One God Many Species

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By some estimates there are more than 900,000 different species of insects in the world.

As the snow melts and winter morphs into spring (be it ever so gradually) we’ll likely see the occasional member of that odd looking creeper known as the spider. Apparently, there’s only about 50,000 different species of these little monsters, which is more than enough if you asked me. I’d be much more comfortable with a number in the vicinity of zero. Trust me, I do my part to reduce the spider population. I have adopted a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to spiders in the house. Or any type of creeper for that matter. I kill them whenever I see them.

I’m aware of the fact that more humane methods exist. It’s possible to capture the little terrorists alive and then escort them safely to the great outdoors. But it’s much too dangerous for my liking. The risk of losing them enroute to the door is far too great. I can hardly bear the thought of it.

At this point it seems appropriate to ask the question: Why?

Not only, “why” do I seem to be writing a blog about spiders? But “why” did God create insects in the first place? He probably didn’t do it just to torment us. So I have to say, my deep and insightful answer to the question is a big fat “I don’t know.” I’ve heard it said that a healthy dose of agnosticism is good for your Christian faith.

I probably should have focussed on the fact that there are thousands of different species of trees in the world and left the insects out of it. The point is the same. God loves variety. Just look at the different species of people. I hesitate to get into it. But there are quiet ones, loud ones, fat ones, skinny ones. Short, tall, weird, normal, white, black, brown, red, yellow, stern, stoic, jovial, bubbly and so on.

The good news is that we are free to be ourselves. We don’t have to squeeze ourselves into someone else’s mold. God lays out a unique track for each of us and bids us to run our own race. I can’t run yours. And you can’t run mine. We can help each other. We can lift each other up when we fall. We all trip and stumble along the way. And if you’re too tired to run then walk. If you’re too tired too walk then crawl. If you’re too tired to crawl then rest. And when you’ve rested sufficiently then start inching forward again. That last part about running, walking and crawling should be credited to someone. I read it somewhere but I can’t remember the source. Hence, the lack of credit.

One thing I have discovered is that life is often a game of inches. It reminds me of the saying: “Inch by inch everything’s a cinch.” I would credit that saying to somebody as well but I have no idea who came up with it. I only know that it wasn’t me. But I think the point is that life is more doable when we tackle it piecemeal. Houses are built one nail at a time. One board at a time. One wall at a time. I’m not a carpenter so I really don’t know what I’m talking about here but the point is still valid.

The inch by inch approach to life works well for me. It fits my innate abilities. Others may like to live foot by foot or yard by yard. Runners might prefer to live mile by mile. It all comes back to the variety thing mentioned above. We’re different. Some people are good multi-taskers and then there are people like me. One thing at a time. Here a little. There a little. Walking, plodding, plugging away at the work that God has called me to do.

I don’t know how else to live. My to-do list may not get cleared out as fast as others but at least I have one. And I’m picking away at it, hour by hour, day by day. Actually, there are times when my to-do list seems to behave like the population of the world. Many people die every day yet the population keeps increasing. So it is with my to-do list.

I suppose I’ll get to everything on it eventually. At least I got this blog wrote. The only problem is that it doesn’t have much to do with Easter so the timing is not great. My bad.

(Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.freestock.com/free-photos/business-man-stressed-has-things-white-1978367″>Image used under license from Freestock.com</a>)

Heavenly Horses

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How would you feel if your town or city was surrounded by an army poised to attack?

Of course, that is unlikely to happen. So I’ll ask a more relevant question. How would you feel if you knew the world contained nearly 15,000 nuclear warheads, which were located in 9 different countries? This is relevant because it’s true, which makes it all the more disturbing. I was going to mention China’s massive army of a few million active military personnel but that information almost seems anti-climatic in light of the news about the nukes.

