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Who Ya Gonna Call?

I don’t know how many of you were like me, but there was a time in my life when the last place I would go is to God.  Even then, my prayers were more like the old TV show “Let’s Make a Deal.”  Ever been there?  You know, trying to strike a deal with Almighty God that if He would get you out of this mess one more time “I promise I will (you fill in the blank).”  Well David shows a different approach to the trials and challenges of life in his writing of Psalm 142 .  David is in a cave because King Saul has his henchman out hunting David down.  Yes, the famous shepherd boy that killed the giant with a stone and a sling is now reduced to hiding in a cave with no friends at his side and fearing for his very life.  In the first two verses of this psalm David tells us “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.  I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.”  It is evident by the words David uses in these verses that he has developed a close personal relationship with his Heavenly Father and he knows who to turn to in his time of need.  When he says “I pour out my complaint before him”, he is not talking about the kind of complaining we normally hear but David is saying I shared my condition with my Heavenly Father.  Much like we would do with a close confidant, David is sharing his situation, his troubled heart, with God and looking to Him for guidance.

In verse 3 and 4 he says “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.  Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.”  David is saying I am weak but when I am weak you are strong.  He is relying on God to direct his path because those around him have set traps to capture him for their own personal gain.  David tells God he has no one that cares for him and no hiding place where he feels safe.  Although we may not face circumstances as severe as David was experiencing at this point in his life, we have all faced times where we felt there was no safe place and no one cared about our state or condition.

Verse 5 tells us “I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”  David is confessing that God is his hiding place and all that he needs in this earthly life.  What a powerful lesson for us to draw from.  Going to God first rather than last, and acknowledging that He is our refuge and He is all that we need in our lives no matter what circumstances we may be facing.

In verse 6 David confesses “Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.”  He is telling God of his need and the fact that he does not feel strong enough to fight the battle he must face.  Yet in his request, he is drawing us a picture of his reliance upon God’s strength and God’s ability to handle all matters small or large.  Then he says in verse 7 “Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.  Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.”  David is saying God, neither I nor any person that I might call upon can change my circumstances.  Only you can free me from this bondage I find myself in.  Isn’t that what God asks of us?  To rely upon Him alone to free us from the bondage of sin, to call upon Him in our time of need and to rejoice with Him when we are on the other side of whatever challenge we faced.  David says if we do this the “righteous” will gather around us to celebrate and praise God for His mercy and deliverance.  They key point we need to remember is that people gather around us not for what we have done but because of what God has done on our behalf.

We would do well to learn from David’s description and incorporate his experience in our own walk with God.  God’s mercy is infinite, His wisdom is infallible, His power is boundless, His love is never changing and He is the director of all things.  That is why in all situations, big or small, major or minor; we should turn to God for our solutions and our celebrations.

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Soul Man or Sole Man?

In his Friday, March 4, 2005 devotional John Fischer  wrote “There is a story I came across recently, reportedly from the writings of Rabbi Kushner, about a group of tourists who went on a safari in Africa and hired several native porters to carry their supplies for them. After three days, the porters announced they would have to stop and rest for a day. When the tourists inquired as to why (they did not appear to be tired) the porters confirmed that fatigue was not the reason: ‘…but we have walked too far too fast and now we must wait for our souls to catch up to us.”  Men, this is an idea worth exploring.  Not in its literal sense, but in the picture it draws for us about how we live our lives.  Haven’t you had occasions (some of us far too often) where it seems you have been moving so fast that you wonder where your life has gone?  Have you ever thought about the question “am I a ‘soul’ man or am I a ‘sole’ man?”  Let’s spend a few moments together looking at this very important question.

