Fake News

By Jesse Becker

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It’s been exhausting listening to the media (both main stream and otherwise), and hear all about “fake news.” What is fake news? It’s any news reporting that is fabricated either entirely or partially to make a political statement or influence people’s thoughts about a topic or person. Fake news is nothing more than varying degrees of lies with the intent of misleading. I, for one, am tired of it. It is becoming nearly impossible to distinguish fake news from real news. Unless you are personally connected with a person or an incident, I advise great caution on what you believe.

In a world of “fake news” I am so grateful that I have the Good News of the gospel. Whatever is spewed out around me, I know that I know that I have a written record from the One who holds all truths. God’s truths are absolute. They are as true today as they were when those Godly men penned them. The true news of God tells us of a holy, just and good God who created this beautiful world for us. The true news of God shows us that we are all sinners, and that our sin separates us from God and requires a payment for us to ever be able to fellowship with Him. The true news of God informs us that there is absolutely nothing we can do in and of ourselves to make such a payment. Then the true news turns to good news as we learn that God loves us in spite of our sin, and has made that payment through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son; that Jesus’ blood can cleanse us from our sin; that all we must do to be saved is believe this good news!

But God doesn’t stop there. Verse after verse we learn that God cares about us in every way and works continually to mold us and shape us into the person He wants us to be. He promises to meet our needs and bless us when we submit to His ways.

I would lose all hope if all I had was the fake news in the media. Praise God for the good news—the true new—found in His Word. Be sure to read and listen and heed it. It is best news you’ll hear all day.

3 Steps to Kicking a Habit

By Jesse Becker

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Samson’s first recorded action in Judges 14 was seeing and desiring to marry a woman in Timnah among the Philistines. In his parents futile protest they asked Samson, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” (emphasis mine)

The word “never” jumped out to me as I read this. It seems from that word that Samson’s desire for companionship with people outside his own countrymen was not something new. It must have been a reoccurring issue. For whatever reason, Samson wasn’t attracted to the ladies among his own people. If we allow ourselves to speculate, Samson may not have found them exciting or a challenge, or perhaps he simply wanted to rebel against his parents and God. At any rate, we can be sure that this was not the first Philistine girl he desired, nor would it be his last. Samson apparently had a habitual attraction for the forbidden.

We all struggle with sins of habit—those things we know are wrong, but over which we never get lasting victory. What are the things in your life that you habitually do or think or say that are against God’s will? Are there harmful attitudes that you harbor? Do you have the same reaction to certain situations?

Chances are that you have dealt with these sins before. We know we are to confess and forsake and ask God for help. But many times these sins find their way back into our lives. After identifying and confessing a sin, there are some practical things we can do to beat them.

  1. Identify the trigger that usually occurs right before you give in. Once you know what triggers that attitude, that sharp tongue, or that wrong act, then you can get one step ahead of it. Make that trigger your cue to pray for help, recite a verse, or take another action. Along with identifying the trigger, try to avoid it if at all possible.
  2. Replace your habit with something good. Once that trigger occurs, you must already have another action, thought, or reaction ready to use in place of the bad one. This will take forethought and practice. Write down your trigger and your best response.
  3. Don’t give up on yourself. As with practicing anything, nothing is perfect the first time or stays perfect. But as a wise preacher once said, “Stick and stay, and make it pay.” We are all growing in certain areas of life. Give yourself grace and time to get better at defeating your habit.

God wants us to have victory. We must believe this and remind ourselves of this, then put a plan into action to kick that habit.

Samson’s 20-Year Career

By Jesse Becker

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I polled our Sunday School class to find out what we thought could have been Samson’s age when he brought down the house on Philistines and killed them and himself. I hadn’t thought much about it myself. As it turned out, most of us imagined Samson to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. A lot of us imagined that he was reckless young man and kamikazed his life from an early age. Then I read the last verse in Judges 14:

And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

So, between slaying a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey and tearing off the city gates and meeting Delilah, Samson did his job for 20 years. It seems that he lived without getting himself in trouble during this time. He actually did the job God called him to with some degree of success. He at least didn’t suffer any notable negative consequences.

Knowing the character of Samson, though, I would believe that he wasn’t living entirely right. Judges 15 starts by telling us that Samson saw a harlot in Gaza and went in unto her. The Gazites were planning on killing him when he took the doors of the city gate to the top of a hill and escaped. Samson was apparently living a secret life of sin and getting away with it.

After this event he met Delilah, and we know the rest of the story. The last verse of Judges 16 tells us that his family came an buried him, and reminds us that Samson judged for 20 years.

