When is Being Angry OK?

When Shaul (that nice Jewish tentmaker from Tarsus) wrote his letter to the congregation of Believers in Ephesus, he told them that they should never sin in their anger (Ephesians 4:26), which means it is not a sin to be angry, but when we are angry we must not sin.

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That sounds a little convoluted, and the way I interpret it is that we are allowed to be angry if the reasons are justifiable. And even though we may be justifiably angry, that doesn’t allow us to do or say something sinful while in the heat of our emotional stress.

For example, Yeshua was unquestionably pissed-off at the people in the Temple who were charging exorbitant fees for money exchange and selling sacrificial animals that were not eligible to be sacrificed. His anger was intense and totally justified, although I would question if what he did was as justified. Overturning their tables and using a whip may fall into that grey area known as a “maybe-but-maybe-not-sinful” thing.

Today’s discussion, however, isn’t about what Yeshua did then, but about what we do when we get angry.

In my personal case, the one thing that gets under my skin faster than almost anything else is when I hit a bad golf shot. Especially if I am having a good game. I have tried to remember that it is, after all, only a game but I can’t stand doing less than I know I am capable of doing.

And I often fail to observe Shaul’s warning, finding myself hitting the ground, stomping my feet, and occasionally trying to outdistance the ball with my club. Oh, yes, while I am confessing, I should also mention that too often at that time I channel my past military language, using words that could melt the backing off of a mirror.

I think that is a good example of sinning in one’s anger, and I do apologize to my golf buddies who are very quick to accept my apology.

For an example of my being really angry but not sinning, I recently had a lot of trouble with a national carpeting company (who shall remain nameless but you might recognize them if you watched the second Star Wars movie, Episode 5) who promised delivery and installation but failed to do so three times in a row. We had to empty both my wife’s office and mine, so there were books, computers, desk drawers, pretty much everything in the rooms spewed all over the dining room floor and half the living room in preparation for their coming, which didn’t get completed until after 6 days. After the first failure to install when they said they would, they upgraded us to a better carpet (which was in stock) but when that came they didn’t deliver enough for both rooms. I had to keep calling their dispatcher and when I talked with him I was very vocal (that means loud and angry) but I didn’t curse and I didn’t say anything to insult him or his company. I did say I didn’t like the way they did business and insisted on more discounts or I would cancel. In fact, I threatened to cancel numerous times (and meant it) but we were really stuck since the biggest problem was not being able to use our offices and no other carpet company would be able to do an install for at least 2-3 weeks. Finally, after 6 days they managed to get enough carpet to do both rooms.

In case you’re interested, the installation crews were very friendly and professional, and the new carpet looks great.

These two examples show the difference between sinning in my anger, and not sinning. Golf gets me to backslide in a heartbeat (but I am getting better) and incompetence makes me angry, but not where I end up sinning over it. The question remains about which of these examples, if either, justified my becoming angry?

I would say (and I should know because I picked these two examples, myself) that getting angry over a bad golf shot is unjustifiable. Why? Because it is the result of my pridefulness, and there is no other reason to be angry. And what is worse is that I usually end up making up for a bad shot or a bad hole later on in the game, so 99% of the time I am still shooting my normal score. The anger is totally unjustified and sinful because it is initiated by sin -the sin of pridefulness.

Now, with the carpet incident, my anger was justified because I was misled, the people I am paying to do a job were being incompetent and inattentive, and they were causing both myself and my wife a lot of inconveniences. I believe that because that anger was not caused by my sin but was justified, I was able to express my anger without sinning.

You know, maybe that is the answer to the question: it is OK to be angry when the cause of your anger is not generated by your own sin.

If something makes you angry, the first thing to do is ask yourself why you are angry. If you are angry because someone has sinned against you (or God), then your anger is justified; that doesn’t mean you can sin back, but because the sin is not yours, you should be able to express your anger without sinning.

On the other hand, if you are angry because someone did something that you didn’t want them to do, and your pride is hurt, then the anger comes from your sin and automatically you have sinned in your anger. Even if what they did was wrong, if you’re angry because of your pride (which I believe is the mother of all sins), then even if you withhold your tongue and act calmly, you still have sinned in your anger.

I think that is the key: when Shaul said to not sin in our anger, maybe he meant that when we are angry we must be angry for reasons that are not sinful. In other words, it isn’t the anger itself that is the issue, but why we are angry. If we are angry for sinful reasons, then we have sinned in our anger, but if we are angry for a reason that is not based on our sinfulness, then that anger is OK.

As we close this discussion, let me repeat -just for the record- that even if your anger is justified you still aren’t allowed to do anything that is sinful when you express your anger.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Don’t Camouflage the Truth

When I was in the Marine Corps one of the important lessons we learned was how to apply camouflage correctly. Camouflage is designed to allow you to be in view of the enemy but not be seen because, when applied correctly, it lets you blend into the background colors and also breaks up the recognizable contours and shapes of your face and body.

So, what does this have to do with truth?

