Too Heavy to Bear

With the Christmas season now having “officially” begun, we may be expecting the holidays to be an occasion of joy and refreshing, although for many it instead historically seems to serve as a season of sorrow, worry and loneliness.

For one thing, the ideals of what we assume the season should be are frequently not realized, leaving us feeling deflated and disappointed as our expectations are not met.

For another, the problems, turmoils and unresolved conflicts that we can lay aside for most of the year are often forced into the open simply because family members are in much closer proximity to one another during this time and what is generally “swept under the rug” is kicked up in our faces as relatives march into our lives and we into theirs.

With that in mind, many folks respond by taking on the impossibly heavy weight of responsibility for managing the world’s affairs (or at least their own corner of it). But the world is too heavy a burden to bear.

When the “whinies” strike (you know, those temperamental moments that children have when things aren’t quite living up to their demands and nothing can satisfy or satiate their desires) we may feel like pulling our hair out, assuming that we have some to pull out.

Kids don’t always get exactly what they want for Christmas (no matter how hard we try) and can’t always get all that they may have wanted (budgets do have limits after all). But most of the time they get more than they need and much of what they do want. Parents (hopefully) try to teach their children to be thankful for what they do get and give them a perspective of contentment (let us pray) that is not at the mercy of their circumstances.

In all honesty, however, we would have to admit that the “whinies” are not limited to children but have their more sophisticated versions in us adults as well. Not only do we not always get the gifts that we may have been dreaming of, but our holidays may not be everything we had hoped that they would be. From what is served at our Christmas dinner to who goes to whose house for Christmas morning, to just hoping to avoid the annual family argument over whose political party is caught up in the most scandal, we have entire lists of unmet desires and unsatisfied wants.

And, of course, some of our desires are more abstract and run deeper in our hearts, such as having all our family members together but finding that death, or war, or sickness have prevented such heart desires from being met.

Even so, our happiness cannot be based on our circumstances because trying to bear the weight of making everything all right for everyone is beyond the strength of anyone.

When I get particularly cynical and negative, my wife sweetly, although pointedly, reminds me that, while she does all that she can to be the wife and mother our family needs, ultimately no one can make me happy but me. I can choose to worry and fret, vent and complain, try and try to get everything right all the time, but my circumstances will never be “perfect” (at least, based on my superficial criteria and mortal perspective) nor will I ever be perfect either. But by God’s grace, I can still find joy in Christ.

In other words, if the fact that the turkey is too dry ruins your Christmas season, then you need a new perspective. If the tree getting knocked over (repeatedly) by the cat keeps you hot and bothered, then it’s time to reevaluate what criteria you use to determine whether or not the holiday was worth it. And if Cousin Joe and Great-Aunt Matilda can’t help but get into their yearly argument (complete with name-calling and fist-fighting) about who he should have really married, there’s no reason that you should declare the holidays a failure and move to a remote tropical island as far from holiday “cheer” as is possible (not to mention those pesky relatives).

Now don’t think that the realization that you can’t bear the weight of the happiness of others is a license to skip out on responsibility. Sometimes folks will uproot themselves from their obligations and promises.

“I’ve carried it all for so long; now it’s time for everyone else to do the carrying,” we may think. But that’s not what the Bible teaches us. Instead, it teaches us to follow-through with our promises, to do our best for our God and Savior, and to then trust Him with what is beyond our strength to carry.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).

Jesus simply wants us to carry what we were designed to carry. And what is that? We are made to carry only the weight of walking with Him as His disciples. But that weight is really what gives us our wings. As we trust Him, obey Him, and entrust to Him our burdens of worry, control, relationships, work, and what appears to us to be an uncertain future, we are lifted up by the divine hope that our God is faithful beyond compare. He is not content to bear only our burdens but endeavors to carry us as well.

There is something incredibly freeing in the conviction that “God is in control” and that His grace is sufficient to cover all my imperfections and inadequacies.

There is something incredibly freeing in the conviction that “God is in control” and that His grace is sufficient to cover all my imperfections and inadequacies.

