My times of meditation and conversation with my Father sometimes go to places some might consider strange. But my relationship with Jesus is one of knowing and being known and there are few limits. I love pouring out my heart to Him, processing with Him and listening to Him, especially on my walk/run before the day begins.
From the other side of the world, it’s been fascinating recently to observe the biases, manipulation of statistics and disregard for truth in the media coverage of politics and CV19, so perhaps that is why, for this past week, my conversations with my Father and my thoughts revolved around the subject of “bullshit” (BS) and all the misguided, “expert”, “proven” opinions that I hear/read every day. The “information age” is a uniquely new challenge for us during this season of history in that we have more voices clamoring for our attention than ever before. How do we know who to follow and who to listen to? How do we discern healthy from unhealthy behavior; truth from lies? How do we know which actions we will look back on with gladness, and which with regret?
We all face challenges in reigning in destructive behavior and choosing healthy behavior, even when we know the difference. It takes experience (touching the fire to verify it’s hot), heeding wise counsel, practice and time to learn which of our choices will bring light and health and which will result in darkness and harm to us or another.
Jesus spoke often of light and darkness and called Himself “The Light”. Paul spoke with the was-dead-now-alive Jesus and left a successful position as a respected leader, was beaten repeatedly and lost his life because he wouldn’t dismiss Jesus as anyone other than God. Several times in his letters to those he cared for, he listed both healthy and destructive behaviors for their benefit. All of the apostles (who also saw the once-dead-and-now-alive Jesus) did the same because people who care for people give counsel to them in love (not judgment). Caring parents, pastors, teachers, friends, brothers and sisters do the same.
The below list was compiled after a couple days of meditating on truth and lies and includes, in my brevity-challenged opinion, some of the BS philosophies prevalent in our world today, that can lead us into slavery to our desires and away from a close relationship with our loving Father (the Light). We are wise to be aware of our enemies, which are never people, but rather principalities and philosophies that can lead us into darkness and slavery.
We are called by a Father who created each of us with purpose, who knows what gives life, and who loves us more than we know, to pursue aggressively following, and listening to, Jesus, and not to the voices in the world around us. I’ve heard all of the below BS (both inside and outside of the “church”), and thinking through this list helps to raise my awareness of the prevalent philosophies of darkness so I can daily recognize them, and prevent them from decreasing my passion to follow the Light. Perhaps it will stir the same in you.
Light overcomes the darkness. We are not to place our focus on the below list, but rather passionately embrace a life of intimacy with Jesus and HIS “philosophy” of love for our Father and love for one another. If we cling to Him, we will be free of darkness, and the philosophies below will lose their influence on us and we will recognize the destructive belief systems (the darkness) that can interfere with our daily intimacy with Jesus (the Light).
Embracing the person of Jesus will ensure a simple, difficult life, full of light. Embracing the lies following will ensure an often more pleasurable life, shrouded in darkness…
Prioritize, embrace and enjoy this life. You only live once…
Trust your “instincts”
The ideal job is the one which pays the most and offers the most time off
It’s appropriate to behave differently in public than in your home
Those who disagree with you are judging you
Build your self-esteem and identity via your “goodness” and performance
News agencies and reporters are objective and care for you.
Skepticism is cynical
More leisure and fun make for a better life
Ask God for everything you want. He wants you to have it
Don’t ask questions. They reveal need. *The wise ask questions, the arrogant have all the answers
If it feels right, it must be right
Listen to, and follow, only those who agree with you
Indiscriminately trust those you follow or listen to
You are a byproduct of generations of chance encounters and genes
Don’t honor your parents. Their ways are antiquated and they don’t understand
Desire and seek what you don’t have
Winning an argument and proving you are right is more important than honoring the other
Money buys happiness
All discrimination is evil
Live independently of other people. They don’t care for you. Look out for #1
Retire and be free of work and service as soon as possible
Never apologize. It reveals vulnerability
Speak more than listen
If it’s natural it is good for you
God is a crutch
If someone doesn’t agree with you, they are wrong
Pursue your wants with disregard for others’ needs. Each for his own.
