TICKS!

This past Friday afternoon I committed to a decision to work on another place to hunt. It was in the woods behind my house. So I cleared me a path to it, found a good spot for a feeder and to make a mineral lick. I needed to clear a lot of undergrowth and to make a couple of shooting lanes from my stand. It was exhausting, but I made a lot of progress and felt really good about my efforts; at 65 years old, too!

Being a bit sweaty, covered in dirt and what the chainsaw threw back on me, I headed for the shower. As I was about to step into the shower, I noticed a tick on my right leg. It was firmly imbedded and was feasting on my Type O negative blood. It took a pair of tweezers to dislodge him from his dinner table. End of story, right?

Wrong! The next morning as I was sitting outside and enjoying the Living Waters (a.k.a.) coffee, I found another tick. This one had already been feasting overnight on MY blood. I carefully removed him, sending him to Tick Hell! Then I found another–and then another! Three that morning who had spent the night enjoying my Type O negative blood. And it was those 4 Ticks that got me to thinking about this morning’s musings.

Ticks are blood-sucking ogres who want something from me–and they don’t care what they do to me. Some of them even carry serious diseases such as Lyme Disease and the infamous Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. Ticks are not insects, they are classified as arachnids, or relatives of spiders, scorpions and mites. Ticks also are found in other forms.

Some Ticks come in the form of feelings. Feelings such as fear, depression, despair, anger, bitterness, remorse, regret, uselessness, or memories of past failures. Some ticks come in the form of persistent sin in our life. They attack and attach themselves deep within us. And they do not want to let go. After all, they are getting free food from you.

And sometimes nature’s Ticks come in the form of human beings. I’m not talking about vampires or zombies. I’m talking about real, live, walking and (unfortunately) talking human beings. And like those small Ticks, they may not be noticed at first. But from the first moment they attach themselves to you, they begin sucking the life right out of us. Examples are people who dwell on and spew the venom of the negative; those who like you only for what you can do for them; those who are living in self-destruct mode but they want others to self-destruct with them; and of course–abusers! Abuse can be verbal, mental, physical, or sexual. We call these toxic relationships because they are deadly to us.

And like nature’s Ticks, emotions and toxic relationships get bigger the longer they stay attached to you. While a small nature’s Tick may not be all that noticeable at the beginning, the longer they remain attached the more obvious and ugly, they become. See?

So what’s person to do if they finally see the ugliness of their “Infestation of Ticks”? Do what Paul recommended to the Colossians:

But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.

(Emphasis mine) Colossians 3:8-11

If you will give me a little liberty with Paul’s words, I would say to you: In this new life, it doesn’t matter who you are, or who you used to be. And you are not defined by those toxic relationships. Jesus has and will continue to deliver you from all of that!” Don’t let those Ticks ruin your life. Jesus has the best life of all for you!

It’s Right There In The Bible! NOT! Part 4

we often read –make that misread–The Bible without listening to The Bible

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Here’s another one of those things that many people think is there–but it’s ain’t!

Money Is The Root Of All Evil!

This is typically said by those who do not have a lot of it. But the thing is, they use this fake truth to justify their own sense of moral superiority over the rich. The lack of money doesn’t make anyone morally superior; nor does having a lot of money mean that God favors you more than He does others. Let’s look at exactly what the Bible says:

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT; EMPHASIS mine)

See? It’s right there! My point here, as in this whole series, is that we often read –make that misreadThe Bible without listening to The Bible. There are two points that are often missed:

  1. It’s not money, but the LOVE of money; and
  2. That LOVE is the root of a variety of evils–not ALL evil.

So, if the LOVE of money isn’t the root of all evil, what is that root? Glad you asked! Have you ever read 1 John in The Bible? Look at Chapter 2, Verse 16 where John writes:  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” The root of each and every sin comes from these 3 arenas of life, and they have nothing to do with money.

Until next time, friends–be careful with wanting to please your flesh–be careful what you look at and want–and really be careful about feeling morally and spiritually superior to ANYONE! Here is the root of all evil!

7 Things That God Finds Disgusting: A Person Who Sows Discord!

At last, we reach the end of the things that God finds disgusting–or if you prefer the King’s English–Abominations. Here are the links to the previous 6: Haughty Eyes; A Lying Tongue; Hands That Kill The Innocent; A Heart That Plots Evil; Feet That Race To Do Wrong; and yesterday’s A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies. And here is the seventh thing that is both disgusting and an abomination to God!

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: 
 a person who sows discord in a family.

Proverbs 6:16, 19 (New Living Translation)

We all have them. You know what I’m talking about. That one family member that we hope and pray and pray some more–that they will not show up at the next family gathering. It’s that relative that excels in creating that atmosphere of strife and contention in the family. The ensuing bickering leaves hurt feelings and hard heads that storm off. It’s not just at that gathering where the strife appears, but it continues long after the occasion that led to it. That’s the thing about Strife and Contention–once they happen they develop and life all their own and can be difficult to end.

