"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
I sat in the passenger seat waiting while Kevin pumped gas.
We were in a bad section of town, and I couldn't help feeling uneasy.
Inwardly, I was praying...trusting God for protection.
A young guy walked over to the car parked at the pump caddy-corner from us,
and struck up a conversation with another young guy who was seated under the wheel.
What ensued afterwards....
sent shock waves from my ears to my soul.
Remember when people only cursed and swore when they were really, really angry?
Back when it took a lot to provoke someone to the point that they would
actually utter those really bad words?
Not that I am condoning the use of curse and swear words under any condition.
"But I say unto you,
That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
Now, that is a lot of account-giving.
The young people nowadays make the kids
we dubbed as "hoodlums" when I was growing up look like innocent angels.
Sure, those guys smoked, drank, used drugs, and yes, they even cursed
and got into a heap of mischief,
but I declare, they did have some restraint.
They apologized in front of my mother when they let a bad word slip in front of her.
They didn't seem to use the basest means of profanity....just for the "fun" of it.
It didn't seem to flow out of their mouths like common, everyday talk.
I sat there in the car and cringed every time the foul-mouthed boys opened their mouths.
Poor, little Zach.
The windows were opened, and he was taking it all in.
Thank GOD, there were some words he has never even heard before,
so he didn't even know they were bad words.
The little fellow has never been exposed to such,
and some of what he was hearing went right over his head, thankfully.
At one point, he turned towards our dog, Paige,
who had come along for the ride and was seated in the back seat next to him
"Purify your ears, Paige.
You don't want to hear this."
I had to stifle a laugh....because the situation surrounding us was in no way funny.
Many times, when we are out and are approaching a scantily-clad woman,
or are in a store with undesirable pictures & words on the magazine covers,
I turn to Kevin and Zach to give them a heads up
if I happen to think I've spotted it before they have.
"Guys, sanctify your eyes," I'll say. :~)
Zach began to softly sing a hymn,
trying to drown out the insufferable voices....
of the loud, obnoxious young men just a few feet away from us.
Boy, was I glad when Kevin got finished and we were on our way!
Another time recently, I was in a public place
where I ended up being surrounded by teenagers.
Don't get me wrong.
I honestly put forth my best effort to think the best of people.
I really try.
I went into the situation with a positive attitude,
bound and determined to show them the respect they so often say they are never shown.
I tried smiling at them, on the rare occasions that they
actually acknowledged my presence and made the briefest eye contact.
Most of the duration, I seemed invisible to them.
It was like I wasn't even there.
Remember back when young people were respectful in the presence of an adult?
Remember when they would look you square in the eye and say, "hello",
even if it were just for the sake of being polite?
Remember when they would offer the adult in the room a seat if there was only one available,
and the adult was the one who was standing up?
I sat, book in hand, trying my utmost to read....
and somehow drown the incessant, idle talk coming out of their mouths,
but it was to no avail.
The volume of their voices was undrownable (is that a word?)
I know kids need to be loud.
I know they are young and should be given a measure of freedom
to just be...well, kids.
I get that.
I respect that.
I was once their age.
I still remember how it feels.
But, today, there is a lack of restraint that I do not remember ever having.
Since the words on the page of my book were rendered insufficient
to overpower the noise they were making,
I sat, still looking at the open book in my hand,
and listened to what they were actually saying.
It was amazing.
And not in a good way, I might add.
I was so happy when it was time to actually leave that place,
get back into the tranquil quiet of our car,
and drive home in peace.
It's enough to really burden your heart.
I know these young people need to be given time and space
to grow up and mature into quiet, respectful adults.
But, some of them already are adults.
And they are not quiet....nor are they respectful.
I don't know...I guess I just miss the old days.
The new ways scare me.
Where do they get this brazen, froward, overbearing attitude?
It is like there is no fear of God before their eyes,
and they have lost their sense of the fact that there will be a day of reckoning.
Maybe our parents, grand-parents, and great-grand-parents thought the same
thing about our generation?
They actually probably did.
But, in all of my 46 years of life,
I, personally, have never seen things so "loose" and "unbridled".
And it troubles me....deeply.
After Kevin got back in the car and under the wheel, I asked,
"Did you hear the way they were talking?"
