A Word to the Wise

12-8-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Loneliness

Loneliness, what is it? Why is it? Friend or foe?
Some live constantly in the grips of the terror produced by loneliness. Others embrace this odd experience as one would a close companion.
How is it that this experience is a terrible burden which mangles the emotions and hurl’s desperate storms of anguish. What assuages these feelings?
Before we answer this question let me assure you that some wrap themselves in this comfortable blanked to escape life’s trauma. For these few the comfort provided allows a depth of existence which is difficult to grasp. If experienced properly loneliness is a passing experience utilized by the individual to restore peace and fulfillment and direction.
The best example is seen in the life of Jesus when He would withdrawal to spend time with His Father. (Luke 6:12). By the same token we see the Master in Gethsemane, three years later in agony unable to get his disciples to join Him in prayer. (Luke 22:39ff).
So with Jesus we see both extremes. The lesson for us may be that loneliness is a gift at times and at others the depth of abandonment.
All of the great men of faith discovered both extremes and so must we.
Why one may ask? Because loneliness drives us into the arms of the Master. None may assuage the emotions like the Master. The great failure on our part is to refuse to cast ourselves at His feet and be comforted by Him. Instead we flee to endless television programs, mindless games, or other pursuits that only worsen the depths of our agony.
Jesus knows our struggles He has been there, done that He is the solution. Try it.

