Living in the world but not conforming to it is our daily challenge
by Deanne Baum
While looking through a catalog recently, I came across a book called The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt. The title grabbed my attention along with the simple, but effective artwork on the cover. There was something beautiful, whimsical, and enchanting about the design. It depicted the edge of a forest, with three bright, golden trees standing straight and tall on a hilltop of manicured lush green grass. The picture instantly transported me back to my childhood and to story books of similar ilk.
The book contained information about Jesus Christ and is marketed to draw young children’s attention and interest. It is packed with many harmless feel-good details, but it is mostly nonsense. There is a little truth mixed in among much error. Most likely one of the objects of the book was to stimulate a child’s imagination. It seems as though we must have imaginative children, no matter the cost!
The world is leaning in this direction more and more, providing many an object, theme or character to hook our children. Just look at the movies, video games, books, plays and concerts offered to children living today. What does God say? We read in Ephesians 5:11,“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them”.
Many lies are subtle
I found myself becoming indignant towards the story after my initial surprise, as such a pretty cover and uplifting story line replete with symbolism for parents to help their children understand about Jesus Christ caused me to ponder and think about the wiles of the devil. This entire book belied the external wrapping in which it was presented.
Isn’t it enough to confuse the vast majority of humankind with lies and empty promises through whatever is appealing to each individual? No, Satan starts to work with very young children as soon as they can learn and develop their minds through choices. Typically, Satan perverts God’s word as he is filled with anger, jealous rage and evil because he cannot create like God can and desires our worship for himself (Isaiah 14:13-14).
What better way is there than for Satan to influence developing minds through the powerful medium of having a story read to them at bedtime? Children love having their parents read them a story at bedtime and associate this time as one of comfort. They look to their parents for nurturing and instruction. Story time is when formulation of ideas through thoughts occurs for these impressionable minds. Powerful bonds and memories are formed through experiences of youth.
As children grow and become adults, no wonder there are “tree huggers” out there who worship “Mother Nature”. Where, one wonders, does this start? Possibly it begins with children who are read a story about the three trees who had thoughts, feelings, hopes and even dreams! Even after the trees were chopped down, the author imparts a humanistic nature to them! How incredibly evil it is to fill their innocent, pure minds with all manner of lies. The same could be said for Santa, the Easter Bunny and so forth.
The world at large perpetuates lies. As long as it sounds good, feels good, never mind the actual meaning behind these things! We all know who is called the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan has somehow convinced the world that perversion of God’s truth = freedom. He twists and changes anything and everything God has created into a marketable product for a willing, yet captive, audience.
In contrast, what does God tell us? In Ephesians 6:11-12 through Paul He says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”. So we take up our weapons of warfare to fight this battle daily. We must do so to resist and overcome the pulls of this world, which serve only to temporarily fill the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).
Mother Nature as opposed to God our Father the Divine Creator
Each time I hear on the news, “Mother Nature wasn’t kind today”,or “Let’s look at the weather ‘Mother Nature’ has in store for us next week”, I cringe. I want to set the record straight, but I settle with blurting out (usually to an empty room) “IT’S NOT ‘MOTHER NATURE’!!!!”
The weather presenters on TV each night are no longer the seasoned men and women I grew up with, who stood for some semblance of common sense and trust in the advice they impart. Today they are very young, fresh out of modeling or journalism school. They give all who watch the impression that the weather is controlled by science and technology through a female manifestation with maternal instincts closely intertwined with nature, instead of the true Creator, Provider and Sustainer of life, the Almighty God.
I hate the fact that God our Father does not get the credit when credit is due, and, alternatively, gets the blame when it is not His fault. As Psalm 119:53 says, “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law”. As God’s people, we need to be alert and aware of even the smallest of details around us because Satan can be very subtle.
In the very first book of the Bible, God clearly declares to all who read His word, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).There is no doubting these words. Deuteronomy 11:13-15 informs us “’And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled’”.
There are so many examples throughout the Bible of when the dew, wind, rain, hail, thunder and weather have been provided either as blessings or punishments by God and it should not be any small wonder then that Satan twists and misrepresents every good thing that God has created.
Complacency = desensitization
What do we do then? Not only do we need to be wide awake and watching our relationship with God and others, we also need to be sensitive and alert to the ways of the world. In order to do this we must remain close to God at all times. We must be ready for the coming of Jesus Christ and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God. This means daily prayer, reading and meditating on God’s instructions to us in the Bible, noticing things around us such as what people say and do and, of course, watching news and current events locally and worldwide.
I have to admit I am so tempted to bury my head in the sand at times when it comes to troubling events that permeate my mind and cause anguish, pain and suffering when watching the nightly news. Far better is it to sigh and cry rather than be in “blissful ignorance”. Toughening up is all part of the molding and shaping process in order to be an effective soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Do we sigh and cry like the example given in Ezekiel 9:4? Psalm 34:15 and 17 says “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry….The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles”. We need to be focused and alert to everything going on around us in the world today and in the coming days.
In Zephaniah 1:12 we read, “And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil’”. God clearly does not want His people to be complacent. This example is provided for us so that we may heed and learn from it.
We must all be on guard, ever ready to defend our faith as we go about the Lord’s business in these end times.