You have to admit, there is something incredibly freeing in the conviction that “God is in control” and that His grace is sufficient to cover all my imperfections and inadequacies. Do you want to know how to have a truly happy holiday season? Do this. Do the best you can to honor God with what you are and with what you have, and then trust the Lord with the rest.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 2:5-6 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Days such as these have shaken a great many people to their core. It has proven to be an age in which faith in God is essential not only in the esoteric realm of “religion” to which we often have attempted to relegate it, but in the practical living of life. Things like material success, financial security, popularity, and political party affiliations (in which we have blindly deposited the assets of our hope) have proven time and time again to be empty of sufficient power to protect and provide for us. Not only that, but such things as politicians, industry, financial institutions have all been abundantly sown with the insidious seeds of corruption, thoroughly contaminated by those in society who “call the shots” and demonstrate that the only interests they’re looking out for are their own.

But as Christians, instead of becoming overcome by anxiety and cynicism, we merely refocus our lives and allow Him to reorient us to the victorious life to which He has called us. We now begin to live a life of practical faith.

“We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39 ESV).

Faith is nothing more, but nothing less, than the entrusting of our lives to God.

Faith is nothing more, but nothing less, than the entrusting of our lives to God.

In doing so, we come to Him on His terms, and then live “in Him” as He leads, discovering that He Who called us is faithful (see 1 Thessalonians 5:24)! We humbly approach Him through faith in the sufficiency of His Son’s death and resurrection and, in repenting of our sin, find that He credits us with His Son’s righteousness. We then live in faith as we learn that being His “children” is more than theoretical but is in fact “actual”. We find that He has an active and intimate interest in our thoughts and attitudes, as well as how those work out in our relationships and daily choices. And we also learn that we must live by faith in our Heavenly Father’s desire and ability to guard us and to provide for us. It is in this latter point that many Christians today are rekindled spiritually and it is through our challenging circumstances that it is being made abundantly clear that “faith” is essential.

But as essential as faith is, it is a fragile thing indeed. It is a hair’s breadth of “fiery trial” that refines the faith of a person in one instance but becomes the catalyst for his despair in another. Are there practical steps that may help you in discovering the “lifesaving faith” that Hebrews 10:39 describes? Here are some of the basic ingredients for cultivating within yourself that kind of faith.

First, if you really are a man or woman of faith, you are saying that you are a person who takes God at His word. If this is true, then you must make knowing His “Word” a priority. In other words, become a person who reads and reflects upon the Scriptures, studying them not only for an academic understanding of them, but also for personal transformation and practical application of His truth!

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD…. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You…. Let Your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your promise” (Psalm 119:1, 10-11, 41 ESV).

Second, become a person of prayer. If your first response to this is, “But I don’t know how to pray,” then you’re making something harder for yourself than it needs to be. When the Lord Jesus models prayer for us in His “Lord’s Prayer”, He teaches us that it is simply a conversation with our Heavenly Father, humbly offered, but courageous in its being direct. Real prayer is an earnest talk we have with our God in which He is the only audience. Through prayer we tell Him how we love Him, share with Him our concerns and burdens, and lay out before Him petitions for others as we seek His grace on behalf of others. Prayer is also an occasion in which we learn to sit quietly and listen, hearing Him speak as He “brings to mind” what He has said through His Word.

Perhaps you can see that prayer and study of His Word work best when linked together. To talk to Him and to truly “dig into” His Word effectively, it’s definitely a good idea to set aside a special place and time to do so privately. Doing either (or both) publicly is necessary at times and very beneficial, but it is in the private encounters with God in which we really begin to sink roots of faith downward into the soil of Christianity.

Next, become a person of worship. Privately praise Him daily for being God, Savior, and Lord. But join your praises with a church family as well. The greatness and goodness of God cannot be adequately appreciated in lonely worship, but is amplified as if by a megaphone when we become a part of a larger body of praise and thanksgiving! In corporate worship you will find that your spiritual life is fed and enhanced as the Spirit of God flows through the conduits of faith that surround you!

“The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and all Your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations ” (Psalm 145:9-13a ESV).

Having discussed how Bible study, prayer, and worship are all necessary parts of building your faith, for that faith to take on the dimension of leveraging for you a meaningful and satisfying significance, it now needs the power and strength that comes only through application. For your faith to grant you the sweet and savory flavor of fulfillment, you must allow your faith to overtake every other dimension of your life.

