Is masculinity toxic? ∙

Is masculinity toxic?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25 

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.

1 Peter 3:7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

The Babylon Bee – a satirical Christian website asks: “Are you Suffering from Toxic Masculinity?”

More than 40% of men today suffer from it – and their loved ones pay the price.

Toxic masculinity is seen by many as a rampant disease plaguing the nation. More than 40% of men today suffer from its detrimental outcomes. Toxic masculinity is social science term that covers traditional, cultural norms for manliness. Such norms include but not be limited to self-reliance, stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance. Puzzlingly absent from the list of symptoms are courtesy, kindness, servant leadership, loyalty, self-sacrifice, love for country and family, and commitment to defend and protect those loved and cared for.

It is incumbent upon every male to know the warning signs of this virulent social disease plaguing the nation.

What are some of the early warning signs of toxic masculinity?

  • A belief that men and women are at least a little bit different. If you’re a woman who believes this, then you suffer from an even worse disease called internalized misogyny.
  • Eating meat on occasion.
  • Holding the door open for a woman once in a while.
  • Yelling stuff about freedom and charging into battle wearing blue face paint.
  • And the most telling sign of all, being a man who doesn’t hate himself.

Of course, this is nothing new. This social malady first began with the Father’s instructions to Adam and Eve in the garden. The idea caught on and was expanded through teaching in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Old Testament emphasizes the importance of the man’s commitment to his wife, his responsibility to love her and bring her happiness and security.

Deuteronomy 24:5 A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other official responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.

Proverbs 5:15 Drink water from your own well share your love only with your wife.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.

The New Testament standards set the bar even higher. Men were required to treat women with respect as equal partners. In particular, husbands were exhorted to sacrificially love their wives, be faithful to them, and be willing to die for them.

Does this is sound positive and admirable or toxic and destructive? Well, according to the viewpoint of some fallen people in our fallen world it is very toxic. But then they have no regard or respect for the Father, Lord God omnipotent who reigns from heaven. He is the One who sets the standards. It goes without saying that if you do not respect or admire the Father, but feel only disdain for Him or even deny His existence, you will reject His thoughts and absolutes.

REFLECT & PRAY

At the center of our values is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As our relationship with Him becomes more and more a part of who we are, what we do moves closer to the standards that He has set for us.

Father thank You that You have set forth righteous standards for how we are to live. Thank You for forgiving us when we fail. Encourage and strengthen us to strive to do what is right.

INSIGHT

Trends in society are often like a teeter-totter. One trend often gives birth to a counter-reaction. Throughout human history, there has been violence, evil, and wickedness. Often there comes a tipping point that brings about a major paradigm shift.

Which of the following statements seems most accurate?

Toxic masculinity is a term originally used in academia stemming from historical acts of brutality and destruction arising from male dominance, misogyny, and violent behaviors. The self-evident savagery of the few has become a stereotype that is applied to the many.

Regrettably, such stereotypes overlook positive masculine characteristics such as devotion, protection, loyalty, caring for one’s family, achievement. The toxic behavior of some men morphed into a sweeping highly generalized condemnation of men and dubbed toxic masculinity. For men who are kind, gentle, self-sacrificing, and meek, such sweeping generalizations are unfair and inaccurate. Toxic violence of a few has become a discriminatory descriptor of the many. For many men and women, such one-sided bias is nothing less than bigotry and discrimination. Such partiality is hurtful, insulting, and destructive.

“Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression” (The Good Men Project).   

“Never allow cruelty, it undermines the natural courage and manliness of the perpetrator” (USMC).

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© Dr. H 2022

Semper Fidelis “always faithful” ∙

Semper Fidelis “always faithful”

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21

Philippians 3:7-10

 7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ

 9 and become one with him . . .

 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

A story is told of a young draftee back in the early 1970s during the Vietnam war.

As he was filling out his enlistment papers, he came to a question which asked, “to whom do you owe your highest loyalty?” His answer was the “Triune God”.

The Army recruiter reviewing his papers was unfamiliar with the “Triune God.” The young man was brought in for an interview. The reviewers were suspicious because of all the antiwar fervor in the country at the time. The location was California. There were all kinds of new religious cults run by demagogues. The recruiter thought perhaps he was a member of some oddball religious cult. After the interview, the recruiter still didn’t get it. The young man was given a 4-D, a religious deferment, and exempted from military service. Rather than serving the country in the military, he went on to serve the “Triune God” as a missionary.

