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How to Improve Your Self Esteem

When a word or term is bandied about, its original meaning tends to get encrusted with a certain dullness of familiarity. For instance, when we say it is seven o’clock (or one, or six, or ten o’clock) we actually are saying it is seven OF THE CLOCK. We unconsciously use the contraction, and we don’t envision those once ubiquitous, round time keepers with a big hand and a little hand that gave us the full phrase “of the clock.”

Analogously, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the original meaning of self esteem. Let’s look at the term’s two words in turn.

A friend or co-worker who is greatly appreciated might be called, “esteemed friend” or “esteemed colleague.” If we are dealing with a capable and respected adversary we call him “worthy opponent.” That is how we esteem him. When we use the phrase “in my estimation” we are expressing our judgment about the quality, dimensions, or value of something.

Self of course is the word we use for that one person each of us calls me; that one person who addresses other people using that little vertical (in English) pronoun I.

So self esteem is simply judgment about that one person. It means “I judge myself to be thus and so.” And in this writer’s estimation, there is a popular assumption that unless we esteem ourselves to be good and lovely and wonderful in every way, there is something wrong. Let’s turn to the Bible. Let’s check that out in light of God’s word.

How should we esteem ourselves in comparison to the majesty and glory of God? Consider the reactions of various Biblical persons when they were presented with a stunning (often miraculous) demonstration of the same. They hasten to fall on their faces and bemoan their unworthiness. They have a sense of being undone. They become absorbed with a sense of wonder, awe, and adoration. We should esteem ourselves as very little compared to God (cf. Psalm 8), yet be filled with wonder that He esteems us of great value:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6,7)

How should we esteem ourselves in regard to others?

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3) Well there’s a radical idea!

The original language word translated BETTER in that verse refers more to position than to intrinsic value. An analogy is that both a husband and wife bear the holy image of God, but God has made the husband the head of the wife. So although the Bible does not command us to esteem ourselves inferior to others, it commands us to have a lowliness of mind which counts the interests of others of greater importance than our own. It’s part of what it means to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Often our self esteem is tied to our rate of pay, net worth, or other economic quantifiables. Once again, to the word and to the testimony.

“…He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6,7)

“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

Self knows its greatest joy when it is not concentrating on self, but on the glory of God. And God commands each self (person) to esteem others better than self. And tying one’s self esteem to wealth or status only leads to robbing self of the blessedness known by those who give:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (from Acts 20:35)

How to improve your self esteem? Adore God. Major on how you esteem others. Count wealth in all its forms primarily as means to glorify God and bless people.

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An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

The following letter was “snail mailed” to Senator Sanders on Saturday, June 17, A.D. 2017. The United States Senate’s website provides this page for those interested in contacting the senator: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/

The Honorable Bernard Sanders
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

Greetings Senator Sanders,

Grieved and disappointed, I am writing with regard to your participation as a member senator in the Senate Budget Committee’s June 7 examination of the president’s nominee for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mr. Russell Vought.

As per the Committee’s records available at http://www.budget.senate.gov/nomination-hearing-for-deputy-director_of-white-house-budget-office and as reported elsewhere, you vigorously interrogated Mr. Vought at some length regarding his religious beliefs. Based on an article which Mr. Vought had previously written for the publication Resurgent, you put this question to him:

“You think your statement that you put into that publication, they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions?”

Following Mr. Vought’s response to that question, you said:

“I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Senator Sanders, I am confident that you are not ignorant of the dominant role that the Christian faith played in the founding of our country. It is manifestly untrue that historic, Bible believing Christianity is “…not what America is about.” Our religiously passionate Declaration of Independence, the ideological matrix of our noble and abiding Constitution, is one place where this is manifest.

But I am not writing primarily to expound on Christianity’s role in the formation of ours, the greatest country on earth. Nor is it necessary, I hope, to remind a sitting United States senator that religious tests for public officials are unconstitutional.

I do hope to persuade you that the Christian (Biblical) teaching held by Mr. Vought should not be regarded with the disdain you showed for it during his examination before your committee. Perhaps I can do so by way of a little homespun analogy.

Suppose there were a criminal who had been tried, found guilty, condemned and sentenced to death. But before the execution could be carried out, that criminal was granted clemency by the governor of his state.