First, we need to understand something about the word “soul.”  Holman Bible Dictionary  tells us the soul is “The vital existence of a human being.”  It goes on to say “In the Bible, a person is a unity. Body and soul, or spirit, are not opposite terms, but rather terms which supplement one another to describe aspects of the inseparable whole person.”  Although some have accepted the Greek teaching that the soul is an immortal, ever-living part of a human being, Scripture states that God is the giver and keeper of life and when we die, body and soul die.  While we are a complete “natural man,” we will also be a complete “spiritual man.”  As I understand Scripture, at no time will we be this “bodiless spirit” floating around waiting for God to decide what to do with us.  1 Corinthians tells us in the 15th chapter “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (verses 42-44)

We will come back to this idea of “soul” man but let’s first look at “sole” man.  Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the word sole as “1 a : the undersurface of a foot b : the part of an item of footwear on which the sole rests and upon which the wearer treads.”  Try to get a mental picture of the “sole” man being the man caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  He is probably working hard to support his family and provide them not only with their needs but trying extra hard to supply some of the niceties of life.  He is moving through life’s challenges as quickly and carefully as he can but he seems to be walking faster and faster on his soles but getting less and less accomplished as he sees it.  He has, or had, dreams but they seem to be drifting further and further from the realm of possibility.  His spouse and family have become a source of frustration for him.  Why don’t they see how he is wearing out his “soles” to try and meet their expectations?  Although “sole” man may have moments of joy and happiness in his life, much of his time is spent conquering the next hurdle that he defines as “being successful.”  You see, “sole” man’s entire existence is based upon his efforts and his accomplishments.  He uses man’s solutions to man’s problems.  At times he turns to his friends and colleagues for guidance but he finds that their solutions, and in fact their very lives, are as confused and misdirected as his own.  At one point in his life, he thought he understood some things that would help him get through this maze called life but now all he has is questions and no human being alive seems to have the answers.  His “soles” yearn for something or someone to comfort and reassure him but all he finds is deeper confusion and more unanswered questions.  Sound familiar?

Let’s now take a look at “soul” man.  While we can draw many similarities between “sole” man and “soul” man, there are some key and distinct differences we must recognize.  In Eugene Peterson’s The Message , he gives us a great description of what I call “soul” man in the seventh chapter of Matthew (verses 13-27).  Jesus is speaking and He says “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life–to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention. “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. “Knowing the correct password–saying “Master, Master,’ for instance–isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience–doing what my Father wills. I can see it now–at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, “Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’  ‘These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit–but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.  ‘But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”  “Soul” man distinguishes himself from “sole” man in the following ways:

  • He recognizes that there are no shortcuts to the life God expects him to live. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14, NIV)
  • He knows the way to God requires energy and his total attention.
  • He judges by character and not by charisma.  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20, NIV)
  • He knows that doing God’s work is not for his own glory but for the glory of his Heavenly Father.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7: 21, NIV)
  • He understands that life will present him with many challenges but if he builds his relationship with God on these foundation principles, he will weather life’s storms like a house built upon rock.  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  (Matthew 7: 24-25, NIV)

I hope as you reflect on these ideas, you can say you are a “soul” man.  If not, my hope and prayer is that you will begin the journey that is necessary to move you from “sole” man to “soul” man.  Remember the words of Jesus when He said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9: 24-25, NIV)  God longs to have more “soul” men serving Him in our world today.

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Fake, Fickle, or Faithful: Which Type of Christian Are You?

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8: 11-15 (NIV)

It is an interesting time to live isn’t it?  While we see men in the church, there is a real question that must be addressed.  Are these men “fake”, “fickle” or “faithful” men of God?  In Luke 8 Jesus shares a parable with his followers regarding the sower.  Jesus often taught using parables and the Holman Bible Dictionary defines parables as “Stories, especially those of Jesus, told to provide a vision of life, especially life in God’s kingdom. Parable means a putting alongside for purposes of comparison and new understanding. Parables utilize pictures such as metaphors or similes and frequently extend them into a brief story to make a point or disclosure.”   Let’s take a look at this parable and see what Jesus tells us about these three types of Christians.

