There have been times in my life when I have gotten into arguments. No, really, I have. I know you find it hard to believe, but it is true. Nine times out of ten (or maybe eight, at least seven, I know) times it is because of miscommunication. More specifically on the definition of a certain word or phrase that I thought was a “given” meant something different to somebody else. I recall one time my wife and I got in a serious disagreement over the Bible. She said it was an ‘Instruction Manual’, and I corrected her (yep, mistake no.1) and said it was a ‘Guide Line’. When someone says ‘Instruction Manual’ I think of “place screw 15786509 into hole 344476349 and tighten until snug” or some such. You see it names the screw and the hole and tells you what to do with them. A Guide Line is more of “a good way to take connect these two boards with a screw. You may also use a nail or some twine, but the screw is the best way.” Do you see the difference there? It may only be a subtle difference, but there it is. It was enough that the Devil could stick his foot in the door and cause stress and dissention in the ranks. We argued over that particular subject for quite some time, and I had no idea why until much later. We were both saying the same thing, but using different words to accomplish it. The Bible tells you how to handle situations without getting bogged down with the specifics (like names of screws and pegs and what-nots). Now-a-days, with the advent of texting and social media we have to be extremely careful of how we phrase things, lest we give the enemy an opening. We as partakers in social media need to also keep this in mind and not take offense at the first perceived insult. It is really hard to apply the right ‘tone’ to some messages, and sarcasm often doesn’t translate well either (imagine that!) So when you read something you may find offensive, before you fly off the handle and start a three page rant about someone, and then unfriend them, you might stop a moment and try to figure out if what they ‘said’ was actually what they ‘meant’. (And to finish the story about me and my wife arguing, all was well as soon as I admitted I was wrong. There see how easy that was?)
I was discussing artwork with my family the other day (and if you know me then you know my ‘other day’ could mean any day that wasn’t yesterday), and I was trying to get some ideas for a new project. Anyway, my wife said I should do a picture of what I think the Devil would look like. That got me to thinking about it (but I haven’t done that project, I think it would be beyond my artistic abilities) and I’ve realized that I don’t think of the Devil the way most people do. Yes I believe he is evil, and yes I believe his motives are selfish and destructive, but his appearance is a completely different matter altogether. The Bible said that he was one of the chief angels, and that he was called the Morningstar. That leads me to believe he was fair to look at. Probably very handsome. I think he probably had a soothing presence about him, and an easy going manner. All of these things combined make him very deadly for the world of today. What do I think the Devil looks like? I think he has a multitude of faces, and most of them are not menacing at all. That’s what makes him scary. True evil rarely shows its real face until it is too late for its prey to escape. I try to keep that in mind as I travel through this fallen world. It reminds me that it’s a dangerous place and appearances can be deceiving.
Life requires balance. It doesn’t matter what angle you are looking at it from. Mankind has learned this through the ages. It is apparent in almost everything you look at. Eat a balanced diet. Learn to balance your social life with your work life. Balance your checkbook. Those are just a few examples of everyday things we are expected to learn how to do. Nature will go so far as to try to correct an imbalance. It has been scientifically documented that some amphibians will actually change sexes if one of the required is absent. It is something that was set up by the Creator. It is true with this physical body that we inhabit. You must have balance, and if you don’t your body will attempt to bring you into balance. You will crave things that contain that thing that you are missing. This is also true of your Spiritual body. Love, companionship, direction, these are all things that human beings need. This is what causes people to search, and while you are searching to be misled. The Devil knows you will be searching, and he will whisper in your ear how this pretty shiny or that pretty shiny will give you what you have been searching for. He will show you anything that will keep you from looking where he knows you will find it. Anything to keep you here with him. Anything so that he does not have to suffer alone. God is the answer. God will give you peace. God will end your searching and bring your spiritual body into balance. Without Him you will wander and search forever, never finding peace. And that will suit the Devil just fine.
