- TABLE OF CONTENTS
- WAR ROOM -
STUDY - MORAL
ISSUES - KING
JAMES BIBLE - CULTS
A READER WROTE:
"There is a topic that is worth writing an article on-- the topic of cleanliness. Unfortunately, a number of professing Christians have ignored the clear teachings of both Old and New Testaments on cleanliness, in not only the spiritual realm, but even in the physical realm as well.
"I have come across houses of Christian people that are literally in a mess and filthy with dirt and dust. This is disgraceful. As an act of grace and service to a Christian family that has done me much kindness, I sweep their whole downstairs area clean for them, which includes the kitchen, the living room and so on. It sure works up a sweat in me but the results are rewarding, in that I get exercise and they get a clean house.
"At the same time, I have hinted to them that their teenage children should be taught to help around in the house in that particular area rather than waste their time on useless activities such as video games and social networking. I even discussed with the mother about what the Scriptures taught regarding cleanliness. I pray that this conviction will take hold of them and thus they will then see a great improvement in their spiritual life."
As far as I can recall, I have never heard a Bible message from a Bible teacher or pastor on cleanliness. I myself have never preached on this topic. My friend above from Australia startled me in a way. I thought being clean was pretty much self-evident, but then I got to thinking back. As a pastor of four churches I do have some landmark memories of homes of Christians which were rubbish heaps. Some of them had a good cash flow also. Living filthy, or being sloppy in personal hygiene, is clearly something we must talk about.
Just a minute, I'll be back. I need to comb my hair.
OK, I'm back.
Ugh, now look at my desk. I do not know if I will get this article completed without falling under serious conviction.
So, what does the Bible say about cleanliness?
Being clean and good health
Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Uncleanness, in the above verse, is associated with our "doings." Washing is assumed to remove uncleanness, and this is the model for being spiritually clean. If your home, your car, and your person is generally grubby, you give your children no virtual model for holiness. If a pastor allows his home, his office, and the church house in general to be tacky and unkempt, he also gives the saints no model for righteous living or "doings."
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Your Christian life is NOT only spiritual. You may sing in the choir, testify, and even teach Sunday School, but if you are sloppy, dressed in the styles of a baboon convention, and generally a slob, you are NOT yet clean my friend. If you have tattoos all over you which were there before you got saved, you need to wear clothes that cover them up. Tattoos are the language of filthy conversations and of arrogance. You need to try to prevent them from distracting the other saints present. More on this.....
Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
After you are born again, you have NO business adding tattoos to you person. I don't care if they are Bible verses. Tattooing is a cultural declaration which is a substitute for rational and thoughtful conversation. This also applies to wearing shirts with messages on them. Are you too lazy to talk out loud? And, I have some reservations about stickers on your car. If they are not the Word of God, you have no confidence they will be used of God in any way. He tells you what you can use on those stickers:
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
God didn't tattoo the Ten Commandments on Moses chest-- he told Moses to carve them in granite. Granite lasts, tattoos are only good until you die, and there is symbolism in that which is important. If you want a tattoo, even of the Word of God, I can tell you where God wants it:
2 Corinthians 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Deuteronomy 23:12 Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
This is all about sanitation. The Hebrew people were wandering in the wilderness, and later when they were in Canaan, they were very pastoral and still spent much of their time in the country side. God demanded basic sanitation. This is not a law for the Church Age, but it clearly shows that God does not want his people contaminating other people and themselves. So, your bathing habits and general sanitation in your home are clearly of interest to God. Perfume is used in India to extend the time between baths. Perfume should be an adornment to enhance pleasant company. When perfume or Right Guard are used to avoid bathing, someone is a slob. Now, I would have liked to say that nicer, but somehow it just had to come out that way.
A side thought here. I have seen homes where the people do their Bible reading while sitting on the pot. Come on now. Don't tell me you cannot find another place to do your Bible reading. Do you business, get out of there, and then go read your Bible. How can you read about the Lily of the Valley, our Lord and Savior, and smell poo at the same time? Hey, if you do not want it straight across the plate, waist high, then go somewhere on the web where the writer will pat your little hand and tell you to do any blasted thing you please.
Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
This was mainly talking about Christians not agreeing as to what food was ceremonially clean and what food was unclean. But, there is another principle there. Look around at your friends in Christ. What do they do about cleanliness? Are you going well beyond what they allow for themselves? What you do is NOT a private matter with you. Paul teaches clearly that if your brother is "grieved" with your alleged liberty, you need to adjust so that you do not offend him. He may see your alleged liberty as sin, and he will choose to join you in your standard on some issue, say, with cleanliness. As he adjusts to your standard he will be backsliding in his own conscience. Paul simply forbids you to allow that to happen.
YOU change to meet his standard and not offend your brother. I suspect you would never serve a steak to some Christian who was a vegan-- you would not want to offend him. So, why would you come to a church gathering still smelling of your hog barn? It is not enough to just wash off your gum boots. If you need to make a farmer statement, put on clean coveralls. In Texas, when a real cowboy goes to church, he is clean and well groomed. He has nothing to prove.
Hebrews 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
I do not believe this is a verse about baptism. The water dogs at the Church of Christ will tell you that means you cannot be saved without being baptized. What I see is that God expects you to make cleanliness both a spiritual heart issue, AND he likes his children to come to him as clean as they can be bodily. I challenge any high toned theologian to come up with any other interpretation by the LITERAL use of the Word of God.
Leviticus 7:19 And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire: and as for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof.
20 But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
21 Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Again, we are not under the literal power of Moses' Law in the Church Age. But, there is a spiritual and practical principle here that tells us what God is like. He is not dirty. If you deal with filth, clean up before you expect others in your family or Christian fellowship to be comfortable with you.
In England there is a man called the knacker. He runs a business in which he goes to farms when called upon, and he collects any animals that have died. Getting rid of a big horse or cow that died is a horrendous thing unless a farmer has a sturdy front loader to dig a big hole. And then, he may not be able to plow that spot for a couple of years. So, the knacker takes the carcass off to his shop and makes it into fertilizer or dog food. It is a very nasty profession, and knackers, at least long ago, were notorious for being grubby and having blood under their fingernails. Doing messy work is honorable. Someone needs to do it. BUT, don't spread your trade all around town and down the aisle of the church house please.
Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
There is a clear and frightening connection between spiritually demonic filthy living and general uncleanness. You may not like that, but Jesus would not have used his word choices in the parable if he did not see the connection between the physical and the spiritual with regard to clean living.
So, we have seen that there is an abundance of teaching in the Bible which associates spiritual cleanness with physical cleanness. Thus, go do the right thing.
Leprosy is a disease of filth.
Mark 1:40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
It is significant that Jesus, in healing the leper, broke Moses' law. The Hebrews were not to touch a leper, but if they did they were to go through a legal cleansing ritual. Jesus exercised his divine prerogative as law giver and touched the leper because he knew he would prevail over the disease. There is a good study here in the practical aspects of Christ's deity, but we are talking about other things.