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How many times have you read or heard someone talking about the Bible or a biblical truth to someone else in a derogatory or judgmental way? And when they were told they didn’t need to be nasty, they played that old, “I am just telling you the truth” card?

When someone does that, they may be telling the truth, but they have camouflaged the truth with their pridefulness.  And the result is that no good will come of it because the one who needs to see the truth will not be able to see it: it’s been camouflaged by pride and arrogance.

NOTE: When I say people camouflage the truth with their own pride, what I mean is that they are more interested in showing off what they know instead of using what they know to help someone else.

Shaul said he may have many gifts but if he doesn’t have love, he is nothing (1 Corinthians 13), and the same is true regarding telling the truth to someone about God’s word or Yeshua’s teachings. If you can’t show someone the truth without being nasty, sounding judgmental, or insulting them, then whatever truth you may actually have will not be seen because it has been camouflaged by your attitude. In other words, no matter how correct you may be, you might as well be talking to a wall.

The moment you start to insult or demean someone in any way their response will be “Shields up, Scotty!!” And whether or not you think you are being nasty doesn’t matter: another thing I learned in the Marine Corp is that if they think you are being nasty, then you are being nasty. When people camouflage the truth with their pride and arrogance, they have not only failed to help that person but have actually helped the enemy of God because they will turn that person off from any of God’s truth, even from hearing it from another person who knows how to communicate without letting their ego get in the way.

So here is the truth about speaking the truth: if you can’t say it nicely, then please don’t say it at all because your camouflage will prevent them from seeing it from you, and maybe even from someone else.

The bottom line is that if we cannot tell someone the truth about God or Yeshua without making them feel attacked, then we are wasting our time, failing to be effective, hurting the person’s chances of being saved, and dishonoring God and Yeshua, as well.

The next time you want to share the truth with someone, don’t camouflage it with pride but present it humbly and with compassion for the other person’s feelings. That way the truth will be obvious not just in your words, but in your attitude, as well.

Thank you for being here; please subscribe and share these messages out with friends and family. I am always open to comments and often can even see past the camouflage when they are submitted.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

When Do We Stop?

Today, as I was reviewing Facebook, someone posted this message:

In life, it’s important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong

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I thought about this with regard to the many times I have seen a discussion devolve into an argument, all because one person wouldn’t stop trying to get the other person to agree. The exchange of ideas was corrupted into an exchange of insults because of one person’s stubborn pridefulness not allowing the other person to have their own view.

For those who profess to be Believers, meaning people who are supposed to be God-fearing, respectful, compassionate, and loving of others to argue about things to the point where their pride takes over is a very poor way to represent God. It doesn’t glorify him, at all! What makes it worse is that the person who refuses to stop arguing will, more often than not, say they are just telling the truth, which they proclaim justifies their rude behavior.

Shaul tells us that righteous anger is fine, and it is, but it is no excuse for being nasty or disrespectful to someone. The same goes for telling the truth; as far as I am concerned, if you are unable to tell someone your understanding of “the truth” without having to yell at or insult them, then not only have you already lost the argument but your truth might not really be the truth.

Now, someone may say that Yeshua insulted the Pharisees and Scribes and Torah-teachers often, and that is true. My answer to that point of fact is this: you ain’t Yeshua! And when he spoke, even those who were against him could not argue with him because his truth was God’s truth and stood on its own. When you or I discuss God with others and they don’t accept what we say, or tell us we are wrong,  before we start to insult them we might consider that if what we say isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, maybe what we think is right is actually wrong. Or maybe what we are saying is right but we are saying it in a wrong way.

I learned this lesson many years ago when I received a left-handed compliment from my boss. I was a Sales Manager for Home Depot’s At-Home Services and the Senior Vice President I was working for told me that what I say is almost always correct, but (here comes the down-side) it becomes impotent because of the way I say it. You see, I was just telling the truth, but the way I told it rendered it useless because it made people upset.

God gave each and every one of us Free Will because he wants us to choose to worship him. We also can choose to reject God and all he says. That means God, himself, allows someone to be wrong if they choose to be wrong. So who are we to disallow that which God allows?

Your truth may not be my truth, and (truthfully) both may still be true. What is important is that we don’t tell someone the truth in order to show how correct we are, but to help them come closer to God. It is all about bringing people into proper relationship with God and Messiah, so when someone chooses to reject what you say, go ahead and make an argument without arguing. Allow them a minute or so to take it in, and if they are willing to continue to listen then you are doing well. If they reject what you say, and refuse to accept any proof from you, then before the discussion becomes an argument, do as God does and allow them to be wrong.

One last point: remember how God told the prophets that if they did not tell the people to repent, then their blood would be on his head? But, if after telling them to repent, they decided to reject God’s warnings and continued to sin, then the prophet would be free of their blood and it would be on their own heads? This rule holds true for us, as well. We are to try to bring people into the Kingdom of God but not by force, coercion, fear, or bribery (such as telling them about all the blessings they receive for being Believers.)

