You Keep Using That Word, Part 2: Progressive

I need to preface this with a shoutout to the author whose podcast and book put a name to a dark and nameless dissonance I’d been often frustrated by in my walk with the Lord.

As an atheist who came to know God through the Bible long before stepping into a church congregation, I’d puzzled for years over a disconnect I found between me and some who call themselves Christian. We used the same terms, claimed the same Lord, even referenced a few of the same Scriptures, but what we meant by these things didn’t seem to mesh.

Then I heard Alisa Childers reference Progressive Christianity. Whether by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, instinct, or both, I knew this was the name of the lurking menace I’d encountered.

If you’re looking for an excellent Christmas present or a great Christmastime read for yourself, I HIGHLY recommend Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers. She writes with grace, tact, and candor of how a self-proclaimed “flaky artist type” took a plunge into the deep waters of apologetics and learned that her faith is built on Rock-solid ground.

Buy it. Read it. You won’t be sorry. Now on to today’s program:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-8

Progressive. The word just sounds so… dynamic, doesn’t it?

It hints at sophistication; of gaining ground. When attached to a noun, this adjective lends a sense of importance, of forward motion, and of… well, of progress.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

– Inigo Montoya

But in truth, progress isn’t the significant thing. Making progress in the right direction is of far greater importance.

Four times now, I’ve made excellent progress on a hike – along a route that diverged moderately from the planned path. Once my companion and I forsook the path entirely and struck out on our own.

Such enthusiastic and progressive hiking experiences culminated in a variety of results. One particularly memorable result involved an unintended tour of adjacent mountaintops while keeping one eye on the sun’s position in the sky and the other on our (fortunately) distinctive goal.

We did make it to the goal before sunset, though our appearance must have been alarming. We were immediately offered food and water.

I suppose experiences like these have taught me to be cautious of vague descriptors such as progressive.

So when I first heard of “progressive Christianity,” I initially responded with a mixture of puzzled disbelief and a primal shock of icy horror.

If progressing up the wrong mountainside prompted wide-eyed day hikers to thrust their half-empty water bottles towards me, what is the appropriate response for people progressing towards the wrong eternity?

Though we’re easily lulled into believing our physical, mental, and emotional needs are the most important thing in life, the plight of those meandering comfortably and happily down the broad path to destruction is far more desperate than, say, a starving hiker lost in the backcountry with nothing but the clothes on his body and the seal of the Holy Spirit on his heart.

Progressive Christianity shares very little with actual followers of Jesus the Christ. It is progressively moving towards quite a different goal. A more honest devotee would call it progressive churchianity – or even what it is – secular humanism dressed in a dollar-store Jesus costume complete with Anglo-Saxon features.

Ironically, Christianity as it is understood through the Word of God, the teachings of the Christ, and the early Church is progressive.

It speaks of progressively becoming more like Jesus of Nazareth; of progressively dying to oneself and one’s sin; of daily progress towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Of progressive expectations of persecution and suffering laced with the joy of knowing it all has a purpose and an eternal hope.

However, the other thing wears the name of Christianity much like decaf wears the name of coffee. It has little of the flavor and none of the power.

What passes under the title of progressive Christianity has a form of godliness but denies its power. It promises something which resembles peace on earth and good will towards men while assuming a lack of peace and good will among men is the worst part.

Progressive Christianity treats the spiritual equivalent of ebola with a splash of lavender essential oil and a sweet little smile.

And it is making progress in our churches. Just not in the right direction.

The One I Forgot To Post

Written for my church family for October 1, 2020

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever.

2 Timothy 4:16-18

Devotion

Written by Heather Davis from the Station Hill Campus

The late Ravi Zacharias once wrote, “Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

Ravi has finished well. According to his daughter, “He turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done,” until he no longer had strength to speak. He reminds me of the apostle Paul. Paul also used his final days to point others to the goodness of the Lord, putting pen to parchment in order to encourage younger disciples to stay strong. His words still encourage us today.

But ministry wasn’t easy on Paul. In his many travels, he endured varied forms of beatings, hunger, thirst, and frequent danger, only to find himself deserted by friends at his defense following his final arrest in Rome. Yet rather than bitter brooding over this slight, his letters from prison urged others to stay the course—because although the race is hard, the end is worthwhile.