Jesus "cleansed" lepers, he did not "heal" them. Lepers always catch leprosy because they or their close friends are physically filthy. This may sound politically incorrect, but it happens to be a fact. It is also possible to catch leprosy because one works in some social or spiritual ministry with very filthy people.
Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Healing the sick is distinct from cleansing the leper. Both victims will be sick, but the leper is dirty, and his disease is directly related to filth he has lived in for many years.
I grew up in Africa and worked there later as a missionary. The mission my parents worked with had a leper colony associated with their hospital. All the mission doctors told us that leprosy is directly related to filthy living. Even though much of African life in the 1950s was troubled by their lack of sanitation choices that we Americans had, the Africans definitely had their own sanitation options. They washed their cooking pots and utensils in ashes which has lye in it and kills germs. They had options where they collected their drinking water, which meant walking a long ways to get safe water. They swept their villages constantly. They washed in almost every river and stream they passed on a journey. They deloused one another's hair regularly. They took refuse far from the village. When these and other sanitation norms were abandoned by certain people, it was well known that leprosy would soon hit one of them.
Now, apply that to your life please. When you let trash and filth lay around your yard, and the inside of your home is never cleaned well, YOU WILL SOON BE SICK.
Now, the curious thing about the lepers in the leprosy hospital of the mission was that after they were cured they never again contracted leprosy. If they were born again and went back home under the control of God the Holy Spirit their physical life changed as the Holy Spirit showed them things they should change. Those who went home cleansed but rejected the Gospel sooner of later came back sick again. The Gospel changes people, and people then clean up around themselves as a direct result of the Holy Spirit changing their lives.
America and Europe generally received the Gospel and sent missionaries all over the world. Along with the Gospel came extreme changes in sanitation. Humanists and Atheists like to claim the Great Enlightenment brought on these health changes. Wrong-- the Reformation brought moral and social changes, and these resulted in health changes.
Europe and America have steadily rejected the Gospel and told God to get out of their national lives, and now their cities have become filthy. Slums are reappearing, and filth related disease is now common in urban hospitals. Also, diseases caused by sinful living are becoming very common. These God hating Americans and Europeans have also become morally filthy. They then become sick in many ways that had nearly been eradicated long ago. America is now rated 47th in general health worldwide-- Costa Rica is 46th.
So, how about you? Are you slipping slowly into poor health and visiting the doctor more often? Take inventory. Are you eating junk food. Are you not getting exercise because you are obsessed with TV or some other idle folly? Are you letting you house go to trash, and are you not getting yourself cleaned up these days? Well, there is you answer..... not another drug from Big Pharma, but you need to cleanse your life like the lepers of Africa needed to cleanse their lives.
Let me tell you what I see as I look mysteriously into your home. Look around the base of the toilet. Look under the bed. Look under the sink, and while you are down there, look at the trash can. Now, go take a look in the laundry area..... are all the level surfaces covered with trash and scum from never being cleaned up? Start with the toilet, and one by one eliminate those disease incubators that are making you and your family sick. And, finally, assign some of these tasks to your kids so they learn the art of staying healthy. Otherwise, you will soon be hauling them all off the ER when they get sick.
By the way, dig every last item out of your refrigerator, and see what you find. Some of the stuff is so loaded with ptomaine that it could kill anyone who grabs it and eats it.
So, we know that filth can make you sick, and that includes both sexual filth and dirty filth. This is well known today because of the work of medical scientific research over many year. But, there is filth that can make you sick that is even more deadly. ALCOA aluminum company had mountains of fluoride based waste many years ago that was toxic, and they did not want to pay for disposal of it. They sponsored research to see if putting fluoride in drinking water could benefit people. The research came up with a bogus alleged proof that fluoride in drinking water helped save teeth. Voile, they dumped their toxic waste into your drinking water, and they actually are paid for it now. Do you drink it? You would be safer eating dirt from your garden.
The produce at the super market is loaded with pesticides. Do you eat it? There are organic options in the same store. So, you eat the poisoned fruit and vegetables so you can spend the difference on techy toys etc. Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Are you dulling your mind with junk food and Round Up so that you cannot concentrate on a sermon over ten minutes long? Round Up is claimed to dissipate before you eat it. Research proves otherwise.
There is more to a clean temple (your mind and body) than taking a bath every day.
Uncleanness and sin in our life go together
Isaiah 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
While God is talking about the unclean heart of Israel, he uses the metaphor of being dirty and needing to take a bath. Let us put it more bluntly. If you look around your home, and it is trashed and filthy, and if you have not taken a bath for many days, you can be sure that your soul is filthy also.
I have a word of caution for all Bible believers, especially pastors. When you see that a fellow Christian is not living a very clean life, that is, their home or person is unclean in some way, do you judge them as unspiritual at once? They may be handicapped in some way. Could you offer to help clean up the yard for someone who is limited? how about taking along a couple of your kids, and clean the house for them. Offer to bring some boxes and stand by while they sort their piles. Pack the boxes, label them well, and stack them in the garage for them. What good do you do the saints when you say, "I thank you God that I am not as this dirty publican.....?"
"The organization grows to fill all the available space."
My rule- If it won't fit anymore something in the home must go into storage, or to the Goodwill Store, or to the trash man. This rule can be applied when someone, like one of your grown kids, says, "Dad, what on earth are you keeping that old thing for?" Answer: "That is on its way to the Goodwill Store." Of course, if it never seems to get there, then we must call that hypocrisy.
Book shelf trick.
If your food pantry is overflowing, or your gongs and trinkets you brought back from some far away land no longer look right all around the house, stash them. The closet is full, right? So, poke your hand back behind the line of books on your bookshelves. Voile, a huge space, right? That is where you can put your tins of food you bought from Big Lots because they were a great bargain.
Second shelf in the closets.
All closets in modern homes have room for a second shelf above them. This is easy for the man with any amount of talent in simple building skills. Go to the hardware big box store, and buy precut shelf wood and brackets. Find the studs, mount the brackets with a level, and screw the shelf wood to the brackets. There is you storage for stuff you just must keep but rarely even look at. It is also a great place to put your bottle of Vodka with the vanilla beans in it to make your own vanilla extract, especially if you have any tee totaling Fundamental Baptist friends. Let me serve you Baptists notice-- If you visit our home, stay out of the closets.
Buy a small barn for overflow.
But, discipline the thing so it is not just an over sized junk box with pretty red and white paint on the outside. Do not set the barn on the ground as is. Set it on cement pads or concrete blocks to prevent wood decay and termite damage. If you are handy with basic wood work, order it without shelves so that you can custom build the shelves to accept your particular needs.
You can also add a small work bench and wire it for lights and power to the bench. On this bench you can put all your projects you plan to do someday. You know, the toaster you think you can fix like the clever guy on YouTube-- that stuff. That way, your wife cannot accuse you of keeping worthless junk.
Keep Murphy's law in mind, and regularly take a long look at your accumulation of stuff so that stored things will never own you-- you own them.
Time flies, but Rosemary goes by bus. The pun is free.
