Info

A Little Walk With God

A daily devotional through the Bible narrated as if walking through the garden east of Eden with God. Scriptures come from a daily reading plan that take you through the Bible in one year, generally coming from The Voice. Our website is http://alittlewalkwithgod.com or http://richardagee.com
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
A Little Walk With God
2018
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2014
December
January


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 2

Like us on iTunes and Facebook to help spread the message to others. I also appreciate your comments and questions. Just respond in the comment section below. 

Thanks for listening.

Richard

Jul 16, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

For the next few weeks we will look at the fight we are in. If you don’t feel like you’re in a fight for your live, be careful. You might be in the enemies clutches. Remember, the devil is like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. If you’re not on his menu, you might already be in his digestive track. If you’re a Christian, you should be up to your eyeballs in the fight.

I read a good example of what we are up against a few days ago. If you’re standing on the 20 yard line of a football field and you’re the only one on the field, it’s pretty easy to run into the opposite end zone and score an unopposed touchdown.

But change to picture a little. Now you’re that same halfback and the quarterback passes that football to you. In front of you are eleven really big men with one thing on their mind. Crush the guy with the ball. I’m 5’9”, 185 pounds, and 64 years old. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it back to the line of scrimmage without a few broken bones and a probable concussion. I don’t know what kind of shape you’re in, but can imagine that since less than one percent of all the high school football players can make it into the pros, you would probably not make it to the line of scrimmage either.

Keep that picture in your mind. Without God on our side, that’s what it’s like facing the world every day as a Christian. We are in a fight every day. Those football players get on their battle ground once a week. We face that enemy every day we wake up and put our feet on the floor. There is an enemy out there that wants to destroy us. Satan does not want us to make it to heaven. He wants company in the hell God has prepared for him. He wants to capture the souls of as many as he can.

And he’s not just out there waiting for us to bump into him. John and Peter both describe him as a lion on the prowl. He’s hungry. He’s hunting us. He wants to eat you, devour you, destroy you. I’ve never seen a lion in the wild and I really don’t care to. I’ve seen enough wildlife to know that I don’t want to face a lion, the king of the beasts. Lions are give that title for a reason. They will take on just about any other animal and usually win. They are vicious when they hunt. Not many get away from them. Even those that do, often leave scarred, damaged, never the same.

That lion is searching for as many as he can until the Jesus returns. He wants company. He wants you! So in this fight, what are we to do? That’s what we will explore over the next few weeks. We will look at Sampson. How did he succeed? How did he fail? What can we learn from his sordid life? We can discover some things to do and not to do as we look at this Judge in Israel’s past. He was a hero and he sometimes let his position, his talents, his strength go to his head. He forgot the important things of life.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Paul knew we are in a battle. Jesus told us that if we followed him we would be at war with the world. It’s time we accept the fact if we carry his name, the world will hate us. The enemy will try to devour us. We will be at war. We must fight. But if God is on our side, he cannot be defeated. If you follow him, you’re on the winning side.

Jul 9, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Today we will talk about the last in our series of what can help us defeat Goliaths of addiction and habits in our lives that we just can’t seem to conquer. Those things that seem to just linger on and seem impossible to change. You’ll recall we first said you can’t fight Goliath alone. God will go with us if we ask him. We should also try to take with us trusted friends, accountability partners, prayer partners, those that understand the battle we face and can help us through those struggles because they have been there before us.

We talked about overcoming our fears when we face our Goliaths. That doesn’t mean we won’t have any fears as we face them, but we must control our fear and use the energy, drive, emotions, and all the positive things that come from that singular emotion to help us focus on the addiction or habit we want to overcome.

We said we sometimes hold on to those habits and addictions because of our fear of rejection. We think if others know what is going on with us, they won’t like us. They will turn away from us. They will think poorly of us. If they knew, they might push us out of their lives and we would be alone. To be honest, some will, but you probably don’t want those in your repertoire of people trying to help you through victory over your problem anyway. You need to be surrounded by people who will be honest with you and not condone the habits or addictions you want to rid yourself, but you need people who will love you and stick with you through the tough times of change, as well.

We discovered that sometimes we hold on to those bad habits and addictions because we are comfortable with them. Change is hard even though we know the change is better for us than the circumstances we created for ourselves in our present state, but most of us do not like change and will stick to the devil we know rather than chance the angel we don’t know. So we stick with the comfortable thing we know even when we know it’s bad.

We learned that anger can sometimes help us overcome those Goliaths of addiction. But anger can also hinder us in facing those giants. Anger is not good or bad. It is an emotion God built into us. The question is what sparks our anger and how and where do we focus it. When we focus our anger appropriately, we can use the energy and strength that comes with it to attack those addictions and habits we want gone. When we use that emotion inappropriately, we might strike out against the people that could help us the most.

Last week we talked about the importance of openness about the thing you want to change. Until you identify and name the thing you want to fix, you are at best attacking symptoms, but never getting at the real root of the problem.

Today we look at one more exceptionally important trait that you must exercise to face the Goliaths in your life, those addictions, bad habits, things in your life you need to change. What is that trait? Faith. If you don’t believe you can change, you won’t. If you believe there is no hope, you will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without faith, you’ll find all your attempts at change are futile.

Faith, the writer of Hebrews says, is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen. It is knowing that an unseen future will circumstance will be true. We all exercise faith in our daily lives. We all have it and really could not live without it. Imagine going through life without faith. Not believing the lights would come on when flipped the light switch. Not knowing if the car would start when you turned the key. Not believing the sun would rise in the morning or the moon at night. Living without faith means wondering if the food you just ate is good for you or poisoned.

No faith in life makes you question whether the next step you take will be on solid ground or something that just looks solid. No faith makes you hold your breath because the air might be filled with toxic fumes instead of good clean oxygen.

So does all of that sound a little crazy? Maybe, but it really shows that everyone has faith. We have faith that the world works in certain ways that we can trust. We exercise faith to just live our lives in ordinary ways every day. It takes a lot of faith just to exist. Faith is faith is faith. The question is how do we direct that faith? In what or in whom do we have faith? I have a lot of faith in myself in certain aspect of life. In other aspects, I have very little faith in myself.

