Monday, October 29, 2012


From My Perspective - - -
If one enters a store such as Target or Wal-Mart this week, it will become obvious that there is an effort to sell assortments of candy and costumes for the Celebration of Halloween. On the 31st of October, carloads of children, dressed in all kinds of costumes, will be taken to various neighborhoods so they can do their “Trick or Treat” moment and have people, who they don’t know, give them Candy and other treats they do not need. It is a strange custom that has been perpetuated for many years. Churches have sought to offer an alternative for the safety of children by having Trunk or Treat Parties on Church Parking Lots.
In terms of the “church”, what is it that they have missed? What historic moment and significant teaching has the “church” missed for too long? Why does the “church” participate in such a secular charade? Where is the reference point for the “church” today? Is the secular approach all that October 31st represents? Has the “church” become part of the Great Masquerade as it ignores why the “church” exists and what its message and mission should be? I appreciate the statement entitled, “How To Know Sin When It Masquerades As Good” by Paul Tripp. He writes, “In order for sin to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Lust masquerades as a love for beauty. Gossip lives in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as being a peacemaker or having a servant heart. Pride in always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom.”
The problem within the “church” has existed and prevailed for a long time. Over the years, there were those who dared to point out the inconsistencies and false applications within the “church”. John Wycliffe (1330–84) attacked what he saw as corruptions within the church, including the sale of indulgences, pilgrimages, the excessive veneration of saints, and the low moral and intellectual standards of ordained priests. John Hus (1369–1415) a Bohemian priest, excommunicated in 1410, and burned at the stake for heresy in 1415, followed Wycliffe's teachings closely. He believed in predestination, regarded the Bible as the ultimate religious authority, and argued that Christ, rather than any ecclesiastical official, is the true head of the church. Martin Luther (1483–1546)  in 1517, nailed his 95 theses onto a Wittenberg Church Door. He opposed the manner in which indulgences (release from the temporal penalties for sin through the payment of money) were being sold in order to raise money for the building of Saint Peter's in Rome. John Calvin (1509–64) was a French theologian and reformer who fled religious persecution in France and settled in Geneva in 1536. He instituted a form of church government in Geneva which has become known as the Presbyterian Church. He insisted on reforms including: the congregational singing of the Psalms as part of church worship, the teaching of a catechism and confession of faith to children, and the enforcement of a strict moral discipline in the community by the pastors and members of the church. John Knox (1513–1572) was an ardent disciple of Calvin, and established Calvinistic Protestantism as the national religion of Scotland.
A seed of The Reformation is found in Romans 1:17. Martin Luther was captivated by the phrase, “The just/righteous shall live by his faith”! Why is it that today so many misconstrue true faith? A possible and rational reason may be hinted at in, Today In The Word for Saturday, October 27th. It begins, "Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a little-known syndrome that affects an estimated 2 to 5 percent of all children. APD interferes with the brain’s ability to recognize and interpret sounds. Words such as “bed” and “dead” might sound the same. Abstract language and wordplay might be confusing. APD usually leads to poor performance in school and trouble listening and paying attention…A lack of faith can lead to a similar experience with our spiritual ears. Only ears of faith can understand the Words of God. An important distinction for the follower of Christ is I Corinthians 2:12-14, “We have not received the spiritof the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us…not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit…the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Have you been tricked into being part of the Secular Culture, or have you committed yourself to Biblical Values and the Scriptural/Spiritual Culture? These are words and thoughts worth pondering. Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 26, 2012


