Category Archives: Heart

The Pitfalls of Being a “Self- Made” Man

James HJames Mom%20%26%20Jamesallmark is a good friend of mine…and I am proud to call him”friend.”  He is a pioneer in television in these parts beginning his work with KRBC when it was tiny studio up in the hills of the Callahan Divide overlooking Abilene.  We found we had a lot in common having both begun work when TV was just a kid.  I was on the “floor crew” at KMID, in 1960 moving cables and cameras around.  James was beginning his career as an announcer and doing voice over for commercials.  He has been responsible for telethons every year…hard, detailed work.  But best of all he is a strong, faithful, committed Christian.  He writes a great article nearly every week as you will find out when you read the post below

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” Someone once used these words to describe a man that he knew. Cutting but true! The world has convinced mankind that a self-motivated, self-serving lifestyle is his right and obligation. The self-worshipper is “full of himself” and thinks nothing of ignoring others and even God, if they stand in the way of his agenda and human nature’s desires. He deliberately keeps God and others at arm’s  length. The Apostle Paul described the self-driven lifestyle in these words: “And that means killing off everything connected  with this way of death: sexual promiscuity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like It, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. “That’s a life shaped by feelings and things instead of by God” (Colossians 3:7 MSG).

Let’s dig down deep and see if we can discover our spiritual enemy and how he has always worked his will in our lives. Let’s set aside the image of Satan as having horns, wearing a red suit (fire resistant I presume), and carrying a pitchfork. He is the general on the battlefield of our spiritual life, who dispatches his army of demons to torment us and take us as prisoners of war. Satan ensnares us by manipulating the man of flesh that resides deep within each of us. This man of sin is easy pickings for Satan and his hordes.

Self-control is the only weapon we have fight off the enemy. The problem that we have is that most of us don’t have sufficient ammunition to fight off the invaders. Their concept of self-control is that they, themselves, control our lives and actions. And, of course we as human beings excuse our bad behavior with the lame blaming that “after all we are only human”.   That leaves us holding the bag!

Self-control means that somehow we must exercise control of our choices. Let’s look in the mirror and see our ego-centric self is what we must overcome, and we have to be able to admit that it is out of control and uncontrollable without divine help. The truth of the matter is that until we can overcome the influence of our human nature that rules in our lives. our lives can only get worse…never better!

Several years ago I discovered that hyphenated words that start with “self” run up a red flag. I’m talking about words like self-indulgence, self-fulfillment, self-absorbed, self-motivated, self-love, self-driven, self-pity, self-centered, to mention just a few. I’m sure that others may come to mind. Our problem is that many of these appear to be good characteristics that we have been taught to nurture. Now, substitute “God” for “self” in each of these words and you may be surprised at the cleverness of our enemy. Replacing “self” with “God” brings into sharp focus the kind of live we are prone to live, left to our own devices, and the real life that God offers. It has been suggested to me that sin is a perversion of God-given. When our instincts for security cross an invisible line it can morph onto pride, greed, and envy and anger. Our human need for companionship can turn into lust and lust into sexual impurity. Our need for self-preservation can find expression in angry outbursts and gossip. It has occurred to me that all of my unacceptable behavior can be traced back to my self-centered distortion of legitimate human needs that are carried too far. My responsibility is to learn the difference between my “wants and “needs.” He leaves the choice with us. Do you want to be a self-made man or the Creator’s creation?

A few years ago, a commercial ran on national television that really caught my eye. It was a commercial for the Edward Jones financial people. It opened at a nurses’ station at a hospital. A doctor is on the phone with a patient, who is at home. Try to visualize this scene. The doctor is instructing his patient on how to do surgery on himself. The doctor said: “Now, make an incision about six inches long between your third and fourth rib.” The camera cuts to a very distraught man standing in his kitchen with shirt unbuttoned. In his hand is a butcher knife from the kitchen. He had broken out in a cold sweat, and muttered nervously: “Doc, shouldn’t you be doing this?” The spiritual surgery that must be performed to set a person free from himself is drastic and painful, but absolutely necessary. You must decide whether you want a scalpel, or do you want the Great Physician to take over?

