Tag Archive: CHARACTER


The political scene with its surrounding discourse, debate and accompanying scheming, charades, and false characterizations and representations provide a perfect arena for human nature to hone and to extrude one of its prime characteristics-one of the things it’s best at: blaming someone else…

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Life, for almost all of us, is tough, and then we die. As if life and death itself isn’t enough to deal with, we live in opposition to our Creator and we ignore his instructions for a good life and a happy world, and then when things go wrong as they would if we attempted to construct a table with a chainsaw, we look for someone else to blame and accuse.

We forget that we’re all prone to the same troubles, and we’re all limited in our abilities and knowledge. There is no perfect world; there is no utopia just waiting to be discovered by somebody who has all the right ideas and the right phrases and the best looks, and even if there were, there are plenty of others ready and willing to throw a wrench in the works, who have a different idea of how that perfect world should be achieved, and who don’t want to listen to your ideas.

We all tend to want to blame someone else for our problems and our failures. It was our dad’s fault, our mother’s fault, our boyfriend’s fault, our wife’s fault, our politicians’ fault, our ancestors’ faults. They weren’t generous enough, they didn’t try hard enough, they didn’t think of us enough, they didn’t make the right decisions, they weren’t educated enough, they weren’t good-looking enough, they didn’t…overlook our faults enough. We don’t consider that they themselves were struggling to get through life as best they could. But for them our world would be just as it should be -right?

Oh, but then, if the world were perfect, there would be nobody left to blame…but ourselves.

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I’ve lived long enough to be carrying an extensive series of regrets, lurking and lowering in the back of my mind, and occasionally smashing into my consciousness…

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I’ve done and said far too many stupid things. I’ve turned aside from far too many potentially fruitful situations, and I’ve neglected far too many lovely, precious people. Too many times I’ve said to myself, “Why did I…?” or “Why didn’t I?”
Before you start fretting on my behalf and attempting to hook me up with your favorite counselor or your own, proven, positive-thinking techniques, let me make it clear that my life is not commanded or ruined by past mistakes. I’m not depressed or obsessed over any of them. Whatever I did wrong in the past, and whatever I didn’t do that I should have done, I’ve forgiven myself for (though I’ve had to do it many times) just as my heavenly Father has forgiven me.
No, I don’t dwell on the past in any unhealthy fashion. But sometimes the memories just pop into my mind, and I can’t help cringing and metaphorically kicking myself. Yes, it is also possible to kick yourself literally-I’ve done it.

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After having one of those “Why did I?” moments today, I realized that not one of my failures can be blamed on anything I’ve done in faith. Here I exclude those notions some believers have that “The Lord told me” to do or to say such-and-such: that can lead to calamity unless that’s where the concept really came from. Instead I’m referring to steps I’ve taken in response to what I’ve learned about the Biblical, Godly way to life.

I could not put one of my mistakes or failures down to keeping a commandment, or to following some Biblical advice, or putting into practice a principle from the eternal Word. All those things have given me nothing but blessing, and they’ve only put me on a straighter path in life. This to me is one more evidence that what I have in my Bible is the Word of the living God.
Most importantly, with God every day is a new day. He doesn’t dangle our failures in front of our eyes, or prod us with our neglect, because:
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12 NIV).

It wasn’t God’s fault, it wasn’t the devil’s fault, and it wasn’t the fault of anyone around me: it was all my own failure and stupidity. If, in those times when I jumped into the wrong situation, or ejected people from my life, or turned away from a genuinely open door… if I had been walking in the Word as I should have been, I surely wouldn’t have made so many stupid mistakes…
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (Psalm 18:30 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32 ESV).

A VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM

Have you ever felt so down that you were ready to give up on your faith? Sometimes our circumstances, or our view of them, can make us think that up is down and vice-versa. In those times we may begin to see God as the bad guy, the failure, the trouble-maker, the liar. We can even imagine that He isn’t there at all, and that all our faith has been misplaced…

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(LORENZO MONTANA:”BYBLIS”) You really need bass with this-maybe headphones

One of the many sad aspects of this phenomenon is that too many of us are afraid to openly speak about how we feel, so that we shut up our struggle inside and try to put on a positive face. Conversely, those who’re in good spirits can be unwilling or afraid to hear negative testimony from someone who’s struggling. The pain gets buried deep inside the sufferer, and the potential friend exercises no love, compassion or encouragement. Here is a spiritual version of the parable of the man who fell among thieves while ostensibly religious people passed by on the other side, concerned only with their own well-being.