A Word to the Wise

12-7-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Now consider addiction. It should be noted that man has been working desperately to find a cure. For some, the belief is that education is the answer. So for example in an attempt to stop drug abuse among teens, there has been a dramatic increase in the advertisements aimed at this segment of society. Does education work? The reality is that there has been a tremendous increase in the use of both alcohol and drugs among young people. So what about treatment? Rehabilitation centers are popping up all over the country with magical cures (if you have money or insurance) the chief aim of which is to soothe the panic ridden family that has reached its “wits end.” The ultimate failure of rehabilitation lies in its failure to recognize the basic biblical principle that abstinence is no cure for addiction. But man rejects that abstinence is not the answer. The concept is difficult to comprehend because it goes against our natural inclinations. It would seem abstinence is the only answer. Say one has a smoking problem, and then just stops smoking, either by cutting down or laying the cigarettes aside. If that does not work, try aversive therapy, or psychotherapy. The therapies are endless, and the success rate is small. For instance, over 90% of cigarette smokers return to smoking the first year. Even if the abstinence works, nothing has been done about the underlying causes. A new object eventually replaces the present object of addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous is one type of philosophy that focuses on abstinence. This organization is up-front with addiction; one is always an addict, and one can never drink again. The support groups replace the alcohol, or the drugs, or the overeating with group meetings.
In contrast to these philosophies, God’s word offers hope. Hope that also not only can one be released from the symptom—chemical, objects whatever– but that this whole nature can be washed away. But it is not achieved through abstinence. The Apostle Paul introduces the subject of abstinence and its failures in Colossians 2:20-23. He states that severity to the body such as do not taste, do not touch, while seemingly wise, is actually of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.
Even in the natural world man is beginning to learn what God taught centuries ago. Take weight loss. In a study by Johnson and Drenick, which looked at the results of long-term, therapeutic fasting, they noted some dramatic results. Of two hundred patients virtually all lost weight at the onset of fasting. Even a majority maintained the loss for over a year. But fifty percent of the group returned to their original weight within 2 years and by the time nine years had passed, only 5.8% weighed less than they did originally. More startling was the observation that 42% of the child onset and 26% of the adult onset patients weighed more than before the fast began. Many similar studies indicate that rarely do more than 5% maintain weight loss for longer than 2 years. Why is it that abstinence does not work?
There was a major study done several years ago that suggests reasons for the failure of abstinence at solving addiction. This study was conducted at the University of Minnesota. The experiment involved restricting the caloric intake of 36 young, healthy, psychologically normal men who had volunteered for the study as an alternative to military service. During the first three months of the experiment, they ate normally while their behavior; personality and eating patterns were studied. During the subsequent 6 months the men were restricted to about half of their former food intake and lost on the average 25% of their original body weight. This was followed by 3 months of rehabilitation during which the men were gradually refed. These men experienced dramatic physical, psychological, and social changes because of the starvation. In most cases, these changes persisted during the rehabilitation phase.
What were some of these changes? First, there was a dramatic increase in the preoccupation with food. Concentration on usual activities became increasingly, more difficult due to persistent thoughts of food and eating. Food became the principal topic of conversation, reading and dreams. For some the fascination became so great, they actually changed vocations: three became chefs, and one went into agriculture. Essentially, the results produced an abstinence-induced addiction.
Attempts to handle addictive behavior with self-control are doomed to failure. True, one may actually give up the behavior; however the character problems remain. The problems are magnified because we focus on a physical desire (being thin) as opposed to setting our minds on Christ.
These principles hold true whether the addiction is to food, chemicals, sex, or any other object man might deify. There is a heavy price to pay for abstinence. Abstinence alerts and shuts down every physical, psychological, and spiritual function. Abstinence, instead of taking the mind off the addiction, focuses and concentrates on it. If abstinence fails, what succeeds? We are not ready yet for the answer. One must get to the root of the problem first.
The principle critical to understanding addiction is what I call insatiability. Actual this is a physical warning experienced through our spirits warning us of impending danger. Danger in the sense that we are turning our attention from God to the material. Because the principle is most clearly seen in biblical passages when dealing with eating disorders we will use this area as an example. However, like the other principles discussed this one holds true of any type of addiction, or addictive thinking. In the opening passages of Genesis we find the roots of addictive thinking and the subsequent maladies. The Lord warns Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of two specific trees. But the woman looked at the tree “saw that it was to be desired, that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” These are the traits of addictiveness and its appeal. The sin was exalting one to the level of God or idolatry, which is the root difficulty with addictiveness. In disciplining Eve the Lord tells her that part of that discipline will be a desire or taking into account the intense form of the Hebrew word being used “a violent craving for” her husband. Thus very early the physical experience intense craving is introduced as a consequence of idolatry. In Lev. 26:26 the Lord again reiterates the consequences of idolatry when He says, “if you walk contrary to my ways, that is have other gods before me then as discipline “when I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again by weight and you shall eat, and not be satisfied. Idolatry carries with it then this intense craving which cannot be satisfied or put another way one loses the ability to enjoy what God has given. In describing the sensation of intense craving one client put it, “I eat until I feel like I am going to burst, and I still feel famished.” Food has become to this person the object of attention. The Lord is displaced. The consequences for this idolatry is insatiability. This insatiability is discussed several times in scripture. Hosea the prophet warns that the consequences of rebellion and idolatry shall be, “they shall eat, but not be satisfied.” The prophet Micah reaffirms the same principle saying, “you shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be hunger in your inward parts.”
Solomon has much to say about the problem and sheds further light on the source of insatiability. In Ecc 2:24 Solomon is telling the godly person “there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also is from the hand of God.” For apart from Him who can eat and have enjoyment? So the source of pleasure is God and is given as a reward. It’s taken from him who turns to other gods. Solomon reaffirms this in the next chapter when he says “that it is God’s gift to man that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in his toil….in fact he says God has made it so in order that men should fear before him” Solomon then turns his attention to the insatiability aspect in chapter 6 and says…This is an evil which have seen under the sun land it lies heavy upon men. A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions land honor so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires yet God does not give him power to enjoy them. Why does God take the pleasure…because of idolatry. Another passage which reflects on this phenomenon is addressed in Haggai: 6. An appalling situation has occurred the people have forsaken God and are only interested in their own pleasures. Haggai tells them, Is it time for you to dwell in your paneled houses while this house—that is God’s house lies in ruins? Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts consider how you have fared. You have sown much and harvested little: you eat but you never have enough, you drink but never have your fill…”What these passages are saying is that the power to enjoy food is a gift from God- and it is withheld when a person focuses their attention on something other than God. What we have been talking about is the driving force behind addictions where and when that force originated and how we give it ruling power in our lives. It accounts for why the cocaine addict never gets enough of his drug and why he must keep coming back for more. It reminds us of the fatal attractions in our relationships and why we continually return to another person or drugs, alcohol, or sex desperate for assurance and affection and find no satisfaction When one turns away from the giver of pleasure then fulfillment is lost. Once lost we are doomed to an eternal struggle for satisfaction….which never comes. These principles hold true whether the addiction is to food, chemicals, sex, or any other object man might deify.