But, time sure slows down when you have to waste time digging through your piles to find something. Piles can be sorted, or piles can be dumped into the closet. This then explains why you never have enough closet space. The sorting method has to be brutal. Get a big trash bag out and lay it on the floor. Dump one of your piles on the floor, and park yourself between the pile and the trash bag.
After you have used up an hour looking at those photos of your grand kids, ask the following mental questions as you pick up each piece of priceless trash in the pile:
Why did I put this in this pile?
If you cannot remember, trash it. You may want to consult with your spouse if it looks official. If your spouse tells you to keep it, take it to your spouse's pile area and drop it on top of a pile of theirs.
Would some customer at a thrift store really buy this?
If in doubt, trash it. If you really think some gullible soul would pay a nickel for the trash, put it in your Goodwill bag. Note: Goodwill items should never be put back in one of your piles. Put them straight into a trash bag in the closet, ready to take to Goodwill, and vow you will never rummage through that bag with second thoughts. You can put the bag in your care trunk (boot in the UK), and that will discourage anyone from second thoughts.
I do not need the trash, but could someone I love use it?
Now, how much do you really love that person? If they are trash and pile freaks, why would you want to wish more trash on them? If it really looks like some sucker in your family would just love that bit of rubbish, take it to the kitchen or coffee table for them to examine. If they will not be visiting for more then three days, throw it away, and never tell them you did.
Could I sell this on eBay or Craigslist?
The real question is, would you, and when is the last time you sold something on eBay? If you really do not like to sell on eBay, post it once on Craigslist under the free section. Caution: There are some very sleazy characters who watch Craigslist 24/7, and as soon as they see anything they imagine they could use or resell, they rush to the site and grab it. Do not let these people inside your home. They are vultures, and they are also looking for hot items they can steal from you later. Meet them outside your home, of set the item you are giving away on a small table at the curb where the vultures can grab it.
Is it a family heirloom?
Now, be honest-- which of your kids would actually set that Mexican donkey on an end table in their home? If you cannot visualize one of your kids hugging that trash in your hand, dump it at once.
Now, you have a pile of stuff you really must keep for various reasons. Let's sort it again:
Make a pile of legal and official forms and papers. Drop that into a file folder and file it. You will spend a fraction of the time you usually spend finding some form you need later. The official stuff will all be in one folder where your executor can do his unemotional work of cleaning up the financial and legal mess you made. Make another pile of photos and your kids' art and school papers, and file it.
The family heirlooms, and personal stuff you just have to hug occasionally, should go into its own folder. Larger stuff can go into a carton in storage. That way, when you die your kids will be able to sit and mull over your dear junk and decide if they want to keep your driver's license from Oklahoma and your passport with the visa to Thailand.
Finally, take one of the heirlooms in hand, and walk through your mansion. Observe each treasure hanging on your walls or resting on a book shelf. Is it time to retire the Japanese fan? Would the heirloom in your hand look refreshing in its place? Do it, and don't look back. Does the Japanese fan need to be retired all the way to Goodwill?
You are saying, "I should not just throw this stuff away." Why not?
When my parents had to move into a limited care facility, and because it was clear they would not ever be able to live alone again, we went through their piles. My parents were former missionaries, and on the mission field you keep tin cans to trade the locals for eggs, and you keep butter dishes because there is no Tupperware in Africa, at least in the 1950s when my parents were there. So, their garage in Arizona was full of number ten cans and butter dishes. Mom and Dad would save these things, "Just in case we need them." This, and many other treasurers went to the dump.
Back to your statement, "I should not just throw this stuff away." Your kids will, and it will be a real burden for them to try to sort while they are dealing with the emotions of your passing. Do it for them now please. That way, when your kids gather to sort your collection, most if will mean something to someone, and the event could actually be a time of good memories and tears as they sort back through your life and theirs. If you want one of your kids to get something in particular, put a stick up not on it with their name. This is one of the last and sweetest things you can do for them.
The way to make sure you kids all have trashy homes when they get married is to not require them to keep their own space straight when they are kids in YOUR home.
One of the most depressing things I have seen as a pastor is a home where the Mom does all the cleaning, and the kids trash everything in sight. Neatness is a learned skill. All things in nature go to disorder, and God allows this in his world where no humans are present. The chaotic kingdom of God has this order to it-- it survives well. But, the Bible clearly indicates that even God has other ideas as to man:
Genesis 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
You can stand on a high place in the Rocky Mountains of the USA, or the Great Rift Valley of Africa, and you can look at an amazing thriving vista they takes good care of itself. The Greens claim this is how the world should be left to exist-- they tell us humans are a nuisance and muddle up the great outdoors. I have news for you. Try to wander around in that world. You will find much of it impassable, and you will realized that, once you are in the forest, it is not very orderly.
God likes order, and in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived, God expected Adam to fully participate.
So, if you have a slop hog brat kid on your hands, the kind that throws dirty clothes anywhere, and if he has a sister who piles all her possessions on all the level surfaces in her room, here is my suggestion. Take them for a hike in the forest. Follow a path for a while, preferably one that is marked, and ask them why they can hike through the forest and actually enjoy it. The reason: Someone came along before them and made a trail so they could easily walk and enjoy themselves. The rocks were dug out, and the fallen trees were removed. Then, tell them you want to leave the trail and just wander through the forest. Do not stop until both of you trash machine brats are puffing, whining, and asking, "Dad, why can't we get back on the trial?"
Now comes the loving little lecture about how God wants his people to make order of the area around them, especially the one they inhabit. It takes effort, but the rewards are an orderly living area, an orderly mind, and a place you don't have to apologize for to friends.
We had what I called, "Urban renewal time" back when our four kids were still at home. This meant every one of us in the family had to de-trash and make order of their area as well as the living room and dining room. I also insisted that, while the bedrooms might get a bit rough, the living room should be kept presentable all the time. This is the room where guests will end up, and it should be ready all the times.
First, in your urban renewal program for your kids' rooms, have an inventory reduction event. Talk to your kids about the deadly habit of never eliminating possessions. This is at its worst in the American culture. Europeans, though they may have splendid incomes, often live in very limited space, so they learn early on to keep the inventory of stuff down. Tell your kids that you expect them to sort their stuff into three piles. A- Absolutely keep. B- Not sure. C- I can live without this. Take C to Goodwill Industries if it is still useful. Now, pack up B, and tell them they can review it in a week. Ask them to see how it feels to live with only A. Later, get B out and tell them to do the same thing all over, A, B, and C. The key to a pleasant participation of your kids in bringing order to the home is to start young. Give even the youngest kid some responsibility that is just for him. Be sure he does it, and when he does it on his own reward him with at least thanks, and for long term faithfulness give a more tangible reward, like a visit to Dairy Queen.
For incentive, pick up the toys that are scattered, having made sure the law has been in place for a while, and put them in a carton and store them. Tell the kid that he can have them back when he keeps what is left in order for a while.
Do not go walk into the kid's room and start raging around like a sergeant major. While sitting in your living room, ask the kid if his room is ready for an inspection. Give the kid the opportunity to go get it ready first.
