The Devil is a Sociopath

drug-addiction

Years ago I sold my property in Texas, but never got paid for it. When I received a threatening letter about overdue property taxes, I was forced to return to the property and become something I had never desired to become—a rental agent.

Because there were tenants already living in the two nice houses on the property with running water, bathrooms, working kitchens, and air conditioning—I was forced to live in an open-end garden center with no bathroom, no kitchen, and minimal electricity. Living in that building and collecting rent from tenants living in the comfortable houses I had helped build was my only hope of getting enough money to pay the overdue property taxes before I lost the property. I slept on a lawn chair mattress on top of wide wooden planks. My clothes hung from the rafters. I took cold showers with the garden hose. I learned to survive the 100-plus degree summer temperatures without air conditioning. When winter arrived, I stacked up hay bales and covered them with plastic to protect myself from the cold. I had two small heaters, but because of such low voltage electricity—they wouldn’t work at the same time.

There were positives. Peace. God’s peace lived with me as a constant companion. The birds who had nests in the hanging baskets overhead became so friendly that they warned me of approaching hawks. When their fledglings left the nest, the babies hopped to me and scrambled up into my lap. The two toads that lived in my dog’s water bowl scolded me when I got home from work late. It was almost like having two very short parents.

There were negatives. Not the third-world living conditions. The sociopath next door. I didn’t realize he was a sociopath at the time. I just figured it out recently when watching a rerun of “Judge Judy.” She commiserated with a mother on the show and told her that her son was a sociopath. Wanting to learn more than I thought I knew about “sociopaths,” I started reading more about them. That’s when I realized I already knew. I had rented a house to one. Upon further reflection, I concluded that God’s enemy, satan, is a sociopath.

According to Power of Positivity, sociopaths don’t feel badly when they hurt other people’s feelings. They have no feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Check. Both for my renter and for the devil. The Bible says satan came to this earth to kill, steal, and destroy.

They have intense mood swings and may become violent. Check. In a fit of rage, my renter attempted to shove me out of my own house. The Bible says the devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and that he is angry because he knows his time on earth is short. His time on earth is short because Jesus is coming again.

Sociopaths have to be in control. Check. Satan uses tools like drug and alcohol addiction to keep people in control. I don’t know whether my renter was a sociopath because he was born one—or because drug use had robbed him of his soul and conscience.

Sociopaths are impulsive. Satan decided to one-up God by attacking the righteous man Job and making him curse God. When his first attack on Job didn’t work, he impulsively cranked up the pressure. My human sociopath renter spent recklessly and his desires changed frequently—so he overspent and was always in debt. Meaning I didn’t get paid either.

Sociopaths are charming in the beginning. The Bible warns that satan masquerades as “an angel of light.” His charm and beauty give sin its allure, and he uses sin to trap people. Human sociopaths shower folks with compliments in order to gain control over relationships. People who met my renter and didn’t know him thought he was enchanting. They said, “He could sell igloos to Eskimos. True. But he wouldn’t have paid his bills—including rent.

Sociopaths are manipulative and must be in control. My renter told so many lies that he could never keep them straight. They will lie to get their way. Satan is the father of lies. They gaslight folks making them question their own sanity. Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by saying, “Surely God didn’t say that…Surely eating the fruit of that tree won’t kill you.”

Sociopaths feel they are above the law and their actions are often illegal. They disobey laws and social norms. My renter had a huge file at the courthouse—but I didn’t see it until after I rented the house to him. Satan refused to obey God and declared, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars…I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12)

Sociopaths make extreme promises and statements without backing them up and alternate between positives and negatives to manipulate and keep control. They make and break promises. Check. Both for my renter and for God’s enemy the devil. Satan attempted to tempt Jesus by making promises he had no authority to deliver.

They smile, smirk, or laugh at the pain and misfortune of others. Check for the devil. He came to steal, kill, and destroy whether the subject of his attack is a child or an adult. Their pain is his pleasure. Check for my renter. He thought pain was funny—as long as it wasn’t his pain.

