Leaning Out Into The Wind

By Brian G. Bettes

The smoke stacks at the power plant I worked at were over 600 feet tall. We were building the coal-fired plant and we had to line the inside of both stacks with brick. There was a cable drawn elevator for hauling people, bricks, and mortar that went all the way to the top on the inside of the stack. One of the workers told me, “If you stand out on the edge of the stack on top, the wind is so strong that you can lean out into the wind and not fall.” Visions of what would happen if the wind stopped raced through my mind, but, I guess there was no real danger of that happening in Wyoming. I never tried it because I was not allowed on the elevator. But, crazy as it may seem, I always wanted to. As a young man, I was a risk-taker. It is amazing I have lived as long as I have.

I was thinking about that the other day and asking myself, “How often do we do dangerous things with regard to sin, and think it is kind of fun, or get a thrill out of it?” Do we like to get as close to the edge of sinning as possible “without sinning” (or so we think), then “lean out into the wind,” hoping nothing will happen? Are we spiritual risk-takers? Or do we try to stay as far away from “the edge” of sin as we can get?

During this time of year, as I prepare for taking the Passover symbols established by our Savior, I have been focusing on sin and its effects in my life. Sin caused my Elder Brother and Savior, Jesus the Messiah, to have to die. Even one single sin by any human being was enough for Him to have to die as the sinless sacrifice, if that human was to be given eternal life. That gives me pause for thought. How cavalier am I with sin? Do I sometimes take the approach of, “Well, I know I am human, but Jesus died, so God will forgive me?” It hurts my heart to realize that I have made that statement all too often in my life. What about you? Are you casual with sin?

Many times, I have heard people say (one of those people saying it was me), “Of course, we will never be perfect in this life.” That statement is offered up almost as if it is an excuse to not really put that much effort into fighting sin. Do we really want to eradicate sin from our lives? Or do we just “accept” that, because we are human, we don’t have to struggle mightily against Satan or overcome the world around us that is under his influence or our own human nature? Yet, are we not told to not love this world (1 John 2:15-17), and to come out of it so as not to partake of its sins (Revelation 18:4)?

Let’s talk about 1 John 2:16, which says, “Because everything that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life—is not from the Father, but is from the world” (Coulter, emphasis mine). Most translations use the word “all” where this one uses “everything.” Same essential meaning, but I just like the emphasis that it places on everything; not some things, not a few things, not most things, but e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that is of this world that is not of the Father. It is all encompassing and total. Nothing is left out. Then John goes on to identify, in three basic groups, what everything includes: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

What we must ask ourselves is, are we in tune with our Father’s and Brother’s idea of what this means. We should be examining every area of our lives, asking ourselves whether we are striving to be righteous as They are righteous (1 John 3:7), or are we trying to get as close to the world, or sin, as we can without falling into the abyss?

What about our words? Does our speech reflect Jesus and our Father when we talk to others, or is it laced with profanity, course jesting, or maybe even sexual innuendo? Is our language clean and pure as Jesus’ was, or do we make excuse for, or even worse, not care much about what comes out of our mouths? I am embarrassed to say, as the old adage goes, “Been there done that.” There are no excuses one can legitimately give God as to why that kind of behavior is okay!

What about how we dress? Do we like, or even wear, tight-fitting or revealing clothing that leaves little or nothing to the imagination? Do we wear suggestive clothes that would cause members of the opposite sex to use their imagination? Have we bought into the influence of Satan regarding dress to where we think showing a lot of skin is okay? Have we bought into the societal thinking that, if we wear clothes that are suggestive, and members of the opposite sex have to avert their eyes, that the problem is with them; that we have no responsibility in that situation? This applies to both men and women. We have to ask ourselves whether Jesus Christ approves of what we are wearing, not what our friends or society around us thinks. Basing our thinking on what anyone but God thinks is what got this world in to the mess it is in.

We should apply this mindset to every part of our lives; what we eat, how we interact with each other, how we drive…again, everything! Second Corinthians 10:5 says we are to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Again—every thought. Not just a few, or some, but every thought!