What compelled these two men to spend every possible moment sharing their hope in Christ and strengthening believers? I believe they felt the brevity of this life and the weight of eternity for those who did not yet know the Lord. To the end, they kept their eyes fixed on the Founder and Perfecter of their faith. The rest flowed naturally from His Spirit welling up within them.

I can’t speak for you, but I find it all too easy to fixate on self and circumstance. When I do, whether my days are filled with difficulties or comforts, the temporary things of this world loom large.

But when I set my mind on the goodness of my God and His offer of eternal life and joy in Christ, the jaw-dropping ceaselessness and permanence of eternity come into razor-keen focus. Suddenly my present entertainment or struggle seems trifling. Instead, my awe of God reminds me: people are dying without Jesus, and when they face the ultimate Judge, they will be truly alone. Others are drifting from the Truth and being led astray by false teaching, and they need discipling to keep them mindful of the Way.

With the King of kings as my focal point, I begin to view everything in terms of eternity. No matter what happens to my physical body, I have a hope beyond time.

But my friends—or even my enemies—may not. So I keep pressing on.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What occupies your thoughts more—your present circumstance or your eternal blessing in Christ?
  2. What are some small, daily habits you can form to make discipleship a natural part of your life?
  3. If you aren’t already passionate about discipling others in obedience to Christ, consider committing to prayer that the Lord will change your heart and focus to be in line with His command to make disciples.
  4. Memorize Deuteronomy 6:4-9 with your family or friends. Print or write it out and post it somewhere as a daily reminder for discipleship.

A Bit of an Honest Rant

For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

2Chronicles 20:12

This crazy year…

It’s possible I may ruffle a few feathers or step on some toes here, but may I say I’m an equal opportunity ruffler? I try to dishevel and tread equally without taking sides… except the Lord’s side. When it comes to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I won’t budge a millimetre. I belong to Him, you see.

So anyway…

We kicked off 2020 with wildfires in Australia. Of course, there was also the now-standard biological dementia which is Relativism’s crowning achievement… and it’s all been downhill from there.

A global pandemic, COVID-19, brought widespread lock-downs and economic closures, disrupting the rhythms of an entire planet.

In its wake came economic instability, fear, and the inevitable conspiracy theories. These began a fatal feedback loop, drawing fear out of a tense environment, amplifying it, and pumping it back into the social current.

Thus was born COVID-Madness. Riding the wave of this new socio-psychological pathology came a series of social-media opinion wars cleverly disguised as “facts.”

The pandemic is real and will kill all of us. The numbers of COVID deaths are crazily high, killing more people than the seasonal flu – and here’s a graph to prove it.

NO, the numbers are inflated by the rich and powerful for… reasons. The flu kills more people – and here’s a graph to prove it.

You’re a hopelessly deluded sheep if you wear a mask in public.

You’re a callous, selfish humanity-hater if you don’t wear a mask in public.

People, we need a vaccine to fix this thing so we don’t all die!

No, the vaccine is an evil plot to microchip everyone and infect them with retroviruses so the rich and powerful can become richer and more powerful …

(…I suppose so they can spend their vaccine-inflated wealth burying everyone they slaughtered with their vile plan as they skillfully document graves via microchip technology, then dance about a lonely world populated solely by giant murder hornets and other wealthy mask-wearing vaccine-givers, clutching their money and laughing manically ???)

Thanks, guys. All very helpful and supportive. Really, we needed more division in the country. And this only gets us through April or so.

As if my country wasn’t already on edge, yet another series of what appeared to be racially-motivated killings slammed racial tensions back to the forefront. Many people I love who happen to have more melanin in their skin are hurting and angry – for good reason. I am hurting and angry.

I may be a white woman but I’m still human. So are my brown friends and family. The last thing I want is for a single one of them to be gunned down in the privacy of their home, chased down and shot in the streets, have the life literally squeezed out of them, or some other atrocity all due to a social sickness birthed in slavery and perpetrated by the bizarre human love-affair with evil, division, self, and sin.

Protests were begun – rightly so. But of course, peaceful protests have a tendency to morph into riots. Especially when a country is already pregnant with unrest from a pandemic, quarantines and lockdowns, disinformation wars, and financial trouble.

