Talking Heads

From the Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com), the top definition for “Talking Head”:

A “Talking Head” is someone who never stops talking. They will corner you by your car after a long day’s work to tell you gossip about the neighbors or to ask you about the details of your day, so they can distort it and spread it throughout the neighborhood. Not all Talking Heads are malicious, but all talking heads are idiots and time-wasters. Over a year, you can lose many precious hours cornered by a Talking Head. – As defined by Ian De La Rosa, from September 19, 2013

On Quora (quora.com), I found the following “definition” of the term “Talking Heads” – and I have to say that, in my opinion, he absolutely nailed it!

“Talking heads,” as an idiom, refers to individuals pontificating a certain creed, ideology, or kindred set of beliefs without critically analyzing the context and substance of their statement. In essence, these individuals are “spokespeople” or pundits representing an ideologue, movement, or other memetic process. Its usage, from my experience, is as an invariably derogatory epithet that coalesces these “spokespeople” into a clique of intellectual stagnation and coagulation which fails to grasp or address any opinion to the contrary of the orthodoxy promulgated by the talking heads. – Michael Alvis, November 27, 2015

“Talking heads” are everywhere. On TV and in social media, they mix actual news with political agendas and twist things out of context. We can find any point of view – from the blantantly radical and violent (both Left and Right) broadcasts, to knee-jerk reactions full of vitriole and inflammatory language, to orchestrated calls to arms (literal and figurative), to carefully thought out commentaries meant to encourage and to inform. I would love to see more of the last! James says:

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man**, able to bridle the whole body as well. …..So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. ……With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” – JAMES 3:2‭, ‬5‭-‬6‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NASB

(**There is and was and will be only One Perfect Man, the person of Jesus Christ, Who never stumbled in anything He said.)

We can easily find ourselves becoming individual “Talking Heads,” if you will, when we become too stuck and dogmatic in our views. As followers of Christ, it is so important to guard our hearts, so that our tongues don’t start sparks of resentment and animosity, causing the people we speak to to reject what we say. Our hearts and what we hold in our hearts, no matter how well we think we have it hidden and tucked away, affects every word that we utter. Listen to James! (He is much wiser than I can ever hope to be!)

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” – JAMES 3:14‭-‬16 NASB

In Proverbs, we receive many instructions on the value of using wisdom and the teachings of our youth. Unfortunately, too many are growing up today without good teaching. (**This is not a dig against school teachers! I am referring to the Good teaching of the Scriptures.) In chapter 4, I believe the father referred to isn’t David, as you would expect from Solomon, but to GOD, the Father.

“Then He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast My Words; Keep My Commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of My Mouth. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.” – PROVERBS 4:4‭-‬5‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

When we search for God’s wisdom, and we learn His commandments and store them in our hearts, our tongues become more obedient…… That’s my goal! To remember I have two ears and one mouth, and to think before letting the words tumble out of my mouth.

Listen to Matt Maher “Lord I Need You” – My One defense, my Righteousness!

Keeping The Law

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “do not commit adultery,” also said, “do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” – JAMES 2:8‭-‬13 NASB

Jesus said this about the Law:

“…… but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – MATTHEW 5:28 NASB

“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” – MARK 7:6‭, ‬21‭-‬23 NASB

“He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” – MARK 7:9 NASB

The Law is so much more than our actions! The Law of GOD is all about our hearts and our minds. If those are right, then our actions will automatically follow. I implore you to search your hearts. Are you as Jesus states, “experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition”? We know what is right. Now follow through.

Of Money, Swords, and Stuff

Jesus spoke to His disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal together, instructing them and serving them,

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘and He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” “

Later, as He and the disciples were in the Garden, praying, a crowd of people came out to find Him and arrest Him. This is a perfect example of submission to authority. Even though His disciples were armed, the LORD told them to stand down, because He knew this was part of GOD the FATHER’s plan for Him. Verse 53 is telling:

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” – LUKE 22:35‭-‬37‭, ‬52‭-‬53 NASB

You have probably figured out from past posts, especially if you follow me on FaceBook or Twitter, that I am a stanch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, whether they be swords or the lastest innovation in firearms. I don’t believe that the LORD intended us to be at the mercy of the evil and the depraved in the world (i.e. the Enemy, Satan). We are, however, subject to the authority of our government …… however wrong we believe it to be.

