By Still Waters I

Murder: What It Is and Why We Do It

The gun is raised, the trigger is pulled. The knife flashes and is plunged into the flesh. The fist is clenched and the blow fatally applied. Death by murder. What is murder? And why do we do it? Should we ban the instruments of murder? Remove from our society all things used in murder? The gun, the knife, the fist? Careful. Just as Adam and Eve in the garden pointed the finger at others for what they themselves did, so we can point to others and to things, for blame.


A man lies dead in a field. Murdered. Another man walks away, thinking no one saw him kill his brother. Yes, his brother. The first murder occurred, tragically, between brothers. What did Cain use to kill his brother? The Bible does not tell us, but we can be sure that it was not any modern device. Perhaps it was a stone, a large stick, a knife, or his bare hands. But can we be sure that the only instrument Cain used was a tangible one? Listen to what the Bible says about this first murder, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

It is perhaps significant that the Bible does not relay to us what physical instrument Cain used to murder his brother, but it rather stresses the condition of Cain’s heart toward God. Cain was wrathful toward God. He was angry. And he took his anger toward God out on his brother.

The Word of God tells us that the instrument used in murder is not of great significance. What is significant is the heart. Jesus tells us: “ For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” Matthew 15:19. I think that we can all assent to that. We may say it in different ways, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are going to come up with the conclusion that physical murder starts in the heart. It doesn’t start with a gun, knife, a fist, etc. Banning items used in murder is not practical or logical. If we are going to ban all items that folks use to murder others, we are going to have to ban not just fire arms, but knives, cars, alcohol, ropes, etc. That still leaves fists, hands, feet, and yes, the heart. Even if we could ban the heart, if the heart wants to murder, it finds a way.

But have we addressed fully what murder is? Murders are brought to our attention in the news. Some murders do not receive this media attention. Regardless, murders happen every day. Though this is true, we usually do not dwell on them unless the media does, or unless, tragically, someone we love has been murdered. I would be remiss if I did not bring up the murders of babies through abortion. Just like Abel’s blood, their blood cries out from the ground. To further complete the picture, we also need to mention the murders committed through genocide that happen throughout the world.


But still, is that all there is? Is the picture truly complete? Have we completely fleshed out what murder is? No. We came close to it when we said that murder starts in the heart. But is murder always physical? Again, the answer is no. The Word of God says that when we have hatred in our hearts toward others, we are murderers. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15. So just because we have not broken the sixth commandment – Thou shalt not kill (Greek, apokteino, meaning “murder”) in a physical way, Jesus says that when we are unjustly angry toward someone, we are in danger of being judged by this commandment as a murderer, “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:” Matthew 5:21, 22.

Sometimes this anger toward others plays out in physical murder, as in the case of Cain and in the case of many others throughout all time, and sometimes it produces the hidden murder of the heart. We are all guilty of at least the second scenario.

Physical murders in society should be addressed. Some are addressed properly in this world, and some are not. Some are not addressed at all. In any case, the blood of the victims cry out from the ground, and God hears it and will address physical murders in His own time and way.

God also hears the murder in our hearts. If we listen very carefully, we can hear it, too. We should tremble when we realize that simply the thoughts of our hearts condemn us. God, the judge, looks not on the outside, but on the inside, “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Yes, we can point the finger at the young man who sinfully pulls the trigger, at the drunk who abuses his wife, at the bully who beats up the small kid, and at those who murder their babies through abortion, but we must stop pointing to the instruments of death (guns, alcohol, knives) as the culprit, but rather point to the heart of those who wield these instruments. Furthermore, we must point to our own hearts, as we are guilty as well. Who or what can change our hearts? Can regulations and laws? As Paul, the apostle, cries out: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Romans 7:24


A man hangs dying on the cross, the victim of hearts of hatred. The instrument was the cross, but the source of hatred was the heart – the hearts of those who cried out for him to be crucified and the hearts of all of us, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:” Acts 7:15

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, our nature is to hate God and His ways. Just as Cain took out his wrath toward God on his brother, so, too, we took out our hatred toward God on His Son. Is there deliverance for this heart of hatred toward God and His Son? Yes. It is in the death of His Son, foreordained by God, that we find life and forgiveness. We meant His death for evil, and God meant it for Good. God does indeed work all things together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. The sin that dwells within us was crucified with Jesus on the cross. Jesus took these sins upon Himself, paying the penalty that we owed to God for our sins. We are no longer guilty for our sins, and are re-born into a new life through His resurrection. We are washed and made clean and given a new heart, one that desires to love God and walk in His ways.

