Living In Tangled Webs
“Do not deceive one another…I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:11-12
For all futbol fans (soccer for the “unenlightened) the World Cup is the pinnacle of excitement! Like the Olympics it only comes around once every four years and involves the entire world. Many wives and other non-interested household members have wondered lately if a hoard of bees or wasps have invaded their home. Their ears and sanity have been assailed by the incessantly buzzing South African vuvuzelas (horns passed out by the tens of thousands to African fans attending the games). It certainly drives ME crazy until I tune them out by focusing on the intensity of each game itself. For all other non-fans with fans in your family, ear plugs seem like a wise purchase right now. Not everyone is fascinated with the sport, like one of my son-in-laws who thinks it is like watching paint dry. But such cannot be said for most of the world. I remember traveling in Europe with my family during the World Cup in 1990. The scene in every town was the same, with televisions set up literally everywhere, even in the streets, and crowds watching before every set. The whole town appeared to shut down when the games were being played. The excitement of the Cup captured their attention for the entire month it took to crown the champion nation. Say what you will about baseball, football, or any other sport, futbol is THE universal sport of the entire world. And even the pariah nations of the world are not turned away if their national team is good enough to get into the World Cup.
Hence this year North Korea qualified and, though a repressive nation with the very worst of human rights records was not turned away. However, this past week we witnessed the “normal product of a culture that lives by the rule of deceit, rather than the rule of law and the morality of truth. North Korea was caught trying to bring an extra striker to the World Cup tournament by attempting to disguise him as their Cup regulation required third keeper (goalie). It was also reported that the PRK paid Chinese people who were planning to attend the tournament to act as fans for North Korea, as though they like every other nation would have those who are free and who can afford to follow their national team to the competition in South Africa. Apparently, if such fans, actual North Koreans were allowed to come, the authorities who run the country by force fear their potential defection, or fear they would see how the rest of the world lives in contrast to their own repressive and deceitful culture. Their very name is a deceit, the height of hubris, “The Peoples’ Republic of Korea (PRK). “Peoples’, my foot! More accurately: Dictators Republic of Korea (DRK). Many more examples of their deceitfulness can be found, but the point remains, a culture of deceit reproduces deceit as a way of life and as the “normal way to make your way in the world. As successful as it may appear, God says plainly “Deceitfulness is entirely in vain and those who practice it always have a specific end—ruin and destruction!
We know deceit when we see it, and we don’t like it. Our blood boils. We do not want to see anyone win or live deceitfully. Yet the Bible describes all of us as having hearts attracted to practicing deceit. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9) When a whole culture is founded on the practice of deceit, it attempts to drag everyone in that culture into its clutches. The last days before our Lord’s return are described in Daniel as a day when the anti-Christ “will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will cause deceit to prosper and he will consider himself superior. (Daniel 8:25) The practice of the North Koreans is useful in getting your attention immediately in two critical areas: that you not be deceived yourself by Satan, anti-Christ, or any others; and, two, that you are consistently reviewing your own life to rid yourself of every form and kind of deceit. As the Apostle Peter exhorts you, “Rid yourself of all malice and all deceit! The famous dictum tells us, “Oh, what tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive. You can count on it. You hate it in others; don’t let deceitfulness be your way of life, but “put on the Lord Jesus Christ: “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. Live like Him………deceit-less!
“Set up thy standard, Lord, that we who claim a heavenly birth, May march with thee to smite the lies, That vex thy groaning earth.
“Then, God of truth for whom we long, Thou who wilt hear our prayer, Do thine own battle in our hearts, And slay the falsehood there.
(2nd and 4th verse of Thomas Hughes’ hymn, “O God of Truth, 1859)
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Your Susceptibility To Lies
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?……… “You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:1,4-5
How prone are you to believe a lie? Adam and Eve were the only man and woman other than Jesus to begin life on this earth as innocents, untouched at their beginning by sin or a fallen nature. Yet when faced with the very first lie she ever heard, Eve believed it, and Adam followed suit. What does their experience say about our own susceptibility to lies? We have a natural instinct to place great trust in our own experience; what we see with our eyes, what we hear with our ears, what we think with our minds. We strongly believe we have the good sense to discern truth from lies. No one can easily fool us, we think. And this is not some weakly held view of our self. From a very early age we fiercely defend the idea that I AM RIGHT. After all, I saw it with my own eyes, or I heard it with my own ears, or my mind grasped it.