And July is just around the corner…

Perhaps this is the cat the ancient Egyptians worshiped borne on the Saharan dust cloud, awakened from his slumber by the quaking world and infuriated by the general maelstrom of social media babble?

I confess: Some days I am just tired.

Tired of hearing angry rhetoric and useless hype.

Tired of social justice movements that ignore actual justice from the perspective of the One who not only made the world but is its sole rightful Judge. Not to mention bearing the only correct assessment of right and wrong by merit of creating all the things…

Tired of a Church too willing to adopt social trends and too lax in her handling of the Word of Truth. (Note: I don’t mean a specific church body but the American church in general here…)

Tired of a people who are too busy defending their opinions to listen to the voices of others; too busy to listen to the Voice of Truth.

Tired of trying to speak of my God only to find my voice is only adding to the global cacophony.

And yet, I dare not stop speaking. I dare not stop trying. Lives are at stake. Eternally.

Lord, guide my words and my heart. Let them both be pure before You and purely Yours. You are the answer – the ONLY answer – to the problems we face. And though we may not like to hear it, the answer lies not necessarily in the here and now but in eternity.

In this world, we will have trouble. You have promised it! But in Your Son and through Your Spirit, we may also have peace – shalom – and we can take heart, because Your Son has already overcome the world. Help me remember that no matter how large the horde of propaganda is, this battle is Yours and Yours alone, amen.

… Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.

2 Chronic;es 20:15b

Friday Flora: Insidious

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? 
But if you do not do what is right, 
sin is crouching at your door; 
it desires to have you, 
but you must rule over it."
(Genesis 4:7, NIV)

For the last couple of years, my husband has engaged in a fierce battle against a backyard invader.

Bamboo.

A bamboo shoot, looking innocent in the morning sun

This member of the grass family is actually rather impressive in it’s persistence. Over the last several years, it’s sent scouts into our yard from our neighbor, each one of which we diligently cut down.

Yet over time, one or two scouts became several. Then dozens. Before we knew it, our garden and an entire corner of our yard had been taken over by the quick-growing grass.

The bamboo’s remaining stronghold after a summer of intense warfare

To combat our enemy, it became necessary to remove our garden fence, the entire garden, dig a trench along the fencerow and install a barrier to halt it’s progress. Then came the real back-breaking work: using his own muscle and a shovel, my poor man set to digging, ripping out the menace by it’s well-established underground rhizomes.

An exposed rhizome

Bamboo shoots grow at an astonishing rate of speed. The massive stalks are anchored by node clusters often larger than a human head and a network of rhizomes interwoven into a dense, iron-hard system which seems to mock human removal efforts.

The 20-year-old bamboo forest next door has slowly but steadily encroached upon their yard, engulfing trees and bushes as it grows.

As I’ve offered my paltry help to my husband in bamboo removal, it’s really kept me mindful of a similar battle: my war against sin.

A new shoot tops six feet in mere days

Sin is the bamboo of my heart. In my younger days, I entertained it, fascinated by it’s apparent charm. Little did I know, the peaceful-seeming enchantment on the other side of the fence was already penetrating my heart with subtle but inexorable roots.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed 
by his own desire. 
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, 
and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
(James 1:14-15)

Before I knew it, shoots were sprouting up all around me, fencing me in. What had started as a momentary glance at someone else’s joy soon became a brief indulgence of the mind. A passing thought, a small jealousy, nothing more.

Until it became more. A tiny thought of “what if?” quickly became a central focus in my mind.

At the edge of a bamboo stand

Then with each negligence on my part to quash sinful thoughts, roots grew deeper. Sin became more entrenched. Before I knew it, I found myself beset on all sides, fenced in by thoughts growing out of control from roots I had allowed to become established.

My was bitterness. I allowed resentment over past hurts or even my own poor decisions to fester. One small fanciful daydream about how things could have been, if only… grew into a desire for things to be different now.

I succumbed to the sin of discontent and it sprouted ugly shoots, affecting my words, my mannerisms, my actions.

By the grace of God, when I confessed my sin, He did battle for me, digging out tremendous roots I lacked the strength to remove and cutting away the many-branched tendrils which had wound themselves throughout my desires, crowding out joy.