Why does Solomon mention this about Discord in a family being so Disgusting to God? For a couple of reasons. One reason is that he lived in that strife and contention growing up. Remember his half-brother Absalom led a insurrection against their father, David? The other, and more important reason, is that family is God’s smallest battle formation against evil. And everyone knows that any family not united for God, cannot stand up against the attacks of Satan.

Let’s go deeper with the definition of family–being more than biologically or legally related. What about us as followers and disciples of Jesus? Didn’t He call us to be the Sons and Daughters of God? That sounds like Family to me, doesn’t it to you? And to Sow Discord (remember that means Strife and Contention) in the Family of God, within the Body Of Christ? To God that is an Abomination and absolutely Disgusting! It brings to mind a Yiddish word: Feh!

7 Things God Finds Disgusting: Feet That Race To Do Wrong!

This Disgusting Thing is about choices–and when there is a choice there is always a consequence.

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Drivers, start your engines!

16 There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
18 . . . feet that race to do wrong,

Proverbs 6:16, 18 NLT

And the race is on–to do what is wrong. This Disgusting Thing is about making Quick Choices–and with any and all choices, there is always a consequence. The word I’m looking for is Impetuous. Impetuous Choices are those decisions we make abruptly, even eagerly, because–well–just because. They lack the rhyme and reason that comes only from Godly Wisdom.

When questioned, What were you thinking?”, many folks try to excuse their Poor Choices by saying, “Well, I wasn’t thinking.” This simply isn’t true. They chose their thinking by not thinking. Not thinking is a prevalent form of thinking these days–well, this has been around since Adam and Eve. Their choice to eat from the forbidden fruit was to think by not thinking. If they had chosen to think through their decision, the outcome would have been much different.

The Hebrew phrase Solomon chose means “evil, misery, distress, injury“. As we rush to wrong actions, wrong conclusions, and wrong thinking–it opens the door to evil–it creates misery, puts us in distress–and causes injuries, to us and those around us. God created us to be thinking beings–to analyze, discern, and discover. The key, though, is to think through BEFORE a decision is made. We reach the wrong decisions about events, circumstances, and people when we rush by choosing to think by not thinking.

Correct decisions come as the result of seeking God’s Wisdom–AND using His Wisdom to make the right choice. We rush and race towards decisions because we are not desiring God’s wisdom–and it is always leads us to the wrong choice. Created in His Image–made to think things through like He does–but when we rush–it’s Disgusting to God.

7 Things God Finds Disgusting: A Heart That Plots Evil

16 There are six things the Lord hates—
    no, seven things he detests:
18 a heart that plots evil,

Proverbs 6:16, 18 NLT

Today’s disgusting thing to God is a heart that plots evil. And this is one that most folks say is easily identifiable–in others. Isn’t it amazing that it is so easy to identify evil in others–but fail to see it in ourselves? I remember what a friend, Ronnie Wicks once said in a small group: “My sin is not as bad as your sin.” Ronnie wasn’t being self-righteous–simply stating the attitude that so many Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters have.

Have you ever taken one of those surveys that asks you to rate your experience? People tend to follow that same format when looking (which is a polite way of saying judging) at others. We rate them on this scale: Very Good (which are those folks who go the extra mile to be good)–Good (which is simply another word for mediocre)–Bad (typically those who aren’t like you)–and Evil (this is the elite of the Bad who do unspeakable things). And most folks would never see themselves as Evil.

We don’t like that word Evil; it’s rarely used nowadays, and it’s used to describe something out there. But Solomon is very clear that Evil exists–and it exists in the human heart. There are 2 words Solomon uses: machăshâbâh and ‘āven. Machăshâbâh is a contrivance–which is a ruse or scheme. āven is used for the word Evil or Iniquity. But here’s something interesting about that word–the proper meaning is to pant, to exert oneself, usually in vain; to come to naught.

What’s my point? Here’s my point. Evil is everything we do to avoid living under God’s rule–the way we are created to live. It’s the plans, schemes, devices, the machinations (another strong word) we conspire with to avoid the life, the only life we need. There is no difference between bad and evil. Rebelling against God, choosing our own way–is simply Evil.

Now, let’s get back to that word machăshâbâh. Remember that its proper meaning is to pant, to exert oneself, usually in vain; to come to naught. Whatever we do that fails to produce the life of holiness, as God designed it–all the different spins we put on The Gospel to justify ourselves and our views–are only exertions of our imaginations that leave us exhausted and produces nothing!

There is not difference between Bad and Evil. Exerting our own ways over God’s way is Evil–and God finds this Disgusting!

