Tag Archive: freedom


Scripture

2 Samuel 13:15 (NIV)

Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

Observation

The flesh wants what the flesh wants. It rages with lust. Lust for things, feelings, people, power, and everything that goes against the nature of the Spirit but walks hand in hand with the sinful nature.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Amnon’s feelings for his step-sister, Tamar, were not feelings of love, as he may have thought, but something born out of the desire of the flesh. We see that Amnon didn’t exhibit any of the qualities of the Spirit. He had no peace, for each day he woke up haggard (v 4) and he was obsessed with his desire for his step-sister (v 2). When confronted with the option to be show patience by taking the situation to his father, David, he chose to not follow this course of action. There is no single quality of the Spirit that can be associated with Amnon and his behavior.

True to the desires of the flesh, Amnon abandoned Tamar once he had received what he wanted. He was, of course, not satisfied with what he had so lustfully pursued. This is the way of the flesh. This is the way of sinful nature. In Amnon’s heart of hearts, his step-sister Tamar was nothing more than a new thing that he wanted to possess.

In the Western world, we live in pursuit of things. It has been said that “the one with the most toys wins.” We live in a society that constantly feeds the desire for more. If we are technologically connected then we are connected to the great beast of more! When I turn on my computer, I am greeting by an operating system that wants to make my shopping experience better. I can’t turn on a radio, television or use applications on my mobile device without being assaulted by ads trying to sell me something I don’t need. We are hit with advertising wherever we go. However, we go.

Why is advertising successful? Advertising is successful because we are never happy with the things that we have. There is always something better than what we have. A new iteration of a smartphone, car model, house color, style of shoe, etc. If you can think of it then someone else has too and likely has it for sale.

God put into us a desire for Him. A desire to love and be loved. A longing to be fulfilled. This is what drives us each day. A desire to be fulfilled. Yet, we walk in darkness, not knowing what it is that will fulfill us. Make us complete. We try and fill the holes in our hearts with the things that we see.

My friends, it doesn’t have to be this way. You and I will never be satisfied by the things of this world. This isn’t our home! This is one step on a journey of eternity. Everything that you gather, on this walk of life, will perish and turn to dust one day. When you are at the end of this life, in this world, not one thing that you have gathered will be carried with you to your next destination. All that will go with you is what has been deposited into your heart. Where your heart is, so is your treasure (Matthew 6:21). When your heart is filled with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then you have a true treasure that will go with you in this life and the next.

There is only one way to be truly fulfilled. That way is Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). It is in Him that we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). If you haven’t given your life to Jesus and would like to do so right now, then please pray this prayer.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Application

The best way that I can apply what I’ve read and learned today is to seek the Lord, always. When I am tempted by the things of this life and the desire to get more, then I need to examine myself, ask God to help me see where I am deficient, and then listen and trust Him.

Prayer

Father, I rejoice and I am glad that you are in my life. I thank you for who you are and what you are doing in and through me. I ask, Father, in the name of Jesus that you will lead me and guide me as I continue to walk with you. Please strengthen me today. Help me, to be honest with myself and with you. Help me to love you and to love people more. That’s the only “more” I need in this life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

In the morning
when I pray,
in the brilliance
of the day.

Wondering how
I might feel,
if You turned
to me and said,
You’re real.”

There are these
who do not see,
the glory of,
Your majesty.

While demons
shudder and
think; to us
they nod
and wink.

Knowing He
from above;
The One filled
with love,
will banish
them, for
eternity.

 

Here we are, once again, shaken and perhaps even stirred, by this glorious pastime we call “Life.” Let’s, for a moment, recap a few tidbits that we’ve picked up along the way and address the question, “Why are we here?” No, I don’t mean “The Big Question.” Douglas Adams answered that for us in 1978 (42). We’re gathered here today to continue our discussion on hope and faith and why they appear to fail. I welcome those of you who have just arrived. If you want to catch up with the rest of the group then you can start here. We’ve addressed the possibility that one reason that hope and faith appear to “fail” is that, instead of pursuing God, we’re pursuing the “thing” in which we hope. We’ve discussed that, according to the Bible, hope, faith, and trust are all dependent on us. That’s right, you and me. Love, on the other hand, is based on God, who cannot fail. If this intrigues you and you’d like to read more then please read the previous parts of this series. Muchos gracias!

It was brought to my attention that not everyone believes in God. We are a diverse people, humanity, and we believe and don’t believe all sorts of things. However, whether or not you believe in God is not the issue here. Yes, I do believe and express my beliefs here with the tools that have been given to me. I do hope, (there’s that word) that we can agree that Life is not about us. Life is not about me. Go ahead, say it, “Life is not about me.”

Now, this is a major issue in the world in which we live. Too many people, for too long, have thought that life was just about them, their families, or their “in-group” of people. We’ve been running a race against ourselves for thousands of years. We put money, comfort, “peace” of mind and ourselves ahead of this planet upon which we all reside. We walk around with a mindset that, “as long as this doesn’t bother me, it’s okay.” Well, it’s not “okay.” Look around the world. Does the world look “okay” to you? Are you happy with wars, starvation, and genocides? Look closer to home. Does it bring you joy when you see a person without a home, starving on the street? Do news reports of mass shootings indicate that everything is hunky-dory in the world today? I hope not. Let’s move on and I’ll step down off this box.

