Tag Archives: selfishness

Clouds Without Water

Beautiful poetry about something very ugly.

If you’re planning a day at the beach, clouds without water sounds like a good thing.  But this metaphor from Jude 1: 12-13 was spoken to herdsmen and farmers  in an ancient culture dependent on the understanding of weather. A cloud without water was not a scientific impossibility but a hopeless disappointment.

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved…

Where have you read a more damning condemnation?

Hidden reefs can wreck a vessel along with its passengers. The threat is not seen until the danger is immanent.

Shepherds who feed only themselves. The job description for shepherds includes guarding the sheep round the clock, placing their bodies as barriers between the defenseless sheep and predators, leading the sheep to nutritious grazing and clean water.  The helpless sheep will perish without their shepherd. A shepherd is meant to put the needs of the flock before his own, their lives before his own.

Clouds without water, carried along by winds promise refreshment and life, but deliver nothing. They appear to be made of life-giving water, but they pass by leaving one parched and disappointed.

Dead, uprooted autumn trees without fruit.  At harvest season, these are threes with dead branches and no potential for fruit. There’s no chance of future growth–the trees have no root.

Wild waves casting up foam which is shame. Picture turmoil, tumult, forceful waves assaulting the shore, spewing poison, depositing on the sand regret and bitter shame.

Wandering stars in black darkness  Stars wandering aimlessly in the vast emptiness of space, futile and purposeless.

Such are those described who preach without truth.

Why would someone preach who has nothing to say? This is a wise question at the heart of discernment.

The clouds without water from the book of Jude were false teachers within the church who represented themselves as teachers of God’s truth and sources of God’s wisdom but they spoke their own falsehoods, sold their own foolishness, lead their listeners astray, then abandoned them.

They wanted a position of leadership but lacked any qualifications. Qualifications included belief in some truths, and the truths had to be the real ones. Firm convictions to base teaching upon; commitment to teach in the face of opposition, and willingness to suffer for their beliefs. A willingness to stand for The Truth, which they did not invent.

True leaders were possessors of a conviction that the standard of the truth was completely trustworthy. The author of that truth was a Person they knew, who had offered ample evidence that his truth is The Truth.

Though the teachers in Jude appear as guides to the lost, they only intend to help themselves. These teachers are dangerous; they will leave their students’ lives shipwrecked. These shepherds will lead their followers to a desolate place and abandon them. Like clouds without water, these teachers have no spiritual refreshment to offer. Their students will die of thirst.

They themselves are lifeless like dead branches; they are barren. How will their followers bear fruit? They are rootless with no foundation.

They are constantly pushing and spinning with activity, sound and fury, but to no purpose. They are not ashamed but their followers will be burdened with shame. The purpose of their aggressive work is self-aggrandizement so others are not helped. Their guidance leaves followers stranded in the empty darkness searching for home.

Today we have the same false teachers in any direction we look, who claim to speak with God’s voice.

But today there are also those who go about proselytizing for the faith of No Truth.  These preach without truth and sometimes express outrage because anyone claims to know.

We have more than one generation which has been unburdened with a concept of objective truth. They are not fighting for or against any truth; they have been taught that there is no truth.

Certainty is a trigger. Certainty  seems to produce outrage and incredulity. It is vain to suggest that we are all certain about something.  We are all certain of what we believe, or else we don’t believe it. No one believes nothing.

Without a certainty that some things are true, independent of subjective opinion, we always become the poor victims of those false teachers described in Jude. We live as those shipwrecked travelers or those lost sheep, exposed to predators and hunger…disappointed and parched, unable to gather or bear fruit…without good influence and unable to ourselves give hope…ashamed, wandering aimlessly, without purpose.

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Write Love on the Tablet

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.  Trust in the LORD  with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…

In other translations,”love” = mercy, kindness, grace.

“Faithfulness” = truth, or [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood].

The context of the passage is that this is God’s law.  His real law, the substance of His law.  Not what we call His law, the rigid and arbitrary p’s and q’s we had better mind, but the real meaning behind those commandments.