Now imagine that criminal refusing to accept the clemency! That, Senator Sanders, is comparable to the behavior of those who refuse the gracious clemency offered by the Moral Governor of the universe, God Almighty, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ His Son.

According to the Old Testament, religiously recognized not only by Christians but of course by Jews, by Muslims, by others and according to the Christian New Testament, the entire human race already stands condemned! The Bible teaches that we human beings are by nature sinners…rebels against our Creator. I refer you to the words of Jesus recorded at the Gospel of John 3:18 – “the rest of the story” following the very well known verse John 3:16.

From that fallen, sinful nature with which every one of us enters the world comes all the deceit, greed, violence, hatred and other kinds of wickedness which has never been absent from human history, and which we see throughout the world today.

Surely, persons of every ideology and religion recognize our fallen condition. Sages have wrestled with this fundamental human problem from the beginning of history, seeking answers. The account of why we are in that condition is provided by the Bible, which also asserts that our condition is irremediable without the divine prescription, so to speak, which the Bible also reveals.

The Biblical teaching which Christians hold dear is that the Gospel of the Son of God is the only way God has provided for anyone to escape the condemnation under which we are already. Every consistent Christian affirms that he or she was utterly condemned before coming to saving faith in Christ. And, motivated by the Christian commitment to “love your neighbor as you love yourself,” every consistent Christian wants his or her fellow human beings to obtain that same redemption.

Of course the guilty criminal of my analogy who perversely would refuse to receive clemency would remain condemned. Of course those who hear but reject the Gospel of Jesus will remain under condemnation.

The Bible teaches, and Christians therefore believe, that a day is coming when that heavenly Court which is truly supreme will convene for its final session. A perfectly just and eternal verdict will be rendered for every human being who has lived, now is living, or will live.

The Bible teaches, and Christians therefore believe, that the Gospel of the Son of God is the only hope for any and every member of the one human race.

Thank you, Senator, for your attention.

In the service of the King of kings and Lord of lords,

SIGNED

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That Funny Book, the Bible

Scripture does contains humor. Usually it is quite subtle and perfectly timed (Proverbs 26:1-12, Isaiah 44:16-18, John 9:29,30). And the best humor often delivers a truthful punch to those things in the human experience which are not funny at all.

So the book of Truth affirms righteousness and attacks wickedness and error in diverse ways. The prophets and apostles set forth the beauty of holiness, the heinous nature of sin, and the certainty of judgment (Isaiah 6, Exodus 34:5-8, Joshua 7:10-26, Isaiah 6, Acts 5:1-11). With amazing and heavenly imagery Scripture depicts the dread majesty of the God Who is God (Ezekiel 1, Revelation 1:10-20) and urges us to an humble recognition of the limited nature of our own understanding (Psalm 131, Psalm 139:1-18). Sometimes the irony in the holy Bible is as thick as a brick (John 7:42, 18:14).

Above all, as one creed proclaims, it makes a “full discovery” of the only way of salvation. That is, it exhaustively sets forth the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the living Word of God and Who is the very soul, heart, central figure and genius (Luke 24:25-27; 44-48, John 5:39) of this the most exalted literature known to man, the infallible and fully authoritative written word of God.

Those willing to heed a most valuable exhortation found in God’s book – namely to seek wisdom above all (Proverbs 4:5,7; 16:16) find something wonderful. That is, its apparent discrepancies actually reveal unparalleled cohesion and precision. Only a single, divine Author could achieve that using multiple amanuenses over many centuries.

On the other hand, those who are predisposed to dismiss God’s word as a foolish affront to what they conceive as wisdom and knowledge become dangerously complacent in superficial arguments against it, or twist it to their own destruction (Job 5:13, 1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Peter 3:16).

Have you read the Bible? Have you studied it? Have you wrestled with its difficult passages which are able to enlarge your heart and your understanding? Have you considered that One of infinite wisdom backed by unfathomable love perhaps has written wonderful things to finite you, drawing you out that you might seek Him with your whole heart?

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” — Hebrews 4:12-13

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True Colors

What do a lump of coal, a milk chocolate bar, a male cardinal bird, a ripe lemon, and field of newly fallen snow have in common? None of them is the same color as the skin of any human being on Earth! There is only one human race, and labeling hundreds of ethnic groups by how closely their average skin tone approximates a handful of chromatic adjectives like Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White is not helpful.

