Archive | January 2013

The Man In The Bulletproof Glass

In 1960, Israeli undercover agents orchestrated the daring kidnapping of one of the worst of the Holocaust’s masterminds, Adolf Eichmann. After capturing him in his South American hideout, they transported him to Israel to stand trial.

There, prosecutors called a string of former concentration camp prisoners as witnesses. One was a small man named Yehiel Dinur, who had miraculously escaped death in Auschwitz.

On his day to testify, Dinur entered the courtroom and stared at the man in the bulletproof glass booth – the man who had murdered Dinur’s friends, personally executed a number of Jews, and presided over the slaughter of millions more. As the eyes of the two men met – victim and murderous tyrant – the courtroom fell silent, filled with the tension of an anticipated confrontation. But no one was prepared for what happened next.

Yehiel Dinur began to shout and sob, collapsing to the floor. Was he overcome by hatred? By the horrifying memories? By the evil incarnate in Eichmann’s face? No.

As he later explained in a riveting 60 Minutes interview, it was because Eichmann was not the demonic personification of evil that Dinur had expected. Rather, he was an ordinary man, just like anyone else. And in that one instant, Dinur came to a stunning realization that sin and evil are the human condition. “I was afraid about myself,” Dinur said. “I saw that I am capable to do this … exactly like he.”

Dinur’s remarkable statements caused Mike Wallace to turn to the camera and ask the audience the most painful of all questions: “How was it possible for a man to act as Eichmann acted? Was he a monster? A madman? Or was he perhaps something even more terrifying? Was he normal?”

Yehiel Dinur’s shocking conclusion was this: “Eichmann is in all of us.” The language of sin and evil is a lost language in society today and even in the church.

In my last Mind The Gap, I talked about Jealousy, murder and Christian culture—a subject James addressed in chapter 4 of his letter to believers. I said I wanted to talk about how that and twisted thinking can be avoided. Where does it begin?

May I say, it starts at the place where Dinur, as he faced Eichmann said,I was afraid about myself. I saw that I am capable to do this … exactly like he.”

A sound and balanced modus operandi always starts with a healthy respect for our depravity, even in Christian Culture where God is always open to a broken and contrite heart. Thoughts?

Jealousy Murder and Christian Culture

Maybe you know this but jealousy is the most deadly cause of murder. Most are aware of the Jennifer Hudson Family Murders in 2008 on the  South side of  Chicago by a former brother-in-law. All because of jealousy! The judge in the case doing the sentencing told the perpetrator “You have the heart of an arctic night.” “Your soul is as barren as dark space.”

Everyone who’s read the Bible knows about Cain and Abel. The first murder on the planet was due to jealousy and Cain’s demand on God to honor his offering instead of Abel’s.

If you want more on the subject of jealousy and murder, all we have to do is Google it and we’ll get our fill. There’s no need for me to pour out more examples into this blog other than to say, Jesus was killed because of the jealousy of Pharisees. But I have a question. How much does jealousy and murder play into Christian cultures?

I was reading from James 4:1-6 and saw how according to that day and age, it was quite a bit. I mean something is going on for this very subject to be mentioned in Scripture.

James told those believers, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them.” Later in chapter four, James talks about wrong motives being behind those quarrels or killings – “…you want only what will give you pleasure.” We saw this happen in 2008 when a Waco, Texas preacher killed his wife while in an affair with another women. What he wanted was his own pleasure satisfied and he was willing to murder his wife for it. Horrible and sad.

I’m not trying to bash Christian culture, preachers or Christians. I am a Christ follower too. What I want to do is alert Christian culture not only to the act of murder but to attitudes of murder and particularly the murder of relationships. That it can happen in Christian culture and all of it spawned by a jealousy coming out of Possessive Thinking. “The only purpose possessive thinking serves is to acquire illegitimate, god-like power and control over others.” (Twisted Thinking Transformed pg 211)

In my next Minding The Gap, I want to talk about how jealousy is avoided and straightening out the twisted thinking which directs that jealousy to destroy people everywhere – even in Christian culture.

Peacemakers or Peacekeepers

I haven’t heard the term “busybodies” in other men’s matters for quite some time. It’s where people stick their nose into other people’s business without asking. I see this in Oregon, when I think of the public watching out for children. Even though Bend, Or is supposed to be the dog capital of the USA and there are lots of children with dogs, it’s like some people go overboard with how they think you are supposed to treat children.

Once, Judy and I attended a festival down by the Deschutes River. There was beer everywhere because Bend, OR also seems to be a major micro brewery city. Our grandson was with us as we hiked along the river. Then he went up to a beer stand and started to slosh the beer that’s left on the table. I say, “Don’t do that!” to keep him from smelling like beer and getting wet with it. Then some man standing right there says, “Awe, let the kid play. He’s not doing anything wrong.” What was that dude? A peacemaker, peacekeeper or a plain ole busybody?

Another time, Judy and I are in a grocery store. She left her purse in the cart and walked away. I stepped around the corner to get some product. Then, I looked at a lady coming up the aisle who takes Judy’s purse and tucks it deeper into the cart.

Who said she could do that? Then Judy comes up the aisle thinking her purse could be stolen. This lady comes back around the corner and begins to rebuke Judy for tempting someone to steal her purse and we’re suppose to be so grateful she had our backs. Was that lady a peacemaker, peacekeeper or a plain ole busybody? We were beginning to think “What in the heck is wrong with these people in Bend!?” Ever been there? It’s almost like we’re gun-shy wondering who is going to insert themselves into our business.

