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CBs: A does not equal B

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I hope you all won’t mind me taking a moment to address my new pet peeve.  I’ll keep it short and sweet.  Dealing with all the paperwork involved in applying for Medicaid for my dad has been a frustrating experience at best.  Any who have faced this Goliath or any beaurocracy know what I mean.

1).  Policy should be the same and knownby all.  Not my first time to waste a few in the paper chase, toda I showed up at the VA to attain a copy of my dad’s POA for health care.  I had called ahead to fin out if I could do so and what I needed.  I was informed it would be no problem.  Arriving at the VA, I discover that since my name is secondary and not primary, they will not give me a copy.  If you wish to avoid frustrating people, especially at a business or church, make sure you don’t have one person saying one thing while others say something else.

I have determined I will take down the full name of the person on the phone and ask them to explain the discrepancyyo the person who will not do what the other promised. Will it work?  I doubt it, but I will feel better.

 

I often feel like I’m putting together a puzzle without the picture on the box.  To complicate things, others are holding pieces of the puzzle.  If I ask for them, I will often get one and find out later there were more behind their back.  My dad’s memory problems + beaurocracy +lack of knowledge +  an argumentative family member = a crazy lady???

 

Fortunately, I know God has got this and is allowing it all for a reason.  I don’t have to be afraid of the paperwork giant, for I am not alone.  I am also not in charge.  And guess what I was reminded of today?

 

I am not a Savior!  I will do my best, but the outcome is not in my hands — whew!  I am also prepared to remind others that I am not a savior as well.  Eyes off me please.

 

Do you ever get frustrated by things that just don’t seem to go the way you think they should? (I’m sure that’s a big duh!)

 

Do you ever have a savior complex and take on responsibility for thins that are not yours?

 

Any nuggets of advice for going against this particular giant?

 

I do not go to battle alone 🙂   The battle belongs to the Lord…

Communication busters: How do you treat those with whom you disagree?

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Today I read a post from a man I “met” on facebook and admire greatly.  It got me thinking, and I want to share it with you.  His first line:
As we’ve discussed before, how often do we or others tend to dismiss others (now-a-days calling them dumb or stupid or worse) if they disagree with us, especially about issues we are passionate about?  I frequently run into people on the internet who will absolutely act like I am the worst person in the world because I have an opinion they disagree with.  So what?  Do you agree with everyone you know?  If you are hanging out only with people who agree with you, you are in big trouble.  We need others in our life to debate with over the issues.   For the Christian, it is even more important to beware of this tendency.  God gave us free will, so we have the right to be wrong.  He may not remove the consequences for our choices, but He will not force us to jump on board either.  (See the discussion on freedom in Part V of the It’s all about the heart series.)
What God sees
God looks beyond the bluster and sees the heart.  If the person is genuine,  their belief system doesn’t make them horrible people.  God loves us in all our sin, and He wants us to show that love in how we interact with those who disagree with us.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.  It does mean we need to treat them with love and absolute respect.  We all have many parts to us.  We all have flaws.  We all believe things that are not true or that others believe are not true.  Instead of tossing a person out as ‘unworthy’ because of something you don’t like, love them anyway and agree to disagree.  My favorite verse, Romans 5:8, says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  If God loves us in all our sin, we must show love to others as well.  God loves sinners.  He doesn’t like sin, but He does love sinners.  I, for one, am SO glad He does!  Sometimes finding common ground can help us see beyond the conflict to the heart of this person.
“While we were  yet sinners, . . . .”

