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Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day / Quotes’ Category

Back in the early 1970s, Motown artists, “The Undisputed Truth” had a big hit with their song, “Smiling Faces Sometimes”. I appreciated the “Sometimes” in the title, because more often than not I believe there is something genuine behind a smile, but not always.  Aside from being a great record to listen to, the song’s lyrics contained a warning that is still worth remembering today. They said:

 

Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend

Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within

Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes they don’t tell the truth

Smiling faces, smiling faces tell lies and I got proof

 

later it adds

 

Beware of the handshake

that hides the snake

I’m telling you beware of the pat on the back,

it just might hold you back

 

The fact that people can be deceptive isn’t exactly breaking news, but within our current cultural climate I’m sensing a growing level of susceptibility toward soothing and sympathetic voices. Given the terse rhetoric that dominates our societal landscape, it’s not hard to understand the desire for a friendlier, more welcoming tone, but like the song says, appearances can be deceiving.

 

Beware of the sympathetic voice that encourages you to see yourself as a victim, it may be the thing that keeps you from overcoming the past

Beware of the compassionate voice that tells you that you can’t help being addicted, it may just want to be your new drug (e.g. Suboxone, Methadone…) supplier

Beware of the benevolent politician who offers to take care of you, they may well be working on their own private pension plan

Beware of the zealot who offers you a scapegoat for all your troubles, they may be distracting you from the real enemy

 

Remember that not everyone who agrees with you is for you, and not everyone who disagrees with you is against you.

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Don’t mistake obsession for love.  Obsession will drive a person to destroy the thing they claim to love rather than seeing it belong to someone else, while real love would rather set that thing free than see it destroyed.

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One of the more positive effects of the technology revolution has been the flexibility it affords us in handling information; but this free flow of data hasn’t been without it’s perils. Accessible from so many different sources, stored in countless locations, and available in such diverse formats, we’re seeing that information is highly susceptible to corruption and manipulation.  Indeed, the emerging generation has grown up in an era where those who don’t like the history of something, can easily edit it, or simply delete the file altogether.  You see this tendency in personal interactions, where “Friends” are unfriended, conversation chains are deleted, and any photographic evidence is scrubbed from the memory card.  On a larger scale, there is a growing trend toward expunging the names and memories of those historical figures that don’t measure up to current sensibilities in regard to what is acceptable.

 

To be sure, I can understand the desire to avoid the uglier aspects of our history, both personally, and as a culture. Yet, I’m concerned that the unwitting consequence of so effectively erasing these unpleasant chapters is the likelihood that we will fail to learn the lessons taught by them, thus dooming us to repeat them some time in the future.

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I awoke to the sound of the prophet’s voice calling out to God’s people, “How long shall you waver between two opinions?” 

If He is for us, who can be against us?

If He gave us a sound mind, and a spirit that is without fear, how are we paralyzed with depression and anxiety?

If He works all things to our good, and is faithful to complete the good work He’s begun in us, how can we be without hope?

There is no doubt that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

“If the Lord be God, follow Him.”

 

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The Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Throughout the epistles he exhorts us to do the same.  Recently, I’ve sensed the Lord highlighting some of the childish things that need to be put away.

 

First and foremost, a child is self-centered.  A baby has no capacity to concern itself with whether its parents are tired or busy or sick, it just knows that it’s not comfortable (e.g. hungry, wet, gassy, tired) and it demands immediate attention.  Presumably, as we get older, our awareness of other people and their struggles grows, but in times of trouble we can easily return to our infancy, becoming blind and numb to anything other than our own wants, needs, or pain.

 

As a baby grows into a child it becomes increasingly responsive to external stimuli, like light, color, noise, music, touch… and through this it learns to interact with the world around it.  Eventually, these external forces begin to shape the child’s concept of life and identity.  But as we grow in spiritual maturity, we’re called to become less responsive to what is seen (which is perishing), and more sensitive to what is unseen (which is eternal).

 

Young children tend to easily fall into covetousness when they see something they want, jealousy when someone else has what they want, and to have tantrums, when they don’t get what they want.  It is not a given that age and experience will cause us to grow past these things.  Often, we simply become more subtle in the ways we express them.

 

Children are also famous for their impatience and fertile imaginations, both of which can become powerful tools in the hands of the adversary.

 

Indeed, the scripture admonishes us to humbly esteem others above ourselves, to bless and serve those around us, and to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.   It commands us not to covet, warns us against the “acts of the flesh” (including jealousy, selfish ambition, fits of rage) and reminds us that “self-control” is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It tells us that we must cast down our imaginations, to learn to “wait on the Lord”, and to embrace patience as a reflection of Christ’s character.  Throughout the New Testament it speaks of the transformation that God desires to work in each of us, and He assures us that He is faithful to complete this good work that He’s begun in us.

 

It’s likely that none of us want to think of ourselves as being childish, but I sense the Lord challenging us to allow Him to reveal the “childish things” that we still need to put away.  To uncover those instances where we’ve become callous and numb to other people’s pain, or those circumstances that we’ve unwittingly become slaves to, or those things that we’re coveting and maybe even making into idols.  To show us those places within our heart where self-pity, jealousy, and bitterness dwell; and to expose the imaginings that have replaced the genuine prophetic vision He means to give us.

 

Like David did in the Psalms, we need to invite Him to examine our hearts.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.  Amen.

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The proverbial “We” or “Us” (i.e. people who share our values/worldview) have a tendency to put our hate in a different category than the hate spread by the proverbial “Them” (i.e. people who don’t share our values/worldview). We see “Them” as haters, and view their hate as toxic. While we consider our brand of hate as being justified, and maybe even virtuous. Whether it is a hatred of Donald Trump, or Nancy Pelosi, of religion, or godlessness, of Socialism, or Capitalism, of Conservatives or Liberals or any one of the million other things we choose to hate, it all mixes together to create the same poisonous atmosphere. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. We won’t get better as a society by continuing to berate, mock, taunt, protest, boycott, slander, threaten and attack each other. As Dr. King rightly concluded, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”   

 

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More sickening than the Pornographers and the Sex Traffickers are those who create the incredible demand for what they do.

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