Lessons from a Mermaid

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A few days ago I was watching The Little Mermaid with my daughter. Believe it or not, I actually had a spiritual encounter. Don’t laugh! I’m serious. It happened during the scene where Ariel and Ursula are negotiating at Ursula’s lair. In a quick synopsis, Ariel wants to become a human so she can walk on land in hopes of living happily ever after with the love of her life, Prince Eric. Ursula wants to dominate the entire sea. Ursula proposes a plan to “help” Ariel get her dream come true. In reality, she wants to use Ariel’s desires to trap her and take her soul. Ariel’s crab friend, Sebastian, tries to stop her but she is overcome by her longing for Prince Eric that she agrees to a contract with Ursula. During this scene, the Holy Spirit took me to school on spiritual matters.

Ursula is a representation of Satan. Her goal is the same as his. She wants to control the seas and all that is in them, and Satan wants all of humanity. The Devil will frequently try to make agreements with humanity in order to achieve his goals. Those contracts seem enticing, but at their core, they are deceptive and evil just as Ursula’s were. Ursula played off of Ariel’s desires, just like Satan does to us. He will always pervert our desires which ultimately stacks the chips in his favor and only leads to our pain and the pain of those in our lives.

Examples: We all have a longing to be loved and accepted. Satan will confuse us on what that actually looks like, or will play off of hurts caused in our lives to lead us into making poor choices. Maybe we never felt it as a kid growing up from our parents, so we make agreements in our mind that we will seek it out, even from unhealthy sources. We meet that girl, or guy, or group of people, that makes us feel accepted and wanted, yet they only want to use us or exploit us in some way. This is exactly how gangs are formed. This is why people go from one unhealthy relationship to the next. This is why people get sucked in to pornography and affairs. This is where Satan wants us because these situations ultimately lead people away from God.

The bible contains a narrative of a similar scene from the one in the Little Mermaid. (I’ll bet that’s a statement you’ve never heard before).  The most detailed account is in Matthew 4:1-11. To summarize, Satan attempts three different ways of luring Jesus into signing a contract with him. The first is to target the thirst and hunger of Jesus because He had been in the desert fasting for 40 days. Satan will try to exploit the needs and wants of our flesh. If we aren’t getting something that we perceive as a need or have a desire for it, then Satan will surely offer up something to fill that. The problem is, it will not be a good thing and we will certainly have to pay a major price if we take the bait. The second is to challenge the identity of Jesus by saying, “if you truly are the Son of God…” Satan is sometimes referred to as the accuser or father of lies. This is because he twists reality and brings charges against everyone who has ever been born. He does not want us to know in our hearts that we are created in the image of God. Those who do embrace that identity are more empowered to live for God and overcome temptations. The third was to offer Him a counterfeit to that which was already His. Jesus already had control over everything in creation, because He created it and He is how all things are held together. Satan still had the audacity to offer Jesus the kingdoms of the world. Those who are in Christ are already loved, accepted, valued, and given great purpose in life. Satan wants to confuse us on that so that we will look for those things in another source besides God.

These are pretty common methods that the Devil uses which is why I believe Jesus wanted us to see it through His experience. I couldn’t believe that God was taking me on a journey of the soul during an animated movie. It just goes to show that there are no limits to how His Spirit can work in us.

I hope that this post can be an encouragement to you and can help you stand in the face of temptation and hurts and see the counterfeits being offered you. I hope that the days of your life are empowered by Holy Spirit strength and wisdom to see the good from the bad and the light from the dark and be able to choose the right path to take. For me, the scene from the movie, or that from Matthew 4, can sometimes play out daily. The good news is, that Satan can’t force any of us into a contract, we have to choose it. We can decide who we want to be like…Ariel or Jesus.

Jesus shut him up all three times by using the Word of God to expose Satan’s deceptions. Interestingly enough, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh so He was never really at the risk of being drawn away by Satan’s schemes. For us, we have to use the same method. We have to tap into the same source as Jesus did. The bible tells us who were are, how much God loves us, and what our purpose in life is. A life lived with these answers will have fulfillment, unconditional acceptance, and have far less room for the enemy of our souls to try to invade.

I’ll end with some verses to declare that in Him, we are strong!

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God Bless!!!

 

 

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Is Political Correctness Truthful?

Politically Correct: agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.

Have you ever known someone that made you feel like you were walking on eggshells around them? You had to be very careful what you said because they might get offended? Have you ever felt that way living in the United States or any country for that matter?