How can others see Christ in us unless we show love?  We do not have to agree with someone to love them.  We do not have to approve of their opinions, values, beliefs or actions to love them.   True love shows respect, even in the midst of the most extreme disagreements.
What do others see in you?
When people interact with you, do they see something different?  Does the love of Christ shine out in how you treat them?  Or, do you give them reinforcement that Christians are rabid haters?  Even taking Christianity out of the equation – do you show yourself as a person worthy of respect by treating others with respect?  How do you feel when others respond in rage to everything you say?  How do you feel when others call you names or curse at you because you don’t believe as they do?  This is a good place to trot out   apply the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We also need to be aware of the minimize mine/maximize yours effect and keep our own backyard clean not spend all our time criticizing the leaves in the neighbor’s yard if ours is full of garbage.
Be a diligent seeker
If we have in the back forefront of our mind that our goal is to bring glory to Christ, not to win an argument, we should do well.  As a Christian, you may be the only Christ others see – you want to come as close to the real thing as possible.  Even if you are not a Christian, you represent yourself and possibly others.  What others think may not be important to you, but you don’t want to drive away those who could enhance your life.  Character, integrity and honor are characteristics everyone should strive for.   For the Christian, it is even more important to represent Christ in a way that draws others instead of turning them away.
What it’s all about

The world’s mentality is often:  please me!  For the Christian, however, the mentality and the driving force should be: please Christ!  The picture I chose for this section is “God’s Garden”, and it was chosen for a reason.  We are all part of God’s garden.  He planted us, sustains us, and harvests us.   Plants tend to grow toward the light, and we should do the same.  If our face is always turned toward the sun/Son, as we seek the warmth of His love.  Just like a child seeks to please the parent, we seek to please our heavenly Father.   We need to remember the other flowers are watching too, whether from the church garden or the worlds. None of us are perfect, but we can do better than what is often found out there today.  It’s about that diligent seeking.

A huge thank you to Al Hartman for your inspiration for this post and permission to quote you.

Do you treat people with respect and dignity, even when they don’t agree with you?

Why do you think this is important?

How do you handle it when others treat you with disrespect?

Why do you think people treat others who disagree with them with disrespect?

If you are a Christian, what have you done to reflect Christ?

What are some things you have seen Christians do or say to reflect Christ (+) or gave Him a black eye (-). 

Up is down

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Two things have happened recently that made me angry.  I’m going to tell you what they are, and then I’m going to tell you the real reason I’m upset about it.  It’s really not about the happenings at all, but what it says about our society.

Meet the Nazis: # 1

That word may be a little right-on-the money over-the-top, but some people take things way too far.  Somewhere in my world recently, a lady decided to take someone else to task publicly because of a paper towel.  The statement did NOT need made in the context, but the person had to get their digs in that they are better than others because they would not support a less-green option.  My first thought was “get over yourself!”  But in today’s world, we see this more and more.

It’s not easy being green

Taking care of our world is a God-given responsiblilty.  However, some have stepped over the line and made it more like a religion than a philosophy.  They think they have the right to shoot the infidels censor everyone around them and hate chastise look down on others who are not as “green” as they.  How arrogant, but that’s not the only reason this infuriates causes concern.

Meet the Nazis:  # 2

Watching an entertainment ‘news’ a show the other night where they were disecting Paula Deen.  Paula has a cooking show on down-home, stick-to-your-ribs, full of good stuff food.  This is an entertainment venue, and Paula repeatedly states that she does not eat like that in her every day life. {My husband loves her, and I’m too busy writing to complain and turn the channel.}  Anyway, two women were discussing Deen’s recent ‘come out’ about having diabetes.  One was totally trashing her for being a bad example…..   It really does not matter what her reasoning was.  What does matter is that she came across as someone who wanted Paula tarred-and-feathered  dipped-in-honey-and staked-to-an-ant-hill  excommunicated, uhm, castigated for her heinous act of cooking food that tastes great but is “bad” for you, while keeping her diabetes a secret.

It’s not easy being perfect

Good grief woman.  She did not steal the crown jewels or kill someone.  Talk about over-kill.  I don’t care if Paula Deen wants to cook with fat and butter on her real-life ENTERTAINMENT show.  I don’t care what she chooses to eat in her real life.  She can eat what she wants and cook what she wants – Diabetic or not – it is her choice.  I understand there’s more to it than that, but this woman was just way too rabid about something that really doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things.  Don’t like it?  Then don’t support her, but don’t flog her at the post of public opinion, expecting her to crawl under a rock and hide in shame for the rest of her life.  Get over yourself!  Guess what?  I am smart enough to know not to eat like that on a regular basis.

