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I have been thinking a lot about sarcasm. How many people use it while trying to be funny…and in it’s place, it may be, but all too often it goes a bit too far and causes damage. I looked up the definition and was a bit taken back:

Sarcasm:
1. the use of irony to mock or convey contempt:
2. the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny:
3.a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain:
4. a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

The whole intent of sarcasm is to hurt or mock. Only 1 short statement about sarcasm is to be funny, while the rest is to put down another person.

A couple years ago I was reading The Screwtape Letter’s by C.S. Lewis and I remember this passage about laughter. It is probably the section that I remember the most about that book. The book is a collection of letters from a “Lead’ Demon as he instructs a subordinate to discourage, distract and bring defeat to the soul of a human man. The following is a passage on laughter.

 MY DEAR WORMWOOD…I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy.

You will see the [Joy] among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday…

Fun is closely related to Joy—a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct. It is very little use to us….it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils.

The Joke Proper, which turns on sudden perception of incongruity, is a much more promising field…The real use of Jokes or Humour is in quite a different direction…it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame…

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny.

Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.

It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

I had never thought of how the enemy of our souls could use laughter against us but how true it is. While reading this passage I remember instantly thinking of sarcasm. That flippant witty joke that pokes just a little fun at someone else and how damaging that can be even if that isn’t the intent.

I grew up with sarcasm. It was the way that we had fun, laughed, it was in our general conversation. I trust that the conscious motive behind it wasn’t to hurt one another, but in all honestly, the jokes were often at someone’s expense. When I was reading this book, I made an active choice, to start to stop using sarcasm. It has been a process to learn to think and speak with out it, towards others and towards myself. I haven’t made it completely and sometimes when I am around my family I fall back into that pattern of speaking, but I work on it.

The Bible has a lot to say about our speech. In 1 Corinthians 14:3 it reads, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and, comfort.” We are to “be holy in all manner of conversation:” 1 Peter 1:15. To be an “example of the believes, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12. In Philippians 1:27 it says to “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”. And in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” To be careful with what words we say, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider no that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine hear be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” And lastly but certainly not the last mention of it, James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved bretheren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

From these few scriptures we find that we are to be careful with what we say, to take a few seconds to think about and consider the words before we speak them. That every word is to build and edify one another and to not harm or hinder. What we say is an example to those around us of a true Christ-like life.

Sarcasm works among friends, spouses, family, saints, acquaintances and enemies. But it is most dangerous among those that are in fellowship. It can hurt and divide saints, spouses, and families. If it doesn’t lift up or edify, think twice before saying it, even if it is just a joke and you think they can take it.

Not only can we be sarcastic and flippant with others, but also with ourselves. We can make jokes, comments, at our own expense that demean or lower our worth. This isn’t an act of being humble, in fact it’s unfair and often untrue regarding our actual worth. It works like this, when someone complements us and our comment is one that would put ourselves down or minimize who/what we are or have done. The enemy can use this to discourage us and make us think we are not doing our best or are that we aren’t saved.

Don’t get me wrong, humor is good. Jokes can be funny. Irony and “sarcasm” in a pure sense (if it can be so) is ok. Can be useful and even a help. But it is when it crosses the line to causing hurt that it has gone to far. I don’t want to say that we can never laugh or joke around. But we do need to be considerate of others and what we are saying.

I am challenging myself once again to be careful in my thoughts and words about others and myself. That the statements are true and not mocking or harmful. Honesty is ok, consideration is a must, and laughter is needed, but harmful, digging, and insulting words are not.

“Only let your conversation be as it [exemplifies] the gospel of Christ:”…”[speaking] unto men [for] edification, and exhortation and, comfort”

alone with God

It has been my desire and prayer for a while to draw closer to God. You ask, “Isn’t that every Christian’s desire?” It should be. But do we really act on that desire? Or do we just say it?

Yesterday one of the Bro’s at church testified to the same desire. He spoke how God told him, (and I paraphrase) “If that is what you want, do your part. Take more time to be with me. If you can spend hours online, you have time to spend with me. You want to draw closer, you read more, you pray more. I am here, you make the time to know me better.”

I too have heard God tell me this…take more time to spend with me. He said it again yesterday through testimony. I made a determination to put this into practice. Not to just say I want to draw closer, I need to read the Bible more, I need to pray more…but to do it. If I have to, I will make an appointment to spend the time with God. What I have done in the past is no longer enough for me. I desire a deeper relationship with God. To truly be one with Him and Him in me.

prayWhen I have prayed about the different things that I struggle with, the thought has come, if more time was spent in the Word and in Prayer, these “things” wouldn’t be such a trial. You would have more strength and a greater back bone to handle the temptations and situations presented by the enemy of souls. A benefit of drawing closer to God, is gaining the complete victory that has previously alluded me because of decisions I have made to please the flesh.

