Facing the Bully



Over the last few weeks, I’ve been involved in a men’s group studying the book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge. He relates the following story in chapter five, “The Battle for Every Man’s Heart”:

A few years ago now my middle son, Blaine, made the big transition to first grade. That’s a huge step for any child – leaving the comfort and safety of Mom’s side, spending all day at school, being among the “big kids.” But Blaine’s a very outgoing and winsome boy, a born leader, and we knew he’d handle it swimmingly. Every night at the dinner table he regaled us with tales of the day’s adventures. It was fun to recall with him the joys of those early school days – a shiny new lunchbox, brand-new yellow No. 2 pencils, a box of Crayolas with a built-in sharpener, a new desk, and new friends. We heard all about his new teacher, gym class, what they played at recess, how he was emerging as a leader in all the games. But then one night he was silent. “What’s wrong, Tiger?” I asked. He wouldn’t say, wouldn’t even look up. “What happened?” He didn’t want to talk about it. Finally, the story came out – a bully. Some first-grade poser had pushed him down on the playground in front of all his friends. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he told us the story.

“Blaine, look at me.” He raised his tearful eyes slowly, reluctantly. There was shame written all over his face. “I want you to listen very closely to what I am about to say. The next time that bully pushes you down, here is what I want you to do – are you listening, Blaine?” He nodded, his big wet eyes fixed on mine. “I want you to get up…and I want you to hit him…as hard as you possibly can.” A look of embarrassed delight came over Blaine’s face. Then he smiled.

Good Lord – why did I give him such advice? And why was he delighted with it? Why are some of you delighted with it?, while others are appalled?

Yes, I know that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. But we have really misused that verse. If you take one passage of Scripture and hold it up while ignoring all others, you will come to absurd conclusions. Paul said, “It is good for a man not to marry” (1 Cor. 7:1). Well then – no man should marry. Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor…” (Matt. 19:21). Then why do you still have possessions? Do you see the foolishness of this?

If Jesus intended to teach us, “Never resist a bully,” why does he also tell his disciples, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). Buy a sword? “The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ That is enough,’ he replied” (Luke 22:36). He arms them. And that little matter of making a whip and using it to clear the temple – that doesn’t seem like turning the other cheek, now, does it?

We do not want to teach boys that bullies should never be resisted, and we do not want to teach bullies that they can get away with it! Yes, Scripture teaches the wise use of strength and the power of forgiveness. But you cannot teach a boy to use his strength by stripping him of it. Jesus was able to retaliate, believe me. But he chose not to. And yet we suggest that a boy who is mocked, shamed before his fellows, stripped of all power and dignity should stay in that beaten place because Jesus wants him there? You will emasculate him for life. From that point on all will be passive and fearful. He will grow up never knowing how to stand his ground, never knowing if he is a man indeed. Oh yes, he will be courteous, sweet even, deferential, minding all his manners. It may look moral, it may look like turning the other cheek, but it is merely weakness. You cannot turn a cheek you do not have. Our churches are full of such men.

At that moment, Blaine’s soul was hanging in the balance. Then the fire came back into his eyes and the shame disappeared. Now, I gave that advice to a boy I could trust who was at the time in first grade. I did not give this advice to a high school boy whose enemy might pull a gun on him. There is wisdom and context. But we must not strip a man of strength and call it sanctification. Yet for many, many men their souls still hang in the balance because no one, no one has ever invited them to be dangerous, to know their own strength, to discover that they have what it takes.

I guess I’d never really looked at that whole “turn the other cheek” passage in that way. I’ve never really believed that Jesus was quite the passive man that he’s often made out to be. You know, the guy in all those Biblical movies that has that meek look on his face all the time, devoid of much emotion or strength, and seemingly floating two feet off the ground and never really engaging anyone in the process. On the other hand, I probably never really pictured him as the angry, driven man who chased the moneychangers out of the temple, either. Regardless, Eldredge makes a great point here.

I’d put it another way…God doesn’t want me, as a Godly man, to be a limp dishrag. Yes, there are times when I should keep my calm, turn the other cheek, etc., following the example of Jesus. However, there’s another part of me that needs to passionately engage, to fight strongly for what I believe in.

One of my favorite sayings is “If you’re offended by nothing, you likely don’t care enough about something to begin with.” Point being, there SHOULD be things that we get riled up about and offended by. Should we be offended by everything? Obviously not, but I think Christians have, for too long, fallen into the trap of thinking that we need to just be nice, fall into line, and keep the peace for the sake of our testimony when there are times, in my opinion, that we need to stand up and fight with the kind of passion that Jesus had when he drove those crooks out of the temple.