So what’s the real deal?

The real deal is that this is common fare today.  Up is down, black is white, good is bad….  There are so many issues that really matter.  Do we really need to run other people’s lives and sit in judgement on things that are really more personal than public?   It’s ok to have sex with anyone and everyone whenever you want – don’t judge that!  It’s ok to trash others in order to get ahead – don’t judge that!  It’s OK to abort babies – don’t judge that!  Don’t call something a sin – don’t judge that!  Don’t do anything at all to make someone wake up to reality ‘uncomfortable’ – don’t judge that!  We have to be politically correct; we are expected to hide our religious beliefs and practices because others don’t like it; we are called names and worse if we dare stand up against such things as abortion or sodomy or drama (backbiting/slander/gossip/etc.) or polygamy or …..

That’s another post.  I hope, whether you agree with me on certain issues or not, you can see that our values have become skewed.  Many tout out that “do not judge” statement, but God did not say “do not judge” out of context.  He said:  “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  John 7:24   In other words, we are to judge with a pure heart, with nobleness, honesty and justice, making sure our own back yard is clean before trying to help others clean out their’s.  We aren’t to judge motives and we are not to judge as if we are better than others.  We are to judge with discernment.

A really good  assessment of the Biblical mandate about judging can be found here.

The point is that society has tilted and expends way too much energy on side issues and distractors, becoming almost rabid in their desire to slam those who don’t “measure up” to their self-righteous standards, while leaving alone the things that matter.

Pulling in my claws  stepping off my soap-box  Finished with my diatribe, I will leave it up to you what to make of this post.  I’d love to know what you think, so take time to comment if you please.  Hate mail may be sent to my e-mail which you should be able to easily find here somewhere.  It is public on this site.  If  you can’t find it, ask me for it in comments.

The three deadliest words in the world

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The three deadliest words in the world :  “It’s a girl!”

When I read the above article this morning, Ann Marie Dwyer’s post on “Going Global” the other day.  She discusses the continued senseless deaths from poverty all over the world and encourages us to do our part.

Zionica states that, “India and China are said to eliminate more female infants than the number of girls born in the US each year.” and quote one woman who confesses to getting rid of 8 baby girls!

I understand the culture values males, and even understand somewhat the reasoning behind it, but I do not understand senseless slaughter of girls, from pre-born to adult, as if they are a n0n-valuable, throw-a-way, unwanted trash.

It is sad that people are dying every day from poverty and its resultant diseases.  It’s even more sad that people deliberately take the lives of children because they are not seen as valuable.

In the US and elsewhere, the selection process for deciding which children to have and which to abort is different.  You may make the cut if you’re a girl, but what if you have a disability or you are inconvenient?

How sad; how sad; how sad.

It’s all about the heart, Part IV

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If you missed previous posts on this series, you can find them here:     It’s all about the heart;  Part II ;  Part III.

Heading in a different direction, Ann Marie Dwyer, or “Red” as she is called at Mommas Money Matters went a different direction in her comment on part I of “It’s all about the heart.”

Here is the pertinent sentence:

“I often engage in civil disobedience because we have legislators who have no concept of the actual function of society outside their cloistered Senate walls.” ~Ann Marie Dwyer

civil disobedience   (as defined at Dictionary.com)        noun

1. the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes. Compare noncooperation ( def. 2 ) , passive resistance.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The USA was founded on civil disobedience as people rebelled against unfair laws.  As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, January 16, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about where civil disobedience comes in.  You can find a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here:  Biography.   MLK, Jr. is one of our finest examples of civil disobedience.  His goal and his dream was to have a country where everyone was free and equal, and his leadership through civil disobedience helped bring us closer to that goal.
When is it OK to disobey?
I would never, ever promote violent civil disobedience, but there are times when a government’s policies and laws go against a person’s beliefs or the good of it’s constituents.  Choosing civil disobedience is not a matter to be taken lightly.  The cause must be a good one.  However, there are times when to obey would mean disobeying one’s own conscience or God’s law.  When we see grave injustice or evil, is it time to be part of the change?  Is there a higher mandate in some cases?
Quotes from MLK, Jr. on civil disobedience

►We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germanywas “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungarywas “illegal.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from BirminghamJail,” Why We Can’t Wait, 1963

►Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.,March 22, 1956

More quotes by MLK, Jr.