Semper Fidelis is a Latin phrase that means “always faithful” or “always loyal”. It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps, usually shortened to Semper Fi.

Another U.S. Marine credo is, “For God, Corps, Country.” Their core values are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. They stand for freedom and liberty, in service to God, Corps, and country.

For Marines, the Marine Corps is the second most important thing in their life, only their faith in God ranks higher. Being a Marine is a mental attitude and a way of life. Their new life begins at the moment they earn the title “United States Marine.” Being a Marine is their identity for the rest of their lives. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine. It is not considered a job.

Putting the Corps before country means you will never do anything to dishonor the Marine Corps, not ever. Because of their honor, sense of duty, and loyalty, as the Marines serve the Corps, they serve the country as well.

Marines swear an oath to the Marine Corps. They also swear an oath to the United States of America. They put the Corps first over country because the Corps represents their fellow Marines. Their fellow Marines are their family. They run towards the firefight, not away. They take care of their own, and they do it fiercely. When the bullets start flying, they are there for each other. The country is not going through their mind.

“American by birth, Marine by choice” (USMC slogan)

REFLECT & PRAY

To say that we have faith is not that difficult. Talk is cheap, but being ready and willing to die for our faith is an entirely different matter.

Father how I wish I could be like Paul and the three Hebrew young men. Help me to get my priorities straight and be faithful and prepared to lay down my life.

INSIGHT

The three Hebrew young men explicitly declared their allegiance to the God of their fathers. In the face of a horrendous death by fire in a blazing hot furnace, their highest loyalty was to the Triune God. They refused to compromise or capitulate and become like everybody else. They stood firm in their faith, and would not bow down before, nor, serve and worship a graven image. In face of certain death, they were resolved to stand firm and die for their convictions.

Daniel 3:16-18

 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.

 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Standing firm and remaining faithful to their convictions in fidelity to their Father God, the heroic three foreshadowed the courage and devotion of what would one day characterize the United States Marines. They were always faithful and never backed down. They were Semper Fidelis, which in Hebrew is tamid always and aman faithful.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

“Paul was not afraid of life or death! Either way, he wanted to magnify Christ in his body. No wonder he had joy!” (Wiersbe). Paul had thought through and contemplated the meaning and purpose of life. Paul tells us what both living and dying meant to him. It all boiled down to one simple sentence, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” While Paul lives, he serves and helps others. But when he dies, he gets to be face-to-face with the Lord Jesus Christ. Which for Paul, is far better. It is a delightful gain. He is actually somewhat ambivalent and torn between the two.

In the original Greek, the phrase is very terse, lacking verbs. The words do not lend themselves to an English translation that captures their forceful significance: to live Christ, to die gain. The literal Greek phrases and translations are below.

to zen Christos to live Christ, to apothaneins kerdosto die gain

No doubt, this was the maxim by which Paul lived. But there’s more

“The telescope brings distant things closer, and the microscope makes tiny things look big. To the unbeliever, Jesus is not very big. Other people and other things are far more important. But as the unbeliever watches the Christian go through a crisis experience, he ought to be able to see how big Jesus Christ really is. The believer’s body is a ‘lens’ that makes a ‘little Christ’ look very big, and a ‘distant Christ’ come very close” (Wiersbe).

“Paul’s only reason for existence is that he may spend his life in that glad service, and death for that cause will be the crowning service” (Ralph P. Martin).

Wesley, in his hymn, O Thou who camest him from above, got it right:

Ready for all Thy perfect will, My acts of faith and love repeat,

Till death Thy endless mercies seal, And make the sacrifice complete.

When you find yourself in tough, difficult, or even life-threatening situations, what comes into your mind first? To what or Whom do you owe your highest loyalty?

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© Dr. H 2022

Dead or alive ∙

Dead or alive

Lazarus, come forth – John 11:43

John 11:25-26

 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies,

 26 and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

An Iowa court has ruled against an inmate who was dead and alive. While in prison, he had developed kidney stones. He then suffered septic poisoning and died. However, he was resuscitated and lived again.

Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was serving a life sentence for murder. He reasoned that although his death, was sort of short-lived, he was truly dead. Schreiber filed a novel legal appeal. He thought he might have found a creative loophole in the law. He claimed that the moment he died; he fulfilled his life sentence. He filed a claim to be released.