A Word to the Wise

12-5-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Satan’s lies

Very early in life usually about two or three Satan begins to plant seeds in the hearts of children which then bear fruit throughout their life. They are very simple ideas based on the actions or behaviors of others. Examples of seeds might be ones parents are not dependable based on failures to keep promises.
Perhaps a father promises to take his child to the show. The child waits all day for his father to come home and fulfill his promise. Something happens at work and he gets off late. He comes home and has forgotten his promise the child has not forgotten and Satan merely says to the inner child “I told you he could not be trusted.” All of these seeds have simple beginnings yet Satan carefully nourishes them with events in the child’s life that reinforces the original lesson.

Jesus addresses this in His parable the Wheat and the Tares. “Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
One may glean from this passage important direction for dealing with Satan’s lies.
Awareness of the lies is essential they must be gathered up and marked for destruction. However, at this point in a child’s life they are not rooted out because if they are then the good plants can be destroyed as well. Now how is this possible how can the good be intertwined with the lie in such a manner that the good is at risk? Simply, the parent does many other good things, keeps many other promise. Yet this broken promise is the emphases by the evil one. However, to remove the broken promises at this early age threatens the well-kept promises.

Often the father may not even remember the. However, knowing the adversaries tactic what will probably happen is the child will be prompted to remind the father. The father will justify, explain, deny the promise and the situation has now been worsened in the child’s spirit. The father could simply admit to his failure ask for forgiveness and the child would probably forgive. But the problem is at this stage the child will not forget. Satan will not allow that to be forgotten.
The wise father should make a record of his failures and later on in life when the child is now a father himself sit down with the child and show him the his failures which would indicate to the child that those promises and failures were important to the father. Now the seeds could be completely removed, and forgiveness, mercy and gratitude replacing bitterness and failure.
How does the Lord deal with the adversaries lies ? When Satan lied to God and told him Job would fail the only thing God said was prove it!

A Word to the Wise

12-4-2019 – A Word to the Wise – THE ACQUISTION OF MERCY: Why and How

Patience is obtained through endurance of unpleasant situations or circumstances. How often I hear, “I will not ever pray for the Lord to teach me patience again.” Usually this follows a very trying experience. The person is unwilling to undergo the character training necessary to produce the character quality of patience. Acquiring and using mercy is no different

The character quality of Mercy is obtained by experiencing significant pain; emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual. Acquiring mercy is very painful. Not long ago I was explaining to a client the painful process necessary if one is to develop the trait. The individual let me know quite bluntly they had no desire to acquire mercy they would do just fine without it. How unfortunate. It reminds me of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to be a disciple. Once learning the cost he decided to choose a different path.

So it is with Mercy. Perhaps we should offer a glimmer of insight into the benefits of mercifulness. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount tells us that the one who is merciful will obtain mercy.

How is this gift utilized? How does one go through the process? First one observes one hurting. The source of the pain may be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Second, the one with the gift of Mercy places themselves in contact with the person hurting. Three, the Mercy takes the pain off the other person. Four, there is an awareness on the part of the Mercy that a transfer of pain has occurred and that they are now hurting. Fifth, the Mercy then goes through the process of giving up the pain to the Lord. Sixth, deep fatigue sets in. Seventh, is the recovery period.

These different stages are necessary for the Mercy if they are to successfully reduce suffering on a regular basis. Each stage requires training brought about painful experiences, and an unselfish willingness to take another’s pain. Now why would anyone want to go through all of this pain? Is it worth it? God’s Word tells us that this is exactly what Jesus did for us leaving us an example that we are to follow.
What difficulty lessens or even blunts the gift of Mercy? In my experience the one who has the potential frequently is so obsessed with sensing their own pain they are unable to experience other trauma.

Who are those most apt to develop the skills necessary to help others? First of all those who have been given the gift of Mercy which represents about 30 % of the general population. Second born children, are another group representing a large segment of society who tend to possess the skills necessary to exercise this trait. A combination of the two, one possessing the gift of Mercy and second born individuals makes the ability very intense.
Now one has to decide if they are courageous enough and willing to make themselves available to the hurting of the world.