It’s Hard To Live In Exile And Harder To Do What God Says About Your Place Of Exile

God sends us into the places of exile because they need to be reclaimed and restored to the Kingdom of God.

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Do your circumstances feel like you are living in exile? You work at a job that under-appreciates your work, and under-pays you for overworking you. You have been terminated from work and the pile of bills is now a mountain of bills. Your spouse has left you for more excitement that you were able to provide. You wish your spouse WOULD leave because all they do is belittle you and tell you all that you do wrong. You look in the mirror with great disgust at the person looking back at you because you hate what you see. The doctor prescribes a series of chemo and radiation treatments because of your cancer. The church you attend is embroiled in political and in-house bickering and fighting. Your parents lament on a daily basis on how you could have done better. The air conditioner, refrigerator, and hot water heater all died the same day. The Sheriff’s Department just posted an eviction notice on your door.

Now, add to all of that the cultural and political wars going on in the good old U.S. of A. The news channels blaring away at all the upheaval, and the violence that is happening every day, all day long. I don’t know about you, but there have been many moments where I felt like I was in exile.

Feelings of exile have a long history. In many cases, it was more than a feeling, it was a national reality. Jeremiah lived in such a time–a literal time of exile. And Jeremiah has something to tell them–something God wanted them to know.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

Jeremiah 29:2-7 (NLT)

They are living in a foreign land, under foreign rule, with foreign customs and a pagan culture. Pagan Culture–does that resonant with you? It resonates with me as a Kingdom Citizen. And I hear a lot of voices that seem to echo the same sentiments. Face it, as Followers of Jesus our culture neither likes nor embraces Kingdom Truth. This time has been appropriately called “The Post Christian Era”. Values of the Kingdom of God are considered outdated. And add to this, that many who professed to be Followers of Jesus looked nothing at all like Jesus. In fighting and self righteousness turned many away from becoming Followers of Jesus.

So, how do we live in a time and place that feels like exile? It seems to me, that the words of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies spoken to Jeremiah still apply today. Look carefully again at what God instructs those exiles to do:

Build homes, and plan to stay

Establish your allegiance and loyalty to Jesus and God’s Kingdom. Be that city on a hill, that candle on the candlestand.

Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 

Be a producer of the positive wherever you are. Do not lower yourself to engage in the bitter fighting that is so entrenched in this culture. Bring good things into your part of this dysfunctional culture.

Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!

Reproduce Kingdom Values within your family, your circle of close friends, at work–wherever you happen to be. Be the example and encourage others to be that example. You reproduce those Kingdom Values as you teach others–and they see them verified in your daily life.

So far so good, right? Challenging, yes–but doable. But there’s more–and it’s going to be a lot more difficult.

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile.

Did you just see that? Work for the peace and prosperity of those people who make us feel like we are in exile. It’s simple, really simple. If you are on the left–help and pray that the right would be at peace and experience prosperity. For you on the right–help and pray that the left would be at peace and experience peace. If you are a centrist, then do the same for both the left and the right.

It doesn’t seem fair or just that God would tell us to do that. But…don’t miss that next line from the passage: “the city where I sent you into exile.” God sent Judah into exile because of their disobedience. And for us today? God sends us into the places of exile because they need to be reclaimed and restored to the Kingdom of God. Their reason for exile was disobedience–and our reason is Obedience–obedience to God’s call to wage spiritual warfare against Satan.

Oh, and that last line: “Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” OK, do you want to see our culture transformed? The pray for their Shalom. That is the Hebrew word used. It means, among many things, peace. Pray for the opposite side from you to do well, be strong and have inner peace. If you don’t, well, God said what the outcome will be: You will NOT be strong or be well or have peace.

Your welfare rests upon what you want for others, even those on the opposite side. Followers of Jesus, we are in exile–but we are in exile for a purpose and a reason–to bring The Kingdom Of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” If you want some practical advice on how to accomplish this, well…listen to Paul in Romans 12:21

As long as you are agitated and mad at your culture, nothing will change and you will be miserable. It’s not easy to do–it’s not meant to be easy. It’s meant to cause you to turn to God, seek His Holy Spirit and rely on The Spirit. It doesn’t make sense to do it this way. But…it does work!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him…and it does when you pray for the peace of your enemies.

Why Not Go Ahead?

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a member of the NRA)

Tragedy–“an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress”. The past 2 weeks we have seen this definition of tragedy intensified to the nth degree. My heart aches for all of the victims, friends and communities. And the rallying cry of our culture is to fix it so it won’t happen again, or at the very least, make it more difficult to happen again. On this we can all agree. I am tired of seeing these tragedies happening over and over. And please, do not forget that these tragedies happen every day in other places. Last weekend there were 7 killed and 46 injured in Chicago, alone. The cause of these tragedies has a label: “gun violence”. So, what is the “solution”?