The court was not persuaded. Being in prison is obviously not the same thing as playing monopoly. Dying for a brief amount of time does not provide you with a get-out-of-jail-free card. Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote, “Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.” Judge Potterfield found Schreiber’s argument was “unpersuasive and without merit.” The fact that Schreiber was able to file a legal motion petitioning for his release, the judge added, “in itself confirms the petitioner’s current status as living.”

Due to the advances in modern medicine, momentary or short-term death can be reversed. Resuscitation has become quite commonplace. Without blood circulation and sufficient oxygen, body organs simply shut down. Typically irreversible damage occurs to vital organs and in particular, the brain, within hours. Normally resuscitation is possible for just a few minutes after death. In some special cases, it can be in tens of minutes. Particularly if the body was in a very cold setting like icy water.

Modern-day medical resuscitation is not the same as biblical resurrection. Resurrection assumes permanent, not temporary, death and bodily decay.

The story of Lazarus is no resuscitation. It is a miraculous resurrection.

REFLECT & PRAY

Death and bodily decay are no problem for the Creator of life! He has the power to transform mortal bodies into glorious bodies such as His own.

Father thank You, that You have the power of life and resurrection. “What is impossible for people is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

INSIGHT

Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were beloved friends of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lazarus becomes ill. Mary and Martha send for the Lord Jesus Christ, thinking He would come quickly and heal him. But instead of doing so, He lingers. He waits for two days. He made sure that Lazarus was dead. Ancient Israel had no rapid transportation. Rather mostly they just walked from place to place. By the time the Lord Jesus Christ arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.

Why four days? Even if it was the 21st century, resuscitation would not have been possible. Irreversible damage would have already occurred. But this story was never about healing or resuscitation. It was part of the Father’s plan to demonstrate something far greater about His Son and Himself, that yet was unknown. He was setting the stage.

Martha was no doubt sullen and disappointed. Perhaps she might have been more than a tad bitter. There was no doubt in her mind that the Lord Jesus Christ was a miracle worker and healer.

Martha held in check any emotional outbursts. There was no explosive eruption. However, she was more than a tad confrontive with the Lord Jesus Christ. Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21). Of course the 500 lb. Gorilla in the room was, what was not said, “Why didn’t You come? We were depending upon You.”

In response, the Lord Jesus Christ was not harsh but exceedingly kind, gentle, and meek. He takes the conversation to a whole new level. He states categorically that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). On the surface level, the Lord Jesus Christ is claiming to have the power to raise anyone who dies from the dead whenever He wants.

But there’s more. Lord Jesus Christ is greater than death! He does not merely have life; He has life-giving power. At the moment of resurrection, it is He who gives life to the dead. Resurrection is not merely some far-off prophesied last-day event. He has the power to give life and to resurrect in the now.

His words are utterly staggering and unbelievable.

John 11:25-26

 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”

 26 “Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

On the surface, these two sentences seem paradoxical and confusing. But the confusion is removed when you realize that He is referring to two distinct groups. The first group is children of the King who die. Every believer who dies will be resurrected by Him in the future. A small number of the children of the King will be alive when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. They live in faith and will never die. They happen to be in the right place at the right time when He returns. It is the second group that believes in this life but never die. When He returns, their physical life and bodies are transformed to resurrection bodies.

Lazarus is part of the first group. He died, was resurrected, and later died again Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming, are members of the second group. They never die physically but are transformed from mortal to immortal.

Jesus had made it clear earlier that the death of Lazarus and what not about sadness and death. The end goal was to honor and exalt the Father God. Hundreds, if not thousands of mourners had gathered. They were all witnesses to what happened next.

The Lord Jesus Christ backs up His incredible claim using only three words, “Lazarus, come forth.” His few words were simple and straightforward. But they were backed by the unlimited power and authority of the Father, living God.

Lord Jesus Christ Who is the resurrection and the life simply speaks to the dead body of Lazarus, and his deceased bodily remains somehow “hear and obey.” The dead and decomposing corpse of Lazarus was restored, and he was instantaneously resurrected. Lazarus walked out of the tomb alive.

Hundreds of folks were totally astonished and overwhelmed, they were blown out of their socks. Multitudes of them believed. This was the climax of a brilliant campaign to honor the Father. It marked the great final public miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ before His death and resurrection.

