What The What?

Dysphoria–it’s a word frequently used in our culture–especially in the realm of gender identity. And it is being especially applied to children and adolescences. There was a time when Genesis 1 verse 27 was sufficient: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” This was the rule–with the exception of chromosomal abnormalities. Simple, look below the waist–and there’s your gender, period!

But with the inflation and over evaluating of the most unreliable of human sensations–that of ‘feelings’–we now have multiple choices. Gee, whiz! How could God get this so wrong! The term “gender dysphoria” which Child Mind Institute defines is this:

Gender dysphoria was created as a distinct disorder to clarify that being transgender, or identifying as a gender different from the one of your birth, is not in itself a psychiatric disorder. The new disorder was meant to remove the stigma from being transgender, and to shift the concern of mental health professionals to assisting those for whom the experience of being transgender has resulted in significant distress and impaired functioning.

https://childmind.org/guide/guide-to-gender-dysphoria/

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama a father was interviewed about this very issue. He was affirming that his son, now his daughter, has every right to make such a life-changing decision and encouraged other parents who have dysphoric children to enable their children to follow his example. But what IF–the parents said to that child, “Look, we feel like you are more of a daughter than a son. And we want to help you, make the necessary decisions for you to become our daughter. After all, that is how we feel about you.”

Does this really make sense to you? To anyone? Some would reply, “It’s not up to you and how you feel. You have neither the intellect or wherewithal to make such a decision!” But what if their feelings are very real? Shouldn’t they have this right based on their feelings? When one insists that it is legitimate to travel on the road of feelings, this is where that road will eventually AND inevitably lead us.

The real dysphoria of out is not about gender identity–the dysphoria is about the Truth–to be exact–the source of Truth. Do you know what the word dysphoria means? It’s not psychobabble invented by psychiatrists. It means: melancholy, restlessness, despondency. As long as one lives outside The Truth of God’s Design for life–dysphoria is where we will live, and where we will die.

Can 12 People Kill Millions? Thoughts on the Misinformation Dozen

image from Cognizant

Recently our President Biden et al., based on information from a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), espoused that 12 people were responsible for killing people in this mess called COVID-19. He furthered asserted that their weapon of choice for killing people is the (in)famous FACEBOOK. Does this mean he wants to ban Facebook like he longs to ban guns? President Biden gas since tried to soften this words with the social media giant–but that’s like try to put the egg back into the chicken after it’s laid.

According to The Guardian, these 12 people, dubiously classified as The Misinformation Dozen, “have a combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms, with Facebook having the largest impact.” Doing the math, this means each one has 4,916,666.666666667 people buying into (and thus selling) their Misinformation. How can 1 person have the clout and amplitude to influence and control 4,916,666.666666667 people. (As far as that .666666667 person, we all know someone who checks all the boxes.)

I could assert that the President’s declaration of war against The Misinformation Dozen is lunacy, absurdity, and derangement all rolled into one neat package. And I’m equally sure that some would agree with me and some would vehemently disagree with me. And to argue would be an exercise in futility and ineffectuality. There are better ways to expend my time and energy.

But then I got to thinking–so buckle your seat belts and remained seated until this plane comes to a complete stop. Maybe it isn’t so crazy and I haven’t gone berserk this morning. But the day is still young! Wasn’t there another Dozen a long time ago that influenced some 3,000 people at one time? Well, technically there were 120–but 108 of them had already been influenced by them and their incredulous story about 1 man named Jesus. And if memory serves me accurately, they were accused of spreading Misinformation.

No, I’m not saying The Misinformation Dozen are telling the truth. What I am saying, and I’m saying this to those who wear the title “Christian”, (I prefer the title Follower And Disciple Of Jesus) if 12 people can influence 4,916,666.666666667 people with Misinformation 4,916,666.666666667 people each–imagine how many more people that the Followers And Disciples Of Jesus could in influence with The Truth that sets men and women free! I’m just sayin’. . .I’m just sayin’

picture from imgflip.com

COOKIES!

Today my affliction of random thoughts has directed my attention to cookies! Honestly, I don’t know if I really like them–in fact, I’m frustrated with them a bit. Oh, no! Not those sweet delectable orbs of manna from above–my personal favorite it the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie! I’m talking about these little zeros and ones that infest our computers, smart phones, and tablets which keep “track” of our activities on the internet.