Your material resources are a great place to start. Most folks are worried about their material wellbeing. Maybe you are, too. But here is a great place to start experiencing God’s power. If you are His child, apply what His Word teaches you in regard to material possessions. Pursue His kingdom rather than the accumulation of stuff. Don’t worry about what you don’t have, but seek His will and trust Him to provide for your needs. Remember that “your stuff” is really His stuff and that it has been entrusted to you to use for His glory. So employ a spirit of generosity (in tithing in your church but also in the helping of others in need).

Another area of life to begin the application of faith is in the area of service. Are you serving God through a local body of Believers? Are you joining with other Christians in the work of ministering to others in need? Have you ever participated in a mission trip? Are you contributing your talents and gifts, knowledge and experience to the work of God’s people in sharing God’s love? If not, stop holding back. Remember that in every area you feel weak, there is a vacuum waiting to be filled up with the power of God.

So now let the word “faith” take on a new meaning in your life as you offer yourself to Him for His glory. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

In a time of escalating crime and selfish vice, it seems that justice is a fading concept. Yet one of the virtues for which the human heart craves is justice: the moral imperative to right what is wrong, to lift oppression, and for people to be held accountable for their actions. Indeed, a hunger for justice is one of the qualities given us that affirm our having been created in the divine image and a desire for a just society is more than a evolutionary blip or sociological coincidence. We are, from our origins, wired to want justice.

But ironically, the fallout of moral relativism is the obscuring of both the meaning and the value of justice. It would seem that in our culture the concept of justice is generally only exposited in criminal law shows and police dramas. Even talking heads shouting at each other on “news” shows can’t quite provide for us for us a clear picture or rationale of justice.

While I am glad that justice is being “dealt” with (sort of), I am sad that it takes such convoluted and confused venues to say something about the matter. The foundations for understanding and valuing justice are actually laid at home in the formative years of our children, strengthened and clarified at church, and understood in practical forms in school.

Of course, television shows and movies only deal with the most heinous and extreme departures from justice. Our limited interest in the matter seems to suggest that we’re only willing to admit that cold, calculated murder is unjust but can’t quite bring ourselves to also acknowledge lying, cheating, stealing, adultery (and other forms of immorality), neglect of children, abortion, and human euthanasia are all also radical deviations from God’s divinely crafted plan for humanity.

“Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us” (Isaiah 59:9-11 ESV).

It should not surprise us that the consequence of muddying the waters of justice is increased hurt, crime, and oppression. It should not surprise us that the illegal forms of injustice increase when injustice increases legally as well, whether we’re talking about banking schemes to win over more borrowers even when they cannot afford the crushing weight of debt or if we are speaking of unborn children in terms that somehow minimize their value, deny their humanity, and treat them as nothing more than inconveniences that people can “choose” to rid themselves of.

“Justice is turned back and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares and uprightness cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14 ESV).

Those who speak up for the weak, the oppressed, and the helpless are frequently labeled as “intolerant” and “narrow-minded bigots”, deflecting attention from the real issues of injustice (the plights of those who can neither speak for nor defend themselves).

“Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:15a ESV).

Can we expect God to bless us if we’ve become so “tolerant” that justice is lost to us and injustice is the rule of the land? No!

Can we expect God to bless us if we are “tolerant” of injustice?

Can we expect God to bless us if we are “tolerant” of injustice?

“The LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede…” (Isaiah 59:15b-16a ESV).

The Lord esteems justice: It matters a lot to Him. Since it matters a lot to Him, it should matter a lot to us. If Christians value the favor of the Lord then they will seek to be instruments of justice. While He does not desire us to be vigilantes who consider ourselves above the accountability that God-ordained law imposes upon us, He would have us be spokesmen and spokeswomen for truth, even if it risks the favor of our society (which, you’ll remember, is somewhat confused on matters of justice anyway).

