Thursday, 27 October 2022

Conversational Quicksand

Proverbs 6:2 You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

      I had the opportunity to step into some conversations quicksand this week. Those conversations we tend to avoid because of the possible arguments they can cause. I was with people I had not seen in a very long time. The topics of freedom rallies, cryptocurrency, vaccines, government tracking capabilities and other touchy things came up. With the Lord's grace, I was able to tip-toe by these volatile topics and change the subject without stepping into the inevitable conversational quicksand these matters bring up. Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Sinking into the neverending quagmire of uninformed opinions and rehashed rhetoric that has become irksome to many over the last few years is now something to be graciously avoided. 
      Political correctness, doublespeak, and subjects that lead to conversational quicksand have become the minefield in today's ever-increasing ideological biases that are spoken out and fought over throughout society. We can't seem to have a calm conversation without crossing someone's sacrosanct belief that they end up defending with a loud verbal diatribe that says we have just stepped into a dead zone of sticky and mercurial double-talk. Someone might have simply stated that they enjoy drinking their coffee black, and the resulting verbal tirade becomes a denunciation of how drinking black coffee is an act of exploitation against the coffee pickers of South America. Prov. 6:2 You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. The coffee drinker thinks, all I said was, "I like my coffee black, how did I end up in this screaming match about coffee pickers?" These are the erratic nuances pulsating through conversations these days. The spirit of Leviathan is working overtime to confuse mankind's ability to respectfully talk with each other. 
      The skill of communicating around a touchy subject will be a competence needed to get through a peaceful day. Learning to change the subject as fast as possible when noticing we are beginning to sink into a conversational dark pit is becoming an acquired skill. Many people are walking the razor's edge, careful not to disrupt anyone's anti-movement policy that has been taken up with full indignation. After all, we do have all of the information on all of the subjects all of the time. Ya right! Prov. 18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
      The Apostle Paul could reason and talk about complicated subjects. Paul looked for the opportunity to ingratiate himself and bring forth what he believed into the conversations of the day. He clearly stated that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, but was also able to communicate with grace his willingness to reach out to anyone looking for answers in life. Acts 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. Paul proclaimed the good news and God supplied the words needed for the occasion.
      For those who find themselves falling into a pit of - oh, oh, how did I get into this conversation? The Lord has said that He will give us the right words at the right time, which will be needed when we are being persecuted for our faith, or need wisdom for a difficult moment. Matt.10:19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. God always has the word we need for any situation, however, it will take faith to believe God speaks clearly within our hearts.
       Hearing God is also an acquired skill. We need to put quality time and heart-felt zeal into hearing the Lord so that our relationship with Christ is at the forefront of our hearts and growing in maturity. How can we share what the Lord gives us if we are not familiar with communicating with Him, or used to hearing what He sounds like in our hearts? When God is guiding our thoughts and what comes out of our mouths, conversational quicksand will become a none issue, because wisdom will be the word of the day. May we all get through these temperamental times with the wisdom and grace of God on the tip of our tongues. Amen.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Offended With God

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.