It is more accurate and respectful to recognize national heritages such as Yoruba, Tamil, Cherokee, Chinese and Norwegian. We Americans live in a country based not on our diverse national origins but on an idea. And most Americans have family trees which include two or more of those hundreds of ethnic groups which historically hail from all the continents of the Earth.

The way forward out of infighting for us Americans is not chaotic “multi-culturalism,” but UNI-culturalism. One America assimilating the diverse treasures of our ethnic heritages, but solidly united under that great idea, and governed by only one law: that of our noble constitution. The idea known as America is expressed in our pledge of allegiance: “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” That idea has produced the historic greatness and uniqueness of our country. Our record is far from unblemished, but nothing in all of human history has excelled it.

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Inter-ingly Speaking…

In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children.” — Herodotus

Perhaps like this blogger you read those words and admired their wisdom…you said to yourself, “how profound – that 5th century B.C. historian par excellence and contemporary of Socrates was a pretty sharp guy!”

If you did, then you must agree with Herodotus that there is such a thing as the order of nature. That order is so obvious, isn’t it?

Yet sinful mankind violates the order of nature not only by the horror of warfare but in other ways; by perverted sexual practices for example.

Or consider how we are able to observe the growth of a child in the womb more clearly than  ever through ultrasound and other tech. Clearly, that’s no “lump of flesh,” that’s a BABY, growing in his or her mother’s womb, according to that part of the order of nature we call gestation. What a barbaric violation of the order of nature is abortion!

Speaking of medical technology, what a heinous assault on the order of nature it is to try to alter one’s sex by committing surgical mayhem on one’s body!

The Declaration of Independence (in loco parentis to our constitution, though some want to inter it) refers to the laws of nature and nature’s God. Since you agree that violating the order of nature is bad, what should you think of violating the laws of the transcendent Creator of nature?

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Sorry, Charlie (D.)

It might be when God providentially opens an opportunity for one of His people to bear witness for Jesus. It might be an occasion on which He gives another a flash of insight to start a fruitful conversation about our Lord and His Gospel. It might be in a online or offline discussion of some kind regarding things that really matter: God, the human condition, the way of salvation, final judgment, eternity…

In many if not most of such encounters, there is a topic that arises: EVOLUTION. Darwinism is by far the most common stumbling block of our age. It is offered almost universally as an objection to the truth claims of the Bible by those who are skeptical of those truth claims. It is ubiquitous in its influence over the thinking of the contemporary mind. It has never been observed, like adaptation has been observed, yet it is commonly assumed to be unassailable truth, backed by irrefutable science.

In reality it is anything but science. It is a great LIE, and the Christian evangelist must reckon with this damnable enemy to the progress of the Gospel.

One way we do this is by ever keeping in mind that “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). That is true regarding the whole counsel of God, and therefore includes the foundational truths of creation as they are found in Genesis and elsewhere in holy writ.

If we grant legitimacy to a theory that makes our Creator unnecessary or at best marginalizes Him, we have cast behind our backs the One Who is also the Redeemer. Allow for the idea that death and suffering are simply part of the natural order, and the sting of death – sin – is deceptively hidden from sinners in need of that Redeemer. For the truth is that “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12).

The true history of the origin of life and of the human race is far shorter than  evolution’s revisionist version with its millions of years of violent struggle for survival. A Biblically faithful summation of that true history is as follows. After God created the universe very good in every way, the sin of mankind brought a dreadful curse upon it (cf. Romans 8:20-22). Through Christ the Savior, the curse is being removed. The Gospel is the way of entrance into Christ’s kingdom and its ongoing work. The consummation of His kingdom work will include a perfectly restored, deathless, and eternal heavens and earth.

There was no “big bang” at the universe’s beginning, no evolution anywhere within it thereafter, and inevitable heat death and oblivion is not its bleak future.

When someone has gullibly swallowed evolutionism this Bible truth, breathtakingly contradictory to what he has been taught from earliest youth, appears as foolishness to that one. It becomes a stumbling block to those who otherwise might be coming to Christ for the gift of forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

The salvific piercing and discerning mentioned in the verse from Hebrews cited above might begin when an ordinary Bible believing disciple becomes the very first person to ever question or challenge evolutionary thought in someone’s mind. How often has this writer observed the incredulity not only in the words but by the shocked facial expressions of someone steeped in this reigning mythology!