As a simple example, I have faith that I can drive without having an accident, so tomorrow I will get in my car, turn the key in the ignition, and back out of my driveway with full confidence that I will make it across town and arrive at my destination before my appointed time to be there. But I have very little faith that I can climb Mount Everest successfully, so don’t expect to see me even close to those slopes...ever. It would be crazy for me to even attempt the climb because I know my physical limitations and I have like no confidence I would get to even the 7,000 foot camps alive.

What does that have to do with addictions, habits, Goliaths we want to conquer? We need faith that we can actually change if we expect to change. If I don’t think I can kick a habit, I won’t. If I don’t think I can change my behavior, I’ll fail to change it. If I don’t have enough faith in myself to believe God and others can help me through some process to replace those things that need replacing in my life, I will sabotage the efforts and I will keep those things resident in my everyday life.

So, if I want to defeat a Goliath of addiction in my life, whether it is a simple thing like dropping dirty clothes on the floor instead of the hamper or a very complex thing like addiction to heroin. If I can’t picture and believe in a different future, I am stuck with the present life with no chance for change. I must have faith God and those he puts in my path as his helpers can make a new future for me.

Faith. Maybe today you’ll think about faith a little different than you have in the past. Remember, we all have it. Without out faith, I’m not sure any of us would survive. We’d go absolutely nuts. But with just a little faith, we not only survive, but we thrive. And with faith in the right who, Jesus said we would do even more than he did when he lived among us. Think about it. What future can you envision if you let him help you get rid of the Goliaths of bad habits and addictions that have seemed impossible to resolve. It’s time to start today.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jul 2, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

We’ve been talking about some of the things that keep us from getting rid of our Goliaths. Thinking that some of our Goliaths are addictions and habits we want to rid ourselves. One such addiction all of us inherit because of that first act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden is the addiction of sin. We all sin. It’s a habit we might try to stop on our own, but it is just not possible. Paul talks about at the end of Chapter 7 in his letter to the Romans when he says, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am…”

That’s what we inherit from the very beginning of humanity. We can’t get away from it. It’s in our genes. It’s passed perfectly from generation to generation. And just like all our ancestors from the very first man and woman, we think the best thing to do is try and hide our addictive behavior from others. Just like Adam and Eve, we feel shame and guilt and all those other ugly emotions that go along with habits and addictions we know are wrong and we don’t want anyone else to know about them.

But you know what? We can’t hide them any more than Adam and Eve could hide them. We might be able to pull the wool over people’s eyes for a while, maybe even for a long time, but those things will make themselves known at some point. If nothing else, they come through in the stress and anxiety and wasted effort in trying to cover up that bleeds energy and effectiveness from you that could be used in more positive ways.

We think we are so good at hiding those dark things in our lives, but we really are not so good at it. Others can see through you. They can see the slippery slope you’re on. They may not know what it is, but people can sense there is something wrong. They can sense something is not quite right. How, because we all have that inherited trait and have all tried to hide at some time or other.

But how do you get over it? How can we work through those addictive behaviors? First, we recognize we can’t do it alone as we talked about earlier. But another point we’ll talk about to day, we need to get that thing, that habit, that behavior out in the open. We need to bring it into the light.

As long as my kids lived at home we had a rule for them. Curfew was always before midnight whatever their age. They didn’t like it when they were in their mid to late teens and all their friends parents let their kids set their own curfew, but our kids had to be  in the house before midnight...period. And why did we set that time? I’ve found as a general rule through the years that nothing good happens after midnight.

Take a look at domestic crime, murders, rapes, robberies, violent crime, DUIs, just go on down the list. You’ll find the percentage of those that happen in the dark hours of the night after midnight far outweigh the number that happen in the light of day. Evil hides. Good is not afraid of the light. But that’s how we begin to shed the things we want to change in ourselves. We bring it into the light.

First we admit we have those things in our behavioral repertoire to God and seek his help. But we very often need to get it out some at least a few close accountability partners know we struggle with something. We need to get it into the light so we can get help. Think about it. Few alcoholics can drop the habit without medical and psychological help. Without some kind of organized support like Alcoholics Anonymous to help them out. Few drug addicts can just stop using without significant help and support from groups that understand the progression of the addiction and how to curb it.

What we often don’t realize is that every habit, every addiction has some of those same traits. They become ingrained in certain parts of the brain that brings us pleasure. No matter how much we loath what we have done after the fact, those moments of pleasure we experience bring out the behavior and we have a hard time breaking it.

So what we need is a deterrent more powerful than that tickler in the pleasure centers of our brain. We need some counterbalance that will overrule that behavior and help us break that habit, that addiction. One way to do that is through the help of an accountability partner. Someone you trust that is not afraid to tell you the truth. Someone that knows the problem you’re facing and the habit you’re trying to fix. Someone that will hold you accountable and not tell you it’s okay when it’s both of you know it’s not okay.

So many times we try to keep these hidden secrets, but they are really not so secret and they are not so hidden. We just fool ourselves into thinking they are. The telltale signs always seem to show up at just the wrong time for us and then everything unravels. All our secrets just roll out for everyone to see. So if that’s true and it usually, normally, most of the time is, then why not find that trusted friend, open up to God and them, and just get to work on those things that must change.

Will it be easy? No. Will it sometimes feel embarrassing? Yes. Will there be times that you seem to fail in the process? Probably. But in our McDonald’s world we expect things to happen instantly and in life they seldom do. This instant gratification that we want usually sparks the bad behavior we struggle with in the first place. When we recognize it takes a lifetime to develop into Christlikeness, we will be much more forgiving of ourselves and others when we misstep and end up confessing one more time about that addiction that seems to have us in its grip.

That isn’t the end of the journey, though. One false step doesn’t mean failure. It means we ask forgiveness, pick ourselves up, figure out what triggered that bad response, do our best to set up ways to avoid that trigger and move on. God will help us tackle that giant if we let him. He is faithful to forgive us when we confess and truly repent. He will help us conquer those things displeasing to him. Why? Because he wants that intimate relationship with us that he had with Adam and Eve when we walked with them in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden

Is our confession to him something he doesn’t already know about? No. He knows us better than we know ourselves, but until we can name the problem we deal with, we cannot solve it. Until we name that thing we need to turn over to him, we can only stab at relieving symptoms, not getting to the root of things. It’s kind of like weeds in a garden. You can cut them, but they come right back until you dig out the roots of the weed. Only then are you rid of the weed, and even then, unless you have also removed any seeds that weed has left in the ground, it may pop up again later. You have to purge the ground of every part of that unwanted plant. And the good gardener knows he needs help to do that. He uses the right tools, the right chemicals, and applies all of them at the right time with frequent inspection over time to make sure the weeds are really gone.