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All Aboard!


It’s religion, not in our selfish attempt at obtaining salvation, but religion in humble reverence to a loving God that is keeping us from being polluted by the world. That’s why we worship Him in song, in the word, and in service on a weekly basis. That’s why we serve Him in deed throughout the week, at our jobs and in our homes and wherever it is that God would lead us.

I often think about this subject. That is, how many in our society, including Christians, view religion in a negative manner as displayed in the above photo. As I wrote in a previous post, I understand the mentality. Our culture is, unfortunately, replete with numerous examples of man’s attempt at justifying himself and doing things for his own glorification rather than God’s. That’s the kind of religion that Christians are talking about when they speak of the word “religion” in a negative manner.

Where I have a problem with this whole line of thinking is that I don’t think many Christians completely understand what they’re saying. They’ve hopped on the bandwagon because, as I previously posted, it’s the “in” thing to do in Christian circles, i.e. it’s become kosher.

Where I’m coming from is simply this…Most folks that we come into contact with on a daily basis don’t attend church regularly. Even though we rightly say “It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship”, they may not understand our participation in the whole religion bashing thing. I’ve actually run across non-Christians who sort of wonder about that whole attitude that many believers have and it kind of makes them do a double-take or make that trademark Tim Allen grunting noise. Those are the folks I try to think about before I start to participate in the whole “religion is bad” discussion.

The picture of religion I try to keep in my mind is the picture that Jesus himself painted for us in the scriptures. Religion is someone who volunteers to mow the yard of a neighbor who can’t do it for themselves. Religion is providing a safe place for a friend of your child to visit who may not have such a welcoming home to return to. Religion is saying a kind word to a worker at a store who may have dealt with rude customers all day. Religion is being there for a friend or family member who just lost their spouse or child even if you have no earthly clue what to say to them. These things are what Jesus meant when he talked about “pure and faultless” religion (James 1:27).

To Build or Not to Build…


Proposed Mosque/Islamic Cultural Center

…that is the question or, in this case, the multi-hundred million dollar question.

By now, you’ve heard about the plans to build a new mosque/Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City. I won’t waste the space here on all the details about the building, the Imam involved in pushing it forward, etc.

What I would like to address is, once again, the use of the racism/bigotry/hate card. It’s the constant fallback for liberals who can’t successfully get more than one brain cell to operate concurrently. It’s also not accurate.

Yes…and I really hate having to clarify this constantly but I’ll do it once again…THERE ARE BIGOTS IN THE WORLD. What a newsflash that is, huh? They exist across all racial boundaries, nationalities, political ideologies, and creeds. It’s a human problem common to every group and type of person who’s ever walked the face of the earth. That being said, the crowd opposing the building of this new mosque is no more deserving of the accusation of bigotry than any other. To do so is, in my opinion, shameful to the memory of surviving family members of those who perished in the 9/11 attack at Ground Zero.

My stance is that, yes, it appears as if it is perfectly legal for the mosque to be built as long as the proper channels are followed and it is approved by the proper authorities. However, that doesn’t make it the morally correct thing to do. In my opinion, those pushing for the mosque to be built, if they’re TOLERANT of the deeply held convictions and sensibilities of those who’ve lost their loved ones, would WILLINGLY forgo their plans to proceed with the project. That would be the RIGHT thing to do. But to many on the left, this isn’t about the right thing to do. It’s about an opportunity to use the trusty bigot card.

Another argument the bigotry pimps have thrown out there is the fact that there is already an existing mosque closer to ground zero than the proposed one would be. I have one thing to say about that…Whoop-de-freakin’-do! I don’t have a problem with one already existing there and nobody I know of is calling for it to be torn down. The problem is building a NEW one and the intent of those wanting it built to be dedicated on 9/11. That’s not to mention the fact that the controversial Imam behind this has made statements about America’s supposed culpability in the 9/11 attacks and other comments supporting known terrorists and terrorist organizations. And another thing about this…If there’s already an existing mosque in that area, reportedly within about 800 feet of the proposed one, why does another one need to be built in the first place? It sounds like the proverbial finger in the eye to me.

According to ABC News, proponents of the mosque say this would be a bridge between Islam and those still recovering from the 9/11 attacks. Just the outcry itself over the plans should pretty much nullify that line of crap reasoning. The public is overwhelmingly against the mosque. The only bridge I see here is one that’s quickly crumbling.