“When you are sick, you want a doctor and not a medical book or a formula. When you are being sued, you want a lawyer and not a law book. Likewise, when you face your last enemy, death, you want the Saviour and not a doctrine written in a book. In Jesus Christ, every doctrine is made personal. When you belong to Him, you have all that you ever will need in life, death, time, or eternity!” (Wiersbe)

Philippians 3:21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

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© Dr. H 2022

Can you hear me now? ∙

Can you hear me now? ∙

Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts . . . – Hebrews 3:7-8

Hebrews 1:1-3

 1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.

 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.

Paul Marcarelli is best known for being the ubiquitous “Test Man” character in Verizon Wireless commercials from 2002 to 2011. He was repeatedly checking to make sure that the Verizon signal was reaching the desired area. He appeared in all of his Verizon commercials wearing a gray Verizon jacket and his own horn-rimmed glasses.

The spokesman in the background asks, “How do you build America’s largest wireless network, by never being satisfied. So no matter where you go, your call always goes through. Verizon wireless, we never stop working for you!”

Paul switched to Sprint in 2016 and became their spokesperson. He often referred to his switch from Verizon to Sprint in the commercials. In the Sprint ads, Marcarelli calls attention to the fact that Sprint’s network is vastly improved.

“Hey, I’m Paul, and I used to ask `If you could hear me now with Verizon?’ Not anymore.”

After mentioning that he’s moved to Sprint, Marcarelli goes on to say that “Guess what, it’s 2016, and every network is great. In fact, Sprint’s reliability is now within 1% of Verizon.”

Sprint’s pitch to consumers is that you can get a network with reliability that is nearly the same as Verizon’s but at rates, Sprint claims are half what you’ll pay Verizon.

The Father has spoken to the world through the Word of God. Being our Creator, He knows exactly what people need to know. The Father has disclosed truth regarding Himself and His ways to us in the Scriptures. The Word of God does not speak exhaustively on all issues, but it is always accurate, inerrant, and truthful.  

Lord Jesus Christ did so many things in the presence of the disciples, everything could not have been included. So, the apostle John selected a small portion to include. We get some inkling of this in the Gospel of John where he explains.

John 21:25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

John 20:30-31

 30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book.

 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

The apostle John was an eyewitness to what the Lord Jesus Christ said and did. There was so much more that happened that is not recorded in his gospel. Using hyperbole, John says that even all the books of the world could not contain the full story of the Lord Jesus Christ. He carefully chose what to include for the benefit of all future generations. In no uncertain terms, he offers enough true truth, that anyone who reads and accepts it will have eternal life.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father has spoken and continues to speak, are we listening? He asks, “Can you hear Me now?”

Father thank You that You have revealed true truth! Thank you that you have provided enough information so that anyone can believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. When they do, may receive eternal life in His name.

INSIGHT

The Father spoke in many ways, over many centuries, using many people, and culminating in the revelation of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible was written over two millennia. Yet there is remarkable unity and continuity to the message. The theme of the Scriptures can be summed up in one word: Redemption. The main characters are the Father and the Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2

 1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son

Down through the ages, many frequently asked philosophical and theological questions echoed down through the millennia by diverse cultures and faiths. Is there a God? What is He like? How did the universe and the world come to be? Where did the animals, and mankind come from? How and when did it all begin?

Only the Father had firsthand knowledge of these things. He was the only one there when He created the heavens and the earth. The word of God touches upon all of these questions. The Scriptures provide answers that are absolute truth rather than opinions, suggestions, our best guesses. It does not speculate or postulate conclusions based upon transitory, often fluctuating, or even conflicting scientific theories of the day. Rather, it accurately and succinctly answers them. The answers found in the Scriptures are unsurpassed in their sublime excellence and commonsense explanations.

With apologies to Young Frankenstein, by Mel Brooks, the Genesis record, tells the Father’s story, How I did it.

How tragic, that in modern times, the Scriptures are simply ignored or worse, rejected as a source of knowledge for such fundamental questions of the human race.

Many people engage in a search for truth. Sadly, rather than finding the Truth, they often find, “truth for now.” But it does not last long, and it is simply replaced by a new “truth for now.”

If you were working in a bank and at the end of the day the cash on hand was only roughly half of what was expected, what would you think? Perhaps some kind of malfeasance had occurred?  Well most of us don’t work in a bank. But something analogous to that has happened to our understanding of the universe in our lifetime.

