This is a friendly reminder of a law that was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. This Law is called the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. This law was designed to stop the barrage of unsolicited marketing emails inundating our personal email accounts. These type of emails are called SPAM. This is a bit different from the “Spam” I grew up with. The Spam I grew up with was a wonderful concoction of delicious pork pieces. I became very fond of this product. The difference between the Spam I enjoy and the SPAM I don’t is a matter of choice. I consciously choose the tasty pork loaf, however, I did not choose to be slammed with a million emails. Emails, whose only purpose is to tempt me to purchase or subscribe to something which provides nothing fruitful or uplifting. Spamming is actually a subversive attempt at mind control. Did you know that Satan is a “Spammer?” He SPAMs by slamming our minds with unsolicited negative thoughts.
Friends, don’t lose hope, and don’t lose heart. When it comes to unwanted SPAM we do have a choice. Because of the CAN-SPAM Act, by-law an “Unsubscribe” or “Opt-Out” button must appear on any unsolicited email or electronic advertisement. Yes! Great freedom comes from clicking the unsubscribe button. It isn’t easy to find, it is usually at the bottom portion of the email and is often in very fine print. I do not covet power on a regular basis, but in this instance, it feels pretty good to shoot down menacing advertisements with one click of the mouse. Ok, sometimes it takes two clicks.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul actually talks about “unsubscribing.” However, Paul hopes we would be strong enough to unsubscribe from unsolicited negative thoughts. In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul gives us a list of things to mediate on. Things like: Love, Truth, Holiness, Righteousness, Nobility, Purity, and Virtue.” When we mediate on these things we subconsciously unsubscribe from their polar opposites. Sure, it takes some effort on our part to meditate on these things, especially since we are bombarded everyday with their opposites. But, if we do as Paul asks great mental weights are lifted off of our minds. Remember, whether it is an unwanted email or unsolicited thought we always have the choice to “Unsubscribe.” Take charge of your thoughts, you are the only one that can.
My house used to have a closet with a locked door. I know this because I locked it. Prior to closing off this part of my house I used it for the storage of vibrant and wonderful things. The most radiant thing I used to hang in this closet was hope. When hope was in the closet of my house the door was never closed. Each day I welcomed hope with open arms and open mind. I felt such comfort and peace having hope in my house. Then one day hope packed its bags and left. Why did hope leave? Where did it go? Upon noticing hope was gone, I ran frantically through my house looking for hope. I burst through the front door and feverishly combed my property looking for hope, but hope wasn’t to be found. I sat for a moment to collect my thoughts, all the while wondering, where did hope go? Finally, I resigned myself to thinking hope may never return. I became angry and that is when I shut and locked the closet door. I, and no one else closed the door to hope.
Now, years later, I discovered what happened to hope. You see, hope got tired, tired of watching me in agony. “What agony,” you ask? Well it seems, year after year unmet expectations kept piling up in the living room of my house. Every day, when hope was in my house I insisted on taking it for a walk past the living room. Hope noticed the sadness in my eyes as I obsessed about the ever growing pile of my unmet expectations. Finally, hope could stand it no longer, it packed up its belongings and left.
After being without hope for a while, I began to think, maybe I should unlock the closet within my house just in case hope desires to return. I really wanted to make hope feel like it was welcomed to return. I unlocked the door and pushed it open. When the closed door was opened light cast itself across the floor, and in the light I noticed a handwritten note. Here is what the note said:
“I hated to leave but you left me no choice. I truly loved the days when you would greet me and embrace me each and every day. But, when you started obsessing about unmet expectations, and forgetting about me I had no choice. I’m hope, and I can’t stay where I am not the center of your attention. I promise, one day, I will return. When you want and desire me more than your unmet expectations, then, I will return. Sincerely Yours – HOPE!”
One day, after an extremely poor choice on my part I asked God a question. I asked, God, why did you give me free will? Immediately God said, “No real conscious choice can be made without free will.” James, he said, “Like it or not, “love” is a free will choice. Take away free will and “love” becomes a mechanical notion. I don’t want my children to love me because they have to; I want them to love me because they have chosen freely to do so. It’s all in the choice.”
Upon hearing this I thought: God’s gift of free will isn’t a curse, it’s a cure. Free will is actually a blessing, it gives me the power to choose. Sure, it introduces a dilemma between spirit and flesh. It has too, without this dilemma there would be no sacrifice. God modeled free will choice when he decided to send His Son to the cross for my sake. Ok, I’ve got it – God gave humanity free will for one reason and one reason only: To Choose Him!
“Tragically, in church, where there should be authenticity, we’ll paint on the phony smiles, slap backs, and masquerade to hide what is inside our hearts—the fact that in reality…we’re hurting. I’ve often said if you could know the pain in the lives of those sitting in front and behind you in church, you’d be shocked. Everybody hurts. We’ve all been shot…we’re all bleeding within, including the one behind the pulpit.” (Charles Swindoll – The Church Awakening)
What if we had the courage, when someone asked us how are we doing, to give them the real answer? Wouldn’t that be liberating? I think, by answering truthfully, we may see how a true friend responds. A true friend will not label you a “Whiner” or “Drama Queen” just because you tell them: “I had a bad day” or “I’m struggling in my close relationships.” A true friend will ask only one question: “How can I share your pain?”
“When who we truly are collides with who we think we are all that is left is the Hand of God. And that’s ok, because “His grace is sufficient.” God’s grace doesn’t flow out of a person’s ability to control their environment. In fact, it is stifled by the illusion of self-sufficiency. However, if we surrender all we are, to all Christ is, we have the freedom to be all God has intended us to be.”