So it is with the seeds of addiction and bad habits, Goliaths, giants that have us acting like cowards hiding in our tents Saul’s army in the Valley of Elah. Until we get them in the light, name them, share them with a trusted accountability partner, turn them over to God for his help, and apply every tool at our disposal against them, they will be like weeds in the garden of our lives. Not easy to get rid of them, but not impossible. Because nothing is impossible with God.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jun 25, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

The question for today? What does anger have to do with fighting your giants?

In fighting Goliath, we’ve seen you need help from God and possibly others. You need to conquer your fear. You need to get over your feelings of rejection. You need to get out of your comfort zone. But what is this about anger?

Well, if you’re like me, every time I’ve worked on a habit I’m trying to change and then that habit pops back up I get angry. Mostly at myself, but sometimes at those around me and even at God.

I don’t know if that has ever happened to you, but if you’ve ever tried to break some habit and failed the first few times, I expect that ugly emotion popped its head up and made its appearance known in some way. Why can’t I just get rid of this thing that hinders me from being the man I want to be, the man God wants me to be? Why can’t I be the perfect husband or father or leader? I think I know what right looks like most of the time, but I just can’t seem to do it sometimes. And so I get angry.

Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s one of those emotions that God put in us. The Bible tells us that even Jesus got angry. Remember the story of Jesus as he entered the temple courtyard and saw the money changers cheating the people who entered? He was not just a little upset at what he saw. He was angry. So angry, in fact, that he overturned the tables where the thieves were sitting. He picked up a whip and drove them out of the temple courtyard. He had some pretty harsh words to say about them and about the leaders that allowed them to carry out their dishonest businesses in the temple. Jesus was beyond man and hit the ceiling of real deep down anger.

So let’s get back to our David and Goliath story. Any anger there? I expect there was a lot of it floating around. Some focused rightly and some not so. If we could put ourselves back into the story, I think we would see Saul’s army angry at Goliath for his taunts, but probably more angry at themselves because they were too cowardly to stand up to him on the battlefield.

Perhaps some of those soldiers were angry with Saul because he had no battle plan to face the Philistines poised across the valley from them. They had fought before and God led them to victory, but here their leader just sat, scared of the forces in front of him. Making them listen to the taunts and blasphemy that spewed from the mouth of this giant. They were angry at their king because they just sat and did nothing.

Maybe the army was angry at God because he didn’t reveal himself to them as he had before. He didn’t come down with any lightning bolts or an earthquake or some other freak sign of nature to destroy their enemies. God just let them be humiliated in the eyes of these pagan warriors that stood across from them.

Then David arrives.

His brothers were angry that he inquired about this giant and why no one dared to fight him. They were angry that he left the sheep in the hands of someone else and shirked his responsibilities at home, leaving their father on his own. They were angry at him because his words made them look a little cowardly. They were angry with him because he dared to recommend actions others wouldn’t take.

Then there is Goliath. He was angry at his enemies. He was angry just because the Israelites were alive and in the land he thought belonged to his people. He was angry because he wanted a fight and none of those cowardly soldiers on the hillside were brave enough to come out and face him. Goliath was angry because his king placed him in the valley as a challenge to the Israelites. He expected to win in a one on one fight, but he could also lose or be injured. As much as he enjoyed killing his enemies, he didn’t relish the thought of another injury in battle. Goliath was angry because once again, the king used his size to intimidate his enemies instead of real battlefield strategies and put him in danger while his fellow soldiers just acted as spectators.

And David. David was angry because his brothers ridiculed him. They tried to belittle the journey he made at his father’s request. David was angry because he felt a little picked on because his brothers had no confidence in him as the youngest in his family. David was angry at the Israelite army because they listened to the taunts of Goliath for 40 days and did nothing to stop his blasphemy. He was especially angry at Goliath because of what he said about his God. He was angry enough to take up his challenge and fight him.

So anger is not always a bad thing as we see from this story. Some of the anger some of these characters reveal is not the right anger. But some is. The soldiers’ anger at Saul for not doing anything is probably justified. Saul needed to listen to God and lead his army to victory against this pagan nation. But he had already lost his connection with God because of his greed and the power he thought he had. Anger focused at Goliath and the Philistines for their blasphemies against God were justified.

Sometimes anger is good. It can get us off our best intentions and get us to take action. It keeps us from accepting things as they are and lets us begin to make things better. But this anger is only good when it is focused on the right thing. If we keep that anger focused on the right things, we can use it to defeat that thing that looks like a giant in our life. We can use that energy and focus to help us get through the apathy that lets that thing keep us discouraged, defeated, trapped in its clutches. We can use the energy that comes with anger to focus our attention on its defeat.

David’s anger at Goliath helped propel that stone with extraordinary strength and accuracy to defeat that giant that stood in his way. David’s anger took the shape of that nine-foot obstacle so he could focus on what his real problem was in that valley. When we can figure out the real problem, not the symptoms, but the problem that is causing us the defeated life we feel, we can focus our anger appropriately.

So as you face the giants in your life, be angry for the right reason. You may be angry at yourself for failing to keep some promise to yourself about some behavior, but remember that if you’re trying to change something, change takes time. It’s usually not instantaneous like most of us would like. Change takes time and effort. Channel anger into constructive activity that will do something about your giant. Use it to give you the energy, passion, impetuous you need to get out of your position of weakness and into a position where you can face those giants from a position of strength.

Let God fight your battles. Recognize that he can help you even with your emotions and can help you focus the energy that comes with anger toward the right things. Anger is one of those emotions we experience from time to time. It is not necessarily unhealthy, as Jesus showed us in the temple. As David showed us as he faced Goliath. But also, we can not let anger rule us or let it get focused on the wrong thing or used as a source of power for revenge or vengeance.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jun 18, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

We’ve been talking about Goliaths in our life the last few weeks. We’ve discovered everyone has giants in their lives at some time or other. We’ve learned we should not face them alone, but always face them with God by your side and with a friend, a mentor, a praying church when you can. We discussed the fact that often fear keeps us from fighting that Goliath in our path and we must push through that fear to face it head on. We also discussed the fact that we often fail to face those giants in life because we are afraid that when we get rid of those giants in our life, we will be rejected by those around us. None of these are healthy, but they exist nonetheless and keep us attacking that thing that destroys our joy and freedom in Christ that we long for.

