Craving

There is good news and bad news available in the world in which we live. One would have to be a hermit living in a cave without any connection to media not know that our world is in trouble. I am not just talking about the incessant news about the agressive mud-slinging presidential canidates boasting about how they alone are the only ones capable of saving America. I am talking on a global scale about the degrading state of affires here in the USA and around the world. Murder, terrorism, hate mongering, lying, alcoholism, bolimeia, cheating, boasting, aggression, racism, religious fanatism, greed and God-hating, just to name a few. There is no security in the world that can be provided by humans. The lack of security creates a craving for long-lasting ability to live peaceful lives. No matter how much we try to fill our lives with things, we are still left in an unsatisfied state. We can never quite fill the glass of our hearts to the brim to quench that thirst. That is the bad news.

Isn’t is sad that governments around the world pour billions upon billions of dollars into solutions involving military saber rattling, mental illness initiatives, evolutionary science; in reality doing everything humanly possible to keep God out of the equation. Maybe that is where we should turn as a last resort? We have tried everything else. God is the one who made us and not we ourselves. The craving for peace can only be fulfilled when we as a people know that God is sovereign. We can ignore and deny that fact. Turning our backs will not make the fact go away. Since He alone is the Creator of all things infinite and finite, we are marked with His image. We are meant to be doing life in His pastures.

Therefore, in order to quench this craving for elusive peace, we need to conscouiously make a choice to serve the Lord and do it not grudgingly as religous duty. We must do it with gladness. But that will noly happen untill we decide to come into His presence and willingly acknowledge that He is God and not we ourselves. Only then will deep seated craving we all have for peace be satisfied. Try it; you just might be caught by surprise!

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How much worth?

How much is one human being worth? How much value can be assigned to one individual?

How much is one human being worth? How much value can be assigned to one individual? Is a person’s importance a factor in assigning worth to a human being?

Each one of us is of immeasurable value to God because our lives belong to Him; He created us whether we choose to believe it or not. There is no human measuring device that can assign some numerical value to an individual life. Life insurance places a value on our lives; the more money we pay into the policy the more we are worth. No paid in, no worth assigned. If we cannot assign a value to life, then maybe we need an outside source to help us.

Most of us are not career practitioners in the life saving business on the street or in hospitals. By that I mean we are not on the front lines of life and death situations like firemen, emergency room  personnel, police or first responders in ambulances. The inherent motto of their profession is “all people are of the same value and worth saving.” Regardless of how they ended up in that circumstance they are given life saving aid, at least in America. However, in some other countries, life saving professionals may not be so inclined if the victim is racially or politically different.

When we think of life saving, we generally think of someone who is at death’s door due to an accident. But there is another type of life saving that is less dramatic unless one is aware of the dramatic yet unseen consequences of not rescuing that person. It is one thing to see the physical danger and act in a life saving manner accordingly. It is another to affirm the value of others and verbally or physically bless them. We fight to save lives. Do we have the same attitude as Jesus and refuse to be OK with wasted life, sacrificing our lives for others. All of heaven celebrates joyfully when one life is rescued.  This celebration points to the value we have to God.

The Spirit of God reminded the Prophet Ezekiel that “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine …” God is the Supreme Creator. He values us far above human valuation systems. Doubtful? Look at what He accomplished through the cross and how that communicates our value through His rescue of us. Paul reminds us that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—”  Think about that for a moment. ‘Even when we were dead’ to God; even when we wanted no part of God or what He stood for, He had a plan and it was not to abandon us. Because we have inestimable worth to God, He counts us worth the death of His son Jesus to save us.

This give us a clue as to why Jesus made it a point that it was not just loving God that was important but at the same level we are to love our neighbor. “… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:30-31] Think about the last seven days. When did you take the opportunity this week to mentally give the benefit of the doubt to someone or verbally bless him or her?

All too often we fail to see those around us as God sees and values them. Luke the doctor turned historian quotes Jesus: “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” I read this and I wonder how serious do I take Jesus’ words? I want to make a difference and experience the reality of the heavenly celebration of the rescue of those in your world … my ‘neighbors.’