Most people don’t worry about any of this. They’re more concerned about bills, babies and back problems (a personal favourite of mine). I wasn’t worried about the nukes either until I read about them. At this point I must apologize. I just realized that you probably weren’t thinking about global catastrophe until you read this blog. Sorry.

But when you think about it, there’s not much we can do about the nukes. Bills, babies and backs are more within reach and seem more controllable. Yet, there’s usually not much we can do about those either. But we worry about them don’t we? Should we though? Much has been written about the uselessness of worry and I suspect most people are aware of the fact that it accomplishes nothing. Yet, we still do it. It reminds me of my relationship with sugar. I know I shouldn’t eat too much of it, but I do so rather consistently. I do what I know I shouldn’t. Can anyone relate?

There’s a reason why I mentioned angry men, armies and nukes. It has to do with a story from the Old Testament involving a prophet, his servant and the nation of Syria (see 2 Kings 6). The king of Syria at the time was not Bashar al-Assad. It was Ben Hadad. Now this Ben Hadad was in the habit of making raids on the territory of Israel. So when he planned a raid God would tell Elisha the prophet about it, and Elisha would warn the king of Israel. Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor in his midst but he was informed by one of his servants that the problem was the prophet. The servant said, “(Elisha the prophet) tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” (2 Kings 6:12)

So Ben Hadad’s brilliant solution was to eliminate the prophet. To accomplish the task at hand he sent one of his military units to the city of Dothan to arrest Elisha. When Elisha’s servant looked out the window and saw the army surrounding the city he did what you and I (or at least I) likely would have done. He panicked. He basically said, “OMG we’re toast. It’s lights out for us. Elisha, what in God’s name are we going to do?” (Smith Paraphrase Version)

Elisha’s response was basically, “what are you worried about, it’s just a bunch of angry men who want to kill us?” (SPV). Elisha’s actual words, according to a more traditional translation, were: “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (NKJV) Then he prayed.

What would you pray in a situation like that? Elisha could have prayed that God would give his servant peace of heart or calmness of mind. But he didn’t pray any of that. Instead, he prayed that God would open his eyes. Not his physical eyes. These were already wide open. They were probably open a little bit too much. But his spiritual eyes were closed shut. He couldn’t see beyond the immediate physical threat.

So God opened his spiritual eyes and allowed him to gaze into the supernatural realm. There he saw that the hills and mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. In God’s sight Ben Hadad’s troops looked like a bunch of kids with Nerf Guns. God wasn’t concerned about the Syrians. Neither is He concerned about 15,000 nukes or armies of millions. Incidentally, Revelation 9:16 speaks about a last days army that will number 200 million. Is God concerned about that? Nope. Should we be anxious about it? Not according to Philippians 4:6.

It doesn’t matter how many troops are in the enemy camp. There’s always more in the camp of God. Even if there weren’t multitudes of heavenly horses and chariots of fire we’d still have God Himself, and one + God is always a majority. If you’re not an avid student of the Bible you’re probably wondering how Elisha and his servant fared against the Syrians. Well, they did quite well actually. The same God who opened the spiritual eyes of the servant also closed the physical eyes of the Syrian raiders. All in answer to prayer of course.

By way of summary then, Elisha led the enemy into Samaria, where the King of Israel desired to kill them. Elisha had a better idea. Prepare a hot meal for them and send them home bewildered. Elisha’s plan worked. The raiders never returned. All of which shows that one act of kindness is much more effective then one act of revenge but that’s another blog entirely.

We might say that Elisha did indeed kill the Syrian raiders, just not with swords or slings. He killed them with kindness. Not your typical response to a hostile army but the results spoke for themselves.

Restless Souls

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I’m currently being tested for a sleep disorder. I’m hoping for good results but I have my concerns.
Rest for the body is important. If you don’t rest the body bad things happen, not the least of which is crankiness and irritability (at least that’s what I’ve heard). Bodily rest is not the only consideration though. We also need to find rest for our souls.
I’m sure we’ve all had the wonderful experience of being tired and yet unable to sleep. The body is horizontal, the head is on the pillow, but the mind is racing like a stock car at the Daytona 500. The body is screaming for rest but the mind is reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour.