As purveyors of God’s truth, your job and mine is simply to tell the truth as God has shown it to us and allow people to make up their own minds.

Thank you for being here, and please share this out to your friends and family, and SUBSCRIBE so that when I post you will be notified. And I always welcome comments, all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Why I Get Angry Playing Golf

Before I start today’s message I am excited that later today Donna and I will get to see Avengers: Endgame. I promise no spoilers in my next message.



Now for today’s message.

I play golf in a league on Monday (9 holes) and a full game (18 holes) on Wednesday. I get to play with the same guys on both days.  I too often get really angry with myself when I screw up a shot (or maybe more like two or three in a row) and would like to say that this explosive anger I demonstrate is not typical for me in the other areas of my life. Normally, I am pretty patient with most things. Golf, however, gets under my skin in an instant, and before I know it I am thrown out of the cart, and my evil, twin brother Skippy takes over my game.

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Shaul (Paul) tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not sin in our anger. The anger he is talking about is not being pissed off when I follow a great drive with a duffed chip. That is not the kind of anger that Shaul was talking about; however, that doesn’t justify throwing a club, or (what I have forced myself to do instead of throwing the club) wham my golf bag with the club.

Yesterday I bought some cookies and placed them in a pocket of my golf bag for the turn-around. During the front nine, I got angry at messing up and swatted my bag a few times. When I went to eat the cookies, I discovered that I had smashed the cookies and now had a bag full of crumbs. Karma.

I have prayed, really I have, asking God to help me to take away this stupid, energy-wasting anger, but he hasn’t really done anything. Not that he should, because this is something that I do and therefore is something I need to stop doing. My golf buddies understand, and they are all much better at maintaining their composure than I am. That just makes me feel even worse about myself.

So why do I get so mad when the way I am playing golf is the way I should be playing golf? I mean, really- I am not on the PGA tour and never will be. I am a Bogie-plus golfer (that means I will normally score one or two strokes over the par for a hole), so my normal score for 18 holes is in the mid-nineties. Most of the time I will get mad, then relax, then get mad, then relax and do this during the game, and at the end find out my score was what it should be after 18 holes. It then I have to ask myself: what did I get so mad about? I played my normal game!

Here is where God helps me: he uses that still, quiet voice talking to me in the back of my head telling me the reason I get mad is that I am prideful. I think I should be a better golfer than I am, and I know I can be, so when I am not doing as well as I think I should, my pridefulness takes over and I get frustrated (at myself) and that results in anger.

Right now my friend Frank is bobbing his head up and down in agreement with me (aren’t you, Frank?)

So, nu?  Now that I know what the problem is, I should be able to fix it, right?  WRONG!!

Knowing what is wrong is a good start, but that is all it is- a good start. I know where to begin walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), but how far can I walk humbly before I backslide? With people I can go miles and miles…with golf, not much past the third hole!

Here’s the worst part…I know it is only a game! My life will not change if I score over 100, or if I score under 90. I’m sure if I don’t get mad my friends will feel less intimidated and I will feel much better if only I can get a handle on this anger thing. I do NOT want to manage it- I want it to go away, completely!

I always pray for self-control, and God keeps telling me this is something I need to learn on my own. I understand that- it isn’t that God isn’t willing to help me, but he won’t do it for me. God has taught me that I must find the strength to overcome my sinfulness, and I can do that by calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) NOT to change me, but to remind me I need to change and to warn me when I start to wander off the path of righteousness.

It all comes down to Free Will- our God-given right to choose. I can choose to get mad or I can choose not to get mad. God leads me, he shows me the way, he tells me how to act and instructs me what to do. But in the end, I am responsible for my actions and that is why God will not control me. The same goes for you.

Our God is a God of action: he wants us to walk with him not sit around waiting for him to do it for us. If I want to be less prideful I need to walk in humility- I need to keep myself in check, and I need to remember to work on it. God will help me by reminding me, by having people in my life help me, and by letting me screw up and embarrass myself so (maybe) I will think twice the next time before I do the same, stupid thing again.

I don’t think I am the only person with trouble managing anger in one way or another, and I am thankful that I lose control mostly only with my golf game.  But that is no excuse to allow it to continue.

What makes you angry? Is it godly or is it prideful? We all, each of us, need to ask ourselves this question when we feel the rage starting; and then we must try to stop it before it is noticeable. This is what I have to do more earnestly for myself, and I will still pray for God to help me.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t get mad. If only it was really that easy.

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I welcome comments, suggestions, and even disagreements- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitaot and Baruch HaShem!


hating is easier than loving

They say good always triumphs over evil, and love conquers everything. I believe that both are true, but only in a spiritual sense: in the real world, I have seen that hate can be stronger than love and evil often wins out.

Sometimes evil does get what’s coming to it in the real world, but it always reaps the whirlwind in the afterlife.