Praise be to God, I now feel His Light shining on my face again. He has hewn down the thick forest of sin I allowed to spring up around me, casting shadows over my heart.

At the edge of the bamboo stand

And my Lord is still at work excavating my heart for remnants of deeply buried rhizomes. This spiritual exhumation is agonizing and lifelong. But it’s worth it.

Though the work is still underway, a mighty clearing has already been accomplished. He’s broken up my fallow ground and sown His own seed upon it.

A pic from last summer: This was once all bamboo. Today you can see the fence in the back!

By His grace, may my life produce fruit for His Kingdom and glory now! May it no longer be filled with attractive but fruitless stands of growth, swaying in the breeze but crowding out the sun but instead bearing fruit that will last.

What is your sneaky sin? What crowds out the glory of God in your life? I pray today you will submit it to the Lord and ask Him to remove it. Then cooperate with His Spirit through the painful work of sanctification, assured you will experience the unbelievable joy of His presence in the end.

O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; 
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. 
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, 
and give thanks to his holy name. 
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. 
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalm 30:2-5)

A Pandemic Invitation

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, "You are my God,"
My times are in Your hand...
Psalm 31:14-15a

How is everyone holding up through this COVID-19 pandemic?

We are doing well here in my corner of the world. Huddled at home but not in fear, enjoying one another and leaning in to God.

This same God, by the way, has faithfully met our needs thus far. Not all of our wants – we are all being required to let go of those these days, huh? But we do not lack anything we need. We have food, water, clothing, and yes, even toilet paper.

He has also supplied joy, peace, and patience as we are compelled to be together almost constantly under one roof, living a different life in April than we could have guessed at in our wildest imaginings at the beginning of March.

Yes, life is uncertain these days; yes, there are shortages; yes, there is a great deal of misinformation and disinformation circulating; and yes, there is a staggering amount we do not know about what will happen.

But allow me to ask a question: How is this different than any other day? Only in our awareness of it. We feel out of control, reeling with uncertainty about what tomorrow may bring.

The truth its, all that’s really been lost is the illusion of control.

Just because a new virus stalks the world does not change this fact, though it has enhanced it. You and I, we never had control over our lives. We simply were surrounded by so much routine, so much accessibility, and so many things obtainable that we weren’t aware of it.

Yet even a month ago when we could pick up toilet paper any day on our way home from work or school, we had no guarantees of arriving home. On any given day, a vehicle accident could rob us of life. Or our hearts could cease to function. Or we could break our necks tripping over stairs as we bring the toilet paper into the house. Or one of dozens of other “what ifs” could happen.

Over sixteen years ago, my life was altered by a virus. Not COVID-19 but viral meningitis landed me in the hospital and triggered a chronic headache condition accompanied by chronic fatigue. And yet, I still do not fear this new threat.

Why? Because I trust in the One who holds my times in His hands. The illusion of control had already been stripped from me only to be replaced by an experience of חֶסֶד (chesed); of the steadfast and unwavering love of the Lord God.

For over sixteen years, He has continually been showing me how good He is, how He can provide, how He does wonders even in the midst of unrelenting pain, how His strength is truly perfect in my overwhelming mental, physical, and emotional weakness.

I not only believe these things to be true, I have lived their truth. I know them like I know my way around my house.

Friend, if you are anxious or afraid, if you feel trapped in uncertainty or by addiction or sin, you don’t have to be. I invite you today to turn it all over to the One who holds our times in His powerful and unchanging hands.

He isn’t asking you to give up control but telling you He is the one who has control, not you.

He isn’t asking you to give up fun but ready to show you true joy and fun are not found in the sin which promises so much and yet produces only temporary pleasure at best, a permanent prison at worst.

He is here in this pandemic, waiting for You to accept the gift of salvation in the mighty Name of Jesus Christ who died to set you free from sin’s clutches.

In Him alone can you find freedom from fear, joy in His presence, pleasure forevermore.

You are invited, friend, but you have to decide: Cling to your illusions? Or trust in the One who made all things and in Whom all things hold together?

Wisdom Seeker: Day 28

Proverbs 28

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper…

It doesn’t always seem like that, does it? There are times when it seems like people who hide their junk get away scot-free and go on to do just fine. Especially if they are already wealthy.