Finally, Mom, if your own room looks like the one to the right, forget about reforming your kids for now. YOU are the guilty one living like a pig. You need to de-trash your life and reduce your inventory of rubbish you have scattered around your personal territory.
When I went pastor to a small church in the California desert town of Yermo, I found several rooms that had been abandoned to piles and piles of priceless junk. How does junk collect in churches? Over the years things that are replaced are stored "just in case." What the possibility for needing old tattered hymn books is I do not know. Give them to the members to take home after you buy news ones.
We had enough Sunday School attendance to need more room. A class or two were meeting in make shift arrangements. So, I asked my main man, Ollie Johnson, why three rooms in particular were full of trash. Could we get rid of enough to at least rescue one room. Ollie told me to throw the stuff away, and ask no questions. He said almost all of the junk were projects made by members over the past fifty years, and if I asked the members if I could toss the stuff, I would hear a heart rending story about each piece of precious junk. This stuff was of the same order as all the statues around Catholic churches given in memory of various deceased members. The only difference is that in Fundamental churches the stuff never got anyone out of Purgatory. So, it was perfectly worthless.
Ollie backed his pick up truck up to the back door of the church, and I loaded it in. I told him not to watch what I was doing so he could not be interrogated later by some member as to the lovely purple banner that their grandpa made back in 1956. And, do you know what happened? Answer: Nothing. No one noticed the junk disappeared. Out of this trick I got two Sunday School rooms and a basement area for a youth club. I restored the Sunday School rooms one by one, and the members were very pleased as they saw each one go into use. Some members honestly did not know such rooms even existed-- they had been closed up and worthless for years.
Go thou, and do likewise, preacher.
You have spaces all around your church with eternal piles that are full of artifacts from ancient days. No one in their right mind would try to reuse the stuff. Haul it to the dump. Tidy up, put on some paint, carpet the floor with carpet samples from a carpet store by stapling them down. Voile, you have a new room, and you have one less mess that means nothing to anyone including the Lord.
If clutter is actually sitting around in plain view, you are telling your visitors what kind of slobs you want in your church. If a church house is never cleaned well, and pointless equipment is sitting around, visitors will not come back unless they are slobs and like living in clutter. Those people do not support the local church in any way. They are free loaders.
Josiah, the youthful king of Israel long ago, decided to restore the temple of God which had been neglected and was filled with rubble. The collection of money and treasures donated over many years of neglect was in a treasure room, and no one knew what exactly was in there. Josiah, in ordering the restoration of the temple, wanted all the trash dumped and the treasure inventoried. Thus, we read.....
2 Chronicles 34:14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.
15 And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan.
16 And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it.
17 And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen.
18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.
20 And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying,
21 Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.
The paganized kings before Josiah had actually lost the Torah, the Law of Moses, the first five books in your Bible. How could this happen? Well, preacher, I promise you that if you will clean the trash out of your church house, you will find the record or evidence of things your church used to do which you have neglected or totally forgotten. And, some of you Reformed and Whiskeypalians may even find the Bible under a pile of rubbish in some corner. It is just possible that cleaning out the trash physically could start a revival of cleaning out the trash spiritually and restoring the glory of God in your church members' lives.
When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma, where my parents were rural missionaries, we met in school houses. These school houses were Spartan and void of anything that had no purpose. This was because the school house was also the community building, maybe the Grange hall, the local church house, and sometimes a court house. Every group that met there had a wall cupboard for their stuff. They could leave nothing else sitting around. The floors were bare boards, but they were kept shinning by bare feet and the use of sawdust impregnated with fuel oil to apply and sweep up to pick up dirt. The thing that made the old country school house such a sweet memory were the people you met there. That was all that place was about.
Now, think about your church house. Is it a place that makes you remember people, of do you remember the great kitchen? Do you think about the great Bible teaching you got there, or do you remember the decor and ambiance? Worse yet, do you recall the church house as uncluttered, or do you recall treacherous basements and hallways that were a tedious labyrinth to navigate? There ARE such places, and I have seen some of them. I spoke in a church in New England in which the access from certain parts of the church house was through a passage in the basement. The basement passage was filled with wheezing pipes carrying steam about, and there were various aging artifacts in the way. Between meetings the foot traffic was serious, and it made for tedium.
When I was older but still a kid in Africa, the African churches were always neat and uncluttered. This was because the windows had no glass or screen. They were open holes all year long. Anything left sitting around became a temptation to local kids to steal. Africans did not only bring a Bible to church. They had a cloth or woven grass bad with their Bibles and hymns books. Some of you pastors fill the hymn book wrack so full of rubbish that it becomes a clutter bin. A Bible and a hymn book-- what else to you need?
My family went to one local African church far out into the bush for a Sunday. Dad was asked to speak, and he was expected to balance the books while he was there. The "books" consisted of several big #10 cans, and each can was a different fund. Entries into the "books" consisted in pieces of paper in the cans telling of each entry. Dad would count each can, check the tally of entries, and declare his verdict. Any shortage was discussed, and then there was a brief church business meeting to decide whether to move cash from one can to the other because the general fund was too low to pay for expenses.
The Sunday when we came to that church was considered, by the members, as a siku kuu, a church holiday. A feast was in preparation when we arrived, and the Lord's supper was being prepared also. When we walked into that small bush church we were amazed. They had replastered the whole building, and I mean all of it. The outside walls, inside walls, the floor, and the mud benches had a new black-green ambient coat of cow manure on them. Aside from the aroma, the place sparkled with freshness (in more ways than one). My Dad was nearly moved to tears, because this freshening up was the best these bush people could do. It was what they would do for a newly wed couple before they moved into their new home. And, get this, there was virtually nothing anywhere in that little church except freshly plastered everything. There was a podium, a few chairs for the leaders, and that was it.
Now, can you tell this memory is also vividly plastered to my memory? The lack of clutter, and the freshness of the place absolutely startled my youthful mind. Taking the Lord's Supper with some of the poorest, yet richest, people on earth was more special to me than to sip a bit of cheap wine from a tiny glass cup in Westminster Abby. I believe it was that Sunday morning when my Dad's teaching to me hit home powerfully. The African Christians were as much my brothers and sisters in Christ as anyone else in my life. And, their idea of neat and clean was to be considered priceless.
And, the point? A pile of clutter in every corner of that African local church would have destroyed the sense of being in the company of the right people, the people of God.
Go clean up a church closet, pastor. No, you lazy prima dona, do NOT ask some member to do it for you. YOU need the discipline of taking out the trash yourself.
Does your work area look like ten years of URGENT that has become ancient history? That is my problem. I have this pile to my left that includes my list of passwords for all the places I go online. It has a place on the bookshelf behind me, but it really seems to be much more comfortable just staying handy. Then, there is a flood light sitting on the counter that needs to be installed in the security light fixture outside. It has only sat there for about a week. Beyond that is a scanner, and on top of it are about five "Urgents," most of which I cannot remember.
My desk area is slightly better than the one in the photo. Why does this happen? It is the result of wanting everything within reach. That luxury should only be allowed to airline pilots.