Sadly, you don’t get paid for mind racing. Too bad though. I’d be a multi-billionaire by now. No guarantee this would cure my racing mind but with that kind of money, sleepless nights would be slightly more bearable. Actually, I can’t really say that I have sleepless nights. I don’t have a lot of trouble sleeping. The problem is that I wake feeling like I never slept. Hence, the sleep test alluded to above.

In Matthew 11:29 Jesus promised rest for our souls. This sounds like good news to me because the mind is part of the soul. So Jesus is really promising rest for the mind. Great stuff. But there’s a condition.

He said previously in verse 28, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The condition is that we much come to Christ. Of course, there are other options when it comes to calming the soul. Watching pornography causes a surge in dopamine in the brain, which helps increase sensations of pleasure. The problem with porn is that is actually shrinks the brain, which essentially makes you dumb. Alcohol depresses the nervous system making the drinker feel calm and relaxed. But the key word is “depresses.” So if you want to be depressed become an alcoholic, or at least a heavy drinker. The time fails me to speak of the effect of drugs.

Sleeping pills can work but there are various possible side affects, one of which is premature death. Seriously, I read that somewhere online so obviously it’s true. We all know everything you read online is true right? Anyway, we won’t get into that here. Suffice it to say that there are many counterfeit ways to achieve a semblance of rest for the soul. But there’s only one way to get the true rest that stretches from time into eternity.

The problem with temporary solutions for the problem of internal restlessness is that they’re temporary solutions. They don’t help beyond the grave. Most of them don’t help much before the grave, much less after it. Christ is the Only answer that covers both time and eternity. But we must come to Him. What in the world does it mean to “come to Jesus?” Isn’t He in heaven? Yes, He is. But He’s also present on earth in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

On a practical note I would like to offer two ways in which anyone, anytime, anywhere can come to Jesus and receive rest for their souls. First, we come to Christ through prayer. Second, we come to Christ through the bible; reading it, studying it, and even meditating on it.

As for the prayer part, Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7 that we should be anxious for nothing and pray about everything, so that the peace of God would act as a guard over our hearts and minds. As for the bible part, Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love your law (Word), And nothing causes them to stumble.” These are a mere sampling of scriptures that speak of the benefits of prayer and the Word.

Of course, there are many other things we ought to do as Christians, but the main thing is coming to Christ. We ought to do it on a daily basis. Nothing less works for me. To that end I try to do those two basic things each and every day of my life. Pray and read God’s Word. Everything else is secondary. Or at least I try to make them so. I’m not perfect in this but I’m working on it.

Kumbaya My Lord

Some things in life are easier than others.
Changing a light bulb is easier than sky diving or zip lining, especially for somebody who suffers from Acrophobia (otherwise known as the fear of heights). Likewise, some things in the bible are easier said than done. In particular, I’m thinking about the words of Jesus where He talked about loving your enemies.

Most people love their friends. Your friends love you and you love them. Kumbaya, my lord, Kumbaya. It’s relatively easy. Atheists, agnostics, quasi-spiritual, unspiritual and carnal Christians can even do it. Anybody can be nice to the nice and friendly to the friendly. Jesus said, “if you greet your friends only what credit is that to you?” (Matthew 5:47)

In other words, if you’re only kind and friendly to people who are kind and friendly to you then you really haven’t done anything more than the average heathen would do. The challenge is to be kind and friendly to those who are mean, nasty or indifferent. We all know people can be heartless, selfish and even cruel. Should we return the same? Not according to Jesus.

Now you might think. That’s easy for Jesus to say because He’s……….Jesus. True, but there are a couple of things we need to keep in mind. Firstly, it might help to remember that Jesus certainly practised what He preached. From the cross He cried out to the Father and asked Him to forgive the very ones who put Him there. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Secondly, as Christians we are called to be like Jesus. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we have to go around wearing long robes and sandals. But we are to strive to be like Him in our character and conduct.

