GOLD VS PLATINUM

I recently watched 7 hours of DEI video training sessions as a requirement for work. Now while this is a necessary endeavor in our world today, I found them lacking in riveting content. There were nuggets of truth along the way that gave me better insight, but a common theme that I noticed was the dismissal of the Golden Rule which at once sent up a red flag in the ‘man’s way of thinking versus God’s ultimate authority’ section of my brain.

You are probably familiar with it but in case you need a reminder, Jesus stated, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” or “do to others as you would like them to do to you” (emphasis mine), (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31, ESV). This has become known as the golden rule. I have heard that interpreted as thinking of something you wish someone would do for you and taking the initiative and doing it for them.

The platinum rule, which I had never heard before, states that we should treat others the way ‘they want to be treated.’ This stood out to me like a sore thumb. I began to research where it originated. I first found credit given to Dave Kerpen, who wrote it in his book, The Art of People in 2016. But then I found another source who credited Tony Alessandra and Michael O’Conner in a 1996 publication of their book by the very title, The Platinum Rule.

I began to pray for discernment and search Scriptures for God’s truth on the matter because frankly, anything that tries to dismiss the Word of God does not sit well with me. When reading the verses in the Bible, we must also look at the verses before and after, not just pull one verse out as a stand-alone. When you read the pre-cursor and what follows, we find that love is the most crucial factor to the equation. Treating people, the way we want to be treated comes from a place of love, which should come naturally to those believers who love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls and who love their neighbor as themselves (Luke 10:27). We must go beyond this one verse to realize the lesson is love; a fundamental ethic that governs all behavior (Rom. 12:14-21). Jesus is our model through His self-sacrificial love for others.

If people’s priorities are out of order, then they may need a different guide, such as the man-made platinum rule, to know how to treat others. But if we are in alignment with God, it will come naturally to treat others with love. I read a list Mr. Kerpen wrote that included 101 things for which he was grateful. I am not putting him down and am happy that he is grateful for so many things including God, but it did reveal where his priorities lie as God made the list at number 55. According to his list, even the sun and planet made the # 2 slot. My question is, who created the sun and planet? Even the Mets made it on the list above God at # 26.

If we are not loving God more than anything else, and loving people as ourselves, then maybe we can accept the platinum rule. But not all of us are in that category. Instead of dismissing one over the other, it could be an ‘AND’ instead of a ‘either/or” concept. Although the platinum rule is not biblical, and Jesus’ own words are conclusive and attribute to the Golden Rule; there could be one rule for believers who follow Christ and one for the secular population who haven’t experienced the love of Christ or understand how to love others as Christ’s example tells us to even love our enemies as ourselves.

But in my book, there is only one set of rules, One God, One authority, and One Word, but man will always attempt to make his own rules to suit himself when he doesn’t understand or accept God’s rule and authority.

I believe we can use this filter to decide the best way to treat others: Ask ourselves if it is God-honoring to both parties? Are we seeking the approval of man or God (Gal. 1:19)? Love is the key factor, and the Golden Rule demonstrates this best since we have Christ to model it after and can share the love that God bestows on us to everyone we meet.

In all fairness, I do not know these authors, nor have I read their books. I am only using the tiny bit of information I netted in my search as a basis for my comments. You could say I literally judged a book by its cover. However, the point I want to make is that we should not be so quick to dismiss God’s Word, especially those spoken directly by Jesus, for something fabricated by man. I read that book daily.

NEW REALITY

On an early morning run this week, I met an ominous sky lurking over the horizon and a wind that was brewing something that would surely send the leaves flurrying to the ground. I realized my last chance this season to capture the rich array of fall colors that lined my streets, was in that very moment. So, I ran back to the house and grabbed my phone so I could finish my run as well without lugging the larger camera around my neck. The bright yellows and oranges stood out even more prominent behind a brilliant fuchsia skirt that adorned their trunks.

Having snapped several photos at different angles, I headed back in a sprint towards the house, thinking about how these trees may very well be barren the next time I see them. The sharp contrast of winter is right around the corner and with it will come death to many plants, trees, and flowers. But Spring always follows and brings with it new life. God is always faithful and even in nature we see how things must die to receive restoration; made new in a different season of their life.

