Sin is sin
Growing up, when my mom caught me in a lie and asked me to explain myself, I told her that I lied to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. She told me not to make a habit of lying, that it is “okay” to tell a “white lie,” from time to time just not a “black lie.” She explained that a “white lie” signified a small sin that was more of a falsehood (Okay! That’s what a lie is!) but that a “black lie,” is an evil that would stain my soul.
It was terrifying!
I went to my room and began calculating how many “white vs black lies” I had told and I was deeply troubled (there’s a confession!)
It seemed confounding that one who claimed to be a Christ-follower (bless you, mom!) would justify any kind of lying as though a white lie was authorized by God.
Over the years of gaining more spiritual insight, I came to realize that a lie is a lie is a lie, or a sin is sin, great or small, but let’s identify what a sin is. To sin means; “missing the mark.” http://biblehub.com/greek/266.htm
I understand that to suggest, we miss the point about God, that we often fail in the human condition, falling well below the standard Godliness. St. Augustine defines it as, "Sin is nothing else than to neglect eternal things, and seek after temporal things.” St. Augustine
The lie derived from none other than the liar. To quote Jesus in John 8:44, he said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” NIV
Siding with the liar even just a little, suggests that we have turned away from incorruptibility and that one slight turn could lead us so far off the path of righteousness that we become susceptible to all kinds of danger. One small sin, one white lie is no small thing!
I think of a small sin or a white lie in this way;
The poison dart frog, which is no bigger than a thumb nail, is bright and fauve, and has enough poison to kill 10 humans!
And then there is the mosquito. Yes, a tiny mosquito. Mosquitos are responsible for 2 million deaths a year, causing Malaria, yellow and dengue fever.
There is the blue-ringed octopus found in the waters of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is “half the size of a golf ball,” but its sting can cause cardiac arrest. http://all-that-is-interesting.com/the-worlds-six-smallest-and-deadliest-animals
Those are just some of the smallest but deadliest creatures, which symbolize that small doesn’t mean harmless.
There are many more examples of how one small sin can cause havoc, accidents and even death.
I received a call from a woman who was deeply disturbed abut her daughter’s pattern of lying and needed a resolve. She repeatedly told to her daughter to close their front door, so their dog would not get out. This was a constant ordeal, especially because they lived on a busy street. One morning before school as the daughter was getting her rain boots from the porch, she left the front door open, but when her mom asked her if she had remembered to close it, she said she had. The daughter then snuck over to actually close the door, but it was too late. Their dog had gotten out and was hit by a car.
Small lies, white lies, little sins all add up to an offhanded mentality,” and this attitude left rationalized and unchanged leads to a life of telling more lies resulting in missing the mark in greater ways.
In the book of Revelation in chapter 12, a woman is faced with the “great red dragon” who is trying to “devour” her child and kill her. I envision that this dragon was once the serpent in Gen. II, who beguiled Eve and I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if she had just heeled in its head as it was tempting her thereby obliterating the enticer and preventing it from ever having had the chance of growing into that predominant threat.
Let us learn from this allegory that it is wise to stomp out the temptation to lie and instead, take up the practice of telling the truth and even though telling a lie seems to be the best option to save face, in the long run, it will prove to be a most detrimental decision. “Anything is better than lies and deceit!” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.
I came across this verse in Prov. 27:6, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy,” that inspired me to work on being very courageous to break the habit of lying in order to protect someone else’s feelings, because in reality, by being dishonest, I was damaging my own integrity. I was not considering the aftereffects nor did I realize that I was allowing diffidence to control me. I had become enslaved to the habit and justified it by absurd self-righteous reasoning.
Honesty is salutary and it does require prudence when vocalizing it for the results to be most efficacious. So the sooner you practice it the better you will become at it.
On March 24th, 2018, students and fellow supporters across the country protested to bring awareness to the need for gun control in the United States. They called it March for Our Lives. A very accurate title! That event followed the National School Walkout that occurred the week before and was brought on by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 people killed.
Unfortunately, that execrable event was not the first of its kind. Last year alone, in the U.S., 65 shootings occurred at schools and universities. And “since 2013, there have been 291 school shootings.”1 The statistics are alarming! And I don’t think anyone would disagree that a solution is most urgent.
The debates on gun control are not a new issue in this country, but the issue has now been ignited by students from all over demanding that action be taken to pass laws for stricter gun control.
As I have been following these events with deep compassion in my heart for those families who lost loved ones as well as empathy for the students, I felt the need to do more than just sign the petitions in favor of banning assault weapons. I needed to earnestly pray! And as I often do, when seeking answers and comfort to life’s heartbreaking provocations, I turned to the Bible for insight and wisdom.
In one of my favorite books in the Old Testament, I read in Proverbs (a plethora of wisdom!) 10:12, “Hatred fuels dissension, but love calms all rebellions.”