Let’s use our imaginations right now and not hold them back. Let’s imagine for a season that suddenly all lawmakers agree 100% to pass every proposed law that is believed would limit, even eliminate the next tragedy from happening. Not a single dissenting vote. I know, some of you are thinking that this is fantasy not imagination. Just humor me, OK?

Imagine that those on the left, who for decades have insisted you cannot legislate morality, change their minds and say, “Yes! We can legislate morality! We’re so sorry we said you couldn’t.” And imagine those on the right saying, “You know, we never saw gun control as a morality issue, and we’re sorry for that.” So, the left, the right, and the middle vote unanimously in favor of those laws. The POTUS signs the bills. Imagine now how different our culture will be because of the legislation.

That very evening, sporting good business, gun dealers, ALL immediately take the banned guns off the shelves and walls. The new background check system is implemented that night. Coders and programmers work diligently throughout the night to make it happen. The very next morning, it is a new dawn and a new day. There are no banned guns anywhere. All people line up at local law enforcement agencies and turn in all banned guns. This senseless “gun violence” is a thing of the past. After all, this is the purpose of all that new legislation. Right? Few, if any tragedies to read about, right?

This “solution” is based upon the premise that the presence of such guns is the true “cause” of these horrible tragedies. Eliminate this “cause” and these types of tragedies will cease to be so prevalent. Thus, we see the word: Gun Violence.

While this “Solution” seems to be logical, it leaves out one element; an overlooked component of these recent tragedies. A man from long ago, noted for his wisdom, describes the missing component this way:

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

The Supposition Of This Legislative Solution is elimination of the object equates elimination of the tragedy. The real cause of these recent (and all other) tragedies is what lies not on the shelves, but in the heart. The prophet Jeremiah, sharing what God revealed to him put it this way:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

The Wisdom from Heaven embodied in Jesus, gets us to the crux of this matter when He said:

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:20-23 (NIV)

If Jesus had waited until our current culture to arrive in human form, he would have put it this way: “Look, it’s not what’s on the shelves that is hurting everyone. It is all that stuff, that evil stuff that is coming from the heart that’s the source and cause of what is happening. These kinds of evil tragedies come out of the heart, not the store.”

Out of the evil in the heart of Santino William Legan, he would have found another way. The evil in Patrick Crusius’s heart would have led him to another way. Even Connor Betts would have found a different way. And of the 53 casualties in Chicago last weekend, I doubt any of the guns used were purchased legally. Chicago has some of the strictest laws concerning gun purchases and ownership.

But…it’s so much easier to blame an inanimate object that to admit the current Ethos of our culture has led us to this…this way too frequent tragedies. Some say our Ethos is broken–not so fast, my friend. Every culture has an Ethos –some good, some not so good, and others are down right evil.

it’s so much easier to blame an inanimate object that to admit the current Ethos of our culture has led us to this…this way too frequent tragedies

This Ethos is what determines what is right and acceptable and what is wrong and unacceptable. Only Ethos of the Kingdom of God can prevent more of these tragedies from occurring. The current Ethos did not happen overnight. It was a journey, a step by step journey away of the Ethos of God’s Kingdom. Our current Ethos began with rejecting 1 part of the Ethos of God, and like dominoes strategically lined up, the entire Ethos of The Kingdom was traded away for an Ethos that cheapens human lives.

Only Ethos of the Kingdom of God can prevent more of these tragedies from occurring.

So how do we stop such tragedies? By committing our hearts to The Kingdom Ethos that is tethered to a life of loving God with all our heart, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and pursuing with everything in us a life of holiness. These most recent tragedies, the past tragedies, are fueled by the Current Ethos. And without a change of Ethos there will be more tragedies.

These most recent tragedies, the past tragedies, are fueled by the Current Ethos. And without a change of Ethos there will be more tragedies

One immediate change will help transform the current Ethos. And that is to stop the hate. Hate produces hate. Hate spewed by the right produces hate spewed by the left; a different hate but hate nonetheless. Hate spewed by the left produces hate spewed by the right; a different hate but hate nonetheless. Hate diminishes the value of human life and is a horrible degradation of human dignity–the dignity of the person being hated and the dignity of the person doing the hating. The thing about hate being spewed is that it covers both the hater and the object of their hatred.

The thing about hate being spewed is that it covers both the hater and the object of their hatred.

Without a doubt, there needs to be an upgrade to the current system of background checks. But emptying the shelves of certain types of guns…well, those empty shelves will not change the Ethos but become a symbol of the hearts empty of God’s love but full of evil. Call it what it is: #HumanViolence and perhaps we can begin to move away from this mess.