And of course the first place to begin to implement justice is in our own homes and in our own churches. God’s justice compels us to be men and women of integrity on all levels of life: our service to Him (obviously), our jobs, our school work, our friendships, our relationships with our children, and our relationships with our husbands or wives. Gossip and slander are just as unjust, in God’s eyes, as striking a co-worker. Neglecting our responsibilities as parents is just as unjust as being too harsh. Stealing from God our tithes and offerings is just as unjust as stealing from your neighbors.

But if we’ve found ourselves riddled with unjust attitudes and behaviors, there is the open door God gives us to start over with Him. Although, “He will repay according to what (injustice) they have done” (from Isaiah 59:18), he also promises to receive us if we repent and return to Him humbly.

“A Redeemer will come… to those… who turn from transgression,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 59:20 ESV).

Let justice not be far from you. Make your love for the One Who gave His life for you stir your heart up for the things that He Himself esteems.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

He Waits…

He waits

Who is this lonely father? Do any of us know him?

Picture a father, lovingly devoted to his children, seated by his window, waiting. He waits and waits, his eyes gazing through glass which at times shines brilliantly as the golden sun rises and falls, and at other times glows silver gray, from the rainwater streaming down its surface. Like the window pane, the father’s eyes also seem to shine with eager anticipation at times, a golden overflow of joy ready to be unleashed at a moment’s notice. But sometimes the light in his eyes fades as silver gray tears stream down his face.

What does he await? What does he look for? Why does he continue, day after day, to gaze out the window? He waits on his children to come home. He waits for more than a brief appearing with no agenda other than to ask for money. He longs for more than arms that are ready to greedily grab up but never eager to embrace. So he waits.

And who is this lonely father? Do any of us know him? He is our Great Father and He longs for us to come to Him, ready to embrace Him with no agenda other than to know Him and see His face, and to be embraced by Him with no other preoccupation crowding out our delight in His love for us.

Beside Him stands the Son, the One Who came to bridge a gap made wide by our rebel hearts and the pride that runs deep in us like a self-inflicted wound that never quite heals. He too bears wounds, but these were inflicted by our hands, hands driven by hate and jealousy. Yet His wounds have healed, covered by the balm of forgiveness, leaving behind only scars that tell the tale of how unearned hatred was met with an unconquerable grace. This Son, Who bore upon Himself the judgment earned by our repeated rejections, stands with the same eager desire mixed with the same silver-gray sorrow that paints the face of the Father.

Why must He wait? Why do we not rush right home to sit at His feet, drinking deep from the fountain of fellowship? Because we are too easily lured into the quagmires of busyness and burdens imposed upon us by a world that hates Him. We rush from the Father’s presence, and run amuck into pools of anxiety because we do not quite believe that God does indeed love us. We run from His loving embrace and dart into the traffic of ideas and philosophies that will run us over the moment our guard is let down. The affection of our hearts is too easily tantalized and led away from the only One Who can really meet all our needs. So we trudge our way into fearsome desert valleys littered with bones, the skeletal remains of the “might have beens” of others who have tried to live life apart from God.

Christians have great enemies. Chief among them are apathy and distraction. Too often we “settle for less” than we could have. But whether we hunger for more than we have, God Himself hungers for more. He yearns for our devotion, desires our affection, and longs for us to “seek Him with all our hearts” (see Jeremiah 29:13).

But unlike us, God does not “settle for less”. Although we may content ourselves with spiritually plastic alternatives to God’s presence in our lives, He will not leave well enough alone but will often take from our clutching fingers the things that compete for His place of preeminence in our lives. And while we may, in spiritual childishness, complain about it, I for one am glad that He does so. Why would I want something inferior to the great and glorious reality of His love? How could I possibly settle for less than what treasure in Him can be mine if I’ll simply delight myself in Him?

And what about you? Are you cold? Have you forgotten how great and good is the One Who waits for you? Can you not see Him even now, tears of joy and tears of sorrow running alternately down His face as you wander in and out of His presence?

What do you allow to compete with His position of being “first place” in your life? Have you relinquished control of your life to your circumstances allowing your call to come into His presence be subservient to the priorities and pressures that the world throws your way? If so, you’re the only one who can make the choices necessary to change your predicament. Don’t be afraid to repent and return to Him. You’ll find that He’s not going to hold over your head your failings and flaws, but will sweep you up into His arms as well as His glorious will for your life!