I continued to repeat that in hopes that it would fill the air like the fragrance of honeysuckle, travel to the hearts of all people, dismantle hate, and build up love. At that moment, as my eyes were filled with tears, a question arose: Gun control or hate control?
I have heard the aphorism, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Maybe we need to alter that to “hate kills.” Because we know love does not kill.
Hate and guns of any kind make for a deadly mix!
As I pondered that and stayed informed about the March for Our Lives event, I came across an article on kids, hunters, and those who compete in skeet, etc., who trust that when guns are handled with respect and discipline, the gun is not the problem.
I know how desperate we are for an expeditious solution to these school shootings, and I cannot help but think that banning the sale of automatic weapons to consumers will make schools and communities over all safer, but those are not the only guns that kill nor are the triggers of those weapons being pulled by loving, mentally healthy persons. In fact, a criminology professor stated that in school shootings, the shooter’s motive is fame.2
That is a very dark and morose concept of fame! Regrettably, it may be a very accurate assessment.
In 1 John 2:11, it is written, “But whoever hates his brother is in darkness. He lives in darkness and does not know where he is going. The darkness has made him blind.”
This blindness that John wrote about refers to a mental blindness or dark thoughts which obscure the messages of divine Love, leaving the person mesmerized by pride, malevolence, and enmity, followed by deplorable manifestations!
In “Disarming Animal Magnetism” from The Anthology of Classic Articles, Helen Wood Bauman wrote, “If people would recognize the first whisperings of the serpent to be not their own thoughts but the destructive influences of an unreal mind, if they would stop listening to and obeying these whisperings, animal propensities would be quickly stamped out of thought and would not be permitted to grow to intensely hypnotic, dragonlike proportions.”3
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
So how does Love drive out hate?
Love, according to scriptural text, is God. In 1 John 4:7-8, it is written, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Hate then is the antithesis of Love, or God. Hate is the myopia to the existence of the omnipotent and benevolent God who is Love. Even if one does not choose to believe in the power of God, I would hope one believes in the power of love.
So, as these debates continue and passion on both sides of gun control increase, as we contemplate our position on this issue, there are additional fights we can take up and more work we can do to be efficacious in this battle.
There is much work to be done, and it may seem as though the work is overwhelming, and maybe even impossible, but with God all things are possible.
In the gospel of Luke 10:1-3, Jesus said, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two-by-two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’”
I trust that what Jesus was telling us is not solely for missionaries and proselytizers, but for those who dare to stand up for what is right, fair and good; to spread peace and as much as the kingdom of Love as possible. And with so many people on board arguing on the side of righteousness and change for the betterment of all, it appears it will be a harder task for those who oppose the workers of good than those arguing for it to win!
I commend the students who have demonstrated shalom and peace and rallied in protest of evil. And I think the Lord must be pleased with them as they, like many other stouthearted brothers and sisters before them, fight the good fight and demand that the manmade laws for human rights align with something greater; our divine rights to live in harmony. So, as the campaign for gun control advances, let us also advance the campaign for hate control.
L.O.V.E. Love Omits Violence Everywhere®
ICB-International Children’s Bible
ESV-English Standard Version
1 Cuddy, Alice. “America's History of School Shootings.” Euronews. March 26, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www.euronews.com/2018/02/15/america-s-history-of-school-shootings.
2 “The Gun Owners of the Parkland Generation | The New Yorker.” Flipboard on Flipboard. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/-the-gun-owners-of-the-parkland-generati/f-f323f33f24/newyorker.com.
3 Cuddy. Ibid.
Fasting from Chocolate!
Lent season reminds me of when I was a child being raised in both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
My mom would take me and my sisters to church to receive our ashes on Ash Wednesday and that meant we had better have decided what we were going to give up for forty days in celebration of Lent.
One year, I chose to give up chocolate of any kind (I loved milk chocolate!). This decision was not easy, but my mom was convinced that fasting from something we loved was a way of making a sacrifice. She explained that if God could sacrifice His only son for the forgiveness of our sins, then surely I could give up chocolate for forty days. So, for those forty days, chocolate was forbidden to pass my lips. Easter Sunday took forever to arrive so I could receive my reward, a very big solid chocolate bunny! When I got my hands on that bunny, I enjoyed every single bite. It was delicious!
As I grew up, I realized the greater meaning and value of sacrifice and Lent. It was not just about giving up food but rather letting go of what did not promote my spiritual progress and stunted my mind from elevating.
Those spiritual hindrances ranged from a variety of things such as victimization, anger, resentment, and unrighteous judgment on my fellow man.
I knew that somewhere along my way, I allowed the influence of erroneous beliefs and ideals to creep into my mind and usurp the natural thoughts of God. I never considered not only how He saw me, but also how He thinks, overall, about His creation.
I ended up on a confused and confounded path that led me away from what once mattered to me the most: love, compassion, charity, forgiveness and such like. However, when I decided to turn my life completely over to the care of God and God alone, I had a strong desire and a need to let go of inferior and imperfect thoughts.