Westboro Wall of Fame


I’ve done a few entries on the Westboro Baptist Church in the past. They’re the folks that make their name claiming that every bad thing happening under the sun is because God is judging the world for their sin (mostly homosexuality or for being “fag-enablers”). Never mind that, in the Bible, Luke 13:1-5 completely contradicts them. Does God judge people and countries by allowing bad things to happen? Yes, he probably does. However, we don’t know and aren’t qualified to judge, according to the above-mentioned passage, whether some calamity has happened because of God’s judgment or not.

One thing that caught my eye recently on the RSS feed from their web site was a little blast against Glenn Beck. The conservative pundit was recently diagnosed with macular dystrophy, which may or may not cause him to go blind. I responded to their hateful blurb by quoting the passage from Luke and warning them that they may end up being the victims of their own pronouncements. A few days later, I received a response from them, which has now been posted on the wall of fame on their web site.

Here’s their original post…

GodSmack: Blinding Beck

THANK GOD FOR BLINDING THE LOUD FOOL GLENN BECK.  He uses the bully pulpit that he has to blaspheme God and misuse and abuse His prophets.  Glenn Beck will manifest real blindness to match the perfect blindness and the dark heart God has given him so he is unable to see and understand His word.  God has struck him with Macular Dystrophy.

GodSmack!

Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. Ps. 82:4-5

They way of the wicked is as darkness:  they know not at what they stumble.  Pr. 4:19

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Isa. 5:20

Righteous Judgment!!

Now here’s the text of their little homage to yours truly, followed by my response…

You do realize that Beck is not actually blind, right, and that he may NEVER go blind?

Read Luke 13:1-5 and pray that God doesn’t destroy you.

Thanks,

Dave

Dear angry rebel –

How interesting that you invoke the wrath of God toward us for discussing the blindness that He has cursed Glenn Beck with! The wrath that you want for us is abiding upon you and Doomed america generally. You were appointed to wrath. You love your cursed lot so don’t get all Abraham Lincoln on us for connecting the dots on a scriptural / spiritual level for you.

The time is short. The destruction is imminent.  Glenn Beck is as blind as a bat!  Love it. Be one with that spiritual blindness, as you have been smitten with it as well.

Anathema, Maranatha.

This little nugget was written by Shirley Phelps-Roper (pictured above). I’ve seen her and her attention-starved hounds on television before and I’m sure they’ve made other appearances elsewhere.

I know what some of you are probably thinking…Why post about them and give them any additional exposure? Well, first of all, we’re talking about my blog here. I mean, come on. It’s not like my blog is internet destination one. I’m lucky to get 50 hits in a day anymore (perhaps twice that before changing my site’s URL). In other words, this little podunk operation ain’t gonna give them nuthin’. Most importantly, though, I believe the light of day needs to be shown on hatred and bigotry wherever it exists. I know they’re media hounds but the more people know about them, the better, in my opinion. Believers in the one true God need to stand in opposition to the wolves in the midst. Otherwise, the sheep end up falling by the wayside in the end.

Acts 20:28-31
(28)  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
(29)  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
(30)  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
(31)  So be on your guard.

Forty-One


On Father’s Day, one of my gifts was a few hours of down time and solitude, something that particularly recharges my personal batteries. As part of that down time, I watched one of my favorite all-time movies, “Ben-Hur“. The 1959 film went on to win eleven Academy Awards, which has only been equaled by two other films, “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”.

The most famous  scene in the movie is that of the violent chariot race near the very end of the movie in which Judah Ben-Hur triumphs over his childhood friend turned enemy, Messala, who dies afterward  from injuries sustained in the race. This time through, however, the scene that stood out to me the most was one I had noticed before but, honestly, hadn’t thought much of. The scene comes during the middle of the movie.

Messala, as vengeance for Judah’s refusal to betray his people, assigned Judah to be a galley slave in the Roman navy. In this particular scene, Judah had already been serving in the galleys for over three years when he was assigned to the ship of Consul Quintus Arrias. As Arrias tests the slaves on his ship, Judah, referred to by Arrias as “Forty-One” wins his trust by his restraint and self-discipline. As the ship enters battle, Arrias orders all the slaves to be chained in preparation for battle, all that is except for Judah. During the battle, the ship is rammed by an enemy ship. As the enemies flood the ship and hand-to-hand combat commences, Arrias is knocked overboard in the scuffle. Judah jumps into the water and pulls Arrias to safety. They are later rescued by another ship in the fleet and find out that the Roman fleet had indeed been victorious.

