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I’ll do it later

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piston pump of a soap dispenser/ de: Kolbenpum...

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I have repeatedly asked myself a question for ages some time now and more than once a day.  The question is . . .

How many times am I going to get hit in the chest with soap from the dispenser before I fix the clogged dispenser tube?

Not a hard job, right?  So why do I think about it, even while I have the water running to do the job, and still walk away?  Laziness? Procrastination?

Well, I can no longer ask myself this question, because I finally did it.  I removed the top, ran it under hot water to melt the soap clogging it, squirted it a few times to make sure, replaced the top, and squirted a couple more times for good measure.  Even with all the squirting factored in, the job took about three minutes of my time.

So why am I painting you a picture of my domestic moment?

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An In-N-Out Burger 8x8 animal style for the ar...

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First thought:  I wonder if my arteries look like that?

How often do we consistently do or not do things that effect our health?  We get a report from the doc that our cholesterol is high, the blood pressure is up there, the spare tire is bigger than the entire car, . . . .

How often do we think, “I’ll do something about that later?” as we allow the problem to get worse and worse.

How often do we believe we will be the exception to the rule?  –up until that moment when something serious goes wrong?

I am not a health nazi.  I believe there is a lot af fad bad advice out there, and too many people jumping on the ‘if only’ bandwagon, the cycle of effort, failure, depression, more effort. . . .  That said, however, there are things we know will harm us and steps we can take to prevent or help a physical problem.  We know and yet procrastinate.  This is dangerous.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

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Second thought:   What about clogged emotions?

How often do we stuff something back because we don’t want to hurt others, fear the consequences of honesty, or any of the many other excuses we use for doing so?  Stuffed anger leads to bitterness.  Stuffed love leads to despair.  I am not saying it is appropriate to just blurt out your feelings or emotions in every situation, but there are other ways to deal with emotions besides stuffing them.  We can journal for one.  The point is that if we continue to ignore emotions and not deal with them, we get clogged.  Then, just as the soap shot out past the clog to get all over me, our emotions shoot out and land all over everyone around.  This too is dangerous.

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Mental floss: clear the clogs

Third Thought:  Mental clogs?  What are mental clogs?  I would say this harks back to the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ adage.  We put bad, worthless, or harmful things into our mind and they become clogged to the good things.  Just as pornography has been shown to change a person’s brain over time, many other things, imbibed consistently, change how we think.  From there it changes how we believe and then how we act.  When we act out our new thought patterns and beliefs, our actions burst out all over others.  This too is dangerous.

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Question mark in Esbjerg

Question mark in Esbjerg (Photo credit: alexanderdrachmann)

Fourth Thought:  Can we be spiritually clogged?

Yes, we can.  If we have never met God on a personal basis (known in my circles as salvation), we are clogged.  If we are not spending time with God, not spending time in the Word, in prayer, and fellowshipping with others, we are clogged. It is only as we apply the heat of the Word, prayer, felowship, and time in intimacy with God that we can unclog ourselves spiritually.  Spiritual clogs are probably the most dangerous of all.

Are you clogged?  Do you know you’re clogged and yet put off doing anything about it?  Do you know why?  What are some other things that clog us or unclog us?  What clogs you?

 

Stuffing it in

I can’t let it go

my rage presses

fast at my heart

I fear the

consequences

will show

the ugliness

clogging me up

Disrespect unchallanged

and back turned

on God

these and more

keep me

from my best

when I turn

and surrender

let it out

let it go

then I find

myself open

to all.

A post in reaction to Miro’s poem: Christians

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Christians  by Miro

Today I read this poem by Miro about “Christians”.   It made me cry because it’s way too true.  I am sure there have been times that I have inadvertently harmed the cause of Christ.  I would never do it on purpose, though.  I hate that “Christians” often give Christians a black eye in the eyes of the world.

I am not talking about legitimate righteous anger.

I am not talking about calling sin sin.

I am talking about Christians who talk the talk in church, and then forget about God through the rest of the week.

Some of these people are well meaning Christians who have no idea they are giving a bad empression.  Others are goats among the sheep.  They have no real relationship with the Father, only giving lip service to something they don’t really own.  I have recently learned that just because I know the truth, does not mean it is the correct time or place to trot it out there, for it, and Christ will be rejected.  If someone asks, I will speak the truth, but I have learned (I hope) to pick my battles a little more wisely.

 

The Bi-polar Posters/Speakers

One issue involves facebook, other social sites, and words.  OMG means Oh, My God!  Taking the name of the Lord in vain is not OK for Christians, even if it is in an acronym,  and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who see it and hear it.  Then there are those that praise God with their mouth on Sunday and then tell or snicker at dirty jokes through the week.  Still others will post these wonderful, godly things and then post something that is inappropriate or off color.  We post our praises and then confess our adiction to shows that dishonor God.  God calls this “double-minded”, but the world calls it two-faced.

