Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Discernment’

r4-7a[1]You may have noticed I’ve been absent from my blog for several weeks. I wish I could say I broke both arms and was unable to type or give some other really credible excuse.  I can’t.  It’s just that life came at me with both claws bared and I have been fighting to regain a little control. My sister finally gave me a convicting call, encouraging me to get back on track. So – I’m back.

We’ve pretty much finished motorcycle season. Temperatures have dropped drastically and even though we’ve had some blindingly sunny days, don’t be deceived. It has been cold. The last few rides were glorious with the autumn colors in full splendor, a method of luring you into enjoying the view and ignoring the obvious warning that winter is well on its way.

I just returned from a wonderful, uplifting and highly enjoyable two days away with 20 other ladies at a Women of Faith Conference.  Along with being spiritually stimulated we laughed so much our sides ached.  There is not a topic that can’t be broached when you get a bunch of ladies in a car together. I have a stack of funny stories to tell but I will limit it to one today.

Three carloads of us caravanned over the mountains to make sure we all found our way to the hotel and the conference location.  I took the lead, driving my sister’s new car which is of course equipped with a highly technical GPS system. Staying connected on the freeway in bumper to bumper Seattle traffic is not easy.

We were doing great until the sweet-voiced GPS lady took us down a bad path. Once we realized she had mislead us and was “recalculating” we had to exit the freeway, circle around and get back on the freeway headed the opposite direction.  All three vehicles actually managed that with no problem.

Shortly after getting back on route however, my cell phone rang and my sister answered. She spoke for a few seconds, collapsed in hysterical laughter, and it took us about 10 miles to get out of her what the call was all about. The driver of the van behind us had called because she saw us taking a wrong exit.  She was trying to tell us to get back on the freeway before it was too late.  But, she went ahead and followed us onto the exit, as did the other car in the caravan. Turns out they were following the wrong white Hyundai!

It all worked out. Everyone ended up at the right destination and we laughed about the confusion.

So what do my bike story and my caravan story have in common?  Deception.

How many times in life have I gotten so involved in the beauty of the moment that I totally ignored the warnings of what lay ahead?  And how many times have I chosen to follow someone and found myself off track and needing redirection?  More times than I’d like to admit.

God’s word tells us  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1John 4:1

We should never listen blindly to anyone’s direction and we should always be sure of whom we choose to follow.  Today more than ever false prophets abound, telling us one behavior is right when it is clearly wrong, or another act is acceptable when it is definitely not. Our attention is caught by many things including bright colors and clever wording and before we know it we are separated from the only One who can give us good and wise direction.

A few wrong turns on a ladies weekend can be cause for laughter. A few wrong turns in our spiritual walk are not quite as funny. In fact, they are dangerous, damaging and devastating.

Let your everyday GPS be the Word of God and you will never have to worry about fighting your way back onto the freeway.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…” Phil 1:9-10

Read Full Post »

When I got the call from Special Agent John Riley of the Drug Enforcement Agency who left a message saying he was involved in an ongoing federal investigation I wasn’t too concerned. I work for a chemical dependency treatment facility and it wouldn’t be the first time a client was under investigation. However, I got the shock of my life when I returned the call. Special Agent Riley, of the booming, intimidating and very rude manner was investigating me!

He let me know the agency had been tracking illegal prescription drugs shipped from outside the country to my address. I explained to him that he had the wrong person because I had never ordered medications online as he suggested. The conversation went something like this:

“Are you telling me you have never purchased medications over the internet?”  This asked in a very loud, disbelieving manner.

“No, sir, I have not.” This stated in a very meek, frightened manner.

“If you are not being truthful with me this will not go well for you, Cheryl.”

“I am being truthful. I don’t lie and I don’t buy medications over the internet.”

“Your name is Cheryl Thorp, correct?”

“No, sir. My name is Cheryl Dale.”

His immediate response, “Well it may be Cheryl Dale now, but I know you’ve used the name Cheryl Thorp in the past. When did you change your name?”

“Ummm – never – er – actually when I got married 45 years ago but it wasn’t Thorp back then either.”

“Your address is PO Box 2324, correct?” Much irritation in the agent’s voice.

“No. I have no idea whose address that is but it’s not mine.”

“If you are not being truthful with me this will not go well for you, Cheryl.”

I pull the phone away from my ear to keep his loud, demanding voice from damaging my eardrum. Then I get a flash thought – I have many strange friends who might play this type of joke on me.

“This is a joke, right?” I chuckle.

“I guess if you consider a warrant for your arrest a joke, Cheryl. I’m holding one in my hand right now.”

Gulp. “I swear I’ve never purchased medications over the internet.” I want to tell him also I’ve never shoplifted, smoked, skipped out without paying a bill, had premarital sex or folded over the corner of a page in my Bible either.

Finally Special Agent Riley stated, “I will do some more investigation on this, Cheryl, but I’m telling you right now that if you are not being honest with me it will not go well for you.”