Tell others how someone harmed you
If it’s difficult or painful, it isn’t good
The Bible has an answer for every problem
Fear nothing/no one
The world will end in __ years
See yourself as more important than those around you
Highlight your strengths, disregard your weaknesses
Be goal oriented. Choose and pursue the best goals for you. *rather than journeying well
Mercy is enabling
Impress those who are important to your success
Speak what benefits you rather than what is true
Seek the praise and adoration of others. Nothing is more important than a good reputation
Everyone really wants what is good. Each to his own
Your desires and attractions identify you
Tolerance is love. Intolerance is hate. *Tolerance sees a cliff ahead and allows you to fall off. Love does/says what is necessary to stop you…
Consider your body and your actions to be your own
Your purpose in life is to better yourself
The wonders of nature, most beyond your understanding, are the result of chance and time. *Or the similarities/patterns are the identifying characteristics of a Designer
Your own welfare must come first
Be “results” and/or “outcome” driven
Those who disagree with you hate you
Fantasize about what could be. *instead of grateful for what is
Your actions and perspectives are irrelevant
Be your own person
Allow your thoughts to include, “I wish…”
Acknowledging that you don’t know is a sign of weakness
Self-confidence is key. See yourself as good and “having arrived” rather than flawed and “in process”
Believe everything you hear/read
Talk, complain and protest about injustice rather than constructively seeking to right it
Don’t converse with the One who made you with purpose and more affection than you’ve ever had for anyone
Never say “Thank you”. It will honor the other above you
The Bible is made of cute but irrelevant stories and perspectives of men
If it feels good, it is good
“I want” is a healthy thought process
Science is objective and true
Dismiss the counsel of elders who care for you
“Should” is a healthy part your vocabulary
Wound someone who treats you unjustly. Get even
Live independently of consideration for others
Consider another’s opinion of you more relevant than your own,*or your Father’s
Pursue your goals and disregard the agendas of others
Consensual and private sex harms no one
Quit your job because it’s stressful
Follow no one. Be your own person
Never make commitments
Never make any judgments about anything or anyone. *Making judgments is not judging – judging is closing the book, like the LBGT, KKK and Nazis who close the book and place a permanent identity/label on people. Jesus freed us of all labels other than “his dearly beloved child”!
If you really want something, go for it. Your desires won’t steer you wrong
Watch someone having sex or doing/revealing what was designed for relational intimacy between a husband and wife
Eliminate a pregnancy because you are not prepared to care for a child
Don’t take risks
Allow yourself to be identified by your attractions/desires
Desire what someone else has – characteristic, experience, relationship, item
Be the “life of the party”
If it is “sin” (unhealthy behavior or perspective), it wouldn’t feel so good/right
Disregard the forgiveness and unconditional love of your Father as irrelevant
Desire something (for free) without working for it
Create and worship a god whose desire is to meet your every want/need
Live for our own comfort and disregard the comfort/pain of others
A Christian is always nice
Expect/desire/pursue a painless life
Learn nothing from your mistakes/pain. Push past them
Take revenge when you are hurt. They deserve to hurt, as well. Forgiveness is weakness. *Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison to harm the offender or putting oneself in prison to execute justice. Forgiveness frees the offended far more than it does the offender
You are in control of your destiny
Vulnerability is weakness and unhealthy
Live without regard to consequences for your behavior. Sowing and reaping is antiquated foolishness that don’t apply to the modern and sophisticated you.
Sleep in and take a “personal day” from work/school. It will affect no one
Expect others to serve you at no cost to you (*the essence of slavery)
Expect free health care (or anything) and disregard the livelihoods of those who serve you
Pursue pleasure without regard to consequence
Stretch or alter the truth to make yourself look better
what you feel is more important than what you think
Dismiss as irrelevant the incredible, timeless wisdom found in the Bible
Never let anyone see your weaknesses/faults
Don’t learn from history. They didn’t know what we know.
