Fasting Negativity – Part Two



Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, (James 4:7, NIV).

And I’m done.  God is good!


No, it really is that simple!  It’s the faith-filled two-step:

  1. Submit to God.
  2. Resist the defeated enemy.

It is simple, but it’s not easy.  Step One has to come first.  Resisting the defeated enemy when you’re still living for your flesh is as futile as standing on the edge of a cliff and flapping your arms, hoping to fly—and just as dangerous.

Submitting to God means first agreeing with Him that you’re a sinner in need of a savior.  Then you’ve got to spend time in prayer and reading His Word.  Just like with any other relationship, you can never hope to get to know Him if you don’t spend time with Him.  Submitting is also walking in obedience—complete obedience.

From obedience and from knowing God, love will flow.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love, (1 John 4:8).

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins, (1 Peter 4:8, emphasis mine).

His love for you will cover your sins as you submit to Him.  Your love for Him will flow to your fellow human beings.  Where genuine agape love exists, we cease being offended by one another.

Resisting the defeated enemy begins with your thought life:

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, (Philippians 4:8).


We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).

Remember that:

As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he, (Proverbs 23:7a, NKJV).

And Jesus confirmed that it is the thought life—especially when it comes out in words—that defiles a person:

Whatever [word] comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what defiles and dishonors the man, (Matthew 15:18, AMP).

So, submit to God and resist the defeated enemy.  Yes, it really is just that simple!  God is good!

Fasting Negativity


It’s time to stop gobbling up the crap on social media!

What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?  This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with Me, (Isaiah 58:4, emphasis mine).

Maybe it’s because it’s summer.  Maybe it’s because it’s an election year.  Maybe this is all of our foul choices and behaviors coming home to roost (pun intended).  But social media seems to be especially full of negativity.  No, not just negativity, but outrage and anger.  And the vast majority of my Facebook friends are Christians.

Anger in itself isn’t a sin.  Even Jesus got angry[1].  The Bible says:

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil, (Ephesians 4:26-27, emphasis mine).

Anger becomes sin when you let anger control you.  You’ve done this, we’ve all done this: gotten so mad that you stomp around, yell at the person, or say something you shouldn’t have said—sometimes all three.  Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.”  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court.  And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell, (Matthew 5:21-22, NIV, emphasis mine).

So anger puts you in danger of judgement, and talking badly to or about someone could get you sent to hell.  Anger equals murder in God’s eyes.  Again, Jesus got angry, but was without sin.  The difference here is unresolved anger or anger that is acted upon in the wrong way.  And let’s face it, few of us have had anger modeled for us in godly ways.

I’m not addressing this to unbelievers.  We were all like this before we knew the Lord.  But as His children, we should not be acting like guests on Jerry Springer.  I think the pressures of these End Times has brought people’s true character to the surface.  It’s easy enough to be kind to one another when everything is going along its jolly way.  But now the economy is shaky as a house of cards, the media is stirring up racial hatred like a witch’s pot, and your presidential choices are between bad and worse—and they sound worse and worse every day.  Any character issues that have not been submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ are going to come bubbling to the surface.

. . . Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! (Isaiah 58:9b).

Once upon a time, people took their disappointments and unhappiness to their best friend or their pastor in confidence.  Now people take their unhappiness to social media, longing for a sympathetic audience.  And Jesus warned of this:

Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved, (Matthew 24:10-13, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Lest you think that Jesus was talking about the general world population, the word He used for love was agape, which is unconditional, godly love.  Agape love can’t grow cold for people who never had it in the first place.  So Jesus is talking about believers:

Many believers will be offended.

Many believers will betray one another.

Many believers will hate one another.

Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many believers.

Lawlessness will abound among believers, and the love of many believers will grow cold.

Notice that the whole toxic journey starts with offense.  Jesus warned:

It is impossible that no offenses should come, (Luke 17:1a, NKJV).

It starts with getting offended.  Offense leads to betrayal.  Betrayal leads to lies that deceive many.  In the midst of all this, people are comforting themselves by self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or behavioral addictions like pornography, gambling, or overeating.  And because they immerse themselves in addiction (self-love), their love grows cold: love for God and love for others.

It all starts with offense, and Jesus said that offenses will come.  So what do we do?  We’ve got to understand that love is not an emotion, it’s a decision.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless.  But love will last forever!  Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love, (1 Corinthians 13).

Let me get personal a moment:

Do you love like this?  Do you love everyone like this?

Consider this that Paul wrote just a few chapters before the Love Chapter, above:

Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?  Why not let yourselves be cheated? (1 Corinthians 6:7b, emphasis mine).