I usually eschew labels. I try to take people and situations at face value and judge independently without referring to labels.

But my renter should have come with a label.

 

HER

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When I first became a Christian I bubbled over with love, joy, peace, and goodwill toward everyone. I thought everyone else was the same. Then I met…HER.

HER lives in Scotland. She hated me for being an American. She was still fighting against July 4, 1776 and American Independence. I was on the wrong side.

HER left me with lasting memories that I’ve forgiven, but haven’t forgotten. It’s a good thing. Every book needs a really nasty baddie to haunt the protagonist. To hold the reader’s interest, the author must hurl rocks at the protagonist and knock him or her down every time they get up again. HER taught me to lob rocks.

Before I met HER, I lived in a bubble. Truthfully, I sort of still do. I float through life glowing and joyful inside my bubble of protection and few things penetrate it. HER found a way to puncture it. So did HIM. But that’s another story.

The point is that as a writer, two of the most valuable people I’ve ever met are people who are antagonist, critical—walking negativity and poison. I love them both. I love them as a Christian because Jesus commanded His followers to love others—especially enemies because it’s easy to love friends who accept us, but dadgum hard to love those who hate us. And I love HER and HIM as a writer. I needed some jostling and pricking into the oblivion of my happy little bubble.

The Bible tells us “in everything give thanks,” and “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.”

Give thanks for the HERS and HIMS in your life and for the rocks they lob at you. Each rock is an opportunity for growth. Pile them up and climb over a fence. Or just stick them into a book like I do.

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Long Life

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Recent research proves that people in the U.S. who go to church live longer than those who don’t. No surprise. Psalm 119:50 says, “Your word has given me life.”

Worry, anxiety, and anger shorten lives. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious.” “Do not worry.” “Forgive others.”

Peace is a great life-extender. Philippians 4:7 promises, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Long life is not the reason to love God. The fact that God loves us is the reason to love Him. Every petal on every flower is a reason to praise God. Every day of sunrise and sunset is reason to serve God.

Church isn’t essential to love God—but it is essential to love God.

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Weight Loss Plan

me pccs rope best

Yeah, I’m a sucker for those commercials, too. “Lose weight by drinking this.” “Ten Secrets to weight loss.” “How I lost four stone (don’t ask me how much that is—I don’t do math) in one month.”

Most folks want or need to lose weight. It’s one of life’s mysteries, surely, that weight can accumulate and hide until suddenly one day a person takes a sideways look in a full-length mirror and says, “I’m fat.”

Fortunately, when an orthopedic surgeon figured out my body-weight index, I qualify for a knee replacement. I’m not too fat for surgery. But I need to lose weight…again.

The only weight loss plan that has ever worked for me physically is the unpopular and uncomfortable eat less, exercise more. It works—but it is never easy or enjoyable, especially the eating less part.

My Aunt Edris died young of an illness that doctors never diagnosed until her death. Cancer. After that, I obsessed over every lump, bulge, or pain I had, convinced that it was cancer. I even obsessed over other people who experienced unexplained pain. When my son was four and suffered from a mystery illness I was so convinced it was cancer that I quit my job and took him out to the desert so he could experience country living before he died. But when Luke died at age 37, it wasn’t cancer. It was an airplane crash.

I’m still working on the physical need to lose weight, but not the spiritual weight of fear, worry, or anxiety. The Bible addresses those. It’s easy to lose weight spiritually—just read and pray it away.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.

Cast all your care upon God, for God cares for you. 1 Peter 5:8

Jesus said in Luke 12:29, “Do not have an anxious mind.”

Spiritual weight? No problem. Just read and pray it away. Physical weight? Eat less. Exercise more.

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Expletives and Superlatives

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There’s a Texas expression that I’ve never uttered before in my life, nor have I ever used it in one of my books, nor did I ever expect to ever use it: He’s talking out of his butthole.

