Friday, March 29, 2013


Do not  when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. (Proverbs 24:17-18)
In the last lap of the NASCAR Auto Club 400, this past Sunday, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were battling for first place. The two cars were very close to each other and it seemed as though it would be a photo finish. However, they eventually made contact, which caused them both to crash and Kyle Busch blew by them to take the checkered flag.

Whether you were happy with the outcome of a race, football game or other sports event depends on what team or athlete you like. However, there is a more sinister part to events like this. There are also those teams or athletes you don't like. When you don't like them, you want to see them perform badly, lose or crash.

We are the same way in our everyday lives. We secretly like to see others fail. We inwardly shout for joy when someone we dislike, disapprove of or envy messes up. There is actually a term for this, it's called, schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude, is defined as, "Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." When we see others fail, we feel good about ourselves. As humans, we like to play the comparison game. We want a house or car that impresses others. We want a prestigious job or like to drop names of famous or powerful people we know. We even compare our children in their growth, schoolwork or athletic abilities.

However, when someone else seems to be doing better than us, we secretly wish failure on them or gloat when they do. This is not the way God intended us to be toward each other. Jealousy, envy, covetousness, and pride are all sins that are addressed in the scripture.

We're told in the Bible that Jesus had amassed quite a following by the time He entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before Passover. The people waved palm branches and shouted praises. This made the Jewish religious leaders nervous because they were afraid of what the Romans would do if there was a revolt. However, there was also a lot of envy. The people flocked to Jesus, but they came to the priests out of duty. They wanted to see Jesus fail.

The Jewish leadership saw Jesus as a threat to their way of life, so, in their minds, there was no way they could co-exist. Therefore, they decided to kill Him. They set the plot in motion and even convinced the Roman governor to go along with them. Then, after three years of ministry, Jesus was crucified.

However, what they didn't plan on was the greatest comeback in all of history! On the third day, Jesus emerged from the grave, alive and victorious over death and sin. Those who plotted for His demise, were now the ones to be laughed at.

We are called to love each other. We are not only to love those who love us, but to also love our enemies. Jesus said to pray for those who hate you. That also means to pray for those who you dislike. That's not easy, but it's what we are called to do. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us, how are we any different from the rest of the world?

As we celebrate this Easter, take the time to pray for those around you, even those who you dislike. Give the same mercy to them that Christ showed you. It was love that held Jesus to the cross. It was love that raised Him from the dead. Love is the mark that shows the world that we are His children. Go and love!

"If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." (1 John 4:20-21)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Do You See?

Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you. Charles Spurgeon

As an old story goes, there were two taxidermists who stopped at the window of a home to observe an owl that was displayed there. They immediately began to criticize the way the owl had been mounted. They also didn’t like the way it’s eyes didn’t look natural and how its head was not in proportion to its body. They continued to observe how its feathers were not neatly arranged and how its feet could be improved. At that point in the discussion, the owl turned its head and blinked at them

While the two taxidermists may have been accurate about their initial observations, they overlooked one huge detail. The owl was not “stuffed.” He was very much alive!

In the mid-1800’s, at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, there was a professor of medicine named Dr. Joseph Bell. Dr. Bell’s students were always amazed at his talent for observation. Simply by noticing small details, he was usually able to determine what his patients did for a living or what illness they might have. Most times, it only took a glance in their direction for him to discern the information.

Once he concluded that a patient had walked across a golf course on the way to the doctor by looking at his shoes. Another time, he knew that a patient had served in the army and even knew which regiment he had served in, just by observing him for a moment.

One of Dr. Bell’s students was extremely impressed with this uncanny ability to notice small details that usually went unnoticed by most people. In fact, he was so impressed that he began to keep a notebook handy, in which he wrote down examples of what he called Dr. Bell’s “eerie trick of spotting details.”

Later this young student became a doctor himself. When business was slow in his office, he spent his spare time writing fictional stories. Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle created a character and gave him Dr. Bell’s powers of perception. Dr. Bell, who impressed many with his ability to determine a great deal about people from simple observation, became the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

If someone based a fictional character, solely on their observations of you, what would that character’s traits be? Would the character be one of integrity or compromising values? Perhaps the character’s daily life would be too busy to spend time with his or her family. Would the character be confusing, in that their actions would not match with their words?

As a Christian, Christ should be the thing people see in us. Even if they are not a believer, others should at least be able to notice a Christ-likeness in us. Through spending time with our Creator in prayer and study of His Word, we will not simply know more about Him, but begin to think and act as He does. As we go about our daily lives we should always strive to be more like Jesus every day.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)