There’s been a lot on the internet recently about tolerance and respecting other people’s rights to believe whatever they want. I know, I know. Its nothing new. It just seems to be a lot more prevalent in the posts and articles I receive. I do respect other people’s beliefs. Even if I might think they are wrong. Its not up to me to tell anyone how to live. I don’t decide what is right and what is wrong for them, but I have noticed a trend. I hear a lot of ‘you just need to accept it as normal.’ I’m sorry? Did you just flip that on me? I’m supposed to tolerate your beliefs and not dictate how you believe, but its okay for you to dictate how I should? While at the same time telling me not to tell you what I believe? Does that sound wrong to anybody else? Before you start ranting and raving about those looney Christians who believe is ghosts, demons and spirits, you might wanna measure your own words and actions by the same yardstick. You just might find out it all adds up the same way.
I sat down in my living room yesterday, and my kids were watching a survival show. It was just one of those shows that give basic survival tips and follows the host as he/she tries to survive in dangerous areas. In this particular episode two guys were trying to survive crossing a salt-flat desert. They picked a direction to travel, one that appeared to be the closest mountain range and began trekking. As these survival experts walked they explained about distance in this type of terrain. You see when someone gets lost out in these types of terrain, they usually head towards the closest visible place to get out of the sun. What they don’t realize is that the distance is usually an illusion. However far it may look to you, it is usually three times as far. If it looks like five miles, it’s probably fifteen. In my experience, most of life is like that. Goals you set for yourself tend to be further away than you expect. No matter how much planning and preparation you make, there are going to be setbacks and mistakes that you just didn’t see. If you are doing what God wants you too, a way will be provided for it. There will be an oasis where you can recharge as you journey across your own burning sands. Sometimes it could be something as simple as encouraging words from friends or as elaborate as an unexpected gift. I also think that we shouldn’t forget that we need to BE that oasis for those around us as we make our own journey. Don’t forget to say those kind words or give that helping hand to your fellow travelers. Just a little something to think about while you walk.
“About a month ago, I made the decision to try and be more optimistic. I tried to look at everything in a positive light, and look for the silver lining that is supposed to accompany all of those dark clouds. During that month, it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. It just seemed to reinforce the fact that life is crappy and then you die.” This is what a friend of mine said to me a few weeks ago (I was paraphrasing and used a tad bit of censoring). My friend doesn’t claim to be a Christian. He doesn’t deny there is a God, but he seems to think God is out to punish him for something. That makes for a dark path. I know because I’ve been there. But I didn’t want my response to him to sound like I was ‘preaching’ at him, and I told him so. Then I proceeded to tell him that it wasn’t God trying to punish him, it was the Devil. You see, when the Devil sees you trying to look at things in a different light, he redoubles his efforts to make you think that it’s not possible to see it any other way. He wants you to believe that it is unrealistic to look at life with a positive attitude. So when you start making that effort, he redoubles his against you. When you’re in the position I was in, you tend to think it is God doing it. God isn’t sitting on high, holding a big hammer over your head waiting for you to mess up so that he can punish you. It took me a long time to see that. Negative thinking skews the way that you view the world. It obscures the things that God is doing to help you, and as long as the Devil can keep you thinking that way, you will never see how much God loves you. It takes a long time to retrain your brain to think positively after you have been down that dark path, but it is not impossible. And trust me; the world is a much more beautiful place in the light.
There is a hypothetical glass in this world. You hear people talking about it all the time .Is the glass half empty or half full? Are you a glass half empty kinda gal/guy? This hypothetical glass is NOT what I want to talk about. If you’re optimistic your glass is supposedly half-full. If you’re pessimistic your glass is half empty. I have a friend that looks at his glass and then starts looking around for the jerk that is drinking out of his. THAT’s the guy I want to talk about (not my friend, the guy drinking out of his glass). What is in the glass is your life. It is the things that you enjoy and what makes life worth living. Two people can fill that glass (I believe only one can, but for any of those people that don’t believe I’ll grant them the two); you and God. Whoever is filling the glass there is just ONE guy that waits until you’re not looking and drinks it. You can call him whatever you like, I call him the Devil. The thing is, he only drinks when you’re not looking. So if you stop filling your glass, he empties it because you’re not paying attention. I myself let God fill the glass for me, that way I don’t have to constantly fill it myself. God puts better stuff in it than I ever could anyway and He is always paying attention. So the other guy doesn’t get the chance to drink out of mine. Just something to think about. Cheers.