Rage-a-holics

These people are ready at the drop of a hat to start spewing rage and hatred at others, rather than see them as God sees them.  They rail against sinners for being sinners rather than loving them to Christ.  I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for anger, there is.  I am saying that we need to make sure this is anger God approves.  One verse I try to keep in mind as I negotiate these waters is this:

“The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  James 1:20

 

I’m better than you priders

This is a hard line to walk if we want to come across as humble rather than prideful.  We are not better than anyone else; we’re just forgiven.  This happens between “Christians” as well as between Christians and the world.   Slipping into hypocrit pharisee mode is too easy, and Christians must guard their heart against allowing this to happen.  When Christ is in our hearts and we pursue a deepening relationship with Him, we let go of pride as we realize just how wretched we really are in comparison to him.  Pride comes when we compare ourselves to others; humility comes when we compare to Christ.

The state of the world

The state of our world is not the fault of sinners doing what sinners do.  It is the Christian who has responsibility for, “if my people, which are called by my name, shal humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

This post is really a step outside of the norm, but I don’t do it to condemn.  I have been guilty just like everyone else.  We are sinners who will continue to struggle with our sin nature for as long as we are on this earth, but we can do better.  This is a call to repentence for all of us.  It’s ok if you disagree with me, but I hope those of us who claim the name “Christian” you will seek to remove those quotes by living a life that points others to Christ.  When we earnestly seek His face, we will become the salt and light that makes the world want to know what’s going on.

For those of you who have kindly taken the time to read this post even though you don’t claim the name Christian, just be patient with us.  It’s easy to discern the real from the fake if you watch close enough.  Christianity, truly lived, draws others to want what this person has that makes him or her so different.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Mark 14: 38 ESV

::stepping off my soapbox::                               I love you all!

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?

It’s all about the heart, Part II

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If you missed the previous post, you can see it here:  It’s all about the heart.

Derek Mansker of http://nothrowaways.wordpress.com/  made a great comment on the previous post and brought up a good point about a concept that confuses even the most knowledgeable of Biblical Scholars.  Here is his comment:

“Well think about it like this: What does it mean to be free? We are not free in the sense we can do whatever we want. We are free to operate within a certain boundary- God’s. This is a great place to be, but there is that pesky me first attitude that gets in the way.”

Two questions that comes to mind:  Free from what? or Free to what?   We will expand on this in further posts.

In Christ, we are free.  Our sins have been paid for.  Does that mean we should continue to sin?  Paul asks this question in Romans 6:1-8 [v1].  How do we explain this in an understandable way?

1.  We who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, are free from the eternal consquences of our sin.  Our sin has been paid in full, and we no longer need to fear eternal separation from God and paying for our own sin.

2.  We are free of the law of sin.  We live in grace, not the law.  Does that mean we toss the law out the window?  Absolutely not!

a) Our physical bodies are still subject to the physical consquences of sin.  God’s law gives us guiderails to keep us safe and help us live the best life possible here on earth.  If we continue in habitual sin, our bodies will pay the consequences and we may not live as long on the earth as we could have.  We will also have a lot of misery in our lives because the consequences of sin, in the physical body, will still visit us.  If we cheat on our spouse, we will face consequences.  If we stuff our faces with junk food:  we will face consquences.  You get the picture.

b) We are dead to sin and are no longer chained to it to do its bidding.  I use the phrase “dead men don’t eat donuts” to remind me that I am dead in Christ and do not need the things I used to crave.  This takes us back full circle to the posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”.  We feed what we treasure.

c) We have lost our desire to sin.  If we have truly understood what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, we will want to follow Him, thank Him, and become just like Him.  We will also want to please Him.  “Sin” or whatever you want to call it goes against our very nature as His children.  We are free, but we make the choice every day to do what is pleasing and right (or not) based on our love of the Savior and whether we have been feeding the spirit or the flesh.

d) We have Scripture – God’s love letter to us – and the Holy Spirit within to show us what we need to do and why.  It goes back to those guardrails we discussed previously.  The Bible lays out the things that will harm us and the things that will bless us.  The Holy Spirit whispers to us to go to the right or the left.  We are not on our own.

Imagine you bought a new flat screen television.  No, you didn’t buy it completely put together, you bought the parts and plan to put it together yourself.  Even with a guidebook, this would be a difficult if not impossible for the average Joe or Jane to do.  But, in this case, your best friend puts televisions together for a living.  He knows exactly what each piece is, where it goes, and why it goes there.  I’m guessing that even the most technologically impaired among us could get the job done with this helper.