I know people who can’t let go of their anger or hatred, and I can see it eating away their kishka’s (intestines) slowly. Hatred is a wormwood that infects the heart, and since (biblically) the heart is the source of intelligence, when we hate we not only damage relationships, but we get stupid, too!

Anger from pridefulness leads to hatred, unforgiveness feeds the hatred, and jealousy is (maybe) the worst form of hatred. And I believe (disagree if you want- that’s OK) that hatred is stronger than love in most people. To me, love is like clear, fresh water that extinguishes all anger and pride, whereas hatred is an all-consuming fire that is never satisfied and feeds on itself, never getting smaller and always growing stronger.

If we hate someone, usually they hate us back, but love is very often unrequited. In the long run, many more people love someone who doesn’t love them back, yet hatred will almost always return hatred. That’s how it feeds on itself. And hating is easy- very easy! To hate you only need to love yourself more than others, be prideful and unforgiving, and want everything to go your way. You see anyone and anything that prevents your desires from coming to fruition as the enemy. That is almost a description of human nature, isn’t it? Hating is a curse- not to the other person, but to the one who hates. Yet- we don’t care! Once we are in “hate mode”, we are gone! We lose control of our senses, our emotions, and we do and say things that will hurt ourselves and everyone around us. Hatred is death.

Love, on the other hand, is gentle, takes strength of character and humility, is forgiving and accepts everyone as they are, whether or not we agree with their choices. No mater what, we still love them. We know that they are children of God and if you love God, you have to love (at least, a little) His children.  I am not speaking about “hold me-kiss me-marry me”  love, but love in the spiritual sense.

Shaul (Paul) says in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love, he is nothing.  Hatred eats us alive, from the inside out, and then grows beyond us affecting everything and everyone we come into contact with. Well, love does the same thing, only it strengthens us from the inside out, and our love for others will also affect everyone and everything around us, but instead of burning and hurting (as hate does), love makes people feel better about themselves and the world. It may only last a moment with them, but it makes an impression. Even those that are consumed by hatred will be convicted by our loving example and will (probably) feel uncomfortable around us.

Hate is easy because it it fits well with our sinful personality. Love is hard because it takes self-sacrifice, forgiveness, and compassion- the exact opposite of what we call “human nature.”

“So, Mr. Cynical Steve, if you are so certain that hate is easier than love, and hatred is the norm, why even bother with love? How can we possibly attain it?” The answer is that God is able to show you how to love. God loved us all, even while we were sinners, enough to forgive us over and over, and finally to allow His only son to die so we could be saved. Yeshua loved us enough to give up, for all eternity, His divinity and take on a mantle of flesh so that He could die in order to save us from ourselves.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends .” (John 15:13)

This is the example we need to live up to, and with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) dwelling inside us, we are encouraged to love. Hatred is a fire; fire can be extinguished with water; Yeshua (Jesus) said He is the Living Water, and that is what we need so we can extinguish hatred and become free of the fire. The waters of the this world can run dry, but the Living Water is always available.

The easy way is usually not the best way, just like if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. We have to fight to be loving, we have to run the race with our eyes on the prize to keep hatred behind us, we have to be willing to sacrifice our pride, and we need to understand that even when others hurt us we have to love them back. None of these things are easy to do, and are even harder to maintain when we are in a relationship that feeds on anger and unforgiveness.

I read a book once called “The Dance of Anger” (by Harriet Lerner) which said that when two people are in a relationship that is fed by negative reinforcement and destructive, when one of the two try to change it, even when that change is beneficial and good, the other person will go out of their way to bring the relationship back into disharmony because it has become comfortable. In other words, if we argue all the time and I try to stop arguing, you will be the one who constantly tries to start an argument. Or, if you try to calm me and work with me, I will do everything I can to undermine your attempts at peace so we go back to hurting each other. I read that book in my previous life, when I was in a very bad marriage, and what the book says is true. I ate crow for months, and did everything I could to avoid arguments. I even accepted that my family, my friends, and everything I ever held dear to myself (including my morals) were wrong. Yet, whenever I tried to make the relationship better, she tried to bring it back to where it was. She wanted to vent, and the more she vented, the windier it got- there was no venting because the fire of hatred and unforgiveness is unquenchable.

The answer to hatred is that you need to just stop hating, i.e. remove the fuel: that is the only way to put out the fire. With humans it is very hard- nearly impossible, but with God, all things are possible..

Pridefullness is nothing to be proud of

I’m proud of the many accomplishments I have had in my life. I am proud of being a Marine Corps Officer, of having been top salesman for 2 years in a row, for being in the top 10% of (almost) every thing I do, of having made my second marriage the one that lasts, of having written and (self) published a book, and for being asked to teach and be a Council member in every place of worship I have attended.

Actually, I’ve only worshiped at two places in the last 20 years, but I am still batting 1,000 on that score.

So, am I bragging? I am not- I am saying all this to make a point: I am proud of these accomplishments, but I never announce them as being of my own doing or that these are talents I have created. I have been able to accomplish these things, and will accomplish more, only because these are talents that God has given me.