Down or Up

Have you ever stopped to think about why some folks are able to weather great loss and misfortune while others fall apart? I was thinking about this bit of wisdom found in Proverbs 24:16: “…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” [NIV] The thought here is not about whether one falls into misfortune but what that person does when it happens. Life is not always easy. Life can come at us hard. What we trust in for help is what makes or breaks us. I have known people through the years that have had bad things happen to them. Years later, after the event they are still angry at God or themselves. They fail to see God’s providential care over them in the days and years afterward.

A certain hiker on a mountain path stumbles on a small rock and falls. He picks himself up and continues on, paying more attention to where he is going. Another hiker comes along later and stumbles on the same small rock and falls. He curses the rock and God for letting him fall. He will eventually pick himself up but he may turn around and go home to never hike again. It is too hard and the path is too unfair.

It is easy to talk boldly that we trust God when in church or around our Christian friends. However, our actions under fire will prove the truth. When temptations assail our brains, when disease press us down or even when violence enters our world and violates either us or our loved ones, how we emerge from the fiery of trials will either prove or disprove our words. If in fact we trust God even when the trial is unfair and makes no earthly sense, we will emerge experiencing God’s peace that passes understanding. The one who is unwilling to trust God in all circumstances will go into the furnace and not emerge. There he will stay because he refuses to look up and see God’s help. He thinks that there is no one to uphold him. The one, who refuses to look with eyes of faith, will fail to see Jesus walking beside him through the flames with His hand out.

We are never totally secure living in a world where both the just and the unjust are subject to worldly cares, losses or the insidious attacks of the man. There is always a choice. Those who place their lives in God’s hands never lose sight of God’s presence. They are the ones that seem to flourish in spite of their dire circumstances. Those opting to shun God and continue in impatience with life, fretting constantly and never understanding that no one can protect themselves against evil or have the strength to rise again when bad things happen in a fallen world.

The furnace of misfortune, disaster, human fickleness, grievous affliction and just plain misery, sorts out the ones who outwardly profess that God loves them but fail to walk that way, from those who have applied God’s love to their hearts and continue to live righteously in an evil world. John Gill writes in his Exposition on the Entire Bible: A just man, though he does not fall from his righteousness, which is an everlasting one, nor from the grace of God; yet he may fall into temptation, and by it he may fall into sin, as every just man does; “for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sins not…” [Ecc 7:20]

The mark of a godly man whose walk matches his talk, is able to do so because he keeps receiving via prayer a fresh application of grace. In his hurt and grief, he seeks God through the Word and learns how to walk in integrity [talk equals walk] and gains wisdom outside of his natural ability. Sin wants to put us down and keep us down. Grace wants to revive us no matter how grievous the sin. Remember David entering into adultery and then murder of his trusted friend to cover his sin with his wife? God did not leave him in that furnace. David, being a godly man named, owned and repented of his sin. God restored him to fellowship but not without consequences. If David had chosen to hide his sin he would have had no escape and his story would end differently. David sought access to God’s pardoning grace and therefore God could bring healing to him. Had David chosen to shun God’s forgiveness God would have left him to his own devices to wallow in it. The problem is, sin left unattended to its own devices will lead to more sin and that will lead to more trouble and distress.

A Treacherous Trap

I read recently of a woman who was enjoying time with her family one evening. Quite suddenly she started experiencing some mild stomach pains. 24 hours later, after taking some over-the-counter stuff for flu, the pain persisted and got sharper so she went to her doctor. The doctor gave her some flu medicine and told her it was nothing to worry about. A week passed with the pain continually worsening, until finally one evening it was intolerable. Going to the emergency room, the on-call surgeon took and studied her x-ray. He then ordered she immediately be prepped for surgery. The x-ray revealed that her appendix had burst several days previously and poison was slowly killing her.