As I prayed that the Holy Spirit divest me of anything unlike the character of God, I wished it had just been chocolate that I was once again faced with giving up. Relinquishing unpleasant traits was no easy task. I found myself returning to the same old habits that I needed to forgo. I knew that I could not achieve such a prize without God’s intervention. I needed to cling to God even more for endurance, patience, and comfort. And God showed up! He fully armed and equipped me with everything I needed to forge ahead through Christ and destroy those unloving attributes.
Some of those unlovely thoughts fell away more easily than others. For the ones that try to claim my identity, I still fight the battle within to give up whatever is not of God.
In the book of Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul wrote, “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (ESV).
This kind of Lent, the Lent I trust my mom was truly teaching us, lasts much longer than forty days. It is lifelong work and in the end has a greater reward waiting for us than a chocolate Easter bunny!
The reward is salvation won!
ESV-English Standard Version
I was at a local hardware store with two of my dogs, and a woman came over to see them. We conversed about dogs and she told me that she was hoping to get a Tibetan Mastiff. She took out her phone and showed me a photo of one.
I commented on how beautiful those dogs were, and she said she heard that they were very expensive. I told her that they are, in fact, they are the most expensive breed of dogs in the world. She asked how much, and I told her that dog would cost 2 million dollars.
She gasped and remarked that she would “never” be able to have one of those unless “of course” she finds a rich man to marry.
Have you ever noticed anyone pacing while conversing on his or her cell phone?
I was recently at my favorite café, enjoying my decaf latte. The man next to me paced while conversing on his cell phone.
When his conversation ended, he went back to his seat, read the morning newspaper, and sipped his coffee until his phone rang again. He answered the call, got up, and began pacing once again.
Paying Attention Or Paying the Price?
“Each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.”1 Distractions while driving include eating, daydreaming, taking your hands off the wheel, and, one that has been buzzing since its invention, using a cell phone.
Sharks in the Water or Sharks out of the Water? Who’s the Real Predator?
Though accurately predicting exactly how many sharks are killed every year by humans remains difficult, estimates show up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins alone.1
Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup. In fact, shark fins are now considered one of the most valuable commodities in the world. One Whale Shark fin can sell up to $100,000 while a Basking Shark fin can sell for $250,000!2
William Shakespeare wrote in, As You Like It,
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…”
As a child, when I first discovered my love for singing and writing, I had high hopes of going to Broadway and performing in a musical. Unexpected circumstances and events led me in another direction, yet the joy of singing and writing remained in my heart. Eventually, this led me to understand the profoundness of Shakespeare’s statement.
Even though I would not perform on a Broadway stage, the world would essentially become the arena where I would carry out certain roles. Some of these included being a child, friend, wife, church member, mother, and business woman. Every day, I was given the opportunity to perform each role poorly or well.
May I? Can I? Might I?
Boy to his mom: “Can I please have some vanilla ice cream?”
Mom: “Sure you can, but you may not!”
: “But I thought you said I could?”
: “I did!”
: “I don’t get it!”
: “‘Can”” explains that you are capable of doing something, but ‘may’ answers the question as to whether you are allowed or given permission to do something as well as signifying that it is possible that it will happen.”
: “So you are saying that I might be able to have some vanilla ice cream?”
: “You might, one day or someday when you eat all your vegetables.”
: “Something that ‘might’ happen, such as you eating all of your vegetables and then getting your vanilla ice cream, is less likely to happen, and ‘may’ suggests it is still possible and more likely, but maybe not in this case, although it just might.”
: “Ok, so I can eat my vegetables and finish them, then I may have the vanilla ice cream, but I might be too full because you gave me so many vegetables!”
: “Now you’ve got it!”
The Day of the Resurrected Christ
In the gospel of Luke, it is written in Chapter 9: 23-24, “Then he told all of them, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (ISV).1
Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrected Christ. And though bunnies are very cute, that is not what Easter is all about. In fact, is Easter even about Jesus?
When I first discovered Amazon, I was so impressed with the idea of being able to order just about anything from one place. This seemed like a great option to battling over parking spaces at the mall, waiting on line at stores, and feeling limited in buying options. In addition, as a Prime member, I appreciate the return policy at Amazon.
Because I have been an Amazon shopper for some time now, I have purchased items such as nail polish, fountains, pet supplies, clothing, ancient grains, laundry detergent, and much more. It is a very useful and most needed all-in-one on-line mall that has saved me from panic on many occasions when I have needed to order last minute items.
Loving Nature Should Be Natural.
Nature is a part of creation, not apart from creation, and if we continue to allow ourselves to close our eyes and block our ears to the world of beauty and amazement performed by nature and justify the egregious abuse and neglect of it, then we have fallen into a deep pit of depravity.
Imagine a world of just human animals! Yikes!!!!
And here’s a thought to consider, could we human animals even exist without nature?
Let’s take a closer look at this question.
Let’s look at the bee.
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