Now, to my right is an area of desk top I keep clean about one foot square simply because the mouse and speaker sit there. A wire rack that looks like a famine relief ad just barely carries the load of books of clever and witty sayings to add to my blogs, and there is a book of great quotes that I use, oh, maybe once every two months.
I am a Creationist for the reason that I am a literalist Bible believer. But, if I were an Evolutionist, I would recant right now. The reason is that, as time passes, disorder is the only natural direction of ALL things. I have never in my life come into my office and found that my desk sorted itself out and become tidy on its own.
I used to have sticky notes everywhere, and I finally got self-conscious when my kids would take their friends for a tour of my sticky notes. Just in time, I found a utility on my computer called "sticky notes." It may have come with Windows for all I know, but it is great. I can have all these sticky notes right up on my screen. I layer them so that there are countless sticky notes up there, and when I shut down, Voile, they are gone.
The rest of my office is a war between gongs and trinkets from all my years in Africa. My books are double layered, which leaves room for the overflow from the food pantry behind the books. I justify this by only putting food items in the bookshelf which are exotic and actually add a little ambiance. There is Tiger Hot Sauce, Pinjur sauce from Poland, Roasted hot Pepper and Artichoke Bruschetta, and many more such curious imports.
You see, I plead guilty as charged. What I plan to do, and I am very close to actually doing this, is to add another shelf in the closets above the one the builders put in. There is a huge space up there which could hold loads of stuff that clutters now. The key though is to sort violently even when filling such new shelf additions so that they do not become totally full in only three days.
The thing that makes me marvel, and has for years, is the way we Americans acquire stuff that we didn't even pay for. People are always offering us things that we, well sort of, need. And, I carry them home promising myself they will be on probation for a few days as I decide if I really need them. The probation pile is the killer, folks. These gifts are not charity, they are stuff my friends need to get rid of, and they worry that it is immoral to throw away perfectly good stuff. I take them because I worry that to refuse a gift is immoral. Do you recall the US Senator who thought Guam might tip over if too many US troops were place on the island? Well, I worry about Texas tipping over.
So, whether you have an office at an employment location, or you have an office at home, let me encourage you to go through those piles. You will find wonderful things you meant to do, and most of them are past the due date- like the discount card from PF Chang's- ugh.
This one is a follow-up to the last topic.
Please do not give the junk you do not want any longer to your friends. They may take it to be polite, but it will be just as big a curse to them as it was to you.
Now, having said that, if your kids grow up and leave home, some of the toys, and especially yard toys, might make the kid next door happy. It is fair to pass on something that really has value and fits a precise need to a friend.
We left Tennessee in 2008, and I had an old 1978 Chevy Pick Up truck. It had some pretty serious cancer from the salt they put on the roads in the winter, but it ran. I hauled my own trash to the city dump in it. I considered selling it, but I was not sure I had time. So, I gave it to my neighbor, Joe. I suppose it has died by now, but he was delighted. He needed a truck to go to the dump, and that truck fit his need perfectly. He was also a Tennessee hick who was only about 95% genuine, but he wanted to keep up impressions. He really had done some very high end work all over the world, the kind where, if he tells you what he had done, he would have to shoot you. The pick up gave him a great way to drive down through town and play hick once in a while.
So, be a good neighbor so that you don't end up five years from now seeing all the junk you give your friends sitting on the top shelf of their garage or hanging from the rafters.
"A neat desk is a sign of a sick mind."
Did you ever tell visiting friends that when they saw your desk? It is cute, and it is utterly stupid. I have before me, right beneath the monitor, a pile. In it is a form I need to send in to the state of Texas. On top are some DVDs I need to save to hard drive. There is a medical report I want to write an article about, and the rest of the pile could just as well be at the South Pole. I no longer have any idea what is under there. And, as usual, when I finally sort it I will be horrified at how aged some of the stuff is, and I will end up with the about three things left to do.
Does this mean I am a mess mentally? Not necessarily. But, it sure does not speak well of my zeal for order. This is true confession time. I perceive that the topic of orderliness and cleanliness is avoided as a sermon topic by us Bible teachers because we look at our own trash pile, and we say, "What the Church needs right now is a plain English discussion of the Hypostatic Union of the Godhead." This way, that close call with my own life is avoided, and I wander off into theological lala land, and you and I both never face up to our cluttered life.
The first step in Bible based mental health is this:
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Do you know what Paul was talking about that moved him to write that verse?
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
When your mind and mine are on our own stuff, what we crave, how we can get it, how many hours of overtime it takes to get the stuff, and what to do with the old junk in our home that will become obsolete once we finally acquire the news stuff......
......we are worthless as tits on a boar hog to our friends, family, and the unconverted who need to hear about Jesus Christ.
Doctor Barlow and his wife were missionaries in Ethiopia. They had spent many years there, and when experienced missionary doctors come on furlough they can raise all the funds they could want. People respond to Christian doctors who sacrifice for the Gospel of Christ, and they give to their needs. Doctor Barlow and his wife refused to buy a vehicle in Ethiopia, and they never tried to raise funds for a vehicle. They could have easily spoken of this on furlough, and their friends would have made sure they had a good one. All of the rest of us missionaries had one, but not Doctor Barlow and his wife.
Why did these people not want a vehicle? They intentionally rode public transport, which in Ethiopia was cross country buses. These were not your sleek Greyhounds of the USA. They were very basic buses, and they stopped often to pick up passengers, and they stopped at bus parking areas in every town. Doctor Barlow and his wife would get off the bus at a major stopping point, ask the driver's helper to haul their wooden box off the top of the bus, and they would open it and sell Christian literature. Why sell it? They only asked for a few pennies for the sole purpose of adding value in the eyes of the African buyer. Free stuff can end up in the trash in just about any nation.
So, what is your priority and mine? This doctor and his wife lived to tell the lost about Jesus Christ. That was their mental discipline, and it worked itself out into all of their choices and spending. You may think, "Maybe these people were a bit backward and just could not deal with modern life."
Right-- Modern life did not impress them. But, tell me if this is backward:
One time Doctor Barlow was seeing patients in a small hospital in the bush. There were a couple of missionary nurses present to help him. The hospital was stocked reasonably well, but they lacked a few things that modern hospitals always had on hand. They definitely did not have a portable suction unit to draw mucus from the throat and lungs of patients.
An Ethiopian boy was brought into the hospital, and he was close to stopping breathing. His chest was totally clogged with mucous, and pneumonia was evident. Doctor Barlow asked the nurses if they had any sort of suction unit he could use to clear the boy's breathing passages and lungs. They had none.
Without hesitation, Doctor Barlow laid the boy down on his back, and the doctor bent over, placed his mouth over the boy's mouth, and sucked mouthful after mouthful of that poisonous infected fluid from the boy's lungs and spat out. The nurse who told me about this said that nearly everyone in the room was moved to tears at Doctor Barlow's immediate response to this emergency, especially the boy's parents. Not a word was spoken, but the message rang out loudly, "Jesus is like Doctor Barlow."