Greed: avarice, particularly for wealth and things. Greed is analogous to that burst appendix spreading poison. There was a time early in my Christian journey where I was driven by greed. My lust for things started off small. As I spent money that I could ill afford on things I wanted but did not need, I would get annoying little twinges of guilt. Like any sin, greed is never content. During that time in my life I was never satisfied with what I had. As my friends bought new things, I just had to get those same things or even better things so I could stay up with them. The focus of my life was to grab all that I could get even if it meant going further into debt.

Greed warped my personality. I became jealous of my friends for the things that they had and even the positions they held in work and church. I developed an insatiable desire on having my own way. I started to be quarrelsome. Jealousy turned into conceit. I began looking down on those who did not have the things that I had. Looking back, I was struggling for pre-eminence in all that I did, even in the church. I choose to ignore that there is only One who is qualified pre-eminent. I claimed that Jesus was pre-eminent in my heart but that was a deception. Greed was the driving force in my life. I became ego-centric, not thinking about others and did lots of damage relationally.

Here are seven specific things I have learned about greed:
1. Greed is destructive to me and those around me.
2. Greed hinders honest prayer.
3. Greed is offensive to God who is unrelenting in His giving of Himself to me.
4. Greed cannot be reformed by more religious activity.
5. Greed insists on growing over time.
6. Greed breeds injustice and inequality.
7. Greed is the worship of me instead of my Creator and is therefore the highest level of treachery against the King of Kings.

The Bible and Jesus in particular, have some pointed things to say about greed. Jesus combined hypocrisy and greedy self-indulgence together. Matthew 23:25 God warns us that unchecked greed will turn a man of God into a sworn enemy of the Gospel, hindering God’s intended salvation, keeping men from believing in Jesus. Hypocrisy fueled by greed will cause men to take great pains to appear Godly but they are living a life of extortion and excess at the expense of the poor. It is a treacherous trap.

It’s Not Magic

It’s Not Magic. We all have one thing in common, how to keep sin out of our lives? Even the Psalmist asked the question: “how can a man keep his way pure?” [Psalms 119:9 NIV] Then he turned right around gave the answer by saying “by living according to your word.” Our world is full of “how to” books and seminars. The most consistent answer to living as God would want us to live, is by realizing that it’s only by a divine intervention that man can shape his character so that is pleasing to God. God has provided us that divine intervention. It’s not magic. How do we do it? Be intentional about living according to God’s word. We start the process and God does the rest.

For example, suppose at the beginning of the New Year I make a resolution. I am never going to look at pornography again, ever. But that resolution soon gets broken. The problem is I am seeking God with my head and not my heart. It’s easy to agree with God’s word in my head. But it’s in the heart where God makes the changes. Jesus makes it clear that it is from the heart where the “want” to look at pornography comes from, along with every other sin. God has the solution for us.

Memorization is one of the most effective tools God provides for us in combating sin. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” But you might say “Well memorization is something you do with your head.” And you’d be correct. But here’s what happens. As we memorize God’s word we are actually hiding it in our heart. The Holy Spirit can remind us of how He wants us to live. It’s at that point that we have the opportunity to meditate on what we memorized. IF we choose, we can apply it to our lives. As we go through the process of considering what we memorized and considering what God is telling us, we gain the opportunity to try to apply it to our lives. And here is what’s really cool. One outcome is discovering that we are changing. We start delighting in reading His word. And the more we work the process the more we find that we will not neglect finding time get into His word.

The process memorizing, meditating and applying God’s word is much like the old illustration but we’ve all heard. A glass of muddy water stands on the counter. Move the glass under the tap and let the tap run water into the glass. Eventually the running water will push out the dirty water. As we fill our life with God’s words, the pressures of sin become negated and pushed away, replaced by God’s word. “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” [Psalm 119:15-16 ESV]

Here are four things that from my experience I can count on:

  1. When I meditate on God’s precepts [directions for living] this affects my thoughts.
  2. When I fix my eyes on God’s ways this changes my attitude.
  3. When I delight myself in God’s statues [God’s permanent rules established to govern my internal life] this affects what I strive for.
  4. When I make a conscious effort not to forget God’s word, this changes what I remember; old things get nailed to the cross and God makes things new in my life.