Society in the US has moved more and more towards exclusionary speech. The list of “outlawed” speech is growing at an exponential rate. I see this probably at a faster rate being a teacher in the public school system. 

Freedom is a great thing. Wouldn’t you agree? But the problem with freedom is it gives way to hurt and offense. The same thing can be said about truth. When truth is spoken, it can potentially cut us deep or even offend our conscience. The way to remove offense, therefore, is to remove freedom and truth.

I know what some may be thinking: what truth are you talking about? Approaching it in this way is an example of the problem. I’ve written several posts that have brought this up but I feel compelled to once again. A society absent of set-foundational truth will be able to oppress its people with the ever changing cultural opinions. For example, in the United States, culture now deems it okay to choose your gender and marry people of the same gender. At other points in history, American culture has permitted slavery and segregation. For all of American history, the practice of abortion has been allowed. The reason for all of this is that the United States, and I would argue most nations throughout world history, has never been rooted in and steadfast in foundational truth. I know, a lot of people argue that this nation was founded on Biblical principles and that is what dictated decisions that our founding fathers made. If that were true, we wouldn’t have had slavery, abortions, and discrimination towards women (just to name a few) since the very beginning. Sure, there are many biblical principles that have been the basis for the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and many other American documents, but to say that our founding fathers were some sort of super Christians is ridiculous.

Our nation was founded with the same sort of problem that still plagues our nation today. It’s the practice of picking and choosing truth based on what is acceptable in society. In some ways our culture today is more in line with what the bible teaches than it was in the beginning. Women are treated far better, there is no slavery or child labor, we take better care of the poor, and there is much more opposition to abortion than there has ever been. On the flip side, we have much more misguided views on sexuality, marriage, and gender identity.

For most of the 1800’s, it would not have been politically correct to speak out against slavery, abortions, or keeping women in “their place” through defined gender roles. Today, it’s not politically correct to say that you should love the gender that God made you to be, or that marriage is only between man and woman. My point is, the concept of being politically correct is based on a counterfeit truth that is determined by the culture and society at the present time. I say it’s counterfeit because truth doesn’t change. Truth is not relative. The only truth that exists is absolute truth. The only truth that has been absolute and unchanging throughout human history is God’s truth. The only source that has ever been validated (meaning it is backed by history, fact, thousands of prophecies coming true, and science) as God’s truth is the Bible. So, by extension, when political correctness contradicts the truth in the Bible, then political correctness becomes dishonest. And because it is dishonest, it is unloving.

In today’s society, it is frowned upon to share salvation through Jesus Christ alone. It is politically incorrect to tell someone that there is one truth, one way, one source of life and hope. It is no longer acceptable to say that homosexuality is wrong even though the bible clearly presents God’s view of it. Apparently it’s wrong for schools to teach purity and abstinence before marriage although that is the heart of God expressed in the bible.

God loves people way more than any person loves other people. Out of His love He gave us His truth. I highly doubt that God is concerned with political correctness, especially because it is often a direct insult to His truth. As followers of Christ, the last thing on our mind should be political correctness. Instead, we should be people of truth. Truth doesn’t waver. Political correctness does. Our lives should display love, be filled with compassion, and point people to Jesus. We should never compromise truth in order to not offend. Jesus offended people all the time. Just read the new testament. Our mission is one of grace, never with the goal to offend but to encourage a life in relationship with Jesus. For all of us, a life with Jesus means putting ourselves in line with His truth regardless if we think we know best on how to live our lives. The fact is, we don’t and Jesus does. Jesus is not political correctness, Jesus is TRUTH, and LOVE, and LIFE. He needs to be the compass of a society, a nation, and us as individuals. Until that happens, no follower of Christ will be politically correct and political correctness will simply be untrue.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. -Ephesians 4:29

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. -Colossians 4:6

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  -Proverbs 27:5

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  -Ephesians 4:13-15

Let all that you do be done in love.  -1 Corinthians 6:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  -John 14:6

Rewritten

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.

Zephaniah 3:19

This verse caught ahold of me a few days back. It took me awhile to figure out exactly why. I mean, this verse is right smack dab in the middle of some great verses yet it stood out. It even gets overshadowed for many people by what is said two verses previous to this one. However, a portion of the third chapter of Zephaniah deals with a common theme. Verses 9-20 all point to a time where the lives of people will be rewritten. A time when all the upside down things of this world will be flipped on its head and all will be right again. 