If this is a weak mind, my friend..... indeed, if this is the simplicity of Christ, I need it badly. How about you? And, what would you give up to be able to be at the right place at the right time to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus?" You see, Doctor Barlow and his wife kept life simple and plain in all things, buying a car, saving a boy's life, distributing Gospel literature. And, because of this, their light shined beyond anything they ever imagined, and they did it all for Jesus.
The battle for the mind is often lost by Christians today because of the ongoing bombardment of sexually explicit advertising, movies, and online porn. Rather than go into this deeply again in this article, I am sending you to a number of articles on this journal which already deal with the battle we have to keep our minds clean.
ARTICLES IN BLESSED QUIETNESS JOURNAL ON SEX AND MIND CONTROL
THE NAKED TRUTH Nakedness in public, and in alleged churches, at the end of the age, will be a real test for Bible believers
PORNOGRAPHY Can we avoid it?
MASTURBATION Is it a sin according to the Bible?
THE BIBLE TEACHING ON WHORES With an Emphasis on Prophecy
There is probably nothing that will destroy the mental health of a Bible believer like porn and sexual obsessions. Pastors are known, at least among themselves, to have a very bad track record in the area of pornography. IF we do not deal with this in the Lord's Church, it could become the single most destructive force in all of Christian endeavor worldwide.
The following is a post from my blog online, BALAAM'S ASS SPEAKS. A reality TV show is in the making which will be a dramatic effort to make porn seem real. The actors are all allegedly young adults who have never done porn for pay. If you believe that I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.
Anyway, this seems to be the final destination of Hollywood's journey to the groin in the perverting of America. It is Satanic, but it also will be available to anyone, including your kids, if not at first, then on down the road.
There is explicit discussion of pornography in some videos here in order to show the totally false premise that porn can be allegedly "reality." I also note here, "reality" is never a justification for the victorious Bible believer to delve into anything. What does God say in his Word?
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
REALITY SEX? BAH ! PORN IS SEX FOR ZOMBIES
Sex between two married people who are exclusively committed to one another IS REALTY.
This notion that sex can be "recreational" is rubbish. Cheap sex is all about foreplay and an orgasm, and that is it. Anyone who claims otherwise is a fool. The word "commitment" is now an archaic notion to most Americans. Indeed, the whole White race worldwide, AND the Blacks and Hispanics whom the Whites have poisoned, are now freaks sexually. The animal kingdom has no comparison with the extreme sex acts invented by the porn industry to amuse humanity today.
Thousands of young virile men now have to use Viagra to perform any sex act. Sex has become so twisted in their minds that they no longer can perform normally. Thousands of older men, and sadly now, women, are morally cauterized so that they cannot enjoy sex as a marriage and love act. They need to buy pills and toys and videos to stimulate themselves so they can perform the things they saw done by porn stars.
Porn stars, and the fools who lap up the product they serve, never know the level of satisfaction in sex that results from a life long commitment. And, they sear their conscience, and their sexual instincts, so that they will NEVER have the sex that comes about in a committed marriage. God-ordained sex, in the marriage chamber, starts as a raging fire, but through the years this sex without guilt builds in emotions, techniques, and tender ways that the porn star and porn junkie never will experience. The best sex is the sex two married people, who are in love, teach each other over many years.
A word spoken by a man to his wife as he leaves for work gives a faithful wife sensations throughout the day that are priceless. The reverse is just as exciting to the husband who finds a stick-up note, with a special private meaning, taped to his brown bagged lunch. This takes YEARS to accomplish well. Pastor EV Hill told of his mother putting a few drops of perfume on the light bulb next to her husband's chair. In the evening, when he would sit down and turned on the lamp to read, the perfume would go to work, and EV Hill said his Mom and Dad always disappeared into their bedroom at that time. Porn totally short circuits this kind of REALITY sex.
Then there are the memories. What will you remember in your old age when the fountain has gone dry, and the ones you used sexually are not there? The married person, whose mate is gone into eternity, has priceless memories of their days of sexual and emotional bliss to soften the moments of loneliness.
What did Solomon say?
Proverbs 5:15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee.
18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.
22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.
Here is Solomon talking about his exclusive love, his wife:
Song of Solomon 6:8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
9 My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.
12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.
Explicit? Poetic? Sensual? Yes, all that and more, AND......
Solomon made it clear he wanted nothing else in the two texts above.
This is going to create more JOB OPPORTUNITIES and the NET WORTH POTENTIAL is in the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. America has finally arrived at being uninhibited, free, and liberated. Perhaps we will finally become a NUDE NATION?
HERE IS REALITY ALL RIGHT, THE REALITY OF DISEASE, BONDAGE, AND DEATH:
Proverbs 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.
15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.
21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;
23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.
26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.
27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
Do you still think it is OK and just fun stuff?
THIS OUGHT TO SCARE ANYONE WITH A BRAIN LEFT
I had to meditate on posting this next video. There are no racy scenes, as in many alleged "documentaries" on porn. But, the lady, as ex porn star, gets a bit explicit. This helps though to understand what porn really is.
THIS OUGHT TO TERRIFY ANY MAN OF WOMAN WHO THINKS THEY ARE NORMAL WHILE THEY WATCH PORN.
If you are a porn junkie, you are hooked, you will never be the same, your sex life will be a farcical imitation of reality..... basically, you are a freak as to anything about sex. Without confession of your sin to God and the people you have offended, and without confession of faith in Jesus Christ, YOU HAVE NO HOPE. You have gone too far.
Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
So, how is it with you? Have you dirtied your mind? Are you no longer able to enjoy your marriage bed with your spouse? You have heard the stories of fallen preachers, and you can bet every one of them were porn junkies. I would strongly encourage you to clean your mind by confession of sin and the washing of the Word of God.
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
You see, contentment is up to you. God does not remove your attitude when he removes your sins by the washing of regeneration by the Blood of Jesus Christ. God wants you to deal with your attitude about your life with him. You can learn to be content with what God does with and for you, and with the things God gives you, or you can crave more than God gave you. This is about everything in life-- your physical attractiveness, your mental ability, but especially in this materialistic society today, your stuff and your financial resources to buy the stuff.
There is a monstrous effort ongoing, one which bombards every soul on earth, to coerce you to buy stuff. You are hit every day of your life with 3600 advertising impressions. This comes to you from bill boards, to supermarket posters, to the ad at the top of this article. While advertising is ancient, in its modern form it has been refined to virtually define your culture for you. Your mental relationship to the world at large is largely designed for you by the advertising impressions you see as you grow up in this capitalist world.
The video at the right needs to be watched so that you learn to develop a monumental skepticism against advertising. This will greatly reduce the horrid piles of rubbish you collect and store away every year.
The "save the world" message the narrator presents is of no use because we know that Jesus Christ will return soon and set up his Messianic Kingdom, and in that kingdom we may be sure that greed and capitalism run amuck will not be allowed. But, the front part of the video about advertising is very useful, and after the discussion of the future, the man really opens a horror of what to expect from advertising in the near future. So, please watch it all.
