Tuesday, May 21, 2013



Have you seen this hashtag before? 

For those of you who don't know, hashtags are something primarily used on Twitter and occasionally on other social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram.  Essentially, they are used to add context to your 'Tweet' or 'status' within a theme or event.  For instance, if I was talking about a book I just finished by my favorite author I would end my status with #terriblackstock or #goodbook.

Anywho...back to my intro - the hashtag #firstworldproblems has become quite popular.  Here are just a few examples taken from Reddit.com:

  • "I don't like the free coffee at work."
  • "I can't park my car in the garage because there are already two other vehicles and a boat inside."
  • "I had too much food for lunch and now I'm tired."
  • "My commute is so short that my car doesn't have time to warm up."
  • "I had to use internet explorer for 75 seconds."
  • "I'm a freelancer, and I made too much money this quarter so I'm going to have to pay taxes."

Do you get the picture here?  First world problems are the problems we have on a day to day basis that those in a third world country could never even fathom, problems they would probably like to have.

But I think we are missing the bigger picture.  Is there such thing a legitimate first world problem?  I think so.

Psalm 12:1-5
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
2 They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
4 Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
5 "Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the  needy,
Now I will arise," says the Lord; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs. 

When I think of people with legitimate hard times I picture those children on the TV commercials that are just skin and bones due to the famine and drought in their land, I picture scenes from Hotel Rwanda where the land is ravaged from war and dead bodies cover the road.  Or even Moore, Oklahoma which was just leveled by a 2-mile wide tornado last night.  The physical problems of this world are so very easy to see.  But what about the spiritual?

Our country is in the midst of spiritually hard times.  If you don't agree, please take a moment to remove your blinders.  Wake up!  These are truly hard times and here are the reasons:

1. ...for the godly man ceases to be, / For the faithful disappear from among the sons of man.
Matthew Henry states, "When there is a general decay of piety and honesty among men the times are then truly bad."  'Piety' is defined by Dictionary.com as "reverence for God" or even "dutiful respect."  Look around you.  In general, does our country have a reverence or a dutiful respect for God?  Absolutely not.  If we were godly and faithful and truly revered God we would take His word as it stands, not pick it apart to make it suit our lifestyle, to make what we are doing seem "okay."  In a country where sex sells, homosexuality is condoned, babies are killed without a chance, and drugs run amuck in our school systems like ants at a picnic, it is easy to see how God is only someone we turn to during tragedy (if even then).  That is hardly reverence.  Godly men don't fit into this dog-eat-dog world where every man fights for himself - they should stick out like a banana in an apple orchard.  Yet, I don't see very many bananas...maybe a few rotten apples here and there, but no bananas.  It is plain to see that, in America, the godly man ceases to be and the faithful are disappearing right before our eyes.  #firstworldproblems

2.They speak falsehood to one another; / With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
You see, "the times are bad indeed when there is no such thing as sincerity to be met with, when an honest man knows not whom to believe nor whom to trust" (Henry).  I don't know about you but in this past election I really struggled because it was impossible to know what was true and what wasn't.  I remember when it hit me, I was sitting at the table reading another article on who-knows-what and like a fist to the stomach I realized: it is impossible to know what is true.  From the candidates themselves to the media and anyone in-between it was like trying to walk straight after spinning in circles.  That feeling remains today though it was much more apparent during the election.  People will lie to get what they want, and besides God Himself (and maybe a few of my friends and family), it is extremely difficult to know who can be trusted as a reliable source.  During these truly hard times, "we must get the truth for ourselves or go without it" (C.S. Lewis, Miracles).  #firstworldproblems

3. ..."With our tongues we will prevail; / Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?
"Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is" unfortunately (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).  The times are truly bad "when the enemies of God, and religion, and religious people, are impudent and daring, and threaten to run down all that is just and sacred" (Henry).  
  • Sacred.  I hear that word and I instantly think of marriage.  Yet divorce is an everyday norm and gay marriage is rising in popularity.  Justice is having a right to life yet over 1 million abortions are performed each year (and only approximately one percent of those are because of rape) (Abort73.com).  #firstworldproblems
  • Look for enemies of our faith and you will find them near or far.  In the first season of A&E's Duck Dynasty, the producers not only cut out a lot of the "faith stuff" but also added *bleeps* in unnecessary places because they wanted the show to be 'edgier'.  Look at the rest of Hollywood - any time there is a "Christian" in a show, they are either over-the-top ridiculous and make us look bad or they barely have the morals and values we deem highly important.  There are even some military leaders who have labeled Christians as extremists alongside the likes of Al Qaeda (Fox News).  And what about our president?  Yes.  I said our president - Barack Obama.  There is a lot of here-say out there.  I have heard that he covers crosses with sheets in any area that he is speaking, I have heard that he removes the phrase 'the Creator' when quoting the Declaration of Independence, and much more. I have not done enough research to know if these things are legitimate or not, they are simply here-say.  I do know, however, that the very things he says shows how little he truly cares for the sacredness of God's word.  I have attached a video I ran across some time back.  Within the first couple of minutes my chest was tight and I was holding back tears.  I warn you, his words are manipulative, but if you believe in the Bible and it's teachings, the first 3 minutes (as well as the rest) of this video will hurt your heart.  #firstworldproblems
  • "Many think because they have the faculty of speaking, that therefore they may speak what they please" but this could not be further from the truth (Clarke). Whether the world wants to believe it or not, we will be held accountable one day for the things we do and say - as well as the things we cause others to do because of the words we say.  Speech is a powerful thing.  Words can be uplifting or detrimental, encouraging or manipulative, etc.  Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was in serious denial.  Words go straight through our skin and bones to the heart - this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  I learned this past week that C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a series of hypothetical letters between two demons, after hearing Adolf Hitler speak and realizing the power of words.  Hitler used the power he discovered, the power of words and communication, to cause the horrendous murder of millions upon millions of innocent people.  And because of his words, people were either led to believe that it wasn't happening or that it was a good thing.  We live in a country, as stated before, where it is hard to tell a truth from a lie.  Don't you think that's how it started in Germany?  And then, in naivety, people just started believing what they were told because the speeches they heard sounded great and extremely flattering.  The video above is a prime example of words being powerful and manipulative.  It would be so easy to believe what Obama was saying: it isn't right for my faith to interfere with the government.  He makes it sound easy and commendable to leave our faith at church.  But do you really want to live in a world where your faith must be checked at the door of the church?  I sure don't.  We must always remember to go back to the only Truth we can be sure of: God.  And He has given us His word so that we will always know what Truth is.  That Truth should infect EVERY part of our lives from the words we speak to the things we do!  #firstworldproblems
I hope you can see now why the times are truly bad.  But what can we do about it?  We pray.  The very beginning of this Psalm is Help, Lord... and towards the middle there is the plea: May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, / The tongue that speaks great things... They were asking God to fix the wrongs that were being committed, they were turning to Him.  In truly bad times, though it is difficult, we should also turn to Matthew 5:44 - "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." 

God will answer for His word says: "IF my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, than I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis added).  IF we pray and seek His face, IF we turn from our wicked ways...He will answer our cries for help and heal our land!  After all, "The enemy may have filled his arrows to the string, but there is another bow bent which will be drawn before his" (Expositor's).   There is always hope.  For "when you pray, your prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses' prayer for water in the desert, the God who gave Abraham and his barren wife a son, and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh" (Francis Chan, Crazy Love).

I challenge you today to open your eyes to the truth around you - we are living in truly bad times.  Don't take my word for it, go out and do your own research!  And then find a comfy spot for your knees and pray.


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