From My Perspective - - -
How and what one communicates in the 21st Century is vital. In the United States and much of the British Empire, English has been the prevailing language for communication. In a rapidly changing world and global focus, communication is usually relegated to those skilled in interpretation and translation. The United Nations is one example of the use of translators to accomplish communication between nations and people. The English language has seen some change in this technological world. Those who communicate have a series of abbreviations. In Government Agencies, abbreviations and acronyms are common. For weather issues, there is an agency identified as NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). For National Defense, there was an agency identified as NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command motto has been, “Deter, Detect, Defend.”).
The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as sub-entries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. And these figures don't take account of entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective). This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the Oxford English Dictionary, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.
The Oxford English Dictionary discusses: “How many words are there in the English language?” Their response is: “There is no single sensible answer to this question. It's impossible to count the number of words in a language, because it's so hard to decide what actually counts as a word. Is dog one word, or two (a noun meaning 'a kind of animal', and a verb meaning 'to follow persistently')? If we count it as two, then do we count inflections separately too (e.g. dogs = plural noun, dogs = present tense of the verb). Is dog-tired a word, or just two other words joined together? Is hot dog really two words, since it might also be written as hot-dog or even hotdog? It's also difficult to decide what counts as 'English'. What about medical and scientific terms? Latin words used in law, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words used in martial arts? Do you count Scots dialect? Teenage slang? Abbreviations?” One would hope that Vocabulary and its proper use would be an important part of one’s life and practice. It is somewhat grievous when those who should promote grammar and vocabulary choose to communicate making use of the vernacular and vulgar. The excuse given for such usage is that those using it are endeavoring to communicate with the younger generation. With that approach, the proper use of our language will continue to diminish and languish.
The Bible reminds one of the importance of words and how they are expressed. In Matthew 12:33-37, Jesus said: “…the tree is known by its fruit…How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." In Ephesians 4:29, the Apostle Paul instructed: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The Message Paraphrase states this verse: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that: “The tongue has the power of life and death…” We have an obligation and privilege to communicate the only message of hope and eternal life. Let us be focused on how best we can accomplish that task. Let us guard against letting the language of the Gospel languish in the midst of the cultural shift in the world. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


From My Perspective - - -
One of the gnawing issues for children reared in the rapidly expanding technological age is that of boredom. The love of reading and learning has steadily evaporated during the past couple of generations. Entertainment, sports activity, involvement in societal events are among those things that entice, compel and drive us in the 21st century. Everything from Game Boys to Cell Phones,  I-Phones, I-Pads, etc., allure and dominate within this culture. One can do a scan of social networks such as Facebook to see the type of focus exists among a cross-section of people of all age groups and backgrounds. One can enter most public places and observe people talking on Cell Phones or text messaging with friends. It is a phenomenon that is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions. There is a subtlety to all of this in that it can quickly develop into ennui – “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.”
There was an interesting observation shared by Maureen Dowd, a NY Times Op-Ed contributor on October 23, 2012. She was reviewing and opining about the Presidential Debates. Regarding the first debate, she opined: “And why is the race so perilously close, given the dizzying fall of W. (President Bush) and the dizzying rise of Obama, a mere four years ago? It is partly because of Obama’s endless odyssey of self-discovery, where he rattles around in his own head, trying to figure out who he is and why he’s stuck on a Denver debate stage, forced to justify himself in this clownish format against this shape-shifting chucklehead. At the first debate, the president gave off such a feeling of ennui, he could have used a fainting couch. It suddenly made many voters who thought it only fair that Obama get another term, given the mountain of trouble W. had left behind, wonder if that second chance would be embraced with energy, imagination and zest.” Is it possible that the one who is construed to be the “leader of the free world” could evolve into a state of ennui? Could it be that one can become overcome with weariness and discontent with the job sought and gained? Could there actually be a lack of interest existing even though there is a pursuit for four more years to hold an office? Could it be that boredom is more of a reality than not? Could satiety (being satisfied with that which has already been done and no focus on what else one can do if entrusted with the office once again) be the reality deep within ones cognitive self?
Where are we in our culture in terms of Motivation and Focus? 
Proverbs 17:12 states, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Question: Do you have a “joyful heart” or a sense of aloneness and isolation, namely, “a crushed spirit”? 
Proverbs 14:23 indicates, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Question: Are you a person with a solid work ethic and a purpose to be involved in some form of “toil”, or are you one given to complaint and excuses and given to “mere talk”? 
I John 2:16-17 instructs, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” Question: Are you one who is committed to Biblical principles of conduct for your life rather than a matter-of-fact approach to life and its challenges? 
The Lord gave this guideline for His servant in Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” 
Be careful to do what God has declared and established and you will have good success.  Consider these things with me! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