Jesus provides the ultimate example of non-retaliation. He could have smote His enemies in an instant with the help of thousands of angels. But instead He overcame evil with good. He calls us to do the same.

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Life is not like an NHL hockey game. The unwritten rule of hockey is that if somebody slams you into the boards, trips you up, or does anything deemed dirty or dangerous then you have to “send a message.” Usually the message is given via a similar type of dirty or dangerous play or by “dropping the gloves” (which means fisticuffs for those of you who aren’t acquainted with hockey talk). But it’s okay to retaliate because “they deserve it.”

In Jesus’ system we don’t get to say who deserves retributive justice. And it’s certainly not our place to administer it. The settling of accounts is God’s prerogative. We must leave the doling out of each man’s pay in His capable hands. Somebody has rightly said, “God does not pay at the end of each day, nevertheless, He pays.” Our problem is that God refuses to repay according to our timetable. We want Him to pay after each day, or at least after each week, or month or year. But sometimes God doesn’t pay until eternity.

Indeed, we ought to be thankful that God’s payroll system is not entirely fair. If God suddenly fired up the printing press and cut us a cheque for what we deserve there’d be no numbers on it. There’d be just one word written across it. DEATH.

Why? Because all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). It’s only by God’s grace that we are permitted to draw our next breath.

Let’s face the facts. Some people have adopted the following mission statement for their lives: “I will endeavour to cause as much trouble and pain for others as I possibly can.” They’re like ministers of misery, hucksters of hurt, or peddlers of pain. God will repay them according to their works, unless they repent. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 33:11) He would rather that people repented and lived. But alas, many don’t. Their blood is on their own hands. Sorry if I sound harsh, but these are not really my words, they’re from the bible.

As Revelation 13:10 says: “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” All people will eventually reap what they have sown. The only thing that can stop the process is the grace of God.

We’re all going to need grace in the days ahead, not to mention patience. Judging by current trends in North American society and throughout the world, it seems like the enemies of Christianity are piling up like snow banks during a Newfoundland blizzard. What are we to do in with such blustery conditions?

We are to do as the old hymn says: “Trust and obey, trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

And that includes Matthew 5:44: “love our enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

Lessons from a Hot Tub

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Despite our chronic financial challenges my little family and I (me, wife and boy) occasionally treat ourselves to a night in a hotel.
This we recently did. The hotel in question had a warm pool, a hot sauna, and hot tub that was just a few degrees shy of boiling. Myself and the boy started out in the pool. It was like swimming in an overgrown bathtub, which is exactly how I like it. So pleasant was the experience that we decided to try out the hot tub. That’s where things starting going downhill in terms of the pleasantness.

I felt like a lobster being lowered into a boiling pot. After my body got over the initial shock it was actually quite relaxing. The water was so hot that the boy decided to merely dangle up to his knees, while I sat there fully immersed. After the boy commented on the redness of my skin I felt it was an appropriate time to exit the tub.

But then company showed up and since they were complete strangers we had a lot of catching up to do. The two elderly ladies of the group of three were quite impressed by the outgoing personality of our boy. He did most of the talking while I sat there boiling to death, so they likely deduced that he got his personality from his mother. And they would be right. A short time later the boy engaged in another conversation with a young lady on the elevator. Meanwhile, I stood there speechless unable to muster as much as a simple hello. Then again I was still reeling from my extended stay in the boiling pot.

In any case, our long foray into the hot tub led yours truly to develop feelings of sickness. I self-diagnosed myself with dehydration and wrote myself a prescription for two advil and eight to ten glasses of water.