Today we continue that theme with another issue that keeps us from facing those giants that seems to overwhelm us, whatever they might be. Whether some addiction, some task you think God has laid out for you, some apology or act of forgiveness you know you should make, some act of kindness you should demonstrate. Whatever that giant might be in your life, let’s look at another reason we today we just don’t want to face that bully in the valley.

What is it that gets in our way? Sometimes it’s comfort. Now that might sound a little ridiculous at first, but stop and think about it for a few minutes. It’s hard to see how giants that you want to get rid of and comfort go together but let’s go back and look at the story again. Goliath came out into the Valley of Elah every morning and taunted Saul’s army. His men heard the challenge. They knew the reputation of this beast. They saw his stature. He stood some nine feet tall and his spear looked like the trunk of a tree. No one wanted to go down into that valley and face him.

What did Saul’s soldiers do instead? They sat by their fires and filled their bellies with food. They kicked back in their tents and took a nap. They sat around sharpening their spears and shining their armor. They got comfortable around the camp because they didn’t want to go into the valley to fight. Fighting meant using muscles they weren’t used to using. Fighting meant getting out of their tents and leaving their campfires. Fighting meant facing these professional warriors. Fighting meant risking pain and death.

They were comfortable where they were. They were comfortable just sizing up the enemy on the other side of the valley. As long as the Philistines stayed on their side of the valley and Goliath just keep shouting at them, they were okay with that. As long as the armies didn’t have to clash in the middle of the battlefield, they were content to stay where they were. It wasn’t as nice as their bed at home. The food wasn’t home cooked and they sometimes were a little wet and cold. They didn’t get to see their wives and kids much. Life wasn’t what they would like it to be, but that was okay. They could put up with the comfort of the camp compared to the unknown discomfort of the battlefield.

There is a old saying that goes something like this: “People will keep the devil they know before they will accept the angel they don’t know.”

What does that mean? It means we just don’t like change. It’s the problem the Israelites faced in that valley. It’s the problem we sometimes face when we take on the Goliaths in our lives. It’s the problem we must overcome if we are going to get rid of those habits and challenges and giants that plague us. We have to accept the fact that change must happen and whether or not we like change, we must embrace it if we are going to face those giants in life. We have to recognize the damages that devils keep doing and know that there are angels out there that are anxious to help us find a better way.

Part of our problem with these comfortable habits, these Goliaths that plague us comes from something akin to muscle memory. We get so use to something that we must train our bodies and mind to do something different. That muscle memory reflex happens so easily and is so difficult to change. It becomes ingrained in our subconscious so we are often not even aware that it is there. Take for instance your driving skills. When you first got behind the wheel of a car, it was probably a horrifying experience. How do you coordinate all the movements you have to make with your hands, feet, head, eyes, virtually every part of your body to make those rapid movements required to operate that 3,000 pound monster?

But after a couple of months you’re not even thinking about it. Feet find the accelerator and brake pedals without thinking. There are no jerking motions when you start and stop any more. You don’t have to look to see where the turn signal is, you just flip it at the appropriate time and don’t even think about when and how much to turn the steering wheel to make the turn in to the appropriate lane of traffic. Merging into traffic, parking into spaces in the parking lot, backing out of the driveway, all those things that seemed like nightmares the first few times in those early days of driving are now routine. You don’t have to think about them. You even carry on conversations with those in the car with you as you make all those tiny maneuvers because you’ve trained your muscles to do them almost without thinking.

You can think of hundreds of those kinds of muscle memory things you do every day without thinking. I would venture to guess when you brush your teeth, you start at the same side at the same spot every time. You probably put your first sock on the same foot every day. You more than likely put the same foot in your pants first almost every time. I would guess you wash and dry your body in the same pattern every time you bathe.

The same is true for all of us. We build these patterns in our behaviors and don’t even think about them after a while. It’s why bad habits are so hard to break. They become ingrained muscle movements that just happen. That’s one of the reason it is so hard for long term smokers to break the habit. It’s not just the nicotine, although the drug is extremely addictive in its own right. But it is also about the muscle memory developed over time. You eat a meal, a cigarette appears in your hand. You get into a car, you light up. You finish a project, a flame touches the end of that paper stick. All those cues that have told your body to make those movements must be relearned and replaced with something else.

It is much more difficult to unlearn muscle memory and relearn something that it is to learn it the first time. The brain is such a complex organ, more capable of storing and sorting memories than any computer. And unless there is some sort of trauma to the brain, that memory is there...forever. Stored away, never overwritten. Never erased. Always available for recall. So why is an alcoholic always a recovering alcoholic? For just that reason. The memory never goes away. They muscle memory is always there. Don’t get me wrong, change can happen. But habits must always be replaced with equally strong habits. You just have to make them good  habits instead of bad. The better angel out there. The uncomfortable change. The unknown that we know must be better but our minds and bodies are afraid to try because of the comfort of our habits no matter how bad they are.

So, as we close today and think about the Goliaths in our lives, those habits that are out of control that we wish to change. The giants that we face that seem to just envelop us. Think about the muscle memory we’ve discussed and the comfort we must push away from if we really want to change. When we face the giants, we will be uncomfortable for a time. When we get into the valley with those things that seem to overwhelm us everyday, we will find our bodies wanting to revert back to old patterns and old ways, but we can overcome with God’s help and sometimes the help of a friend. Remember he will never leave us or forsake us. He will fight our battles for us, but he expects us to carry the shield into the battleground.

You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.

Jun 11, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

What addictive behaviors do you hang on to because you think others think poorly of you? Let’s talk about that today.

Many of you know my wife is a registered nurse. She often watches programs, videos, and podcasts that might sound a little weird to the average person. For instance, I often find her watching a pimple popping doctor. Of course, these aren’t ordinary pimples. They are the ones that are deep rooted and need minor surgery to get to the root of them. Yuck! Not good viewing for late snack entertainment or for the squeamish.