"Yeah, I heard some of it.
You just have to let it roll off...
just ignore it....
forget it happened.
Don't let it get to you."
Kevin is the most even-keeled person I have ever known.
He has the amazing, coveted capability of shaking off the undesirable.
He doesn't care what people think.
He doesn't worry about what they do.
He does his utmost to please God with his life, and the rest....
well, he just really doesn't waste a bit of precious energy worrying about.
I wish I could be like him.
I told him so...in the car.
"I wish I could be like that....like you are.
I really, really do."
We drove in silence, for a bit.
I tried to calm down.
Let it go.
It wasn't gonna happen.
Something was burning inside of me.
"But, I just can't!
I can't pretend it isn't happening.
It is happening.
It hurts me.
It burdens me greatly.
I don't understand.
Where is the fear of God?
How can they be this way?
Seeing them...their flippant attitude,
the way they view things,
the way they can spew filth out of their mouth like that....
It is like it is just regular words.
It is such a part of their vocabulary."
I was really on a roll....
as Kevin drove us into the night.
I told him about a remark I had heard one of the guys make
while using the bad, BAD words.
He was using the words while talking about his shoes.
Yes, you understood me.
The other guy had complimented his shoes,
and he responded by saying he needed to clean the blankety-blanks.
I'm talking about what Mom and Dad taught me was the most vile of all curse words.
You get the picture.
How can they do that?
And in the presence of women and young, innocent children,
seated in cars nearby, with the windows rolled down?
Then it occurred to me that we have become desensitized.
We are so surrounded, infiltrated, bombarded, saturated with unrighteousness...
in what we see, and in what we hear that
we have lost the sharpness of sin.
The keenness of it.
The exceeding sinfulness of it.
Sin permeates our airwaves.
Television programming has become pure, sheer filth.
I praise God that long ago Kevin made a decision to not bring a television into our home.
He was raised with one and spent a lot of time watching it growing up,
but he decided we would have a better quality of life without one.
I left it entirely up to him, as the head of our household.
I was glad for the moment he came to me and said,
"You know, I don't think we should have a TV."
We've been the recipient of some peculiar stares, shocked expressions, & ridicule
through the years as people have thought we were a bit off our rocker for the stand we decided to take,
but we never cared.
It is important to us...and never more so than since we had Zach.
I'm not around one too often, but each time I am,
I become more and more appalled.
Regular, uncensored TV, anymore, is what extreme cable was when I was growing up.
Children are bombarded with filth from the time they are old enough
to begin comprehension and learn how to talk.
Even if the programming is decent, the commercials are incomprehensible.
You never know what is going to be flashed before your
Then, there it is.
It has gone from your eyes to your brain....into your mind.
The next destination on its intended path?
That part of us that Solomon said we should "keep with all diligence"...
that part where every issue of life originates.
Do we really want to dump garbage there?
If we do, it will filter out....to the outside....in one form or another.
After we see something with our eyes, we are left to deal with and process it....
and make a decision.
Will we resist it?
Get it out of our mind?
Or will we give it a free pass...and allow it to travel forward...
sinking into the most precious, important-to-be-guarded part of us?
If we never see the garbage in the first place,
it will never have the opportunity to inject its poison.
Have you ever listened to some of the lyrics of the songs young people are listening to?
I try not to.
Sometimes, you can't help it...
when it is blaring and shaking the earth under the car next to you
at a stoplight...or at the gas pump in front of you.
It just completely flabbergasts me.
No wonder they talk like they do.
Their minds feed on filth, promiscuity, the trashing of women,
profane talk, violence, and all other manner of evil.
No wonder it automatically comes out of their mouths....so freely....
It is what they see, they hear, they feel, they experience....
so it is an automatic, effortless flow....
from the core of their being.
"...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Sin is the worst disease.
It eats like a cancer.
It erodes everything pure and innocent and good,
and replaces it with everything rancid, putrid, and evil.
It cuts both ways....going in and coming out.
It penetrates from the outside to the inside....
through our five senses.
It emanates from the inside to the outside....
through the same channels.
The more garbage we put in,
the more garbage that comes out.
"I just can't pretend it isn't happening....
I wish I could.
Believe me, I do.