Before the Hubble telescope, the universe was estimated to be approximately 25 billion years old. That was the best guess of many of the greatest scientists of the time. But after Hubble, something remarkable happened. The estimated age of the universe was cut in half. About 12 billion years were simply gone, missing.

Oddly, this didn’t seem to really trouble anybody. No charges were brought, and no one was arrested. There wasn’t even an investigation. Perhaps some speculated that it might have been an inside job. Instead, new theories were offered to explain why the new estimate was correct.

The current measurement of the age of the universe is around 13.8 billion years (as of 2015) – 13.799±0.021 billion (109) years within the Lambda-CDM concordance model. According to current theory, the expansion rate of the universe can be used to calculate the universe’s approximate age by extrapolating backward in time. The assumptions involved in this new theory are not for the faint in heart. It is simply assumed that the expansion rate of the universe remains constant for 15 to 25 billion years. Is this assumption accurate? Some would say, there is no way of knowing.

If I were president of the Bank of the Cosmos, I would be very suspicious. I would want to know what happened to the missing 12 billion years.

“It’s easy to take for granted what is commonly available, but we should never lose sight of the most valuable possession God has given us – His inspired, inerrant Word” (Stanley).

Hebrews 3:15 “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”

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© Dr. H 2022

Gaming disorders ∙

Gaming disorders

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? – Romans 6:16

John 8:34 Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Romans 6:16-23

 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.

 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

 19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom.

 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.

 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

In May 2019, the World Health Organization added a new disorder to its list of addictive behaviors and substance abuse. The 2019 version of the International Classification of Diseases now has “gaming disorder.” Gaming disorder is defined as an excessive and irrepressible preoccupation with video games, resulting in significant personal, social, academic, or occupational impairment for at least 12 months.

It is no secret that video games are designed to be addictive. Videogame developers encoded their games using psychological techniques. The virtual fantasy world they create is quite enticing. As a result, they engender an insatiable, almost unquenchable craving for more.

Video games are no longer merely a form of electronic leisure. Rather, they provide a sense of self-worth, purpose, and accomplishment. Videogames reward effort. There are no real-world consequences for failure. Players often are unable to obtain the same in real-world relationships, activities, or work. “Video games have done far more than change the way we entertain ourselves. They have changed how we communicate, how much time we spend with friends and family, and how much time we invest in active, real-life pursuits” (Meghan Vivo). Videogames often impede the development of face-to-face social development.

Research published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, “More Than a Just a Game: Video Game and Internet Use During Emerging Adulthood,” January 10, 2009). The results suggested numerous negative outcomes for both men and women.

The more time students spent playing video games, the worse their relationships with peers and parents became. Digital relationships are simply not the same as physical ones. In many cases, video games provide represent make-believe personal and family relationships. In some cases, they become a surrogate occupation.

In the real world, fallen people are easily enticed. Potential addictions are lurking all around us. An addiction is a state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Unrighteous, impious, addicting activities have a simple label in the Scripture, sin.

Sin is an unseen master that enslaves us.

Romans 6:16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?

John 8:34 Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

REFLECT & PRAY

If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a ditch. – Matthew 15:14

Father thank You, that You made it possible for children of the King to be free from sin and addictive behaviors. Encourage us to make the best possible choices and live in freedom.

INSIGHT

Being enslaved to a master is somewhat of a paradox. Often, we think we are most free when we are most enslaved. Because we are born in sin, we are born enslaved to sin. Being a slave is what we know, it may be all that we ever know. We may have some choice regarding the brand and model of our sin, but it is still sin.

Thanks be to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who have provided the path to freedom.

John 8:36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:31-32

 31 You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.

 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Freedom from the addictions of sin comes through choice. Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can now choose freedom. We can exchange masters. For those with gaming disorders, their master is the video game. The gamers are its slaves.

Freedom is possible through understanding the truth of the word of God and making a choice to be free. When we choose to let the Lord Jesus Christ be our master, our former master loses its power over us. We no longer have to obey its commands.

The apostle Paul is a perfect example of this. He was enslaved to self-righteous arrogance. He would go on rampages searching out the Father’s children to imprison or worse. He brought havoc and devastation wherever he went. And Paul loved it. A major intervention was needed to turn things around.

Paul’s raging, ravaging behavior came to a sudden halt. His addiction ended in a moment. All it took was one brief, but a rather tumultuous and devastating encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. What irony, what Paul had sown, he reaped. The devastator was devastated.