And what about this:

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44, NKJV).

And this:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves, (Philippians 2:3, emphasis mine).

God is saying to us:

~ You don’t have the right to be offended when someone wrongs you! ~

Chew on that one while I write Part Two: Overcoming Offense.

Now, behave yourself (at home, at work, and on social media!) and remember: God is good!

[1] Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; & Luke 19:45-46.

When Being Right is not Right

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling, (Proverbs 20:3).

Italy is a very argumentative place.  Italians love to argue like it’s a sport.  However, Italians have mastered the art of arguing without letting it damage their relationships.  Christians from the rest of the world would do well to learn this, especially when it comes to social media.

How many times have you been misunderstood on social media?  We have to be so careful about how we choose our words when others can’t hear the tone of our voice.  Sometimes the things you wrote as a joke or perhaps as an encouragement have been taken as a criticism.  In explaining or defending yourself you get drawn into a public online argument.  What do you do?

This is really tough because on the one hand, you want to explain what the person misunderstood.  But that risks them simply misunderstanding you more and unfriending you.  That can spiral out of control with mutual friends hearing bad things about you from this person.

On the other hand, you want to avoid a public online argument that could also damage the friendship and end in unfriending.

I have to admit that there have been few times that these situations have ended the way I would have wanted them to.


Gabby is a woman in a serious love relationship with the Lord Jesus.  She cares deeply about sharing her faith with everyone around her.  I respect Gabby.

Gabby carries the scars of a lifetime of all sorts of abuse, all stemming from alcoholism.  Knowing this, I try to be sensitive to Gabby’s feelings.  I would never take as much as a sip of wine around Gabby.  But I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.  In this case, what I’m not is a teetotaler.  I’m not a drunk.  I rarely drink hard liquor.  But I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine or beer.  Gabby knows this about me, and although she strongly disagrees with the use of any alcohol whatsoever, on this subject, we have agreed to disagree.

That is until one day when Gabby misunderstood something I wrote in response to one of her Facebook posts.  She told me that she had removed the comment because it was insensitive and accused me of being “under the influence of alcohol” when I wrote it.  Of course, I had not been drinking.  Being an encourager, I had written something that I had thought would encourage Gabby.

This had not been the first time that Gabby had grossly misunderstood something that I had written, but it was the most extreme reaction she had ever given.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to stop commenting on Gabby’s posts.  Then Gabby started hounding me in private messages, asking why I had suddenly stopped commenting altogether.  I tried gently to explain that it had had to do with that misunderstanding.  I didn’t want to be misunderstood again.

Gabby suddenly disappeared.  It took a moment to realize that I was unfriended.  Honestly, it was kind of a relief.  Conversation with Gabby was like playing a game of Hot Potato: you never know when she’ll go off.


Cyndy is a young woman from my home church in Texas.  Recently Cyndy put her daughter’s picture on Facebook.  Her daughter is a very cute three-year-old.  In the picture she’s wearing a pink dress with a rhinestone skull on it.  In a private message, I told Cyndy that it’s probably not a good idea to put a death symbol on your child.

Yeah, I probably should have minded my own business.  But her daughter has been in and out of the hospital ever since birth, and suffers from asthma, which is life-threatening.  My concern was genuine.  Cyndy’s reaction was to snarl that she knows more about fashion than I do, even though I live in Milan.  OK, I’ll agree to the truth of that statement.  But I had written out of sincere concern for her daughter’s life and health.  I guess she doesn’t realize that putting a death symbol on your child could be a form of witchcraft curse.  The defeated enemy is opportunistic, and it seems that he’s already been at work in the poor girl’s body.

The more I tried to explain, the more offended Cyndy became.  Finally, I apologized, saying: “God bless you and your daughter!” and with that, I ended the conversation.  I guess some people just don’t want to know.


Cathryn was a person I had a great friendship with whenever we were face-to-face.  She was sweet and funny.  She loved Jesus, her family, her church, and her friends.  But Cat has a completely different personality on Facebook: she becomes political and argumentative.  As you can imagine, in an election year, it was almost unbearable to see a constant stream of negative political posts from her.  When she posted a video liberally laced with profanity and racial slurs, I had to say something.  So I sent her a private message.  Here’s a few excerpts from our chat:

Me: Why did you post this?  Surely you don’t think this helps race relations.  Surely you don’t like the language or sentiment. . . . We need to stir each other to love and good works.  I don’t think this does that.  Do you?

Cat: Showing both sides.  Truth.

Me: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24).  Is this encouraging?  Is this edifying (does it build people up)?