Like I said the beginning this is not magic. God wants to support me changing my life. All He wants me to do is to start the action. Listen to the Psalmist: I seek…, I have hidden…, I rejoice…, I meditate…, and I delight. [vs. 10, 13, 14, 15 & 16] Only I can start the process of exchanging my dirty undrinkable water with His clean living water, Jesus. What are you waiting for?

Summary Statement

How do we develop a right state of mind in balancing life. How do we balance our heart between earthly things and heavenly things. Jesus tells us clearly that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  [Matthew 6:33 NIV]

The kingdom of God” is the focus of Jesus’ when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. Now He is summarizing all that He has talked about and illustrated to those who would listen. God is erecting in this fallen world His kingdom. And “His righteousness” is the goal He wants to establish in us. It is a choice that we will make whether we will direct our lives in pursuit of our lives or His life in us.  If we are seeking of God’s kingdom and His righteousness “first” then everything becomes subordinate to what God is doing. We will be seeking His will and His holiness before and above all else.

Christ followers are on a different path than those outside of the Kingdom of God. Jesus introduced this revolutionary thought with this fact as a reference point: “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you.” [Mat 6:32]A good illustration of this spiritual principle can be seen in the conversation between God and King Solomon. Let’s listen in. Solomon requested, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people.” Then he asked, “Who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king,  therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” [2CH 1:10-12]

He has control over all things, and He can give you what you need. He will give you what he deems best for you. Here are some questions that will help assess just where the balance is in our life.

1. What comes First in allocating my time.

2. What is First in getting my attention.

3. What is First in my desires?

4. Where is the major portion of my energies spent?

This is an age-old problem. Here are what some others have said about the balance in their lives.

You were made for God; to love him, to serve him, to praise him, to live in fellowship with him, to do and to bear his holy will. [Adaption of Westminster Confession]

“Seek that, to which other things are necessarily connected.” [Old Jewish saying]

“Do not be anxious about the supply of your needs, whether of body, mind, or heart. God knows what you need. If He has given life, will He not maintain it? Does He not care for the birds and flowers? Did He not give His Son, and will He withhold any good? Trust Him and be at peace.” [F.B. Meyer]

“Happy are those who take the Lord for their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves wholly to his wise disposal.” [Matthew Henry]

“Christ tells us that there is a true order of human endeavor, and that when that order is followed all the lesser concerns of human life find sufficient and unfailing guarantee.” [Great Texts of the Bible]

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” [Apostle Paul, Romans 14:17 -18 NIV]

May we have the same mind-set of seeking wisdom and knowledge as did Solomon and follow the prescription that Jesus gave us. It is our choice. It is always our choice.

Who is listening to whom?

There is a lot of dialogue among Christians of varied persuasions about the techniques, abilities, and theology of how to listen to God [or even if God speaks today]. A young man told a group of us last night that he has often wondered “Where do the words come from that are a benefit to others, when they are not in my head to begin with?!”

How often have you felt like you were being prompted to say something to someone and immediately the following thoughts ran through your mind? “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘GOD? Speaks to him? Hardly!’” Or this objection: “Lord, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither in the past or today. I stutter and stammer.” Or the ultimate objection: “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Sound familiar? Too often we think that we are not the right person for the job God has in mind for us. Of course, stopping to think our objection[s] through, we will see clearly it implies that God does not know what He is doing. It implies that He has randomly just picked me to go do or say something because I happen to be handily available.

I suspect that the real reason that we are resistant to following the prompting of God has to do with it taking us out of our comfort zone. We do not like being uncomfortable. And why are we uncomfortable? Because we have set boundaries around what we will do in obedience when God prompts us in some direction. The author of Hebrews quotes God writing: “… my righteous ones will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” And then he adds “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” [Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV] If we are to believe God, then shrinking back from doing what He wants us to do is to invite God’s displeasure in us.