So, is this concept understandable as I explained it here? 

How would you explain it? 

Are there other reasons for following ‘the rules’ even if you’re free to choose not to? 

Do you have other questions I (or other readers) might tackle? 

What do you think?

It’s all about the heart

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When it comes to the things we want to do or do not want to do, we want what we want.  Anyone who has spent any time at all with a 2 year old knows the truth in this statement – we do not like it when others put boundaries on us.  Hopefully, as we grow, we learn to accept boundaries from authority figures (including God).  This is true when it comes to living pure/holy/moral lives as well.   There are several ways to respond when God/Parents/Authority figures say “No!” (or do/go/stop/etc.).

You can’t make me!     It wasn't me!

I have a grandson, Roland, who has just turned 4.  This child is and was rebelious from the get go.  He simply does not want to do something if others tell him to do it and wants to do it if they tell him not to.  In teaching him to say “I’m sorry” after accidentally hurting someone (which happens quite often), we came to a head-to-head crisis.  At the crisis point, I had him on my lap, holding him there until he said “I’m sorry”.  It was a 45 minute struggle, and I was certainly tempted to let it go.  However, I understood that this was an important thing for him to learn.  Fortunately, I am stronger than he is.  Finally, after 45 minutes, he said, “I’m sorry.”   Game over, Grandma wins.  What Roland didn’t realize is that he won too.  He had learned a lesson about boundaries and doing what’s right.

Where’s the line?

Another incident that sticks in my mind with Roland happened early on.  The molding between the family room and kitchen is the “no cross zone” at our house (at the time).  I remember well the day Roland walked up to the line.  Grandma said, “No!” firmly.  He turned, looked at me full in the eyes, and stuck his toe over the line.  His eyes said, “This is a challenge.  Do you mean what you say or not?”  Grandma took the challenge, and Roland discovered that even a toe over the line is disobedience.

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forhead; When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid! unknown

The distraction technique

The next disobedience technique comes from my not-quite-two granddaughter.  She learned early, that if she could distract the adult telling her no, she could reach up with the other hand, swipe the item, and run like a bunny rabbit.  She thought she could get away with it if she wasn’t seen.  Of course, this didn’t work very often.  Sometimes it does work because parents can’t always see what their children are doing.  We sometimes think we can pull one over on God too, but He is never distracted.  In fact, He knew  you were going to do it before you did!

Sneaky fingers

Look over there, Gramma!

The next techinique, same granddaughter and similar in style, involves what I call sneaky fingers.  Marilyn is not allowed to touch the keys on my computer.  Of course she wants to do so– really bad.  So her techinque is to stand and watch as if she has no interest in the keys.  Soon a little hand slowly starts moving up toward the keys, slowly creeping upward with a final rush toward a key or two if she makes it close enough.  This is a form of distraction and attempt to hide her intent as well.

What??????

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The next technique I’ve seen in every child I’ve ever had in my care, but right now we’re discussing my two preschool grandchildren as my examples.  My 4 yo grandson was just potty trained.  Yes, it’s true.  He did not want to do it, and he fought every attempt.  His habit was to sneak off in a corner, an attempt to fly under the radar, and poop his pants.  As soon as he finished, he’d go right back to playing until the stench told on him.  Anytime kids are quiet . . . .   Marilyn is really good at this.  If she wants to do something, play with something, taste something, and has been told no, she will get very quiet, fall off the adult radar, and do whatever it was she wanted to do.  This falls into the category of deciet and an attempt to hide the ‘sin’ as well.

Obedience with a but…

The final category involves obedience, but with a heart attitude.  Outwardly, the obedience happens.  Inwardly, not so much.  Marilyn, when told no, stops what she’s doing and gets this hooded, gear-churning look on her face.  She will stand there like that for a minute or more.  She obeys, but Grandma knows she’s doing it out of duress and not because she wants to do it.  This is the category many Christians fall into:  I will obey you God, but in my heart, I’m really doing what I want.  This is the most insidious of the categories as well, because the attitude of disobedience is still there.

How's your heart?It’s all about the heart

Our determination to follow the rules, whether society’s, parents, or God’s, often begins and ends in the heart.  We see a police car and obey the speed limit while in view.  The minute we’re past, how many step on the gas and go right back to disobedience?  Do we think it’s OK to do something if no one is looking?  Do we step our toe over the line to see if we will get away with it?