Having been a Christian for many years now, and being of a rather melancholy disposition, I’ve been through many periods in my life where I’ve struggled with doubt or disappointment and anger with God. I know in my head the Biblical truth of who God is, and who I am, and that we all live in a fallen world with fallen, sinful people like ourselves and with malevolent spiritual entities. I know in my mind that Jesus Christ-my example-suffered at the hands of men, as did his disciples and prophets. I know that there’s coming a day when all wrongs will be righted, and when righteousness and holiness will reign. But for some reason I just can’t help asking myself all those questions-you know-the questions you also have asked:

“Where are you Lord? Don’t you care what I’m going through ? Don’t you care how I feel? Why do the wicked prosper? Why is there so much injustice in this world that you made? Why don’t you straighten this rotten world out now? What are you waiting for?”

Yes, in my head I know the answers to all those questions, and I could write lengthy blog-posts on each one from a theological point of view, in defense of the God I profess. You can read my “Spiritual Defense Strategy” series if you want some head knowledge, which really is often invaluable in times of weakness. But like Job, it seems that when we’re in the middle of something awful or which seems awful, when we’re the ones who are suffering and not someone else, answers are not enough.

It’s really not so important what’s in your head: that can fail you. It’s what’s in your heart that counts.

Job discovered that he had a heart problem, and it was only when he completely surrendered his will to God that he found healing. We forget that God is God, and we are his creation. We have the choice to either submit and trust, or to go it alone. In the latter case, I can tell you from experience that there will be no satisfaction or resolution.

XIR84999 Job (oil on canvas) by Bonnat, Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922) oil on canvas Musee Bonnat, Bayonne, France Lauros / Giraudon French, out of copyright

What I mostly wanted to say here is that when we get to the bottom-when we’re scraping the bottom of our barrel of faith and hope, and when we’re rehearsing those questions which, after all, are putting to the test the very faith we’ve been professing for years, we need to realize what the alternative of faith and trust is. This is always my turning point. I liken it to the turning point Jesus’ disciples reached when, confused and challenged to see people so offended by the words of Jesus that they walked away, realized that to desert Jesus would be to desert the only person able to give eternal life (John 6:66-68).

When I hit the bottom and look around to see where else I can go, it quickly becomes clear to me that there is nowhere else to go worth going to. The world is full of hatred, selfishness and greed. The world is full of heartaches, broken relationships, loneliness, disappointment and rejection. The world has been brainwashed into thinking-without actually seeing any evidence- that we’re all descended from tiny slimy creatures which once wiggled around in mud, and evolution, honestly viewed, is all about survival of the fittest, the strongest, the biggest, and those who can devour or defeat all competitors.

It’s a world which looks at the beauty, the intricacy and majesty of creation and of the universe and sees no meaning or message in it all.

That’s not the kind of world I would give up my faith for. There is a God. There is a Creator. He’s mind-bogglingly clever and powerful. And he’s perfectly able to make himself known through his own loving, holy, sinless, humble Son, and through an amazing and profound written message which we call The Bible.

You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.

LOOKING SMALL, THINKING BIG

We humans frequently under-estimate people because of the way they appear to us. If they look unattractive or sloppy, or if we decide in our minds that they’re unintelligent, we mentally put them in a certain category and treat them accordingly. Such judgmental attitudes have always been part of the human psyche, but perhaps they’re particularly rife in this shallow, materialistic, image-driven twenty-first century culture…

Conversely, we often over-estimate people when we think they’re visually attractive, or if they seem to be wealthy and powerful. This weakness in human nature spawns untold multitudes of bad relationships, heartbreaks, and if we’re honest, poor politics.

I once wrote about my  invention, “Romance and the The Pain to Pleasure Ratio” (you can search for the post at the top of this page). This is a little mind-powered device which, when used correctly, helps eliminate many of those poor relationships and poor choices before they happen!

Judging someone by their appearance is a sign of a fallen and godless mind, because:

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

I realized long ago that I appear to be quite dim (and unattractive) to most people, because I find I’m not trusted to do things or have an opinion. I’m often told how to do things that most people are able to do in the normal course of a day. People speak down to me, and I’ve had to try to learn the art of patience and graciousness in these situations. Hey, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and clear up all doubt”.