Other interesting quotes on the subject

►If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~Bishop Desmond Tutu

►I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. ~Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
►Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. ~Albert Einstein
►When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders. ~Veterans Fast for Life
►You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it. ~Malcolm X
►If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849
►We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong…. There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them. ~Alexander Bickel
►Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.  ~Henry David Thoreau
►It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and the vice of obedience. ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays, 1911
What do you think?
Do you agree or disagree with these quotes?
Where is the line?  Is there one?
And finally, a reminder that civil disobedience is not easy:

►It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire

What are your thoughts on this quote?
What would you consider worthy of civil disobedience?
What would you risk for your cause?
I apologize for the formatting.  WordPress is acting up.  Angie

It’s all about the heart, Part III

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In case you missed them:   All about the heart, Part 1    All about the heart, Part II

Often my “Christian” posts are a part of my study for teaching my 7th, 8th and 9th graders in Sunday School at my Church.  The same is true with Part I of this series, and follows the posts about feeding the flesh and purity.  Today I used this blog loosely as my lesson.  You see last week we learned about Purity – what it is, why it’s good for us, etc..   After class, the students were all in the hall listening to a joke that was questionable.  I’m not sure they even understood why it was questionable or why doing this right after a lesson on purity would bother their SS teacher.

The trial of “Joke Teller”   

Our first activity of the day was to put “Joke Teller”, a former student who can handle being an object lesson, on trial.  We talked about what would make the joke “wrong”.  They immediately understood that it’s off color nature was not good.  It took a while to pull out of them, however, that the joke uses the Lord’s name in vain twice.  (See the 10 Commandments)  Once they understood what that meant, it was easy to lead them to a guilty verdict, not just for “Joke Teller” but for themselves too for listening (and retelling).  The joke may not seem such a big deal to many, but it was an object lesson opportunity this teacher could not pass up!

Line? What line?

Where’s the line?

For our next activity, we divided into three teams.  Each team had yellow electrical tape on the end of a table as close to the end as possible.  The goal was for each team to compete to be the one to get their car closest to on the tape without going over.  The three winners then faced off for an over-all winner.  We then discussed part of the ways we push disobedience (as per Part I) where we try to go as close to ‘the line’ as possible or even push our toe over it.  One point I wanted them to understand was that when we walk on the line all the time, it’s very easy to fall over the line.

If you can’t see me, I’m not guilty

Our next activity involved a game where a student was blindfolded and placed in a chair.  One at a time, other students were given a chance to try to steal a treasure from under the chair without

undercover

getting caught.  The seated person could use hands and feet and movement to try to tag anyone sneaking around them.  If a ‘thief’ was tagged, he or she became the owner of the treasure.  Then we broke down the next items on the list of ways we disobey (per Part I) by sneaking and thinking that “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”.   We used driving as an example (even though none of my students are drivers yet).  I asked them, “What happens when a person is driving along (over the speed limit or not) and they spot a police car?”  Answer:  “Slow down!”  Question 2:  “What does the person do after they get over the hill and away from the police?”  Answer:  “Speed back up!”  {Come on, you know you’re all guilty 😉 }

 

Integrity is what we do when no one is looking

Too many of us fall into the mentality that our ‘hidden’ faults aren’t that bad.  One danger here, aside from believing we can cross the line if no one sees us, is that we often tend to judge others for their failings without considering the extent of our own, especially the ones no one else knows about.

Did it ‘stick’?       

I get it already!

I sure like to think it did this time.  Games are a great way to get across to young people as object lessons.  At the end, as I was winding down and bringing them to the conclusion of the lesson, the students each had two coins in front of them they were not allowed to touch (fake ones).  The idea was for others to try to take the other’s coins without getting caught.  That didn’t happen, but as we talked, a couple students started to do/say something not right, and I saw them thought-check themselves.  For me – that’s a win!