Acts 9:3-5

 3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.

 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”

Paul instantly knew that he was in the presence of one a messenger from the Father. Paul calls Him lord. But this was no ordinary messenger. This was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! He was flabbergasted and astonished. He was literally blinded. Paul was toast. He turned 180°. Instructions soon followed.

Paul was the Lord Jesus Christ’s chosen instrument to take His message to the Gentiles and kings, and the people of Israel. From that moment on, He served the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul immediately began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

Paul found real freedom and ultimate satisfaction through his new Master. Paul had a favorite personal designation. Paul repeatedly self-identified himself as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mick Jagger never did, at least, so he sang.

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio

He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information

Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey

That’s what I say

I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

I can’t get no, I can’t get no

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© Dr. H 2022

The greatest among you ∙

The greatest among you

“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

Mark 10:37-45

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking!”

 40 “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

It is quite normal for people to have a strong desire to get ahead. They are driven by the need for respect, recognition, approval, acceptance, and esteem. It is often a simple matter of self-worth and identity. Sometimes folks begin life with severe disadvantages. Many try extremely hard to succeed at overcoming such drawbacks.

Sometimes it seems as though there is some type of invisible caste or ranking system within our psyche. This unseen pecking order enhances or distorts our personal sense of identity, worth, and well-being. Some folks bubble up to the top, while others remain mired at the bottom.

Recognition and social status, or the lack thereof, frequently give birth to comparison, jealousy, strife, and intense competition. For some, a battle rages for a sense of importance and prominence. Others seek dominance and autocratic control.

The disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were not immune. In fact, their internecine intrigues are publicly exposed in the Gospels.

Mark 10:37, 41

 37 James and John replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.

The request of James and John for special treatment, and places of honor, was bold and audacious. The Lord Jesus Christ corrected them with gentleness and kindness. The other disciples were furious. Why? Reflect for a moment, could they have been thinking the same thing as James and John? Were they simply beaten to the punch by James and John who asked first? The other disciples were indignant. They too wanted positions of prominence and prestige for themselves.

Luke 22:24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.

Regrettably, the disciples are just like so many people, who are only concerned about their well-being. Their request came on the heels of The prediction of His approaching suffering, mocking, crucifixion, and death. Were they concerned about the feelings of the Lord Jesus Christ? They do not seem to be listening or paying attention.

Were the disciples callously insensitive? I think not. It seems more likely that they were simply clueless. They had totally failed to recognize the 500 lb. gorilla in the room. While the disciples were getting ready to occupy their places of honor in the Kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was getting ready for a funeral. What irony.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Lord Jesus Christ did not abolish ambition or desire for greatness. Instead, He repurposed it. “For the ambition to rule, he substituted the ambition to serve. For the ambition to have things done for us, he substituted the ambition to do things for others.” (Barclay).

Father encourage me to be a servant and quiet my self-assertive spirit. Grant that I may find pleasure in being penult.

INSIGHT

The LordJesus Christ offered an entirely different paradigm for leadership: servant leadership. The whole idea was innovative, radical, if not revolutionary. He proposed a whole new arrangement, an inverted hierarchy. The road to honor and recognition goes through an offbeat, out-of-the-way, often overlooked sidetrack, service. “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

The Lord Jesus Christ took the lead. He told them how things should be. But He didn’t just talk about it, He lived it. He modeled the behavior He wanted them to follow.

Mark 10:42-45

 42 So Jesus called them together and said, you know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.

 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.

 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

If you truly want to be great in the Father’s kingdom, you have to become the servant of all. Success is found by deliberately choosing to serve others before we serve ourselves.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here is an unpretentious proposal. Be a penult. Instead of seeking to be last, settle for being in almost last. Penult is the nominal form of the adjective penultimate. Penultimate means “next to last” The word penultimate comes from the Latin word paenultima from paene almost and ultima last.

In our fallen condition, we are to learn not to take our strengths or our weaknesses too seriously. It is pretty clear we will never be perfect servants. It is also fairly certain that we will never be dead last, either. So seek to be a penult.

I could talk about Planter’s penults, but I will save that for another day.

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© Dr. H 2022

He will do it ∙

He will do it

Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act on your behalf. – Psalms 37:5

Psalms 37:3-5

 3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Five evangelical missionaries dedicated themselves to Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Auca people of Ecuador. They knew this involved great risk. The Auca were universally feared by other tribes and outsiders. They were known to use force to be left alone. Any intruders were attacked and killed without provocation.