We see it in other parts of God’s creation as well such as the caterpillar whose transformation is remarkable. An entirely new creature that lives a vastly different life than the caterpillar. It is the same with us. We must die to self to receive the new life Christ offers that creates a new season of life now and an eternal Springtime season to come (Eph. 4:20-24, ESV). We can experience transformation that makes us feel like the butterfly living quite a different life than the one we lived. As the Bible Project put it in a video I watched recently, “the gospel is an announcement about Jesus that opens up a new reality.” In our new reality, we receive a new perspective, and a new life that changes everything, for the better. I am grateful every day for my new reality.

THE SON IS IN MY EYES

Recently, on a mid-morning run, after the sun was beaming brightly through the crisp fall air, I was headed directly into its rays. All I could do was focus on the road directly in front of me as it was too bright to see very far ahead. I was reminded that when we keep the ‘Son’ as the focus of our gaze, it is easier to stay in His presence in the present moment without looking too far into the future and worrying about what is next.

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, it will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough to today (Matt. 6:34, NLT). Some days this is easier than others, but when I can accomplish it, my day goes so much smoother. I can leave everything in God’s hands and be present in the moment, watching for my next cue from God, while I stay in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) doing God’s will.

We can even find ourselves worrying too much about being in God’s will and making the right choices. But we are not to worry about that either. When we are doing our best to follow Jesus and being obedient, we don’t need to worry about doing God’s will, because He will reveal it to us. On days when I am in alignment with God, the sun is a little brighter, my morning tea a little sweeter, and my oatmeal a little more savory.  

Anything in our lives that does not align and is disobedient to God blocks the Holy Spirit’s work and we can feel disconnected. It is not God who has left us, but rather us who has strayed away from God. These times are sometimes necessary for us to realize that when we choose God each day as the One we will serve and not attempt to control things on our own, that is when we are more productive. When we recognize the patterns and that taking time to spend with God helps us through our day; we can choose to do it each morning as we arise to face the Son. One of my professor’s says his day is too busy not to spend time with God. It is all a matter of perspective, being intentional and slowing down long enough to listen and allow God’s love light to shine on our face.

ELIJAH

the story of a faithful prophet

In I Kings, we are first introduced to Elijah as a prophet from Tishbe of Gilead. His prophetic role placed him in confrontation to the kings of Israel and isolation from others of like faith, during the split of the northern and southern kingdoms, after the downfall of Jerusalem around the ninth century. It was time of great despair for God’s people. Doubt set in for many and they began to question God’s existence and promises. Many kings were worshipping other gods, like Baal. Elijah’s faithful obedience sets the backdrop for multiple miracles performed by God to demonstrate He is still in control, crush idolatry and the work of evil king Ahab who provoked God more than any other king, along with his wife Jezebel, who influenced him greatly. Perhaps, even more remarkable than the miracles themselves is the intimate relationship he shared with the Lord. Something still available to us today.

Even in his faithfulness, he was still human and had his faults. One may tend to aspire to be more like Elijah or other biblical characters and look to them as a role model. We can do the same with people around us today. I know of a leader at church that could easily fit this bill in my book, with his humble obedience and words of wisdom, however, we should only strive to be more like Jesus. We should try to be more like the One reflected in the good parts of others’ lives, a not the person themselves. All humans have flaws, but we can also learn from the mistakes of others. With Elijah, in his isolation, we see that he allowed his feelings of loneliness and depression take over and he believes he is the only person left who is faithful to the Lord. But God shows him that there are still others who have persevered, seven thousand to be exact. God comes to find Elijah hiding in a cave, where he ran for fear of his life from the queen, who threatened to kill him. God sends a mighty windstorm so strong it shook the rocks, then he sends an earthquake, and then a fire. But God was not in any of those things. Afterwards, Elijah hears a gentle whisper and knows it is the voice of the Lord. He covers his face and stands at the entrance of the cave. God was showing Elijah that he does not only reveal himself in powerful miracles, if that is all we are looking for, we will often miss Him, as He is most likely found in the stillness of a gentle whisper of a humble heart.

God instructs Elijah to anoint Elisha as his predecessor before he takes him to heaven by a whirlwind. He is one of only three people mentioned in the Bible taken to heaven in bodily form. Enoch before him and Jesus after him. This must have been a great honor to be chosen to be with God and whisked away to heaven by chariots of fire. Elisha asked for and was granted a double share of Elijah’s spirit. It was granted because his motives were pure. He did not selfishly ask for his own gain but to do more for God. We too can ask for great things but should examine our motives to make sure they are pure.

