Wildlife Warnings and Wild Life Warnings

Warnings - DangerWildlife has been especially wild lately. Although June is barely two weeks old, a decapitated rattlesnake bit a Texas man. An alligator killed a Florida woman. And in Minnesota, an unidentified wild animal killed a five-year-old boy.

Last month a hungry cougar killed a mountain biker in Washington state. And the month before saw a man in North Carolina killed by a coyote. In March, a crazed river otter jumped into a kayak and attacked a woman.

Some blame the increased animal attacks on the loss of wildlife habitat due to construction. Still others claim the problem is often due to people who intentionally draw close to wild animals despite clear warnings.

Whatever the reason, wild creatures should be given wide berth. Still, cautious behavior is wisely applied to more than just the animal kingdom.

How many times have you and I flirted with disaster when we ignored warnings in other areas of life?

Warnings from parents to children. Advice from doctors. Cautions from law enforcement officers. Yet too many of us ignore wise counsel in favor of desire or convenience.

Which brings us to the counsel and cautions found in the Bible, many of which we want to follow…until something else distracts us. Consider this sampling from Proverbs:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).

This verse sound terrific, until we get to the word submit. Submission is a dirty word in our culture, frequently equated with weakness. We say we trust the Lord, but our actions reveal otherwise. Truth is, we trust ourselves more than we trust Him.

In what area are you claiming to trust God, but are not submitting to Him?

 

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).

Appearances can be deceiving, or so the adage says. In the moment, a temptation looks good. It looks right. We justify our choices with phrases such as “What’s the harm?” and “It’s only one time.” But sometimes once is all that’s needed to bring irreparable damage.

How can you cultivate discernment in differentiating between what appears right and what is right?

 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).

If you’re like me, guarding your tongue is a full-time job. When faced with anger, I want to answer gently. Yet a defensive spirit and harsh words seem to rise up before I can stop them. Of course, I know the result will be increased trouble even as I speak, but my desire to defend myself often overrides my desire to de-escalate the situation.

How can you develop a habit of responding with “a gentle answer”?

 

Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Secrets possess power. What we try to hide ends up controlling us. But when we bring that thing—whatever it is—into the light, it loses its power over us. That thing could be shame over abuse committed against us, or guilt over behavior that hurt others. It could also be attitudes of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness that hurt ourselves. The first step is confessing it to God. Sometimes an added step of confession to another person is needed for accountability.

What are you concealing that should be brought into the light? Will you confess it now to God? If accountability is needed, will you find a trusted accountability partner?

 

Wise warnings encourage us to avoid contact with wild animals for our own safety. Wise warnings also encourage us to seek a close walk with the Lord and to keep our distance from sin…also for our own safety.

What warnings will you heed today?


Hostility, Rights, and a Sense of Entitlement

Sense of Entitlement

(Warning: This post may not be what you expect!)

A Supreme Court ruling made big news this week. The 9 justices of the highest court in the land ruled in favor of a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, in a case where Phillips refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

In an interesting turn of events, both sides claimed victory.

Phillips wrote, “The Supreme Court affirmed that the government must respect my religious beliefs about marriage. It welcomed me back from the outskirts, where the state had pushed me.”

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, also claimed victory. He said, “Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for — and today’s ruling does not change our nation’s longstanding civil rights laws.”

The reason both sides could claim victory is that the ruling was narrowly based on the state’s “hostility” to Phillips’ sincere religious beliefs. Future cases to be decided by the Supreme Court will be necessary to clarify whether owners of other wedding providers (e.g. florists and wedding venues) will be free to decline provision of their services for same-sex weddings

Which brings me to a sense of entitlement…

No, I’m not referring to a sense of entitlement by same-sex couples.

I’m talking about the sense of entitlement we Christians seem to have developed. A sense of entitlement to practice our Christianity without problems, prejudice, or suffering for our faith.

Yes, the United States was birthed on the principle of religious freedom. But this nation is less than 250 years old. And for much of the past 2,000 years, Christians have not been so fortunate regarding freedom of religion.

Think about Christians during New Testament times. They were beheaded, killed by wild animals, burned alive as human torches, and crucified. Yet, I don’t recall any Bible passages demanding the right to practice religious beliefs in freedom. In fact, just the opposite is true. Even Jesus all but guaranteed we would experience suffering (John 16:33).

If anything, the Bible confirms again and again that we will suffer for our faith. Consider the following sampling:

  • John 16:33 ESV – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 5:3-5 ESV – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 ESV – “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
  • James 1:2-4 ESV – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
  • 1 Peter 4:12-16 ESV – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
  • 1 Peter 5:10 ESV – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

We’ve been spoiled by the freedoms we’ve had in this nation. And yes, of course we have the right to seek redress according to the rule of law. But if and when that fails, are we also ready to suffer for our faith?

As Christians, before we complain about the sense of entitlement held by those who disagree with us, perhaps it’s time to examine the sense of entitlement hidden in our own heart.

We might be surprised by what we discover.

What do you think?


Is the Problem Guns, Sin, or a Worldview?

worldview

I’ve listened to the arguments.

The problem is access to guns.

No, the problem begins in the heart—specifically, hearts corrupted by sin.

The more I hear the debate, the more I think both arguments are missing the point.

Guns have always been available. And sin has always been around, at least since the Garden of Eden.

So really, what changed?

If we’re honest with ourselves, the only thing that changed in the past 50 years is our worldview.

Our western culture no longer even pretends to espouse a biblical worldview. What I mean by that is we no longer base our philosophy of life and our values on a biblical foundation.

  • Morality is relative. Right and wrong depend solely on your perspective rather than absolute standards.
  • Truth is relative. What’s true for me may not be true for you.
  • The determination of the beginning of life depends on whether the mother wants the baby growing inside her.
  • We teach children that they are a biological accident, rather than a person of eternal value created in the image of God.

When we divorce ourselves from the understanding that humanity is accountable to its Creator, what we have left is a diminished value of life and a corrupted view of sin. After all, your “truth” doesn’t have to be “my” truth anymore.

Our culture no longer views character development and discipline as useful. Just ask any teacher who’s had to explain to an angry parent why little Johnny experienced the consequence of failure for not completing his term paper. Excuses abound…from little Johnny and Johnny’s parents.

A cultivated sense of entitlement demands that we get our own way, regardless of someone else’s standards—regardless of any standards.

So our morality is relative, our view of life is that it’s an accident with no eternal purpose, and our understanding of sin is quickly becoming non-existent. And then we’re surprised when teens and young adults respond to their despair by killing anyone they perceive offended them?

We stripped life of its eternal value, and we’re surprised at the result?

Want more proof? A video game which was to be released in June would have provided players with the opportunity to play the role of a school shooter, scoring points for kills. The distribution company justified the game by saying the player also has the option of choosing to play the role of a SWAT team member instead of a shooter. And they had included the following disclaimer:

“Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else. If you feel like hurting someone or people around you please seek help from local psychiatrists or dial 911 (or applicable). Thank you.”

Don’t take killing seriously? Really?

Due to a major outcry, “Active Shooter” was pulled from release. Interestingly enough, they pulled it, not because of the content, but because the creator had a bad reputation.

The solutions I’ve heard put forth to restore safety in our schools and workplaces seem to focus on symptoms instead of the cause.

If our culture persists in refusing to acknowledge the God who created us as well as the eternal value of life (whether a baby in the womb or a student in a classroom), we will continue to experience the horror of life violently snuffed out.

What shapes your worldview?


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