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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Trouble With Entitlement
Entitle/Entitled/Entitlement:  to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim.

The trouble with entitlement is its very nature... giving someone the "right" and furnishing them with the grounds for laying claim to something. 

When our country was founded there were many forces at work on our Founding Fathers that ended up in our Founding Documents.  Two of them were our Christian heritage (values and beliefs) and a desire to pursue what we felt we had a right to pursue (or were entitled to pursue).  Our Founders tried to marry these two doctrines in our Founding Documents.  The only problem is that they are contradictory.

The Bible teaches that man is born in sin.  Meaning, we are born to a corrupt "blood line" and that as a result we will have a tendency to choose our way and will over God's way and will.  At the core of this nature (sin), is the fundamental belief that you and I have the "right" to choose what we want above everything.  That fundamental belief was supplied to us by Satan and adopted for us by Eve and then Adam (Genesis 3:1-6).

God planted in us the machinery to want (James 4:5) and planted in us a "want" for Him (Romans 1:18-32).  In fact, the reason God created us was so we would choose (or want) to love and and worship Him.  The only lasting way for us to choose God, love Him, and worship Him is to have a "blood transfusion", to have our nature changed.  This was accomplished through Jesus and is the reason for Him coming to Earth, dying on a cross, and being raised to life.

So, our Founding Fathers tried to marry what they believed about God with what they wanted for themselves.  It was a marriage of the holy and the unholy.  In the beginning, our faith in God (much like Israel's throughtout the Old Testament), was strong enough to  maintain an environment that invited God's blessing on us.  God was loved.  God was worshipped.  But like Israel, we didn't rid the land of what we were instructed to rid it of - the idols and philosophies of this world.  We kept some of them and rationalized them through pious sounding statements and justified them through misinterpreted Bible teaching.

Over time, our faith has faded.  Our love for God is growing colder.  Our worship is turning to the created versus the Creator (Romans 1:18-32).  We have created, like Israel, an environment where God no longer will choose to be with us.  We want what we want without anyone, including God, telling we can't have it.  This is the doctrine of entitlement.  "I can have what I want, because I want it.  I deserve it and should be able to impose my will on others."  In the United States of America, in the year 2009, entitlement has come to mean getting what I think I deserve from anyone or from the Government because I believe I deserve it.

This path will continue and we have only just started down it if it is allowed to persist.  We will work through the constructs of society to begin with.  Then we will bend those constructs to fit our desires.  When the constructs no longer serve our desires, we will impose our will by force until someone stronger than us imposes their will on us, making us slaves to their will.  This happened to Israel, it has happened throughout history, and it will happen to the USA.  Entitlement is canibalism.  It is a disease that eats its host.  Like other worldly doctrines, there is a line of reason that seems to make sense but the end of it is destruction.

God's Word says we deserve death.  We deserve eternal seperation from Him.  We deserve punishment.  This is what we deserve.  This is our "right".  If it weren't for God's love and His desire for us, we would be hopeless.  But, thanks to God, we have a Hope.  His name is Jesus.  Only in sacrificing our will for His Will can we find the true, created "want" of our hearts.

You may be asking what prompted this "outburst".  Then again you may be assuming you know what prompted it.  Let me tell you...

My wife was driving to work today.  A man standing in the middle of the road was waving.  She thought he was trying to help a truck back out into traffic so she stopped.  The man walked to her car, open her car door, and told her to take him where he wanted to go.

He felt entitled.

It doesn't matter why he felt entitled.  The fact is he did.  He believed that he could impose his will on someone else to get what he wanted.  There was no shared moral underpinning that he and my wife were operating under.  She had, he wanted, he imposed his will precisely because we didn't share the same values and moral code.

Dianne didn't take him and told him to get out of her car.  By God's grace, he did.

This is our future if we continue on the path we are on.  This isn't a government issue.  This isn't a cultural issue.  This isn't a philisophical debate.  This is your issue.  This is my issue.  Unless I choose God, I will choose my will.  Unless you choose God, you will choose your will.  Unless we choose God, we will choose the path of entitlement and that path leads to destruction and ultimately to death (James 1:12-15).

The trouble with entitlement is that it isn't godly.  It is a pattern of this world which seeks to compell us to conform to it.  We need to be transformed.  We need to think differently than this.  We need to choose God in every moment, of every day.  We need to know Him, His will, His Word, His ways so well they become our will, our words, and our ways.

Pray that you will choose God.  Pray that I will choose God.  Pray that our choosing of God will influence others to choose God.  We cannot impose our will on others.  We are not entitled to do that.  We need to love them into choosing for themselves the God who loves them and gave Himself for them.  We need to demontrate for them that choosing the God who loves them makes a difference because we are different.  Pray that God reveals to you where you are harboring the idol of entitlement in your life.  It typically starts with the phrase: "I deserve...".
9:00 am edt 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What I learned this week
Through a series of events, I found myself consumed with the circumstances in my life.  It was all I could think about.  I wasn't/couldn't enjoy the present because I was consumed with events both past and future.  At the darkest point in this process, I unloaded on a couple brothers in Christ.  It was probably a side of me they had never seen.  We prayed together.  Later that day, God intervened on my behalf.  Here's what He did for me...

1.  God defines me.
     It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of me or what judgements they may pass on me.  God defines me.  He created me.  He chose me.  He gifted me.  He calls me.  I am His.  Allowing others to affect how I see me, in conflict with how God sees me, is a mistake.  He showed me who I am to Him... His son.  His love.

2.  It is stewardship not ownership.
     I don't own anything.  The idea of ownership is an attempt by the powers of this present age, this world, to make me conform to its patterns (Romans 12:2).  I am a steward of what God has provided.  If He chooses to give me more, I will use it properly (as He directs) and will care for it diligently.  If he chooses to reassign what He as entrusted to me to others, I will trust Him to provide what I need.  Matthew 6:24-34 says it best.

3.  I want to depend on God without the crisis.
     I don't want to have to have a crisis (real or imagined) in order to completely throw myself on God's providence and protection.  I want to live that way.  I realize learning to do that may mean a crisis from time to time.  I realize learning this may mean I learn that a "crisis" isn't necessarily is crisis.  Whatever and however, I want to depend completely upon God for everything at every moment.

4.  I have this moment.
     I found myself in a constant state of urgency.  In each moment, I was consumed with the next or the past moment.  The consequence was, I wasted and lost the moment.  A moment is the only period of time we have in which to act, to enjoy, to live.  I can't change the past.  I don't own the future.  I can live in the moment.  I am learning to take each moment and what it brings with an eye to see what God has in it for me.  The next moment will come, if God ordains it.  The previous moments are gone (except in my memory) and unchangable.  There is a joy, that returns to life when all that you expect of the moment is what the moment holds... No pushing for the next moment... No dragging the past moments into the present.  Not easy to do, but I am convinced it it the thing to do.

All in all it was a gift from God, a healing.  I am grateful and feel freed.  I don't believe I have mastered these lessons but I learned them none the less.  I pray there is something in them for you as well.
9:10 am edt 

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