Trivial Pursuits

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality.”

            The temptation to trivial pursuit is probably much greater in our day than in Thoreau’s.  Many people today seem so addicted to the pursuit of the trivial that they feel compelled to post updates on Facebook or some other social networking site their most mundane activities or air their petty grievances over some real or imagined offense they suffered. Worse yet, many others habitually check back to find updates to these unfolding dramas.

Such people live far below their privilege. What can we do to live higher?

  • Read great literature. Stimulate your mind by connecting with great minds of the past and present.
  • Turn off the noise. Do you find yourself having the TV or radio on “just because”? I am a lover of radio and the recorded spoken word. But a few years ago I learned the value of turning everything off and simply being alone with my own thoughts, especially on a long drive or early in the morning with a cup of coffee. We truly can suffer from information overload. Getting alone with our thoughts helps us to think critically through what we already know and set things properly in order.
  • Make and cultivate real flesh and blood friendships. Being there for people and people being there for you, people that you touch, hug, kiss, visit with, is essential to your life having the meaning and fulfillment that God intended.
  • Seek God. After all is said and done, if a person neglects to seek and serve God, everything else they do, including all the above, will be trivial pursuit.

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

-Brad Fry

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Published in: on August 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm  Comments (4)  

Feeling God’s Presence

In an issue of the Christian Chronicle it was reported that “of the number of adults who claim to attend Christian worship services each week, few, if any, feel God’s presence.” The question that begs to be asked is, “What do people expect God’s presence to feel like?” Today’s society has its senses bombarded with computer games, virtual reality, reality television, etc. Therefore today’s church often feels like it must keep up to compete. Instead of Sunday services being a time when finite people worship and seek an infinite God, many gather to have their eyes and ears entertained, their emotions stirred and their egos stroked.

In his book, “The Death of Truth” Dennis McCallum writes, “Postmodernism religion in all its forms is marked by a placing of self and experience [“I need to feel God’s presence.”] at the center. Once self occupies the center, a whole new world opens up. In New Age thought, we are gods able to create our own reality.” Therefore man is less impressed with the “faith of our fathers” than he is with the production of the show.

Understand, this is not a defense of tired, lifeless, hypocritical religious services where people go through the motions and play church. God has expressed Himself clearly concerning such empty “worship” (Isaiah 1:10-15; Amos 5:21-24). But the answer is not some feel-good free for all where everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8; Proverbs 12:15).

God’s presence is not, never has been, nor ever will be dependent on man’s sensory perception of Him. If I need lights, camera and action to “feel His presence” and therefore believe he is present, it may say more about my shallowness than the church’s stodginess. Instead of seeking to “feel God’s presence” let’s seek to do His will. Instead of trying to “hear the brush of angels’ wings” (an “evidence” suggested by a popular song) let’s listen to His Word.

Brad Fry

 

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are You A Hypocrite?

Why are we so oblivious to our own faults? But at the same time we can focus with laser like precision on what’s not right in another person’s life. Jesus, as you know, described the absurdity like this, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye (Mt.7:3)? Jesus calls such a person a hypocrite.

Are you a hypocrite?

  • You’re a hypocrite when you convince yourself that the failures of others is justification for you failing to be and do what God calls you to. This is a favorite ploy of the non-religious. They convince themselves that they are justified in avoiding the church house, because, after all, there are hypocrites down there. They see the “religion” of some as a sham so they avoid any pretense or appearance of church life. Ironically these people will spend eternity with the very folks they so despised in this life (Mt.24:51).

 

  • You’re a hypocrite when you write a person off because you know of something they’ve done or said in the past and as far as you’re concerned, that defines them from here on out. Dana Carvey’s caricature of the “church lady” in the Saturday Night Live Skit was unfair, primarily because there are some “church gentlemen” who also fit the bill.

 

  • You’re a hypocrite when you do in private what you condemn others for in public. These are those who “teach others, but do not teach themselves” (Rom.2:21).

 

1 Peter 2:1–3 1So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s Not Just About Time

Set your clocks back 1 hour before you go to bed Saturday night. While you’re at it ask yourself if you need to repent of some selfishness in regard to punctuality. If you’re in the habit of being late, make the following promises to yourself. The person who is habitually late has allowed at least one of these character flaws to hang around in their life for way too long: negligence, arrogance, ignorance. It’s time to show them the door. In fact, it’s past time.

Make up your mind right now that you will repent of the selfishness of being habitually late by making and keeping these three commitments:

  • I will not be negligent. I will get ready first and relax second.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

James 4:17 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

  • I will not be arrogant. I will consider others more important than myself.

Philippians 2:3–4 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  • I will not be ignorant. I will make sure I know how long it takes me to get ready. I will make sure I know the correct time and location of the appointment and know how long it takes me to get there.

Ephesians 5:15–16 (NLT)

15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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Why I Love Fall

As I write this, on Tuesday, the forecast for this weekend is a bit cooler with a good chance of rain. So as you are reading this, I pray it is to the sight and sound of rain falling outside your window. I love fall. It is my favorite time of the year. Football is in full swing. October brings candy corn and great, old black & white “horror” movies on t.v. I’m not a fan of the slasher movies of the last few decades. I prefer my scary movies with Hitchcock, Karloff or Lugosi. A misty ambience beats guts & gore in my opinion.

Then in November we have the time change, when we set our clocks back an hour (November 3rd this year, in case you’re wondering). I welcome the time change both in the spring and fall. In the spring setting our clocks forward ushers in longer days to enjoy the outside a bit longer. In the fall, eating supper with the people you love when it’s already getting dark outside just seems cozier to me.

Then comes the greatest holiday of all, Thanksgiving. It was my dad’s favorite holiday. I’m sure that’s one reason it is my favorite as well. A time when we acknowledge our God as the giver of all good things (James 1:17).