And it is a command.  Note the “Let…never”.  Other translations are: “Let not”…”Do not let.”  Meaning don’t miss the boat; do not ever allow love, mercy, kindness, truth, faithfulness to leave without you.  Keep them always with you.  Keep them where you will see them.  Be deliberate about it.

Why? Because by doing this, you will win favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and men. You will win favor and esteem…in the eyes of GOD and people.

In case you were thinking you would manipulate the approval of other people from whom you seek esteem some other way, such as worrying about how they think of you, playing a part or wearing a mask. In case you were operating under the illusion that you could ever make God approve of you by minding any set of p’s and q’s.

No, God approves when, out of trust in His say-so, out of humility before His wisdom, we live out our lives animated by love and faithfulness, mercy, kindness, grace and truth. Do this because He says so and trust Him for the results.  Don’t protect yourself in human relationships; make yourself humble and vulnerable.

The New Testament echoes the same thought in Galatians 5.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.   

Where do we acquire those good things like love and faithfulness?  It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; we get them from God. And there is no law against love, peace, faithfulness, self-control. We are completely free to go crazy with these qualities.

The converse point I take from this is: if you are allowing yourself to freely practice the opposites of these qualities, you must question whether you belong to Christ Jesus, or at least whether you have crucified your own sinful nature with its passions and desires.  At the very least you should recognize that you are dismissing God’s clear urging to be motivated by His character; you are disobeying your Lord to whom you claim to belong.

You are being a hypocrite. You say and believe that you are walking in the power of God’s Spirit but you are actually being motivated by your own preferences and desires.

You are not keeping in step with the Spirit. Something else is driving your behavior, something other than God’s Spirit’s leading. Of course, you are not alone. This is a struggle we all live with. The point is to struggle, and not to let our ungodly desires have free reign.

…Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  We need constant reminders.

Love, faithfulness…grace, truth…kindness…

 

 

In Marriage, Set the Bar High

Here’s how it works:
If you set the bar low on your relationship, you will both live down to expectations.
If you set the bar high, you will probably both live up to expectations.

And you set the bar.

Remember that after you’re married, you are a union.

But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

That union is stronger than you, or him, and even stronger than you + him if this were any other kind of relationship. You will have become one, two individuals with souls and spirits joined together into truly one flesh, one being. The strength comes from things that we can only feebly understand because it is a mystical equation worked out at the beginning of Creation by a Supreme Mathematician whose very being is love. He adds to our 1+1 so that it equals infinitely more than 2. He adds love to the mix, love so crazy selfless that we cannot comprehend.

What does that really mean? All of your being will be joined to all of his being like two droplets of water joined to one, like two branches of the same vine intertwining again so closely that the two can no longer be distinguished from one another.

You can open up to partaking of that vast unconditional love; or you can DIY and hope you don’t run your relationship into the ground. Your choice.

How many marriages have you seen in which the two partners still seem to see themselves as individuals promoting their own self-interest in opposition to their spouse? They actually seem to believe that they can hurt their spouse and improve their own position.

This should never be the way with you, my friend; not for one second.
What you sow into the marriage, you will both reap. If you add your bit of poison to the relationship, you poison it for yourself. What you do to him, you do to yourself.

And you do to that sacred relationship that has been handed to you from God in heaven. Sometimes I feel like this is a secret known to very few. We always understood, somehow, that our love was a gift, an entity separate from me or him, always to be highly esteemed and valued. We would never think of trespassing against that sacred gift; it didn’t entirely belong to us. We would have to answer to the Giver for how well we honored that gift.

This is one reason why 50-50 relationships don’t work. They are built on a false premise which understands marriage as only a mechanical arrangement between two de facto competing individuals. 50% + 50% never equals 100%, even if the parties could explain exactly what 100% would look like in their marriage. Another reason is that those two are alone in that marriage, without that Supreme Mathematician; 1 + 1 = 2.

Setting the bar high means truly living out the “Love Chapter”, I Corinthians 13.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Have you ever known someone who thought so well of you, loved you so affectionately, that you wanted to be just the way they thought of you? Setting the bar high means choosing to be inspired like that by your husband.  If you admire him, let that compel you to respond with a faithful reach to be better than you are. Be who he thinks you are when he loves you best.