I believe Samson always lived on the edge of destruction. He played around with sin and figured out how to get away with a lot of it. He apparently relied on his strengths – physical and mental – to get him out of sticky situations. But, as we know, we reap what we sow. Samson was sowing the destructive seed of sin and deception, and he eventually reaped the horrible crop.

Many of us are living Christian lives that seem to be clean and free from consequences, while the truth is that we are constantly involved with sin. It could be lust; it could be disrespecting our spouse; it could be a bitter spirit. We think we can handle it because we get away with it for years. But God is not a liar. We will reap what we sow. We need to regularly examine our life and deal with sins that we think we can handle, asking the Holy Spirit to help us change. Time is not on our side.

3 Parts of a Worshipping Heart

By Jesse Becker

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Many people followed Jesus to varying degrees while He was on earth. There were the multitudes who were curious. There were the sick, blind, and lame who needed healing. There were some who Jesus specifically chose the follow Him so He could teach them and prepare them for ministry. And then there were a few who left all they knew and all they had just to be near the Master. They lived a life of worship for their Lord. What drove them to live that way?

Night Vision

By Jesse Becker

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We have all experienced dark days in our lives. Some of us know the loss of a loved one. Some know the difficulties of illness or pain. Some have lost the security of a job. We’ve all experienced personal failure. Most of us know the dim light of the unknown. While we as humans are only allowed to know the present and have memories of the past, we can’t help but feel the anguish of an uncertain future.

Let me encourage you with this thought: Our God is timeless. He is all knowing. He is the engineer of every event in our lives. And His purposes are perfect. We know these statements to be true, but how can these truths help us?

There is an old hymn, a favorite of many, called Be Thou My Vision. The melody is attributed to a blind, first century Irish Christian. The modern English lyrics with which we are familiar were written by Mary Byrne more than a century ago. These words hold the key to turning on the night vision we often desire. The key is to continually live in God’s presence; to let go of everything else; to think of nothing else but Him every hour of every day.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 46:1

How to Wise Up

By Jesse Becker

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I have two boys, ages 11 and 7. They’re great kids with lots of energy. They love climbing trees, building forts, and wrestling each other or me! They’re growing at alarming rates it seems–either that, or their pants keep shrinking.

As their dad I have a God given responsibility to help them grow in wisdom. That’s an ongoing job. Everyday I am presented with lessons to teach them and guide them through. I wish I could say that I’ve masterfully handled every situation with grace and wisdom; but honestly, I’m learning as much or more as they are as we go. I am glad though that God has all the answers I need in His word and the godly counsel He has supplied around me.

Just like in my family, my Heavenly Father wants to impart His wisdom to me. He makes it readily available primarily through time in His word. It’s just up to me to spend the time seeking it there. In conjunction with reading the Bible, I believe memorizing scripture is key to learning wisdom. And what both of these actions do is help us get into the presence of God and remain there. As the second verse of Be Thou My Vision reminds us, reading God’s word and hiding it in our heart is a key to wising up.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 2:6

Remembering Church Music

By Jesse Becker

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I can remember growing up and every Sunday walking into church and hearing the spirited playing of hymns on the piano. Then at the start of the service the song leader would step up to the platform and call out a song number to which everyone would open their hymnal and begin singing with enthusiasm. The sound of worshipful hearts and voices filled the room and lifted the spirit of all who heard. The songs were filled with truth and were simple to learn. I have not forgotten them over the years.

No Answer is Not Always a “No” Answer

By Jesse Becker

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Luke 1:5-25

After a year or so of marriage, my wife and I looked forward to having children. Many of our friends’ families were beginning to grow, and we were excited about having the same for us. But our family didn’t start for another 5 years during which we had at least 3 miscarriages. Those years were long and hard, and we prayed and prayed for children. However, our prayers only seemed to be answered with a resounding “no.”

My Chains Are Gone. Live Like It.

By Jesse Becker

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Jack and Pal are our family dogs and are as opposite as Abbot and Costello. Jack is tall and slender, smart and athletic. Pal short and pudgy, dumb and cute. We love them both. On occasion I have to contain them with dog ties and harnesses. When I come out to them, Pal always pulls his tie to its limit, but Jack does not. In fact, he’ll jump with excitement straight up in the air with the tie relaxed beside him.

Yesterday, Today, Forever, Jesus is the Same!

By Jesse Becker

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The first cell phone I ever owned would make my children laugh today. It was rather large, had a single-color LCD screen that only displayed digits, and it didn’t have a single app. No angry birds here! I can’t tell you what happened to it since I’ve moved on, and obviously I don’t miss it. Today I use one of the latest iPhone models that does more than desktop computers did just a few years ago. Now it seems my entire life is on it—photos, music, calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, emails, weather, and even music. Technology certainly changes and changes quickly.