Verse 13 tells us “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”  These men are the one’s I refer to as “fake” Christians.  We see them in church on Sunday morning and they may even participate in other “Christian events.” They are often members of a congregation of Believers but in all reality they do not understand at all what a real relationship with Jesus Christ is all about.  It is not because they have not heard the Gospel preached or because they do not have the ability to comprehend what it is required to enter into such a relationship.  It is simply because they are willfully choosing not to initiate that step of faith to begin the journey of developing a relationship with Jesus.  While it may be a fact that these men have made a profession of faith, prayed a prayer, and followed through with Believers baptism, the fact remains that they did not do the most important thing before exercising these steps and that is accepting by faith in their hearts that Jesus Christ is their Savior.  You see it is not the prayer that saves you but the spiritual change that occurs inside you before you pray the prayer.  The strange thing is, you will hear these men talk about believing in Jesus and many of them are quite eloquent in their understanding of scripture.  But that is an intellectual relationship instead of a heart relationship that God requires of us.  The Bible describes very clearly for us that Satan and his demons believe in Jesus Christ so “believing” alone does not lead to salvation.  These men, for the most part, are not setting out to deceive anyone and in fact the tragedy is they are deceiving themselves.  When the inevitable “bumps in life’s highway” come along these are the men that seem to pull away from the fellowship of Believers and in fact can become quite bitter towards God.  They want to place blame and God seems to be the most convenient target for such anger.  They say things like “how could God let this happen to me” and “I thought God loved me.”  They lead their lives based on the thinking capacity of man versus the spiritual thinking that relies on an Awesome God that is in control of everything.

Verse 14 tells us “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”  These men are what I call the “fickle” Christians.  They have not grown to understand that they must rely on their Heavenly Father in all things and not on their own understanding or abilities.  Whether good things are happening or bad things are happening, they are relying on man’s ability to achieve or overcome.  If we were to compare these men to their non-Christian peers, we would see very little, if any, difference in how they are leading their lives.  They are caught up in living their lives by worldly standards and worldly methods. Their lives are measured by how much they acquire and accumulate and not by how much they are serving or giving.  These men see God as a means to prosperity and not eternal salvation.  They operate from the “what have you done for me lately God” mentality.  These men are “Christians” when it is convenient but otherwise they try to “blend in” with the world around them.  While it is a scary thought, I believe there are congregations that are predominantly, and possibly entirely, made up of this kind of man.

Jesus then tells us in verse 15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”  These men are the one’s I call “faithful” Christians.  Their salvation is based solely on Jesus Christ and they have accepted by faith the gift of grace.  They seek a relationship with God on a daily basis.  They regularly and routinely study the Word of God and with the assistance of prayer and the Holy Spirit, they lead their lives based upon the understanding gained.  These men are not concerned about the world’s view of them but most important to them is pleasing their Heavenly Father.  There is an understanding that life’s journey will have trials, tribulations and temptations but they are firm believers in what is stated in Matthew 19: 26 which says “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  They are not relying on worldly means but seek spiritual guidance and direction in all things.  Guidance such as that in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  Faithful men are the spiritual leaders of their marriage and families.  No matter what their occupation or profession, their peers note a distinct difference in them compared to their non-Christian peers.  Their daily lives are built around activities that are pleasing to God and they function as servant leaders in their homes, their churches and their communities.  Their “witness” is not in word only, but more importantly, it is in how they live their lives that speaks volumes.  These men do not claim to be perfect, far from it.  In fact, they recognize that they are sinners just like those around them but there is one key and extremely important difference, they have been saved by grace and they are now, and forever will be, heirs of the Living God.  Because of this difference, they are now obedient to the guidance and direction given through God’s Word and by the Holy Spirit.  When things get rough, they don’t seek out the latest and greatest “remedy” man has to offer.  They look to their Heavenly Father for answers and they are secure in doing so.  These are the men that God wants to build His church upon.

