Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Kicked the Habit

Addiction is a nasty-sounding word. It is a condition we observe in others with varying feelings of horror, pity, and contempt.

It's not a word we would apply to ourselves. "I can control myself," we say, or "I'm much too strong for that."

So, am I? Are you?

One is addicted when one "has allowed something to gain a strong, habitual and enduring hold on action ,inclination or involuntary tendency." That's straight out of Webster's Dictionary.


Here's another cool word: Insiduous: designed to trap; full of wiles; causing harm by slow, stealthy, usually imperceptible means.

The thing I'm trying to say is: a habit doesn't have to have horrifically bad effects to be labeled an addiction. It just needs to be addicting.

Take games, for instance. They come in all sizes and forms on the internet, and they're free (unless you desire the same spectacular success your neighbor is having).

So where's the harm, huh?

I've been addicted to 'Fog of War' for the past month, feverishly building up cities and armies so I can pillage my neighbor. I can see how Hitler got hooked on the real thing. Not that I would EVER do the things he did in real life, mind you.

So where's the harm?

My wife complained mildly at one point, then said, "At least you're not running the streets; you're right in the next room."

So where's the harm?

Was I given this time (precious time) to squander in such a mindless fashion? Why do you suppose I was irritable when I couldn't have access to the computer? Was that uneasiness I felt actually resentment at my time being occupied by my part-time job? Or by MY Family?!?

One of the keys to changing an undesirable behaviour (after earnest prayer) is to remove all influences toward that behaviour from your life.

So this morning, I pulled up my 'favorites' list, selected the bookmark for the wargame, right-clicked it and pressed 'delete.'

"Are you sure you want to permanently delete this record?"

Yes. Please.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday, 8:00 A.M.

It is very quiet in this neighborhood on this mild overcast Sunday morning. Not even the usual buzz of traffic from East Main St., a block away.

I step outside to check the temperature, and notice a squirrel perched on a stump in my next-door neighbor's yard. He working on a cluster of pecans, still in their protective green hull.

As I ease closer to watch him, a movement across the street catches my eye. Our tomcat, Vicious (as in Sid), emerges from the beanfield behind the house there. He moves gracefully, then halts at the edge of the street as he spots the squirrel.

The squirrel, who has been warily observing me, spots Vicious at the same time as the cat begins his dash forward. Dropping his pecans, he scrambles toward my back yard and with a single bound, mountd the privacy fence.

Wolfgang, our husky-wolf mix, leaps at the squirrel running nimbly along the fence, to the neighbor's shed, and to a low hanging limb.

It's Sunday morning. God is in His heaven, and my animals are on patrol.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who Do You Think I Am?

Something that came up during our study of Church History last night: we were looking at the second century Arrian controversy. Arrius denied the divinity of Christ. This heresy very nearly became the prevailing doctrine of the Church.

The commentator (we use a dvd), John Gerstner, made the statement that "most Christians" today don't believe that Jesus is God.

I was floored. I'm sure that some professing Christians have hazy notions about the deity of Christ, but "most?"

First, this seems an impossible statement. Gerstner gave no basis for it and though I know there are lots of liberals in the church, this seems to me to be a core belief.

Which brings me to my second point, which is more in the form of a question: Can a person truly be a Christian without believing that Jesus is divine?

It troubles me that Christianity may have come to this. The Southern Baptists fought a long bitter struggle to regain control of the teaching in their seminaries. I left a denomination because it had strayed from these essential truths.

If Jesus is not divine, do we even have a religion? What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

What I Learned Last Night

Deon finished his sermon series on the book of Ruth last night. Across the board, this may be one of the most loved books of the Bible. Even that famous skeptic, Ben Franklin, admired it. You have probably read it numerous times, as I have.

Deon brought out two wonderful points about Ruth that I hadn't considered.

The first point is: God brings order out of chaos. To compare the beginning of the story (a time of famine and disorder) to the end (a kinsman-redeemer has been born and a kingly line established) illustrates this wonderfully, and in a section of scripture where I hadn't noticed it before.

The second point: Our lives have significance in God's plan. The geneology at the end of Ruth spans centuries and there, 3/4 of the way down the list, we read "Boaz, the father of Obed." The characters in this story occupied a mere blink in the eye of time. Yet, the actions of these folks, guided by the hand of God, have had eternal significance. Who knows the effects, down the years, of the seemingly most mundane tasks you and I perform today?

We serve an awesome and sovereign God.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here Comes the Devil

Spiritual warfare, right?

So, this is where the devil, who is a spirit, but nonetheless like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, comes against the Christian with all kinds of temptations consisting, many times, evil thoughts or unpleasant people.

Sometimes, though, the spiritual realm spills over into the physical, and things start to get really nasty.

The good news, before I go any further and the reader sinks into a deep depression, is that the Bible says rejoice when these things happen. What things? Well, that's the bad news.

Sometimes, instead of the temptation to ogle a pretty girl or the sinful desire to get snotty with an obnoxious stranger, Satan makes it personal. The name means "accuser," after all, so what did you expect?

In addition to trying to get us to sin, our adversary would like to disrupt our relationships. His favorite trick is to influence someone close to us (a friend or, his all-time favorite, a dear family member) to come at us in an especially ugly and hurtful way.

This is hard stuff to deal with, even for the more saintly among us, and I must admit: the strong urge is to launch full-throttle nuclear retaliation. You know, the scorched earth, take no prisoners type of retaliation.

Pray, brother or sister, that you never give in. The guilt alone from such a performance (not to mention the hurt you've inflicted on the other person) is HARD to overcome. You will have damaged your relationship AND your witness (especially if this blowup occurs in front of others). I speak with the sad voice of experience.

Next: What about that rejoicing part?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The problem is this book, this historical novel. We imagine ancient warriors as rough, tough, wild and wooly hombres. Here's the thing though. These particular warriors believe God has deeded a land to them through promises made to their forefathers and a covenant (treaty) made with their people after He delivered them from 400 years of slavery.

Now, to have a good story, there's gotta be a catch. Here's the catch: there's already somebody living there. A lot of somebodies. And these folks are also rough, tough, wild, etc.

I mentioned the covenant, didn't I? This is important. The covenant stated that God would give the land to these people He rescued (He has His own reasons for wanting the previous occupants gone. Let's just say that it's kinda like owning a rental house and having bad renters). In return these folks have to live there and take care of the place and not serve any other gods. You know, set a good example for the rest of the neighborhood.

So here we are about 500 years in, and the new guys aren't doing so good. They're fighting each other as much as the people they're supposed to kick out. Plus they are having real problems with serving just one God, so He's not helping them as much as He might if they were faithful. I mean, honestly, would you be prone to very nice to your significant other if he/she were out foolin' around. Nah, me either.

Fortunately, we have heroes. One in particular. This guy fought so hard and so long in one of these battles that the muscles in his sword hand seized up so that his hand froze shut on his sword hilt and he couldn't turn loose. His buddies are just as hardcore as he is and together they wreak a whole lot of havoc.

But we can't have several hundred pages with just one long fight scene, as much fun as that stuff is to read (and write). So being people (like you or I), these guys have issues; you know, like a life away from the battlefield and dealing with other people and all the other junk that goes with being alive and running around loose on this planet, trying to get your stuff together.

More about that later.