We see God give John the Baptist the power and spirit of Elijah, this fulfills the prophesy of Malachi when he says Elijah will come before the day of the Lord. Later in the NT, Elijah is mentioned and appears with Moses on Mount Sinai to talk to Jesus, where Peter, John and James were invited to go so God could show them who Jesus really was. Moses represents the law; Elijah represents the writings of the prophets (the entire Old Testament) and Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah with divine authority who fulfills both the law and the prophets and is greatest of them all. As Jesus explains in Matthew 5:17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or writings of prophets. I came to accomplish their purpose.”(emphasis added) We can only understand the OT in the light of Jesus.

Mount Sinai is a sacred place where God met all three at different times and at the same time in Luke 9:28-36, ESV. All three of them, at different times, fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. If we take time to search them out, we can find similarities in the lives of biblical characters who lived at different times. But it is important to remember to look for how each one points us to Christ and ask how we can apply those lessons in our lives today.

To recap the miracles God performed through Elijah:

  • God provided food to Elijah by ravens
  • Widow’s food multiplied
  • Widow’s son raised to life
  • Altar and sacrifice consumed my fire
  • Calling fire from heaven upon the second 50 soldiers
  • Jordan river parted
  • Transported to heaven

Big lessons can be taken away from the study of biblical characters that are often overlooked. I have said this before and believe it to be true, as we see in the life of Elijah, if God brings us to it, He will bring us through it. Through faithful obedience we can trust God to provide what we need to carry us through anything He commands us to do.

References:

Brand, C. ed., (2015) Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, B & H Publishing.

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale Publishers

ESV Study Bible, Crossway

NLT Study Bible, Tyndale Publishers

Topical ESV Bible, Tyndale Publishers

JACKPOT

‘Skittles’ on one of his visits to my front door

I saw a cat on my run a while back that looked like a neighborhood cat that likes to roam from house to house. It used to hide in the shadows on early mornings and jump out at me as I pass by. As I got closer, I realized it was not ‘Skittles’ at all (a name I gave it). Its demeanor was quite different even though the markings were similar.

It made me think about my relationship with God. The more intimate my relationship gets, the easier it is to recognize Him and test the spirits. Only He knows my heart and the hearts of others.

He does not give us a guarantee that our life on this earth will be easy. In fact, He says in John 16:33 we will have troubles. But His promises are for an eternity of joy – a hope we can look forward to now and later. God does not want us to just be ‘happy’ in this life – He does want us to be full of joy no matter our circumstances. There is a difference. Happiness comes from circumstances and joy comes from our relationship with God regardless of our circumstances.

He may not help us win the lottery, but if we are using our gifts and talents to their fullest for His glory, the joy, and blessings we receive will be equivalent to hitting the jackpot. His joy and blessings are for an eternity and will last forever where the winnings of a lottery will soon be gone and become meaningless.

Our hope of an inheritance with our Father and the beauty that comes with it gives us the strength to continue in this life, looking to Him for comfort, peace, and grace.

The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. Eph. 1:14

CLEARING THE PATH

While reading my textbook for Global Studies, something stood out to me that gave me a fresh perspective, and I thought it was worth sharing. I usually pray and ask what God’s will is for my life and the path He wants me to take. My textbook says, what we should be asking, is ‘how do I fit into the bigger picture of what God is already doing?’ He invites us to participate in His plan. Think about that for a minute. That is huge, yet such a simple concept. We are part of a much bigger purpose than just ourselves. Our story fits into God’s story.

As I was running that same morning, I encountered a low limb that blocked my way. I meant to go back with my cutters and trim it to clear the path for others because people travel through there each day. I thought about the guy on the bicycle I see going to work every morning, how it would impede his way, and I imagined him ducking to get through. I then thought about all the children walking to and from school. It will not only benefit me but will help others coming behind me. We are not on an isolated path by ourselves in this life. There is always a greater picture and others to consider.

Have you ever been the leader of a group walking on a trail through the woods and suddenly you encounter something and realize you have just walked through a spider web? You cleared the path for everyone else. Yuck, right!? Symbolically, the web can represent our past, like the spider web, some experiences are not so pleasant, but we can share those lessons learned with others. In a way we are clearing the path for those coming behind us. I did go back that afternoon with cutters in hand, but someone had already taken care of it. I am grateful for those who have gone before me and those that will come behind.

tHERE’S AN APP FOR THAT?

