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Christian Living

Avoid Toxic Environments that Pollute Our Soul

We Should Be Careful What We Put into Our Minds Each Day

We know of toxic people. Because of their personality or character, they are just too hard to be around. Spending time with them threatens to drag us down with their negativity or their drama. In the same way, a toxic environment is a place or a situation that causes us emotional or spiritual damage. We should avoid toxic environments, just as we avoid toxic people.

Toxic environments cause social tension. They produce an unpleasant atmosphere. They demean our spirit and damage our soul. We should avoid going there. Two situations come to mind that are toxic to me. These are destinations my body doesn’t go physically, but where my mind goes intellectually.

Toxic News

It’s been years since I watched the nightly news on TV. Most of what they covered were negative events, highlighting humanity’s proclivity toward evil and the darker side of life. Their negativity depressed me—not in a clinical sense but in a practical manner.

Seldom did they cover positive stories that inspired me or filled me with hope. When it came to the news, I turned off the TV. And I haven’t missed it.

More recently I stopped listening to the news on the radio. It’s been over six months since I tuned in to hear what was happening. At first, I felt guilty for not knowing what was going on in the world. But I soon realized how much better I felt emotionally and spiritually by not listening to their biased reporting and their slanted opinions presented as fact.

I don’t know what happened to true journalistic reporting, but it’s absent in most all of today’s news broadcasts on television and radio.

Today’s news is a toxic environment we should avoid.

Toxic Social Media

Another area I’m pulling back from is social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. I only login once a day and then only on weekdays. This is to see if anyone has reached out to me, so I can respond to them.

I don’t scroll through feeds, and aside from family, I follow few people—only those I can trust to be an uplifting, positive source of information or insight.

The hate-filled rhetoric and unexamined parroting of vocal, but misguided, trolls have overtaken the pages of social media. I don’t need their voices screaming at me. I don’t want them encroaching on my daily reality.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Better yet is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

I’ve not yet shut down my Facebook and my Twitter accounts, but I’m getting close to doing so. Oh, so close. This is because social media is a toxic environment, even worse than the news.

We should focus our attention on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Click To Tweet

Pursue Positive Thoughts to Escape These Toxic Environments

Instead of enduring the negativity of the news and the unproductive time suck of social media, the Bible gives us eight things to think about. We should focus our attention on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

These eight positive traits seldom appear in the news or on social media. That’s why we must be intentional about pursuing what is good.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Satan Is Not on a Par with God

In the Ultimate Battle Between Good and Evil, the Winner Is Clear

For the first part of my life I assumed God and Satan were equal yet opposite forces. I picked up this inaccurate image from culture, starting with the old cartoons of the devil sitting on one shoulder whispering bad advice into a person’s ear, with God sitting on the other shoulder whispering good.

In my memory (which may be faulty), the cartoon character, after vacillating between conflicting instructions, followed the more appealing temptation of the devil. With a smile, the cartoon character went down the evil path and did wrong.

Yes, there were consequences, but what stuck with me was this conflict between good and evil, God and the devil on equal footing, with Satan too often prevailing.

Discover What Satan Can and Can’t Do

This, of course, is wrong. Satan is not an equal to God. The devil is less than God, much less.

First, Satan is an angel, albeit a fallen one. God created angels, just as he created you and me. The creator has power over his creation. This confirms that God has power over his angels, including fallen angels.

Yes, the devil, also known as Lucifer, may have been a higher angel, an Archangel like Michael, but this is speculation. Regardless of Satan’s original angel status, he has limits. God doesn’t.

God is present everywhere. He is omnipresent. Satan is not. He can only be in one place at a time.

God knows all things. He is omniscient. Satan is not. His knowledge of the future has limits.

God is all-powerful. He is omnipotent. Satan is not. True, the devil does have angelic power, but his power isn’t all-encompassing. There are things he can do and things he can’t do.

He’s limited. We must remember that.

Some people quake in fear at the power of the devil, but they would do better to quake at the all-powerful God who created him. Click To Tweet

God Will Prevail for All Eternity

If we’re on God’s side, we’re on the winning side. If we follow Satan and obey him, we’ll find ourselves on the losing side. And we will lose for all eternity.

Some people quake in fear at the power of the devil, but they would do better to quake at the all-powerful God who created him.

In the end, the final score will be God 1, Satan 0.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are You a Good Samaritan?

Helping Our Neighbors Should Be More Important Than Following Religious Rules

A man comes up to Jesus. The guy’s an expert in Jewish law. Today we might call him a theologian. He asks Jesus a question, “What should I do to earn eternal life?”

The answer is simple. There are two steps. Love God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. It’s that easy. Love God and love others. Then you’ll have eternal life.

Who Is Our Neighbor?

This must make the theologian squirm, because he asks Jesus, “Well, who is my neighbor?”

Then Jesus gives him a parable, that many people call the parable of the Good Samaritan. This is how it goes.

Robbers beat up a man and leave him for dead.

A religious leader (a priest) walks by and ignores the man. Later another religious person (a Levite) does the same.

It could be they’re in a hurry or that helping this hurting stranger will somehow cause them to break one of their religious rules. Or it may be that they just don’t care. Regardless they fail to help their neighbor in need.

Then a religious outcast (a Samaritan) comes upon the wounded man. The Samaritan attends to the man’s injuries, takes him to a safe place, and pays someone to look after him.

“Which of these three men,” Jesus asks, “was a good neighbor to the hurting man?”

The answer is the Samaritan, but the religious theologian can’t bring himself to say that word out loud. Instead he merely says, “the one who showed mercy.”

Jesus then tells the theologian to go and do the same thing.

Be a Good Samaritan

Though the religious people of the day dismissed and even despised Samaritans, it is the Samaritan—the good Samaritan—who does the right thing and earns Jesus’s approval.

Though I want to be like the Good Samaritan, I fear that too often religion gets in my way. Click To Tweet

Who are we in the story? Are we religious insiders who fail to help our neighbors in need, or are we someone who pushes religious rules and people’s expectations aside to do what is right? Or may it be we’re like the theologian who would rather focus on words then action.

Though I want to be like the Good Samaritan, I fear that too often religion gets in my way.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 10-12, and Today’s post is on Luke 10:25-37.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Do You See Good or Evil?

I recently read a series of movie reviews in a conservative magazine. With three pages of critiques to consider, all but two movies earned advisory warnings. With no R-rated movies covered, several cautions were for PG and even G-rated movies.

Their items of concern struck me as overly critical.

One obscure line from an animated feature earned it an advisory warning. This was a vague quip that kids would miss and require adults to make an assumption.

With multiple possible inferences, only someone looking for sexual innuendo would find it. (I missed it when I saw the movie.) Are these reviewers able to spot evil most anywhere they look?

I wonder if these cautious caretakers of morality have read the Bible. What might they write in their review of it? After all, the Bible contains a myriad of problematic content: rape, murder, incest, cannibalism, violence, and sexual misconduct. Would they slap an advisory warning on the Bible?

These self-appointed guardians of goodness irritate me. Though they may have worthy motives, the result is they fixate on what is wrong, and when they find it, they highlight it to make sure everyone else is aware of it, too.

Just as there is evil in most things around us, there is also good. Do we seek the objectionable or notice the laudable? What we choose to consider reflects our focus in life and forms our perception of the world.

The Bible encourages us to think about things that are right, pure, and admirable. That is, to fill our minds with good, not evil.

While this may warrant not seeing some movies, it also means to look for good in the ones we do watch.

[Philippians 4:8]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.