I wanted to share the purpose of some of my recent posts for those who care to know.  You each get to make your own choices and suffer your own consequences.  I hope we’ve all learned something as we’ve walked through this together.

How important is integrity to you?

What are some other ways to show these concepts?

Do you think “not caught” is the same thing as “not guilty”?

What do you think of this series and is there anything you would like to see here?

Are there other questions or concepts you feel I could explore with my class?

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

Starvin’ Marvin’

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Have you ever wondered why we fall into the same old patterns of behavior – even tough we don’t want to and are determined not to?  The previous post gives us part of the answer – feeding the “flesh” makes it grow in its ability to control you.   The other part of the answer is to not just stop feeding, we also have to take an active role in starving it.

Garbage In

One of the first ways we starve our flesh is by stopping the inflow of garbage that comes in through our eyes and ears.  That movie that tempts you to look at porn or fantasize about someone other than the spouse, that song that spews foul words,  that game that causes us to spend too much time away from our loved ones or yelling at them to get out of the way or be quiet, that computer site that also eats our time and adds its own temptations.

What makes it garbage?

All of the above and more are not inherently bad things.  There are good movies, songs, video games, books, magazines, plays, television shows, etc., that are not garbage, but cause us to neglect more important things.  Maybe one thing is not your area of temptation and has no effect on you, but stymies your brother.  The important thing is too look objectively at the things we allow into our lives from the aspect of it’s content and what it does or does not cause us to do or not do.  Some things are automatically on this list from a biblical perspective, but others depend on how you use them.

Good better best.

An old saying my Mother used to use says,  “Good, better, best, put it to the test, till your good is better and your better is best.”  Some things are not wrong in and of themselves, but often we spend too much time on the good and miss out on the best.  If your time would be better spent on something else, this item needs to go on your garbage list.

Garbage out, now what?

It’s not enough just to take out the bad or stop putting garbage in. We must also start putting in the good if we want to conquer the flesh.  There’s a saying that talks about nature abhoring a vacuum.  That works here too.  If you leave an empty space, your enemy will soon find a way to fill it.  So along with taking out the garbage and cleaning house, we must bring good things into our ‘house’ to replace those bad things we threw out.

It works for all

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

If you are one of my non-Christian readers, this concept will help you as well, although the power of the Holy Spirit in the committed Christian goes a long way toward fighting fleshly desires.  The point is that replacing that garbage with beautiful furnishings of things that are just, pure, true, honest, good, and worthy of praise, helps keep that old garbage from creeping back in over time.

Discovering the counterfeit

Bank/treasury works learn to spot counterfeit money by handling real money so much that they instantly recognize a counterfeit when it passes through their hands.  Deciding what is “garbage” and what is lovely works in the same way.  We have to become so familiar with the good, with the things of God, that we instantly know when we are being fed garbage.  The enemy is very good at making the counterfeit so much like the real that many people have no idea they are eating the garbage.  But the more time you spend doing/hearing/seeing the good things, the God things, the more likely you will be able to make that distinction as you seek to starve out that fleshly nature.

You knew this was coming

Some of the things we can do, besides following the above verse, are listed below.

Using all the items at hand to keep from feeding the flesh and start starving it will help you in your walk with Christ or your search to eliminate those bad habits or sins that so easly beset us.   It may will take a lifetime, but it is worth the pursuit of purity.  Expect that the flesh will not go down easily, however, and watch out for his tactics.

Can you think of other ‘weapons’ you can use to starve the flesh?

Do you have a story of how you have (God has) defeated the flesh?

Does anything work better for you than another?

Do your intentions get in the way of your follow through?

Getting our feed on

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So how do we feed that sin nature or the negative part of ourselves?  Each of us feed in the same way and in different ways.  Even though we each have different temptations, there is “no temptation taken us, but such as is common to man.”   (  )   We are all in the same boat.  We all struggle; the struggle is the commonality in all.