And sometimes she watches a program that involves some people that you wonder how in the world they got into the circumstances they did. The program follows patients of a Houston doctor that tip the scale at 600 pounds or more. When you first see some of these folks you get a little mad at them and blame them for their condition. After a while you discover it’s not them. At that weight, they can no longer lift themself from the bed or get through the door of their room. The only way they can get the food that is gradually killing them is for someone to bring it to them.

Among alcoholics and drug abusers we have a term for that person. They are titled co-dependent of the person with the problem. The truth is that both the addicted person and the person feeding the habit both have a problem. For these 600 pound people, those last couple of hundred pounds come only because someone else provides the calories to them. Someone else provides the very thing that shortens their life.

So why do both of these groups, the addict and the codependent do what they do? Every single one has said they don’t want to be that way. Every single one has declared they want to lose the weight. They don’t want to eat so much or they don’t want to deliver so much food to the person in the bed. Every one of them say they want help to get the morbidly obese person back to a better state of health and get them up and moving on their own again.

But every one of them at first, fail to recognize their problem doesn’t start with the consumption of calories. The overeating is just an expression of a much deeper problem. The doctor who treats these men and women always insists on some pretty intense counseling before he will consider gastric bypass surgery to curb the appetite of the morbidly obese and try to bring their weight back to a level which will not mean certain death within months.

As part of the program, the individuals let us take a peek into their private lives and invariably we find they have a pretty high dislike for themselves and assume everyone else feels the same about them. They feel alone in the world. They tell themselves the mantra, “No one loves me.” a thousand times a day. When you tell yourself those negative thoughts enough, you begin to believe them. And for these morbidly obese individuals, their escape from the self loathing dialog is in food. Then because the codependent partner or child doesn’t want them to feel that they are unloved, they give them what they want...more food. It becomes a vicious cycle until before long the individual finds they cannot move themselves off the bed and they know they are dying by their own habits.

My heart goes out to these individuals, but they are not alone in their negative self-talk. They escape is more obvious than some because they wear their escape in the form of added pounds. But thousands upon thousands have that same conversation with themselves every day. “No one loves me. I’m all alone in the world and no one cares.” And they feed that negative emotion with some dangerous addiction that pushes them to believe their lie more each day.

Satan does a great job of putting blinders on us so we can’t see what’s really going on around us. He puts roadblocks in our path and puts the right negative people in front of us or maybe even the right positive people to make us feel even worse about ourselves. “If I could only be happy like that person.” Ever been there? I expect you have at some point in your life. It is one of the world’s greatest lies.

Saul’s soldiers felt that way in the Valley of Elah, Death Valley. Goliath came out every day to tell them how worthless they were. “Lazy. Cowards. Can’t fight. Dung heaps wasting good air. Unbelievers can’t even trust your own God to rescue you.” Forty days he came out telling them the same thing. They began to believe it of themselves. A friend of mine calls it “stinkin’ thinkin’”. She is very right.

So what can we do about it? How can we get past Goliath and his negative taunts rolling around in our head when the voice sounds just like ours? Because we would certainly tell ourselves the truth, right? How do we turn those thoughts around and begin to get an edge on that giant to we can win against him?

First, remember who made you. God is the creator of all things. He made you. As much as science would like to say you are just the conglomeration of some biological process. We haven’t been able to come close to creating life. That’s God’s job and he does it very well. By the way, if you go back and read Genesis Chapter 1, you won’t find a single time in the creation story where God says, “Oops, I made a mistake with that one.” He declared everything he made as good. Everything. So that means he didn’t make a mistake with you either. God created you to be you and he did it well.

Second, if God says everything he created is good, who are we to argue with him? How can we turn around and say, “Hey God, you got this one wrong.” Not possible. He did it right and you are included in that creativity he started those uncountable years ago.

Third, with those two things in mind, write down a positive mantra for yourself. Something as simple as “God makes all things well and I’m one of those things he made.” Then when the stinkin’ thinkin’ starts to rear its ugly head, turn it on its ear with that mantra. Whether you want to believe it or not isn’t the point when you start. Just say it. Out loud or in your head, say it. Focus on it. Believe it. Get the stinkin’ thinkin’ out of your head by pushing it away with that positive mantra. Let that be your release instead of whatever habit you have been using to pacify yourself when the “woe is me” thoughts creep in.

Will this positive thinking cure all your ills, habits, and addictions? Not by itself, but it’s a start. At least it gets that noisy negative guy pushed into the recesses of your mind for a while so you get a break. And who knows, with some positive reinforcement and God on your side, Goliath doesn’t stand a chance.

Jun 4, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

Today we want to talk about another obstacle in the way of overcoming those giants in our lives. Last week we discovered you should never try to tackle Goliath alone, but go into the valley with God by your side. It’s also good to have a mentor, a friend, and a church along with you to conquer those giants that come your way.

There is an old saying that goes something like this, “People are more comfortable with the devil they know than with the angel they don’t know.” What does it mean? People will stay in a bad situation, stick with bad habits, continue down the same destructive path because they are comfortable with it. Even though they see what might be a better way, they still hold on to what they know instead of taking a chance with something they don’t know. It’s pretty amazing just how hard we push against change in our lives.

That was true of those warriors in the Valley of Elah who listen to the Philistine, Goliath, challenge them each day. For forty days, Goliath marched down the hillside and stood in the valley with his armor bearers. He dared anyone to come fight him. The Israeli warrior cowered in their tents. They knew Goliath’s reputation and feared what would happen to them if they went into that valley. It was called “Death Valley” for a reason. They all just knew that if you went into that place, you wouldn’t come out again.

Fear of the unknown or fear trapped in their imagination captured them and froze their feet to the ground. They listened to that giant of a man roar his blasphemies against God and did nothing. They were afraid. They pictured themselves looking up into the eyes of that nine foot monster and couldn’t see their blood turned to ice. Who could possibly fight this guy?

But something happened after 40 days of the same old pattern. Goliath comes out, shouts his challenge, the Israelite warriors hide behind anything they can find, Goliath finally gets tired of waiting, and he climbs back up the hillside to wait until the next morning to do it all over again. The soldiers got used to the ritual and probably got to the point that when they saw the first glimmer of sunlight reflecting off Goliath’s helmet from the top of the hill, they hightailed it to the back forty to wait until he left. Fear.