Don’t delay your return to Him! Don’t hold back either! Return to Him! Reprioritize your life around Him! If something comes up that competes for your attention and time, simply tell that something, “No!” and decide that you can do without it for the sake of the One you can’t do without!

Don’t make the Father wait any longer for you to come into His presence. Don’t treat the Son’s gift of Himself for your sake as if He were nothing. Don’t ignore God’s Spirit’s voice inviting you to go deeper into the spiritual life for which you were created. And don’t be afraid, wondering about how you’re going to make it, or about what others will think of you. God assures you that He’ll see to it, that as you obediently trust and obey Him, your needs will be met. After all, God is great and God is good.

“Seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Of all the regularly appearing doubts in the human experience, one seems to surface a great deal of the time in the various conversations that I have with Christians about God, spirituality, and the choices that affect the ultimate outcomes of our lives. And just what is that doubt? Well, to put it in the form of a question, here it is: What do you do when your eyes can’t see the promised good for which you wait?

An appropriate response to that question seems to me to be at the heart of what is essential for living a victorious Christian life. Come to think of it, that’s what faith really is, isn’t it? Faith is the continued grasping for that which God has promised us, trusting that it is there before us, though the mists of a thousand doubts hide it from view.

This is perhaps why God takes such pains in chronicling the lives of men and women over the span of a couple of thousand years who wrestled with that same perplexity.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrew 11:1-3 ESV).

Faith, therefore, is all about acknowledgement of the reality of that which is unseen even if we cannot empirically discern either the substance of what God says is, or the manner in which He causes it to be.

Can't seeIn other words, whether we’re using just the eyeballs God gave us, an electron microscope, or the Hubble Telescope, there still comes a limit to that which we can observe and the fact that our sight is limited does not nullify the reality of those things that exist beyond our sight!

In a similar way, God has created a spiritual reality that transcends our ability to observe it. There are some things that are very real, but are very invisible to our physical faculties. Not only that, but there are things that “are as good as real” but do not (yet) exist in our present time. Men and women who place their faith in Jesus Christ live in a reality that overarches all of time from before the beginning of creation in which a Sovereign God set all the Cosmos in motion to the end of time as we can see it. Will all of creation end in a collapsing universe that cannot overcome its own gravitational pull? Not hardly. The reality of God continues, unfolding new chapters and new experiences between Creator and Created Being that will continue beyond the burning out of our sun or any earthly cataclysm that we fear may overtake our globe.

How can we know this? Do we have “proof”? Yes, in a sense. The proof isn’t in improved technology. It isn’t in a live feed transmitted across the internet via MSNBC of footage from “the other side”.

The “proof” is in the assurance of those called by God who lived faithfully, trusting in God’s promises no matter what their circumstances may have screamed at them.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household…. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…. As it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:7a, 8-10, 13, 16 ESV).

The biggest problem with much of so-called Christianity today is our tendency to live for the here-and-now, sacrificing the “prepared city” of joyful fellowship with God for the “earthly dwelling” of comfort and self-sufficiency that we erect for ourselves today. Instead of investing in eternal things, we settle for the “sure” things of what our eyes can see now, the ideas and philosophies that superficially satisfy our selfishness, and the comforts and pleasures that immediately gratify us. If we today, continue to bank on only what we can see benefiting us right now, we will continue to be a weak and ineffectual people. But it does not need to be that way.

“By faith Isaac… By faith Jacob… By faith Joseph… By faith Moses… Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life” (from Hebrews 11:20-35 ESV).

These lived in such a profound power that their lives were not only changed but incredibly changed the world around them also. But what were these who are mentioned living for? Was it conquest? Was it justice? Was it safety? Was it comfort, pleasure or power? Nope. That’s the ironic thing about it. These “material benefits” were the fruit of eyes that weren’t looking at all upon their material circumstances or satisfied with material gain. They were fixed on the future yet before them that made all right whatever good or bad came their way in life.

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about… destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy – wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:36-40 ESV).

