Approx. 1450 BC. Updated: 2000 AD.
I have been watching people like you for years and years. It is amazing that nothing really changes. It is remarkable that even though you have more technology and information, you still do the same things as those who came before you.
You call it compulsive behavior. I call it sin. No matter what you call it, we are talking about the same thing. It is the destructive force that ruins lives––lives like yours. What starts out innocently becomes all-consuming. Every part of your life becomes captive. Every thought. Every decision. Everything.
It effects the way you worship me. It consumes your calendar––you work harder and harder only to find yourself get further and further behind. It makes you unable to tell the truth. Not only does nobody else believe you, but you do not even believe yourself. You want something that you do not need until it burns a scar in your mind.
You cannot look at the neighbor’s car without being sick in envy. You cannot find joy in your wife because you’re convinced that his wife will be so much better. You even find yourself taking things that are not yours––things you never rightfully earned.
Consequently, you are ineffectively taking advantage of the life I have given you. You have no joy. You are stuck in a life that is filled with compulsion, behavior that is out of control––a far cry from the life I intended.
I know how to help you. I know what you need. You need to be delivered from this bondage, because compulsive behavior is slavery in its deepest form.
It was not my intention to enslave my people for “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Therefore, here are ten ways to discover freedom. It is my intention to free you by giving you a map for living that keeps you away from the lands of slavery––a map where I will highlight the fertile land, the land where I want you to go.
If you will allow me, I will trace the land of bondage in red. Stay away from these areas. Do not go near their borders. Do not cross into its’ territory. It will destroy you. It will take away your freedom. These lands will enslave you.
I know that if I leave you alone, you will find yourself trapped in those lands of bondage––states of forced servitude to habitual behaviors. However, if you will listen to me, then you will find a life that will be flowing with milk and honey.
Because I am the Lord your God, make sure that these ten guidelines rule your journey:
Have no other gods before me. I am the one and only God. There can be no other gods, especially before me. Trust me. I know. You can look for yourself and spend valuable years coming to the conclusion that I have already told you.
I also know that there will appear to be options of whom you will choose to serve. They are not the real thing, no matter how they appear. Your heart can only be given to me. When I look inside of you, I will not tolerate seeing anything other than me. I am the one and only God. Serve me alone.
Have no idols. Do not bow down to anything other than me. Whether it is from the sea or the land, I created it––it came from me. How can you think about worshipping something less than the God who created all things. Just because you can see it doesn’t mean it has any special power. Just stop and think about it: why would you want to commit your life to something that I could wipe away with one word?
Use everything I have given you to accomplish what I have called you to do. Utilize your machines. Rule over all of nature. Celebrate your creative artistic works. Milk cows. But, come on, bow down to them? That’s something that will lead you to emptiness, to fear––to great bondage.
Do not misuse my name. All I am is wrapped up in my name. All my power, all my authority, all my holiness is seen in my name. Your lips are never to use my name is a way that would bring shame to me. May the words of your mouth be pleasing to me, especially when they involve my name.
I take speech seriously. I spoke the world into existence. My only son is the living Word. My name stands for who I am, what I will teach you and the direction your life will follow. Since all of who you understand me to me is part of my name, use it with honor, with reverence and with respect.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Therefore, work for six days but give me the seventh. Because this is the day that I have made, worship me and not the day. I want you to rest. When I created the world, I did so in six days and I took the seventh day to rest. I did not rest because I was tired. I rested because I wanted you to rest. My resting made this day holy.
Of course, if you are not careful, you will find yourself a slave to work–-what you call a workaholic. This is not my idea of healthy behavior. I want you to live in balance not in slavery.
Everything in creation has been made to rest. The soil will need to be rested. Your oxen and your horse will need rest too. Give your employees the day off. Do not make them work themselves into the ground. Use this day to honor me.
Honor your father and your mother. Therefore, treat your family with sanctity. Prize them highly. Care for them and show them affection. Treat them with honor and respect. Be aware that the family is an important part of who I have made you to be. When it is discarded and cast away, you will never be who I have made you to be.
It makes me sad to see men and women show contempt for their very family––the essence that defines their human connection, the root of their earthly existence. Children are a heritage from me. Families who honor me are families who operate effectively.
The way your children will learn to honor you is how you have shown honor to your parents. Forget about saying one thing and doing another. Honor them as you would be honored. Then, you will live long in the land that I intended for you.
Treat life with sanctity. Do not murder. I created you, fashioning you after my very image. Your life has been given dignity because your life reflects who I am. Therefore, if that is true for you, then it must be true for every man and women. When you snuff out the very life I gave, it is as if you have snuffed out me.
The ultimate insult that you could give me is to reject the my very nature by murdering another. Once you cross this line and use your power to destroy life, you have done your best to destroy what you have of me. Life is precious. Do not trade in the freedom to enjoy life for the bondage that will come when you deliberately choose to destroy life.
Treat marriage with sanctity. Do not commit adultery. The marriage between a man and a woman is intended for their mutual joy. The intimate bond they share should not be broken by a compulsion to be with another. Purify the marriage bed. Keep it holy. Spend your days keeping your promise to be faithful till you are parted by death.
Keep your body pure and free from the mess of sin. Husband, give yourself only to your wife. Wife, present yourself only to your husband.