Imagine how many disabled people are treated by others who see themselves as being superior…

I hate being told how to do something, particularly when I’ve already made a living at it for years. I’ve also found that if I do things in a different way to the “normal” way I’m assumed to be a dolt and an ignoramus. When I receive such “expert” advice or obvious disapproval I’m most composed and”gracious” when I have more faith in my God. He is my judge: no man or woman is. Beyond that, the old axiom “To thine own self be true” is an invaluable one to live by, every single day. And to tell the truth, I’m very pleased to know that I don’t look, think, or act as convention demands.

I take comfort in the knowledge that many of my favorite Bible characters were treated in the same way. Just look at how poor Elijah fared against Jezebel. Think about Joseph being rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers. Imagine how Paul felt, having willingly fallen from his original lofty public standing, to struggle against opposition from all sides. This opposition sometime came even from Church dignitaries who considered themselves to be superior, who said of him:

“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV).

Paul’s response was of faith and pragmatism:

“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (verses 17 and 18).

Paul’s manner was intentionally one of humility-as much as he could muster. He did not go about trying to impress people:

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling…” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

The ultimate example of poor judgment and undeserved treatment is of course in the way that powerful, influential, wealthy people condemned Jesus Christ. Having been delivered to the Romans, he stood silent in front of Pilate, offering himself as a sacrifice to the Father, and so refusing to even defend himself. Pilate said to him:

“Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power to either free you or crucify you?” (John 19:10-11).

So we-I-have a few lessons to learn. First, I must be slow to make judgments about others  based on how they appear to my human way of thinking. Second, when I’m being judged (or mis-judged), I have to ask myself what the will of my God is in the situation. Third, I need to think like Paul, who said:

“As for those who seemed to be important-whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6).

Lastly, I need to rest in the knowledge that I’m already accepted by my God, and that his love is unconditional.

THE US presidential election aroused all kinds of passions in the US and around the world. The election taught many of us (I’d venture to say all of us) numerous lessons, whether we wanted it to or not…

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Readers of my blog will know I’m a Trump supporter: my intention here is not to make a political point but to illustrate a spiritual truth.

At school my two teenage sons were intimidated into keeping their preference for Donald Trump silent for over a year, while those posing as being “tolerant” and “open-minded”-students and teachers- derided Mr Trump and mocked his supporters. Bullying is alive and well in schools. The intimidation and indoctrination was such that my youngest son believed he was virtually the only Trumpist around. That changed on the pre-election day when the school had its own vote and Trump won.

As we all know, the same thing happened in the wider world of politics and the media. They’d spent so much time and money trying to convince us that Mr Trump was utterly reprehensible and un-electable that they believed their own rhetoric. When the big day came they were telling us that he and his party were about to go down in a landslide defeat. The opposite was true. Gloating turned to tears and consternation. Mr Trump won the election and the Republicans were left in control of congress and senate.

While I’m not about to say that God is on the side of the Republicans and not the Democrats, there are certain valuable lessons to be learned, and some have already been learned by my sons.

First, don’t trust what the media tell you. Don’t trust their views or their judgment of character. The television can lie. Those wrapped in wealth and power and lights can lie. In fact, don’t automatically assume without question that anyone in authority knows what they profess to know, or that they are likely to be impartial or telling the absolute truth.

Second, hold proudly and firmly to what you know or believe to be true, no matter what the opposition is.

Thirdly, never assume without objective confirmation that when the odds appear to be against you they actually are. Never give up, or in the abridged words of Churchill, “Never, never, never give up”.

And since I’m convinced that there was a spiritual component to this last election, I can’t help using it to illustrate a much more important reality.

In an event recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-23, the king of Aram sent military forces to capture Elisha. They surrounded the city, and when Elisha’s servant saw them he was, not surprisingly, afraid. But Elisha told him:

“Don’t be afraid. those who are with us are  more than those who are with them”.

Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened, and the servant saw the hills full of angelic troops ready to defend the two and the city.

Jesus Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and I’m not at all suggesting that every worldly situation is going to appear to go our way. It won’t always seem to go our way. And sometimes it will seem like being a follower of Jesus Christ is a lonely life, like walking a narrow solitary pathway while everyone else is travelling on the highway. Until, that is, the Great Day when He will come to right all wrongs. The night before that day the forces of godlessness will be convinced they’re on the cusp of victory. It will quickly become radically clear to them, and to us, that the enemies of truth and justice are vastly outnumbered and inescapably on the losing side. Gloating will turn to consternation and defeat.

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