Set the bar so high that you may never reach it. That way you keep improving.

Brainless, Faithless, Heartless, Mindless

Romans 1:31 describes a particular group of committed ungodly  people this way.  I’ll give three translations of the same passage:

 …without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…

…they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless…

…void of understanding, faithless, without natural affection, unmerciful…

Our cultural arbiters’ latest lesson on the state of women’s rights:

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Hardly clothed beefy Beyonce dancing/contorting along with a cohort of other hardly-dressed women at some awards show, and, reportedly making it impossble to avoid the visual assault of gyrating behinds right in your face. The song ending with Beyonce silhouetted before a gigantic lighted word: FEMINISM.

(Notable that she was a tiny little woman dwarfed by that word?)

In other words, girls, this is feminism.  What you just watched is the essence of feminism.

The essence of feminism is…the objectification of women…by women? You’re a thing. Happy now?

So being a true feminist means empowering yourself by means of being as sexually provocative, as sexually explicit, and as sexually active as possible, as early as possible. Without consequence, in fairy feminist land. And that’s all.

Explain to me again why anyone wants to be called a feminist?

Forgive me, but there is no term more amorphous today than “feminism.” No two feminists seem to share the same definition. I have seen no–not one–discussion on the blogosphere or other social media wherein at least one woman is not compelled to explain what feminism ISN’T, really.  You thought it was Gloria Steinem and her fish/bicycle, or lesbianism, or being pro-abortion.  Silly, it’s not any of those things.

It’s what I want to believe it is.  It’s just fairness and equal pay for equal work. That’s all.

Those other things like:  the absolute right to abort your child, the absolute right to free-for-me-but-taxpayer-funded contraceptives, contention between the sexes, bisexuality, lesbianism, male-hating, goddess worship, gender vs. sex, “rape culture”, eternal conflict over the “division of domestic labor”, patriarchy, victimhood…don’t have anything to do with feminism.  Because I don’t want them to.

Yet I hear mainstream women, Christian women, declare proudly that they are feminists. You know, what they mean by feminism.

Isn’t it time to acknowledge that the thing you want feminism to be isn’t what it really is? Maybe you should split off and found another movement which is about fairness and harmony. Cause that sure ain’t feminism.

And the essence of feminism sure isn’t about letting women be women, and letting little girls be little girls.

Bad Decision

It’s sad.  Because among other things, I think feminism has robbed feminist women of sexual satisfaction.

It’s convinced them that it is merely a mechanical act, a pressure valve.

Or a power play, wherein your partner is a thing to be used and exalted over. Sound familiar?

Feminism has made the object of sexual satisfaction the self, robbing women  of emotional connection with a partner. Like it or not, the point of sex is for two people to complement each other by being united into one. Real sexual intimacy is an act of the will involving the whole person, body, soul, emotion.

And they have separated sex from its intrinsic component—fruitfulness. Sexual intimacy is designed to potentially result in reproduction.  Modern women are persuaded that their greatest fear is a child. That their greatest enemy is a baby. It is the worst possible thing, and an abject failure. It has made us fear our fruitfulness instead of glorying in our design.

The kind of empowering sex they promote makes it all about me, not about him or about us.

 

Brainless, faithless, heartless, and mindless sounds like a fitting description of feminism. Hello–Feminism is Marxism, plain and simple. Intentional violent struggle between opposed groups for the purpose of bringing about change in the power structure.

Where’s the violence?  Do 50 million count? Ladies, when oppression falls, it’s not the women who are the victims.

On Being a Parasite

“[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.” – Betty Friedan

(Someone must have cleaned her house. Can you feel the elitism?)

“[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.” ~ Gloria Steinem, “What It Would Be Like If Women Win,” Time, August 31, 1970.

“A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism…the [housewife’s] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable…. [W]oman’s work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for woman.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949.

Who is the parasite?

Whose hoped-for world view requires a paradigm shift in the order of the whole world until now?  Whose requires, before it can be operational, that almost every single member of society be indoctrinated into a mindset which is contrary to that which has been built by the consensus of all societies everywhere?

