The Epidemic of Offense



Recent years seem to have resulted in a growing epidemic of offense. No matter who you are or what you think or believe someone seems to take offense. It often doesn’t matter how you say it, the tone you use, or the choice of words, a person is tempted to take it personally and come blazing back before even clarifying what you are trying to convey.


Sadly, I think we have failed to recognize how deception is running rampant and what the source of the rise of the offense is.


Do we not recognize the enemy in our midst?


Who else is so clever to set us up so that we see ourselves as victims of someone else’s beliefs, values, opinions, or positions? It results in us attacking each other and guess who wins?


Our tendency to blame others keeps the fire going and escalating while Satan gleefully stands back watching the scenes play out one after another. He uses anything and everything as props for the drama that unfolds.


John Bevere makes the issue plain in his book, The Bait of Satan:accusation-anger-angry-984950


“When we blame others and defend our own position, we are blind. We struggle to remove the speck out of our brother’s eye while there is a log in ours. “


Reading this might tempt us to start pointing out others who are doing that in our personal, church, or political life, but that shows the snare. We miss that we are no less guilty.


One of the consequences of this growing problem has been the division and walls it has created between so many of us about more than a few things. We unfriend and unfollow people on social media and start opening our lives to only those who agree with us.


We make assumptions and develop expectations that run through the filter of our own perceptions.


What a web the enemy has woven and how skillfully he has used it.



He has divided families, friends, churches, cultures, and nations for starters and he won’t be satisfied until we destroy everything and everyone we once held dear.


Strongholds have developed that set up the patterns of how we process information, communicate, and respond.


“…the soil of an offended heart is barren, poisoned by bitterness.” (John Bevere)


One of the tools of the enemy evident even back in the Garden of Eden was to get a person isolated. We are more easily seduced, swayed, and defeated when we are isolated. And if he succeeds in erecting more and more walls, few of us will not succumb. To only trust our own counsel is foolishness and deception.


God created us to live in the context of relationship – first with Him and then with one another. Of course Satan would want to take the legs out from under us in this arena.alone-angry-anxiety-236151


I have heard it said that it seems like everything that can be shaken is being shaken. The enemy may be doing the shaking, but God has a purpose.


John Bevere’s wife notes in his book “there are five purposes for shaking an object:

  1. To bring it closer to its foundation
  2. To remove what is dead
  3. To harvest what is ripe
  4. To awaken
  5. To unify or mix together so it can no longer be separated”


What hope that gives if we correct our perception and do not fall prey to fear because of the shaking.


That does not mean we are to compromise.


Jesus never compromised the truth in order to keep others from being offended, but He also was not pulled in by being offended. He was crystal clear in his knowledge of who He was, where his trust lay, and what foundation of truth resided within Him.


That reality…is it ours?


It brings to mind the refrain in the hymn, “I Know Whom I Believed”, written by Daniel Whittle in 1883:

“But I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”


No one of us can turn back the tide by ourselves, but one thing each of us can consider IMG_1232doing: we can resist Satan by not becoming offended.


It isn’t about abdicating the truth, His truth. It is about having our hearts, minds, and spirits planted in that truth based on the witness of the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible in context (not pulling out certain verses or passages to support our own position).


“Jesus offended some people by obeying His Father, but He never caused an offense in order to assert His own rights.” (John Bevere)


If we have been confused, perhaps it is time for us to confuse the enemy.


God has a story about that in 2 Chronicles 20. Things were looking pretty grim for King Jehoshaphat.


The armies of the Ammonites and the Moabites were about to overrun Israel and Judah; but as they began singing, the Lord confused the enemy camp and these two enemies began attacking and destroying one another.


The armies of the Lord defeated the enemy in the midst of his people.


Aslan is on the move.  


Will we join Him?














What Lens Are You Using?



My husband and I rarely do anything the same way despite having very similar values and more than fifty years of marriage behind us. And in this season of retirement it can be easy to bump into those differences a bit more often – especially when we are both in the kitchen.


For most of our married life the kitchen has primarily been my domain even though he has always offered to help when we were both at home. Since he retired a few years before I did, he started using “my” kitchen in the ways he thought were the best. That was generally okay as I was tired when I got home and I just rearranged things “the right way.”