In some ways you can’t blame them, I guess. I know I wouldn’t want to take on a nine foot monster in a fighting match. He was trained as a warrior. He had the reach, the weapons, every advantage you could think of except one. God was on David’s side.

So Jesse’s youngest son sees what’s going on. He’s too young to join the army. He’s only there to deliver some lunch to his brothers. Get a little news to take back home so his mom and dad will know their kids are still alive and doing well against their lifelong enemies, the Philistines. David went with no intention of joining the fight. He was just a shepherd. All he had was a sling. Coming from Bethlehem, he was pretty good with it, but still… A sling against a spear doesn’t sound like very good odds.

Was David afraid? You know, I want to think he had a few butterflies in his stomach as he reached into that stream and pulled out five stones. David knew God was with him, though. David knew how to use that sling. Elsewhere in God’s word, it tells us that the Benjamites could hit a hair with one of those slings. That’s pretty good. And considering that David could attack Goliath from the length of a football field with his sling and he had to be closer to the 20 yard line for Goliath’s spear to be as effective a weapon, David had a little bit of an edge from a distance. He had to hit Goliath in the space around his eyes, though. Everything else would be covered and the stone would bruise, but not kill on impact.

David marches out onto the field after refusing to take Saul’s armor. We sometimes think David was a puny little kid since the Bible tells us Saul’s armor didn’t fit. That’s not the picture I get of David, though. He killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands. I think the armor didn’t fit because Saul was head and shoulders taller than any of the other men present at his coronation. Saul stood out in a crowd. His armor was too big for everyone there.

The most important part of this story in relation to Goliath and fear, though, is that whatever fear David might have had as he looked at this monster of a man, he set it aside and trusted God. David believed God would help him vindicate his name against the blasphemous outpouring that came from this heathen. David believed God could take his fear and turn it into enough adrenaline to help him conquer this undefeated champion of his enemies. He pushed past the fear of what he knew and dared to launch into the unknown.

That’s exactly what we have to do with the Goliaths we face in our life. I don’t know what your Goliath is, but I expect you are like 99% of everyone else who faces Goliath. I expect there is that little bit of fear that asks what happens when I let go of this and let God have it? What will God ask of me? What will happen? How will my life change? What will other people think? What if God can’t break through the problem? (Yeah, right! Let me tell you, it’s not God that can’t fix it. He’s God! We are the problem, not him!)

The best way to attack those giants in our life is to act just like David. Don’t let those giants taunt you with their blasphemy. You will undoubtedly hear some voice in your head tell you that you can’t win the battle. It’s too hard. You can’t possibly overcome. You will hear the same tired excuses Goliath yelled at the Israelites across that Death Valley. But David refused to listen to Goliath. He refused to give in to his fear. He refused to let the giant dictate his moves, but instead listened to the voice of God.

I think it was God that prompted him to pick up five stones instead of one. He only needed one to defeat Goliath. David knew that and God knew it. So why five? Finish reading the stories of David’s battles and you’ll find Goliath had four brothers. David was ready to take on all of them if necessary. Fear. Sure. Enough to stop him from doing what God told him to do? No way. David knew God was bigger than any problem or any giant he came against. He was ready.

Are there times you will be afraid? You are not human if you don’t experience that emotion every so often. But we don’t have to let it cripple us. We can remember that God is for us, so who can be against us. Nothing can defeat us, because nothing can defeat him. He proved it a couple of millennium ago when he decided he didn’t want to stay dead. We can borrow his strength and his power to push through the fear the world tries to stir up and we can win against our Goliaths. Be like David today.

May 28, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com

What kind of Goliath do you face in your life? For the next few weeks i want us to explore some ways to defeat that giant that seems so indestructible.

Everyone has a Goliath or two in their life. Something that just looks bigger than life and an obstacle to that life of peace and internal freedom they seek. Maybe it’s a job that seems overwhelming or a boss that stays on your case every single day. Or maybe it’s a coworker that just bugs the daylights out of you and won’t take the hint to stay away. Maybe it’s a growing debt and it seems the light at the end of the tunnel is just the light from an on rushing freight train. Maybe your Goliath is some health issue that doesn’t go away. Constant pain, the big “C” word, cancer, or some other disease that limits your activity in some way. Maybe you have relationship problems in your home that you just can’t solve and your Goliath stands in that valley taunting you to no end.

There exists another Goliath that most people have, too, that we don’t readily acknowledge. We all have habits, addictions, that plague us. Things we can’t seem to stop no matter how hard we try. Your addiction may not be alcohol or drugs or pornography or one of those top five destructive things we talk about. But your addiction might be something as simple, but subtly destructive like television or some sport or eating certain foods or frequenting certain places. Things you know are harmful to your wellbeing, but you just can’t stop. You want to get away from the habit that you know drives a wedge between you and those you love and a wedge between you and God.

Everyone has something. None of us are exempt because we all inherited Adam’s seed. If nothing else, we all inherited that sin habit. We are born addicted to sin just like those babies you hear about who are addicted to drugs because of their mothers drug habits during her pregnancy. The poor kids need their fix as soon as they take their first breath and require the same rehab other users require.

So now that we recognize the problem that we all have addictive behaviors that we need to rid ourselves, what do we do about it? How do we defeat those Goliaths in our life? What can we do to overcome and stay “clean” of the things that just seem impossible to control.

We’ll look at several things to consider in the next few podcasts. But first things first. You cannot defeat your Goliath alone. You need others to help you conquer that thing slapping you in the face. The first one in your list of helpers is God.

Go back to the story of David and Goliath and listen to David’s words to Saul and Goliath. Saul questioned David’s ability to fight Goliath and David answered, “...The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Then when he faced Goliath and his taunting, David answered with these words, “...This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and i’ll strike you down and cut off your head.”

David knew in all those situations he wasn’t the one winning the battle. It was God who protected him and defeated the lion and the bear. And David knew God would defeat this giant of a man. The same is true of your Goliath. You cannot stand against that giant alone, but no one and no thing is bigger, better, stronger than God. When he is in the battle, he wins. Period.

So first, go wherever God is. Make sure you keep him close and ask for his help when facing your giants. The is the first source of strength and can help rid you of the thing that holds you back from the life he wants you to enjoy.

