Monthly Archives: June 2014

Welcome to the Real World

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” ― The Apostle Peter

Last week, I began writing about confession and forgiveness. This week, I planned to look a bit closer at confession, however I found there are some foundational principles which must be covered prior to getting into specifics.

Guess What?  You’re in the Matrix
We’ve been lied to.  We’ve spent our lives assuming what we can observe with our five senses is our environment in its entirety.  We believe our enemies are people.  We believe our flesh is our real selves… and we spend obscene amounts of money preserving or destroying it.  We believe pleasure brings us joy.

The Real World is much different.  In the Real World, there are two realms… the physical and the spiritual.  As humans, we are aberrations in that we permanently exist in both.  Our flesh resides in the physical realm, however our souls exist in the spiritual realm.  It’s why the Bible says we are in this world, but not of this world.  My true self is my soul.  It just happens to reside temporarily in this flesh.  (The Bible says that even when we die, we’ll be given new bodies.  I sure hope mine is a lot leaner than the one I have now.)

Unfortunately, we live the lie.  We focus our attention on the physical realm when our attention should primarily be on the spiritual realm.

You’re in the Army, Private!
The Apostle Paul talks a lot about the spiritual realm and tells us there’s a great war going on.  The battles involve us… either our salvation or our destruction.  As with most situations, this one is defined by “who, what, when, where and why”.

Who is involved? – All of us.  We’re all involved whether we like it or not.  Think of it this way:  Your home has been invaded.  You didn’t choose for that to happen, but you’re fighting for your life anyway.

What is it about? – Ultimately, it’s a battle for truth.  We are defined by our beliefs, most of the time with eternal consequences.

When is it happening? – Right now.  This very second.

Why is it happening? – Because Satan wants what he can’t have.

The Bible tells us Satan is the greatest of all angels.  Unfortunately, his narcissism is greater than the sum of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian combined.  You could even throw in Donald Trump, Nicki Minaj, Paris Hilton, Obama, Miley Cyrus and Justin “Summer’s Eve” Bieber and still have plenty of room to spare.

Satan is so full of himself he actually believes he deserves to be God.  So, he tried.  And he failed.  And he took his followers with him.  Satan has been denied what he believes is his destiny… he was unable to defeat the One who created him.  The Son is creator, therefore Satan hates Jesus Christ absolutely.

Satan’s ultimate frustration is he can’t really hurt Jesus.  I mean, let’s face it.  Jesus could be in bed with the flu and kidney stones and still destroy Satan with a glance.

So, if Satan can’t hurt Jesus what can he do?  He can go after us.  We’re God’s children… and what better way to hurt someone than to target their kids?

It’s kind of stupid, really.  It’s like avoiding being killed by the mama bear by beating up her cubs.

At some point, Satan is going to face a really angry bear.

I Must Confess, I Have to Forgive

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – The Apostle John

For some reason, the topic of confession vs. forgiveness has come up in quite a few conversations I’ve had recently. The circumstances or people have been different each time, however the concepts (as with most Biblical concepts) are universally applicable.

I think there’s a lot of confusion about what confession and forgiveness are and who benefits from each. Probably the best place to start would be basic definitions (I’m paraphrasing, but have provided links to Merriam-Webster):

Confession: a statement in which you say that you have done something wrong
Forgiveness: the act of forgiving someone or something

Granted, the definition of “forgiveness” doesn’t help much, so let’s look at what “forgive” means. It actually has a few meanings:

Forgive: to stop feeling anger; to stop blaming; to stop requiring payment

(That last definition for “forgive” is more of a financial thing, but I believe it applies in all areas of forgiveness.)

When it comes to practical application, each of these two acts are multi-step processes which are required so we can let go of mistakes of the past (whether our own mistakes, or those of others) and live lives free of guilt and bitterness. Neither forgiveness nor confession are easy; but both are necessary.

Let’s create a scenario where one person has done something to hurt someone else. Let’s call the bad guy “Pierre the Perpetrator” and the other one “Victor the Victim”. So, Pierre does something to hurt Victor. What should Pierre do at that point? (Well, if he’s French, he orders all of his forces to surrender and then allows the Germans to plunder his cities and take his women. So, let’s say he’s Canadian instead.) What should Victor do?

Pierre needs to practice the act of confession by approaching Victor, admitting what he did was wrong, offering restitution (if possible) and asking for forgiveness. Victor needs to practice the act of forgiveness by letting go of his anger and no longer attaching it to Victor or using it as an emotional weapon against him.

Easy to say, hard to do.

The first thing each of these guys must realize is their obligation to confess or forgive is completely independent of the other person’s obligation. In other words, Pierre must confess regardless of whether or not Victor forgives him and likewise, Victor must forgive regardless of whether Pierre confesses.