From My Perspective - - -
There should be certain values that should not be open to question or dispute. These are truths that are indisputable or incontrovertible. As we sift our way through the political climate and culture in which we find ourselves, it is obvious that political truth and reality is difficult to determine. One has to resort to assessing a candidate’s suggested or expressed agenda and compare it to the individual’s track record (if it can be determined). This is the place where the water is very muddy and fact-finding is frustrating. In an old Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, there is an instance where “Groucho Marx pleads his innocence to his wealthy matronly fiancĂ©, who catches him smooching with a show girl: Who are you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?” It’s sad that we are at such a plateau in our culture, especially when the world is on a threshold of implosion and devastation.
Seemingly, the days are long gone when we could say “we hold these truths to be self-evident.” The “truths” spoken of have been and are being ignored. We have shredded the intent of the US Constitution and are allowing a fiat government to emerge. How is that done? It is usually done by Executive Orders signed by a President in office. People can complain about it and vow to change it if they are elected, but the reality is that they usually perpetuate the very thing they claim is so dastardly and over-reaching.
In the midst of the maze in which we find ourselves, there is a truth that can be and should be embraced, namely, there is an Eternal and Sovereign Who is in control of the Universe He has designed and created. Isaiah 40:1-2, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…” In referencing God, the prophet continues – Isaiah 40:12-17, Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.” This is a perspective and fact that is incontrovertible – no open to question or dispute.
The Message Paraphrase of Isaiah 40:12-18 is: “Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger, Who has put all the earth's dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who could ever have told God what to do or taught him his business? What expert would he have gone to for advice, what school would he attend to learn justice? What god do you suppose might have taught him what he knows, showed him how things work? Why, the nations are but a drop in a bucket, a mere smudge on a window. Watch him sweep up the islands like so much dust off the floor! There aren't enough trees in Lebanon nor enough animals in those vast forests to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship. All the nations add up to simply nothing before him - less than nothing is more like it. A minus. So who even comes close to being like God? To whom or what can you compare him?”  
The choice is obvious: (1) Do you seek for truth through the proclamations and governance of man, or (2) Is your foundation upon which you seek for Truth God and God Alone – His authority, His governance, His purpose? In case you have a doubt, looking to the proclamations and governance of man is comparable to building a foundation on quick sand. Hebrews 12:2 should be the hallmark for us: “Keep looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.” Consider these things with me!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


From MY Perspective - - -
What is an IPO? It is not a newly designed Drone! It is not another acronym for a newly developed weapons system. Usually, any reference to an IPO is in reference to an initial public offering  when a former privately held company decides to make its stock shares available for purchase to the general public. One of the more recent IPO offerings was Facebook. The IPO price was $38.00 per share. While it had a brief flurry upwards to $45.00 per share, it soon began to decline in price until it reached a low of $17.55 per share. It closed yesterday at $19.64 per share. Many of you are not invested in the Stock Market and would have little interest in any IPO offering of the Facebook sort.
We shift our focus to IPO and YOU. We think of it not in terms of financial investment but in reference to one’s world and life view. What is your role in and for this world? What levels of commitment have you made for your life? What are your core values? Do you see the world as being out of control and beyond your ability to make a significant difference in it? Do you see a Goliath on the horizon, gifted at ridicule and disdain, who is causing fear and hopelessness? In like manner, can you be the David who is willing to risk all to confront that which is false and godless in the world today? Is it up to someone else to engage the culture and attempt to draw attention to the Moral Compass and basic Core Values? Are you willing to use your slingshot and five smooth stones to engage our Goliath, namely, the culture?
The IPO and YOU has a special meaning: “I” = Influence; “P” = Proponent; “O” = Occupy. This is not suggesting joining some political party or secular movement. It is not aligning oneself with some radical cause. It is drawing a line in the sand and a readiness to say – “Enough!” It is reverting back to a Biblical principle stated in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach (disgrace) to any people.” There is an embrace of The Message Paraphrase that states: “God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” There is an adherence to Proverbs 29:2, “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rules, the people mourn.” This is the foundational principle upon which and from which the IPO and YOU is established and built.
There is an IPO that should gain one’s interest and investment. It will make a lasting impact in one’s life, as well as in one’s culture. “I” – Influence is simply the implementation of the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV), "You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” In other words, be a positive influence in and to your generation. Question – are you the positive influence you should and need to be?
“P” – Proponent is simply being one who is an advocate, as well as an adherent to and in a worthy cause. It is implementing Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), “ go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” It is like one beggar telling another beggar the source of food, nourishment and life. Question – are you concerned for those who have lost their way and our floundering in the ocean of life? Are you willing to attempt to rescue them? 
“O” – Occupy is simply being one who is unashamed and unabashed to be identified in a righteous cause. It is the implementation of Luke 19:13 (KJV), “And he (a nobleman) called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” The word “occupy” is translated in different versions to mean “invest, engage in business, conduct business until I return.” Occupy does not mean you should become similar to a Monument in the Town Square. It means growing where you are planted and being engaged in that which will make a difference in our culture and the lives of others. Question – are you more like a Monument being a perch for birds, or like a David who will conquer your own fears and engage the Goliath in the Valley? The IPO and YOU – you can’t escape it! You need to be and do it!  Consider these things with me!