Who is the parasite?  Which woman is living upon the structure of the work of the other woman?  Without women everywhere occupying their natural or Biblical or traditional roles, keeping society running and thriving, the feminist would not be able to survive.  She stands on the shoulders of a societal structure created by God, manifested by the lives and work of multitudes of women before her, and disdains them.

The activist feminist is a spoiler, a crank. She is an elitist, a nasty parasite, a spoiled child.  She is very much a first-world creation; no one in the 2nd world on down would have time for such gratuitous fluff.

And don’t get me started on the utter privileged elitism of the anti-child wing of the movement. That’s another blog or hundred.

So again, why do we want to be feminists?

 

The User: A Primer

Have you ever been used? Can you spot a user?

The user is a clever creature who uses your good nature in order to get you to do what he wants when you might choose not to do the same if asked honestly.

It is beyond my expertise to attribute these behaviors to mental conditions or to personality types. This person could be acting on the impulse of any of several pathologies, or none. Our purpose is, first, to recognize the user; and second, to avoid being a user.

You thought I was going to tell you how to avoid being used.

As a follower of Christ, I probably ought to be ashamed of my perspective about this.  I’ll be transparent with you:  I haven’t figured out how to deal with people like this yet. But I do believe that in order to intentionally love all people as we are called to do, we must begin with realistic assessment.

Here is my handy Red Flags and Characteristics of the User Guide:

He imposes his will on other people.

While imposing, he seems all the while like an innocent snowflake.  Seeming not to impose is essential to his method. He wants what he wants, and will get it.

She expects you to conform to her plans. She may lie or manipulate to get you to go along.

The user may have several different personas handy. He dons and discards personalities intuitively and seamlessly according to situation.

The user will drop your name if he thinks the connection is to his advantage. Your name is used as an endorsement of his character or social standing. Accept the compliment but beware.

To some users, the victim card is indispensable. Beware: this is a desperate user.

The user seems to lack an adequate amount of respect for other human beings.

While he seeks to have control over the situation, the important factor is not the control itself, but to get what he wants. Well, some users like the control too.

How to Get Used

How do you get used? Some of us, the saying goes, have signs on our backs. We tend to find ourselves in this situation over and over. This person is able to value other human beings based on how well they serve his desires. Most people expect others to relate to them at face value.

You, the used, do not recognize what’s happening until it’s too late. This is because the situation looks so innocuous at first…who could object? But after you’ve made the commitment, the conditions change.
You agree to do X and after third parties are included you find that by agreeing to X, you must also do Y, Z, A, B, and C. You agree to drive someone to a party and find out as you go out the door that you’re picking up three people on the way who can’t go if you don’t. You must host the party with the flu because several guests have nowhere else to go on a holiday.  It’s inconvenient for the user to do it. You’ve been supportive and friendly only to find you’ve been drafted onto one side of a family war.

And here is the real genius of the user. This person will anticipate your attempts to do as you had planned, and even your attempts to resist her control. You will be unwilling to anticipate her manipulation as too cynical. She is way ahead of you. You will find that, before you suspect anything, you have been maneuvered into a position, and the only escape open to you is to be a big fat jerk.

In order to not be used, you will have to make a big fuss and insist on not giving an old man Christmas dinner, or some such awful thing. You want to stand your ground. But here’s your choice at that point: be petty, or be used.

She will be cool as a cucumber and ask what you’re excited about.

So, unwilling to be petty, you retreat, and get used. The real pro user will use you even while you know you’re being used, and they know you know you’re being used, and you can’t do a thing about it. No matter your defenses, you will end up playing  on his terms.

And it’s a real pro who will manage to make you feel used even while you are doing a good thing which you would gladly have done anyway.

 

Don’t Be a User

At this point, I ought to say that many users don’t know they’re users. They’ve been living this way all their lives. It’s as natural to them as breathing and it works. They just think they’re unusually charming.

Here’s the bad news. You might have creeping userism. Don’t be a user. Here’s why.

1. It is un-Christlike to be a user. If you are a professing Christian of any kind, this should matter.

Phil 2: 3-8: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Matthew 20:28:…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

John 6: 38: For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 12:49: For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.