So back to the original question. What do you do when your eyes can’t see the promised good for which you wait? Whenever your eyes are distracted by what you have, what you don’t have, what others have, or what hurts or disappointments have afflicted your life, remember that you’re not living for the “here-and-now”; you’re living for something held in reserve for you. And as you release all of your everyday worries, grief, ambitions, pride, and fear to God, you’ll find that the reality that something better awaits you will suddenly begin to give you victory in the present. There is no one so free as he who is chained to Christ Jesus in the bonds of loving faith.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

A Good Set of Lenses

One of the things that fascinated my children when they were much younger, and still does with babies I sometimes hold, is my having to wear eyeglasses. When my kids were little they would grab hold of my metal-framed glasses, sometimes nearly taking one of my ears off with them, and then put them onto their own faces so they could try them out for themselves. “What’s the deal with this thing, dad?”they seemed to be asking (or the very young child version of it).

They would clumsily slide them onto their own faces, poking themselves in the eye as often as not, try to fit the earpieces over their ears, but getting them tangled in their hair or missing their ears altogether. Then, when having finally succeeded (with a little help from their father), they would take a look at the world around them through my lenses.

Because my eyeglasses were prescription lenses designed for my particular eye problem (nearsightedness with astigmatism), the children naturally could not see very well through my glasses.

But they thought it was fun to look at the odd things that they could see through them. The lenses would bend the light rays passing through them in such a way that to my children’s eyes the people and things around them were distorted into strange and bewildering shapes.

New lensesOf course, spending only a little time looking through my glasses made them laugh. I imagine that if they continued to look too long through them, however, giddiness would turn into nausea (and leave them feeling like they’d gone a few times too many on an amusement park “Whirl-a-hurl” ride). I’m glad to say that we never came to that unhappy conclusion – at least not with my glasses.

I find that a lot of people are a lot like my kids. Oh, I don’t mean that people are lining up to try on my glasses (that would be a bit awkward). But I do mean that folks like to try on different perspectives. In some ways, that’s not a bad thing. It’s great to try to look at things from the point of view of another person in order that we might appreciate such insights that they might have or have an understanding of them that cultivates compassion within us.

On the other hand, it can be a dreadful thing for us to take upon ourselves a perspective by which we will live life that isn’t prescribed for us by the One Who created us!

Before a person comes to Christ, he or she has a spiritual nearsightedness that effectively renders him or her blind. Such a person cannot genuinely see life (either the temporal world of the “here and now” or the eternal one that awaits him or her after this physical life is over). But when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, blindness begins to melt away, and a new set of “glasses” are prescribed for that child of God!

In other words, as Christians we are given the gift of “true sight”, a perspective that is not bound to the mere circumstantial evidence of what our physical eyes can perceive nor the erroneous conclusions our mortal minds can reach. We are permitted, through His Word, to see reality as it truly is which is neither the self-gratifying denial of the evils of the world, nor the gloom and despair of hopelessness.

With this new set of “glasses” we can see with eyes of faith the hand of God moving in and through our lives! Spiritually speaking, as we permit the Holy Spirit of God to open our minds, our eyesight gets better and better, as we become more and more accustomed to using the “prescription lenses” of the Bible.

How strange then, if we try to slip them off and put on our faces the old “glasses” we once wore or that someone else wears who hasn’t yet experienced God’s healing of spiritual blindness! An occasion which finds us trying out or trusting a perspective that is alien to the promises of God may give us a momentary feeling of “giddiness” but has no other ultimate conclusion than that of making us spiritually sick!

What about you? What glasses are on your face right now? By whose perspective are you living life? Is it a perspective being influenced by the common assumptions of society? Is it a philosophy that is built upon human wisdom? Does it puff up your ego? Does it deny your God-given worth? Is it something others share but stands in stark contrast to the Word of God? Is it something you’ve put together from your (limited) experiences and you’ve decided that it just “feels right”?

Be careful! The lenses through which you view life will dramatically affect the way you spend your life! Not only does your eternal life depend on it, but also the fruitfulness of your life that may lead others to a future forever with God.

Get into God’s Word! Prayerfully turn your heart and mind over to His inspiration as He speaks to you through the Bible! Let Him make “changing your mind” an ongoing process – not that you flip back and forth from one conclusion to another on any given day, but that you allow Him to lead you further and deeper into His life-changing truth so that even those things you think and feel you know become new as He applies those principles and promises into new areas of your mind, heart and actions!

