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HORIZONTAL THINKING VS. VERTICAL THINKING

I originally wrote this article under a different title in January of 2005.  Since that time the magnitude and importance of this subject has grown to a level that may determine the very survival of the United States as we have known it.  For that reason, I have updated the article to reflect the importance of “vertical thinking” to God’s men and my hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit can use it to move men to live the lives God desires.

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” [1] 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 other achievements and physical “things”.  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 supposed 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”; “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”; “Doesn’t God want successful people in His church”; “If I gain more then I can give more” and so 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.  Mark tells us of a rich young man that comes to Jesus to pose a question.  “As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus asked. ‘Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.’  Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. ’There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ he told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’   At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” [2]

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 for which he was looking.  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” 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.” [3]   This writing indicates we should not only take this issue seriously (“And please don’t toss this off as insignificant”) but also 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.  David writes “Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?  Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?   Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.  Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.  Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts.  Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.  Such people will stand firm forever.” [4]  Let’s 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 – he does so 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 “speaking the truth from sincere hearts.   Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.  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 “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” [5] 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.” [6]  Peter teaches us “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” [7]  “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 daily represent “horizontal thinking?”  We must realize we are sending a message to others and choose our heroes carefully; it is imperative to choose wisely those lives after which we model our own. “Vertical thinking” requires that we seek out Godly men to set the example which we use as our role models 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.

God’s man is one “who lends his money without usury.” [8]  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 put, 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.” [9]  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” [10]  “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? Is it 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 [11] 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!


[1] MAN IN THE MIRROR Solving the 24 Problems Men Face; Written by Patrick Morley; Published by Zondervan Publishing House; Written in 1997 and updated in 2014.
[2] Mark 10:17-22.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[3] Galatians 5 from THE MESSAGE, an interpretation of the Bible
[4] Psalm 15:1-5
[5] Ephesians 4:25
[6] James 4:11
[7] 1 Peter 2:1
[8] Psalm 15:5a
[9] Psalm 15:5b
[10] Deuteronomy 16:19
[11] Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen H. Lemmel, 1922. copyright status is Public Domain

 

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AMERICA’S MAJOR PROBLEM IS SIN! PERIOD!

While so many are puzzled, oblivious, or in denial over the variety of issues being debated, argued and fought about in our nation, it is actually quite simple to explain.  We have lost site of the one thing that is at the root of all things contrary to God’s Word, SIN.  While there are many and varied definitions of the word “sin,” we will use the definition of sin as being a person’s effort to find identity for self apart from God.  Scripture tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”[1] which means that every person that has ever been born came into this world a sinner.  Some individuals who profess to be Followers of Jesus Christ as well as entire denominations have become so arrogant in their practice of religion, they attempt to use God’s Word to justify their sin rather than allowing God’s Word to convict them of their sin and lead them to repentance.  They have fallen for Satan’s lies and they are contributing to the sin problem rather than offering the one and only answer and that is Jesus Christ.  John tells us “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”[2] 

Look around you, open your eyes, our country has demonstrated how quickly a civilized nation can become lawless. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power.”[3]  Our Heavenly Father has made it very clear of His expectation when He said “You shall have no other gods before me.”[4]  There is nothing vague or mysterious about this statement.

From the very beginning of time God has made it clear that he is a God of love.  His love is referred to as AGAPE love meaning that it is unconditional.  While He may be disappointed by our decisions or how we live our life ignoring Him and following the ways of the world, He still loves us in spite of our thoughts, actions, or deeds.  At the same time He has made it very clear that he is a just God, meaning that he will issue out what is merited to those who refuse to accept his gift of grace and mercy.  Scripture tells us “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”[5]   We move from no hope and being distant from God to being full of hope and being drawn close to God by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  The Lord goes on to tell us “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.[6]  What we deserve for our sinful nature is death but God has made a way for us to receive eternal forgiveness through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

So many deny knowing what the gospel says and in reality they are really saying they choose not to listen to God’s Word and label it as foolishness, narrow minded, for the weak, and the list goes on and on to justify why people refuse to accept the grace of God and repent of their sin.  Grace is defined as “unmerited favor.”  We don’t deserve it but God gives it to us anyway because of his unconditional love for us.  The Gospel of Matthew tells us But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”[7]  My fear is our nation, much like the foolish man, has built our nation’s house on sand.

Jesus said “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”[8]  WOW!  Have we allowed so much evil to be stored up in our nation that it now is an unstoppable force?