Archbishop Fenelon was a spiritual advisor in the court of King Louis the XIV in France some three hundred years ago. He ministered to a small group of faithful Catholics and often wrote letters to them to encourage and instruct them. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters. “The death that God brings pierces deep within. Soul and spirit will be divided. He sees all in you that you cannot see. He knows exactly where the fatal blows should fall. He heads straight for that which you are most reluctant to give up. Pain is only felt where there is life. And in this situation is precisely the place where death is needed.”(The Seeking Heart-Fenelon, pg 5).

The Christian life was never meant to be a self-improvement program because it requires that we nail our old self to the cross of Christ. When we have carried out this self-crucifixion, God immediately goes to work recreating man in the image of his Son. As Peter wrote, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust” (II Peter 3-4 MSG). Read Peter’s words again and absorb the significance of what they mean about the daily, intimate relationship that our supernatural God wants to have with each of us.

It boils down to choosing whom we will believe. We have to decide whether we will believe the lies of the father of lies, or take the word of the One who created the universe and mankind. Many years ago I put my trust in God, and have never regretted my decision. I have even begun to experience God working in my life, and that brings me peace, and hope that the world cannot comprehend. I am not willing to be a self-made man any longer, I much prefer becoming A God-fashioned man.

I am content to be the clay and put myself in the hands of the Master Potter to turn a pile of mud like me into something beautiful.

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Filed under Awareness, Christlikeness, conversion, Courage, Culture Wars, Discernment, discipleship, Encouragement, Heart, Holy Spirit, Initiative, Integrity, Jesus Christ, Life, Meaning of Life, Mind, morality, Peace, Persuasion, Philosophy, Redemption, Religion, Scripture, Selflessness, Supernatural, Trust

Getting Them “In”

eyeseeyouChurch leaders are lamenting declining attendance and seeking creative ways to get people into their buildings.  Preachers are even going to where the people are…imagine that!  (Sounds suspiciously like something Jesus did.)  But the goal appears to ultimately get people into their “worship services.” (We seem to forget that we are the “called out” not the “called in.”)

I hate to break it to you, but that’s not going to work.  People have better things to do with their time than to file into an auditorium, sing a few songs, listen to a few prayers, observe a few rituals, pay homage to a few traditions and listen to a monologue that may or may not be relevant…all the while staring at the back of the heads seated in front of them.

Some pin their hopes of getting people into their auditoriums on hiring a hotshot young Osteen-like preacher and a rockin’ band led by a highly talented choreographer/director/producer.  Unfortunately, without a large membership and a large budget, small congregations are left out in the cold.

The only way to increase attendance in assemblies is something any church of any size can do: fulfill their intended purpose namely, to build up our fellow disciples.  What we are doing now is just not cutting it.  When our assemblies become focused on encouragement, enlightenment and stirring up one another to love and good works…our assemblies will be packed.

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Filed under Discussion, Garlic and Onions, Heart, Motion Pictures, Science, Uncategorized

A Warning to Vegan Converts

Worried 002 I am reading (actually, listening to) Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked.  Am I enjoying it?  Well, yes and no.  “Yes,” to the expanding of my foodview (I think this is a new word I’ve invented but not yet patented…so use it without charge) but “no” to my vegan commitment.  Halfway through the book I have learned so much about what it means to actually cook my own food.

            We do a lot of cooking around my house.  My wife is a gourmet-quality cook.  She loves to make tried and true recipes and to try new recipes.  Alas, she is in poor health and I have taken over a lot of culinary responsibilities.  So, I was very interested in what one of my favorite authors had to say about the subject.  As with all Mr. Pollan’s books, I am enlightened, inspired and encouraged to keep the culinary faith.

            I became a vegan after doing a lot of research about what clogs up the circulatory system of Americans.  (You may know that heart attacks are the leading cause of death for those who eat the American way.)  I found that I have a lot of plaque in my veins and arteries and decided to look into ways to reverse the condition.  That led me to begin eating a no-fat (or very low fat) plant-based diet.  It is satisfying, inexpensive and delicious.  But, you see, I am a convert to this way of eating from the vein and artery-clogging omnivorous way I have eaten for decades.  That means that my mouth still waters at visions of various forms of meat.  I am eating the no-fat plant-based way for health reasons only. 

            If you fall into my category, it means you retain strong memories of succulent sausages, bacon, steaks, barbeque ribs, lamb chops, roasts, etc.  After listening to the first part of Mr. Pollan’s book, I wanted nothing more than to find a whole-hog barbecue joint and chow-down.  I wanted to find me some good Texas brisket or cabrito and, fat dripping from my chin, enter into a kind of carnivore nirvana.  Be warned: Michael, a committed omnivore, will make you think twice about, well…sinning.

