else. Augustine once said, "Before God can deliver us, we must undeceive ourselves."

How can a person get undeceived? Simply by being honest with yourself and with God. Pray, "Lord, if I am deceived, please show me the truth." Ask Him to show you if an attitude needs to be corrected. David prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me" (Ps. 139:23-24)
Keep looking up!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Use Your Blind Eye

When Lord Horatio Nelson was fighting the Battle of Copenhagen, his senior officer Sir Hyde Parker, also known as "Old Vinegar," hoisted the flag signaling retreat. Nelson deliberately put his blind eye to the telescope and said, "I don't see it."

If Nelson had obeyed the order to retreat and fled from his enemy, he never would have won the battle and captured 12 Danish ships! (Kent Crockett, I Once Was Blind but Now I Squint, Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004, p. 139)

Keeping the right perspective is also a battle. When we're going through a difficult time, we're tempted to quit our jobs, quit our marriages, quit trusting, and quit praying. But we can't surrender to discouragement. If we lose heart, we'll lose the battle.

When the enemy hoists the retreat flag, we need to put our blind eye to the telescope and our good eye on God. Hang in there. Don't give up. "For consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart" (Heb. 12:3).
Keep looking up!