My hope is that as you read this article you are taking an honest inventory of your personal relationship with God.  If you see that you may fall into the “fake” or “fickle” category, there is no better time than the present to make the changes necessary to put you in the “faithful” category.  God’s desire for you is to have a close personal relationship with Him.  Just as any worthwhile relationship requires time, effort and energy to develop, it is no different with God.  While accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior is the first step in the journey, it takes time to develop the relationship that makes Him Lord over your life.  Too many men are taking the first step but not putting forth what is required to grow and mature in that relationship.  This is exactly why we have “fake” and “fickle” Christians.  “Faithful” men should desire to be recognized like Paul recognized the church in Corinth.  1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 says “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.  For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.  Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.  He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  Men, it is time that we stand up as “faithful” Christians just as we expect our Heavenly Father to be faithful.  It is time for the world to see “faithful” men making a difference in the lives of those around us.  So, what will it be for you, “fake”, “fickle” or “faithful”?

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He Who Dies with the Most Toys is Still Dead

He Who Dies With the Most Toys is Still Dead
or
The Importance of “Vertical Thinking”

Too many men, including men in the church, become victims of “horizontal thinking.”  What in the world is horizontal thinking you ask?  It is simply getting caught up in the world’s definition of success.  In his book THE MAN IN THE MIRROR Patrick Morley writes “Today men are consumed by desires to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like.” A man allows himself to focus on temporal gain to make him feel like a “real man.”  The next promotion, a newer more expensive car, a bigger house, big boy toys (trucks, sports cars, motorcycles, boats, country club memberships, etc.) and numerous others.  Not that any of these things are in and of themselves evil, it is when we devote most or all of our energy to achieve them that they become dangerous.  They are often devious and subversive in how they take hold of a man’s vision of what his life is suppose to be.  Before long, he is consumed with the “horizontal issues” in life and he has lost interest in pursuing or maintaining a vertical relationship with his Heavenly Father.  At this point Satan becomes his greatest ally by showing him all kinds of reasons why his actions are justified.  “I’m doing this for my family” or “I know I’m not conducting my life the way God wants me to but once I accomplish this goal, I’ll get things in order” or “Doesn’t God want successful people in His church” or “If I gain more then I can give more” and many other rationalizations that we are convinced will keep God at bay.  The interesting thing is “later” rarely ever gets here and the groundwork has been laid for a man to continue down the path of “horizontal thinking.”  What a man intends to do and what he actually does can often go in completely opposite directions.  That is what makes “horizontal thinking” so dangerous.

The best way for us get an understanding of “horizontal thinking” is to look at a scriptural example.  In Mark 10 we learn of the rich young man that comes to Jesus to pose a question.  Beginning with verse 17 and reading through verse 22 it tells us “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’   ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good–except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.  ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’  Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’  At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”   Jesus knew He was being set up when the young man called Him “Good teacher.”  You see the young man already had a preconceived answer he was looking for.  When he told Jesus he had followed the “law” since his youth he expected Jesus to tell him he had already accomplished what was required of him to get into heaven.  When Jesus tells him to “sell everything you have” it wasn’t because Jesus found fault with wealth but it was the fact that this young man placed more importance on his wealth than he did in his relationship with Jesus.  He was caught up in “horizontal thinking” and he had lost site of the more important “vertical thinking.”  It is also important for us to note that the scripture says that Jesus “loved him.”  In spite of the fact that Jesus knew this young man was trying to set Him up, Jesus was drawn to the young man and His desire was to open the young man’s eyes to the importance of a personal relationship with his Heavenly Father.  The young man walks away “sad” because he didn’t get the answer he expected and he was unwilling to let go of his “horizontal thinking” to gain a vertical relationship with Jesus.