Murder. It is heavy business. It weighs on the heart and controls our actions, and puts us in hell. Jesus says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


May you flee to Jesus for relief of your heavy sin burden. He is faithful and just to forgive those who come to them seeking His mercy. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

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Murder: What It Is and Why We Do It

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By Still Waters I

Let Nothing You Dismay

When I was a very young girl, my family at Christmas time would gather ‘round our piano under the big mirror in the living room and sing Christmas carols. One carol in particular made an impression on me. It was not a good impression. The carol was “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” I didn’t know what the words meant, but they seemed to me to be dark words, and the tune seemed just as dark. Perhaps this was because hearing it invoked a depressing visual image of carolers sadly (it seemed to me) singing this carol on a dark and dreary wintery street in the old version of the Charles Dickens’ movie, “A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas” (Yes, that is the full name.) But God, after saving me, gave me eyes to see and a heart to love the words (and the fitting tune) of this old Christmas carol. Ponder these powerful and beautiful words: “God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day. To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy. Comfort and joy. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.” Here is good news for those who know their burden of sin. Here is safety for those who have been in the grip of Satan. Here, the answer to the greatest need of men is presented in beautiful words. And, indeed, for those who have this comfort and joy, there truly is nothing to dismay. Praise God, the Savior!

 

Image by Dean Morrissey

Let Nothing You Dismay

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By Still Waters I

Fighting

A dear friend of mine is fighting. She has been fighting all her life. She is not a stranger to war. Weapons are daily raised up by her against formidable foes. Her strategies are often the pulling down of that which is offensive and dangerous to her. Some of her battles are so intense, they are hand-to-hand combat. Someone always gets hurt. Her battles are not reported on in the media. No one posts them on Facebook, inviting heated and often hurtful debates. There are no tweets provoking angry responses and self-righteous reactions. No one would label her battles current events. Special interest groups don’t eye them as potential political vehicles. In fact, most of her fighting is done in secret. Even her closest loved ones and friends only see the fringes of her battles.

My friend is fighting the good fight of faith. Her enemies? They are three-fold: Her sinful self, the devil, and worldly temptations. Her weapon? “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17) How intense have been her battles? Only she really knows. But does several miscarriages, a daughter’s battle with cancer, a grandchild lost to cancer, a daughter-in-law lost to cancer, and a fast-approaching death – her own – by cancer, sound like someone who is intimately familiar with battlefield warfare? And these trials, in and of themselves, have not been the objects of her fierce retaliation. Rather, she has aimed her Weapon at her sinful nature that demands a rebellious allegiance and approach to her trials. Where are her battles fought? My friend’s battles are fought within her. Who then gets hurt? Her old nature. Her old nature that, from her youngest years, and in all her trials, both small and great, has lied to her just as Satan lied to Eve in the garden. The lies sound like this: “God doesn’t love you. God cannot be trusted. You know better than God.” Her old nature constantly demands worship and ownership of these lies. Oh, this battle is fierce. It makes world wars look tame, and the clamoring, violent crowds of current events seem foolish. And no one sees this fierce conflict.

This same battle has been experienced by thousands and tens of thousands for over 6,000 years now. And by God’s great grace, each battle has ended ultimately in victory. Heaven is full of victorious soldiers – all of whom are casting down their crowns and giving glory to the One Who gave them the victory by His Own Triumph over sin and death.

Oh, the world is filled with battles and conflicts, riots and rebellion. People want this and people want that, and they make it clearly known by their angry fists, signs, policies, words and armies. Don’t be fooled. The real battles are being raged quietly all around you, in the hearts of those who are seeking to put to death the sin of their old nature, that they may be conformed more and more to image of God’s Son.