But the hot tub experience got me thinking about the general experiences of life. Firstly, I entered the hot tub of my own free will. Nobody forced me into it. Also, I choose to stay in the hot tub longer than I should have. And I couldn’t help but wonder. Do we sometimes stay longer in situations than we should just because it’s comfortable? I could have exited that hot tub any time I wanted but I choose to stay in it. It was my choice. And I suffered for it.

Who could I blame? The eight-year old? The company of complete strangers? Ultimately no (tempting though it was). I could only blame myself. Of course, the consequences weren’t overly terrible – exhaustion and a headache. Both were remedied fairly easily (see prescription above). However, consequences for life’s bigger choices are not always so easily remedied.

The problem is that we don’t always feel the full extent of staying in certain situation until we’re out of them. I didn’t have a headache while soaking in the boiling pot of water. The headache came afterward. In fact, I felt pretty good while in the tub, which explains my reluctance to get out. The sickly feelings came once the ordeal was finally over. And that’s often how it is in the steamy situations of life.

It’s only after we leave a situation (or relationship) that we begin to see the damage that it has done to us. Perhaps I should not have entered the hot tub in the first place. What was wrong with the pool? Nothing. It was the perfect temperature. Not too hot. Not too cold. But alas the hot tub kept whispering my name. “Surely, you’re not going to leave the pool and fitness area of this fine hotel until you’ve dipped your weary frame in my swirling, soothing waters.”

Perhaps I should have applied Proverbs 23:31-32 to the allure of the tub.
“Do not look on the wine (water) when it is red (clear), When it sparkles in the cup (tub), When it swirls around smoothly.
(32) At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.”

The scaling water bit my hydration level. It stung my head causing an ache. Not the most exegetically sound interpretation of the above verses but it works for me.

All about the Kid

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Now that Christmas is over, I’m tempted to start shopping for next year. I see no other way to avoid the year end financial and mental crisis that assails me year in and year out. I used to love Christmas when it was all about getting instead of giving and my parents paid all the bills. Christmas was a blast in those days. But now I’m the parent and everything has changed.

My problem is that Christmas is all about the kids and I’m not a kid anymore. Those who know me might wish to argue this last point but I’m speaking in terms of chronological age, not my current maturity level. Don’t get me wrong. I love kids, especially my own. But sometimes it’s just hard to be an adult.

Interestingly enough, Jesus told the adults of His day that unless they were converted and became as little children they would not enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s one of my favourite verses (now that I think about it). But I can’t bring myself to believe that Jesus was advocating for adults to become more childish. It seems to me He was speaking of certain childlike traits that adults should strive to have.

Also, He was reminding us that you can’t have a father without being a child. Father’s don’t have fathers. Children do. If we don’t become spiritual children then how can God become our spiritual Father? Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven….”

I hope you know God as your Father. Santa Claus comes and goes. You can’t really depend on Him. He swoops in, drops a few presents, shows up at parades and parties and then he’s off to the North Pole for a 12 month sabbatical. He’s sort of a cross between a visiting relative and a birthday clown. But a loving father? Not so much. Conversly, God promises to be with us all year, every year. Whether it’s 2017. or 2027.

The blow-up snowman, lighted candie canes, and lazer lights may be removed from the front lawn. The big fake tree with its bulbs and garland may be stuffed back into the cardboard box. But it’s comforting to know that our Father in heaven is too big to be stored away in a plastic container. He can’t be confined to my storage room and I’m most glad about it.

Our relationship to Him is not yearly. It’s daily. It can be just as vibrant during the cold dark chills of February as it is during the glitter and pomp of December. Whether you’re labouring with a scoop to remove a sudden dump of wet snow from the driveway or sitting on a padded chair in a heated sanctuary. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. You may be hungry. You may be full. You may be sick. You may be well. You may have reached the pinnacle of financial freedom or you may be crushed beneath a load of debt. Either way, God loves you and He promises to be with you always. That’s the message of Christmas.