We – I – am blessed to live in a Republic, where every individual is bestowed with certain rights. We have the right to freely speak out against what we perceive to be bad judgement calls by the authorities with the 1st Amendment. The right to bear arms against a tyrannical government is the 2nd Amendment – which also protects our 1st Amendment rights. I’m not a militant, but I may be considered a radical conservative. In our quest to follow Christ, isn’t it also our duty to protect the innocent and the downtrodden? Not to rebel against our elected leaders (no matter how wrong we believe them to be), and not to bring war and violence onto those who disagree with us, but to aid and protect those who aren’t capable of helping themselves.

Our church is currently studying I Peter 2 and what the reality of Christ-patterned submission looks like today. Oh ugh, there, that dreaded word, maybe the most disliked word in the English language!! Submission. It becomes vital for us claimimg kinship with Jesus to understand when to use the sword and when to stop. Why? Because the Enemy is waiting to use our actions against us whenever we refuse to submit. When we submit to the authority of our elected officials, even when they are wrong, the cause of our LORD is strengthened.

“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” ” – LUKE 22:49‭-‬51 NASB

It can very difficult to determine when to fight and when to submit. All I can tell you is to follow the example of our Lord and spend time in earnest prayer. Follow the leading of GOD. He’s never wrong. (And His Angel Army is armed! Amen!!)

Have Patience – Be Blessed!

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of Life that God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12 NLT

Do you believe it? Are you living it? A favorite mem of mine (all the way from the 70’s) is of two vultures sitting on a limb, with this caption: “Patience my a**, I want to kill something!” Patience is not a virtue of mine. Never has been. My little brown boy (he’s a dog – don’t go all PC on me) has much more patience than me. I can scoop him up and hug on him, and when I (finally) let him go, he just lets out this big sigh. He’s perfectly content to let me carry him around, and if he can spend his day in my lap – he’s good.

The little black boy (again, don’t judge!) is more like me – I want it now, and I’m willing to growl and climb all over you to get to whatever it is I’m trying to reach. Don’t try to hold him or keep him from doing his thing, because he’ll squirm and wiggle and express his displeasure over being kept from doing his thing over what I want him to do. Oh, he’ll mind me if I’m forceful, but he has a very strong will of his own.

I’m getting better. I can sit and wait for traffic to clear so I can pull into the road or turn, and rude drivers don’t cause me to go all road rage anymore. I do talk to them (like they can hear me – lol!), and ask them if they are setting a good example for their kids or if they are paying attention …… If I am waiting for an appointment or for a waitperson or a cashier or I’m on hold – as long as there isn’t an emergency – it’s not such a big deal anymore, because things often happen that are out of our control. Things don’t always get done in the timeframes I have set in my mind. Sometimes it’s because of my own physical limitations, sometimes because I have to wait on the availability of another person, and sometimes it’s a financial limitation.

God is in control. I’ve been reminded several times over the past week that His timing is not my timing. He doesn’t always say yes. Sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait. He allows temptation, and He allows testing. He gives us consequences when we don’t listen and when we disobey Him. Am I patient? No, not at all! Do I strive to be? I do, because I do love the LORD and I want Him to be proud of me, and I hope to show that love for Him in my life.

How patient and perservering are you? Give it to the LORD! He is all the help you need!

And When You Pray …..

AND WHEN YOU PRAY, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:5‭-‬15 ESV

In verses 7-8, it seems to me that JESUS is rather condemning of us Gentiles here for being wordy and full of ourselves, but I don’t believe He’d want me to focus on that. In fact, as a young person growing up in church, there were a couple of people that, when called on to pray, caused me to cringe inside. Why? Because they were exactly as JESUS describes: using many words and heaping their prayers with empty phrases. Looking back, I feel sure that these people meant well in their prayers, and I’m certain they were sincere in their pleas before GOD. This is not a condemnation of their prayers. I am also certain that they would not have been called on for the benediction or any other time, had they not been in love with our LORD.

