Friday, March 29, 2013


(Matthew 15:16) And he said, Are ye also even yet without understanding?  (15:17) Perceive ye not, that whatsoever goeth into the mouth passeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  (15:18) But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man.  (15:19) For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings:  (15:20) these are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man.      

Apparently there is a movement underway to change the word “Easter” to “Spring” when referring to real eggs dyed, plastic ones filled with candy, hidden, rolled and gathered up into baskets on or about the Sunday that Christians commemorate the highest holy day of their religion. This crusade is not unlike the campaign to remove Christ from Christmas but this one is weighted down with even more incredible irony. If the atheists knew anything at all about Christian traditions and their pagan origins they’d leave it alone. To make a big deal out of it is really doing a favor to Christianity. 

Easter happens in the spring, when new birth and renewal is celebrated. The word Easter comes to us from several sources but most notably from the pagan goddess of fertility, Eostre. Most of the other common symbols of Easter, that have nothing to do with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, i.e., cute bunnies, roast lamb, and, yes, eggs, are add-ons that attest to how a pure thing can be easily adulterated if given enough time. 

So, is it wrong to dye eggs, or fill plastic eggs with candy and hide them for children to find?  The short answer: if you think it’s wrong, it is; don’t do it. Many fundamentalists have stepped out of the mold and refused to participate in traditions of men, Christmas, Halloween, Easter. Sometimes they go overboard and make a new religion of austerity out of their own perceptions of holiness. Humans are a predictable lot; they go from one extreme to another with minimum facility.

The real question is, what does Christ think about it? 

That answer resides within the individual. Sometimes God asks us to come out and stay away from things the world revels in. Sometimes, because He knows our hearts and our willingness to obedience, He calls us to focus on more serious, pressing things of the Kingdom. God knows what He considers sin and disobedience and He is more than capable of laying on us what He wants from us. Our job is to have a clean and open heart, ready to receive orders. 

And really, this is the crux of it, how clean is your heart? All the overtures to “do” holiness, to work out your own perfection often easily masks a heart that leans toward idolatry. There are all manner of ways to look righteous and yet not be even close to what God considers truly righteous. Plenty of that going on in the church, regardless of denomination, nowadays.

Frankly, in this late hour, I have to admit I am weary of all the hyper focus on minutia.  Truly we swallow camels and strain at gnats. These things are distractions to keep us busy manufacturing pseudo holiness while the wolves in sheep skins are busy devouring the sheep. If your treasure is in worldly things, worldly traditions and trappings, you’re not going to have an open heart and a single eye focused on Christ anyway; do what feels good, reap the consequences.

The significance of the world-changing event Christians have referred to as Easter for centuries defies all human efforts to minimize or trivialize it. It stands outside of and above all else, regardless what we call it or what day we honor it. No doubt He would prefer we celebrate this in our hearts everyday instead of just one day per calendar year; everything changed because of it. When it occurred is probably way less important than the fact–it did. 

Because of that Day, He is our all in all, our Sabbath Rest, our Feast Days, our Latter Day Rain, our First-Fruits, our Redemption and Eternal Salvation, the Holy Priest of the Third Temple which is now the Spiritual Temple not built with hands. It’s all about HIM, His sacrifice, His cross, which we are now encouraged to take up and follow Him. He is not just the reason for the season, He is the only reason for all seasons. If you understand and honor this and teach it to your children, then whether or not you dye and hunt eggs is not even on the short list of ways we can please or displease Him.

For Christ,

(Matthew 6:21) for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.  (6:22) The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  (6:23) But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bloom Anyway

(Matthew 25:28-30) Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. (25:29) For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away.  (25:30) And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.      
My mother planted flowers everywhere we lived. No matter how simple, old, or shabby the dwelling, she brightened it up with blooming color. Her philosophy was that everyone should leave a place better than they found it and she lived this tenet in the only way she could afford by planting seeds and seedlings into soil she had first turned with a good fertilizer. 

It has occurred to me, as I remembered this lesson from my mother, that this exemplifies in a way I have never considered before the parable of the talents. 