Missionaries Ed McCulley, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian knew they faced great danger, even death. They put their trust in the Father and committed their way to Him.

They wanted to demonstrate that they came in peace and desired to be friends. They flew over the Auca villages and lowered gifts. Large numbers of the Auca began gathering at the gift drops. The Auca offered a gift in return, a feather headdress, which they tied to a line trailing from the plane.

The five men landed near a village. They assembled a prefab treehouse. They shouted friendly words into the forest and waited.

No word was ever heard from them again. Another missionary flew over the area. From the air, he found the plane. Eventually, the pilot saw lifeless bodies and knew all five men were dead.

But the story did not end there, it only began.

In the place of the slain missionaries, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint ventured into Auca territory. The unarmed women represented no threat. They lived out Christian forgiveness. The villagers were amazed by their acts of courage and their offer of forgiveness. They were able to share the gospel message. Large numbers of the Auca accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Among them were the killers of the five men. The two women became the first outsiders to enter Auca territory and live to tell about.

But there’s more. A 10-page photo story appeared in Life magazine. Reader’s Digest and many other publications followed suit. The five missionaries, already welcomed in the Father’s presence as good and faithful servants, became famous worldwide on planet Earth. As a result of their commitment and sacrifice, many people of that generation were deeply impacted. That influence continues to this very day.

REFLECT & PRAY

It is almost incomprehensible to think that our Father God wants to be the source of our greatest delight, pleasure, and sense of fulfillment.

Father how I long to roll over my life to You and trust You with all that I am and with all that I have. Encourage me to do just that.

INSIGHT

Fallen creatures in a fallen world, do what comes naturally. What comes naturally for most people is to seek their own best interest and trust in themselves. All of the children of the King have this tendency. But the Father offers something entirely different for His children. He wants us to follow a different path and live an alternative lifestyle. What are that path and lifestyle? He wants us to place our full confidence and trust in Him, and depend upon His precious promises found in the Scriptures.

Psalms 37:3-5 provides some broad guidelines regarding how to do this.

Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

We are to trust in the Father. What is trust? To trust means to have strong confidence in or reliance upon someone. The Father God is trustworthy. Putting our confidence and trust in Him is a natural response to His nature and character. The Father provides security and makes us feel safe. How do we demonstrate that we trust the Father? We demonstrate our trust through our actions. Rather than doing evil, we are to do good.

Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

In the world, there are many temporal pleasures to take delight in. There are so many ways we can go about feeling good and pampered. There are so many promises offered which claim to provide self-fulfillment.

The Father offers a totally different means of finding and experiencing pleasure. We are to take delight in Him. We are to repurpose ourselves to seek and receive boundless pleasure in Him. “The path to true self-fulfillment does not lie in a preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with God. When the psalmist sets his heart on God, God reciprocates by making him truly fulfilled.” (NIDOTTE).

Psalms 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.

The Hebrew word translated commit is galal which means literally to roll, or roll away. To commit is not merely intellectual assent. Rather, it presents an all-encompassing alternative way of life. “It means to turn over to the Lord your whole life – all your desires, problems, anxieties. Let the Lord determine what your life is to be; trust in him” (UBS). It entails settled confidence and a deep reliance on the Father.

Picture yourself carrying an extremely heavy load. When the Father asks us to commit to Him, He wants us to simply roll the heavy burden off our backs and roll it onto His. Our heavenly Father then carries it for us.

When we commit, He takes action. He will do whatever is necessary (FRCL) to carry out His predetermined plan. This is where our trust and faith are put to the test. He does not tell us in advance what He will do, or when He will do it.

While the five missionaries were prepared to die in their service to the Father. But as it is with most twenty-somethings, it is doubtful that they thought that they would be murdered almost immediately by the very people with whom they were seeking to share the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. For them, the outcome was totally unexpected.

But the Father had them exactly where He wanted them. It was through the sacrifice of their lives that salvation came to untold myriads. Tens of thousands children of the king committed themselves to full-time service as pastors, teachers, and missionaries. They in turn influenced, and continue to influence millions.

In the Father’s calculus, the sacrifice of five of His dear, precious children, was a high price to pay. But it was worth it. It was His plan all along.

