The Wisdom of Trusting God

Are you cursing yourself by wrong choices?

Jeremiah 17 gives us a strong warning, which the following testimony supports. The warning is that we receive either blessing or curse depending on what we put our trust in. The wisest thing you can do is to trust the Lord, while the most foolish thing you can do is to trust yourself or some other human agency.

The Biblical Warning

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed a clear warning against trusting in self, or other human supply, while giving a strong commendation for trusting God.

“Thus says the LORD; Cursed is the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh (humans) his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he will be like the heath (tumbleweed) in the desert, and will not see when good comes; but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he will be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and will not see when heat comes, but her leaf will be green; and will not be careful in the year of drought, neither will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8

As is the case with many Bible truths, this truth may not come to life in your understanding until you can see it in operation. So the following testimony from my friend Sammy Au will help you get a better grip on what God is saying to you through the prophet Jeremiah.

Sammy’s Situation

Sammy is a talented and well educated man. He gained an MBA and then set off to create his own business. He is also hard working, so he expected all to go well.

His choice of business was a fast photo developing shop. However, business did not go well. The industry was changing quickly and technology and customer expectations were on the move, so he found himself without the income and success he had planned for.

This ultimately left him with a crippling lease on equipment, with insufficient income to pay the overhead costs of shop, staff and equipment.

His education and training told him that he was done for. Those around him would have counselled him to cut his losses and make the best of it that he could.

Being a relatively new Christian he was aware that God may have plans in the situation, although it certainly looked impossible.

God’s Intervention

As long as Sammy relied on “flesh” (see Jeremiah 17:5) he was under a curse. As long as he trusted in his training, willingness to work hard, and professional planning and approach, things went badly for him.

Then he noticed that a silly thought kept invading his thinking. That thought was to contact the company he was leasing the photo processing equipment from and tell them how badly he was doing. Everything in his professional training warned him not to do that. If the supplier knew he was a bad financial risk then they would be obliged to step in and protect their interests, at Sammy’s loss.

Yet the prompting continued, despite Sammy’s determination to resist it. So, finally, he gave in and contacted the rep from the equipment supplier.

To Sammy’s surprise the company was very supportive and proactive in helping him find a place to off-load the equipment. So at least he would not be hit too hard by the failure of his business. As it stood he was down by about $30,000 just in shutting the shop down, without the cost of his equipment lease.

Icing on the Cake

That irrational prompting from God, contrary to Sammy’s own wisdom and what he had been taught by the professionals, proved to be a good move. But it then proved to be better than he could have hoped. The equipment was on-sold to someone who wanted it and the profit was paid to Sammy, totalling $30,000!

God not only had a better solution than bankruptcy, God brought Sammy out of his failed venture with no loss!

Now, let’s take that back to Jeremiah 17:5-8. When you trust in human wisdom, yourself or the experts, you come under God’s curse, because you are trusting in mortal flesh. But when you trust in God, choosing to go His way, even if it doesn’t make sense, you come under His blessing.

A Slow Learner

However, Sammy was much like the rest of us. He was a slow learner of God’s principles.

Following the failed photo business Sammy set up a maintenance business. He had some pretty good contracts and life was going well. In the process, however, Sammy began to feel confident in this own wisdom again. He felt that he was now master of his own destiny and that he had done pretty well for himself. That means, he began trusting in “flesh” again.

God humbled Sammy yet again, through an explosion at the Longford Gas Plant in Victoria. Sammy’s maintenance activities were disrupted and his business suffered for a while.

That threw Sammy back to prayer and to reliance on God. And through it all Sammy has come to testify that, “For me to live is Christ, not these other things”.

A Final Word from the Bible

The Apostle Paul was strong on his emphasis of putting aside human credibility, so that we can all rely on God. He declared that God delights in humbling humans. God takes those things that are looked down on and uses them to surprise and offend those who think they have everything going for them.

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men.” 1Corinthians 3:18-21

Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

The Curse of Beneficial Systems

We create systems to facilitate good practice, but those systems create artefacts and outcomes which become a curse to us. I have an example in mind and you may be able to relate to it. So let me take you on a reflection and observation walk through the subject of ‘systems’.

Let’s Hear it for Systems

Just about everything works best if the processes are understood and the best practices are followed. That fact is where we get such notions as benchmarking, world’s best practice, time and motion studies, efficiency and so on. A good system is a means of streamlining a process and setting in place appropriate checks and balances to ensure that things are done properly.

Jet pilots must go through a disciplined check-list process before take off because so much is at stake once they get into the air. Henry Ford revolutionised vehicle manufacturing through his production line system churning out black Model T Fords. Good salesmen have a mental check-list which they are attentive to as they guide their client toward the sale. Courts, distribution businesses, hospitals, schools, garbage collection and just about all other processes of life are governed by some form or systematic regulation and process.