Cat: People need to be informed.  Not to stir up.  Not to pick out one thing, like some would pick out of the Bible to suit their purposes, and leave out others.  Several verses have been taken out of the Bible, such a shame.

Here I choose to ignore what she may have intended as a slam at me for quoting the Bible to her.

Me: Honey, look at some of the angry responses you’ve gotten on your posts lately.  Is this really what you want?  Is this bringing people closer to Jesus?

Cat: Apparently you are living in a dream world.  Being tolerant and conditioned over several hundred years has gotten us this far.  Have you been keeping up? . . .

Here she launched into a racial/political rant, which I will spare you.

Me: You want to inform people, I can respect that.  But is this information helping people find their way to Jesus?  I went back and looked at the comments on your recent posts, and I don’t see anything besides anger.  I’m sorry, I will leave you alone if you want, but I just think we really need to be focused now that the end is so near.

More vitriol and accusations that I am somehow naïve and uninformed because I don’t embrace her position.  Ending with:

Cat: . . . You’re not going to change my mind.  Going back and forth with me is not helping yourself or others.

Me: I agree, going back and forth is not helping.  Thank you for being open to a dialogue with me on the subject.  God bless you!

Cat: Thanks

I am learning that I don’t have to win every single argument.  Sometimes the better thing is to walk away from an argument for the sake of peace.  I do try to be light and salt in my corner of the world as well as my corner of the internet.

As I write this today, look at the prophecy that just now came to my inbox:

Let your light shine in the midst of a dark and crooked generation.  You can’t change the atmosphere of the whole earth, but you can make a difference in your sphere of influence.  Refuse to allow evil to rule where you have spiritual authority, says the Lord.  Be righteous in all things.

Isaiah 60:2 – For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you[1].

Get out there and make a difference in your sphere of influence.  Shine your light in this dark world.  But do choose your battles carefully!  God is good!


Re-Creating Memories

cast 2

Here’s a memory from last summer: me in a cast.

Memory is an interesting thing.  It can be very selective, and among four people, the same event is often remembered four different ways.

The first person who remembers in the Bible is God, Himself:

I have placed My rainbow in the clouds.  It is the sign of My covenant with you and with all the earth.  When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember My covenant with you and with all living creatures.  Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life, (Genesis 9:13-15).

The person God is speaking to here is Noah.  Does that mean that God’s memory is as flawed and fluid as ours?  Not at all!  God was setting an example for us in covenant-making.  If humans made covenants with one another, based on nothing but our word (and memory thereof), there would be endless disputes.

Memory is very fluid, and the brain itself is very plastic.  This is a good thing according to a Wired article that I read recently, Learning to Forget.  The article is about a new approach to PTSD[1].  In layman’s terms, they are training people to re-write their traumatic memories with a positive or even triumphant spin.

As I read the article I realized that this is exactly what I had learned from my dad as a child.

My dad was, well, there’s no way to gloss over it: my dad was an idiot.  That’s not a criticism and it’s not a bad thing to remember about him.  Daddy’s ideas didn’t always work out the way he imagined they would.  In fact, rarely.  For example, once we were camping.  I was three and my brother was two.  It had rained overnight and our sneakers got wet.  Daddy had the brilliant idea of lighting the trash can on fire and putting the grill on top with our sneakers.

About halfway through breakfast Mom wrinkled her nose and asked, “What’s that smell?”  She and Daddy both realized what had happened: the rubber sneaker bottoms had melted.  This meant that we were going to have to cut our camping trip short.  Instead of getting upset about it, Daddy suddenly burst out laughing, which made all of us laugh.

Daddy didn’t wait for something to become a sad or bad memory, he re-wrote the memory as it was happening.  In fact, I might not have remembered this incident at all, young as I was.  But it was Daddy’s reaction that burned it into my young mind as a funny memory.

Even today, I follow Daddy’s example and look for the funny side of the dumb things I do.  In fact, I take it a step further than Daddy did by looking for the blessing in everything that happens.  If you look, there are blessings happening to you all the time.  Someone recently wrote on Facebook: Our day is booby-trapped with blessings[2].  Mine certainly is!

So I guess I not only re-write old memories, like Daddy, I re-create the new ones as they are happening.  Could this be a self-imposed Mandela Effect?  Yes, and why not?  Why not focus on the silly, funny, happy, holy goosebumpy God moments?  You only live once.  Why not celebrate your one life for all it’s worth?  God is good!

[1] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

[2] If you’re the person who wrote that, please let me know.  I would like to properly attribute the quote.