Jesus tells the story of the master who entrusts to three servants five, two, and one talent. The first two servants get right to work and double their portions and when the master returns he commends them for their industriousness. There is no report that the servant with only two talents is jealous of the servant who has five. The story concludes with the servant who was given one talent complaining that the master was too hard on him and so he buried the talent and offers it back to his master un-multiplied. The master is angry and takes away the talent and gives it to the first servant.

I’ve heard it said that this master was cruel and mean-spirited for not giving equal portions to each servant and thus being more “fair”, giving each servant an equal chance to do good things like the others. To these I say, you have completely missed the point.

First of all, nothing is fair in this life or was ever promised to be except in regards to one thing: we each have an equal opportunity to do the best we can with what we have, be good stewards of what we’ve been charged with, bloom where we are planted and if and when we move on leave where we were better than we found it, and thus ourselves enriched and grown for the experience. Everyone, without exception is issued this “talent” but many never recognize or seize the chance in front of them, mores the pity.


A young woman dreams of being a movie star. She longs for the fame and riches she thinks comes with performing on the silver screen. With no way to fulfill her burning desire she settles for less and marries a young man who drives a milk delivery truck. She tucks her dream away and soon has two children to care for. But the ache to be something she could never be pulls on her and, over time, she becomes sullen, moody and withdrawn. Several times a year, without warning, she runs away, “to find herself” leaving behind her steady husband who takes care of the kids and drives his milk truck. When she runs out of money, she comes back home, unrepentant, taking up where she left off. She is never happy though, and makes this clear to her long-suffering husband and her children grow up knowing that they can never please her in any way. Her story ends in a shelter for indigents. She dies alone, her husband having died years before, her children far away from her, who think on her death as one would pause over the demise of a distant relative. 


A young teen, full of promise, destined for law school, gets his girlfriend pregnant and because it is the norm of the day, they marry and move in with his parents until the baby is born. The part time job he works as a salesman in a men’s clothing store becomes a full time job when he finishes high school. College is not a possibility. By the time he is twenty-six he has been promoted to assistant manager and is the father of three. Every day of his life his resentment for his wife burns in his gut like an ulcer, as he works and she stays home with the kids. In his mind, the marriage and his little family is the thing that keeps him back, holds his dreams of being a successful attorney out of reach. He doesn’t like being at home so he finds reasons to stay away, and often self-medicates his heart-sickness with alcohol. He meets numerous women in the bar that becomes his secret retreat from the life he was given. By the time he is thirty-two, he is all spent, divorced, an alcoholic and out of work.


Another young woman marries the summer after she graduates from high school to a young man who is soon to be deployed to Viet Nam. They have two weeks of married bliss before he departs with his unit. On his first short leave home, she conceives. He returns to war and never gets to meet his son. She, determined to find happiness, works full time and goes to night school. Being sleep deprived, over-worked, and under-helped, she digs in with the hope that one day it will be better for her and her child. Eventually she gets a business degree and finds a good job. She also meets a man who seems to be everything she ever wanted. They marry and soon she has another child. Three years later she discovers he is not the stellar man she thought but a cheater, liar and an embezzler. He is caught, put in prison and she, over-whelmed by debt, in her name, that she had previously known nothing of, loses her house, her car, her good credit and reputation and struggles to support her children on one-third the income she had made before. For several years she cleans houses on the weekends for grocery money. 

Through it all, even in the darkest most difficult days, she never loses hope that one day things would be better for her and her children and it is this hope that keeps her moving one foot in front of the other. Being sole provider she has to be everything, which means she never sleeps more than four hours a night. If her child is sick in the night, she nurses him and still gets up and gets to work. She cleans her house in the evenings after she  has cleaned other houses. She never misses a school event or a soccer game. Her children grow up healthy and both graduate from college with honors. 

Though the old dream of having a normal home life with a loving husband was not the life she had been given, she never wallowed in self pity or groused that hers was a life wasted. On holidays, when her grown children come to visit her, bringing their children with them, they usually find her in her back garden, digging in the dirt, planting roses or some other blooming plant. Her yard is the envy of the neighborhood and she is happy.