Next, you need a mentor who can help you through those tough times. Someone you can trust to pour your heart out and admit you have the habit, the addiction you need to shed. That mentor may have gone through the same thing you are facing, but at least has gone through some troubled times and can give sage advice on how to deal with your Goliath. A good mentor will also hold you accountable for your behavior, actions, and attitude. He will ask pointed questions and watch your life to keep you on a steady road.

A good mentor will help guide you through the seasons of life and challenge you to grow in all areas of life. As such, you will probably have more than one mentor. Each might be better equipped for a particular area in your life. Physical. Spiritual. Family relationships. Financial accountability. Everything where a giant resides needs someone who can help you through the pitfalls without being judgmental but rather being helpful and not afraid to point out your weaknesses in those areas.

It is also important to have a partner travel along the journey with you. This person will probably not be your mentor. You need someone who is struggling with habits and addictions just like you are. Someone you can challenge in a friendly competition to keep each other on track and grow together in your success.

Finally, you need a church. A Bible believing, scripture teaching congregation with small groups that study God’s word to apply its principles and precepts to daily living. Each of us need those small groups to grow. We need help in interpreting God’s word and applying it in today’s culture. Not to change it or assume some of God’s commands no longer apply to us, but some of the commands God gave were for a specific time and a specific purpose as he used his chosen people and some of the characters in it to show us who he is. Some of the scriptures, written in a specific culture must be applied in our culture in different ways. For instance, the laws concerning mold in a house no longer applies. We have other means to deal with mold because of the knowledge God has allowed us to gain through the centuries.

A church will help you grow and keep you accountable. It will help you in relationships and give you more relationships through brothers and sisters in Christ. It will help you know you are not alone in your struggles on this journey, but rather you will find that every church is filled with people addicted to sins of one sort or another who have been helped rid themselves of those addictions by the help of God’s spirit in them and the accountability to and encouragement others in the congregation of the church.

There you have the first keys to overcoming your Goliath. Never face him alone. Take with you God who will fight the battle with you. A mentor. A friend. A Christian congregation. These first tools will take you a long way in overcoming whatever stands in your way to defeating that giant that blocks your way to the fulfilling life God wants you to enjoy.

May 21, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

As hard as it is to live a life of integrity, because we have God’s help in doing so, we have a choice in living the life of integrity he desires of us. We might not think about that very often, but it’s true. In today’s society, it’s easy to blame someone or something else on our lack of integrity. We push back justify our behavior on poor parenting. We blame the lack of material goods in a house bordering on poverty in a materialistic world. We blame the violence and immorality that invades us in mind-numbing entertainment like television, movies, games, and more. We blame schools for not enforcing rules that should be set and enforced at home.

We blame anything and everything on our failure to maintain a life of integrity. Why? Because like most things in our life, we have a hard time accepting the fact that most often our failures are out fault. And the failure lies in the choices we made somewhere along the line. We just don’t want to believe that we can fail. So we pawn our mistakes, our behavior, our failure on someone else.

The problem with that approach, though, we never learn from our failure unless we take responsibility for it. We must figure out where we went wrong, fix it, and go from there. Doing everything we can not to repeat those same mistakes in the future. We will fail again? Most likely. No one is exempt from error. We all fail at one time or another at one task or another. We can’t help it. We are part of Adam’s race. He and Eve disobeyed God in that first garden and we inherited his inability to live the perfect life of integrity God desired of him and us.

But there is something we can do about it. First, we can ask God and the individuals we might have wronged for forgiveness. John wrote that when we confess our sins, he is ready, able, and just and will forgive our sins. But also wants to lead us to a life of righteousness, right living. That means we must make some hard choices at times. We must look temptations in the eye and say no. We must obey his commands despite the lure and attraction of the things the world might offer us if we yield to her demands.

We have a choice. I can choose to satisfy those base desires in unhealthy, unholy ways. I can choose to follow my selfish desires. I can choose to use other people for my gain. I can choose to hoard the things God has entrusted to me. I can choose to push the helpless and needy away when I have the means to give them hope. I can just to execute vengeance and justice instead of grace and mercy toward my enemies. I can choose the path I take.

I can choose my path, but I cannot choose what lies at the end of that path. I cannot choose the consequences of every choice I make whether good or bad. I cannot alter the natural outcome of the laws God gave us. Sure, he is a God of love and mercy, but that doesn’t mean he will stop the natural course of events that come to us as a result of our choices. We may still suffer the lasting effects of those seemingly insignificant choices we made in an hour of weakness.

So, how do I ensure I make the right choices along the way? How do I avoid the consequence that God set in place at the beginning of time? How do I stand up to the failures that I cause through my actions?

First,lean more on him. Go to God in both the good times and the bad. Pray earnestly when you’re in a time of smooth sailing. When you do, it will be easier to approach him when the going gets tough. You wouldn’t ask a complete stranger to help you with a personal, intimate problem, but you might ask a dear friend. Think about your relationship with God. If you only interact with him on Sunday mornings at church, why would he help? If you’re not his friend, why would he stop to give aid in your time of need? So in the good times, when everything is going well, be careful to give God the glory. Maintain a constant personal relationship with him. When you do, you’ll find he is willing and ready to give you the support you need and he will never leave you or forsake you. So keep your prayer life up.

Second, meditate on his word. What does that mean? Think about what you have read in scripture. Of course, that means you need to read scripture...every day. Maybe even several times a day. David said, “I will meditate on your word night and day. I will hide your word in my heart, so I might not sin against you.” If David tells us a dozen times to meditate on God’s word and deeds, maybe we should pay attention and do just that. Read the Bible. Let it soak into your everyday life. Don’t let it be one of those tomes that gathers dust on a table. Let God speak to you through his word. He gives good advice in those 66 books if we would just listen to him and do what he tells us to do.

Third, before making life-changing decisions, stop and think. It’s surprising how often we just act without thinking about the second and third order affects our choices make on us or those around us. Most of the time it isn’t too hard to think about the consequences our actions will create. We just need to step back for a second and use that gray matter that sits inside our skull. Tragically, we too often just act and think about it after the fact when it’s too late to retract our action. Once done, it’s done. Things have been set in motion and the consequences are set whether we like them or not.