As I am structure or schedule oriented, I have made a plan. It will at least help get this started. While it may seem funny and one may think that it isn’t right to be so “organized” about it, but let the spirit move. Yes we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but God gave us a mind and free will. If this is how I am going to get my flesh under control and set time aside for God, then so be it. This is what I will do.

I am going to stBible-and-handsart a study in Romans. Read a little each day, pull out a nugget and meditate on it. I will also use one of the Streams in the Desert books as a supplemental reading. I want to specifically take time to pray for those at work and the day ahead before I walk in the door. This in addition to a morning prayer. I want to specifically pray and give thanks for my food. Yes I am faithful to be thankful. But sometimes I find myself just saying “Thanks for the food”. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. And I am not saying that there has to be a 10 min prayer at every meal, but I want to take more time and talk to God, not just at him. Not just out of form or repetition or habit, but to make a connection with him.

Since writing helps me process what I read and think, I shall share my journey. Starting with Romans 1.

Romans was written to Saints. To us. To those that are saved and living with out sin. Not to sinners. (Although there is good for them too)  Romans 1:7 reads “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints…” The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it is current and applicable for us as saints just as it was to the Romans that Paul wrote to.

Paul starts his letter to the Romans with his commendations (vs 1-5), he testimony of where he came from. He follows this with a greeting and a desire to visit the saints (vs7-13). In this he mentions that he is looking forward to working with the saints to bring in a harvest. Ready to preach the gospel and not being ashamed of God’s work.

 

Paul is an exampannouncerle to us. Always ready to enter the work of God where needed. Always ready to speak of God. Not shrinking from duty or other opinions that might oppose God’s truth. Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Paul recognizes the power that is in the gospel and how it can change a soul and give life. This is what he wants to bring to those in and around Rome.

We too need to take this example, to not be ashamed, but to recognize the great power in God and the gospel, the good news about Christ and spread that to those around us. Whom have we spoken to about Christ recently? Have you shared what God has done form you? Have you said a word about Christ? Are you ashamed or are you willing to be lead by the spirit and speak of the gospel?

 

I was troubled this morning by a poor decision I made recently. I have struggled with this situation for quite a while. My heart’s desire has always been to please God and to keep things right. However, I have learned where my weakness is and the devil knows it also. He knows just where to push, just where to deceive to make it not seem as bad as it is, just when we feel vulnerable and weak. And too many times I have not leaned upon God’s strength to resist and overcome. I have tried to handle it on my own. You would think that I would have learned by now…and I am learning.

This morning in my prayer to draw closer to God, needing his strength to gain and keep the victory, wanting more of him, knowing it is only through God’s strength that I can move forward. As I was praying, I heard, “Seek my Face.” From the bottom of my heart, I said, “THY face Lord I seek.” I need to see you. I need to know you have the strength for me. I need to get the victory. I am done. I am tired of leaning on myself when I know your help is right there. I seek your face. I look for it. I meditate on it. I worship it. For in finding your face, the decisions will already be made when faced with the temptation, the victory will already be won before the battle is waged.

Psalms 27: 1, 7-9, 11, 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

-from the archives

Too many people are not faithful in little things. They are not to be absolutely depended upon. They do not always keep their promises. They break engagements. They fail to pay their debts promptly. They come behind time to appointments. They are neglectful and careless in little things. In general they are good people, but their life is honey-combed with small failures. One who can be positively depended upon, who is faithful in the least things as well as in the greatest, whose life and character are true through and through, gives out a light in this world which honors Christ and blesses others.   —  J. R. Miller

 1 Corinthians 4:2 ~ Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

 Luke 16:10 ~ He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

 Matthew 25:29 ~ For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

 

                                    Trust God for your day, Today

Faint not
II Corinthians 4:16

                 One day a naturalist, out in his garden, observed a most unusually large and beautiful butterfly, fluttering as though in great distress; it seemed to be caught as though it could not release itself. The naturalist, thinking to  release the precious thing, took hold of the wings and set it free. It flew but a few feet and fell to the ground dead

                He picked up the poor thing, took it into his laboratory and put it under a magnifying glass to discover the cause of its death. there he found the life blood flowing from the tiny arteries of its wings. Nature has fastened it to its chrysalis and was allowing it to flutter and flutter so that its wings might grow strong. It was the muscle-developing process that nature was giving the dear thing so that it might have an unusual range among the flowers and gardens. If it had only fluttered long enough the butterfly would have come forth ready for the wide range; but release ended the beautiful dream.

                So with God’s children: how the Father wishes for them wide ranges in experience and truth. He permits us to be fastened to some form of struggle. We would dear ourselves free.  We cry out in our distress and sometimes think Him cruel that He does not release us. He permits us to flutter and flutter on. Struggle seems to be His program sometimes.

                Prayer alone will hold us steady while in the struggles; so we keep sweet and learn, oh, such wonderful lessons.

 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 Trust God for your day …Today

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