I had no idea he was as certain his way was right until we were both in the kitchen trying to accomplish something at the same time (even when we were trying to help each other do so).pntx9586


I am sure a few of you are smiling about now…


When I am cooking I tend to cleanup as I go, but in a multiple step recipe it doesn’t happen after every little step. If he is helping me with a recipe, however, that is exactly what he believes is needed. How we put silverware in the dish drainer is never the same either. He puts the silverware up one way and I do the opposite.


Yes, we know these are preferences, but somehow each of us is persuaded that we have the better idea.


The exception is when we make a salad together. We each have a cutting board and a separate part of the counter and it all works like clockwork. (And we make some amazing salads!)


eyeglasses-eyesight-glass-items-1627639Have you noticed how often the lens through which we do things causes us to believe that our way is the right way.


I think that issue has been around since the beginning of time, but it seems to have reached a monumental point in the current age. We live in a time where each of us is totally and unequivocally convinced what we are doing is the right way, in the right time, for the right reason. No discussion about it.


The result?


In every area of our lives discord and division can be the common thread. We do what we believe is right and we believe it so strongly that we don’t listen to any new information nor accept any authority higher than ourselves.


Challenging authority used to be commonly associated with toddlers and teens, but there is no season or age limit to this now. If we do not agree with the boss, the leader, the pastor, or whoever is in authority in any area, we refuse to participate or consider how to function.


It sounds very much like what life was like at the end of the book of Judges in the Old Testament. The very last sentence reads: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” 


The earlier part of that verse says “there was no king in Israel.” What it doesn’t say, but what was true was that God was their king and they were rejecting Him by rejecting any authority He had set over them. At that time judges were the authority God had put in place.



The fact that everyone did as he or she wished presents a sad commentary on the spiritual condition of the nation in those days. There was discord within the tribes and among all the tribes. Sound familiar?


The Holman Concise Bible Commentary gives an insightful explanation about why God places authority over mankind: “Human sinfulness necessitates governments to enforce morality.”


Authority has been an issue ever since Lucifer chose to rebel against God’s authority and took a third of the angels of heaven with him to war on those whom God chose and elected to be his own.


More than once the Bible tells us a story where people were told to submit to authority binoculars-blur-close-up-373335when it did not make sense to those who were to submit. It seems evident that lawlessness and doing what is right in our own eyes is not consistent with God’s plan.


I can think of many situations where submitting to authority seems to be foolishness, but Pauls’ words to the Romans in Romans 13:1 brings me up short:


“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (NKJV)


What is happening in our community, body, or nation may not make sense or seem right to us, but our trust is not to be in fallible men and women. Even a casual review of history tells me that is not wisdom because every one of us is flawed.


What sobers me as well is whether or not these same fallible men and women are more so because we have all forgotten our responsibility before God that Timothy clearly lays out in 1 Timothy 2:1-3:


“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” (MSG)


When we consider what isn’t right in our own eyes, perhaps we must first look at how God’s eyes see us and consider our own deportment.


He sees perfectly.


We never do.


Perhaps I cannot totally avoid my complaining, but it should never exceed how often God calls me to pray for those about whom I complain.






























In many parts of the United States we were inundated with reminders about moving to Daylight Savings Time this past weekend. Doubtless there were more than a few who still forgot and started Sunday at the wrong time for whatever they had planned.


Even though not every state utilizes this switch to accommodate more daylight hours each evening, most do not recall the reason for this event unless they are tuning into the debate on why it was setup originally.


The idea of resetting clocks forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in an essay published in 1784. The essay was entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.


f89528f6f2c949819092cc7fa5cd0dc1Benjamin Franklin was always coming up with ingenious ideas, but this one didn’t really get any takers until the World War I era. Then in 1916 the British Parliament adopted the plan and the United States made it official in 1918 despite some resistance. By 1919 the United States had heard the outcry against it and allowed local governments to choose if they would utilize the plan or not. Then in World War II in the United States it was reinstituted again until after the war.


Then in 1966 a Uniform Time Act was made law by the U.S. Congress, but this still allowed for leeway for local or state governments to choose to participate or not. It did set that those who chose to do so would do so uniformly on the same days each spring and fall.


Reminders are vital for all of us to jog our memories no matter what age or season of life. Information and data come at us at an amazing speed and few of us can hold onto a great deal of it. 