But, it just hurts me....deep inside....you know?"
I continued as we drove along.
Kevin calls me Cherylmiah....because I weep a lot when I pray.
I cannot help weeping when I see the state of our world...
our young people...
our next generation of leaders??
Where are the morals?
Where have they gone?
We never had a TV when I was growing up,
but most of my relatives did.
There were certain things Mom and Dad let me watch
when I went to their houses.
There was decent programming that was absolutely clean,
and they didn't have a problem with me taking it in.
And there were some things they put their foot down about
and would not let me watch under any circumstances.
Boy, am I glad I had the parents I did.
I could never thank God enough for the immeasurable gift of two Christian parents
who cared about my eternal welfare enough to say "no",
my spiritual well-being enough to say "that's enough",
and my character enough to say "that isn't good for you, Cheryl".
It molded and shaped a deep love for God in my heart.
And an amazing fear of Him.
A realization....that I will stand before Him one day...
and give an account of Every. Idle. Word...
and every single other thing I do.
"I don't know how God could ever turn this thing around,"
I went on.
"I just don't know what it would take.
I mean, I look at those young people, and it is no wonder things are going like they are.
Everyone has this live-and-let-live mindset.
Just do your own thing.
Live the way you want.
If it feels good, just do it....just say it.
Don't worry about anything.
There is no restraint.
Don't they know there will come a Judgment?
For all of this?
Don't they know they will stand before God one day?
And give an account?
How could that fear, that reverence, that awe ever be put back into our society?"
I got an email today from "Saving Our Future - Faith, Family, Freedom",
with an article that was entitled, "Urge the FCC to Uphold Decency Standards".
I didn't read the article....yet.
I hate to say this, but I may not.
Sometimes, I get so overloaded with the burden of what is going on,
I just can't take in anymore.
I'm still on my media blackout.
It is not that I am taking on an ostrich-like stance.
I am not burying my head in the sand.
I simply cannot bear to hear too much of it.
It vexes my soul.
Does it vex anyone else?
I have concluded that the only way we can ever hope to turn this thing around
is to plead and claim and perform 2 Chronicles 7:14....
on an individual basis.
"If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land."
We can't do the healing.
It is beyond our capability.
It is way outside of the reach of our grasp.
Only God can heal.
But, we can do the other four...can we not?
Can we humble ourselves?
Can we pray?
Can we seek God's face?
Can we turn from our wicked ways?
I know it may surprise some of you...
but, yes, you have 'em.
So do I.
We all need help.
God wasn't speaking to unbelievers here.
This is addressed to HIS people...
that's right....you....me....the staunch believers.
Why do I say on an individual basis?
I'll tell you.
I need to start with me.
You need to start with you.
It will take some effort.
It will take some time.
We need to stop waiting for the ones who don't believe to do it,
because God wasn't talking to them in this verse.
He said His people had to be the change-makers.
We need to take personal responsibility.
We need to humble....repenting for our own sins.
We need to pray....harder than we ever have....earnestly, fervently, with our whole hearts.
We need to seek God's face....like we've never sought it before.
We need to turn from our wicked ways....call it what it is....get it out of our lives.....turn from it.
In other words, we need to repent.
Maybe if these young people saw a drastic change....in us....
just maybe they would want this thing called Christianity.
Maybe if they saw the Christians come together,
they would want to be a part.
Maybe if they saw a cease-fire in "Christian" circles....
you know, if this one would stop bashing this one,
if this one would humble and apologize to this one,
if these dividing walls could be torn down....from both sides....
just maybe, they would feel conviction pricking their hearts....
when they come into the presence of the Holy Spirit's blinding illumination....
emanating from you....and me....in our newly-humbled state.
Maybe in order to restore the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
and make it front and center to our world,
we need to go back to Romans 7:13 and practice what Paul preached,
"that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful."
Maybe if we lived out the commandments...
maybe if we lived by the commandment...
the world would see a brighter light.
And it would shine and penetrate and emphasize
how ugly sin really, truly is.
Maybe if we not only preached the full truth,
but if we lived it....
if we practiced it....
if we walked as Jesus walked....
if we loved Him and each other as He loved....
they would recognize and see the difference.
The greatest commandment of all is.....?
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Need I say more?