So where are you in this sad state of affairs?  Standing on sinking sand or standing on the solid rock, the Word of God.  “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”[9]  I challenge all true Followers of Jesus Christ to stand firmly on the Word of God and speak God’s truth, not twisted, distorted, watered-down or manipulated words heard in a sermon or from someone designated as a “church leader”, but God’s words.  There will be a price to be paid for standing for God’s truth.  But remember this: the solid rock is not going anywhere but the rest is built on sinking sand!  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”[10]


[1] Romans 3:23.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[2] 1 John 3:4
[3] 2 Timothy 3:1-5a
[4] Exodus 20:3
[5] Ephesians 2:12-13
[6] Romans 6:23
[7] Matthew 7:26-27
[8] Matthew 12:35-37
[9] Deuteronomy 32:4
[10] 2 Timothy 1:7

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HOW MUCH IS A SOUL WORTH?

So often in today’s world men are distracted from the condition of their soul and enamored with the condition of their social status.  Men are notorious for maintaining a win/loss tally sheet and they compare their sheet with their circle of acquaintances to determine their level of success.  Many of them are church going men that fill a pew on Sunday mornings but that too is a part of their tally sheet to use in comparison to their peers.

When I share the gospel with men of varying ages it is not unusual to hear a response of “I’ll get to that later, right now I have other things I want to accomplish with my life.”  Not all of those things are bad; in fact, many of them are worthwhile and pleasing to God provided they are done in the way that God has them planned to be accomplished.  Education, getting married, starting a family, starting a career, buying a home, are just a few of the things they list and this list could go on for pages and pages; They’re not bad things unless they become your idol and you leave God out of the equation.

Jesus tells us “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”[1]

This seems to be a pretty clear message that doesn’t need a lot of interpretation.  The man that is trying to build up their tally sheet to compete by the world’s standards will lose it all.  Those who choose to follow the path of Christ will not look to the tally sheet for the score but will look to the Heavenly Father for His approval.  What good is it to gain everything the world has to offer but in the exchange lose your soul?  I find it truly amazing at what some men will sell their soul to gain something that will eventually tarnish and wear away!

Paul tells us “that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.[2]  Everything in this world will be subject to the bondage of decay because of sin.  We get focused on “stuff” and Satan loves to tempt us with the world’s stuff and the temporary satisfaction it can bring.  The key factor is the satisfaction is only “temporary” and cannot last so we move on to the next stuff that takes us a little deeper with Satan and a little further from God and soon we are feeling totally separated from God all together.

So some of you reading this may have been in the “tally sheet” mentality and trying to compare yourself to the world’s standards of success.  You are asking yourselves “is it too late for me to get things right with God?”  IT IS NEVER TOO LATE WHEN IT COMES TO GOD (provided that you are still breathing and your heart is beating)!  The gospel does not have an age or time limit. It is available today as it was yesterday and tomorrow it will be just as available as it is today.

It all starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Acknowledge He is the Son of God, ask him into your heart, and confess that you need a Savior because you cannot be good enough, rich enough or smart enough to buy or earn your way to heaven.  It comes by faith alone in Christ alone.  Once we have accepted that personal heart relationship scripture tells us Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.   Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”[3]  In this relationship we are living with a heaven-focused approach to life meaning that God is the center of our universe and we no longer need “stuff” to determine our success or value in the world.  We live knowing that eternity is all that really matters because all of us have an appointed time to die; we should live daily with the same desire that our Heavenly Father has and that is none should perish.  The only way this relationship is possible is if we revisit the passage from Mark where Jesus says If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

We must share the gospel if we truly have a heaven-focused heart and mind.  God’s man will use Jesus as his role model.  He will give unselfishly to those around them in need.  He will show compassion to those the world has thrown away or completely disregarded.  He will live everyday knowing that a person’s soul is eternal and if we aren’t the hands and feet of Jesus then a lost person may never know Jesus.  It makes me shudder when I read the words “in this adulterous and sinful generation” because it rings so true when we look at today’s world.  We have taken evil and made it good and we have taken truth and made it unacceptable.

God’s Word gives us a beautiful word picture of how God’s men should be living in “this adulterous and sinful generation” when the scripture that says Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.   Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”[4] 

I believe this is the meaning of living with a heaven-focused mindset.  This is what God needs from His men today.  God has made it very clear throughout scripture that this will not be an easy or painless journey yet our focus is not in the earthly realm but the eternal realm.  When we think eternally then the present becomes insignificant in comparison.  The book of James gives us the answer to dealing with trials and tribulations. He says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.[5]  This scripture uses the words “brothers and sisters” and when we look at the actual Greek text it would actually mean brothers and sisters in Christ.