Conclusion: The only difference between flourishing and dying on the vine depends on how determined you are to bloom where you are planted no matter how rocky the soil. And what could be better than hearing, in the end,  

“Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

For Christ,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sin and Crime

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men,  (6:10) nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (6:11) And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.  

You might have been too busy to notice, but sin is not so bad anymore. At the most it is just an illness, usually brought on by bad parenting. We know this now not necessarily because what used to be sin is celebrated as “lifestyle” but because those who ought to know what sin is (and is not) keep us informed and up to date so that we don’t have to bother with it. Our time is, after all, better spent than studying such erudite concepts.

Alexander Boot shares this revelation in his blog - God Save Us From Such Priests

Stepping outside his immediate brief, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, saw fit to share penetrating psychiatric insights with his BBC audience.
According to His Grace, paedophilia is an ‘illness, not a criminal condition’. People become paedophiles, he explained, because they themselves were abused as children. So when a pervert presses his attentions on a little tot, both are victims and neither is a wrongdoer.
The Archbishop then vouchsafed the information that he personally knows at least two priests who abuse children because they themselves were abused. (What does ‘at least two’ mean? Three? Thirty? Or does it just mean two?)
‘Now don't tell me,’ thundered the prelate, ‘that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.’ In other words the criminal act hurts the priest as much as it hurts the child he’s brutalising.

So, pardon me while I try to figure this out. I have a couple questions. 
It’s okay for a priest to molest children if, let’s say, he was himself molested as a child. Correct? No, that doesn’t sound right. 
Let’s start over. 
A priest should not be held accountable or punished for molesting a child if he was molested. Ah, that’s it then, no accountability is the key. Does this apply across the board? Does this mean any old garden variety child molester should never be put in jail for molesting a child because he was molested as a child? Or is the pass given only to priests, who are, by the way, supposed to be disciples and holy representatives of Christ? 
Is it not reasonable to conclude, by this logic, that therefore all sin should be qualified and subject to re-evaluation based on the sinner’s childhood history? Did you have a bad childhood? Well, then, whatever you do is not really your fault. Jesus loves you anyway. Go right ahead and do whatever. Ignore those mean-spirited folk who declare that surrendering to and following Christ means you have to give up certain behaviors. Poor you! And, good news, if you wear robes and hear confessions from other sinners, you are especially exempt because...okay, let’s move on, I have run out of sarcasm. 
What is the difference between sin and crime? Well, while the definition of sin is left to the mandates of religion, crime, the enforcement of law and application of justice is a societal matter. If a priest were to brutally murder someone, would he be arrested and forced to stand trial? If found guilty would he go to jail? Murder is a crime as well as a sin as delineated by number six of the Ten Commandments. Granted child-molestation is not specifically mentioned in the Commandments but still even as bad as society is today, child-molestation, for the moment, continues to be deemed as unconscionable and therefore is on the books as a crime in most jurisdictions of first world countries. 
This is how it is supposed to work: Do the crime–do the time. 
This is where the topic gets all vague and convoluted. The elite, whether in religious, wealthy or political realms, who seem to reside above the law also seem to be bullet-proof in regards to sin. Crime is one thing, sin is another. We obey the laws of the land to stay out of jail but we obey the commandments of God to stay out of perdition. Is that all God wants from us? Toe the line, look good, obey the rules, stay clean, sin not and if you do repent when you get caught so you can hang onto your ticket to Heaven. What about earnestly desiring to be made new, no excuses? And what if you don’t get caught, is it still a sin or a crime? Do you still get to go?
My conclusion is that those who think they can escape punishment from committing sin and crime don’t really know how dangerous it is to tempt the Almighty Sovereign God. Cheaters, users and those who take advantage of the poor, liars, fornicators, molesters, murderers beware! There is a day of reckoning coming.  There is no such thing as a little sin, no small omission, no choice based strictly on profit of the moment, that God does not see and record. 
One day, there will be a final accounting when sin will be deemed a crime against Christ. No excuses, no defense. 
(Matthew 25:30-34) And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.   (25:31) But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:  (25:32) and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats;  (25:33) and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  (25:34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  