Have you noticed that when you are looking or shopping for something online, that in just a short time, ads for that item start appearing on other websites? And just in case you didn’t know, that website you were shopping on left your computer some cookies for the next website to create for you that “personal” experience. Personally if they want to create a personalized experience for me–I’d rather they give me a couple of dozen white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

So what does my random thoughts about cookies have to do with the Kingdom Life? Whatever we “look” at each day whether it involves a computer or not, leaves behind a “tracking cookie”. And that “tracking cookie” will reappear–in our minds and in our hearts. The purpose of those “computer cookies” is to get you to spend (also known as ‘invest’) your hard earned money with this company or that company. The logic behind it is that if you see enough ads, then you will be enticed to buy–more than enticed–but to buy!

So, today and for the rest of your life, look at something different–something that doesn’t take away from your net worth–but adds value to your life. It’s call The Fruit Of The Spirit! Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 5, verses 22 and 23: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” “Looking” at such things will continue to stay with you throughout the day–and if you’re serious about it–for the rest of your life. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to see if we have any white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

This One Or This One?

As I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago I went to my optometrist because–well because it was time. Though I have going to an optometrist since I was 12 years old, it doesn’t mean I look forward to it–or that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing one. I haven’t! I mean, it’s like taking a test, right? “Which one, this one or this one? Number 1 or Number 2? Or are they about the same?” Sometimes the difference is noticeable to me–and sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I went to a different optometrist because we had moved since my last eye exam. On one such comparison (Number 2 or Number 1? Or are they about the same?), I was obviously taking too long to give an answer (have I mentioned I hate tests?), because Dr. Clark said, “Now both of them are going to be a bit blurry, just tell me which one is less blurry, or if there is no difference between them.” My mind was telling me that I had better make the right choice or you will be spending a lot of money for nothing.

Comparisons can be difficult to make. Tell me, do you compare yourself with…other people? It can be very uplifting if it is obvious that you are better than the other person. But there is a flip side–it can be very discouraging when you see someone is doing something better than you. Human nature being human nature–we try to avoid the latter.

But there is one comparison that is obvious and very clear that a distinct difference exists. It is from 1 Peter chapter one verses 15 and 16–“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy. Forget that! God is perfect–and me? I’m a far cry from perfect–and so are you. How is this going to help us? If God expects perfection–and He does–then I might as well give up!

And this puts me in the “perfect” place–the perfect place to stop trying to be holy–and allow my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Comforter to do what He does best. Being holy isn’t the result of our efforts, but it is the product of God’s work of grace in our hearts. What I need to do is let Him work by following Jesus. And then moment by moment, bit by bit, it becomes obvious that there is a difference–a difference between the current me and the me I’m becoming!

Running On Empty!

(Image from MentalFloss.com)

If you ever see the above picture while driving your vehicle–you better be hoping that a gas station is just ahead. Here’s an eye-opener: Our vehicles will not operate without fuel–be it gasoline or diesel. And if you have ever heard the dying sound of an engine when the last drop of fuel is consumed. . .well, it just doesn’t sound good. You can trust me one this one. Yes, yours truly has been guilty of saying, “Oh, I’ve got plenty of gas to get there.” I was wrong!

What does an empty fuel tank have to do with the Kingdom Life? Glad you asked! It’s the perfect analogy of what happens to our life when we ignore our need to be refueled with the Holy Spirit. We sputter, jerk, and slowly come to a complete stop–and we can’t get to our next destination. While I’ve been guilty only a couple of times of running out of gas–this latter image of running out of spiritual fuel has unfortunately happened more that a couple of times.

Our–call it “heart”, “spirit”, or “soul”–needs constant attention. Without this constant attention to the “fuel gauge” we will, sooner than later, run out of the fuel we need in this journey with Jesus in His Kingdom. So how do we keep the tank full, as it were? The price of fuel for our vehicles is getting higher, and it can put a dent in our household budget. But the fuel for our Life In Christ? It’s already been paid for by our Heavenly Father. We call that Grace.

How do we fill ‘er up? The same way as we do our vehicles. We pull up to the pump and either get out of the vehicle or have someone pump it for us. The spiritual version of this event is that we come to our Father, and ask for a fill-up. My way of doing this is starting my day with music and prayer. Sometimes the song I’m listening to becomes my prayer. I block out any distractions–and when those distraction get through, I consciously choose to give them the boot. After all, this is My Father’s and I time. My “tank” isn’t full and for what I will be facing each day–it needs to be full even before I start–and often times I have to stop in the middle of the day for some more “fuel”.

