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It’s MY Big Gulp

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Not too long ago now, there was an argument raging in the city of New York over the mayor’s dictate that a person cannot buy a single soft drink 32oz or larger. If you want a ‘big gulp’ from Seven Eleven then you will just have to buy two smaller ones and drink them both. The situation ignited the airwaves with controversy, something we Americans seem to thrive on.

BigGulp

            One nutritionist argued that America is eating itself to death, literally. Obesity rates are higher than in any other country she said. Not to mention the deaths caused by heart attack and diabetes that can be caused by overconsumption.

            While I do not accept the mayor of New York’s solution to sugar consumption, I did have to agree with one thing. We are a nation addicted to things that are not good for us both physically and spiritually.

            Consider the words of Christ, “Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9.23)

When we are hungry, we eat, but often it is too much ‘comfort’ food. I wonder, do we feed our minds in the same way? We soak up shows like Duck Dynasty when we want to sit and relax…for hours. People spend more time in activities like texting or messaging friends than they do in even considering their own soul. Others just don’t have time to consume spiritual food, opting for the world’s drive through instead.

            If our desire is to be with God in heaven forevermore, then we have to find the strength to put ourselves aside and pick up the cross of Christ, every day. We must develop the courage not only to be seen with Christ, but to stand up for His cause.

            To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you want to walk around with your 44oz Coke from Sonic, it’s OK. But if we fill ourselves to overflowing with the world instead of God, then we will die a spiritual death. Don’t die a spiritual death! Take up your cross, open the Bible, eat the bread of life, drink spiritual water, feed your soul, follow in His steps and live with the Lord forever.

Oz, The Great and Powerful

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Copied from Google Images.

Copied from Google Images.

Every now and then, our family likes to rent a show for a movie night. Recently, we watched Oz, The Great and Powerful. As movies go, it was OK. It told the story of how the wizard and the wicked witches of the land of Oz came to be.

One particular aspect of the movie that did intrigue me was the story of Theodora, who would eventually become the ‘wicked witch of the west’. You see, when Theodora meets Oscar Zoroaster she falls in love with him. Oz is the first person to ever freely give her a gift or to dance with her. His kindness toward her warms her heart, causing her faith in him to grow.

Unfortunately, Oscar’s affection toward Theodora is nothing more than a show that he puts on for every pretty face he sees. Oz’s true love is for himself and his desire is to become a ‘great and powerful’ man. Money, power, and prestige are the most wonderful things in life to this scam artist.

When Theodora discovers that Oz’s affections toward her are meaningless, her heart is broken. She desperately grasps for anything that will take the pain and anguish she is feeling away. In true Disney movie form, her sister presents her with an apple, which has a spell placed upon it that will cure her broken heart, and boy does it. Not only does it take away the pain of a broken heart, but it shrivels her heart up until there is nothing left inside but wickedness.

Now, I know this is a movie, but there is something very real about the effects that following after things of this world have on the heart. When our mind is set on the size of our bank account, the next big promotion, or how popular we are with people, then our heart becomes callous and hardened to matters of the spirit which are important to God. The apostle Paul says it this way,

 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8.5-6)

 What kinds of things does your heart desire? Do you place more importance on the things of the world, or on the things of God? If God, then do your actions reflect the conviction of your heart for all to see? If not, why not?  Think about it.

The Strength of Meekness

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What kind of person do you picture in your mind when you hear them described as meek? If you see an overly submissive, spiritless, tame or otherwise wimpy individual, then you have conjured an image of what society and our dictionaries describe as meekness.

Let’s face it, Americans do not often like to be seen as meek as it is often associated with abject weakness. We are a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of people. You can do anything and be anyone you want to be if you work hard and become strong enough to achieve it. Our society measures success by the amount money we make, our corporations by the degree we hold, and our government by the amount of power we wield. Today’s ethics change with the wind as new books are published by “experts” telling us how we should deal with each other.

Why then did Jesus say that the meek are blessed (Mt 5.5) if meekness is such a terrible character trait to have? The answer lies within th Christlike heart and understanding what our Lord was teaching.

You see, the people listening to Jesus’ great sermon would have understood a meek man or woman to be a gentile, kind and forgiving person, one who is humble before God. Likewise, a Christian with a meek heart today is also blessed or happy because they have found God and are willing to let Him be their guide by His word through this troublesome world.

As we follow Christ through the gospels, you will find that it takes a strong person to be truly meek. Is this hard to believe? Here’s even clearer evidence that growing in Christlikeness entails gentleness (or meekness). Jesus seldom used adjectives to describe Himself. When He did, though, look at the very first descriptor He chose: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11:29).

First and foremost, Jesus called Himself gentle. That’s worth contemplating. To emulate Jesus Christ, consider His disposition. It was gentle Consider His approach to sinners. It was gentle. Consider how He typically handled conflict and adversity. Gently. Consider how He invited, an continues to invite, people to know God through knowing Him. Gently. He is God’s standard of meekness.

Following Jesus, then, means consistently growing in gentleness. It is developing a character strong enough to become increasingly meek. Tha means for many of us, we have to change our dispositions, in some cases… to radically change.

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