The thing is, though, it just isn’t true. Who knows the destruction a single secret sin can wage within the human heart? Even if outwardly they do seem to be all smiles and handshakes, what darkness eats at them inside like a cancer? What is it like to be all alone in the dark of night with nothing but self and sin?

Well, I’ve been there, and it wasn’t pretty in my case. It drove me to greater depths of escapism until I finally realized there is no escaping – only continuing to hide ineffectively or facing my sin head-on and confessing.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

I chose confession, and as scary as it was at first, it was freeing. Truly, honestly freeing.

No secrets means no foothold for the accuser to hook his stupid little chains of guilt and shame to. No secrets leads to genuine repentance and to humility – to understanding that I am no better than the most vile sinner alive, possibly much worse.

And best of all, no secrets means no sin can keep its grip on me. It’s public, it’s exposed, and it’s days are numbered.

But what about those whose consciences are seared, who seem to feel no guilt or shame and hid their sin only because it’s not – yet- socially acceptable? Especially those who are rich beyond imagination and live seedy, secret lives behind closed doors. Aren’t they prospering?

Well, in a sense. But would you believe it if I told you that all the wealth of this world is illusory at best? It’s insubstantial. Transitory. It can be gone in a flash.

And some day, sooner or later, the grave will claim the wealthiest and most powerful members of humanity. At that point, their fame, fortune, and power will mean exactly squat. Not a single penny can pass from this life to what lies beyond the grave.

If that person has left their lives in the mastery of a secret sin rather than surrendered to the Lordship of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ), I’m afraid they will not prosper. Over the unfathomable stretch of eternity, all thoughts earthly prosperity will fade from even the strongest memory.

So if some secret sin has possession over you, friend, confess it. Certainly confess it to God, if possible, confess it to a friend you can trust to help you and hold you accountable not to fall back into it. Then pick up a Bible, explore the Scriptures, see what true prosperity looks like.

It will blow your mind – that I promise. In Christ, we don’t find a comfortable and easy life on earth. We find something better!

Joy – real joy that no circumstance or suffering can steal away.

Hope – a hope for future prosperity that makes this world’s wealth look like cheap, tarnished gold paint.

Peace – the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding.

Love – the breathtaking and undeserved love of the Creator God, more fulfilling than any created thing, more intoxicating than any substance, more profound than the most powerful human emotion.

And God. Best of all, you will find God and discover that He truly is enough.
You’ll find genuine satisfaction and rest for your soul.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17

Wisdom Seeker: Day 26

Proverbs 26

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

Proverbs 26:20

I’m on the downslope of this little exercise, so in a few more days I will go back to posting once or twice a week. Good thing, too, because cross country season is ramping up and what with hauling kiddos around (which I LOVE!), my part-time job, ministry activities, regular mom stuff, and my much-neglected personal writing projects, time is becoming shorter…

Speaking of short, I haven’t much to say today. Just a quick thought on verse 20. Christian brothers and sisters, want to know how we can contribute best to promoting peace on social media?

We can refuse to add fuel to the flames.

The thing is, there’s a time and place to engage in debate. We need to stand for truth – absolutely! I never hesitate to post difficult truths on my personal internet space (that being here, of course), and I will speak them in face-to-face contexts when I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do so.

However…

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all that noise? Well… from what I’ve seen and experienced, adding my $0.02 to the general ruckus does nothing more than keep the anger stirred up. I’m not likely to convince someone from the safety of my computer keyboard.

Besides, in most of the social media arguments I’ve seen, people are far too busy hammering out their opinions in capital letters so vehement that I feel I need to dodge the virtual spittle.

Adding to that simply isn’t helpful. If there’s a wrong that needs to be addressed, better to take the offender out for coffee and attempt to rectify or clarify the situation face to face. It’s more Biblical that way as a first step, for one thing.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Matthew 18:15

“But the sin wasn’t against me,” you say? Or maybe, “I don’t actually know the offending party well enough to meet them for coffee.”

Well, then, even better that you keep your thoughts to yourself. If you don’t know them well enough, your words will literally do nothing to help. And if the sin isn’t against you, it may not need your defense.