The flesh has a name

Some of the sins listed in the Bible include:  lying/dishonesty, adultery/sexual sin, gossip/backbiting/slander, pride, covetousness/envy, greed, gluttony and much more.  Whatever your particular struggle, you probably feed it, without even meaning to or understanding what you do.  Maybe your ‘flesh’ is a habit, such as not taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise.  Whether your fleshly shortcoming is something you do that you shouldn’t or something you don’t do that you should, all of us have something, or many somethings, that we struggle with on a daily basis.

Becoming aware

One of the first steps toward breaking these strongholds is awareness.  Ask God to show you where you are feeding or making provision for the flesh.  Ask yourself and be open when you see yourself doing it.  For some it will help to write it down, make a list or take an ‘inventory’.  For others, a trusted friend to talk with be accountable with can help.

I can’t help it.

Chances are you will find yourself saying or thinking, “But I can’t help it” as you give in once again to the flesh.  That is a clue that at that point, your flesh has been fed and has enough strength to chain you to him once again.  If you are a human being, you have been a part of the cycle of  feeding the need, giving in to the need, remorse, trying to white knuckle it and ‘give it up’ only to start all over again.  If you are a Christian, you have been freed from the chains of this bondage, but you probably have one or more areas where you live as if you are still in bondage.

It starts in the mind

Sin (and even the bad habit) always starts in the mind.  The thought flashes in, a memory of pleasure felt, an image is seen, or something else happens to bring the desire to the mind.  Next time we’ll talk about ways to stop the cycle, but for today’s post, let’s say you begin to dwell on it, think about it, imagine it, or relive it.  Soon it is like the elephant in the room.  You can’t seem to look anywhere else until you become consumed with the need to fulfil the lust of the flesh.  Then plans are made (sometimes unconsciously) to get the ‘need’ met.   Here we go back to the garbage in/garbage out saying.  When we continue to allow things into our minds/eyes/ears that tempt us, we will continue to have the problem.

The other side of the coin.

Suppose your problem is laziness.  You know supper needs done, but you want to watch your favorite Soap or take a nap.  This works the same way – your mind begins to dwell on the nap/Soap and all the reasons why you can put off starting supper.  You sit in front of your television set, intending to just watch for a bit; your eyes droop; you start to snore.   Then, with a jerk, you wake up and see that your spouse will be home in five mintues and supper hasn’t even been started.  This is when you go into remorse mode.  You will probably think up excuses (lies) to explain why you haven’t done this.  {No calls from feminists please – it’s just an example}  Then you may make it worse by calling the pizza guy or running to McDonalds to serve your family less-than-healthy food.  The point is that giving in to the flesh involves the things we do and the things we don’t do.

What’s your struggle?

Have you ever felt helpless in the struggle or as if you are the only one?

Do you feel shame and think others would judge you if they ever found out?

Do you find yourself ‘making provision for the flesh’?

What are some ways you have fed your flesh, wrong desires, bad habits?

Have you allowed garbage in?

Feel free to share your own struggles and ideas.  Are there other questions you think I should ask?   

To be continued….

Make no provision

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In continuing our discussion on ‘making no provision for the flesh’, I want to share a cartoon I created for my Sunday School Class about not feeding the flesh.   The first page shows you.

The second page shows ‘the flesh’, our sin nature, our temptations to do wrong…

Page 3 shows our condition.  We are bound by our fleshly desires.

Page 4 shows what happens when we ask Christ into our life.

Page 5 lets us know that that carnal nature is still very present.

Page 6 shows us that we need to fight against that nature.  Paul said “the things I want to do, I don’t do and the things I don’t want to do, I do” (Paraphrase by Angie).  It’s the same with us.  We will fight this our entire lives.

Page 7 shows how we feed these fleshly desires by giving in to them, putting ourselves in a position to give in to them, and by ‘making provision’ for them.

Page 8 shows what happens when we ‘feed’ the flesh.

Page 9 shows what happens when we starve the flesh instead.

Apologies if you have to increase your screen size (Ctrl +) to read the cartoons.

All pictures drawn/created by Angela Masters Young C 2011  [with the exception of clipart on page 7 – food]

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