As Arrias walks towards the back of the ship, he takes Judah with him and they begin to pass by the area where the galley slaves can be seen below, living out their miserable existence in monotony as they row away what little life they have left in them. Having been freed from his rowing duties by Arrias, Judah stops and gazes at them in their suffering, as if he longs for their freedom yet knowing that most of them will not survive.

This scene reminded me of what Jesus Christ has done for each and every one of us. He came to earth, lived as one of us, was tempted as we are tempted (Hebrews 4:15), yet was obedient to God the Father even to the point of giving up his own life in exchange for ours. Not only that but he proved his divinity by literally rising from the dead (Romans 10:9). That’s how he freed us from sin and its ultimate consequence, hell.

I pray that God’s Spirit will continually remind me that He’s freed me from the chain that kept me bound to the oar and, as Judah Ben-Hur looked down on those still afflicted and in chains longing for their freedom, that he would give me a heart ever-softening for those Christ is leading me to minister to. By God’s grace, I am no longer a “Forty-One”.

Revisiting… A Good Friday Message


This is a post I wrote on Good Friday of last year. I hope it blesses your Easter weekend.

 

Good Friday?  I’m sure many non-Christians wonder what’s so good about an innocent person being put to death.  On the other hand, many who rarely darken the door of a church will probably go to an Easter service this Sunday, barely or not at all having thought about what happened on that famous cross nearly 2000 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad those people will be there.  Some may not get anything out of it other than a backside that’s fallen asleep whilst sitting in a hard wooden pew (or perhaps even cushioned…).  God will honor his word and the Bible says that it will not return to him void:

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

All around the world this weekend, people will hear about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I know many skeptics will claim that it never happened, that Jesus was only a good man or teacher and that his followers were so distraught over his death that they made up the whole story to give themselves and others hope.  However, it really did happen.  Jesus actually literally did rise from the dead after three days.  He kept his words, the words that he spoke to his followers that he would indeed rise from the dead after being killed.  His word did not return to him empty.

Even today, His word does not return to him empty.  Today, in various Good Friday services around the world, many will hear about Christ’s betrayal, suffering, and crucifixion.  It is the crux of all history.

I praise God for the salvation that I have through Jesus Christ and hope and pray that many more experience it for themselves.

In closing, I’d like to share a video and the lyrics to a song titled “Maker of the Universe” by Phil Keaggy.

The Maker of the universe
As Man for man was made a curse
The claims of Law which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid
His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung
He died upon a cross of wood
Yet made the hill on which it stood
The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him above the earth was spread
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow

Westboro Watch: Godsmack?


Those kooks from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, are at it again. Actually, they’ve been continually at it, unfortunately. They’re the same ones responsible for the GodHatesFags web site and for protesting at the funerals of U.S. servicemen and women killed in service to our country. If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably already know something about them, so I won’t go into any additional detail about their past here.

Up until recently, the only time I’d ever heard the word “Godsmack” was in reference to the popular hard rock/metal band of the same name. Well, it now seems to be quite the hip terminology for these backwoods inbreds from the center of our country.

I have one question for these folks…Why are you so often taking the Lord your God’s name in vain with this term? I understand that you think EVERYTHING bad that happens on the face of the earth is God’s judgment for this, that, and the other but do you really need to so frequently blaspheme the God you claim to worship?

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  (Exo 20:7)

Here are a few examples of their particular brand of blasphemy…

  • Godsmack: Russian Rubble (in reference to a collapsed building in Russia)
  • Godsmack: Sinking Marines (in reference to the South Korean naval ship that recently sank)
  • Godsmack: Israel’s Woe (in reference to Israel’s current troubles in the Middle East)
  • Godsmack: Catholic Whore (in reference to troubles in the Catholic church)
  • Godsmack: Arkansas Shoot-out (in reference to two Little Rock police officers being shot)

These folks are famous for their hatred of homosexuals but they extend the same treatment to Jews, Catholics (as shown above), and basically just about everyone else but themselves. Apparently, they are the only perfect people on the face of the entire earth, God’s chosen people or some such tripe.

You better be careful, Westboro weirdos, you may be smacked next.

By the way, don’t you think their fearless leader, Fred Phelps, looks a lot like that evil preacher character from the 2nd “Poltergeist” movie? I’m just sayin’..