Allow nothing to taint the purity of your intimate relationships. Find pleasure only in your spouse. Do not fill your mind with images of other women or other men. These graphic memories will destroy the purity of the joy you share. Do not reduce the gift of sexuality to a joke. Preserve it. Honor it. Protect it. Find the freedom to enjoy, not be a slave of it.
Treat your property with sanctity. Do not steal. Everything you have has been given to you by me. You have everything you need to do my will––nothing more, nothing less. What you do not have that I think you need will be provided for you when the time has come.
In the meantime, be a good steward of all that you own. Do not take what is not yours. Do not take what you have not earned. Focus on me and the things of this earth will take care of themselves. Never let the desire for stuff become a compulsion that rules your heart. Use things. Serve me only. Then, you will have freedom to enjoy all things, even that which you do not own.
Treat the truth with sanctity. Do not lie. Only speak the truth. May your heart be as my heart, filled with only that which is true. Never believe that your life will be easier by lying. It only destroys the freedom that I have given you
When you lie, you trade in the freedom that comes with an honest mind for the bondage of a mind that is enslaved with deception. To believe anything other than the truth will only destroy you as each lie adds additional weight upon the load you will carry. Speak the truth and your load will be free.
Do not lie to your boss. He will never trust you with important responsibilities. Do not lie to your wife. Each lie will drive her further and further away from you. Do not lie to your friends. They will find others with which to share their lives. Tell the truth and live in the freedom I always intended for you to enjoy.
Treat your motives with sanctity. Do not covet. Take your eyes off of your neighbor’s stuff. Enjoy the things that I have given you. Take your eyes off of your neighbor’s wife. Find deep joy in the wife of your youth.
Be content with what you have. Be content with who you are. Be content with what I have designed you to do, called you to be. Enjoy the freedom of knowing that I have lovingly crafted and blessed you with gifts from above. Never desire something other than that freedom, for you will spend your days missing opportunity upon opportunity to enjoy the world I have given you.
I want to protect you from the lands that will enslave you. Sure, it may glitter and it may seem to be full of pleasure, but that is merely a facade for the desolation that lies within.
If you, however, have crossed those boundaries and have found yourself trapped in the prison of your sinful behavior, then . . .
• Admit you have a problem. If you will confess your sin, I will be faithful and just to forgive you of your sin. Are you willing to admit you have taken residence inside a land that you are unable to leave––a land with walls so high you cannot scale them?
• Allow healing to come to your life. I will forgive you. I will be the strength of your heart. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will go before you. I will be your God.
• See the wisdom of my ways. Follow them day and night. Tie them around your neck. Never forget them. Listen to them. Enjoy the life I have given you. Always stay in the land I have provided. Never desire to be a slave again.
Bottom line: I want you to look like me. Since you were created in my image, you will function best if you look like me. This is how you ought to act because it best reflects my character, my nature and my will.
I am a God of freedom. Be a people of freedom.
For not only will you find joy, but I will too!
Love, God––the One who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.by Pastor Doug
Is It Any of My Business?
I am a pastor.
It’s my job to be moral. I get paid to be a person of integrity. Throwing aside my morality would be job suicide, the end of my career. I don’t have the luxury of dichotomizing my private life from my public life. They must be congruent.
You know the expectation: I cannot say one thing on Sunday and live a different thing come Monday. I may not be striving for perfection, but I ought to be striving to live a life worthy of my calling.
However, my morality goes beyond my profession. As a follower of God, I am called to be moral. If I identify myself with Him, I need to look and act like Him. Regardless of my ministerial duties, I have a vested interest in living right. When I’m ethical, I’m at my best.
A concern for morality makes you a better person, too. When you’re living within the boundaries of integrity, you function at your peak capacity. You’re productive, focused, and much better at doing what you do best. Morality isn’t just for men of the cloth; it’s for all, including you.
So what about it? Does your private life influence your public performance? Is it any of my business?
Well, if your profession is best executed by one who is both productive and focused, then it’s important you have a high sense of morality. A troubled personal life, like it or not, will hamper your effectiveness on the job.
When you adhere to ethical conduct, you will be free to lead others well, not bound by the impossible attempt to spin your true identity. Morality frees. Amoral behavior constrains. It seems to me, it’s hard to excel in your career if you are bound up by the chains of a secret lifestyle.
When God, for example, gave us the Ten Commandments, He did so with the intention of simplifying our lives. There’s incredible freedom found in living God’s way. Likewise, ignoring God’s advice restricts your ability to give your best.
If you have a record of living morally, you have greater potential for increased effectiveness. Likewise, your scandalous private life binds the potential of your professional goals. Your commitment to duplicity erodes your effectiveness for public service. You may indeed fill the position with adequate competence, but you will never live up to your God-given potential. That’s tragic.
Morality matters. God’s moral criteria is not just a method to destroy your fun, but it’s a practical, pragmatic way of filtering worth. Bottom line: I want a moral mechanic just like you. I want honorable teachers in our classrooms. Just like you. I want to trust my doctor, my fireman, and even my barber. I want to share my life with those who are willing to be honest and operate with integrity.
You should expect the same from me: A local pastor willing, learning and practicing the right way to live God’s way.
Just like you.by Pastor Doug