Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Smell a Rat

"smell a rat: to start to believe that something is wrong about a situation, especially that someone is being dishonest"

One of the best things about studying at university is that it sharpens your mind to have more discernment and not swallow whatever is handed to you without sifting it first.

So, it is normal around this time that you might - also -question your faith,  question your upbringing, question your church if you went to one. I'd like to present to you a few basics from my personal point of view of 'how to smell a rat' in religion and offer a couple of pointers to having a healthy faith.

A Tree and Its Fruit

It sounds really obvious but leaders, pastors, priests, church workers, chaplains, teachers are not all the same. I would say most of the ones I personally know have good hearts  and I highly respect them but there are always a few 'bad eggs' out there. It's because of the few rodents-in-the-nest that you need to apply the 'tree and it's fruit' principle spoken by Jesus Christ and not just assume they are 'good' because of their position or fame:

"A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.  You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces. You cannot pick figs or grapes from thornbushes. Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words show what is in your heart." (Luke 6:43-45)

Over the years I have come across a few Christian leaders who are in positions of authority and esteemed by people around them - but to me personally - something has not 'felt' right about them.

Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to see inside their heads  -but we can see the 'fruit' of their actions and words. Do they seem slightly abusive? Do they gossip? Do they have an overt love of money? Do they run down people behind their backs? Are there racist undertones in their conversation? Do they love the spotlight a little too much? Do they share - or keep everything for themselves? Are they secretive and not transparent?  Are you getting some smutty vibes from them? Do they stand too close to you? Do they creep you out? Do they seem to cause division whever they go? Are they arrogant and not teachable? And so on.

Just because someone wears a suit and tie, an official robe, or an up to date  cool 'youth' outfit - it does not mean they automatically have true credibility. Now, I know you already know that - but sometimes the obvious needs to be repeated and here is my personal main reason:

The main reason, I think, I have been suckered-in over the years is because I doubted my own intiution when I felt uncomfortable with someone. In my mind it went something like this " I don't feel comfortable with this guy - he seems to be hiding something? But -everyone else - seems to think he is great. Maybe I'm wrong" and then later on I found out I was right.

So, if you 'smell a rat' then there probably is one. If you see a tree that everyone says is a beautiful tree - but the fruit of the tree is bad - then the tree is most likely bad too. It also pays to talk to other people you really trust to get their perspective - in case we are misunderstand something. Ultimately though, you need to pray about it and trust your own intuition.

I'm grateful to Jesus for giving us the tree and fruit test. I hope this will help you to trust your instincts and be weary of some. Keeping in mind that the majority of Christian leaders are well meaning good hearted mistake making not perfect but willing to give it their best, people.

As far as having a healthy comparison,which none of us can live up to, but nevertheless is the ultimate - is Jesus Christ himself. If you don't know him yet - ask him into your life, read about him in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). If you have doubts that he was a real historical figure or that what is written about him is not reliable - don't just swallow what naysayers, haters and people who know words with more than five syllable tell you - research it for yourself - like you would a major assigment. Let me know what you find....keep on sniffin'....

Monday, July 23, 2012


“ANGER  IS JUST ONE LETTER SHORT OF DANGER”…but actually…sometimes it can be healthy.

Anger is a powerful emotion. Most of us lash out at our loved ones from time to time (and usually vice versa) and then we have to apologise later, eating humble pie or having to make amends.

 If controlled and sprung from good motives, however, anger can also be a powerful force for good and positive changes.

Typical yucky anger is the madness that we all go through when our personal goals are frustrated by people or events or objects. This sort of anger needs to be dealt with straight away.

 The Bible says: In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Ephesians 4:26)

In itself, anger is a normal God given feeling and emotion - but - we need to keep our response in check so we don’t cause damage to the people around us.

Healthy anger, on the other hand, is motivated by compassion for other people. Sometimes we can be so concerned for other people that the emotion of anger erupts within us. Once again, it is important to respond in a healthy way, but it is worth thinking about. Jesus is a good example of compassionate anger. Here’s an example:

 “Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.”
(Mark 3:1-6)

Compare Jesus anger of compassion with the Pharisees violent anger.

Being angry is not a sin in itself.  The Bible deals more with what happens after that initial feeling of anger; in other words - what we do with it. We have a choice about entertaining evil actions, or if motivated by love:  using the anger in a compassionate way.

Most of our anger is to do with our throttled and frustrated wants and needs -but every now and then we actually have ‘righteous’ anger that can spur us onto to  doing good for people around us. May God grant us the wisdom to know the difference!