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Poverty of Heart

Poverty of Heart
Darkness

I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the craziness going on in our world.  Bear with me on this post, as it’s a little bit longer than normal!

We’re in the middle of an election season where many view the race as a choice between the two least bad candidates.

We’re experiencing tragic shootings, regardless of fault, that seem to be ripping our country apart.

We have the scourge of terrorism affecting us here in the United States and in many countries around the world. Over 100 incidents have occurred in the month of September.

I tend to pay quite a bit of attention to what’s going on in the world, whether it be politics, international news, or other things. With that comes a healthy dose of people’s opinions about why all of these things are happening.

One of the most used arguments for the way things are in the world has to do with what I call poverty of circumstance. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed terrorism on poverty, calling it the “root cause”.

The argument basically goes like this: Because “x” person grew up in “y” circumstances, it led them to take “z” action.

Now, this may be partially true. There has always been the “nature vs. nurture” argument for why people do what they do. People’s external influences play a large role in determining who a person becomes.

While all of that may be true, it ignores the most basic truth: Every human being is born with poverty of heart

No matter whether someone is rich or poor, educated or uneducated, from North America or Asia, black or white, or any other defining characteristic, we are ALL born with poverty of heart.

Psalm 51:5 says, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

Romans 3:23 states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Now, track with me here. In today’s world, there is much debate between cause and correlation.

Cause simply means that one thing causes another to happen. Correlation simply means that two things happen (together), but one is not necessarily the cause of the other.

So, in most arguments, people believe that poverty of circumstance CAUSES all sorts of evil in the world. Others would argue that there is a correlation between the two, meaning that we tend to see poverty of circumstance in the same places (or people) where evil is perpetrated.

I would differ with both of those viewpoints and add a third. I will call this one context.

I believe that it’s important to understand the context in which someone becomes the person they are, without making that circumstance out to be the cause or a direct correlation.

Let’s use terrorism as an example. If someone can be rich or poor and become a terrorist, it would be hard to say that terrorism is caused by poverty. Also, we would have a hard time making a correlation between the two, because rich and poor are distinctly different, while leading to the same result (terrorism).

But, what is worth taking a look at is context. What is the person’s context (their influences, beliefs, circumstances, etc.) that contribute to making the person who they are? And, most importantly, how does that context play into the poverty of heart that already exists inside of that person?

I believe the main cause for all of the evil in the world, no matter where it’s found or who commits it, is poverty of heart. There is no greater cause than a heart that is desirous of doing wrong. Now, the context for each person’s evil actions is different and may have some amount of influence on that particular person. But, it is not the primary influence.

Understanding the context is important, but it should never replace the simple belief that evil actions are produced from an evil heart. There is no greater cause of evil in the world than the evil that already exists inside a person’s heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

While we must work in society to have justice, we must never forget that no government or private institution has the power to change the human heart – only God can do that. While we try to alleviate poverty, we must not blame poverty for violence…we must do the hard work leading people with love to a changed heart.

For this reason, our hope must never be placed in political figures, business leaders, government directors, celebrities, or any other person or group.

Our hope must always be placed in Jesus!

In fact, I think part of the reason our political system has produced the two principal candidates we have is because for too long people on both the right and the left have looked to their political leaders as their saviors or America’s saviors.

Let me be clear: America doesn’t need a savior. America, while a great nation, does not need one political representative to somehow change the course of our nation. When we place our hope in one person to change whatever it is we want changed, we are already doomed.

The only thing that changes America is changed hearts of those who live in this country.

And, the only thing that changes people’s hearts is Jesus.

This is why the church is so important. There is no greater tool in Jesus’ toolbox than his church. While Jesus is the Instigator of change, he causes that change through the church.

So, what am I trying to say with this post? I’m probably saying quite a few things, but most of all, it’s this: The biggest problems we face in the world today are caused by poverty of heart. The greatest solution to poverty of heart is spreading the light and love of Jesus.

I encourage you to be as big a Jesus person as you can be in the world today. That is what people need. That is what our country needs. And, that is what this world is desperately longing for.

Ear Tuning

Ear Tuning

As you have seen me post before, I love reading God’s Word in order to learn and grow in my relationship with Jesus. I detail about how to create a daily plan for reading the Bible HERE.

This week, I came across an interesting verse that I wanted to share with you:

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.   Proverbs 2:2

As I read that verse it got me thinking about tuning an instrument. I’m a musician myself and play a variety of instruments. While the piano is an instrument that doesn’t need to be tuned on a daily basis, almost every other instrument is.

Every time I play the guitar I have to tune it first.

Every time I play the saxophone I make sure it is tuned.

And, every time an orchestra plays together, they all tune themselves to each other.

Almost every instrument ends up out of tune after not using it…practically on a daily basis. Sometimes the instrument may be out of tune by a large amount, other times by a small amount. The amount doesn’t matter…it happens consistently and frequently.

The same is true with our “ears”.  