The difference between proud and prideful is that being proud is feeling good about what you have done while giving the credit to God for the talents you have, and being prideful is feeling good about what you have done and taking all the credit for it. The former glorifies God, the latter glorifies yourself.

Taking credit for what someone else has done is nothing to be proud of. Like it or not, God has given you a job to do for Him, and whether or not you believe in Him or worship Him is inconsequential. God has a plan for every one of us, a role to play in His production called “Salvation”, and if we refuse to play that part, well….there is always the understudy. But in any case, you have the talents you need for that role given to you by God. How you use them is up to you.

If you are good at anything, it is because God gave you that talent, and that talent is best used in His name, for His purposes, and to glorify Him. When I give a message on Shabbat, and I am told that it has touched someone’s heart, or testified to them, or just made sense, I know that it is because God has led me to give that message through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and so I have to say (even when my sinful pride wants to take credit), “If I do something good, it’s because of the Holy Spirit leading me; when I really screw up, then I can take full credit.”

And yes, my sinful pride wants to say, “Thank you- I really worked hard on that message.” but I can’t. In my natural being I want to take all the credit, but the truth (which I now know) is that my ability to create and deliver that message in a positive and effective manner comes from God. The message comes from God (if not, I shouldn’t deliver it) and the humor, drama, and effective public speaking skills I have honed are, at their root, from God.

It really is true- the only thing I can take credit for is screwing up.

Humility takes strength of character, and bragging is what the weak of spirit and insecure do. They tell others how great they are to help convince themselves, and even when they have accomplished a lot, by refusing to acknowledge the real source of their skills, they are just being prideful.

I am not going to quote the numerous verses in the bible that tell us the problems with being prideful because I think everyone knows enough of them to get the point. I just want to end with the best way to receive blessings from God is to share what He has given you, and the best way to receive honor is to become the least of all, and the best way to prove how wonderful you are is to let other’s tell about it. When a person relates their accomplishments, it is always taken with a grain of salt, but when someone else relates how wonderfully you do something, or what a nice person you are, or says anything complimentary about you, it is taken as Gospel.

So, then, let others tell about how wonderful you are, while you know you are really nothing much, you’re just God’s tool that is being used as He designed you to be used.

Now that would be something to brag about.


PS: If you like what you read here, and you believe that I am speaking a word that glorifies God, then please buy my book. I wrote it to give everyone the opportunity to know what God says about how to live, outside of the religious diatribe, so that when they make a decision they are at least basing it on good information.

PPS: And, if I may ask, please forward this to everyone you know, even non-Believers, because we all started off not believing and someone, somewhere led us to the Lord. If you are grateful for that, then pass it forward.

Seek ye the things of heaven

Here’s another “winner” from the annuls of Dear Amy…. the woman writes how she is extremely happy with a husband who cares for her in every way, helps around the house, is loving, compassionate and considerate, EXCEPT (here it comes)- he doesn’t want her parents to pay for a big wedding.

They’re already married! They had a civil ceremony because at that time they couldn’t afford the big, glitzy wedding, which he is willing to do, once they save up their money. He wants to foot the bill himself and not have her parents pay for it. She is upset that he won’t let her parents pay for the big wedding she wants to have now.

OK- let me get this straight: you have a wonderful marriage with a wonderful mate, but without a “big” wedding ceremony you feel like you are missing out. Is that it? Do I have that right?


Yet, this is what America is all about now, isn’t it? Having the most, being the best, owning the biggest, more, more, more and… of what? More of what the moth eats? More of what the rust destroys? More of what will not work in a couple of years?  Do you really need to pay thousands of dollars for a dress that you will wear for a few hours then will end up encased in plastic, languishing in a trunk in the attic, never to be used again?

In his letter to them, Shaul (Paul) tells the Colossians that they should seek the things of heaven and not of earth (Chapter 3, verse 2); throughout the bible we are told of the need to be concentrating on God and godly things, such as love, compassion, honesty, trust, affection, long-suffering (read the fruits of the Spirit that Shaul talks about in Galatians 5:22-23) and faithfulness.

Here are a few out-takes from God’s Word that remind us about this:

Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Messiah, seek those things which are above, …

1 Chronicles 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise …

Psalm 91:14 Because he has set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him: …

Psalm 119:36,37 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

The things of God are eternal and the things of the world are temporary. Our lives are meant for one thing, and one thing only: to give us the time we need to make up our minds where we want to spend eternity.

That’s it, Folks- the answer to the question that has plagued Mankind ever since the first Philosopher asked, “What’s it all about?” is this:

You have been given this temporary existence to decide where you will spend eternity.

We need to get our heads back on our shoulders and thank the proctologist for his help in doing so. The things of this world are so much less important than the things that God wants us to have. Doesn’t Yeshua (Jesus) tell His disciples that they should look at how beautifully the flowers in the fields are dressed, and how God feeds every bird in the sky, so they shouldn’t worry about what they are to wear or eat (Matthew 6:28) because God knows all that they need and can provide it for them? We needn’t worry about the things of the world or desire them because they are a trap set by the evil one to detour us from our walk with God.