I get it that people care about children being abused or acting like a neighborhood watch posse but come-on!

James says to believers,”…Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 In both of the cases above, I didn’t feel stirred to live a life of righteousness.

Busybodies don’t sow in peace. If wisdom comes from above it is pure, peace-loving, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacekeepers don’t make peace. They try to keep it and sometimes they do it when no one really asked them to, so, they come off as busybodies who control others. Peacemakers may not seem like they care because they do create tension or pain for others out of a sense of love and yes, justice. Busybodies don’t do anything but irritate me.

My modus operandi is to be a peacemaker but not unless I have permission to do so. I guess that’s one reason I’m a counselor. Otherwise, lets face it. I’d be just a plain ole busybody and that makes me sick inside.

The Worst Kind of Lie

I don’t want to overdo this but when I think of lies, I think of lies by omission and commission. I think of people using statements to cover up their fear of being asked questions or people asking questions to keep from making statements and being held accountable. I can think of trying to work with people who find ways to bare face lie to you, or of waiting to hear how someone is going to spin an event or decision, to explain away a disappointment for fear that if you really got the story, they would be held accountable and may lose their job.

We don’t live in a society anymore where we promise to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I mean we could really get down on this subject and go places that stir up some pain. But whatever we want to focus on, the subject matter, people who’ve lied to us or about us, there is another category for the worst kind of lie. I didn’t know there could be a category like this but to my amazement, there is.

I remember as a kid being told by my mother how lying, above all else, was not to be done. She’d go somewhat ballistic if I was caught in one – I mean actually saying the words to her – a bare-faced lie. So I found another way to lie by saying nothing or acting as if I didn’t know what she was asking or talking about. Or misrepresenting my self by living one way at home and another way down at the gym, when I played basketball. We can all go here on some level, can’t we? I mean scripture says everyone is a liar and God is the only one who isn’t.

So what is this category called the worst kind of lie?

James says in his letter to believers “…if you are bitterly  jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.” James 3:14-16

The idea of acting like I’m wise and care for others when, in my heart, I’m jealous and full of selfish ambition is the worst kind of lie? That’s what the Bible says. It’s about obligating others to me and me never to others. The Bible says when that goes on in a group – like the church or the people James was writing to – we will find disorder and every kind of evil. We all saw this when the Jewish ruling body in Jesus day plotted his death, didn’t we?

Interesting how God calls this out isn’t it? It’s the worst kind of lie because it’s the type of lie that sees and uses people as objects to possess. People created by God, the author of life.




Facing a Spiritual, Moral or Fiscal Cliff

A few days ago, I received a text from my twin brother on Instagram. The picture of his cat Sophie laying on the couch and Terry’s socked foot protruding from his chair sets up the message.  “Happy New Year. We’re in our place watching Wheel. Getting ready to fall off the fiscal cliff.

Not sure if you get Terry’s humor but I started to laugh out loud. What, an oxymoron? There’s something about watching Wheel of Fortune and waiting to fall off the fiscal cliff that gave me a good belly laugh. It was as if Terry was saying, “Yeah, right The Fiscal Cliff – yada, yada, yada.”

Frankly, I’ve been so bored with all this fiscal cliff talk, as if we’re being managed to think what they think (whoever they are) is absolutely the most important thing to think about. Their solution seems irrelevant because there’s always going to be another manipulated cliff we face in this country, whether it’s due to leadership incompetence, impotency or just plain ole systemic instability. Now I’m speaking generally because I know there are many good men in leadership but I think the overall cumulative effect of our countries leadership is disheartening. They need more of our prayers.

Wherein lays the problem?

James says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or, take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6 NIV

He talks about having a tongue disorder when we fail to recognize how DIRECTION, or where we’re going in our hearts and minds (motives), is disregarded for what we can only see with the naked eye.

If we don’t see how there can be a world we can’t see but is just as real as the one we do see, we’re doomed. Medicine knows this is true. We can’t see the forces of infection at work until we see something visual and feel something visceral that says, those forces are active. That’s why I go to the dermatologist every six months for the rest of my life. If I don’t, I’m a dead man walking because of skin cancer. DIRECTION is everything. Something is going on inside my body and I don’t like that direction. My choice is to do something about it because I’m going in a different direction.

The tongue disorder of James 3 is about understanding the direction anyone heads with their inmost thoughts and desires and eventually witnessing the results of that journey – a tongue that sets the world on fire.

We are facing a spiritual and moral cliff today. That’s been going on since the beginning of man. The Bible says we’ve all sinned and have fallen short of perfection. We’re in trouble because of something we can’t see that’s going on inside us but never the less is real. Anyone falling off the spiritual and moral cliff will regret not paying attention to where we go in our hearts and minds – the unseen world of our soul.

I guess that’s why Terry’s humor about the fiscal cliff struck me. That cliff comes nowhere close to what can really destroy us. The spiritual and moral cliff we all face is the one that will, because it’s generated by an unseen and active force inside all of us called sin – a spiritual reality pictured as an unruly tongue disorder.

That’s why I believe the modus operandi for believers is to keep looking deeper into the whys, or the DIRECTION of the whys and where those whys take us. Hopefully, then, we all see we need Jesus and move toward real, deeper personal change.

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