Friday, October 5, 2012


From My Perspective - - -
Sir Winston Churchill is known to have said: “Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is.” In his own way, Mark Twain commented: “Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.” He then added: “When in doubt, tell the Truth.” The suggestion attributed to Oprah Winfrey is worth pondering: “Real Integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Why are these quotes shared? They are a way to contrast veracity with mendacity. In the ebb and flow of discourse, whether written or spoken, one is faced with a constant tension between that which is true and that which is false.
Veracity is: “the habitual observance of truth in speech or statement; conformity to truth or fact; accuracy; correctness.” The Synonyms are: “honesty, credibility, integrity.” On the other hand, Mendacity is: “untruthful, tendency to lie, falsehood.” The Synonyms are: deception; lie; untruth; deceit.” In modern times, one is barraged with verbiage and opinions from all sorts of people and sources. People err greatly if they agree with what they receive as “statements of fact” via their email of internet activity. Very few take the time to research what they resend or share as factual. It would take a few moments to compare what they are too ready to believe with websites such as, “Urban Legends” or “Snopes.” Laziness on the part of many recipients contributes to the embrace of that which proves to be mendacious (falsehood, dishonest, lies) rather than that which is veracious (true, accurate, honest).
Concerns have always been expressed in terms of how readily Truth is sacrificed for something that a person seeks or thinks will bring satisfaction. Francis Schaeffer was more like a prophet in his time. He said: “Today not only in philosophy but in politics, government, and individual morality, our generation sees solutions in terms of synthesis and not absolutes. When this happens, truth, as people have always thought of truth, has died.” At another time, Thomas Aquinas wrote: “As a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.” Why is it that Truth becomes blurred or avoided? What are the considerations if one is to ascertain Veracity versus Mendacity?
Some Biblical considerations that should be considered. In Psalm 119:160, The Psalmist made a determined choice, namely, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” He arrived at a point where he needed to be anchored to something meaningful and accurate. He determined that it was God, and God alone. It was the Word of God and God’s righteous laws. Why? God and His Word, and all of God’s righteous laws, are eternal. Jesus made an assertive and declarative statement in John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jesus is asserting that both He and His Word are the only viable sources of and for Truth. To those who continued to reject Him and His Word, He made a similar assertive and declarative statement in John 8:43-45, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. 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. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
The Words of Jesus state the conflict between Mendacity and Veracity. One needs to be very guarded so the two never become mingled in one’s thinking and practice. Everything should be measured and weighed in light of the Absolute Standard of and for Truth, namely, Jesus Christ and His Word. A basic axiom for life is stated in Ephesians 4:25 (The Message), “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth…When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


From My Perspective - - -

When you listen to or read the daily news, do you begin to think there is more to a story than that which is being reported? Regardless of the television or radio source utilized, do you begin to feel that you are listening to news readers rather than news reporters? Do you start to think that all are using the same sources and not doing investigative and research journalism? Do you find yourself reaching for the remote or dial so you can change the channel or station? If so, you are one of many who believe the “news” has become subjective rather than objective, and is biased to reflect a particular point of view or promote a particular person or cause. We might call such activity either Journalistic or Political Aberration.

What is an Aberration? It is “the act of departing from the right, normal or usual course; the act of deviating from the ordinary, usual or normal; a deviation from truth or moral rectitude.” Some of this was apparent during the recent protests and demonstrations at American Embassies in more than twenty countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The American representatives were hesitant from stating that in Libya, where the Consulate was infiltrated and the Ambassador and three others were murdered, it was an act of terrorism. There was an effort of subterfuge, deceit and stubborn resistance rather than a readiness and willingness to identify the actions in the various countries as Terrorism. It seemed as though everyone observing from afar had reached that conclusion despite the official aberration to the contrary.