When we do pray in public, it seems imperative to be cognizant of the Words of JESUS. I believe it is important to have someone to lead in us prayer during worship services for a couple of reasons. First is our Focus: we are so easily distracted from the reason we gather together that is good to have someone remind us where our minds should be. Second is having no words: there have been many times when I wasn’t able to form my own prayer, and the guidance provided by the pastor or other leader was just what I needed. There are also times when the opportunity to pray for someone (in public) comes up, and I believe that when that happens, we are to seize the moment. Praying quietly and privately with or for someone in public is a mighty witness. Simply bowing our heads and whispering a prayer goes a very long way towards defeating the enemy. He hates – with a passion – those moments when we call on JESUS and utter His Name out loud, even in the quietest voice.

Conclusion: pray often. In public, pray quietly and to the point. In private, pray softly, pray loudly, pray constantly. It’s a conversation with the CREATOR. I know, it’s mind-boggling that the LORD of the Universe wants to talk with me! And when you cannot say a word, just say JESUS. He knows.

Image from https://www.beliefnet.com

Under Judgement

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” – Luke 7:33‭-‬34 NRSV

Which are you? Are you judged by the people around you because you don’t eat bread* or drink wine, or are you being judged because you do eat bread and have a glass of wine or beer? ‘Bread’ can be changed to many other foods – different meats, or any meats; being vegan or vegetarian or gluten-free or Kosher or avoiding any number of different foods – for many reasons. Just because I have wine or beer with my meal doesn’t make me a drunk, and if I should choose to eat a certain way my reasons shouldn’t be questioned or cause ridicule….. and yet it is. Not me in particular, although it has happened. Christians are not alone in judging other people. Look around at the negative posts on social media, the absolute ugliness and denigrating of each other in politics, the so-called ‘reality’ shows on television. So much name calling and general put downs. It’s really disgusting that so many people calling themselves Christian participate in this behavior.

JESUS said this to His disciples: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23‭-‬24 NRSV

I’m not very good at denying myself. Looking at myself and those around me, it doesn’t appear that many of us are any good at it. Credit cards maxed out, huge mortgages, vehicle loans, personal credit lines, store credits…. where does it all end? We are judged for what we have – and we are judged for what we don’t have. For it to end, we have to make a beginning. As we go through each day, beginning now, whenever a negative or judgemental thought forms, take a second to realize that you don’t know how or why that person is the way they are. The wealthiest person can be the most emotionally miserable and bereft, and the one whose appearance is of extreme poverty might be content in their soul. Until we know that person, we can’t understand their pain.

Oh, SNAP

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Read that again! Several times the scriptures talk about the tongue, and how it is the most powerful weapon we own. From the Psalms to the book of James, there are multiple verses that tell us how dangerous and damaging – even damning – the tongue can be if we don’t control it. I can testify to that! It can be a little comment, like “oh, you look so much cuter that way,” or “wow, you look really nice today.” Was the recipient not cute before? Does that person usually look bad? I know those are the kinds of thoughts that have gone through my mind when I get what I call ‘backhanded compliments’. Other times, we can be quite deliberate in our put-downs. “You really need to lose that extra weight. That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! Why do you stay with that loser? Your place looks so much better without all your pictures and clutter/junk around.” Really? My body, my ‘stuff’, my home. If our choice of partners are such losers, and we, as friends see it but don’t say anything before the relationship gets too involved, what gives us the right to be ugly about it later? Who are we to critique anyone else?

“Follow GOD’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of Love, just as CHRIST Loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to GOD. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for GOD’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:1‭-‬4 NIV

What a Friend we have in JESUS… Forever and ever! He will never give a ‘backhanded compliment’, only Truth in His unchangeable, unfailing, incredible Love. My prayer is that GOD will open my ears so that I really hear how my comments sound, before they leave my mouth! Guard my heart and my tongue, O LORD. AMEN.