There are occasions where another person may need defending, but on such occasions, there are ways to word your defense so as to calm the fire rather than feed it. Be sure your remarks are life-bringing, true, and peace-promoting. Avoid inflammatory marks like you avoid the flu in it’s season.

Don’t forget that we are Ambassadors to our King and our heavenly Country. Let’s represent Him well.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

2 Timothy 2:14-16

Wisdom Seeker: Day 22

Proverbs 22

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Proverbs 22:24-25

Confession time.

I was once an angry little homeschool mom. I’m not proud of it, but there it is.

In truth, I struggled with anger for most of my memory. I’m pretty sure when I was young, I stuffed a whole lot of hurt down along with a good bit of resentment and anger until it reached a critical mass of pressure hot enough to cook it into a roiling, seething pool of fury that would occasionally erupt into sounds. Loud ones.

I remember reading this passage in the Proverbs at one point – maybe to my kids, maybe by myself – and realizing, “I am that wrathful man (well, woman, technically, but you get the drift).”

Ugh. As a homeschool mom, my responsibility was to teach my kids. And that’s just what I was doing – teaching them to respond in anger. Teaching them to blow their top. Teaching them impatience.

None of these things were in my preferred curriculum. What I wanted was to teach them to love the Lord our God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

But what I modeled was letting small irritations pile up until a final one broke the proverbial camel’s back – or at least the sound barrier. I was a bit of a yeller.

What did I do?

Well, I tried to control my temper, but it just didn’t work well. I tried to talk myself through it. Finally, I realized that I was helpless in the face of this decades-old mess inside me.

Then I made my first fruitful move. I hit my knees.

I began crying out to God to destroy the anger in my heart. I confessed my dire need of Him. I tearfully begged Him to destroy this thing before it destroyed my young.

And He did! Over time, bit by bit the stinking hot pool of wrath was siphoned off until finally a day came when I handled fifteen irritations without loosing my cool.

Then twenty-five. Then forty.

Then more and more and more. And as my patience grew, my anger diminished until only a puddle remained where a vast sea had once been.

Oh, I still get angry. It isn’t dead yet. However, I no longer fly into a temper over small things. I’ve learned better ways to use the energy of anger – prayer. Reciting Scripture. Physical activity to clear my head.

Not one bit of this can be attributed to anything I’ve done. It is very literally the fruit of God’s Spirit working in me and showing up in my life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . .

Galatians 5:22-23a

What is something you struggle with that you’ve seen God show up in?

Wisdom Seeker: Day 20

Proverbs 20

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Proverbs 20:3

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

Proverbs 20:22

As usual when reading the proverbs, there are several potent verses I could focus on. Today, however, I really want to look at two that caught my attention as related and highly relevant in the tense climate propagated on social media.

Maybe especially with another Presidential election campaign looming like a seedy circus freak show, I see the wisdom in verses 3 and 22.

Goodness, people. Please, please let’s not have another embarrassing repeat of 2016. I’m not talking about the winner or loser or any of that; I’m talking about the way we behaved as a nation.

The fact that our “debates” have denigrated into a sideshow where candidates primarily take cheap potshots at one another and at their opponents’ follow ought to mortify us. What happened to gentlemanly disagreement? To actually and intellectually covering the issues we face as a culture? To reality, for Pete’s sake??

Then the behavior of the supporters of Clinton – throwing a real-life, honest-to-goodness pity party complete with “cry rooms” in colleges and mourning as if a 4-year term was a harbinger of the world’s end!

What in the world have we come to? Playground politics? Do we need to re-institute nap times and snack times? Revisit the preschool days where we learn not to pull Sally’s hair, to share with Billy, to take our turn on the slide?

OK, enough of my little rant. Sometimes I just gotta say something, I guess.

But in reality, is there any actual use for a rant? Probably not. My words aren’t likely to change anyone’s mind or behavior. In fact, they could potentially incite a quarrel.

And that’s what I want to address today.

When it comes to social media, it behooves those of us who know Christ not to enter into the fray of social media vitriol.

Oh I’m not saying we should say nothing. Far from it! After all, I did have my little rant, did I not? However, when it comes down to it, before we type any words, we need to think first.