The “fuel” we use is none other than The Holy Spirit–God’s Holy Presence. You don’t fill up you vehicle just once–depending on how far you’re going–you may need even more fuel. So, remember what Paul tells the folks at Ephesus Church:

17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:17-19

Afraid Of What Is, Or Afraid Of What Might Happen?

Image from BBC Science Focus Magazine

You may find it hard to believe what I am about to say; but Fear Is Rampant In Our Culture! Democrats are afraid of what the Republicans might do. Republicans are afraid of what the Democrats might do. Libertarians are afraid of both. Seriously though, just look around and it is easy, so easy, TOO easy to find things that have the capacity to make us afraid.

And here’s the irony of it all: it doesn’t have to be true, or possible, or even probable to make people Afraid! Imaginary fears are just as potent as my very real fear of snakes in order to harm us. For many, fear is more than an every day battle; it is a moment by moment ongoing battle. This battle happens whether one admits it or denies it. Fear paralyzes us into the wrong action or indecision. Just ask the squirrel pancakes you see on the roads.

So what can a person do? The answer is rather easy. But the solution isn’t simplistic. What gets makes fear run like the wind in fear? It isn’t faith–it’s Love! But not just any love–the fields of life are strewn with the casualties of embracing and pursuing the wrong kind of Love. John gave us the answer long ago in his letter we call 1 John, Chapter 4, verses 17-18:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

(The Message)

John said that God is love. So, if we live in God, and God lives in us, we give love, as The Message puts it, the run of the hose, becomes at home and mature in us. Remember I said getting rid of Fear is simple, but it’s not simplistic. It requires us to surrender and submit to God–not just once–but over and over again–moment by moment. God’s love assures us we do not have to be afraid of Judgment–provided we live in Him and allow Him to live in us. And if we do not have to be afraid of Judgment–then there is nothing else to fear. His Love will always take care of us–He may not take away the problem that is trying to scare the living daylights out of us–but He will stand with us! And when God stands with us–it’s like this song: Fear Is A Liar!

The Eyes Have It

Good morning! It was William Shakespeare who wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Maybe so if one is looking from the outside in. But eyes are designed to look outward. . .provided they are functioning as they should–which leads me to this morning’s reflections.

Since the seventh grade, I wear glasses–if you haven’t done the math, that’s 53 years. Other than that, and cataract surgery a few years ago, they have served me well. . .until recently. For the past several years I’ve noticed these things called “floaters”. At first I thought I was swatting at a gnat. My previous optometrist informed me that it was just little bits of something in the vitreous fluid in my eyes, and were common with people of a certain age. Oh, God, how I hate that term!

Here’s the thing about those floaters, I don’t notice them until I do notice them–and then they keep hanging around–until I forget about them. They are still there, I just don’t notice them. Well, a couple of weeks ago I went to a new optometrist since my old one was a couple of hours away. After he dilated them, he spent a lot of time–I mean a LOT of time–looking into what Shakespeare called the windows to the soul. It was more time than I thought he needed.

He then showed me something abnormal about my eyes–in particular–in the back of my eyes–left and right. There was a bulging at the back. It wasn’t a detached retina–Praise God!–but, it was something that concerned him, and told me I needed to see a specialist to see if my eyes needed surgery to fix and prevent future problems. I could say I didn’t have a clue about this condition–but I remember a few months ago having this sharp pain behind my eyes–but passed it off as a sinus headache–something I have from time to time.

So, this morning at 8:15 CDT I will see the doctor for a further diagnosis. I want to say I’m not concerned–but we are talking about MY eyes and MY future vision. But then I remember the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby who wrote tons of hymns about the glory of God–though she was blind. So, I’m thinking to myself, “Self, what’s your issue? If Fanny could see God’s glory though she was “blind”, you need to keep your eyes on Jesus.”

And here’s my point for today. Whatever comes your way in life, keep your eyes, your spiritual eyes, on Jesus. The Bible has something to say about this. It comes in Hebrews chapter 12–right after that long list of people who experienced many difficulties but maintained their faith. Verses 1 and 2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

When life throws you a curve ball or a change-up, just keep your eyes on Jesus–like Fanny Crosby did. And everything will ultimately be good–God promises us this. I will SEE all of you tomorrow!

Slip And Fall

Have your feet ever slipped out from under you? Maybe ice was the culprit; or maybe it was snow; or perhaps water on the floor; or like me, maybe it was mud. I’ve slipped more times that Carter has little pills (maybe you have to be from the South to understand this analogy). About 2 months or so before the slip and fall I’m thinking about right now I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and move a large bone spur. One particular Saturday my wife Debbie wasn’t around–and the leaves in the back yard were taunting me.

