Old Habits

Steve Arterburn

All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life.  And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will.  At times, the challenge may seem too hard.  Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.

Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith?  Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis.  Was Jesus really the Messiah?  Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship?  Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions?  Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?

The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians.  In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.

What old habits are haunting you?  Addiction? Lust?  Anger?  Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways.  From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life.  But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.

The Business World

Steve Arterburn

The ‘rules’ practiced in today’s business world aren’t always the same as God’s rules, are they?  Are you getting caught up in the game, trying to get as much as you can’are you tempted to cheat others or not give them their fair share?  God will hold his men’you and I’accountable for this.  We must take responsibility if we’ve sinned this way.

Take for example a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus’s hunger for riches drove him to take more than his fair share while he was collecting taxes from the Jews for the Roman government.  He was hated by his own people as an extortioner and a traitor.  But when Jesus reached out to him he changed dramatically. The book of Luke says,  ‘Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘I will give half of my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to his home today” (Luke 19:8-9).

When you honestly reflect on your life, you should be careful to consider whether you have taken more than your fair share in your dealings’business or personal. If so, it’s your responsibility to face the greed, the fear, the anger, and the pride that led you to behave dishonestly.  Like Zacchaeus, true spiritual growth will be evidenced in practical ways.  I hope you’ll take those courageous steps today.

Accepting Failure

Steve Arterburn

Whenever something needs to be fixed at Red and Trina’s house, Red feels it’s his responsibility to do the job. Trina’s dad was the fix-it man around her house growing up, so Red wants to live up to his example and his wife’s expectations. The only problem is that Red is hopelessly inept at mechanical things. Whenever he attempts a plumbing, electrical, auto or appliance repair, he ends up going to the hardware store numerous times. First, he has to buy the replacement part. He usually comes home with the wrong size or breaks it while installing it, so back to the store he goes again. And when he’s done, he often discovers that what he’s fixed wasn’t the problem to begin with.

At each level of failure in this process, Red gets angrier and angrier. Strength and success are such highly masculine values in our culture many men feel less than manly when they discover a weakness or experience failure. Like Red, feeling inept in an area where men are characteristically skilled makes them boiling mad. Other men feel the same response when they get laid off or can’t improve their golf score.

Can you relate? Contrary to what you feel, failure isn’t the end of the world. And masculinity isn’t defined by your mechanical ability or athleticism. For a true perspective of what it means to be a man, study Jesus in the gospels. You’ll be both challenged and pleasantly surprised.