Why are these acts independent? Because confession has nothing to do with forgiveness and forgiveness has nothing to do with confession. We seem to think that the two are related, but they’re not. Each of these are mechanisms which God has given us so we can free ourselves from bitterness or guilt.

When one confesses, it does not ultimately benefit the person who was wronged. Confession benefits the person who confesses. Pierre must confess so he can free himself of the burden of guilt.

When one forgives, it does not really benefit the person who acted wrongly. Forgiveness benefits the one who was wronged. Victor must forgive so he can avoid falling into bitterness.

I’m going to write more about confession next week and follow that up with an post on forgiveness. I hope this has been at least a bit thought-provoking.

If not, please forgive me.

On Owning Pets, Part 5 – A Potpourri of Pet Tales

“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” – Mark Twain

I know I’m going on and on about pets, but I’m amazed at how many I’ve had in my life.

– When I was a kid, we moved into a house where the previous owners abandoned their dog. We took her in and she was a great little dog until she died of old age.

– I lived in East Texas when I was very young. We had a Siamese named “Princess”. She used to love to kill snakes and leave them at the front door. We came home from dinner one night and there was a large rattlesnake on the door mat. We almost died when we saw it. Fortunately, it was dead. Princess had left us a gift.

– I got a Black Lab when I was a teenager. Strictly an outside dog as my mom refused to have animals in the house. We always knew when people were coming to the front door because he always laid there and his wagging tail would thump so hard against the door we could hear it all
over the house. He got hit by a car and I was devastated.

– A neighbor’s dog came over to our house a few times and fought with my lab. It was pretty bad. The first time, I was able to separate them with a hose. The second time, I couldn’t. So I shot the neighbor’s dog.

– Somehow we ended up with several cats at our house when I was a teenager. Those cats had kittens. We had 18 cats. We gave them all away, but not before our garage was infested with fleas.

– Of the cats I’ve rescued over the years, one died in the litter box the day after we got it home, one came home with a UTI, acne, and two ear infections, another died beating its head against the floor… the sound woke us up and I rushed him to a 24 hour vet clinic. He had to
be put to sleep. I only tried it with one dog who ended up having parvovirus. Medusa brought him home (keep in mind this was right after our landlord had threatened to evict us because they found out we had an outdoor cat… so I guess it just made sense to her that we should adopt a dog. Go figure.) and he immediately pooped in the dining room. He had horrible diarrhea and I ended up sleeping on the couch so I could let him out every time he asked (which was every 30 minutes, or so). He was actually a great dog and was really well-behaved. I took him to the vet and was told it would cost about $1,200 to treat him for parvo. So, I took him back to the Humane Society (along with the printouts from the vet). The refused to believe he had parvo even after I showed them the vet’s reports. I told them I’d come back and get the dog once they treated him. They refused. So I got a refund of my adoption fees, gave them the dog and left. Consequently, I don’t rescue animals anymore. Perhaps I should, but I’ve spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on rescued animals. It’s just cheaper and easier to find a reputable breeder.

– Medusa got the kids a gerbil once. Or a hamster. Or some type of rodent; I don’t recall which type, exactly. The net result was a cage that smelled constantly and three-foot area around it that was covered with pine shavings and rodent droppings. Ultimately, the rodent escaped and disappeared. We found it months later when we were moving. It was alive and well and had chewed a hole in the wall behind a bookcase and stuffed it with carpet and padding that it had chewed up under the bookcase. I released it into the wild.

– In college, I bought a fish tank and had some fish. I did this primarily because the tank was the exact size of a Playboy centerfold which is what I used as a backdrop for the tank. I realized, though, that fish poop and tanks have to be cleaned and it just wasn’t worth the hassle. So, I sold the whole thing to a guy I knew. I even let him take the centerfold.

– My youngest daughter owns the World’s Best Cat. Seriously.

– My lady love, I call her “Kitten”, has a dog. This thing is pitiful. It’s a Boston Terrier that’s about 14 years old. Kitten’s dog is almost totally deaf, doesn’t see very well and sleeps about 22 hours per day. She is also the single most food-obsessed creature I’ve ever seen. She can be fast asleep and if one walks into the kitchen and grabs a napkin, she is somehow right there waiting. If actual food appears, she starts shaking violently while never taking her eyes off the food. If you toss her a treat, she’ll catch it in mid-air about 95% of the time… if she misses, she can’t find the treat because she’s too blind, so you have to point it out to her. But, most of the time she catches it.. and it’s amazing how fast and accurate she is.

There are other stories, too. But you’re tired of reading about them and I’m tired of writing about them.

I want a cat, though.