So the lights may be dimmed. The living room may look a little bare. The spirit of Christmas may have slipped away to another realm. But the Spirit of God doesn’t leave in January. He’s not afraid of the cold and there’s no post-Christmas blues with Him.

As John said: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) So if darkness and gloom seems to be circling around you like a swarm of mosquitoes on a hot summer day, then you might consider approaching the Father of light. You don’t need to write Him a letter, or speak to Him through an elf. He’s as near as the mention of His name.

Commercial Christmas may be over but it’s not too late to become a child again.

Bah Humbug

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Firstly, I want to apologize for not writing a blog. I had every intention of writing one. But every time I start to write I am confronted with the tyranny of urgent tasks.

It’s that time of year isn’t it? In the midst of shopping for needless gifts for people who don’t need a thing, the blow-up santa, fake trees, and LED lights must be stragetically arranged somewhere on the front of the house to give maximum effect to passerbys who don’t really care. And it’s cold. And warm. Then cold again. It’s raining. Or is it wet snow? The joys of Newfoundland weather just seem to add something special to an already stressful time of year.

I might as well just say it. Bah humbug.

No, I am not a scrooge. I like Christmas. Seriously. What I don’t like is stress. Caused in part by bills. And long line-ups at Wal-mart. VISA cards that won’t stay in my wallet. I’d cut it up (the VISA card I mean) but I just need it so bad. How can I purchase anything online without it? How can I purchase anything in person without it?

When people ask me if I have my shopping done I must fight the urge to burst into tears. To make matters worse, I am currently a pastor. In our wisdom, we pastors like to schedule extra-services and events this time of year which is much like putting on extra clothes during a heatwave.

Deep down I know it’s more blessed to give than to receive but sometimes I just don’t feel it. The problem is that I’m a terrible gift picker outer. I know what I like. I have no clue what anyone else likes. Well, that’s not entirely true. I know my wife likes clothes. She wears them every day. I just don’t know what particular clothes to select from the hundreds of thousands of options available at the one of 50,000 stores available to shop from. So she ends up picking out her own stuff. But does that really count as Christmas gifts? I want to believe it does but I have my doubts.

So I’m compelled to get a surprise. But what? Oh the questions. Do we have enough for our eight-year old boy? Should we tell him the truth about Santa? Have I strung enough garland across the living room ceiling? Have we spent beyond our means again? These are the type of thoughts that will torment me from now until December 25.

Furthermore, the house needs cleaning. The car needs snowtires. Services need planning. I need a haircut. I’ve been drinking too much pepsi and it’s not even Christmas Eve. Busyness beyond reason. The multitude of unfinished tasks. My to-do list keeps expanding at an exponential rate.

You can see why I don’t have the time or frame of mind to write a sensible blog. My apologies to the three’s and four’s of people who actually read them. I will try to write one at my earliest possible inconvenience.

In the meantime, thanks for the gift of your understanding.

Lofty Hearts

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When I read the following verses from Ezekiel the other day I couldn’t help but think of a certain U.S. Presidential candidate.:
(3) “(Behold, you are wiser than Daniel!
There is no secret that can be
hidden from you!
(4) With your wisdom and your understanding
You have gained riches for yourself,
And gathered gold and silver into
your treasuries;
(5) By your great wisdom in trade you
have increased your riches,
And your heart is lifted up because
of your riches),”

Of course, the prophet Ezekiel is speaking somewhat sarcastically here in addressing the king of Tyre, especially in verse 3 when he says the king is wiser than Daniel and that no secret could be hidden from him. This is actually how the king of Tyre thought of himself because the latter part of verse 5 says, “And your heart is lifted up because of your riches.”