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

Some years ago, my wife, Diane, and our two younger sons (one who was almost 11 years old and the other nearly 8) were discussing their studies in astronomy. They had spent several weeks on the subject of our solar system: the inner planets, the asteroid belt, the gaseous giants, the Kuiper Belt (which is the other asteroid belt), comets, and of course Pluto – the planet that is smaller than Earth’s moon (and is consequently the point of contention between some who say it should not be counted as a planet and others who say that it should).

They then moved on to other topics, such as the various types of galaxies and the different kinds of stars (yellow suns like ours, red giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes) as well as exploring the subjects of supernovae, nebulae, quasars, and so forth. They concluded their study by learning specific names for some of the better known stars like Betelgeuse (pronounced beetle-juice) and Polaris.

Throughout their discussion there were frequent pauses in the study to reflect on God’s marvelous hand in creating and ordering the universe so that we could, from our vantage point of precisely fine-tuned positioning in the violent cosmos swirling around us. Whose hand but God’s alone could have situated us so perfectly that we can gaze in awe at the handiwork of His infinite ingenuity and do so in the relative comfort and safety that Earth’s orbit affords?

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth (constellations) in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?” (Job 38:31-32 ESV).

Now, the chief danger in regard to our awe and appreciation of the wonders of creation is that we divert our worship to that which has been made from the Maker Himself.

“Beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19 ESV).

One would think that such heavenly counsel would be heeded by a people who believed themselves as attuned to the divine and as culturally savvy as did the Israelites who first received that command (and as perhaps we Americans do today). Yet men and women are easily wooed away from whole-hearted devotion to God. This danger has not relented in its capacity to ensnare people no matter the incredible passage of time since our beginning and in spite of the fact that God has disclosed to us His written Word, which was given to us through men whose hearts were divinely directed by His Holy Spirit (ensuring their validity and inerrancy for the generations that followed their writing). People still fall prey to idolatry.

“…And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God… and worshiped all the host of heaven…. they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen!” (2 Kings 17:16 & Romans 1:25 ESV).

If we give our hearts in worship what God has created instead of our Creator, we shed every entitlement bestowed to us by God for those things we need like love, peace, and joy!

If we give our hearts in worship what God has created instead of our Creator, we shed every entitlement bestowed to us by God for those things we need like love, peace, and joy!

So whether we’re talking about worshiping the sun or moon, or regulating one’s life according to the daily horoscope, we can see that such practices put us at odds with the divine expectations that are associated with truly following Jesus Christ. Not only that, but as we give our hearts over to worship what God has created instead of our Creator, we shed every entitlement bestowed to us by God for those things we need (e.g., peace, joy, spiritual security, not to mention salvation).

Not only that, but if we depend on astrology to give us direction for life, we stuff our ears against the sweet whisperings of God’s Holy Spirit. If we let numerology or Tarot cards provide us instruction and inspiration for life, than we’ve no room left for the tender words of love and heart transformation God would have us receive from the marvelous words He speaks in the Bible. And what does God intend to do about it? Will He simply sit idly by and watch as the hearts those for whom He sent His own Son travel down the all-too-short road to spiritual destruction? The grim truth is that He can’t say nothing nor can He do nothing. Grace does not permit it.

“…I will cut off from this place… those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens…” (Zephaniah 1:4b-5a ESV).

I have found that many Christians like to read their horoscopes or watch for their lucky numbers. I realize that many don’t take it very seriously, but some do. In either case, it is my hope that we’ll realize that God takes these kinds of things very seriously, given what is at stake for eternity. Making choices according to advice given to you based on your birth sign is a sorry substitute for the wise counsel of the One Who made both you and the stars to which astrology bows.

So be careful. Let your heart be filled with things from His Word and not the nonsense that’s concocted by spiritual forces that war against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Him we have something far more mysterious than the best offerings of any occultic master. In Jesus we have the incredible love of God inexplicably reaching into the tragedy of human sin and providing us the “…the unsearchable riches of Christ…, the mystery hidden for ages in God Who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:8-12 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan


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