      The ever-increasing number of people who live with offendedness within their hearts are finding it difficult to live with themselves. They often have a ready-made excuse for the disquieting noise vibrating in their souls that points to the lack of peace they are feeling. We have become a people who are touchy-feely and easy to upset. We are quick to fly off the handle and think the worse before we hear the whole story. Then, whatever the reason was for being offended, it ends up aired out on every social media platform, resulting in a lifetime recording of the offence being ranted about. This has become a national pastime while seeking viewers to give the rant and rave a thumbs up or down. 2Pet. 2:18a They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting.
      The sad thing is the increasing number of offended Christians venting their gripes in the church assemblies, and then vowing to never set foot in a church again. Even though Christians have the Lord who will heal the effects of offences when the hurts are brought to God, many still choose to be offended. The healing grace that is available to all believers in Christ is not fully accepted or appropriated to initiate reconciliation. It is disheartening to see Christians living like secular people stewing in offences causing them to live miserable lives. Why is this occurring? Choosing to be offended, disgruntled, or becoming aggrieved at every little thing is a sign of immaturity, or as the writer to the Hebrews suggests - being a baby still needing milk and a soother. Heb. 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 
      We need to put on and use the whole armour of God and grow up within the expectations of our Lord. What people do not realize is that when they are offended with a person, in reality, they are offended with God. God will not allow any of His children to maintain an offence since the Lord's commandment is to forgive one another. If Christians maintain an offence in their heart, they become upset with God because they feel God is not on their side justifying their right to be offended. Therefore, in truth, they are offended with God, regardless of how they disguise their words and attitudes toward God. 
      We can see a similar example when Samuel tried to get the people of Israel to see that asking for a king rather than a God-appointed Judge would bring hardship to their lives. Samuel felt they were offended and angry with him, but in reality, God points out that it was God they had rejected. 1Sam. 8:7b They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king. To the least of these, you have done to me. God was saying, "Samuel, you are not the one they are offended with even though it feels that way. It is Me they are rejecting." God sees what is in the depth of a man's heart. In effect, when we are offended by a brother or sister in the Lord, we are offended with God Himself. 
      Rather than fighting God and demanding the right to be offended, we might want to take a lesson from Job, who thought he was right in his evaluation of the situation. Job kept defending himself in his own righteousness, and eventually saw that his self-righteousness was nothing compared to God's righteousness. He then professes a repenting statement that we too should declare. Job 42:3b Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. As someone profoundly said, “We cannot rise above something we do not name.” We will never overcome being offended until we admit to who or what we are offended with. God's will for all of us is that we are to be reconciled to each other and God. We are to repent of the offence we have picked up and leave it with God, who knows how to deal with this sin. Like all sin, offendedness was nailed to the cross and we can find forgiveness for it.
      Prov. 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence. Are you offended with your pastor? Then you are offended with God. Are you offended by your brother or sister in the Lord? Then you are offended with the Lord. Are you offended with your spouse, friend, or civic leader? Bring the offence to the Lord in prayer who will help you let it go. God's love for us is never in doubt, but He will not help us to keep sin in our hearts. If there is a side to pick, God is on His side, and we are to walk along with Him. God is truly for us and loves us, but He will not join us in upholding a transgression against Himself, others, or even ourselves. God's admonition to all Christians is to get along with all men as best as we can. Rom. 12:10 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Help us, Lord, to hand over our offences so that we may live in peace. Amen!

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Fictional Reality

Proverbs 6:18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil.      
 
      Many citizens worldwide, and notably in the United States, have found themselves having a front-seat view and becoming participants in what seems to be real-life violent video games. The freaky realization is that it is happening in real-time and in mid-daylight. In these scenes of mayhem, characters from every level of life and race are pawns being moved by master gamers. There is no on-off switch to stop or pause the game being played out. From what is taking place in the war-torn streets of Syria to the slums of downtown Los Angeles, it is like watching the progress of someone moving through game levels as they use a handheld gaming console, controlled by two major players who are named, Need and Want.  
      Shoppers coming out of a mall, carrying multiple brand-name parcels are targeted and robbed by bandits running them over using a car or truck. The robbers take everything these people have and leave them laying injured as they race away in their vehicle. Prov. 6:18 A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil. Store invasions by vandals are so violently overwhelming that the staff are walking away from their jobs to safer places. The owners of the brand-name stores are shutting their businesses down and leaving the city and state. Street muggings are being recorded on webcam video feeds, and the muggers are smiling for the cameras as they carry out their crimes. All happening on a repetitive daily basis and becoming apocalyptic. Gen. 6:5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
      It is heartbreaking to see drug-crazed zombie-like souls trudging along in the agony of their hell as they wander through the inner city slums they have become residents of. I can't help but think of all the post-apocalypse, zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, atomic accidents, and catastrophic end-of-the-world movie scenes and scenarios that now seem to be taking place before our eyes. It is as if fiction has become reality. The sad thing is the only answer the ruling ideologues can come up with is to suggest that everyone pick up a gun to defend themselves while they continue to spew out slogans to defund law enforcement officers. What are these leaders who are talking out of both sides of their mouths expecting citizens to do? Why can't they help the people who voted them into positions of power? 2Tim. 4:3a For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.
      I have recommended this on many occasions, but it bears repeating. God asks us to pray for our leaders who are in power so that God can get through to their hearts and help them make sane decisions rather than the helter-skelter choices they are making now. 1Tim. 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. The reward for taking the time to pray for our leaders in all areas of government is that we who do pray will live in God's peace. It does not mean that there will be peace in the land, but God will make sure that we will live in peace and dignity. That is an amazing trade-off for living in a precarious world full of dangers on every side. This may sound like religious fiction, but it is a holy reality that we can walk in.
      It is such a blessing that God has us looking up to Him when the world is hellbent on destruction. Luke 28:21 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near! God knew this day would come upon us and that we would need to come through it in His power. I can understand why so many folks are moving off the grid and buying acreage. I also understand why so many more people want to do the same. It is a feeling of wanting to escape to a quiet place. However, it does not matter where you go, you will still need the wisdom of God and a righteous relationship with Him to make it through life, even out in the boonies.
      We need to double down in our faith and believe the word of God that promises us that God will never leave us forsaken. Heb. 13:5b God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” As I look at all the unjust events going on around the world and watch what was once written as fiction become a form of reality being projected daily on news feeds, I have no choice but to call upon the Lord Jesus for the strength to make it through the day. This blessed assurance can only come through Christ our saviour. I cannot fabricate God's peace and confidence within my heart without Jesus living there in the first place. Thank you, Lord, for the reality of your grace and salvation that has been given to us through Christ. Lord, help us see that your love is not fiction but the real thing. Help us walk in the assurance of our salvation. Amen!