Did Jesus play with sin? Did He try to get as close as possible to sin? When dealing with Satan during His temptation, though Satan was quoting Scripture and the words he used were true, Jesus did not buy into any part of Satan’s proposals, staying as close to the real meaning and intent of His Father’s word, and as far away as possible from sin (Matthew 4:4,7,10). No, I think the example we see is that He stayed as far away from it as He could. He left us a clear example of how we are to use God’s Word to live our lives (Hebrews 4:12). Satan is the father of lies, and is a master at twisting God’s words from truth into something that sounds good, but leads to death (Genesis 3:4-5).

When it comes to sin, if Jesus was not willing to stand on the edge and lean out into the wind, neither should we.

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Showing The Face Of Our Father

By Brian G. Bettes

Every boy looks up to his father, and when he is young, wants to be just like him. I believe that is something that God placed into boys. Boys want to be like their father, and girls want to be like their mother. Unfortunately, as boys become young men, and girls become young ladies, all too often they don’t want to emulate their parents. Why is that? Because Satan is trying to destroy the family, and because as humans we are imperfect.

Many parents today aren’t good role models, or are the role models of the wrong things, and thus emulating our parents may or may not help us. But like it or not, we still turn out to be a lot like our parents. In today’s world, which belongs to Satan, this can be either good or bad. But from a Biblical perspective, God intends that, once we become one of His children, we are to emulate Him.

Consider these words from Jesus who said, “If you had known me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” When pressed further to see the Father by Philip, He said, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’” (John 14:7-9)?

Jesus made it clear that He and the Father were one during His stay here on earth. He also requested of the Father that His followers, including us, would be one with Them during our stay here on earth (John 17:20-21). But notice why He wanted us to be one with Him and our Father, “…that the world may know that You have sent Me, and loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23).

One of Jesus’ responsibilities while walking among men was to reveal to the world the Father (Luke 10:22); which He did (John 17:4, 6-8). If that was Jesus’ responsibility while on earth, and we now have the same Father, and we are to follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21), what do you suppose our responsibility is now that we know the Father (John 17:18)?

When silver is refined to its purest state it produces a perfect image of the refiner on the surface. This is how the refiner knows that there are no longer any impurities, called dross, left in the silver. We are told that, because we are the sons of God, we are to purify ourselves as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3). The apostle Peter admonishes us to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus told us that we are to become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

All of this indicates that we are to reflect the same holiness, the same righteousness that our Father is…note I did not say has, but IS! Our Father is righteousness and holiness. That is the “stuff” that He is made of. It is not just something that he has, like a possession that one owns. There is a difference. Is this what we are becoming? Are we becoming pure as He is pure?

At creation, God did not give animals any responsibility except to multiply (Genesis 1:22). On the other hand, mankind was given three responsibilities:

be fruitful, multiply, replenish, and subdue the earth;
have dominion over the animal life (Genesis 1:28);
dress and keep the Garden (Genesis 2:15).

Animals were not given these responsibilities. Though they were to multiply, they were not given the responsibility, or even the capability, to subdue (tread down, subjugate), have dominion over (rule), or “dress and keep” (maintain) the earth. That is because animals were created for a different purpose than man.

We were created in God’s image, or resemblance (Genesis 1:26-27). But “looking like” Him (head, hair, eyes, mouth, arms, hands, chest, torso, legs, feet) is not the only likeness we bear of Him (Revelation 1:13-16 and many verses in Daniel and Ezekiel give a description of God’s form.) In addition, we were given a spirit that no other created creature on earth has—the power of intellect, or as some call it, the spirit in man (Job 32:8). This spirit gives us the ability to think, reason, gather information, evaluate that information, make decisions, plan, design, and build. In short, we were given, on a limited physical basis, God’s ability to create.

No animal on earth can design a house, or a building, or a city, much less build it once it has been designed. No animal can think and reason the way man can. That ability—that power of intellect—is unique to mankind, and it is a part of what it means to be made “in the image of God.” However, even with that special capability, we are not complete.

Mankind was created to become the very Sons of God, just as Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 8:16-17; 1 John 3:2). But for that to happen, man needed yet another Spirit. When God created man, He gave him the spirit of intellect, and along with it, free will. What does that mean? It means man can make his own decisions on how to live. However, God also gave him a choice. Adam and Eve could choose to live God’s way, or they could choose to follow Satan (Genesis 2:16-17). We all know that story, and we all know what they chose to do, don’t we?