2. The people you love will not be able to trust you. This is important. The people you love may be guarded with you because they are looking out for the next time you try to take advantage. It will create distance in your relationships.

3. You are training yourself to be selfish. The longer you go along with your user habits, the harder it will be to change. Start fighting it now!

4. You will never really be happy this way. You are designing a life defined by dissatisfaction. Otherwise why would you be trying to change things? Instead, decide to live a life marked by contentment. It takes a lot of energy to control other people; it’s stressful. Go easy on yourself.

 

How Not to Be a User

1. Have respect for other human beings. Everyone’s time is as valuable as yours. Everyone’s efforts are as costly as yours are to you. Value other people’s time, energy and hospitality.

2. Don’t impose your will on others. Don’t include someone in your plans without his prior consent.

3. Ask for the help that you want or need. Understand that you are asking and not demanding. Understand that the askee is entirely free to say “no.” There should be no negative repercussions for his choice to opt out; he is a human with free will and self-determination.

4. Ask for what you honestly want. The askee has the right to know all details that pertain to her participation, so that she can make a truly informed decision. There must be no surprises.

5. Neither emotional manipulation or social pressure should ever be used in order to get another person to do as you wish. This includes hinting, pouting and stories of victimhood.

6. Live honestly. Portray yourself as best you can as you really are.

7. Respect relationship statuses. A breakup is a breakup. You lose all rights to your ex. Call someone else for a ride, emotionally lean on someone else.
Also, honor your family as your family; don’t invent new parents/brothers/sisters out of friends and acquaintances because your real ones have been used up.

8. Learn to be humble. In humility you will appreciate the value of other people.

9. Be selfless. Look for ways to do things for other people in ways that don’t benefit you.

10. Develop an appreciation for the kindness of other people. It feels good when you understand that others have been helpful and caring to you out of the kindness of their hearts.

 

How to Avoid Being Used

Alas. Don’t be useful. Let me know if you figure it out.

Let’s Try Kindness

 

How about if we try kindness? I see way too much of short-tempers and touchiness. I see too many relationships which ought to be, and could be, heaven on earth, but which fall far short.  I have to watch while one, or both, hurt the other one seeming not to feel any empathy for the pain caused. People taking for granted that they’re going to be treated well while taking for granted the human gift that’s been given to them.

People who just give the other person a world of hurt when they could be enjoying a mutually loving and caring relationship. Offered happiness and unconditional love, we choose our personal agenda. I wonder what could we be thinking?

It’s hard to watch people lower the bar on their own relationship, as though the offender will benefit in any way. If the bar is lowered, it’s going to be lowered for both of you. Or do you mistake forbearance and patience for a lack of feelings? Do you actually think that your partner will take what you dish out, and persevere in holding up his side of the kindness burden alone, forever?  You must think an awful lot of him; in fact, you must think he’s not even human.  Because any human being is going to get enough of being treated selfishly one day. He will then have three choices: he can decide to diminish so much that he’ll let you pummel him into a doormat whom you won’t respect, or he will decide not to take your crap anymore, and give it back to you. Or he’ll decide that someone else will actually respect him and treat him as though he’s loved.

You say it’s because you can’t respect him? That says nothing whatsoever about him. It only says something about you.

If you can’t respect someone who consistently treats you with kindness, sympathy, patience and hopeful attention, in the face of irritation, selfishness of feelings, and dismissal, and does not return anger for anger…you just aren’t able to respect.

And you are missing the obvious:  God has given you an unbelievable gift, one which you ought to treasure, and you are ungrateful.

What if, instead of looking for irritation, putting our personal agendas before other people’s feelings, and imposing on the other person’s patience and love, we decide to be considerate? Just plain polite (even if we don’t actually feel happy about it)?  Seek not to hurt them at cost to ourselves? How about if instead of serving our own childish temporary feelings, we decide to serve the people God has chosen to be our companions in life, as we are called to do?

What would we lose?

How about if the law in our houses, from now on, is kindness? What if we adopt a standard that even some non-believers who never set foot in a church are able to pull off?

What if we put kindness and love (verb) first, and make it the going expectation here?

Because love is a shelter against most troubles in life, but no relationship can withstand consistent unkindness.