Because I write clean-reading Christian books, I disdain profanity. Nothing will make me abandon a book more quickly than excessive profanity. Writers should be creative. Instead of repeating the “F” word endlessly, what’s wrong with: profanity dropped from his lips like cigarette ash; he used words that would have shocked his mother; his foul language was so excessive that it fatigued his listeners; her anger made her abandon her last shred of Christian training as she launched into a tirade against her coworker, the air splintered from the impact of cursing…etc.

Few things anger me. This did. An “academic” professor attacked the root of the Christmas story. He said Mary had been raped because she never consented to her pregnancy. This highly esteemed professor has a platform for attempting to destroy the foundational faith of students entrusted to him and is too lazy to research and get it right.

God gives us freedom of choice. Not everyone is a Christian. There are many other religions in the world. Everyone, even an atheist, has the right to choose what he or she believes. But it’s shameful and unforgivable that an “academic professor” who supposedly is better educated and more brilliant than the average gets away with spewing unfounded derisive words as truth.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” I don’t draw the salary that the university pays that lazy professor, but that sounds like consent to me. (Luke 1:38)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…For He who is mighty has done great things for me.” Luke 1:49.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be called the Son of the Highest…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31

The truth, the simple truth behind Christmas, the greatest love story ever written.

I’m trying. I’m really trying. But that professor’s words grate against my spirit and I can’t word it any better than my Texas friends: “he’s speaking out of his butthole.”

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Bye Butterflies Bye

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december

The butterflies are gone.

The bees are gone.

The sun is gone.

Heat is gone.

The land languishes

Waiting for the ambush

Of cold and snow

And the melting

That will send spring again.

This is the time of year I feel morose. I hate winter. I hate cold. Snow has no appeal for me. This is the time of year I embrace suffering rather than hope; find negativity more natural than optimism.

I have no right to feel that way. God made both summer and winter and had reasons for creating both. Some people love winter and cold and tramping around in the snow, or hooking up with skis and winter sports equipment. And some folks hate summer and hot temperatures as much as I hate winter.

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I haven’t found a cure for my winter dread, but reading Ecclesiastes helps. King Solomon was the richest, wisest man in the world. He wrote, To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.

Winter is a time of plucking up. A time of dying. Butterflies are gone. Bees are gone. Sadness would stay, except I’ve read the next book in the Bible, Song of Solomon. The winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Spring will come again.

The Bible promises: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22.

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Misconceptions

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Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Adam and Eve ate an apple. They ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. It says the Lord prepared a big fish to swallow him. Scientists out to shoot holes in the Bible have conducted studies to prove that a person could not be swallowed by a whale and survive. And yet—surely the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth is well able to prepare “a big fish” to swallow Jonah.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

Christmas cards portray bright fields of snow and evergreen trees decked with white—yet in many parts of the world—it never snows.

I got a bad review on one of my books from a reviewer who said, “We don’t have street vendors in the UK.” I based the character on a street vendor in Inverness, Scotland. The reviewer lived in England.

I got a bad review on another book from a person who said if I wrote about Texas, I should learn about it first. I was born in Texas.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

We all look at the world through the eyes of our experiences. If one has never read the Bible and relies on things other people have said—fruit becomes an apple and prepared fish becomes a whale. If one lives in northern climates, one will expect the whole world to have snow on Christmas. If one lives in England instead of Scotland, one may believe the UK has no street vendors. If one lives in tornado alley in north Texas, that person would not know about the plethora of wildlife in the Texas Hill Country.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere. We can do our part by focusing on bigger issues than fruit, fish, or real or imagined mistakes in books.

Kindness is a good starting place. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is love in action and leaves no room for misconceptions.

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Dog Sickness

Savannah at home

From the time we brought her home when she was eight weeks old our rough collie puppy has won the hearts of strangers. Now she expects everyone she meets to say, “You’re gorgeous.” “What a beautiful dog.” “I love your dog.”

Savannah looked gorgeous on the outside. She still does. But she was sick on the inside and no one knew—not even the first vet who examined her and said, “What you have here is a beautiful, healthy collie puppy who is a perfect weight. Don’t worry.”