In Acts 17:16ff we have good precedent for “creation evangelism” in the example of the apostle Paul. In that passage we find him proclaiming the good news to philosophers and others gathered in the ancient city of Athens on Mars’ hill.

Mars, a.k.a. Ares, was among false gods having a place in the fantastical myths of cosmogony (the origin of the universe) and cosmology (the large scale properties of the universe) which darkened the hearts of men in that time and place. On Mars’ hill was a monument to an “unknown god.” Apparently the idols Mars, Jupiter, Athena, Artemis and the rest were inadequate to address the lost condition of their worshipers, who inwardly realized that was the case.

Paul started his address to them by affirming the one true God as Creator and Sustainer of all things. He was mocked. When we imitate the apostle, insisting that the creation of the universe and all it contains was by the word of God, that it took place in six days of ordinary length about six thousand years ago, and that the first human being Adam was formed of the dust of the Earth and brought to life by the breath of the Almighty, we will often be mocked as well. When we challenge this great lie, the philosophical idol of today, those who honor it as worthy will scoff. So be it.

Like many heroes of the faith over the ages, we must stand strong for truth come what may. The Gospel itself stands on the bedrock of the Biblical account of divine creation and the subsequent history of Mankind and his world which the Bible provides. Here we must stand, our consciences are bound by the infallible word of God, we can do no other.

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No CPR Required

The adherents of many religions and philosophies of the world erect beautiful monuments where their honored dead are interred. In striking contrast, we Christians assert that our Master is no longer in His cave tomb, the garden location of which was well known on the day He was lovingly laid there and remained known long after.

The central proclamation of historic Christianity is that Jesus walked out of that burial cave when He physically rose from the dead, having promised to do just that before He was unjustly executed. Our King is not crumbling to dust within a pyramid or any other majestic sepulcher built by slaves or admirers. The One Who sets men free and Who is worthy of all adoration is alive forevermore with a glorious, divine majesty that no artistry in stone could ever give.

Jesus Christ was not merely resuscitated, as is the case for example with a drowning victim whose breath and consciousness are restored within seconds or minutes. Following His violent and gory crucifixion, the soldiers who saw Him breathe His last ascertained that Jesus was dead. They plunged a spear into His lifeless body for good measure (John 19:30-34). He was buried shortly thereafter, and His closest friends grieved.

The testimonies of those initially incredulous friends and of hundreds of other eyewitnesses to what happened on the third day after His death are preserved in venerable and more importantly quite reliable ancient documents.* Approximately 2,000 years have elapsed since this miraculous but actual, historical event yet its veracity has never been successfully challenged.

Early Christianity was considered a vile superstition in its Roman province of origin, and at best as a curiosity in the greater Roman world. Christ’s enemies eagerly would have sought His bodily remains, because finding them would have exposed the witnesses to His resurrection as liars, dispersed a fledgling community of shamed disciples, and made Christianity a brief and obscure footnote in history.

But the best those enemies could do was to contrive a deceptive tale about His body being stolen. To this day, not the slightest trace or hint of any remains of Jesus have been found. And the best that His enemies of today can do is to arrogantly scoff.

What some hoped to make a footnote has become the main subject of history’s annals. The capitol of that province which counted Christianity as vile was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, just as Jesus foretold (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). In the following centuries the Roman empire itself was engulfed by the successful, peaceful, and enduring movement which they had supposed to be flash in the pan. This is not the fruit of a fairy tale or of a well intentioned myth.

To sum up, we might say that the principle of habeas corpus bows before the reality of “ascended corpus.” To this day, while the adherents of various belief systems acknowledge that their founders are long dead and buried, billions including this writer have staked all our hope on One Who indeed died and was buried, but Who did not remain dead and buried.

And we acknowledge that if this is false…if Jesus did not truly and bodily rise from the grave, our faith is worthless and we are of all mankind the most to be pitied. Persuaded that it did occur, we present to all the same message that some philosophers of ancient Athens heard from a Christian preacher to whom the risen Christ had appeared:

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’ ” (Acts 17:30-32)

* Matthew 28:5ff; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 1:2, 24:12ff; John 19:35ff; Acts 2:32, 5:32, 10:39-4, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, et. al.

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