I love how THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible in Galatians 5 gives us a reminder on this issue.  It says “You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.”   This scripture indicates we should not only take this issue seriously (“And please don’t toss this off as insignificant”) but recognize that God takes it very seriously. It is also important to note that it tells us “This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.”  It is not within God’s nature to try and derail us from being obedient.  These verses also let us know there will be “divine judgment” for those who interfere and draw God’s children away from “the true course of obedience.”

So how do I avoid “horizontal thinking” and strive to maintain “vertical thinking?”  First let’s acknowledge that it is not always the easiest task to accomplish, but it can be accomplished.  It starts with what Rick Warren so aptly stated in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.”   You see, “vertical thinking” is focused on God and not on self.  All men, by our very nature, are selfish to one degree or another.  Throughout history this has been the eventual downfall of so many men because they became more and more focused on satisfying themselves above all else.  David gives us a good “test” for our daily walk with the Lord in Psalm 15.  David writes “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things will never be shaken.”  Lets look at several of the items David has listed here to help us maintain our “vertical thinking.”

David tells us we are to walk “blameless” and do what is “righteous.”  Blameless does not mean without sin. It does mean we are known to maintain a lifestyle that is based upon “integrity.”  If there is one thing our society today could use more of, it is men of integrity.  The dictionary definition of integrity is “Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.”   Integrity for God’s man is strict adherence to God’s code of conduct, not the world’s.  It’s doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do with no ulterior motive.  It is doing what you say you are going to do and if you can’t, it’s letting people know you will not be able to keep your word.  God’s man does not use integrity only when it is convenient but at all times, even when it is not easy.  “Vertical thinking” requires that we act in compliance with God’s divine law and by doing so we will be free from sin.  While our relationship with Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God, it is our daily actions and behavior that make us righteous in man’s eyes.

Psalm 15 then tells us God’s man is one “who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.”  We have all experienced the hurt that comes from someone lying to us.  It is especially painful when it is someone close to us.  “Vertical thinking” requires that we build relationships based upon truth.  That’s why Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 verse 25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” God’s man does not get caught up in slander and gossip.  James tells us “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.”  Peter teaches us “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1).  “Vertical thinking” requires that we harness our tongue and stay away from those that cannot control theirs.

David then tells us God’s man is one “who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD.”  Who do you look up to?  Who is your role model?  Are they worldly men that model “horizontal thinking?”  We must choose our heroes carefully and recognize that we are sending a message by those we choose to shape our lives after.
“Vertical thinking” requires that we seek out Godly men to set the example which we use as our model for daily living.

The next issue is God’s man is one “who keeps his oath even when it hurts.”  “Vertical thinking” tells us we keep our promises, even when it is not easy or convenient.  It means we keep our promises even if something “better” come along that we would rather do.  “Vertical thinking” requires that we keep our promises the same way God keeps His promises to us.

Verse 5 tells us God’s man is one “who lends his money without usury.”  Usury means interest.  “Vertical thinking” requires that we utilize the resources God has provided without looking for personal gain or attaching “strings” to the item borrowed.  Simply, don’t take advantage of someone’s need.  I believe this applies not only to money but in today’s world, it could be said of any resource we have available that could help another person resolve a need or problem.

David then gives us one last item and that is God’s man “does not accept a bribe against the innocent.”  Innocence or guilt should be based upon truth and not whether the accused can “buy” their way out of the situation.  Moses was given very clear instruction from God when He said “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16: 19).  “Vertical thinking” means truth cannot be bought at any price.

“Vertical thinking” certainly requires us to maintain very different standards than those set by the world around us.  Who are you living to please, the world or your Heavenly Father?  There is certainly short term satisfaction created by the standards of the world but how does that relate to your eternity?  God’s man uses “vertical thinking” to keep him focused on daily living that leads to long term satisfaction which is spending eternity with our Heavenly Father with all of the benefits of a good and faithful servant.  I am reminded of that wonderful hymn refrain that says “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”   Men, may your life be full of “vertical thinking” and may the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of Jesus magnificent glory and grace!