Not so much the physical ones, but the spiritual ones.

And the heart ones.

And the emotional ones.

This is why the author of this portion of Proverbs, King Solomon, used this word picture. He wanted to let us know that our ears consistently end up out of tune from wisdom.

Wisdom and understanding are things that are not far away, but we can easily get disconnected from them.

This is why the words tune and concentrate are used. A good musician must both tune the instrument and concentrate closely on the music in order to produce a quality performance.

We must constantly tune our ears and concentrate on what we are doing if we are to live a life connected to wisdom and understanding.

This needs to happen on a daily basis. And, it may even need to happen multiple times during a day.

I encourage you to stop yourself consistently before playing the music of your life, so that you can be sure that the words you say and actions you take are properly tuned to wisdom and filled with understanding.

Do you need an ear tuning today?

 

 

The Dangers of Tug of War

In the news today comes a story of how some kids lost some fingers playing tug of war at a school event.

You can read about it here.

First, let me say that my prayers go out to the students and their families. I am praying for a full and complete recovery.

That being said, while I was driving today, I heard some news reports that mentioned the incident. While listening, I had this thought: “They’re probably going to ban tug of war”!

Sure enough, as I was thinking about it, they said it!

In that article, Eric Spillman (the author) states, “The school district is reviewing its policies to see if tug of war will be allowed in the future.”

What?

Why is it that every accident that happens leads to us creating more rules or outright banning something?

Should we ban beaches because of shark bites?
Should we ban cars because of accidents?
Should we ban sports because of injuries?
Should we ban marriages because of infidelity?
Should we ban airplanes because of terrorists?
Should we ban banks because of robbers?
Should we ban hospitals because of sickness and death?

While it is true that we can always be more safe and cautious, I fear that we are becoming a risk averse society.

Life is made up of risks. Once risks are removed, we are no longer living life as it was meant to be lived.

In becoming a risk averse society, we don’t just protect ourselves from negative outcomes…we also eliminate the enjoyment of positive outcomes.

If marriages are removed, the fullest expression of love is put to death.
If sports are removed, the enjoyment of leisure and play is also removed (and discipline too)!
Etc.

When we create rules to avoid risk, we are basically admitting to the fact that we are a fearful society. We are afraid that something might go wrong or someone will get hurt. We allow an isolated incident to tell us that it might happen to all of us. This is simply not true.

Why don’t we simply accept the fact that these things will happen? Then, we can support each other when things go wrong.

So, for the love of all things enjoyable, please don’t ban tug of war!

The Error of Spectatorship

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(crossposted here)

Spectating is a national pastime.

We have phrases that prove this:

“Armchair quarterback”

“Backseat driver”

We spectate at so many things. We watch sports on tv. We regularly attend shows, sporting events, theatre productions, and so much more.

And, here’s what all of us do, both during and afterwards: We critique.

How was the show?

What did you like about it?

What didn’t you like?

Should I go see it? Why?

Why is this team losing the baseball game? What is the pitcher doing wrong?

On and on and on.

Now, I don’t find anything particularly wrong with us critiquing when we are enjoying entertainment.  We’re typically not hurting anyone and we are simply giving opinions.

But, I have noticed a trend of spectatorship that has gone much deeper than entertainment.

I have seen too many people being spectators of life.

While so many things are going on, while the world is constantly changing, while there is so much to be done, people remain comfortable, sitting on the sidelines of life, watching, and never participating.

And, here’s the problem: the spectator’s chair of life is one that always leads to a life of unhealthy critiques and demeaning judgments, one which never helps anyone improve or make things better.

There’s an interesting story that I’ve read plenty of times, but only recently noticed what I’m talking about in this post.  King David was bringing the ark (which was the symbol of God’s presence with his people Israel) into Jerusalem.  While doing so, an interesting thing happened.  This is found in 2 Samuel 6:14-16.

14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. 15 So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. 16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.

David was dancing with joy.

People were shouting with joy.

And they even brought out the ram’s horns for the celebration!

And notice this, in verse 15, it says “all the people of Israel” were with David doing this.

Except for one.

I love the picture this story gives us of Michal, David’s wife.  She was looking down from her window.

This is the spectator’s stance: One who is positioned (at least in their own minds) high above everyone else, looking down on their idiocy, their craziness, their stupidity, despising them for what they are doing.

Could you imagine what would have happened if she would have joined the dance?

Later on, David had a conversation with her about her wrong attitude.  It didn’t go well. In fact, the end result was that Michal remained childless the rest of her life (verse 23).

I see that happening with so many people today.  They sit on the sidelines…of life, of the church, of experiences, and so much more.  And, as a result of their own critiques, they are so filled with hate and disgust that they end up living life “barren”. 

Barren of joy, excitement, life, love, and so much more.

This post today is a call: Step into life, join the dance, be a part of the party, experience all that God has for you.  Do NOT sit anymore on the sidelines of life.

There is too much at stake.