God never at any point gave mankind the authority to determine what is right and what is wrong. Those determinations have been left solely in the realm of God. However, man, influenced by Satan, decided to try to take that authority upon himself (Genesis 3:17), just as Satan tried to do once before (Isaiah 14:13). The result of that one bad decision has caused innumerable mountains of grief for mankind ever since.

But God, knowing mankind would make that mistake, had created a way out for him (1 Peter 1:18-20). Once Jesus Christ came, through repentance from living a life against God, acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice in place of the death penalty that is the sentence for sin, baptism as a symbol of burying the old way of life (“the old/former, man”), and the laying on of hands (Hebrews 6:1-2), mankind could receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Upon these conditions, God places His Spirit within a repentant believer (Acts 2:37-39).

That Spirit is a part of God Himself. Just like a human male sperm cell is a part of the father from whom it came, the Holy Spirit is a tiny part of God Himself (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). It is then, and only then, that the believer can start to understand, think, and little-by-little, act like God (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The Holy Spirit begins to transfer to us the Divine Nature of the one and only Holy God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Over a lifetime of surrender, as God begins to test the heart through fiery trials, the continuously repentant believer can be more and more refined to think and act like our Father, just as Jesus did in the flesh (1 Peter 4:12-13). As God refines us, eradicating the “dross” of sin from our lives by surrendering to Him more and more, like the silver, we become purer and purer each day (Psalm 66:10).

For us to be a part of His Family, God must be satisfied that we will want to only live as He lives, with no thought or desire for anything else. He must be satisfied that pure righteousness, which is what He is, is what we want for all of eternity (1 John 3:3). So only when He can “see His own reflection” in us, will we be ready to take on that incredibly awesome position of responsibility in His Family. God is composed of pure righteousness, and anyone who will be a part of His Family must also be composed of pure righteousness. As the Refiner, He is the only One who knows for certain when we are “finished.”

The Bible says that Jesus is the “brightness of glory,” and, “the express image” of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). He is our example and we are to follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21). As we become closer to our Father through Jesus our brother; and as we are refined by God to become more like Him, others should be able to see Him emanating out from us more each day. As Jesus said about Himself, we should be getting closer to being able to say, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father.” As we draw closer to God by allowing His Spirit to live in and through us, we should be showing the face our Father!

The Day After

by Brian G. Bettes

The day after Jesus Christ returns, I will be a spirit being, living as a part of God’s Family (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). I will no longer have physical aches, pains, or imperfections in my body. All of the restraints caused by birth defect, accident, abuse, or age will no longer bind me or slow me down (1 Corinthians 15:35, 42-44). I will be able to jump around if I so desire, or zip from place-to-place at the speed of thought. The first time walking through a wall instead of using the door will be really fun. There will be a lot of firsts, and they all will be fun. I am really looking forward to, the day after… Continue reading

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

January 30, 2017
by Brian G. Bettes

Many people I am currently praying for are facing severe trials right now. One friend just went in for surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from his liver. That same man will have to go in again in a few months to have more cancer removed from his colon. A cousin of mine is in stage four of lymphoma cancer. Both suffer not only the physical pain of the disease that is trying to kill them, but also the fear of not knowing what will happen with the only life they have been given. Additionally, they wrestle with what it will mean for the loved ones who are left behind if the cancer takes them. Continue reading

In Case Of Emergency Break Glass

by Brian G. Bettes

A good friend texted me this picture as a joke recently. Then he said, “This would make a good subject for a blog.” I decided He was right!

How often do we take this approach to our relationship with God? Has anyone else ever realized they were doing this, or am I the only one? Continue reading

God’s Love by Brian G. Bettes

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Pulling Together In The Yoke

by Brian G. Bettes

In a recent blog, I talked about “tugging against the leash.” In a comment to that blog, a reader responded with this:

“The more we trust in God, the more we understand that His yoke (leash) really is pretty light.” The comparison of God’s “leash” to His yoke being referenced here is in Matthew 11:29-30 which states:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (KJV).

The Greek word used for “yoke” in this verse, zugos, means to join or couple together, specifically by a yoke. It also has a literal meaning of being the beam of the balance that connects the scales, or “a pair of balances.” Continue reading

Live And Walk In The Spirit

by Brian G. Bettes

We are admonished by the apostle Paul to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). I have read this and other verses talking about our spiritual walk for years, but the meaning of the concept never really “clicked” with me like it did during a recent study on the subject. Continue reading