We need one another. That’s just the way it is. No society can work against itself and survive. We depend on one another whether we like it or not. Let’s look at it even more locally. If you’re a blogger then you need people to read your blog, right? Enough said.

I moved to Sacramento in 2018 hoping to be healed of a twenty-year illness that had been keeping me in pain for most of my waking hours since 2016. God called me here in December of 2017. Although I had heard the call, I wasn’t set on moving. I had lived in Santa Barbara most of my life, it was my home. Then, I watched it burn and get wiped away in mudslides.

Sacramento life is very different than Santa Barbara. It’s not until you move somewhere where you don’t know the area and don’t know anyone, that you realize how many friends you left behind. I noticed, after moving up here, that I wasn’t getting better. I was getting worse. I couldn’t believe it. I thought that I had been in pain before. I thought that I had suffered before. In my pain and suffering, I turned more toward God than I ever had. I started asking questions again.

Oh, I never really stopped asking questions. Just the wrong ones, I guess. Joe was on my mind. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, I would try and not think about it. It’s ironic how something would happen, each year, around his death, to remind me of the date. Like a nagging feeling that you left something on when you left home. Like death’s skeletal fingers, tapping me on the shoulder.

Only this time, as my illness grew worse and pain crept into my sleep and my sleep became less, and my desire to live, even less. I started in with the questions again. This time, really simple, “Why?” I’d go out on pain-filled walks, pushing through the rain of Sacramento “winters” and I’d yell at God. I’d shout and demand, “Why?! I have done what you have asked. I have moved. I have left home. I have left friends. Why am I suffering more?” I let Him have it. I went down the list of everything that I had done in faith that had failed. I begged Him to bring me Home. I told Him, heal me or let me die. I can’t take it anymore. I thought I had faith, but it had all failed.

You know, there are conspiracy theorists who say that we’re always being watched by someone. Well, I remember the day that answers came. It was so much of a cliché I have to laugh when I think about it. The rain was pouring down and I was on my knees, staring into the Heavens, rain splattering into my eyes, yelling at God. I was in so much in pain. Unlike the cliché in the movie. I didn’t get the answer there, on my knees, in the mud. I got up, and continued my walk back to the house, asking Him to forgive me.

It was then, while cleaning up, moving ever so slowly in fear of the unexpected pain, that I remembered Joe’s memorial service.

I was speaking with Nancy, and we were both crying, she must have said my name, because someone from behind asked, “You’re Jason?” It was someone from Joe’s family. A cousin or someone. I don’t remember. I do remember suddenly being swamped by people who were thanking me. They were all so happy. I had forgotten their happiness. All I had remembered was my selfish pain. My belief that my faith had failed.

Here were all these people who had known Joe longer than I had. All of these people who knew who I was. Knew that Joe and I had spent his last year together. They were thanking me! Me, for being there with Joe. He shared our conversations with his family and friends. He talked to a lot of people in that last year. Here was shy Joe talking to so many people. Telling them about God and the friendship we shared. They spoke of the changes in Joe’s life. How he was strong and courageous. He didn’t talk about dying. He only spoke of living and being healed. At the time, it was like acid in my face. Throwing our conversations back at me. Into the failure of my faith. This time, though, when I was remembering it. I could see the joy. I could see hope. I could see faith. I remember telling them, “God did it. I had nothing to do with it,” or something like that. I didn’t and still don’t, deserve any credit.

Most of all, though, I remember Nancy. I remember the look of relief in her eyes. I remembered our counseling sessions, and I knew. I knew that the marriage would fail. If Joe had lived. Nancy stopped blaming him for cancer, but the issues that were there, they just got tucked under the rug.

I remembered it all. The memorial service. How people spoke of Joe. The Lord brought it all back to my mind and then He said, “Do you see? I put him into your hands. I trusted you to guide him to Me. I trusted you. You didn’t fail.”

Joe would have survived cancer only to lose his wife, the dreams that they had, the new life and new home. His family and friends would have briefly remembered Joe’s courage and strength. The divorce would have crushed him. No one would have remembered this shy man, who faced death, with courage. However, with his death, Nancy moved on and got that house and honored Joe and their marriage. His family and friends, they remember him strong.

As I write this, it dawns on me, that my dear friend, didn’t call me that last time, when he went to the hospital, because He loved me. He knew it was time. He was going Home.

There we have it. God’s perfect timing. God’s thoughts above our thoughts. His ways, beyond our ways. It’s not about me. It’s about Love and serving one another in love. Whether or not you believe or not. We’re all here, on this pretty blue planet, together. We live together, and, if we’re not careful, we’ll all die together.

Sorbet Skies

Into ocean
depths, vast-
open,
free-
Santa Barbara
sunsets.