Monthly Archives: February 2019

Surviving this Corrupt Generation

“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (Acts 2:40)

These were words from Peter to the people who were present when God poured out his Holy Spirit on the apostles and the early Jewish followers of Jesus at the Feast of Pentecost.

This has long been regarded as the start of Christ’s church.  The Book of Acts tells us that those looking on heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind and saw about 120 of Jesus’ disciples praying in languages not their own, praising and worshiping God.  They asked Peter what this all meant.

Peter said that Jesus, who had performed many miraculous signs among the people, had been executed by the authorities, was raised from the dead by God and was the long awaited Messiah foretold by the prophets.  He was now pouring out his Holy Spirit as he had promised on all that believed in him.  Peter urged all that were listening to “save themselves from this corrupt generation.”

Though Peter’s words were directed at the people in front of him, they are in fact timeless, applicable to generations beyond his own, including our present generation.  The loss of respect for life in our current day, the confusion over truth, the erosion of integrity, the diminishing state of sexual morality and the abandonment of principles of natural law, all point to corruption in our present generation. 

So what should we do?  Interestingly, the people of Peter’s generation asked the same question.  He told them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  He went on to say that this “promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

That’s us! We are far in distance and time, but Peter’s words are meant for us just as they were to the people of his day.  Repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to enrich and empower our lives.

Then, we can be a leaven to our present generation by bringing the presence of Christ to the people and circumstances of our lives through our words and actions.

Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter [rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Mt. 16:18)

As the psalmist says, “But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown enduring through all generations.” (Psalm 102:12)

A Warning to Parents

965aac266ea6eda6473b61b29328074c--primary-talks-lds-primary“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them.  When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.” (Luke 18:15)

When Jesus saw what the disciples were doing he chastised them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (vs. 16)

Apparently the disciples thought that they were protecting Jesus from people wanting to bring their children to him.  But Jesus didn’t think he was being bothered.  He said, “Do not hinder them.”

There is a lesson to us in these words.  God does not want us to be an obstacle to our children being brought to him or finding him.  Just as we are responsible for nurturing the physical wellbeing of our children, so too, are we are responsible for nurturing the wellbeing of their souls.

There are many ways that this can happen.  We can introduce them early on to the idea that there is a loving God who created us and all that exists.  He humbled himself to become one of us, and gave his life for us in order to save us from eternal death and destruction.  Then he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us and give us wisdom, knowledge, and strength to cope with a hostile world.

It is a long term process that takes perseverance in guidance and instruction as well as the example of our own lives – perhaps the most difficult aspect of parenting.  Young children are great imitators. They imitate what they see their parents doing.

I had a good friend who has passed on from this life.  He was a good and righteous man who was active in prison ministry and a ministry to the workplace in which we were both involved.  I always remember a story he shared that had so much influence on his life.  He said that when he was a young boy and would come downstairs in the morning he would find his father on his knees praying in their living room.  He said it had a huge impact on him throughout his life, something he always remembered when he started to get off track.

Lest we think that the spiritual component of our children’s lives is not as important as their physical and intellectual nurturing, Jesus has even stronger words for us when he says, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.  So watch yourselves.”  (Luke 17:2-4)

As our children move from childhood through the teen years and into adulthood, there are many minefields facing their journey, particularly in today’s culture.  It is important as parents that we instruct them when we have the opportunity, correct them when there is wrongdoing and provide loving guidance and prayer as the need and opportunity arise.

We certainly don’t want to “hinder them” as Jesus invites and draws them near. 

True Riches

“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11)

After sharing the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus offers a number of comments about money and wealth, and suggests that there is a correlation between good stewardship of worldly wealth and the true riches available to us from God’s Spirit.

If we are careless with worldly things and wealth, why should God trust us with the true riches of faith in him and his presence through the gifts and fruit of his Holy Spirit? 

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)  Some examples come to mind such as taking advantage of a sales clerk’s mistake of giving back too much change; overestimating mileage for personal use of a car for reimbursement on an expense account; helping yourself to office supplies for personal use.  How strong is our integrity if we can’t be trusted with taking ownership of small things that don’t belong to us?

Petty theft erodes our integrity and faithfulness to truth in both our actions and beliefs. It dulls our sense of goodness and justice and how we relate with others, for the focus is inward on ourselves instead of outward on God and others.  Like a distant black hole in the universe we keep the light that Christ offers from shining outward.  This self-focus is an obstacle to our truly experiencing God in a personal, close way through his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

To all of this, Jesus adds the admonition that “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)   While God expects us to work in order to take care of ourselves and his creation, he does not want this to become our principal focus to the exclusion of our love and pursuit of him.

Success in the workplace, moving up the corporate ladder and earning more money are not bad in themselves, but they should not be our primary focus.  Our first priority should be to love God and seek his will in all things.  I have written in these pages before how my focus as young attorney for a large corporation got out of whack early in my career, detracting both from my relationship with God and my family.  Fortunately by God’s loving grace and a personal encounter with Jesus, he opened my eyes to what was happening and helped me to change my priorities.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 CO 4:18)

Hidden Mystery

“The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations is now disclosed to the saints.”  (Col 1:26)

What is this mystery?  St. Paul says it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory! (vs. 27)

Can Christ be in us?  Jesus says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”  In fact, he says if we do not remain in him we cannot bear fruit in our lives.  He uses the analogy that he is the vine and we are the branches, and says no branch can bear fruit by itself.  It must remain connected to the vine.  He then makes the amazing statement that, “apart from me you can do nothing.”

Basically, Paul is saying in his letter to the Colossians that Jesus, through his birth, teaching, death and resurrection, is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; in him all things hold together; he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from the dead; and he came to reconcile to himself all things.” (Col 1:15-23)

If we invite Jesus into our lives and remain in him, what kind of fruit was he talking about?  St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23)

From all of this, we see that Jesus wants to stay connected to us, as a vine is connected to a branch, and live in us by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

I have a friend who teaches Ancient History to middle school boys at a Blue Ribbon Christian school.  He also serves as the property manager for the school and the administrator for a Christian community that supports the school.  His life reflects a veritable market of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In his many and varied responsibilities he treats all people, regardless of who they are, with kindness and respect – students, parents, fellow teachers, repairmen, and all who come to him requesting his help on various matters.  You can find him on campus humbly fixing a toilet in one of the school’s buildings, as well as taking time after class with a student needing extra help on a homework assignment.

In contrast to most of our society today, he and his wife took in his elderly parents when they could no longer care for themselves, including his father whose remaining years were burdened with advanced Alzheimer’s.  Early in their marriage they lost an infant son.  In the course all of these challenges he has maintained a bright smile, a lively sense of humor and the joy of the Lord.

My friend loves God and he loves people both in his words and actions.  His life reflects “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”