That doesn’t mean if you have been blessed (financially) to the point you can afford to buy a new BMW that you should get a used Tercel, instead. What it means is that if you have a used Tercel and it works, don’t set your eyes on having a new BMW that you can’t really afford just to have one. 

When I read that letter to Amy I immediately thought of the TV shows “Bridezilla” and “Say Yes to the Dress”, and how they show the absolute worst sides of humanity- vanity, selfishness, covetousness,  pridefulness, envy, boastfulness. These women wanted to have “the” wedding while wearing “the” dress. It was all about the show, and nothing at all to do with what marriage is really about. Marriage is about love, self-sacrifice, togetherness, compassion, respect, and a life together that is centered on God.

One of God’s great advantages is that He is already in the future looking back, so He knows where we are going and how we need to get there. We, on the other hand, are in a maze surrounded by tall walls of thick foliage and unable to know which way to go. Because God is far above, looking down, and can clearly see where every path leads we must trust in His eyes and not our own.

I believe we can also see backwards from the future.  For instance, do you ever consider when you are in a moment of frustration what you will feel like in 5 years from now about this very situation? How many things that had you fuming or frustrated or upset that happened years ago can now be recalled without emotional strife and becoming upset?

NOTE: if you can’t recall things that upset you long ago without becoming upset, you need to search this site for all the posts about “forgiveness” because you really need to get that down before you can do what I am asking of you now.

This is what we need to teach ourselves to do: at the moment someone says something that upsets you and you are all set to fire back at them- stop! Think about what will result when you let go the words that are already in your mouth (just dying to get out), and ask yourself  if, years later, you will be happy you said it or regret your actions? If you are even the slightest bit unsure how the future will see what you say now, then shut up!

Sounds easy…well, actually, it doesn’t sound easy, and the truth is that it’s even harder to do than it sounds. James 3:5-8 tells us that the tongue is nearly impossible to control, and Proverbs 16:32 tells us that the one who is able to control his (or her) anger is more powerful than one who can conquer a city (James repeated that message also in 1:19), so it is clear that this is something not just very hard to do, but has historically been a stumbling block in human relationships. Yet…just think how much better things would be if you could learn to do it, even a little bit, even just once in a while! I have taught myself that I need to proof-read my emails, and not just for spelling and grammar issues, but for “booby-traps”: things that may be saying something the wrong way or written in a derogatory manner that I will later regret having written. I have learned (most of the time but not always, I am ashamed to say) to delete the questionable sentences, or just not send the email at all. It has been very very hard to do that but I am learning to think “back in time” instead of being enslaved by what I am feeling “at this time.”

If there is a lesson in here anywhere, I think that is it- learn to think “back in time” so that you will be acting more from an eternal (i.e., godly) viewpoint than an immediate (i.e., human) viewpoint.

Let it go, already!

Is there something in your past that you wish hadn’t happened? Something you did? Something you said? Something someone did to you? And no matter what, it keeps popping up in your head, with no warning? And doesn’t it always seem to come back to you just after something upsetting happens?

Well, don’t you think it’s about time you let it go and got on with your life?

Ever try to drive your car looking in the rear-view mirror? You’re bound to crash, aren’t you? The same is true of walking with God (or even walking alone, for that matter, although walking with God is much, much better.) We need to learn from God how to forgive, which carries with it the obligation to forget, too. Not to be stupid about it- if someone has hurt you and is unrepentant, you don’t give them a chance to do that again. You forgive them, yes- that is what we are commanded to do, but you don’t let them have the opportunity to hurt you again. That is just foolish. So you forget it, but don’t forget about it.

Huh? Forget it but don’t forget about it? What the heck does that mean?

It means you first let go of the pain by forgiving, which is the only way the pain ever goes away. Once you forgive, you will be able to remember the event, only it won’t be painful. You will see it as a life lesson. And, if the person is repentant and shows that through his or her actions, once they have regained your trust, then you can totally forget the entire incident.

It sounds hard, but in truth, it is harder to do than it sounds. Much harder. Pride gets in the way, the desire to be avenged, to have the other person experience the pain and worry and strife and emotional upheaval that he put you through. The need to know that witch got a taste of her own medicine! Yeah- that’s what I want to see!

That’s pridefulness, not Godliness. That’s the enemy talking to you, not the Holy Spirit. Vengeance may come, because what goes around, does come around.  And sometimes God, in His mercy, allows us to see the person reap what they have sown. And I don’t mean God’s mercy as to allowing you to see this to enjoy it, but in His mercy allowing you to see it so that you can feel the regret at someone else having to endure what you did, someone who may not have the forgiveness that God gave you, someone who may not be able to fall down knowing that a loving and forgiving God is there to pick them up, over and over.

If you can see someone who has hurt you suffering as you did, and not feel pity for that person, then you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are really trying to obey God.