When my friend is finished with her last battle, and can lay down her sword, she will be able to say, by God’s grace, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7). And her quiet battle will be over.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 1 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Tim 6:12

Fighting

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By Still Waters I

New Morning Sonnet

Today the sun came up with sharp hellos.
My eyes, surprised, oh my, they looked away.
And then, with awe and sweet shy aglow
Within the room, behind the glass, I gazed.
Horizon dim, so far away, bespoke
Of fleeing night and coming day.
Across the field, all sleeping things awoke
As darkness lifted and flung itself away.
And now the life is at the sill for me
And enters in the cold and early room.
The sleep is gone but leaves no vacancy,
The birth of day so like the empty tomb.
I pondered newness that repeats itself,
Like Spring that shouts for praise unto Thyself.

New Morning Sonnet

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By Still Waters I

We Will Not Be Silent

Make a path, Oh, LORD.
Baptize us on our way through.
The dead rock
Split, to release life.
The torrent of blood
Stop, that healing
May be.
The young hand lift up, that
The maiden may arise.
The fish and bread
Multiply, that there may be
Leftovers.
Skin put back on skin
That the ear may again
Hear.
Work, LORD, work, as in the
First six days.
We are standing at the
Barrier
Of the sea.
We will stand still and
We will see
The power of the LORD.
We will not be
Silent, but clamor
To be heard,
As the woman
Who lost her husband.
We will grab onto
Your hem.
We will raise holy hands.
We will climb a tree.
We will wrestle with You.
We will come down through
The roof.
We will seek You out
To turn our water into Your wine.
We will not
Be silent skeptics.
The blessings…
They belong to us.

We Will Not Be Silent

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By Still Waters I

Breath on me,
Oh, Creator God,
You Who created
Heaven’s host
By this whisper.
Give me relief,
Oh, able breath.
But the heavens are still.

“With food and raiment
Shalt thou be content.” Food and raiment.
Is that enough?

I am the Bread of Life.
I am Living Water.
I am your Portion in this life.

Give me this day
My daily Bread.
Draw out for me
This Living Water.
Clothe me with
This Robe of Christ.
With Food and Raiment
I shall be content.

Breath of Life

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By Still Waters I

“And God remembered Noah.” Genesis 8:1.

“And God remembered Noah.” I wonder what Noah was thinking while he and his small family, in their large boat, experienced day after day after day, the never-before-imagined, violent, and wrathfully wild torrents from above, the fierce and vehement waters bursting from below, the angry waves that lifted and dropped, the black skies that were sliced through with knives of furious lightning, and the thunder that was deafening to the ear. And then there was the care of his family during this raging storm – not to mention the care of all the animals. Did Noah expect this tempestuous chaos as the result of his faithfully obeying God’s command to build this huge boat? Was he tempted to question God and tell Him that this was not how it was all supposed to turn out? Did Noah and his family feel forgotten by God while their floating home was unceasingly buffeted by strong, angry waves and judgment-bent winds?

“And God remembered Noah.” Does God ever forget His children? Does He forget you when you are experiencing waves of trials for days on end: fatigue, sickness, unrelenting schedules, financial difficulties, temptations, difficult family relationships, difficult church situations, death of loved ones?

“And God remembered Noah.” Believer, are your days tumultuous? Have you sought to obey the Lord’s commands only to find that you are caught up in a life-storm that seems to be out of control? Don’t forget, God remembered Noah. God knew when to stop the storms, when to make the waters recede, and when to make the ark rest on solid ground.

“And God remembered Noah.” Noah went into the ark – and through the chaos – under God’s command, direction, and protection; and Noah left the ark under God’s command, direction and protection. Noah was brought to a place of rest and new beginnings. In thankfulness for his deliverance, Noah offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice to His God. Let us also, who have been delivered – and who will be delivered – offer ourselves as living sacrifices – holy and acceptable unto God – to the One Who remembers and saves.

And God Remembered Noah

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