Aberration is not only present in the secular but in the spiritual as well. It is most obvious in the Legalism addressed in Holy Scripture. Legalism is a commitment to the letter of the Law rather than to the spirit of it. This was epitomized by the Pharisees. Jerry Bridges writes in, Jesus Challenges The Pharisees, the following: “The Pharisees were the ultimate religious of people among the Jews during Christ’s life on earth. Determined not to break any of God’s Laws, they…devised an intricate system of oral tradition to keep them from breaking the Mosaic Law… For them, the Scriptures of the Old Testament were a set of rules that must be kept at all costs… For the Pharisees, God looked only at their external compliance with the Law of God… The most proximate cause of the Pharisee’s antagonism toward Jesus…lay in His ignoring of their hundreds of elaborate but petty rules that they had devised for interpreting the Law of God. Not only did they devise these hundreds of man-made rules, but they had also elevated them to the level of Scripture, so that to break one of their rules was to violate the Law of God itself.”

In Matthew 23:11-12 (NKJV), Jesus makes a general statement: “he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” He follows this statement with a scathing denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees and the danger and consequences of their teachings. In Matthew 23:13-29, Jesus pronounces a series of “Woes” upon those who were teaching and placing unnecessary burdens upon the people. The Message Paraphrase states in verse 24, “Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” The force of these “woes” is given in Matthew 23:31-33, “you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

Sadly, in what we call the “Church of Jesus Christ”, there are those who establish their sets of rules and requirements. Some become borderline “cultic”, although they would deny it. There are those who have their “standards” for how a person should dress and act if they attend “my church” or “our church”! One would suspect that some might even frown and gossip about Jesus Christ if he walked into one of “our churches” and/or challenged our “traditions and customs”! As professing “Christian people”, we may have too many oral traditions and our own aberrant approach to spirituality. Consider these things with me!

Monday, October 1, 2012


From My Perspective - - -

There are several people who thrive on Self-Adulation. Some of them are, (a) people in sports, (b) people in the performing arts, and (c) people in politics. The terse definition is: “excessive devotion to someone, servile flattery.” Those who show devotion to someone are usually called “fans” (which is abbreviated for ‘fanatics’). In our culture, we can readily see examples of self-adulation. When a politician continually makes reference to “I, Me, My”, he/she is seeking to draw attention to oneself. The idea is to have someone think well of one’s accomplishments and to have that in mind when the next election cycle is scheduled. In sports, one might remember a boxer who continually boasted, “I am the greatest.” Some athletes, desiring to be “the greatest”, allow themselves to indulge in the use of performance enhancement drugs. The hope is that they will be better able to achieve their goals and achieve recognition, honor, and increase in remuneration.

One of the problems with “self-adulation” is that it crosses over into self-aggrandizement, namely, “the act of making something or someone appear greater than is actually warranted by the facts; expansion of power, wealth, rank or honor.” Politicians are notorious when it comes to self-promotion of themselves and denigration of anyone deemed to be an opponent. It gets relegated to the idiom – “All’s Fair in Love and War” – as the reason, or excuse, for unseemly behavior and/or inaccurate statements. The Free Dictionary defines the phrase as: “something that you say or do which means behavior that is unpleasant or not fair is acceptable during an argument or competition.” Another phrases that come into play is: “The ends justifies the means.” It is a victory at any cost mentality. An illustration of this is an action that was taken against the New Orleans Saints by the National Football League for their “Crush-For-Cash” bounty system. It targeted players on opposing teams. The Bounty was for the Saints Player that caused an injury to another player on a team they were playing. It occurred because of a culture that thrives on a “win at any cost” mentality. The Saints got caught and were penalized for their scheme and actions.

In life, the culture of “win at any cost” prevails as well. One can see it in the “piling on” when someone is disliked or who has proven to be inept at a task. This is sometimes called “kicking a man when he is down.” This happens frequently in all areas of life. Our culture accepts this and those who feel differently just silently go along with the inevitable. The one who is subjected to the “piling on” and being “kicked while down” can fall into a self-denigrating mode and mentality. It is a loss of self-worth, as well as a loss of self-respect. One has to appreciate the philosophy of life manifested by Ethel Waters. She was reported to have said: “I know I’m somebody ‘cause God don’t make no junk.” It’s not correct grammar but it is correct thinking.

In this whole matter of self-adulation and self-aggrandizement, there is a much needed perspective and guideline. In Romans 12:3, “ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…” The Message paraphrases Romans 12:2-3, “Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you…Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.”This perspective is stated in Rick Warren’s Book, The Purpose Driven Life, where it begins: “It’s not about you…it’s all about God and His purpose." Are you influencing our culture – or – is our culture influencing you? You are here to Be An Influence for God and His Kingdom.  Consider these things with me!