She might have been a perfect weight when he saw her, but she was not healthy and there was cause for worry. She had quit eating. Everything. He saw her before she started losing weight.

The second vet investigated more closely. Blood samples, x-ray. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and three medications. After six days of starving herself, Savannah finally started eating. Everything.

Each day we meet folks who look fine on the outside, but who have mental or physical illnesses on the inside. Some suffer extreme pain. We can’t see their pain, so when they are unkind  we blame them, not their disease.

 “Do not look at his appearance, or at his physical stature…For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

When someone is unkind to us, we need to look deeper.

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School Daze

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Four years old and burning with envy—although I couldn’t name the emotion at the time—to see the older kids walking to school every day while I had to stay home. So I followed them.

Clueless, I ended up in a line in a hallway with a teacher walking along the line asking each child for milk money. Until she came to me. She stopped in confusion and asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I thought that was a rather silly question from a teacher at what was obviously a school. “I’m going to school.” I got sent home for another year.

We had moved by the next year. I was excited to catch the big yellow bus outside my house and ride to school on the first day. On the second day—I hid from the bus. If I had known about math—I’d still be hiding.

Much of what I “learned” in school was misinformation. My first grade teacher criticized my coloring. “Tree trunks are brown,” she said, “the sky is blue.” She had never been to the Texas Hill Country where tree trunks are grey. She had never been to Scotland where the sky is seldom blue.

We were taught that North is straight ahead, East is right and West is left. We marked it on maps. So when someone gives directions and says, “turn North on the next street,” it’s confusing. If North is straight ahead, why turn?

Then math. We were taught counting: “one-two-three-four-five.” I once had to pay back my employer for the extra hour I had marked on my timecard. My hours were from nine to noon. Count yourself: 9-10-11-12. I was getting paid for four hours. Everyone else was getting paid for three.

What to learn out of all the “facts” the world presents is confusing. Separating “truth” is like holding a raw egg in your hand to keep the yoke while the white runs through your fingers.

Thankfully, there is one infallible Book, one Everlasting Teacher—and we all have access. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:3.

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Not Perfect

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We live in Dunoon, Scotland, with good neighbors, friendly folks, a great church, a wonderful pastor, wife, and congregation—and plenty of walking places including along the banks of the Firth of Clyde where the wind whips the salty water and air into a fresh smell that thrills the soul. Walking the back streets of Dunoon in the afternoon is like stepping back in time to an Andy Griffith show: neighborhood children playing together and riding bikes on the sidewalks while the aroma of moms’ cooking steals out of open windows and hangs in the air.

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But Dunoon is not perfect. It’s not just the marine climate, cool temperatures, and scarcity of sun that mars the perfection of our retirement home—it’s that age-old spoiler of all good things—sin. If you lift up the outer edges of life here you see that just like in the rest of the world some people struggle with life-stealing addictions. There is a police station in Dunoon because there is crime, just as there has been on the earth since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the one tree in the entire Garden of Eden that God commanded them not to. Sin never stays small and manageable—it grows and morphs into a monster that kills, steals, and destroys.

Enter Treasury. That’s the world I created from the Bible for my Christian Fantasy, “Voices in the Wind,” which has earned an orange flag as a bestseller and already has one 5-Star review now—mere days after its release. Treasury is such an alluring place to be that I run there at night and hide in its beauty if I have trouble getting to sleep. Treasury is much like Heaven—yet it is not perfect. Rhoda lifts up the curtain of rain and finds herself in Treasury, but must prove her right to stay there by crossing a divide, climbing Verboten Mountain and engaging huge Bullet Train Ants, enormous serpents, armed warriors, and Dino Birds in her bid to stay in Treasury and marry her soul mate. But Rhoda’s cruelest enemy proves to be human.

Treasury is not perfect. Only Heaven, created by God, is perfect. The Bible assures us that once we get to Heaven we will have new bodies and there will be no more sorrow, tears, pain, illness, or parting. Nothing that defiles will be admitted to Heaven. So if you haven’t already joined the throng for Heaven, come on aboard. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. He is driving the train.

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