I realize that the videos I drop in an article like this make for a very long reading and learning time. The average attention span of Americans is 20 minutes. This is because of the maximum time on TV between commercials. I am asking you to bear down and learn things you may not like to face. That is my job as a Bible teacher, and you who stay with me will benefit. The rest of you will remain victims of the designs of wicked men. Your choice. So, do NOT skip the video please. If you must have a commercial break from this article, go read the label of any proiduct in your kitchen cupboard, and then come back here and finish the article.
The chief cause of a junky house is junky emotions. You see ads, and you WANT this, indeed, "I must have that." You never saw one before, and you never even wished for that new techno wonder, but your eyes get together with your wicked soul, and suddenly you HAVE TO HAVE ONE. There is a Bible description for this-- the lust of the eyes.
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
So, the next time you gaze in horror at your closet, think-- how much of this rubbish did I once look at and buy for no other reason than that I had to have it? Did I get suckered into believing this stuff would make me happy? You will whine to me, "But, I needed it once. I just don't need it now." Right, and that is what Wal Mart is counting on. That is what Won Ding Dong in Shanghai is counting on as he dreams up now trinkets and goodies to send to the Amelikan man.
Do not blame Wal Mart. They would not be there if it were not for your eyes and soul. If all Americans stopped impulsive buying, Wal Mart would be a corner store selling bananas and bread and toilet bowl cleaner, and not much else. The whole idea of "only essentials" is heresy to 99% of Americans.
Now, how can we help you break this discontented trend in your life and soul? Try this: Make a covenant between you and your spouse to ask each other before you buy anything for a month. This may feel weird because you are in a habit of both buying without consulting anyone but your own lust for stuff. If you think it will help, try doing all your shopping together for a month, and keep checking with each other to see if you are doing impulsive buying.
Another idea is to covenant with each other to go for a month without buying anything on Amazon and Craigslist. This is my weak point. Amazon has such bargains, and I can save if I buy Prime, and I do not have to spend gas money to drive to the store to shop, and, and, and................ Bah. You know what I am talking about, right? Do you know what it feels like to get that ominous email from Bank of America telling you your credit card balance? I do.
Set a goal to have a month with a credit card bill no higher than $250. You will whine that you will just buy the same stuff at the store instead. NO YOU WON'T. Amazon thrives because you park your butt in a chair and make almost zero effort to buy stuff. If you have to drive across town to buy a left handed screw driver, you simply will not do it. You will put it on your shopping list, and you will be too late to stop at Auto Zone after shopping for groceries, picking up your prescription, and filling the car up with gas.
So, the bottom line is this-- Contentment is up to you. God will not MAKE you content. So, when you look at the clutter in the house and the overflowing closets Bunkie, have a little talk with yourself and the Lord. Make a covenant to cut out impulsive buying.
One more suggestion: When you bring a new wing wang home, throw away something from your clutter pile. Indeed, throw away three things for every new thing you buy. This will cost you money and not be as efficient as just reforming your soul, but at least the piles will go down slowly. This is sort of like a fat person having their stomach stapled.
Now, in closing out with the clutter and the American culture (and, you Europeans are guilty too), I have a Ted Talk that explains very well what the problem is-- we are addicted to choice. Choice drives the US gross domestic product. We may claim we are not choice junkies, but we are, at least in some area or other. And, this addiction to choice causes us to believe we never have enough, enough of this, and enough of that. The marketing master minds of the world have all learned that massive choices will cause us all to become convinced we do not have enough stuff.
Watch, and consider what is happening.
So, tell me, is your pile of junk and clutter the product of your NOT believing you have enough? Are you being seduced by the world, the flesh, the devil, and Wal Mart? You see all the choices, aisle after aisle, and you figure, yes Bunkie, you figure, and what do you figure?
This..... "Well, if there are that many varieties of these widgets, they must be making someone happy, and so I will be happy if I have one." Then, on to, "In fact, I NEED one of these things that didn't even exist six weeks ago." And, after a couple of weeks, the new widget sits on the kitchen counter, and when you have guests you say, "I do not know how I would get along without this widget."
You got along without it for 37 years, you dim bulb. Your stupid statement is just a cover story for the fact that you live a life of never enough. Contentment has gone to hell, and I can prove it. Just open your garage door please. THERE, that is the evidence that you never have enough, and you cannot be content.
I like to think I have dealt with this, and you may think you have. But, I believe this struggle against the culture and the marketing demons is a war, and you and I, all of us, can never let down our guard.
Last week I was standing in line with my wife at the super market getting ready to check out. I put my hand into my pocket, and, HELP, EMERGENCY, THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT..... I had left my cell phone at home. Up until twenty years ago I had no phone on my person, and I survived. For a while, like most of you, I carried a beeper, and my wife could beep me anywhere I was tuning a piano or racing all over southeastern Arizona on my way to a piano. I would stop somewhere and call home on our new 800 number. WOW! The beeper was all I needed. It seemed to solve any emergency that could happen. But, no, I learned that the cell phone was even better. My first cell phone was as big as a shoe box and weighed five pounds. What a clunky monster, but it seemed wonderful. Now, I have a flip phone because I refuse to upgrade to one that will hang on my ear, tell me my GPS position, and turn off the lights. I am waiting for the brain implant. Just kidding.
Contentment-- Nothing will clean up your life like really believing God has given you ENOUGH.
Last thought: When is the last time you shopped at a corner grocery store? Think about that please. You may learn a lot about yourself.
When I first arrived at Biola University long ago for my Freshman year, I had a room mate who was very tidy and fussy about a clean room. I was a bit of a collector of radio things, and I had an old short-wave and AM radio from the era of monster vacuum tubes, and I stuffed it into a tube testing case instead of leaving it in the floor console. The result was a monster with wires coming and going, wires to the antennae onto the roof and to ground, and the thing looked like it might come crawling right out of the case and attack you. I even had a wire to a speaker on the roof of the quad, and I would turn it up loud for a couple of minutes at midnight. The Dean of Men would come charging out of his room looking for the culprit, and everyone was sound asleep, sort of.
I loved my old radio beast, and I would sit in my room in the suburbs of Los Angeles and tune in New York City on AM. Those radios long ago had to pull big time because there were not many stations, so they had to reach a long ways. I had improvised the antennae arrangements to change the induction so that it was sort of tuned to New York City. Hubris all around in large portions-- coast to coast on AM.
My room mate Tom was not impressed, and he posted a sign on the wall, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." He then told me that was in the Bible. I begged to differ with him, and I suggested he find the verse for me. He failed to find it, but he did get his point across. I made some effort at urban renewal, and Tom felt better about it.
Tom, for the record, was a very zealous Christian and walked quietly with his God daily. I finally caught the possibility that Tom's zeal for the Christian walk included cleanliness. I was impressed enough to make further attempts at making the room more presentable.
So, tell me, how can you sit down in an easy chair which you literally stick to because of all the lunch left behind when eating and watching TV-- again, how can you sit down in that chair, pick up your Bible, and have a time reading and talking to God? Maybe that is why you don't read your Bible any more between Sundays-- hmmm.