Recently, I saw an advertisement for an app that allowed family members to track each other so they could know their whereabouts at any time of day. I realize the purpose of this invention is that it is designed to provide safety for those who are outside the home on the busy roads, and the peace of mind to those at home, wondering if they are okay.

But the first thing I thought of was that, at one time in my life, I would not have wanted this technology to be a reality. Let me explain, before I became a Christ follower, just to put it plain and simple, I was living a double life. I would not have welcomed an app that allowed anyone to know my whereabouts, because no matter how much I tried to hide my secrets, by telling half truths, and going to the place I was ‘supposed’ to be for at least a few minutes, I also spent most of the time where I was not supposed to be, looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t seen.

In that regard, I can only imagine the reasons people are coming up with so that their family members will not use this app to know where they are. I can relate because at one time this would have instilled panic to my very core. I would have feared even seeing the commercial for it when my family was in the room. Do you know how miserable I was on the inside? I can’t tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep, cried all the way to work and back (an hour away), or paced the floor in anxious worry, and then put on a mask every time others were near.

The only reason I can share this with the world today, is because I am FREE!

The enemy has no stronghold on me anymore. The truth really does set us free, and God’s forgiveness and grace allows us to stay free. Once we are saved from our old selves, we can live like we are free (I Peter 2;16, ESV). As a servant of God, I am free from my old self and my old ways. There is much joy and relief in being free. God not only saved my life, rescued me from dangerous, abusive relationships, but He changed my perspective, my heart, and my character. I try to be mindful to thank Him for that every day. The day I fully surrendered, He took the weight I was carrying, and I never looked back.

A LOGICAL LIE

The thought crossed my mind one day that those who refuse to accept God’s word as absolute truth are believing a blatant lie. While this has some truth to it, I think God showed me how the deception can occur and that it may not always be their intention, simply because the untruth seems more logical.

I have been doing discussion board posts for over a year and I know I am supposed to reply to the other student’s original post, but somehow one day a couple of weeks ago, it seemed very logical to me to post my reply on another student’s reply to me, to carry on the conversation. Now, as my teacher pointed out and, by the way, knocked off several valuable points for not following directions, I was wrong. No matter how logical it seemed, it was not according to the instructions from my professor. She told me that the directions to follow are provided on the rubric. Now if I had taken time to re-read it and refresh my memory of this truth and her instructions, I could have avoided my error and saved myself some points.

Things can seem very logical, especially if most people around us are following a path of popular belief. It made me realize they are not always refusing to believe God’s truth, although some are, but rather are believing a lie based on what seems logical to them and those of influence around them. This is a deception the enemy loves. Maybe this deception occurs when we are not in the word enough to allow God to point out the misconception the world is selling. The enemy is subtle, he uses enough truth sprinkled over a lie to cover it up and make it taste better as it is digested. If we are not careful, we allow our desires and beliefs to override Scripture. This gives Satan a foothold in our life and can wreak havoc.

God says, “His thoughts are not our thoughts, and neither are our ways His ways” (Isaiah 55:8). No matter how many times you hear, “follow your heart”, we cannot trust our own heart to steer us in the right direction (Jeremiah 17:9; Eph. 4:22). We need to pray for spiritual discernment and wisdom to guide us. This takes studying the Word and spending time listening and mediating on Scripture to learn the voice of God so we can properly test the spirits and our own thoughts through the help of the Holy Spirit.

In A Heart Ablaze John Bevere writes that we can sometimes create an idol in our lives without being conscious of it.

“If we still desire a worldly lifestyle, which is against the flow of God’s authority, we can have it by subconsciously serving “our Jesus,” whose will is in accordance with our own desires. Without realizing it we have a manageable deity! It is a subtle deception, not a blatant lie….we can filter God’s word and commands through our culturally influenced thinking.”

Don’t take my word for it, read the Scriptures, and pray for spiritual discernment. I don’t bring these messages as a form of judgement on anyone, I need to take heed as well, but only to warn others of the tactics of the enemy and challenge us all to be diligent about what we believe and in whom we entrust our truth. God’s authority or man? It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus Christ, but we must also take heed of His Word and live by it to the best of our ability. None of us are perfect, only Christ is perfect. But we can look to Him as our example and role model and strive to be more like Him every day.