So let’s hear a big cheer for systems! Without them many things would fall into disarray – the loss of proper array, or order. We enjoy speed, accuracy, efficiency, reliability and service, among many other benefits directly due to good systems. Systems are incredibly beneficial.

Systems Impose Limitation

For all the obvious benefit of systems, however, they impinge on many processes a form of limitation. Every routine and regulation prescribes a preferred process and outcome, but automatically restricts or denies other outcomes, which may have their own inherent benefits.

The process and outcome of a system, assuming it can be properly regulated and achieved consistently, effectively removes variety, diversity and creativity from the process. The choice of process and outcome is made by someone who may not have the best view in mind. Once a system is in place it may work against the discovery of better process and outcome, simply because it limits the possibility for discovery and exploration of other outcomes.

School systems seem to be failing to produce a high level of academic and personal ability in many students. The system itself militates against some exploration of better options. Traffic flow systems are the product of studies and analysis and the best option that seems to be available at the time. But how many times have you been frustrated by a red light that holds you back from an empty intersection? I find it frustrating to stand at a pedestrian light, being held back from walking across a street where there is zero traffic. The system is in place to protect me, but it creates an artificial limitation of freedom which earlier generations enjoyed readily.

Systems impose limitation. Your only hope is that the benefits of the system outweigh the downside imposed by the limitations.

The Smell of a Baby

Last month my tenth grandchild was born. This grand-daughter will be often talked about in the annals of our family history, as she managed to be born on the kitchen floor! Baby Acacia came faster than her mother expected. Before the parents could get off to the hospital my daughter-in-law, Katie, found herself in second stage labour. So she proceeded to give instructions to her husband and promptly gave birth on her father’s kitchen floor. A dinner event turned out to be much more than expected.

When we caught up with the mother and baby the next day my wife, Susan, was in awe of something she had never noticed before. The baby had a most wonderful fragrance on the skin. Susan kept drawing in long breaths to enjoy the amazing scent. It was reminiscent of a lovely powdery perfume.

Baby Acacia had not been bathed by then and so the natural fragrance from the birth was still on her skin. And that’s when the whole impact of systems hit us.

Hospital Births

Susan has given birth to seven children. She is no slouch when it comes to childbirth and mothering. But she had never smelled the lovely fragrance of the baby like she did with baby Acacia. Why not? Because of the “system”! Susan gave birth to seven babies in various hospitals. Hospitals rely on systems to make sure everything that needs to be done is done and nothing is neglected. Those systems may not be perfect, but they are a guarantee against neglect, malpractice, and so on.

In order to mechanise processes and teach systems to a wide range of people so consistent and uniform practice is maintained, the systems need to be fairly straight-forward and as simple as possible. The hospital system for dealing with newborn babies is such a system.

I recall being in the delivery ward when our children were born. With the earlier births the process was taken over by the nurses who weighed the baby and checked various things before the mother was given much time with the baby at all. Washing the baby was seen as an important early process to tick off the list.

So that’s what happened to that lovely newborn baby fragrance on the skin of each of my children. That fragrance was taken from us, by the System! We had had idea we had missed it. The system gave no attention to it and we had no idea of our loss.

Rippling Repercussions

With that one case in mind consider the question of how many other impacts are imposed onto us by systems. The repercussions of these systematic processes and their prescribed outcomes ripple through our society and impact our lives constantly.

We are under constant impact from systems. Roads create regions of higher exhaust pollution. Waiting rooms create highly infectious environments. Schools frustrate highly intelligent children who must stay in step with the class average. Courts employ legal processes not understood by the average citizens they are there to serve. Mass distribution provides variety, but only of the most marketable kind, not the way you may want or need it. Got the picture?

Systems that Blind

Systems also blind us to what else may be possible. The existence of a system that has regulated processes and predictable outcomes imposes a certain stricture on our thinking. People tend to stick with what they know, for better or for worse, and so the existent system imposes itself on the thinking of the populace. This has the effect of blinding us to what else may be available.

Just listen to a conversation where someone announces they are going to do something outside the system. What you will hear is a chorus of protest from people who accept the prevailing system as something like a gift from the gods that is not to be challenged. The person’s choice might be a home birth, running their car on home brew, representing themself in court, owner building, or whatever. If you are near such a conversation listen in to the responses from those who feel bound to the systems.

And mull over the fact that while we are blessed by beneficial systems we are also cursed by them as well. That might help you improve on the systems in your life. It might lead you to help us all enjoy more beneficial systems. Good Luck.

Cursing the Roots

Do you spend time pruning things in your life, only to have them grow back again? Are you struggling to deal with issues in yourself and our culture, without going to the roots? It’s time to rethink your strategy.

I have a laurel bush growing on my fence line. The neighbour is often frustrated by its virulent growth and I have to deal with it several times each year. One day, when I am ready to change the fence, I will get it dug out from the roots. But for now, as long as the root system remains, I have an on-going maintenance challenge.