Perhaps that is why many of us now rely on our phones or other devices to set alarms and keep our calendars up-to-date. If we avail ourselves of those reminders, we will get kudos from those in our world as we remember appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, and other data.


alarm-clock-calendar-close-up-908298Even with the modern age of information overload, I can see that reminders were needed from the very beginning of recorded time.  Even though each neuron in our brains fire about 200 times per second that doesn’t mean it can retain all that it is processing. Hence, the need for reminders.


God knows us well. There is a great deal of evidence to support that statement. One obvious place to find it is in the Bible. Themes and things that He wants us to know and understand, to learn and practice, are repeated in multiple ways and contexts. It’s pretty sad that too frequently we still do not keep those truths and tenets of our faith in our memories unless reminded.


Reading through the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) one could wonder why after we plod through Leviticus and Numbers we see Moses repeating the commandments and laws again in the book of Deuteronomy.


There are plenty of times we see the children of Israel were forgetting God’s goodness and directives. (Of course that started in Eden with Adam and Eve as well.) Obviously, Moses knew well the challenge of his people, but the repetition now has additional importance attached.


Photo by NeONBRAND

By this time the generation that failed to believe in God’s promises had died off and Moses was reminding the new generation that was about to go into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership what would be key to the covenant with the Lord and success for the battles ahead.


We can get bogged down in the laws created to keep the covenant and miss that grace came first before the law.


What about us?


Do we take for granted that the generations behind us know our stories and know His story? The dailyness of our lives means that much of our conversation and communication focuses on details rather than what has guided our course through life.


Deuteronomy 13:4 reads:

“You are to follow only God, your God, hold him in deep reverence, keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him—hold on to him for dear life!” (The Message)


Does the generation after you know why you ascribe to this if you do?


Reminders about these values still are needed.


Those coming after us need to know what has sustained us during the hard times, the failures, the doubting times in our lives. That can build their own faith and nudge them when they are tempted to believe no one has faced anything as difficult as they face.


Reminders to remember…we will always need them.



The Best News

Photo by David Ecrement


It seems like every day we are bombarded by bad news. Stocks go down, antibiotic resistant bacteria surfaces, tornadoes rip through a small town, a factory shuts down or a business closes its doors and wars or discord seem to be multiplying everywhere in the world.


We can be tempted to think things are worse than they have ever been, but if we are history lovers (I am!) we can easily point to other times and eras when people living in those days would have said something like that as well.


In the midst of it all, God keeps calling out to us to return to Him, to look to Him and trust in Him.


abstract-background-brick-220124That is often not so easy when it is our stock that has fallen, our family member is the one ill, our house has been destroyed, or our son or husband have been called to active military duty.


These sorts of things can leave us at our worst. Our faith can falter. Our trust may teeter and our mood can become sour or our face downcast.


It is no laughing matter. Ask Job.


When difficult things happen to us, the state of the foundation of our life will likely determine how well we weather the challenge.


The things we practice daily in ordinary moments will automatically kick in when the world turns us upside down.



What we practice is what we will become.


 Because we are finite and very fallible, we will often not meet the hard times in our life operating as well as we would wish. Sadly, we will then start berating ourselves for not doing better.


When I look at some of the heroes of the faith in the Bible, more than a few of them could identify with that.


Jonah lapsed into believing he knew better than God what should happen to the people of Nineveh. He fled from the Lord, took a ship, and discovered the cost of disobedience was being dumped in the sea. He was clearly at his worst, but God sent a fish to swallow him into less than ideal accommodations. He called on the Lord and the fish vomited him up.


Now he was totally prepared to preach up a storm and call down fire on their heads because of the evil in their midst, but he was unprepared to accept God’s decision to forgive them when they repented. When the king repented and called his people to do so, Jonah went off in a pout under a plant.


You know the story. When God chooses to spare Nineveh, Jonah is angry. Here is the man of God acting out at every turn. He is missing what the Lord wants him to see. It is clearly not Jonah’s best day.


IMG_2624 (1)Peter likely experienced that as well when he had insisted to the Lord that he would never deny him despite what the Lord had told him would happen. The morning in the courtyard while Jesus was being beaten, questioned, and mocked, Peter had one of his worst days. He denied the Lord in front of a charcoal fire before the rooster crowed three times just as the Lord had said He would do.


Those few disciples gathered around the cross on that Friday of the crucifixion agonized over what they witnessed. Jesus had told them what would happen, but they could not comprehend He meant this was how it would all end. It was the worst of all days. He was dying. They faced an uncertain future and watched helplessly as His ordeal played out.