Does what I’m about to say honor God? Does it dishonor Him in any way? Is it useful to others? Does it need to be said? If it does, am I saying it in a truthful and modest way? Is my interest in defending the Lord’s honor or mine? Am I more interested in justice or in being right?

There are a million other questions we can ask, but all in all, keep verse 22 in mind. It reminds me of another passage:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:19-21

Ultimately, justice will be done. It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Where there is evil in the world, we ought to expose it – especially if it dwells in our own hearts. So have your little rants (like mine) in an appropriate forum. But for heaven’s sake, don’t enter into a quarrel or controversy over them!

If there is truth in your words, the Lord will bring it out. If He compels you to write something, be obedient by all means! But if it’s just you speaking, well… keep it behind your teeth (or off the screen, in the case of social media).

If some point or bit of Scripture you speak about brings the sting of conviction to someone else, let the Lord handle it. After all, that is His job.

Sometimes, the backlash we hear and try to defend against is nothing more than a fellow human being wrestling under the weight of conviction. If that is the case, have compassion, Believer!

Remember how it feels to be under conviction and keep silent. Don’t offer a distraction by entering into a squabble. Just let the Holy Spirit do His glorious work and pray for those who threaten or curse you. It really isn’t about you and me, after all.

Remember, our enemy is not the other political party or the guy on the other end of the social media commentary war. Our enemy is the one who deceives and hates, the one who thrives on division, strife, and conflict.

Let’s not be party to the old snake’s devices, ‘mkay?

PS: I felt it necessary to add a post script to this one. Concerning my rant, do I really think and feel those things? Absolutely, yes. Do I normally spout them out on the internet? Rarely – and more and more rarely as the Spirit of God convicts me to stick to His truth and keep my opinions to myself.

Today I used my unvarnished opinion to (hopefully) elicit an emotional response and lead into my point. Truth is truth, and I’ll stand behind the truth of God’s Word if it costs me my life. My life is His, anyway. But my stuff? Well, that’s just mine. Take it or leave it. 😉

Wisdom Seeker: Day 16

Proverbs 16

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 16:25

Almost didn’t make it today! A 6:30 am prayer meeting, busy day, and a migraine nearly kept me from writing, though not from reading. Still, here I am…

Before I go on (and I will be brief today for sure – the migraine is caged but pacing it’s cage angrily), tomorrow is my son’s college move-in day and Sundays I tend to go unplugged. I might check in tomorrow but it depends! You can bet I’ll be reading, though. I’m a Bible addict. For real.

Anyway, just a quick thought or two about today’s focus verse. I know this one from my experience as an atheist. There were plenty of ways that seemed right to me at the time – worldly wisdom and all.

You know, partying with friends, the “enlightened” modern form of morality (which really is immorality), late nights, hook-up culture. All kinds of fun.

But it wasn’t fun. Not really. When I was alone and sober, there was a sense of reeling. Of incompleteness and purposelessness. A terrible, yawning blackness of sorrow which I tried filling with shallow friendships, long hours at work, and alcohol.

It was a little death. I grew tired of having the same conversations over a couple of shots and a beer. I grew weary of chasing the handful of times I actually had fun with a million nights of drunken nothingness. Frustration. Emptiness. Yuck.

It was like dying slowly without the mercy of an end. Then again, my end would have been far from merciful if I’d been snuffed out in those days – alone and without God. I lived a little hell. Death would have ushered in the real thing.

That is why I am so sold on God’s way now. Ironic, isn’t it, that in my youth when I had my health and freedom, before migraine robbed my strength and my days, that I had no joy. None. There were moments of happiness, but no underlying joy. Just that horrible blackness waiting to suck me down in a single, undistracted instant.

But now, with frequent pain and so many things to do each day that I sacrifice sleep to spend time with my Lord and in prayer, I have so much joy.

Then, I had only myself to serve. It gave me nothing but sorrow.

Now, I have my husband, my three biological kids, my countless part-time, semi-adopted kids, friends, dogs, a cat, a job, and health issue. And I have joy.

Pure, undiluted, lovely joy that comes straight from knowing my Savior Yeshua, being loved by Father, and being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Wouldn’t trade this life for the old one for ten billion dollars. True story.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 16:11