Do you love fall? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Brad Fry

Published in: on September 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Truth of Consequences

A man went to see his doctor in an acute state of anxiety. “Doctor,” he said, “you have to help me. I’m dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts.” The doctor gave him a complete examination. “Mr. Smith,” he said, “I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger.”

Sometimes we overlook the most obvious connections. Maybe at times, as in the example above, we’re not always as bright as we should be. But more often it’s because many folks have a tendency to blame someone or something else for something that went wrong rather than accept responsibility for their own actions. From weight loss pitches to financial failure fixes the message is often the same—“It’s not your fault.” But the flip side that’s not often addressed is this: the sooner I admit my problem is my fault or at least my responsibility to remedy, the further I am down the road to fixing it. The Bible says, “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Moses warned the tribes of Reuben and Gad that if they went back on their promise to help their brethren, “behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Ezekiel prophesied to unfaithful and adulterous Jerusalem, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring” (Ezekiel 23:35). David wrote, “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends” (Psalm 7:14-16). But with our justice system as it is he or she may be able to get a good lawyer or a sympathetic jury or a lenient  judge or maybe all three and before you know it there are little or no consequences for crimes even as great as murder. That is, no consequences in this life. If no one else knows our guilt, God does. If no one else sees a flimsy excuse for what it is, God does. Paul uses this simple rule of cause and effect when he instructs, “Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval” (Romans 13:3). This principal applies to every area of our lives. There are consequences to our action and inaction. That’s the truth. When we deny that or when we as a society disconnect unpleasant consequences from wrong behavior, everyone suffers for it.

But Jesus also makes clear that, not only do bad actions have bad consequences, conversely good actions have good consequences. He said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38).

Since the time of Adam & Eve God has been teaching humanity that there are consequences for both good and bad choices. If we’ll get in the habit of seeing the connection between what we do or say and what follows, we will hurt and be hurt less.

 

Brad Fry

Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review of Logos Bible Software’s “Abraham: Following God’s Promise”

Logos Bible Software has offered the curriculum, Abraham: Following God’s Promise for free in return for writing a review of the material on my blog. So here it is!

As with most anything Logos puts out the technical quality of this material is first rate. The content of the material is very good. The writers do a great job of giving background material of what life was like in Abraham’s time. I do believe they try too hard to make a modern application of Abraham’s life to ours, such as “Reflect on an occasion when God led you to the right place at the right time. Was your experience like Abram’s, with God leading in a clear and obvious way? If you couldn’t see His hand in the events of that time, how did you react?”  The leading of God that many profess today often is very subjective. Not so in Abram’s case. God communicated with him verbally. But, as they say, eat the fish and throw away the bones.

The PowerPoint slides in the curriculum are excellent. I would love to see Logos produce more  high quality artwork such as this that will serve to illustrate the teacher’s own content and inspire his own creativity.

Well done Logos.

Brad Fry

Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Lamb on the Cross

The spitting, the mocking

The slaps in the face

The friend that denied him

Then wept in disgrace

The stripes on his back

The thorns on his head

The nails in his hands

To die in our stead

“Jesus of Nazareth,

King of the Jews”

Says the sign on the cross

For all men to view

The soldiers that gambled

The thieves at each side

The disciple he loved

The mother who cried

The thick, gloomy darkness

The cry of forsaken

The Lamb on the cross

Our sins he has taken

~Brad Fry

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 10:05 am  Comments (4)  
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Almost 2013 and We’re Still Here

Well, 2012 is winding down and the earth didn’t end because the Mayan calendar struck midnight. Imagine that. My favorite piece of humor on that subject showed, I suppose, a Mayan calendar and an Oreo Cookie, side by side. They look a lot alike. The caption reads, “According to the Mayan calendar, the world is ending this month. Fortunately the Oreo Cookie says not to worry.”

It’s amazing that so many people keep on predicting the end of the world at specific times and it keeps on not happening. Just know this. The Bible says, “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.(1 Thessalonians 5:1–3). God doesn’t tell us when the end will be, only that it will be. So be ready. Our attitude should be “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Everything is under his control.

Get yourself right with God. Keep yourself right with God. Have a Happy 2013. And have a cookie.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Seeing To One Another

Ever since Cain tried to evade God’s questioning concerning the whereabouts of his brother (Genesis 4:9) people have tried to absolve themselves of the welfare of others. Yet God makes clear that we are one another’s responsibility (Matthew 25:31-46; Hebrews 12:15; 13:1-2). Caring for and seeing to the welfare of every member is a duty specifically given to the elders of the church. This is why they are referred to as shepherds (Acts 20:28; Eph.4:11; 1 Peter 5:1-4). A shepherd’s responsibility is not just the flock at large but each individual sheep (Luke 15:4).

But each of us also has a responsibility to care for each other. And I’d like to encourage each of us to give greater attention to this work. The Bible says that part of pure and undefiled religion is to visit widows [and widowers] in their affliction (James 4:27). Most of the time the only way we are going to know if they have any affliction is if we are regularly visiting them. We have several widows and widowers and some married elderly who need to be seen about and visited. You can make it your full-time ministry to see to all of them regularly. But it would be much more feasible if each of us would take one or two of these households as our personal responsibility. The most sensible approach would be if every member regularly checked on those that live closest to them. We may be asking God to “lead me to some soul today” while those that God is trying to lead us to are right in our neighborhood. This is not the preacher’s responsibility. This is every Christian’s responsibility. Let’s make sure that if anyone is left alone, it is only when we have personally made the sincere and sustained effort to see to them and they have made it clear that they wish to be left alone.

The church’s business is people. And the church’s particular business is her people (Gal.6:10).

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 5, 2012 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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