The king Tyre had some lofty thoughts concerning his own self-importance. In fact, verse 6 says he thought of himself as a god. Therein lies the scary part. A world leader who thinks he’s a god. Not a good scenario for a number of reasons. It’s doubtful if either of the two U.S. Presidential candidates consider themselves to be gods, at least not in the literal sense. Such notions are normally reserved for dictators in countries like say……….I don’t want to mention names here but North Korea comes to mind. Men with such extreme god complexes think nothing of steamrolling Christians and hanging them upside down on crosses while burning them alive.

Anyway, at least one of the candidates for U.S. president has managed to increase his riches through “wisdom in trade.” Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The problem is when the “heart is lifted up because of your riches.” When a man’s heart is lofty he tends to think he can do things that most people wouldn’t dream of doing, such as grab and grope women with or without their permission.

But again I’m not prepared to say that increasing riches through wisdom in trade is bad in and of itself. Many people have done it. Mind you, I’m certainly not one of them. My heart may have been “lifted up” from time to time for other reasons but not because of my great wisdom in trade. Probably not because of my great wisdom in anything. Come to think of it I cannot presently think of any good reason for my heart to be lifted up. Nevertheless, I have the sneaky suspicion that it has been and that it might possibly be slightly elevated even now.

Humility is such a tricky thing. When you think you have it then you don’t really have it. I read that somewhere. Can’t remember where. Just somewhere.

In any case, when a nation has a leader who thinks he’s a god then that nation is headed for troubling times. At least that’s the way it was in Tyre. God had a promise for its king:
(7) ….”I will bring strangers against you,
The most terrible of nations;
And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom,
And defile your splendor.”
(8) They shall throw you down into the
Pit,
And you shall die the death of the
slain
In the midst of the seas.”

As far as I understand it, The “Pit” in question was that bottomless one talked about regularly in the book of Revelation . It’s where satan is currently headed and where he’ll be held for 1,000 years while Christ is ruling the earth from Jerusalem. But before the Pit, God promised to bring terrible nations against Tyre. We’re talking large scale military invasion here.

It may seem unfair for an entire nation to suffer because of the pride of its leader but that’s often how it is. Thousands and even millions of people can be affected by the decisions of one man, either for good or for bad. That’s the power of leadership. It’s why we need good leaders in high places.

Leading the nation of America is a high calling best reserved for one with a lowly heart. It’s doubtful if such can be found amongst the two present candidates. Perhaps it’s never been truly found amongst any candidate in any generation. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election I find a recurring thought in my head that says: “We need to pray like never before.”

Strangers from terrible nations have already come against America to an extent. Could it get worse? Yes it can. Will it? I don’t know. But for what it’s worth, I’m praying about it. Perhaps we all should pray because if times get troubling for America it will likely have a ripple affect on the rest of us.

The Pecking Problem

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Given the subject matter at hand, I’m probably not qualified to write this blog.

It should be written by a happy, peaceful person. Not that I’m completely miserable or altogether void of inner calm and tranquility. I probably have a million reasons to be happy. I just find it hard to think of them. Positive thoughts often elude me. Negative ones come naturally to me. I don’t have to chase after them. They just show up like an unwanted guest at a dinner party.

They’re the ultimate party crashers. Mental bullies. Emotional terrorists. Creeping, crawling insects of the mind. Who let them in? How can I get them out?

My family and I were recently stalked by a Crow. I don’t know what its problem was. He kept showing up on our front lawn pecking at the front steps. Sometimes he pecked at the windows. Maybe he was suffering from an identify crisis and thought he was a woodpecker. Or maybe my eyesight is worse than I thought and he really was a woodpecker and not a crow at all.

I told my wife one day that I wished to buy a pellet gun. It was the only fun solution I could think of to take care of our pecking problem. She didn’t think it was a good idea. She probably had doubts concerning my aim and feared for our neighbours safety. Not to mention our own safety.

But aren’t negative thoughts like the pecking of that Crow? Are they not troubling, tormenting and relentless? They never quit. If you leave them alone they’ll continue to peck away at your sanity. At the very least, negative thoughts will rip the joy right out of your heart.