God understands better than we do how uncomfortable it can be stepping outside of our ‘comfort boundaries.’ Jesus was there. He experienced that also. Our fear of stepping out be it to talk to a stranger or give a message really has to do with slavery. Who or what do we fear the most? Are we a slave to our fears; are we a slave to our individual preconceived boundaries of trust? Do we really believe it when God tells us, in writing, that “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear …” If we doubt that God really means what He says, than we will miss out on opportunities of receiving blessings from God’s hand by failing to minister to others that He Himself put in our way. We are a slave if we fail to obey, which is an oxymoron because being a slave has to do with unwavering obedience.

Things are not what they seem …

One of the most popular memory verses about the promise of God to meet our needs is found in Matthew 6:33 which says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided unto you.” Often we get caught up in the asking and seeking answers to basic things like food and clothing. Although this verse holds incredible promise with emphasis on God’s provision, we loose sight of significant issues of Kingdom Living.

As in learning to live life with God, there is often more to learn than we initially perceive. Most of the time when we read this chapter in Matthew, we focus on this verse [dessert] and miss the real substance of the meal.

Jesus declared over and over again God’s purpose of a new and different kind of living. His reference to ‘seek His kingdom‘ reminds us that there is more to reality than what we can see, feel, hear, or taste. The hot topic of Jesus’ day was the national agony of Roman occupation of their homeland. Because of His power and the ability to do the impossible, people saw in Jesus a military or political leader to deliver them from their enemy. Jesus made it clear more than once that He was not going to set up a earthly kingdom. It was hard for people to hear and understand this spiritual truth when their lives were so dominated by material things. And Jesus made it clear that this was their choice.

To seek the kingdom of God over other things means that our singular aim in life is that God reigns in our hearts. Jesus did not come from lofty beginnings. He was born into a poor family who materially ranked on the fringes of poverty. He was a carpenter and had no formal training according to the standards of the day. What he did have and modeled for us, was a single-minded passion to seek God’s kingdom. But what on earth does that mean?

There is a difference between foresight and foreboding. The farmer uses foresight and plants his seed at the right time. But there is no need for him to brood over the seed, laying awake at nights all through the spring and summer, worrying about the distant harvest that he has no control over.

Genuine faith is a spiritual reality that transcends our material existence. The reality of things are not what they seem. Dorothy looked around at the strange land of OZ told Toto that they were not in Kansas any more. In Star Wars, Luke discovers the force that opens the door of possibilities beyond his wildest imagination. When Frodo finds the ring, he is introduced to a cosmic battle that was outside the realm of his thinking. We love stories not because we think they are real, but the stories transport us to new possibilities.

As Christians, we get caught up seeking material things. We depend on self and so our chief anxiety is seeking those things that have no real value. They are important but in the realm of things that are not what they seem, they have not lasting value. Whether we choose to believe it or not, God has control over all things. How are you choosing to live?

Organic or Synthetic?

Relationships bring meaning to life and are the key toward good health in mind, body, emotions, spirit and soul. My question to you today is simply this: Do you have an organic life in Christ or are you a synthetic Christian by association? If you say that you have an organic relationship with Jesus Christ then those who you do life with will see you growing in your spiritual life. Children do not stay children long. They are constantly hungry and growing. Maintaining childhood is not natural, either in the physical realm or spiritual. If you starve a child it will die. I find it interesting that it is the people who call themselves Christians and are starving for the Word of God who are the biggest abusers of religion. Calling myself a Christian means, according to the Bible, that I am a saint. Sainthood is not reserved for a special group of people. If you think this way, then what do you make of Paul’s salutation: Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.  All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. [Philippians 4:21-22 NASB] We have a choice. We can believe humanly spawned dogmatic criteria to what a saint is or is not. We can believe as the Bible teaches that saints are simply those who worship Christ. A saint is nothing more or less than a holy one. And the only way to true holiness [again according to the Bible] is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Caesar’s household had many saints, none of whom are known today.