Then while we’re on this pause before making a decision, when possible and practical, seek the advice of a mentor. Most of the time, the decision you are about to make has been made before. It is truly amazing the number of times we repeat the mistakes of others because we fail to heed their warnings. Just take a moment to listen to those who have gone before you. Listen to their counsel. Understand they have your best in mind. If they have traveled that road before you, they can help you avoid the pitfalls and the suffering they may have suffered because of choice they would make differently if given the chance. Remember, two heads are better than one.

We’re back to where we began today. Integrity involves choice. You can be a person of integrity. You can choose that life. It will take God’s help. We can not do it alone. But we can choose to let him walk beside us and keep us on the right path. As we go back to our original definition a few weeks ago, integrity is about unity, oneness, cohesion. When we choose with God in mind, we draw closer to him. We we choose with our selfish desires in mind, we drive a wedge between us and him.

Think about the choices you will make today. Stand as Joshua did with his declaration at the top of your priorities, “...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is always a choice. And God lets you make it at every crossroad of life. Choose today whom you will serve.

May 14, 2018

A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.

The subject of today’s podcast includes two terms that are mutually exclusive. Integrity and duplicity. The two can not coexist in the same person. We try awfully hard these days. We try to make things fit the way we want them to fit. We want what we think is best for us regardless what it might do to someone else. We want what we want and we want it now. But that’s not how integrity works.

Solomon said in Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

So what exactly am I talking about when I talk about duplicity in the context of integrity? We’ve already determined that integrity is about oneness with our Creator. It’s about his truth, not anyone else’s. Integrity isn’t defined by our norms, but by God’s. We’ve said integrity requires accountability and how important a partner and mentor can be in helping us stay on track, keeping us from straying from the path we’ve set out on.

Duplicity is defined as deceitfulness or double-dealing. It comes into play in this setting when we talk about integrity but then don’t live up to what we say. It reminds me of a public service announcement that was aired on the Armed Forces Network when I was stationed in Germany several years ago. The camera panned on a soldier called to his home because his teenage son had been caught shoplifting. The soldier did a pretty good job of chewing out his son, telling him how wrong it was to steal. How he had learned in church that was one of the Ten Commandments God gave us. He asked how in the world he could stoop so low as to steal something that didn’t belong to him.

All the while the soldier carried on this conversation with his wayward son, the camera moved position and drew the lens back to focus on a handful of black skillcraft pens laying on the soldiers desk at home. Those of you who have worked in the government know what that means. No one had those black skillcraft ballpoint pens except Uncle Sam and he bought hundreds of thousands of them. And why did the government buy so many? Because people like that soldier stole them from their offices.

You might think to yourself, taking a pen from my employer isn’t such a big deal. And maybe one pen isn’t. At that time they were about $1.50 a dozen. But this soldier along with probably 50% of the rest of the 5 million people employed by the federal government had two or three or more of those pens at home. If my math is right, that’s about $625,000 of theft. That’s a well organized gang conducting grand larceny. You probably never thought of it that way, but someone had to pay for that pen or pencil or notebook or pad of paper or whatever it is you might bring home for personal use. Is that duplicity? You bet.

Or how about that cell phone ding to remind you of an email or a facebook message that you just have to answer at work? Or the website you need to explore for just a few minutes at the office. Or a bill you need to pay from there because your internet speeds at home are so slow? Does your employer want to pay you for being completely unproductive when you’re supposed to be working for her? Stealing part of your paycheck by failing to give that time to your employer as you agreed when you were hired is called duplicity, deceitfulness, double-dealing. It certainly isn’t integrity.

Am I saying that I am perfect in these area? No. If you scoured my house, you’d probably find one of those long lost skillcraft pens in a box in the garage. And to be honest, once in a while I’ll answer or make a personal call or see a personal email pop up on my screen and answer it while I’m supposed to be doing something else. But I try to stay very conscious of my time and what I do with the equipment and supplies entrusted to me. I learned because of those skillcraft pens that I kept having to buy out of my meager budget as a company commander in the army almost forty years ago how just one innocent pen can suddenly add up to dozens, then hundreds, the thousands. And no one really notices until someone at the top of the chain coughs because more than half a million dollars in black government pens have gone missing.

It’s not that big a deal. Except it’s duplicious. It’s no big thing. Except it breaks commandment number eight. It’s nothing really. Except God says don’t do it. No one cares. Except it means your integrity is at stake.

Our society is trying hard to turn all these things into various shades of gray. Just a pen. Just a pad of paper. Just a box of paper clips. Just a few copies for my kid’s school work. Just a few messages during the day. Just a little me time during my work hours. Just a little here and just a little there. No big deal. No harm done.

The latest figure I could get comes from 2012, so this data is six years old and has only gotten worse since then. But listen to some of these facts from six years ago. 60% of workers spend at least some time on social media during work hours. The average college student in 2012 spent 3 hours on facebook and two hours studying. Which explains why college students who use facebook regularly have a GPA a full point lower than those who don’t.

In the US that year, collectively we spent 12,207,423,487 hours on social media. Twice as much time on social media as in any form of exercise. 10% of us spend more time on social media than we do at work and 60% of us connect with our social media at work. Workers are interrupted every 10.5 minutes by things like twitter, IM’s and facebook. Then studies show it takes 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. No one can really multitask by the way. Your brain will only let you do one thing at a time. If you think you’re multitasking, you’re fooling yourself and turning out poorer quality work that you are able.

So what did all that cost? When you do the 2012 math, social media cost companies almost $4500 per employee. And it cost the US economy about $650 billion. But it’s just one message, right? It doesn’t hurt anything? It’s only a few minutes, right? No one cares. It’s not like I don’t get my job done, so I can do this on the sly, right? Take a look at the number once more. The social media mafia successfully stole $650 billion dollars from everyone’s pocket.

Why everyone’s pocket and not just those C-suite executives? Because those C-suite executives didn’t have the money to give employees the raises they  might have been able to give otherwise. They didn’t have the money to improve health benefits. They didn’t have the money to hire new employees. They didn’t have the money to build new facilities or new plants. $650 billion can do a lot of stuff, and collectively in the workplace...How did Solomon put it? “... the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Integrity and duplicity can not exist in the same person. But we need God’s help to maintain our integrity. The world makes everything shades of gray instead of God’s black and white. The problem is that the world won’t be our judge when Jesus returns. God set the rules and God will judge us based on his rules. Not the world’s. Not ours. His. So how is your integrity meter running today?

1 « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 97