            I am happy to report that I have righteously remained vegan…so far.  One day at a time.  We all have to die of something but I would like to be as healthy as possible and then, when my time comes peacefully, painlessly drop dead.  At my age, departure is not too far off and I could say I prefer to leave this life with fried chicken in stomach.  But, since I am already noticing some benefits of veganism, I think I will continue with the oats, peas, beans and barley…etc.

            My garden will help.  In spite of the funky weather and bad knees, I am steadily getting things planted.  I look forward to harvesting baskets of summer fruit.

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Filed under American Diet, Book Review, Book Reviews, Cardiovascular Concerns, Diet, Food, Heart, Home and Garden, Vegan, Veganism, Vegetable Gardening

From Committed Carnivore to Voracious Vegan

When you have open heart surgery (better known as the open chest surgery) they insert an instrument in an artery that is super accurate in measuring blood pressure.  After my surgery they told me that they had trouble trying to use my wrist because of the plaque buildup.  So they had to go elsewhere to find an artery to use.  I concluded from that bit of bad news that, in addition to the blockages they were bypassing, I have plaque buildup in all my circulatory system.  My brother-in-law had mentioned a book to me (see below) that I might be interested in.  I got it, read it, and realized that I might have avoided surgery all together if I had read it earlier.  Now, following further research, I have cut out all meat and dairy products.

So, my vegetable garden has become a lot more important since I became a vegetarian (actually a “no-fat vegan”).  I expect the garden will become my primary source of food.  In the meantime the produce department of the grocery stores has become the most important section.

We are fortunate also to have two sources of organically grown vegetables in Abilene and a three-times-weekly farmer’s market (mostly offering non-organic produce).

Why did I become a vegetarian?  Well, it certainly was not because killing animals and eating their meat disgusts me.  It was not because I came to the conclusion that eating only vegetables would save the planet (even though there may be some truth in that).  My mouth still waters at the thought of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, steak, pork ribs, fish, seafood, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, barbeque and meat in general.  I love all kinds of cheese and other dairy products.  No one could love those delicacies more than me.  It took some powerful scientific facts to shift me from a carnivore to a herbivore.

If I had the power, I would command everyone to immediately read two books: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D.  The China Study is billed as “The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.”  It is informative, disturbing and hopeful.  I say, without reservation, it can save your life.  In addition I would require everyone to watch the videos Forks over Knives and PlaneatAfter that, if you still want to eat meat and dairy, that’s your choice.  My goal is to educate.  If, in that process, you are converted then praise the Lord!

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Filed under Diet, Food, Health Care, Heart, Home and Garden, Organic, Vegan, Vegetable Gardening

The Satanic Western Diet

I have no idea to whom to attribute the following little article to — I just found it in my collection.  If you know the author, I will give full credit to him/her. Some of my readers may not know that I recently endured double bypass surgery.  I have determined to never do that again.  I will recommend a couple of books that have converted me to a plant-based, fat-free diet.  In the meantime enjoy the little parable below.

And God populated the earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

And Satan created McDonald’s. And McDonald’s brought forth the double-cheeseburger. And Satan said to Man, “You want fries with that?” And Man said, “Super size them.” And Man gained pounds.

And God created the healthful yogurt, that woman might keep her figure that man found so fair.   And Satan froze the yogurt, and he brought forth chocolate, nuts and brightly colored sprinkle candy to put on the yogurt. And woman gained pounds.

And God said, “Try my crispy fresh salad.”  And Satan brought forth creamy dressings, bacon bits, and shredded cheese. And there was ice cream for dessert. And woman gained pounds

And God said, “I have sent your heart healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them.”  And Satan brought forth chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained pounds, and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.

And God brought forth running shoes, and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.   And Satan brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil to change channels between ESPN and EPSN2. And Man gained pounds.

And God said, “You’re running up the score, Devil.”

And God brought forth the potato, a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.   And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep fat fried them. And he created sour cream dip also. And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol. And Satan saw and said,

“It is good.”

And Man went into cardiac arrest.

And God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery…

And Satan created HMOs.

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Filed under Devil, Diet, Food, Good & Evil, Heart, Humor, Ignorance, Science, Vegan