When is the last time you read the rubric?

THE GREAT RESCUE

I believe I have posted a message before about my dream when I was in an abusive relationship, but God brought it to my attention again recently, and is worth mentioning again.

At a time in my life when I was in a dark place, in an abusive relationship, I had a dream that I was sitting on the top row of bleachers with my abuser in an open field. I looked up and, in the distance, I saw three old planes coming into view and they flew on past over our heads. Next, I saw 3 newer fighter jets and they also flew over us. Then I saw black hawk helicopters and they too flew on past.

Lastly, I saw something white flying towards us, as they got closer, I could see that it was several solid white horses, but they didn’t fly on past. As they began to land in the distance, I could see the last few were in an array of pastel colors; blue, pink, and purple. They started to head my direction and as they approached, I saw they were majestic unicorns. They came straight up to me with great intention. I held out my hand and just as the first one got close enough to touch my hand, I woke up.

It is only in hindsight that I believe this was a message about my upcoming rescue. God was sending out all the forces of His army to come after this one lost sheep (Luke 15:4, ESV). The lyrics to Lauren Daigle’s song Rescue express this very well. He had a rescue plan so elaborate and incredible, some days I still cannot believe the lengths He went to, to bring me to Himself. My journey isn’t over, my story is still being written, but my life has changed forever, for the better, through God’s good graces. I am grateful every single day for His rescue and my adoption (Rom. 8:15-16).

It is not the first rescue mission God has been on and I am certain it will not be the last, but the ultimate rescue mission was the one where He sent His Son Jesus to die on that old rugged cross to save His people. He entered the world as a human and walked the earth, endured suffering and shame and died for our sins so we could be saved. A great rescue mission of a loving Father who is still coming after His lost sheep today.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8).

oVershadowing joy

On one of the more delightful, enlightening mornings with the Spirit, my cup of joy was overwhelmingly full and seeping over the sides in a sweet little flow. Even though I had been awake since 1:30 a.m. dealing with an unruly contact that refused to come out before bedtime. It woke me up in the middle of the night ready to make its departure from my matted eye. But it didn’t comply easily. It caused me to get up and turn on the light, which temporarily blinded me as I sheltered my eyes. If I wasn’t awake before I sure was now. Once I had it out, I went back to bed but couldn’t return to the slumber I previously embarked upon for the last 4 hours.

Tired of fighting it and having my long list of prayers complete, I decided to get up and start my day, with my normal routine of quiet time, Bible reading and devotionals before heading out for my morning run.

As I said earlier, this particular morning was very enlightening and captivated my attention more than usual. My run serves as further contemplation and processing such matters. So, I know I was mostly focused on my thoughts and asking God to give me discernment on the divine revelation. I didn’t see the rocks that were piled in a heap in my path, until I stepped on them and turned my ankle. I am completely certain that anyone seeing this would have had quite the sight and probably a good laugh to watch me to do everything in my power to stop myself from falling. (Good thing nobody saw it.)

In the end, gravity won. I did manage to tuck and roll using my left shoulder as my cushion and my right hand to keep my face from plowing into the pavement. I twisted my foot and hit my knee but thankfully didn’t break yet another bone. I really can’t afford to do that. So, I limped and thanked God all the way home. I was done for the day. And the next couple of days since my ankle developed quite a painful reminder.

Despite all this, I still rejoiced all day. Our propensity usually likes to take over in these situations and cause us to in turn be in a bad mood or not so kind to others on a day that started out like this and let our lack of sleep drive our emotions. But my joy overshadowed anything the enemy tried to throw my way. His distractions and earthly circumstances of what could have easily been labeled a pretty bad day overall, didn’t deter the fact that I had spent quality time with the Holy Spirit who gave me a wonderful gift in return. Joy unspeakable. Our time spent with God is more precious and gives us more return on investment that anything of this world.

My spiritual joy overshadowed my fall and lack of sleep. No matter what earthly things are going on in our lives, we can still experience joy through the gifts of the Spirit. Our relationship with God makes all the difference.

This is not to say that I don’t have ‘bad days’ that are frustrating and harder to be joyful, it just means that we can choose joy. No matter what is going on. It just may be a little harder on some days, but God is still with us and that alone should make us smile.

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again- rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5