The other day I was playing floor hockey in the basement with our son. The game went into double overtime and exhaustion began seeping into my aging bones. I suggested to the boy that it might be time to rap up the game as the possibility of cardiac arrest was looming over me.

He said, “Dad, relax. You need to get some joy in your life.”

I thought, “Where did that come from? Should I now take counsel from the lips of an eight-year old? Who did he think he was, telling me I needed to get some joy in my life?”

Trouble is, he was right. Of course, he wasn’t aware of my internal pecking problem. You see, I want to lighten up, I really do. But the constant peck, peck, peck, just wears you down after awhile. Maybe it’s not supposed to happen overnight. Some battles are fought over a period of weeks, or months or years. Perhaps for some of us, the battle of the mind is a lifetime struggle. We think a lot. We’re always thinking about something. But can we afford to just think about anything. Do we have no right to choose our own thoughts?

Yes, we do have the right but if we don’t exercise it we’ll be forced to live our lives joyless. Life for us will be like eating food when you have the flu and can’t really taste what you’re eating. No doubt, as long as the food enters your system it will still serve its intended purpose. But it’s much more fun when you can enjoy the taste.

Serving God, being a parent, and working are a few of many things you can do while miserable, but they’re much more fun when you can enjoy the taste.

6 Reasons Why People Should Drink

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Despite all evidence to the contrary some people continue to insist that there’s something wrong with the consumption of alcohol. For that reason I decided it was high time to show forth some of the benefits of drinking. I managed to come up with six reasons why people should drink but I’m sure there are many others.

1. It’s an easy way of escape from the harsh realities of life.
Prayer is hard work. Bible study requires effort. Going to church often means climbing out of bed when you’d rather not leave the comfort of the sheets. Tipping a bottle or glass to your lips is not difficult. It’s virtually mindless. You barely have to think about what you’re doing. Just pour it, tip it and swallow it. It’s as easy as eating fruit from a tree. (See Genesis 3)

2. It’s expensive
At first glance this may seem to be a reason not to drink but consider the fact that “nothing good is free.” and “you get what you pay for.” The hefty price tag is surely proof of the inherent value of alcohol. If it were cheap we would have every reason to question its benefits. Cigarettes are not cheap either and who can deny the health benefits of repeatedly filling your lungs with smoke and chemicals? What doctor worth his or her salt has ever advised against smoking and drinking?

3. It’s culturally acceptable.
We all know God would never expect us to refrain from something when everybody else is doing it. When did God ever say that we should not be conformed to the patterns and standards of this world? (Romans 12:3 notwithstanding) Didn’t Jesus say that we should never deny ourselves anything that we really want? (see Luke 9:23) It’s pretty obvious that’s what Jesus meant, especially when you take His words completely out of context and twist them so that they are barely recognizable.

4. It’s safe.
The way some people rant and rave against drinking you’d almost think alcohol was a contributing factor to thousands of deaths every year. We need to remember that people who drink and drive are probably bad drivers anyway. They probably would have crashed the car and killed innocent people even if they were sober. Though it has the potential to cause disease, the fact is, you may get sick even if you don’t drink. Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to destroy a liver.

5. There are millions of alcoholics in the world.
Can millions of people be wrong? If alcohol were so bad why would so many people choose to keep drinking even if it means losing their own family? Why would so many people be addicted to it? Obviously, the sober amongst are missing out on something here?

6. It’s extremely powerful.
It carries the power to cause sorrow, grief and regret. It destroys lives and rips families apart. It makes some men rich and others poor. It’s consumed by old and young, rich and poor, slave and free. It’s the most widely used and abused drug on the planet. Who can deny its universal grip on mankind? It’s almost like……a god.

It’s time to stop living in denial. What’s next? Is somebody going to develop a 12 step program to help people overcome their “drinking problem?” Are Christians going to start living dry as part of their commitment to Christ? It would be funny were it not so silly.