Saul was the Pharisee of Pharisees and could not believe in this new sect who believed in the man who had been crucified. What crazy stories they were telling about how he had risen from the dead! What blasphemy! He was determined to bring punishment on the heads and bodies of them all. He was blind and unaware he was blind. He was at his worst.


Then on the road to Damascus he lost his eyesight so he could finally see the truth about himself, the new sect, and this Jesus who had been crucified, but now lived.


Over and over again things happen that are not only bad news, but also leave us at our worst.


Here is the key!


When we are at our worst, God is at His best.

PPP 020


He meets us with grace and mercy, pours oil on our wounds, takes us in His arms and wraps us in His love.


You see nothing about being at our worst surprises Him. NOTHING.


He has always known we would have those times and that life would be turned upside down by any number of things that would happen. He planned for that. He provided for that. He simply loves us that much.


Bad news will continue to come and we may be at our worst, but He has a plan for that.


So do not lose heart, on your worst day, God will be at His best.







Listening Is Not Enough


Of all the gifts we can give to another person or receive from someone, few are as valuable as listening. If we are to listen to someone else, we must step outside of ourselves, quiet our internal dialogue, lay aside our electronic devices that hold us under their spell, and be fully present to the person speaking.


Listening is not easy and it requires sacrifice.


One of the very best books on listening is The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh that I read several years ago. If you have not experienced this book, I encourage you to be sure it is on your list.


One of the starred sentences in my copy of the book states this:


 “ Good listening starts with the scandalous premise that this conversation is not about you.”


We might easily nod in agreement with this, but our actual conversations may reveal something else. What we recall of what the other person in a conversation shared can give a clue about how well we listened and whether we listened only to the words or if we heard below the surface of the words.


But listening, even at its best, is not enough.


If we knew Hebrew and looked at the word “listen” we would discover that the word actually means to hear and respond. Those things coupled together equals obedience. That truth deepens the meaning of listen.


That understanding helps identify what causes someone frustration when another person has listened to them without response or action of some sort. We doubt that listening has occurred at all.


Listening in the deeper sense of the word should change the scene from passive to active.


adult-baby-boy-1157398As parents we often admonish our children to “listen” to us about something we want or need to share with them. A generation or two ago parents would have used the word “obey” in this context even though that word seems to have fallen out of fashion. It is nonetheless no less important than ever and the Hebrew word for “listen” makes that evident.


In our push to be self-actualized and independent we can bristle at the thought of needing to obey someone or something. That response reveals more of the DNA of Adam and Eve than we want to admit.


We look at obedience as limiting us, hindering us, and that incomplete definition suggests how deceived we may be.  


I am to obey the speed limit when I am driving. Yes, it limits me, but it also protects me and everyone else anywhere near the vehicle I am driving.


Another aspect of listening with obedience is the importance of not dawdling to act. Not obeying a red light or a stop sign at the immediate point can be and often is deadly.


When our daughter became a new mom, she and her husband instituted the rule of “first time obedience” in their home. The rule took into account the Hebrew definition of “listen.”  They did not expect to keep telling the children something they were to do over and over again without an appropriate response. That may sound tough, but consider what response you would want if your child were running into the street. You would want them not only to listen and hear, but also to act and obey… the first time.


If we are honest with ourselves, we tend to not be very good with obedience. We often cheat about the speed limit, our diet, and a host of other things if we feel we can get away with it.


We don’t live in Deuteronomy. Jesus paid the price on the cross for our inability to obey perfectly the first time and always. He loved us that much. What we missed often was that His call for obedience was out of love for us, to keep us safe, to provide blessings, and to nurture us to love Him.


achievement-confident-free-6945He didn’t want us to only feel love for Him in the emotional one-dimensional sense of the word love.


Love in Hebrew involved a decision and devotion and obedience.


In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy in the sixth chapter is a section known as “The Shema.”  It is the centerpiece of the early part of this book whose key words include “listen” and “love.”  You may recall what it says even if you did not know the word “Shema”:


“Listen, Oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might.”


 During this Lenten season as I seek to reflect on the love sacrifice on the cross for my disobedience, I most desire to hear Him and grow in my relationship with Him. I want to listen carefully, but out of love for Him I want to act and respond to what I hear.


Listening is not enough.


beautiful-bloom-blooming-414083 (1)