A Word to the Wise

12-3-2019 – A Word to the Wise – What is faith?
9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh. (Genesis 18 ESV)
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. (Hebrews 11, ESV)
Proper interpretation of these verses is important if one is to understand the nature of faith. You see they laughed because it seemed incredible to them because of the age of their bodies—not a doubt of God’s Word.
This is clarified in Gen. 18:14 –the question ‘is anything too hard for God” this is speaking of their bodies which is explained in Gen. 18:11 telling us they were old. Thus they on the spur of the moment doubted their ability not God’s!! There is a huge difference in the two.
Furthermore neither were rebuked for not believing as was Zacharias when told of John’s birth. (Luke 1:20). But rather God’s word tells us clearly that Sarah and Abraham both had faith—they believed God.
Their laughter was for their bodies—not scorn for the word of God. They seem to have forgotten God for the moment-reflecting only on their ages and inability to produce of themselves. Once it is said ‘is anything to hard for God” they believed –they were not any longer depending on the ability of their bodies as at first—but God.
God is not a respecter of persons—if their laughter had been from unbelief in God—they would have been disciplined
as was Zacharias. The bible says he was accused of unbelief and disciplined for it.
The bible says Sarah was only asked ‘why’ she laughed and then tells us it was because of the age of her body which she was momentarily depending on all her ability not focused on God thus the question to stir up her thinking ‘is anything too hard of God?
So four thousand years later, why is this passage important? The answer is to be discovered in our prayers. Our prayers are to be oriented around the Lord’s plan for our life and His historical purpose. Instead our prayers tend to reflect what we want not what He wants.
Perfect prayer entails discovering what God wants then asking how He may use us to accomplish that purpose.
We ought to realize that when the Lord answers our prayers it is often to convince us of His power and purpose. With this knowledge and established faith we are ready to ask the really serious questions dealing with His purpose and our place in His plan.
For example I may ask Him “why did you place me here,” His answer; to cause others to believe, to strengthen faith. So the question you ought to be asking is ‘why did the Lord put you here at this time, and in this place? Without that knowledge you, and I will falter, and fret unable to discriminate the correct path. If this be the circumstance the focus and purpose of our prayers will be on what we want not what He wants. Consider please if Jesus had accomplished anything other than the purpose for which He was sent, no matter how good, no matter how noble, He would have failed.
So ask Him ‘why Lord am I here, your servant wishes to do your will and complete the task set before me.’ So it is for us. By faith learn His purpose and dedicate self to achieve that purpose.