So I did what I had no business doing–I grabbed my leaf blower and went to work. I was blowing them into an old pond but the pile got so big, I need a rake to finish the job. I got the rake and went to work. I got to the edge of that old pond (there wasn’t much water in it) and carefully–I said CAREFULLY–began raking the leaves into that old pond. Then it happened! Between the leaves and the mud, my feet refused to stay underneath me and down I went.

I was younger back then, so in an instant, quick as a flash, I extended my arms including the left one which had the aforementioned surgery. I don’t know why we do that–I mean–extending the arms as if they would soften the landing. Get the picture? Both arms experienced Newton’s Third Law. Something popped in that left shoulder–and the pain could be described as. . .well, it can’t be described. And almost as quick as the extension of my arms, I looked around to see if anyone saw me. Why do we do that? No one saw me fall, and through the mega voltage of pain in my shoulder, I was thankful no one did.

There’s another kind of “slipping” that is far worse. It’s when we spiritually slip and fall. We do the same things as in a physical fall–we extend our arms hoping to soften the landing (it doesn’t help) and look to see if anyone saw us fall. In spite of our best intentions as a follower of Jesus, sometimes we slip and fall–and hope no one saw or heard us. But God both saw and heard. The last one we wanted to see us fall, saw it all.

So what can we do as followers and disciples of Jesus? We have a choice. We can do a Simon Peter. . .or we can do a Judas. Remember Peter denied Jesus and Judas betrayed Jesus–neither men were “less” sinful than the other. If we ever fall (we call that sin), the choice is ours. We can put ourselves back in the presence of Jesus–or we can completely avoid His Presence. Peter was restored, but Judas wasn’t–but he could have been.

I call your attention to a particular passage of Scripture to remember when you fall. I’ve used it numerous times and can testify that it works! It’s found in 1 John 1:9–“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” God sees us every time we fall. So, instead of looking around the next time you fall, look up. Own your mess. Tell God you were wrong–and that you want to change. And HE will be faithful to forgive you and help you back up again!

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: A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies

16) There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:
19) a false witness who pours out lies

Proverbs 6:6, 19 (New Living Translations

And it seems like I’ve come back at a time when–well a time when I am the most guilty one. I promised I was back–and not leave again. Well, it seems I did–and Solomon’s words hit me square between the eyes. Excuse me, I need to wipe the blood off my face and get a couple of stitches.

OK, I’m back from God’s Mercy Emergency Room. This started out as the things that God finds disgusting; and I might as well finish it before I start off on another tangent of my (in)famous random thoughts. And the next detestable thing God hates is what I did–rather what I didn’t do. The sting I feel from this disgusting thing comes from the word Solomon used for lies. It is kāzāḇ and here is the meaning: “untruth, falsehood, deceptive thing”.

Let’s do a high school biology dissection of this word–and on yours truly broken promise of using this gift and passion of writing that God has given me:

  1. Untruth: My intentions were to keep on writing. But the reality is I stopped. So my actions reveals that statement to be UNtrue. Intentions do not reveal the truth. It takes actions! Strike one against me!
  2. Falsehood: The Hebrew word for falsehood is šeqer and on of its meanings is: “in vain”. My promise to write was in vain, and there can be no justification for my lack of character to keep that promise. Strike two against me!
  3. Deceptive Thing: It was this part of the word that really got to me. For the few of you who enjoy my writing, I deceived you. Deception is–well deceptive–it describes trickery and betrayal. And for this, I humbly and contritely ask for your forgiveness. Strike three! I’m out!

Some people intend to tell lies; but not all of us intend to tell lies. Yet, it is what we end up doing. Intentions doesn’t soften the hard blow of reality–if we are truly seeking to be a Disciple and Follower of Jesus. If anything, it makes the blow of Truth, the very value we ignored, hurt even more. We can thank this to the Holy Spirit. He does excellent work in this area–speaking from my experiences.

So, what can I do, since I have done this detestable thing to God? I have two options:

  1. I can believe Satan (who is full of lies) that I’m so messed up that I might as well give up.
  2. Or I can believe God, who says “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me.” (Isaiah 1:18-19)

I think I will believe God. Take it from the one who knows how it feels when we become deceptive–Keep those commitments and promises; whether you make them to another person or to God, Himself.

I’ll see y’all tomorrow–and THAT’S the Truth! God helping me.

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.