Actions (or inactions) have consequences

Every thing we do or don’t do, every choice we make, every time we do something we know is not good for us or we’ve been told not to do, has a consquence.  The consequences can be mild or major, they may happen now or later, but they will happen.  Some of us decide experiencing the consquences is worth the momentary pleasures of the disobedience.  Some of us obey — with a but.  Some things have consequences for others.   We think we’re not hurting anyone else by our choices, but that’s not true.  Nothing we choose to do (or not do) happens in a vacuum.  Your choices effect (and affect) others.

So, what’s the point?  Ah, let’s go there.  There is a reason parents give rules.  There is a reason society gives rules.  There is a reason God gives rules.  Are they for our hurt?  Absolutely not! {Disclaimer:  I am aware some human beings may do things for our hurt – we’re talking about the rest of them.}  Do children understand all the rules their parents give them?  If only!  We may not always understand why we need to do or not do something.  Our obedience is not dependent on our understanding.  A right heart obeys because it is the right thing to do.  Understanding comes later.

Do you have a story about one of these techniques or others I have not included?

Have you ever used one of the above techniques or others to try to get your way?

Do you justify breaking rules or laws because you don’t agree with it or because it won’t hurt anyone?

What is your heart attitude?  Are you chronically disobedient?  Do you obey with a but…? 

Feel free to add your stories, questions or comments to this post.  You may be included in a future post 🙂

The following is for fun.  Having the granddaughter here…..

Stand Up – Veggie Tales

What is purity?

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How many bugs parts. . . until it's impure?

How many bug parts, aphids, thrips, rat hairs, feces, eggs, magots, etc., are acceptable in your food?  According to the FDA, you can have a minimum of these and more in your food before they declare it unclean.  You have probably eaten the equivalent of several bugs (and more) already this year.  Examples (via FDA website):  Pizza and other tomato sauces can have up to 34% mold count; Spinach can have up to 50 aphids, thrips or mites per  100 grams; Peanut butter must have less than 30 insect parts for every 100 grams.  Ok, now that you are sick to your stomach ready to barf aware of what the FDA considers ‘pure’, what do you think?

Purity, as defined by Dictionary.com includes:

(1) the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.

(2) freedom from any admixture or modifying addition.

(3) ceremonial or ritual cleanness.

(4) freedom from guilt or evil; innocence.

(5) physical chastity; virginity.

Not gonna happen

We would like (without success) for our food to be absolutely pure.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to keep contaminants from our food — if not along the process, then in your own home.  I won’t give you details in the interest of keeping you here instead of running to the bathroom causing you to never eat again.  But what about us?  God wants us to be pure.  What does that mean?  Is it even possible?

The basics

Just like our food, we allow contaminants in our lives that mar our purity.  Pornograpy is a huge contaminant.  Television, movies, games, etc. can contain images and words that contaminate.  According  to one article, Neilson claims the average child has seen 8,000 murders on TV by the time elementary school is completed. By age 18, that number jumps to 200,000.  The article also brings up the matter of commercialism.  Commercials are made to draw the child.  He sees. He wants. He demands. Often, he gets.  The child is constantly bombarded with images of items she does not have, teaching her that she is wanting in some way if she does not have these things — leading to coveting, envy, jealousy, discontent and more. These are only a few of the examples of “garbage” we willingly allow to go into the minds of our children.  Adult minds are not immune from the effects either.

Bombarded with impurities

Just as it is difficult to have a pure food item, it is difficult to remain pure in a world where we are constantly bombarded with impurities.   So how do we stay pure in an impure world?  Just like our food, it is impossible to be 100% pure in most ways, but if we don’t strive for purity, we will land far from it.  Whether of body or spirit, purity is a worthy goal to pursue.

How do we pursue purity?

1.  Guard our minds from impurities.  One way to do this is to turn off the television, choose not to see that movie, choose not to listen to that off-color joke, choose well the people we hang with, and stay away from certain web sites, among other things.  I could also mention putting on the armor of God here.

2. Fill our minds with the pure things.

  • Scripture:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”  2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)  Meditating, reading, studying of scripture, thinking about good things
  • Thinking on good things:  “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 (KJV)

Our lives will reflect what we fill them with.  Choosing purity must be intentional.  It will not happen if you just kind of hope it does.  It is a choice.  And along with the choice, must come the feeding of purity and the starving of impurity (See previous posts:  “Getting our feed on” and “Starvin Marvin”).  This is true whether you are in a relationship with God or not.  What you feed in your life will show:  you are what you feed on! {You reap what you sow, Garbage In = Garbage Out, . . .}

What are some ways you choose purity?

What are some ways you drift along, allowing impurities in?

What are some ways to make purity intentional?

What does purity mean to you?

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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