Forgiveness is self-centered. Really. I believe most people, especially people who don’t know the Lord, think when you forgive someone you are making what they did acceptable. They think if they forgive someone then that person is “off the hook”, so to speak.

Not true. Everyone one of us, everyone, will be held accountable to God on the Day of Judgement. Those who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah will be cleansed by His righteousness, not their own, but by His! Everyone else will be all alone standing at the Throne of the Lord. And let me tell you something- the carpet they stand on will be soiled by those that stood there before them, and when they have to face their sins with no reconciliation available to them, as God judges them they will add to the stains.

If you know even a little of the forgiveness God has granted you through Messiah, how can you feel anything but pity for that poor soul. Yes, he’s a rat; yes, she’s a wicked person, but still and all, they will spend an eternity in suffering and you will spend eternity in joy. When you think about that, doesn’t the harm they did to you, which only reflects their pain and suffering, seem relatively unimportant now?

It is hard to forgive, but not as hard as it is to forget. I am here to tell this to you because I am an expert- at failing. I have learned a lot about forgiveness through reading the bible and observing what God has forgiven, and how He has forgiven. But knowing how to do something is not being able to do it.

So I am practicing. I remember the hurt people have done to me so that I can practice letting go of it. When you first learn how to play an instrument and read music, after enough practice you stop reading the notes and consciously remembering the fingering for that note, and you just do it. When you learn a second language, after speaking it enough and conversing with it, you stop interpreting it in your head and you just know what the words mean.

Forgiveness can be like that- it stops being something you need to think about doing and you just do it. But that takes a lot, I mean , A LOT, of practice. I am still working at it.

My system is to first remember that I have hurt people because I was hurting. I believe people who are hurtful and nasty are suffering with tremendous pain in their heart and soul. They are so full of pain that it seeps out of them, oozes out in their words and actions; they just can’t control themselves. They are poisoned by the wormwood of unforgiveness and controlled by pridefulness, which is never satisfied. It is a hunger that gnaws at your soul and constantly causes you pain and discomfort- nothing tastes good, nothing feels good. It is torture, and they do not have the peace that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, can give them.

They are in great pain and have rejected the only cure that works- Messiah. Instead of accepting the healing of the Holy Spirit, they dispense pain and suffering to others so that they do not suffer alone. They reek of sin, but instead of cleaning themselves off, they throw it on everyone else around them so that they don’t notice their own stench.

Those who have accepted Messiah have a poncho over them that doesn’t let the stink penetrate, and that poncho is called “forgiveness.” When we forgive, we cleanse ourselves before the Lord. The bad guy still stinks, but not us- we can be clean before God because we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

And when we forgive them, the pain of the sin goes away; we can remember the act done against us, but the associated pain is gone. This way, if there is repentance, we can let the person know he or she is already forgiven (which demonstrates to them God’s power and love) and now we can totally forget the incident.

Forgiveness is how you get past the pain and how you get on with your life. Unforgiveness is like dragging your anchor; you may be going forward, but there is always something holding you back, slowing down your spiritual growth and maturity. One day it will catch on a rock and you will never go anywhere.

None of us will ever reach full spiritual joy until we learn to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

If there is unforgiveness still lingering in your heart, remember what Yeshua told the man that wanted to follow Him but said he first needed to go back and say goodbye to his family? Yeshua told him that anyone who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62.) So if there is someone you have not forgiven, do as Yeshua told you- leave your sacrifice at the altar and go make it right. And if the other person refuses to repent, that’s their problem now, not yours. You have done what you could do, what you should do, and you can move on with your life knowing that you have done the Lord’s will.

If you haven’t done so yet, please- reel in your anchor; and if it is stuck on a rock, cut the line.

You can’t go anywhere when you won’t leave where you are.

Looking in All the Wrong Places

Do you know the love song that goes, “I was looking for love in all the wrong places…?”

We get two newspapers every day; one has Dear Abby and the other carries Ask Amy. As I said yesterday, I often see something about God, or the results of not having God in our lives, in the newspapers. These two columns certainly do not disappoint when looking for such inspiration.

Between the two of these this morning I read about:

1. A woman who has had the same boyfriend for 13 years (get off the pot already!) is mortified because he called her a bad word in the heat of an argument. He apologized, but she just can’t let go of the pain;

2.  A widower is too attracted to online porn and is wants to know if he is spending too much time looking at it;

3. A woman who eats lunch often with a co-worker told the person not to drink and drive and that person got upset and defended herself, telling the woman it’s none of her business. Now the woman is so upset and so disrespectful of the other woman she doesn’t think she can eat lunch with her anymore.