For Christ,

Saturday, March 2, 2013


(Proverbs 17:10) A rebuke entereth deeper into one that hath understanding than a hundred stripes into a fool.
Unless you are completely unplugged and have no access to daily news, you probably saw the recent item about the teen girl in Florida disrespecting a judge. The video clip of her incredible reaction to his contempt order brought on by her insolent attitude and crude hand gesture was so mind-boggling it merited attention and repeated air-time on a variety of national news programs. Watching her impudent response to the judge was shocking and embarrassing but also painful. In a matter of seconds a lifetime of ignorance, from beginning to end, was revealed. 

Clearly she had no idea that anyone could have any power over her, much less this old man in a black robe. She giggled as though she  thought she was the star of a reality show and everything the judge said to her was a joke. One can only wonder about her upbringing, or lack thereof, that brought her to that defining moment. 

What is truly unfortunate is that this pitiable young woman is unaware that she is severely handicapped by an insolent attitude. Several days later a followup report showed her apologizing to the judge. She was tidied up and teared up appropriately but her words sounded more like they were perfectly coached by legal counsel. One would be willing to say anything to get out of thirty days in jail so we can’t know if she truly grasped the gravity of her condition, or just the predicament that held her hostage. Did she learn the greater lesson to be had from her experience? Did she realize she has much yet to learn? Can she learn?

Sad to say, she is not unique and is possibly irreparably damaged in a way that is becoming a type of norm in a modern pop culture that deems itself proud of its insolence.  Respect, regard for natural order, etiquette, social grace, and the laws of civilized conduct are rapidly being replaced with something akin to anarchy. No getting around it, insolence begets insolence. Civilization rapidly descends into a downward spiral when respect for authority, beginning with the first authority figure in a child’s life–the parent–is not passed down from generation to generation; lawlessness and respect for nothing is the by-product of such parenting failure. Children live what they are taught or not taught. 

(Proverbs 22:6) Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.  

As bad as this growing narcissistic social ill is, it’s not the root of the problem but merely a fleshly manifestation of a spiritual sickness that is, as they say, going viral

I call it the Haughty Spirit Virus. It’s a common low-level evil, just a mere chip off the antichrist spirit, but nonetheless powerful enough to destroy its host if left untreated. There is no medical test for this malady, but there are signs.

You might be infected with Haughty Spirit Virus if:

 1. Nothing is ever your fault.
 2. You resent any criticism real or imagined. 
 3. You can easily, glibly find excuses for yourself, preferably pointing out the flaws and missteps of  others quickly flipping confrontation back on the confronter.
 4. Your opinion and being right is all that matters to you thus you are rendered unteachable. 
 5. You are forever the victim of circumstance. 

In its advanced stage, the Haughty Spirit Virus causes behavior to dissolve into a type of social dysfunction. Self-soothing by lying to oneself becomes an alternate reality. Ultimately, the victim of this spiritual disease is doomed to huff through life at the ready to be offended, angry, resentful, and bitter. At its worst it causes vengefulness.

It’s epidemic now so many will read this and instantly be able think of someone who is afflicted. Ironically, those who are infected will think of others but not see themselves at all because the insidious insolent nature of Haughty Spirit Virus first attacks and disables the ability to self-evaluate, then blocks humility, effectively locking up remorse and repentance functions. 

This, then, is the core of the problem; those who need  the Antidote, the Truth that could heal them, have no idea they are terminally soul-sick so they cannot see or hear and therefore they never seek the Cure. 

If this were a microbial pandemic the CDC would issue a warning, but the only way to warn against a spiritual virus is to announce to those with ears to hear: when a soul-sick world refuses to seek the only Cure, at the point of no return, the remedy is withheld. 

If you love someone who is infected, pray for whatever it takes to open his/her eyes, then step aside and do not interfere with what is often a painful treatment/recovery process.

For Christ,

The only proper attitude for the learner is one of humble self-distrust. "I am ignorant," he says, "and am willing to be taught. I am wrong and am willing to be corrected." In this childlike spirit, the mind is made capable of improvement. ~Tozer