Consider the sacrifice of His precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the greatest price the Father ever paid. Yet through His sacrificial death, Lord Jesus Christ brought redemption and reconciliation to the world. This was also the Father’s plan all along.

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© Dr. H 2022

Living with misinformation and disinformation

Living with misinformation and disinformation

Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge. – Proverbs 23:12

Proverbs 23:9, 12


 9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
 12 Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge.

The profusion of wrong information is endemic. The first quarter of the 21st century saw a widespread proliferation of misinformation and disinformation. In 2018, misinformation was so common that it was chosen as the “Word of the Year” by Dictionary.com. Both misinformation and disinformation spread wrong or false information. They are often used interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing. What differentiates them? Misinformation is simply false or incorrect information. In contrast, disinformation is the use of incorrect or false facts when the intent is to mislead.

Misinformation occurs in our everyday lives. We make mistakes in hearing, remembering, and retelling the information. Without fact-checking and due diligence, we can easily spread false information but have no idea that it is false. Wrong or false information, in the form of misinformation, is simply passed on. It grows exponentially.

Disinformation occurs when false or erroneous information is deliberately spread with harmful intent. Disinformation is a common tool of espionage. Disinformation is employed for deception and manipulation. Disinformation includes scams, fake news, conspiracy theories, propaganda, deepfakes, hoaxes, frauds, etc.

Why are misinformation and disinformation so prevalent? Good information is readily available. But it is rarely recognized and embraced. Truth and accuracy are trumped by a much stronger force: group identity. Current societal conditions cause people to feel a greater need for “ingrouping.” The sense is that our group makes a strong. We derogate the outgroup. “Belonging is Stronger than Facts” (Max Fisher).

Social psychology attributes this trend to the formation of social ingroups and outgroups, “we” versus “them.” An ingroup is a social group with which we identify. By contrast, we do not identify with an outgroup. People are tribal and tend to agree with and favor the group to which they belong and identify with.

“As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup” (Max Fisher).

Wrong information, beliefs, advice, and choices lead to dire consequences. If we are handling wrong information and disseminating it disastrous results may follow. Truth and wisdom are to be highly valued, sought, and acquired. But right knowledge is not enough. We must choose to follow it.

James 3:13-17

 13 honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.

 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, natural, and demonic.

 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

To be able to wisely live amidst a culture full of antipathy, suspicion, misinformation, and disinformation, requires children of the King to make a diligent effort and make use of critical thinking. We are to give ourselves over to instruction, discipline, and knowledge.

So many children of the King tentatively approached the Father. We are to jump in with both feet and plumb the depths of wisdom that we might know how we should then live.

We are to apply our minds to instruction. In Hebrew, this literally reads “bring your heart,” where “heart” is the center of thought and commitment (UBS). This expression can be rendered “submit your mind.” We are to “Listen to . . .” (CEV) and “Pay attention to . . .” (TEV). We are instructed to “pay attention and listen” (BKC). “CEV renders the whole line as ‘and do your best to learn.’”

REFLECT & PRAY

There are two kinds of wisdom: God’s wisdom from above and foolish wisdom of the earth. The wisdom of a fool leads to a dead end, but God’s wisdom leads to life-changing perspectives and opportunities to serve Him.

Father encourage my heart and mind to seek wisdom, be open and responsive to it. Help me to discern foolishness and reject it.

INSIGHT

“Only when the heart is applied to instruction, and the ear bent upon hearing right and profitable words, will there be progress in divine things. Careless learning by rote will never profit. It is when the whole being is occupied with the truth, that Wisdom makes her abode in the soul of him who seeks her” (Ironside).

Proverbs 23:9, 12

 9 Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.

 12 Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge.

“There is no easy way to gain instruction. It requires discipline and application” (BBC). Proverbs 23:9 could be rendered, “Don’t try to teach a dull, stupid fool. You are wasting your time on him,” or “Do not waste words on a fool,” or “Don’t try to talk sense to a fool” (UBS). Fools despise words of wisdom. To get this right, we may have to separate ourselves from fools and avoid conversations with them. They bring little or nothing of value to the table and frequently will not listen to reason. We “should not waste sound teaching on the stubbornly unresponsive” (Garrett).

Matthew 7:6 Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Wisdom is not about simply trying to follow the rules, but rather depending upon the Father’s guidance to direct us in every situation.

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© Dr. H 2022

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