Yeah, I get that, I mutter after he hangs up. I know I’m innocent but I start feeling guilty anyway. Then I get nervous. I’ve heard of innocent people being thrown in prison and forgotten for years. I can’t let that happen. Orange is absolutely my worst color!

I decide to bounce this off the Operations Director at work. I tell him the story and he falls out of his chair laughing. He starts to say something but breaks into another fit of laughter. Finally he chokes out, “You of all people?  Me maybe – but you? If this guy only knew!”

I bounce it off my boss who is reserved enough not to fall out of his chair when he laughs. He suggests I Google the number and verify the authenticity. So that’s what I do.

Total scam, people! If you get a call from Special Agent Riley tell him to take his warrant and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. Do not fall for his line. The scam comes when you admit that you may have at one time purchased medications over the internet. Or, you are intimidated to the point that you are afraid and just want them off your back even though you haven’t done anything wrong. The agent explains again about the warrant for your arrest, the prison sentence for drug crimes and the very large fine attached to the conviction. Then he suggests that if you want to pay the fine they will give you a break and not prosecute. Your first clue should be the suggestion that the federal government has a heart and is willing to give you a break.

How in the world do people live with themselves when they make their living taking advantage of others? I’ve heard so many stories of people being ripped off through some type of dishonesty. Where did the idea come from that you could lie and act intimidating to get people to do things that work to their advantage?

Actually, it may have come first in the Garden of Eden when a snake (probably looking and sounding a lot like Special Agent John Riley) lied and coerced Adam and Eve into thinking he was doing them a favor.

Scamming is not new, it’s just craftier and more technology enhanced today. Never has it been more necessary to pray for discernment. Snakes are out there doing everything they can to deceive. Don’t take a bite of their apple!

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

Read Full Post »

MB900427740[1]Two interesting stories came my way recently and made me examine our tendency to generalize.  It also caused me to examine the way Jesus listened individually not collectively to the people He came in contact with.

The first story hit the headlines in our town, was repeated several times on the local news stations and stirred many heated discussions.  A 50 year old man, a familiar figure because of his daily begging on the same busy street corner, was found dead in his vehicle from an apparent drug overdose.  The police also found $1,700 in cash and over $83,000 worth of cocaine in his possession. Week after week this man had put on his beaten down face, shuffled back and forth in a humble, down on his luck manner and and carried a sign pleading for “just one dollar”.

You can only imagine the reaction from the community.  Much ranting and raving about how these street corner beggars are all con artists, dangerous criminals, only used the money collected to buy drugs, and should be outlawed. I can honestly say not one radio caller or letter writer voiced any kind of compassion. I can also honestly say I did not feel one ounce of compassion for the main character in this story.

My second story didn’t hit any headlines or talk shows. It was related to me by a co-worker who had walked from her home to a local convenience store. As she approached she saw a man standing by the door and could tell right away he was going to ask for a handout. Her mind flashed to the recent news story noted above and she shoved her hands deeper into her pockets where she was carrying several bills of different denominations.

Sure enough, the man approached her and asked for seventy cents. She was surprised at the amount and asked what he was going to do with the money. He answered that he was hungry and the convenience store sold corn dogs for seventy cents. She sensed honesty in his statement and quickly prayed for God to guide her. She felt compelled to give the man whatever bill she pulled out of her pocket. She had a twenty, a ten and a five. So she added to her prayer that God would let her fingers grasp the five.

Pulling out her hand she offered the money, which happened to be a ten dollar bill, to the man. To her surprise he refused it, reminding her he only needed seventy cents. She tried to encourage him to take the entire bill but in all humility he explained that all he needed was seventy cents and he would feel bad taking more. She went inside, picked up her purchases and on the way out handed the man seventy cents.

She couldn’t help but look back as she walked away and sure enough, the man was inside purchasing a corn dog.

Two beggars, two different motives, two different actions – proving not everyone lies, not everyone cheats, not everyone takes advantage of generous people.

We are so prone to generalize and paint similar groups with the same brush, be it race, ethnicity, gender, occupation or whatever else we can pounce on.  Jesus didn’t stop healing lepers because one was ungrateful. He addressed the honest questions of Nicodemis even though other religious leaders had ulterior motives. And when a crippled man was lowered through the roof, Jesus assessed his faith and addressed the real problem, not of his infirmity but of the sin in his life.

Jesus weighed each scenario, evaluated each need, studied each circumstance to make sure He did the right thing at the right time.  Very few things fit neatly in a box with a generic label. It takes an open mind and an open heart to seek the proper response in each situation.

There are plenty of people and talk shows and written articles to try to convince you that everyone is up to something. They will say don’t trust, don’t love, don’t give and don’t take a risk.

There is still one very good resource, however, to remind you that God listened to your story. He didn’t toss you into a pot of you’re-just-like-all-the-rest stew. Instead, He listened, He loved and He gave you what you needed. That resource is called the Bible, the precious Word of God. The more you study it the better you will be able to discern your part in the scheme of your every day encounters. Sometimes you will know to turn away and other times you will feel led to reach into your pocket.

Two stories, One God with all the answers.

“When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

 

 

Read Full Post »