God’s man must persevere if we are going to make an impact on lost souls.  There will be times when we share the gospel and it will be nothing more than planting a seed; there will be times that we are watering a previously planted seed; there will be occasions where we must tend the ground around the seed so that Satan doesn’t choke it out with his weeds of deception and lies.  There may actually be times that we get to see the Holy Spirit at work and a person accept God’s gift of grace and enter into a personal heart relationship with Jesus Christ.  In all cases we are living heaven-focused with eternity of a soul being the most important thing over all other things.

Paul reminds us “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”[6]

 


 

[1] All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.  Mark 8:34b-38

[2] Romans 8:21

[3] Colossians 3:1-2

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

[5] James 1:2-4

[6] Philippians 3:13b-14

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THE CHURCH OF ME, MYSELF, AND I

THE CHURCH OF ME, MYSELF, AND I

There is a growing religion in our country and it is alarming at how fast it has grown and is growing.  It is known as The Church of Me, Myself, and I.  It has continually grown exponentially and it has become a dominant force in the United States.  Satan has taken this religion and maximized its effectiveness by taking people and turning their focus on self-centeredness, self-promotion, and living in their own self-interest.  They will use whatever and whoever is necessary to accomplish their desired objective.  This religion is certainly not new and in fact, dates back to Old Testament Days.  Let’s look at it in its infancy when God asked Cain an important question.  “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’  I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?”[1]

This religion is very inviting and compelling because it is based on the very essence of our sinful hearts, SELF.  The following list is certainly not exhaustive and gives only a few good examples of how Scripture has documented The Church of Me, Myself, and I:

  • James 3:16 “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” 
  • 2 Timothy 3:2-4  “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” 
  • Proverbs 18:1“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.” 
  • Isaiah 56:11 “They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough.  They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.” 
  • James 3:14-15 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.   Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” 
  • Romans 2:8 “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” 
  • Philippians 2:21 “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” 
  • Galatians 5:19-21 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

So how does God’s man protect himself from being lured into The Church of Me, Myself, and I?  It starts with remembering something Rick Warren wrote in his book The Purpose Driven Life[2] when he states “You were made by God and for God – and until you understand that, life will make no sense.”  He goes on to say ““Many people try to use God for their own self-actualization, but that is a reversal of nature and is doomed to failure. You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for His purposes, not you’re using Him for your own purpose.  It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.”

WOW!  What a powerful commentary!  And it is absolutely 180 degrees from the world view in which we live.  God’s man is here to serve God and while that is not always simple or easy, it is doable.  We have to start by relying on Him and being obedient to His direction rather than listening to the lies of the enemy and falling victim to self.

David Friend, editor of the book “The Meaning of Life” writes “Andrei Bitov, a Russian novelist, grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, ‘In my 27th year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, pre-empting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro, and walked into God’s light.”[3]  God’s men know that without God life makes no sense and with God all things are possible.

God’s Word makes it very clear when it says “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.   Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.   And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[4]

We serve a God with high expectations yet they are fully and completely attainable as long as we put our faith and trust in Him.  The Church of Me, Myself, and I preaches individualism and self-preservation but God’s man sets aside self and strives to put others needs and interest ahead of our own.  We are called to have the “mindset of Christ Jesus.”  For many of us the greatest challenge to successfully accomplishing the above is humility.  If anything, The Church of Me, Myself, and I teaches arrogance and a “me first” mentality.  This is easy to embrace because, again, it fits right into our sinful nature.  God’s man should make it a daily habit to pray “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”[5]

There was an elderly man who was not only a follower of Jesus Christ but love Him dearly as well and in his advancing years his memory had been affected. As his health faded there came a time that he could recite but a single verse (2 timothy 1:12) … “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”  Even these words slowly slipped away from his memory and when just a few days of his life remained friends would hear him repeat just six words  “what I have entrusted to Him”.  Finally as the hour of the man’s death neared and his memory was all but gone.  He voiced a single word repeatedly; it was all he could remember. HIM! HIM! HIM!  A life constantly focused on HIM helps God’s man avoid being tempted to join The Church of Me, Myself and I.  Let us be men that are constantly focused on HIM!


[1] Genesis 4:9.  All Scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan Publishing Company, 2002

[3] David Friend, ed., “The Meaning of Life” (Boston: Little, Brown, 1991), 194

[4] Philippians 2:1-11

[5] Psalm 119:36