A Word to the Wise

12-2-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Matthew 6:24 says No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other you cannot serve God and mammon.” This is perhaps one of the most fundamental of all Biblical passages.
Several years ago Dr. Harold Hazelip taught some lessons from the Sermon on the Mount which opened the to some very practical meanings and applications to this passage. My work at Terrell State Hospital taught me that there is no doubt that compulsive addictive behavior enslaves one to the physical body with all of its desires and demands. The cares and concerns over the physical choke out one’s relationship with God and his fellowman. In sharp contrast to the self-induced anxiety over the quest for the material, Jesus calls our attention to His demands and rewards.
Jesus no more than says you can’t serve two things at once then He defines the “other” master as the quest for the basic necessities food, clothing and drink. One of the characteristics we learn of God in the Old Testament is that He is an uncompromising God. Now for the person who is unattached, uncommitted that person can have as many distractions along with its consequences as he pleases. However for the person who is a servant of God, who pledges allegiance to Christ Jesus, it is from that person that the Lord God demands allegiance. In the Old Testament He would say “I lam the Lord God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other Gods before me and I am a jealous God.” Then the Lord threatens to bring His wrath all the way down to the third and fourth generations for disobedience. There was a continuing effect about not making up one’s mind in His service. It reminds us of a generation nature of our own problems how alcoholism is handed down from one generation to another. The tendency for suicidal acting out to be generation in nature or mental illness being passed down from one generation to the next or particularly, the problems and difficulties associated with eating disorders going from one generation to the next. And thus, what we are being reminded of here is taking seriously who our Master is and realizing we just cannot serve God and riches or alcohol or drugs or sex or food This is a fundamental principle the keeping of which results in the return of order to the disordered life of the addictive person. So what we have here now is Jesus calling for a decision and He is clear about what that decision involves. One cannot serve God and alcohol. You just cannot serve God and money. One cannot serve God and food. You will find it impossible to serve God and drugs. The earthly and the heavenly do not mix. But if there is anything we are out to get, to pile up for ourselves, it is the material, the perishable to gain for ourselves by whatever name and by whatever means the material. Jesus is saying that we can’t have it both ways. We cannot go on pleasing ourselves and expect those pleasures to continue to give us pleasure, nor can we have the relationship with Him. So we are being warned of attaching our hearts to things of a material nature. Entangling our emotions with the temporary, searching for the immediate pleasures. These pleasures are going to be very short lived. Jesus has been talking in these passages about the kind of character that citizens in His kingdom are supposed to have, the kind of worship one is to give where the fundamental devotion of a person’s life has to be, and it doesn’t belong on earthly things. Jesus gives some examples and reasons. It doesn’t belong on the material because earthly things are temporary, they steal your heart away. Do you remember that short phrase in Luke 2 where Jesus has been talking about our anxiety and he says, “For where your treasure is there will be your heart also.”? If our treasure is in God, our heart is going to be in heaven but if it is in earthly things whether they be food, drugs, sex or any other addiction, then like Scrooge, we are going to be scrounging around trying to get more. Where the heart is put, the whole self will be. There has been some major research in the areas of addiction, particularly in eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse. One of the significant findings is how such a simple task like dieting turns loose power full forces in our body and soul which wreak havoc at all levels of our existence the soul, the spirit, the mind and the heart. Suffice it to say our attempts to cope with self-indulgence in whatever area that may be, will usually end up in failure. In fact, it turns you away from. God. But let’s return to the basic principle Jesus is talking about here in the Sermon on the Mount and its application to our daily lives, particularly when we are dealing with addiction. Jesus goes on in this magnificent sermon to illustrate several different ways that material things (pleasure) takes over our hearts. What he says is if you put your affection on things material it will blind your vision. Remember that brief parable of the light of the body? If the eye is full of light, `the whole body will be full of light. But if it is dark, how great is that darkness. Really, it is a very simple analogy. If the eye is clouded, if it is stained a certain color, then the eye won’t focus. A person gets double vision or perhaps the eye is diseased. The result will be that one will stumble around as if in darkness. But if that eye is sound, then one sees clearly to make the various decisions of life. What Jesus is saying is that if you set your heart on earthly things, the addictive things, then the eye becomes jaundice and incapable of functioning as it ought. Everything coming into that body is tinted by that eye. A century and a half ago child labor was a great problem of the European world. Children seven or eight were employed in various mines in England with records of children as young as three being employed, sometimes even owned as slaves. Children would crawl on all fours all day long pulling a little truck along a track out of the mine or standing in water knee deep to scoop out water from a given place, or stand in a small ventilated area to open and close a vent door usually from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., perhaps a half an hour off for breakfast and lunch. It is inconceivable that in the 1830’s there were no fewer than 84,000 children in England under fourteen employed in the mines. People thought little about it until men who were preachers and men who were writers began to thunder about it. We wonder now why people would do that. But the eye, the light, is tinted by what it wants most in life and if one wants wealth more than anything else, then there is no crime too bad to get it. A low type thief can resort to robbery, murder or arson. If he is a high type thief then fraud, deceit or chicanery. Either way, he gets his wealth at whatever cost. That has a real parallel with the addictive person and how much they are willing to surrender to meet the immediate need of the present and that is what Jesus warns us about keep the eye single and sound. Set it on God and the whole life will be filled with good things. Otherwise it will be corrupted. Where is your vision, what is it fixed on?

A Word to the Wise

11-30-2019 – A Word to the Wise – Humility
The highest kind of love has its root in humility. It is not difficult to learn the first part of mature love. That love which is able to deny self and care for the welfare of others, especially those whom it comes natural for us to be concerned about, and the caring for humanity in general. But when we get to the kind of love that is able also to love our enemies, here we find it necessary to have a deeper, stronger, character, and that strength is gained through humility. Humility can only be established by our personal relationship with God. When I behold God as my creator and really feel the significance of being the created, the honor of God becomes real; the acceptance of self-inevitable. Out of all of this comes the humility that enables me to love my enemy. Humility gives one a sense of worth, because it has its roots in our relationship with God. There is not a spiritual relationship between worthlessness and humility. Every man has his own gifts of God. To deny them, to call them worthless would be to defame God. Humility is knowing whom and what you are before God. Test what I say. Love your neighbor as yourself. Now if you are worthless you would see him also as worthless, but if you see your worth then you can also acknowledge his. Many people have such a case of inferiority that they are afraid to approach humility, though completely unrelated. God never said man was worthless – he said he was helpless.