When God makes promises to us, there is usually a present and future reality connected to them. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of one that doesn’t…The promise of Zephaniah 3:19 is no different. This little gem contains a wealth of good hope for anyone who reads it. 

Three different labels are placed on the recipients of this promise. Each one is given something both now and in the future. 

#1-The Oppressed

#2-The Lame

#3-The Exiles

It took me awhile to figure out why I connected to this verse so much because I didn’t see myself as oppressed, lame, or as an exile. It was a beautiful and powerful verse all the same but I sensed that there was more for me, and for us then just the beauty of it all. After a few days of reflection here is what I came up with and want to share with you all.

#1-As long as we live in this world we are going to experience oppression. All we have to do is take a look at the news or do a serious inventory of our lives and we’ll see oppression. Granted, this happens at various levels. All of humanity is oppressed by the same thing: SIN. It has imprisoned many to addictive behaviors, depressive emotions, physical chains, and acts of unspeakable horror. 

#2-As long as we live in these bodies we are indeed, lame. Generally that term is reserved for someone with a physical handicap. When we take a long and honest look however, we have to admit that we are all broken in some way and none of us are physically or mentally perfect. Two of the best words to define perfection would have to be PURE and HOLY. No person in the world has ever met those marks other than One. That doesn’t mean we all have an excuse to remain impure or ever celebrate sinfulness or brokenness but that we all recognize our need and how we miss the mark of a perfect God.

#3-We are exiles on earth. For this last notion, we have to consider a reality beyond what we see everyday. This world was never meant to be a permanent home for us. As a created being, we are all exiles on planet earth. I’m not speaking of being sci-fi aliens but we are more like people on a mission trip. When someone goes on a mission trip it is with purpose. Notice, I didn’t say we are on vacation. Big difference. Not all of us have the same future home though and that is evident by what mission we make our lives about. 

The promise that God made in verse 19 was to remedy all of these situations. Let me explain:

#1-“I will deal with all who oppress you…” God wrapped Himself in human form (known as Jesus) and died on a cross to pay our sin debt and break the power of sin over us. (read Romans 5-8). While bad things still happen, we can be free from our own sin that causes pain for others and ourselves. One day God will completely wipe the earth clean of sin.

#2-“I will rescue the lame…” The perfect and sinless life Jesus lived was not only a way to teach us but also so that His perfection can be attributed to those who put their faith in Him. We become new creations spiritually in Christ which means we have His Spirit to lead us in a life that is more pure and holy and we have his righteousness to cover us as we grow and become more like Christ.  It doesn’t mean we become perfect. We will still have to battle in these broken bodies and a broken world but we will have Someone to strengthen us and walk with us through the fight so we can overcome.

#3-“I will gather the exiles…” One day God will call His children home or Jesus will return for them. We will go to where we are meant to live forever. Those who love God will go home to be with Him. Those who reject God, will unfortunately go to the place they have chosen and be eternally separated from God and His goodness. God’s hope is that you choose Him because He chose you before He made you.

The Gospel message is throughout the entire bible. Zephaniah was written hundreds of years before God walked among us as Jesus Christ. Even so, God was reaching down to us and giving us amazing promises. Zephaniah 3:19 can help us view this life in a more realistic way. We can see the hurt of all those around us and be driven to compassion. We can point them to Jesus who is the only one who can break their oppression and heal their pain. We can also stop looking at the physically or mentally lame as being any different from the rest of us. We are all in the same boat…all broken and imperfect and we have to get over ourselves and never think of ourselves as being better than anyone else. We can stop celebrating things that God calls unholy and instead, take His free gift of healing and renewal and stand for truth. Without that, the world falls deeper into oppression and brokenness. Finally, we can view our time that we’ve been given as a gift. Time to be used with purpose and that purpose is not a selfish one. No one goes on a mission trip to be served. If they did, how wretched would they be? We are here to serve, to love, and to glorify God. Everything else is a waste of time and breath. 

If God has rewritten your story than praise Him! If not, He has a pen in hand wanting to rewrite your story. That pen is Jesus Christ and He writes into people’s story, healing, freedom, righteousness, and hope. Who better to have rewrite your story than the Author of all of life Himself.

I hope this brings you hope and encouragement because God has always wanted to rewrite the stories of hurting lives. God bless!