But is the confidence we place in our own discernment truly justified? Adam and Eve would warn us to be careful we not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. When we meet them in eternity, I believe, we will be impressed with our first parents. They were no dunces. But they were the first to face the Great Enemy, the most superb of all liars, the one who the Lord Himself labeled “the father of lies. And he attacked them in the central core of what it means to be a man or a woman. Their purpose as a man and woman was simple: to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and to love each other as themselves. This is what it means to be a man. This is what it means to be a woman. Every lie of the crafty Enemy is intended to destroy this purpose for being. And every truth, the antithesis of the lie, is intended to restore, mature and protect that purpose.
We face lies in every category of our lives. There is no such thing as lies in the religious category and lies in the secular category. Whatever you do in life, and wherever you go, and at any given moment lies are lurking because your Enemy is lurking. The lies politicians tell, the lies a friend tells, the lies a journalist tells, the lies a scientist tells; you name it, we are faced every day with many decision points: is this I am hearing, seeing, thinking a lie, or is it truth. Sounds wearisome, doesn’t it? Sounds unconquerable and unmanageable. Nevertheless, it is the fact of our existence in a fallen world and we will not escape it this side of eternity. It is the very reason Jesus persistently pointed out the antidote to lies to His disciples. In one key instance for theirs and your own ears He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me. If you are to discern lies from truth, and good from evil, you must EVER be pursuing your relationship with Jesus; loving, obeying; obeying, loving; they are interchangeable! Jesus believed the Word of God to be His and our rock of defense against lies. If you would know Him and know His Father, you will know and love His Word. But how can you say you love Him if you seldom crack the pages of the Word?
Once again I say to you, we all each believe we are right! We believe we know the truth and have not succumbed to any lie or lies. Don’t be so sure. Imitate the Bereans in the 1st century who would not believe even the Apostle Paul until they searched the Scriptures for themselves to see if he told the truth. Do not live complacently with lies. They will always do their painful damage to you and yours if you let them!
“O send thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me, that he may touch mine eyes and make me see: show me the truth concealed within thy Word, and in thy book revealed I see the Lord.
(4th verse of Mary Lathbury’s hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life, 1877)
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He Sees It, Even If You Don't
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. FOR you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. Psalm 139:11-13, 15-16
Seven out of ten women claim to be Christian at the time they get an abortion. One out of every three women will have an abortion before age 45. 39% of ALL yearly deaths in the United States in 2005 were from abortion. Every 24 seconds an abortion takes place in the United States, 3,600 daily, more than died on 9/11 when the twin towers collapsed. EVERY day in America is another 9/11. 42% of all yearly deaths in the world are from abortion, NOT starvation or wars. One out of every five pregnancies in America ends in abortion. Two out of every African American pregnancy ends in abortion. Talk about racism or genocide encouraged by many African American leaders themselves. 52% of women having abortions earn more than $30,000 per year. Poverty is NOT the primary reason. Only 1% of abortions occur because of rape or incest. 50% of abortions are performed on women who have already had at least one PREVIOUS abortion. It is not just because of ONE mistake.
31% of all abortions are paid for by your tax dollars through Medicaid. 34% of Planned Parenthood’s budget is funded by your tax dollars in the form of government grants. Planned Parenthood makes an adoption referral only one out of every 62 opportunities for abortion (where their profit lies). Nine out of ten insurance companies cover elective abortion to some degree. Some clinics even offer student discounts. The majority party of the Senate Armed Services Committee just sent a Defense Authorization Bill to the full Senate in which they have attached a requirement that all military bases will perform abortions paid for with your tax dollar.
The grim statistics may just flow by us and never sink in as we read. 50 million plus Americans have been put to death in our country since 1973 and many voices are saying “peace, peace, while wearing the peace symbol on necklaces and t-shirts, when there is no peace here. The smell of death is on our land and while many call for the ending of our wars even from pulpits, the same voices say nothing of the murderous rampage of abortion going on “in secret, in the dark; human slaughter which continues as the seconds click away. It makes us uncomfortable to read about it, to think about it, to speak up about it, to bother to vote pro-life about it, to do something. I can just hear the self-righteous voices now denouncing “one issue voters. What utter nonsense. Psalm 2 speaks of God’s reaction to such drivel, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.
Yes, it makes the one in whom the Holy Spirit resides uncomfortable. But not nearly so uncomfortable as the vulnerable one inside the womb, the one who is only in the dark to our eyes, not God’s. When the offer of the spotlight of universal ultra-sound is suggested the “liberal minded pro-choicers go apoplectic. What have we come to? Do we get some idea of what Jesus meant when he said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
“If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:16-17)
“Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign: Increase my courage, Lord; I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy Word.
(Verses 2 and 4 of Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Am I A Soldier of the Cross, 1724)
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