It’s ok to hate your work. Live for the weekends
Worship only a god who you can understand
Eat what tastes good
Do whatever you desire at the moment
Your past defines you
There is no such thing as evil. There is only sometimes the absence of good
Ambition is the key to success
Worship/love/admire creation without worship/love/admiration for its Creator
You don’t need physical exercise
Convince someone who disagrees with you that they are wrong
Pursue and take what you want
Image is everything.
Seek the attention/affirmation of others
Dismiss history as irrelevant. We are smarter, more advanced and more progressive than they were
This person is so nice. He/she wouldn’t steer me wrong.
God wants you healed, “whole” and without suffering. * The lives of Jesus and His apostles demonstrate otherwise
You are free to achieve whatever you desire
Make choices regardless of potential risk/cost to others
Tasks and your work are more important than relationships
Relationships are more important than any task
Seek peace with all men. Avoid conflict
Don’t honor another’s accomplishments
Alcohol or drugs will help you feel better. You deserve it
Expect heaven on earth.
Disagreement and conflict are unhealthy. *How we respond to the same may be healthy or unhealthy
Those who are poor are lazy and suffer only because of their unwise choices and don’t deserve help/assistance. *Jesus demonstrated otherwise
Those who have success, fame and/or riches have life
You are too busy to consider another’s pain/difficulty
Live for today and disregard tomorrow
Devote yourself to your personal well-being
Disregard Jesus, but some of his teachings have value
Beliefs must be “either, or”, not “both, and”
Less cost to me is always better
Pursue what you want
Character and integrity are irrelevant if you succeed
God isn’t interested in screw-ups like me. *The whole Bible indicates otherwise, as every person used by God, except Jesus, was a total screw-up
“More” is better
I must have it all together in any situation I face today. *Life is a journey of learning and discovery. The wise admit with humility, “I don’t know” and “I need help”. The unwise and arrogant admit neither.
Be critical of those who disagree with you
Compare yourself to others
Never compare your life with that of another
Express your emotions. It’s unhealthy to suppress their expression
Build up your own self-esteem and pride
Learn how to live by watching dramatized (*always inaccurate) portrayals of life in movies and on TV
Talking out loud to yourself or to an “imaginary” god is a sign of mental instability
If God were real, He would make Himself more obvious
Trusting an unseen god is foolish
If you can’t understand it, it isn’t trustworthy
It doesn’t matter what you watch or listen to. It won’t affect you.
You are who you are. You can’t change
Devalue trusted experience
If you can’t see it, touch it, hear it, etc., it isn’t real
Listen to people who say what you want to hear
You don’t have the time, energy or resources to find and help someone in need
Expect/desire life to be fair
Two consenting adults makes a behavior ok
You will find light if you memorize this list and seek to avoid all of this behavior, instead of following hard after Jesus (Light).
* indicates an alternate perspective to the expressed BS
Light is not the absence of darkness, but darkness is the absence of Light.
Paul wrote in a letter to people he loved in Galatia about following the Light:
“If you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer under obligation to the Law… Walk by the Spirit… Live by the Spirit… Follow the Spirit’s leading… will produce this fruit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Jesus freed us from self-focused performance orientation – rules, do’s and don’ts, success/failure – so that we can passionately follow the Light
We are not to focus on avoiding the darkness, we have been freed to pursue the Light, which dispels darkness. We are wise to recognize the difference.
When we are hyper-focused on Jesus’ love and passionate care for us and for those around us, we will live in Light and freedom like we’ve never known… and darkness and the above lies/BS will have no power over us…
Thank you, for honoring our Father. Thank you for the depth of your thoughts. My memories often drift back a couple decades when I read your posts. Remembering the kind, compassionate and gentle ER physician. Our Sammy is now 22, a reminder to me, how long you have served in the mission fields. Remembering you and your family and sacrifices in prayer,
Bob and Robyn Stiffler
Thanks Tim! Love reading your writing. Love and prayers for you and Betsy!
Always appreciate reading your perspective, and knowing I’m not the only brevity-challenged one out there.
Might add one to the list though…
– Cigars are bad for you