And that’s how it is for many of our personal problems. We prune away the excesses and the worst elements of the problem, but we often leave the roots. Thus we must deal with the issues all over again.

Jesus once talked to a fig tree and cursed its roots. A short time later His disciples noticed that the tree was dead, having dried up from the roots. Jesus dealt a death-blow to the hapless tree, not by cutting back its branches, but by going straight to the source of the tree’s life.

We use the expression, the “root of the problem”, reflecting the same concept. When you have a problem you need to find the real root issue. The symptoms might mislead you. The real cause, the root may take quite some digging out. But unless you deal with the root system the problem will continue to shoot up again and again.

In my Steps to Release I advocate finding the real problem at hand. In order to best remove the problem it is ideal to find out what you are really dealing with, so the root of the issue can be dealt with and the problem resolved.

Your personal problems have roots. Pride is a root problem that leads to various results. We know that pride leads to destruction and a haughty spirit leads to a fall. Fear is a root problem that causes torment in people’s lives and leads them into slavery.

At the same time you need to keep in mind that social issues also have roots. Feminism, for instance, is anchored in fear. Materialism has roots in insecurity and lust. I recall one observer suggesting that the root issue behind the ‘get fit’ mania that has taken the western world is actually ‘fear of death’. People are desperate to maintain health, out of their fear of ageing and death.

For those of you engaged in confronting evil in the broader context, make sure you seek God for wisdom about the root systems that nourish that thing. Don’t waste your time pruning branches, when you have the authority and power to curse the roots.

Are Curses Genetic?

Now that researchers have been able to observe chemical changes within a person, directly linked to that person’s past experiences, there is a better understanding of how experiences can be translated into genetic changes. Those genetic changes may then be passed down to descendents.

Are these findings bringing us closer to understanding how curses are passed down from one generation to the next? Are curses genetic, and is there any scientific basis for understanding how they work?

I teach in my family seminars and explain in my flagship text, Family Horizons – Creating Families of Destiny (available from Family Horizons – www.FamilyHorizons.net) that the Bible teaches the reality of curses and of family curses. The Biblical case is for curses becoming part of the genetic inheritance of the family.

Here is a quick summary of some Biblical points to show that curses are genetic. At the giving of the Ten Commandments God specifically describes Himself as ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me’ (Exodus 20:5). This process is clearly one of passing to the children some form of curse or negative outcome, which continues for four generations. This is effectively a genetic curse.

When Eli the priest failed to give honour to God, but supported his sons’ evil activities instead, God pronounced a curse on Eli’s family that would be there ‘for ever’ (see 1Samuel 2:31-33). That curse was confirmed a few years later when the young lad, Samuel, first heard God’s voice. God told Samuel that Eli and his sons were going to die for their sins and that a curse would be on Eli’s family for ever (1Samuel 3:13).

Eli’s curse is that none of the males will grow into old age. They will all die in the prime of their life. This curse was not going to work for three or four generations, but would persist for ever.

Some evangelical Christians find it very hard to accept that curses could exist today. My answer is to ask, Is the curse of sin and death still operating in the world? The answer is, Yes. Where does it come from? The answer is, Adam. What is your connection to Adam? The answer is, I am his descendent. So, there you have it. Every evangelical clearly believes in family curses. We all believe that the curse of sin and death comes upon all people today, even after the resurrection of Jesus, as a curse we receive from our ancestor. This is a family curse!

Allow me to leave the doctrinal case there. The question I have posed is, Are Curses Genetic? Since the Bible clearly shows that they are, we should expect there to be some scientific clue to a physiological reality. That clue is now uncovered.

Since our DNA prescribes the range of options available to us in our species, and even limits us to the collection of features that have been successfully passed to us from our immediate ancestors, it could be argued that there is no real room for a ‘curse’ to impact the DNA. Dominant genes will assert themselves over passive genes. It is completely unlikely that some new gene will suddenly appear in the DNA as response to some ‘curse’ being placed on our life.

But genetics has moved beyond DNA as the sole prescriptor of our genetic options. Related genetic process work on the DNA to cause various genes to be activated (expressed), or not. A simple protein molecule might be all that is required to switch on or off some genetic capacity. The consequence can be such things as disease, mental instability, personality changes and so on.

Recent findings indicate that suicide is being triggered in some men who have been abuse victims in childhood. Brain research on 18 such men indicates that, while the essential DNA is OK, the methylation process accompanying gene activity is different in these men, compared with non-abused men.

This finding points to the importance of the switching process. A curse can theoretically be switched on or off in your life, by a basic act of cell chemistry. Your genetic DNA won’t change but the function of your genes will.

And that may very well be how God goes about the process of activating a curse in a person’s life, which is passed down through the family.

So, are curses genetic? I can’t be adamant in my answer, but I can see how it is possible in the light of current genetic understanding. One thing is for sure, family curses are Biblical and real.

My book, Family Horizons, does explain how to break curses. So please don’t have sleepless nights trying to protect your DNA from rebel proteins.