An organic Christian [saint] should be a faith-builder. They are the ones in the church who should be seeking to represent the ‘fullness of Christ.’ In everything they do they look for the mature way of doing something. Children [synthetic Christians] know no boundaries and can be destructive and suck the life out of a church. Synthetic Christians are interested in themselves. They love others when others love them. A saint is like wheat and seeks to feed the body of Christ whereas a child is like a weed and seeks to crowd out the wheat so they can fulfill their own agenda. A saint struggles to love people as Christ loves them. They work hard to bring those feelings of “I cannot stand that person” to the altar so that Jesus can love “that person I cannot stand” through them.  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ … (Ephesians 4:15 NASB) As an organic Christian, Jesus desires nothing more or less than for me to be growing in all aspects of what He wants to accomplish through me. What was true in the Old Testament is still true today: For I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. [Leviticus 11:44 NASB]

Biology 101 teaches us that living cells split apart and replicate themselves. Are you replicating more organic or synthetic Christians? Intellect means nothing in the spiritual realm. Does the Word of God pierce my heart? If so then what should I do now? Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37, 38 NASB)

Insanity

Christians, if you have not noticed, we are at war. The bombing at the Boston Marathon is just one skirmish in a war. All of this barbarism we are seeing in the world is not about religion, economics, politics or mental instability. We live in a world that has learned that the blame game is easier and avoids responsibility rather that looking at the source. We have a choice. We can believe what the world believes, that if we just fixed [add what you think] the world would become a friendly place. Or you can believe what God inspired a man to write about two thousand years ago. Consider: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12 NASB] The murderous actions we have on our doorstep are the result of living in a world that is hell-bent in an insane rebellion against our Creator God. Since the Garden Plot instigated by Satan at the beginning of our history, we have shifted the blame. What is the underlying force behind every hate-filled action? It is nothing less than treason against the One who made us for love and flourishing. We live in a world that has run amuck due to insanity. Sin is insanity. Sin destroys everything good, right and true. Sin is not rational. An insane person cannot be reasoned with. Our rebellion has allowed sin to thrive in darkness, hating anything that opposes the darkness. We insanely allow abortion, lying, greed, idolatry and the twisting of marriage, to name just a few, within the ranks of Christianity. Sin opposes everything God loves.

We as a society have aggressively worked to find answers to the flare up of violence through pathology. We turn everything into a study of disease, attempting to map out the ‘social diseases’ nature, processes, development and consequences. We divorce God from the study, and are successful in laying out a disease’s functional manifestation but rarely its prevention. We spend huge amounts of resources looking for answers to horrific events such as the Boston Bombing or Sandy Hook but forget to go to the source of all social pathology, the soul. Second generation man introduced brother murdering brother over jealousy. Jealously leads to resentment which leads to anger. Anger looks for a way to express itself physically in a rage, and as God told Cain, ‘sin is crouching at the door, looking to own you.’ Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage, inciting us to do violent things.

In all of man’s history, we still have not figured out how to ‘cure’ or prevent jealousy. Or greed. Or hate. Violence does not begin with saber-rattling armies, generational ethnic hatred, and longstanding social inequities. That is a mask for the real issue that we avoid like the plague. Violence is as close to us as our own hearts. We insist that the solution lies somewhere outside ourselves. God makes it clear that our hearts are the issues. Shifting the blame to something or someone started in the Garden. Evidence of the fall, is our willingness to we lie to ourselves by saying our act of adultery caused externally by someone else’s good looks. We lie to ourselves if we say that our greed is caused by our lack of money. We lie to ourselves if we say that envy is caused by our neighbor’s new car, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. It is and has been there all along, since our birth.

How do we tip the scales toward non-violence in practical terms? What does that looks like from God’s perspective? There must be a change in the heart. There must be a ‘God intervention.’ What can we do about violence in our hearts? Consider what James wrote: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness…. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sounds very much like what God told Cain: “Sin is crouching at your doorstep” so be care what you decide to do. What are you going to choose to do? Cain chose to be a vigilante. Jesus came so that we could choose vigilance. Jesus does not want us to be doormats and wait for violence to erupt. As followers of Jesus he commands us to close the gap. He wants us to do as He did and engage with those who have been rejected by others. We are to reach out and connect with the wounded of our community before they snap and lash out in rage. We cannot end violence. But we can do much to bring down the level of insanity seen in tension and stress around us by living at peace with our brothers and sisters within and without the family of God.