Thursday, 6 October 2022

Desperate To Believe

Proverbs 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
     
      We have gone through a lengthy dispensation of uncertainty. There is a desperation within people who want to believe in something significant or someone of strength, or anything of value. These desperate souls can become disappointed, disheartened, and depressed when their trust has been betrayed by those they believed in. At the point of betrayal, they will either admit to making the wrong choice and will learn from the experience, or double down and remain obstinant in believing the one who deceived them. When a person chooses what they want to hear regardless of what others have said, this chosen blindness to the truth is childish and can be ruinous to a person's life. Their stiff-necked attitude will cause problems. Prov. 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.      
      For example, when someone puts their faith in the words of a political leader and that leader is exposed as a fraud and has been caught in criminal acts, the trust that was in that person gets shaken. If those who put their trust in the fallen politician continue to stubbornly deny they did anything wrong, then they will also have to admit to themselves that they were wrong with their choice of candidate. Their admission to being deceived does not settle well in a person who is desperate to believe in something relevant. It reflects poorly on their self-esteem, which barely exists because they have nothing of substance to believe in. Jer. 17:5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
      In the last few years of disruptions throughout the world, there have been a lot of desperate feelings in people's souls. They are latching onto whatever they can if only to believe in something. Many people have become bitterly disappointed with government leaders. When these politicians make promises, it is often said or written in vagueness and designed to be misunderstood and therefore, can be denied, leaving the impression of being corrupt or inept. In some cases both. It is not only in the political arena that this is happening. Unethical business practices, school-board shenanigans, and condo strata groups all seem to be laced with perfidious management and double-dealings.
      Where there is no God, all is permitted and foolishness reigns. Psalm 14:1a The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Where there is no belief in God, the desperation to believe in something becomes paramount in people's lives. The fundamental need that vibrates within our existence is to believe in something. We were created in God's image and have a built-in desire to worship, believe, and express our hearts. This is what separates us from all creation. The problem we create is when we remove God from our belief system - we end up vulnerable to being deceived. This is why some of the most nonsensical things will be defended by seemingly intelligent people and will cause the strangest of choices to be clutched onto.
      When reading historical events, we sometimes marvel at the people's ignorant and silly ways they dealt with their problems, and we think, "Surely they must have seen how pathetic and irrational it was to believe in despots like Hitler, Stalin, or Mao Zedong." We smirk and mock those who once believed in ridiculous superstitions, mythical beings, and those who thought the world was flat, and yet, we are no different. To this day, we allow despots to rule and wage war and they are still arguing whether the world is flat or not. We are constantly discovering how ignorant we are and prove our folly by what we defend and insist on believing regardless of the mountain of evidence to the contrary. Rom. 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. In a hundred years from now, what will the people be laughing their heads off at the woeful choices we made and the nonsense we insisted on defending even with the evidence of the truth that surrounded us?    
      There is a high intensity of polarising views worldwide. The desperation to believe in something is causing this divergence in people's hearts and the only way it will stop is to believe in who God has given us to save our souls. John 3:15 That whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Jesus is Lord, and if we could start from that premise there would be a softening of the hearts to allow Godly reasoning to influence our lives. The Lord instructs us to test what is said before we run headlong into something contrived and irrational, and give our souls to defending it. 1John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
      Jesus is our lifeline, and through Christ, we can walk in His peace and grace rather than the world's desperation, dysfunction, or disillusionment. The Lord provides clear answers for our heart's necessities, but we need to ask the Lord for the answers by faith, and we need to act upon the wisdom He gives us. If our hearts are full of Jesus, we won't be so heartbroken when those who manage the world's affairs let us down. We might even become mature enough to pray for them rather than curse their existence. Our desperation should be in wanting more of what God has for every one of us. Jer. 29:13 And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. When our hearts are busy seeking God it will be difficult for the events of the world to disrupt the eternal assurance we have in Christ. Desperate beliefs will not be part of our daily bread. Amen!