Did you know that pigs prefer a clean environment? I visited Paul Stahl's hog farm in South Dakota one day, and the inside of the barn was spotless. The pigs were on a cement pad that was sloped toward a drain. Every day they hosed the hog pens down, and the pigs were very happy critters, at least until the day of reckoning when they were sent off to the slaughter house. Pigs will wallow in the mud when there is no other choice. They get used to it, and they eventually like it.
Think about that please. Have you gotten used to being a slob and living in a hog pen? There is nothing cute about that my friend. How can you have a personal testimony with your neighbors when they have to sit in old catsup to have coffee at your kitchen table?
Ouch, I forgot to wipe the dining room table down after supper. I better go do that before finishing this article. Hey, wipe the part of the plastic table cloth that hangs down please. I do not want to learn your recent menu by finding it on the front of my coat when I get home. Suggestion: We have some very pretty and exotic table cloths we use. So, to save them from destruction by beet juice, my wife bought a 72 inch piece of clear flexible plastic at Hobby Lobby to cover the table cloth. It is easy to clean, and after a few years we can replace it. This way, you do not have to set a dish on some stain to hide it when you have guests. Another trick is to put photos or heirlooms under the plastic cover for guests to look at. Be sure the plastic is perfect with no leak points.
A messy dirty soul and conscience results in a messy house and everything else. I tuned a piano for a veterinarian in western Michigan one day. The lady vet was gregarious to the point of being almost improper or forward. I ignored that, and I walked to where she told me the piano was. When you do a service which is mostly in homes you soon form the habit of sizing up the home as you walk through it without the owner realizing you are taking stock. I learned over the years that a grossly messy home was almost always owned by a person with a filthy mouth, or a dirty soul, and dirty piano keys. Some of the worst were Mormons and even Fundamentalists.
So, the vet's home was full of high end appliances and modern conveniences, but they were piled one on top of the other, and all around the edges were piles of expensive trash. Some things looked like they had been out of use for months. Every surface looked like someone had been doing finger painting with grease and old food.
When I got to the piano it was an upright, and the top was piled to the sky with trash of all sorts. No doubt some of the stuff was technically in use, but no effort was made to put things away in cupboards or even to make semi-orderly piles of the stuff. I unloaded the piano and opened the key cover. A good detective could have taken a long look at the piano keys and told you if the people were eating a balanced and nutritious diet because there were samples on the piano keys from every meal they had eaten in several years I think.
I always run up and down the scale to get an idea how badly the piano is out of tune. This helps me plan the tuning method needed. The scale was not too bad, but removing my fingers after hitting a key was sort of like trying to escape from fly paper. I had to go to the kitchen and get several applications of wet paper towels to clean the keys, and I mean it was awful. I had never before or since seen such a thing.
So, what does this have to do with a filthy soul? The veterinarian lady told me her husband was a truck driver and was on a haul and far from home. OK, I have heard that before. No problem. But, as I was tuning I could see out the window into her country farm yard. A man came into the drive way and seemed to getting something for his farm. As he got back into the truck, and not knowing I was watching, the lady vet and her customer went into a full embrace and very sexy kissing session. So, this is not so terribly rare I suppose in this wicked world, but I concluded that the lady's soul and conscience were just as trashy as her home. I have seen these two factors compliment each other many times.
So, how is it with you. Is you home telling us the order, or the disorder, in your soul, mind, and conscience? Start with either one, repent and clean up with the Holy Spirit, and the other may just follow along. Of course, getting your soul feeding on the Word of God, and confession of sin to God and those you have offended, will do wonders for your home and work place.
I will leave you with a verse that proves that you MUST be different than the rest of the slobs in your neighborhood.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
This means that you are supposed to be different. And, that is not just in your zeal for Bible truth. Your whole life should be a trophy of Christ's ability to change sinners into special people who bless the saints and the ungodly alike. Did you know that Solomon liked peculiar things?
Ecclesiastes 2:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
It is said that Solomon had gifts all around his palace from Africa and all over the Middle East. When he had guests they must have had quite a time just walking the halls and looking at his collection. What is in your home that says you are different, and THAT IS NOT DUST. Any slob can collect dust-- just do nothing, and it comes to you.
Now, I know how this works from experience. Elizabeth and I both grew up in Africa, and, having been missionaries later in Africa, we are sure enough gong and trinket people. Our walls tell any visitor at once that we have been far away living in the jungle, well, sort of. As I type I sit beneath a wall hanging made of a kitengi cloth, and over my monitor hands a Masai snuff box from Kenya.
Your home should tell a story about you and your zeal for Christ. If all you have is lovely ambient classy rubbish that is made in China by slave labor and bought at Wal Mart, please start over my friend-- Well, unless you actually lived in China long ago.
But, what shall we do with our junky house, work place, and even our junky life? Can I be even more of a nag and ask if we all need to do some spring cleaning of our MIND?
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
God does not get much spiritual fruit from a Christian ambassador to this world whose life and home are a rambling pig pen. If you were to visit the home of any ambassador from any nation you would find that their home was immaculate. No sane President of King would send a trash bag to represent him to another nation. Even so, God has not chosen us to be trash bag Christians to this world.
Don't panic my friend. Start with one room, master it, clean it, decorate it, and then move on to the next room. I would suggest you start with the bathroom. Nothing puts off your friends like a filthy toilet stool. If the lid on the tank is cracked, make a new one of hardwood and fit it. If the seat is so tired that it bites your fanny if you don't sit down just right, give up some junk food and spend the cash to buy a new seat. Do not put a rack of magazines by the toilet. People read them while pooping, wipe themselves, and the magazines become contagion horrors.
The bathroom in the photo was once a rather classy one, but filth has made it a chamber of horrors.
Hey, you cannot accuse me of not dealing with life where the rubber meets the road, or where the splatter meets the wall.
One idea to work your way through the terrors you have created over the past ten years is to designate a closet where you pitch things that you have to keep, but they clutter terribly. Just tell guests there is a rattle snake in that closet, and you haven't caught it yet.
Can you leave your garage door open without having to put up a sign warning the neighbors? Get out there and straighten it up, and throw out those stupid empty cans you think you will use someday. I don't want to hear, "This stuff is preparedness for the end of the world as we know it." OK, we could have national crisis and need a #10 can to cook beans in. But, forty #10 cans? Come on buster, stop this trashy logic. Drive big nails into the wall studs, and hang up the hoses and tools. What you may find out one day, if you really work at it, is that some people actually make enough room in their garage, by cleaning it out, to park at least one car in it. I know this is a revolutionary concept, but it is handy.
And, your yard. What do you announce to the neighborhood about yourself if there is trash all around? Hoses wind around like green spaghetti. The flower pots still have desiccated geraniums in them that were killed last fall by freezing weather. You know you are tempted to be a lazy slob. We all are. So, after dealing with the front yard, nothing will do your soul more good than cleaning up that side yard. No one sees it but you, but you know it is like your brand label. Clean it up, and throw away the stupid stuff which you once thought you might use. And, if much of the junk is your kids' stuff, make them help you. If your kids are too mean spirited to clean up their own trash, you are not raising them-- they are raising YOU.