Oy! What is wrong with these people? Didn’t they ever hear about forgiveness? The woman who has a boyfriend for 13 years? Commit already, or get someone who will. And in 13 years this is the first time he said something hurtful. The word he used is the term for a female dog, and he apologized later. I can tell you, in the real world, calling a woman a B**ch is nowhere near some of the things I used to say when I was not a Believer, and I got back the same. You’re mad, you’re in a heated argument, you’re a stupid, self-centered egocentric human being who is born into sin, and you say something hurtful because you feel attacked, too.  When things calm down, you regret what you said and you apologize. This happened what? Once? In 13 years?  And the woman is devastated? C’mon, grow up! No wonder you’re 13 years into this relationship and you aren’t even engaged. If I was the guy and I saw this, I would be thinking what other small and relatively insignificant things might I accidentally or unknowingly do that are pretty much harmless, but will throw this woman into a fit of angst that she can’t get over? Time to move on before I waste any more time here.

The widower that thinks he is online too much. The answer given was pretty much on the spot- if you think you’re spending too much time online, you are. He starts by saying he still has a healthy sex drive- there’s not much about pornography that is “healthy”. Get out into the world, help other people instead of watching people sell their bodies and do perverted things.

Finally, this woman who is (my guess) probably too much about her own opinion, so much so that she feels she is allowed to tell another adult that she shouldn’t do something. Now, in all fairness, maybe she presented herself in a nice and caring way. It is good to be concerned about the health of others, and drinking and driving (the woman doing this was deaf, which makes it even worse) is a bad idea, but when you tell someone they shouldn’t be doing something, and they become defensive and tell you to mind your own business (whether nicely or straight-out), you probably should. You made your feelings known, and they were rejected. People have a right to reject your opinion; it’s not a put-down, and it certainly isn’t reason to reject them totally, as this woman seems to suggest she wants to do now. This has pridefulness written all over it, on both sides. The unstoppable force has met an immovable object, so what do you do? You change course. You say to yourself, “I don’t think what she does is right or safe, I told her, and she doesn’t want to hear it. Let’s talk about something else.” That’s how you handle it- you said your piece, it was heard and rejected, you did what you wanted, she did what she wanted, it’s over: now, let’s eat.

Why do I read this stuff? Often I start reading it, then I just have to stop. I get too upset and frustrated with the total lack of God in people’s lives, and often really angry at the ones who write in how they are “God-fearing” and have been “good Christians” all their lives, then complain about someone in a way that shows pridefulness, no desire to be understanding, and a total lack of compassion. They are the ones who make it hard for the rest of us to demonstrate God’s love and goodness (BTW…no one is “good.”  Yeshua said that, and if the Son of Man, who is also the Son of God, is adamant that no one, not even Himself, is good- only God is good- then no one should call themselves a “good” anything!)

These people show us how horrible life is without God. How do I know they aren’t Believers? I don’t. They may be Believers, or not. They may practice a religion, or they may be Atheists. In any case, if they aren’t asking God for guidance, they are going to the wrong place for advice.

That’s what the title for this Drash is about- going to the wrong place for answers. The advice columnists mean well and do serve a good purpose most of the time. I have nothing against them. However, go to them and you will only get worldly advice. You will be told you need to get therapy (this is a standard answer; I think they must have family in the mental health business) and they are willing to say, now and then, to get involved in activities where they worship. They will even, on occasion, recommend talking to someone the person trusts, like a religious leader. But for the most part, their advice will be politically correct. I have been reading these articles for a long time and cannot remember once Abby or Amy or Miss Manners or anyone ever saying that the writer needs to get more of God in their life.

When we have issues with our partners, our family, our boss, co-workers, whoever, we need to see, first and foremost, what God says. God is the ultimate source of what we should do, how we should act, how we should treat others, and (I think most important) how we should act when others don’t treat us as we would treat them. I don’t know if you agree or not, but I think one of the most important, and difficult commandments God gives us, is to forgive those who hurt us. We aren’t commanded to ask forgiveness, but we are commanded to forgive. It seems to me God is more interested in how we react to being sinned against than He is about when we sin. Sin isn’t good, no way! But it seems to me God really wants to see what we do when we are the “damaged party”; like that is the true litmus test to show how humble and spirit-filled we are. The Besorah (Good News) talks about when Yeshua was led to slaughter, how He didn’t say a word against those that were wrongfully accusing Him. I’m sure there are many reasons why, but one reason has to be that He was humble and accepted being wronged before He would assail at His accusers. He could have easily used His wisdom and the Ruach to not only defeat the accusations, but totally destroy the people. After all, in the End Days, He will utterly defeat the Enemy with no more than a word from His mouth.

But He remained silent, He remained humble and did not return evil for evil.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for our rights, but we need to think , case by case, if our rights as a human being under a legal system, or within a cultural environment, are more important than the way God wants us to act. And when we aren’t sure about how to react to a  perceived wrong done against us, we should go to God first, then again, and lastly we should go back to God. If we can’t get the right answer from God, we need to listen better. Yes, go to your Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Minister, go to people you worship with and know who have shown you they are Godly and know the Word of God. Remember the advice that Yacov (James) gave: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Listen to people as compassionately as you want those people to talk to you. But let God give you the answer.

Next time you feel like going to Dear Abby, go to Dear Abba, instead.