Trying: The Good and The Bad

I’m fascinated with words like “trying” that have conflicting definitions – their use keeps us from understanding what we want to say to each other.

You are headed for trouble! You say wrong is right, darkness is light, and bitter is sweet.
Isaiah 5:20 CEV

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
Genesis 11:7 NIV

I’m amazed that everything we see happening in the world today has already been prophesied and predicted – yet so few seem to be aware of this.

business-as-usualBut understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
(And it is hardly possible anymore to “avoid such people”.)

I’m deeply saddened that the solution to – or, at least, the explanation for – these problems has been documented all along in plain sight, but so many have sought – successfully – to have it be ignored, ridiculed, and denied.

For the message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.
1 Corinthians 1:18 ISV

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT


terrifiedI’m terrified at the promise of what is yet to come – upon all of us. It is not an idle threat.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
Matthew 24:4-12 NIV

But I’m incredulous, yet slightly perversely joyous, that all this is proof that God’s Word is Truth. These facts are signs of the end times. Will I live to see it? I really do wonder. And I keep trying look past the coming trials to the reward on the other side.

Then there is hope that I myself will somehow be raised from death.
Philippians 3:11 ERV

But I meant to speak of “trying”. We have to be trying to hold onto hope in these trying times. We have to be trying to be examples of His message in both our words and actions.

Adjective: difficult, annoying, or hard to endure

Verb: make an attempt or effort to do something

“Easier said than done” is especially apt to describe people’s actions these days. We all speak our minds and are quick to advise the world in general from our wisdom. Social media has paved the way for us, as is so obvious from this US election. The hateful and contemptuous language I have read! (And posted, too, I confess.) We have become so reactive, instead of focusing on being proactive.

What can we do? I think the first thing is instead to ask “What can I do?” Christianity is: Fixing the Whole – fixing, improving, growing, maturing myself. Actively. Doing what I proclaim in my own life. Walking my own talk. And being honest with myself about how far away I fall from doing that.

What continues to be of prime importance to me is that I read The Bible for myself. It is the foremost way God speaks to me. I can only urge you to do the same. Give it a try. I am sure you will be amazed at what you hear, and what you learn about yourself.

This morning, I am also recalling and considering the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is Evil talking:

screwtape.jpg“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Evil seeks to keep the Truth of God far from our awareness.

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Faith and trust in God and His purpose helps us to get through our difficult seasons. We all will have storms in this life.

“I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so.”

Evil wants us to think he (The Evil One) doesn’t exist, despite how easily and simply it explains everything.

I believe:

“Every life is better with Christ at its center, but that means that Christ must become, more and more, the animating center of all you do and say.”
Rankin Wilbourne, excerpted from “Union With Christ” in “Men of Integrity” magazine

god-anything-possibleThis is what I believe, yes, the every life would be better. But how I put this into effect is only by making my life better, by keeping Christ at its center, letting Him, more and more, be the animating force of all I do and say.

I can not change you. God will do that. And He just may work through what you see me do and hear me say.

To Speak Of Knowing What I Can Not Prove

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us take a moment to speak quietly. Let us each be quick to listen, thoughtful in our response, and very, very careful to watch for even the slightest resentment in our words. Everybody knows a gentle answer turns away wrath, while a harsh retort stirs up anger.

We are all the same, are we not? Don’t we all have eyes? Don’t we have hands, bodily organs, a human shape, five senses, feelings, and passions? Don’t we all eat the same food, get hurt with the same weapons, get healed by the same medicine, and warm up in summer and cool off in winter? If you prick us, don’t we all bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we all laugh? If you poison us, don’t we all die?

And if one of us is verbally treated badly, what then?

I speak just of speaking in this post. Discourse is truly what connects us in a civilized society, written or spoken. But there are at least two layers to it. On the surface, our meaning might be plain, but, buried between the lines, there can be a very different thing. Sometimes we hope it will harm. Don’t we all know this?

We all stumble in many ways. Is there anyone who is never at fault in what they say? Is there anyone who is perfect, and able to keep their whole body (and tongue) in check? I have only ever heard of one, Jesus Christ. And he taught and showed – he was a living example of – what is then the best, kindest, most honest, and purest reply.

(Apologies, but this is not a post about what Christ actually said. May I suggest a study of The Bible if more information is desired?)

My point is that Jesus spoke quite honestly with those who disagreed with him, even when there were no facts or data or statistics – nothing provable – to be had about what he said (specifically about the corruption of the Pharisees, etc). He spoke of knowing what can not be proven, yet is still truth. Parables, allegories, analogies, metaphors were helpful in doing this.

I’ve read and heard many opinions about Christ – in regards to whether he was truly who he said he was. But – regardless of the state of the speaker’s faith – none denied that there was a man who, roughly 2000 years ago, turned the world upside-down as the founder of Christianity. This is history, and we all believe history happened, don’t we?

Likewise, history documents many other social and political events and movements, wars and the causes for, in, and of them, and world-changing individuals. Those who did good and those who did evil. Those who brought great evil here: assassinations; enslavement; genocide; swindling of basic human rights. Can we agree on this? That these things happened, and they still happen today, and that no person or nation is NOT susceptible. “Caveat Emptor” remains a necessary watchword.

We can disagree on the why this happen(s/ed). I believe that humankind was created to be good, but, in falling (in the proverbial Garden), has been broken – beyond our own ability to repair. Hence the need for salvation, for being made right with our Creator. We now individually must specifically and intentionally choose good – and can quite easily take the other path.

We can choose poorly because of greed, or hurt, or hate, or simple ignorance, or purposeful deception by another. It is this latter cause I am writing about today. Knowing what can not be definitively proven. We can be very sure, with history as our witness, that there are people who deceive and manipulate to get what they want, and that sometimes what they want is power over others. These people will seek to conceal their methods. To hide what they do. For everyone who does evil hates the light – for light will expose his deeds.

Same as it ever was.

These days, I keep no doubt that there’s at least a grain of truth in any rumors and allegations I hear. And I hear so many! They are, in themselves, damning evidence. We all know. We don’t need it to be proven to us.

This post took a while to put together, and I could spend a lot more time on it! But one thing about blogging is that it is meant to be more of a concise form of writing (as opposed to a book). Hope you enjoyed reading this and can see the point I was trying to make.

Regarding the ‘why’ I wrote this today, I hope it’s obvious that it is about the US presidential election. “Corruption” and “government” go hand-in-hand. It’s one of those things you’re either realistic or foolish about; one of those things we just ‘know’.

And, yes, I quoted or paraphrased Bible verses, movies, songs, and even Shakespeare in this post. Kudos to you if you recognized:

  • The Merchant of Venice
  • James 1:19
  • Proverbs 15:1
  • LotR
  • Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
  • John 3:19-20
  • Talking Heads