The 'BARKING OWL' always has something to say, and like the feathered version, can be either WISE...............or ANNOYING!

Saturday, July 31, 2021


                      Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

What is a life without memory? "I forgot" is the kind of answer I would give to this question; you'll have to come up with something better than that! But truthfully the real answer is "not much." I say that because I have a memory like a steel...sieve! Some things are caught in it and retained, but so many other things that I thought would be too big to ever be forgotten have slipped through and are, sadly, forgotten. 

I only know this because once in a while my wife or one of our grown kids will bring up a noteworthy event that they are cherishing and I find myself wracking my brain and then maybe conjuring up the bare framework of a figment of a vague image and an obviously dubious "oh yeah" just so they don't think I don't care. How frustrating! More often I get to give out with an authentic "OH YEAH!" and I can rejoice in the shared memory as it comes back to me with corroborating fullness and more details from my perspective of the moment. Now THAT IS satisfying!

Of course there are some days and actions and decisions and words and even periods that I would like to forget about, but that to my detriment. It's not always good to cast such memories away because I might also then discard the important lessons learned from those episodes. By forgetting it all I might lose the repentant heart or the vital course correction, or sacrifice the improved relationship that followed if my hurtful misstep lead to a growth in intimacy. (Without remembering the fights, then the highly esteemed make-up sex would only be remembered as regular-sex, after all!)

Now I had better get to the subject before you remember that I talked about sex!

So in life we either have the joy of remembering everything important and worthy (good and bad) or we suffer the debilitating burden of losing the visions of old as buildings are hidden in a rising fog. I have confidence that in heaven my memories will be perfectly restored just as my aging body will be back in its prime, and then some. The sad and bad memories will be seen under the bright lights of forgiveness and restoration, and God's grace in Jesus will be magnified. No problems there.

But what of memory in hell? Those who reject God for whatever reason they may give would not want to be in His heaven so naturally they will not be forced to go there. They will live forever without Him, in hell. The first reaction to finding oneself in hell would probably be regret. It is not a fitting place to dwell for even the most anti-God zealot simply because it is everything opposite of God; opposite of good.

The regret would be intensified and magnified with every memory the person carries into hell with them. If every memory is restored to the mind of the recalcitrant, as I believe it will be in the eternal mind of the repentant, nothing but pain and sorrow will be brought to mind of those in hell. Their best times in life will now be remembered as obvious evidence of God's grace and the worse memories will only be seen as continual indicators of their own foolishness and sin.

PSALM 34:16
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017


                       Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

 Jesus made this declarative statement about his Father, our God:

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Mathew 5:45

QUIET, it seems to me, is like rain and like sunshine. Is the sun good? Or bad? How about rain? Is rain good or bad? I think we can all think of times when both sun and rain can be a great blessing or a terrible curse. Either one can wreak havoc or be a critical life saver. QUIET too can be either/or.

"Getting away from it all" is often an important goal. People sometimes need a break from the business and turmoil of life; from the hubbub and racket of machines and traffic and, yes, people. So a nice quiet place with maybe only a bubbling brook and a little breeze in the trees offers the perfect background music for relaxation and recovery.

But then again, getting closed in alone in a muffled elevator with nothing to hear but the berating thoughts of a guilty conscience can be torturous. Or worse, lying in bed in a dead QUIET house, wide awake and only wishing for some distracting noise or even a mild uproar to stifle the drama going on in your head. (I wonder if studies would show that deaf people tend to keep short accounts with their friends, being sure to quell the voices of guilt and bitterness and jealousy that the rest of us can more readily counter with NOISE.)

In HELL, I suspect, the only QUIET times are of the bad kind. Absolute silence of an unknown duration that does nothing good, but only fosters those haranguing indictments that can not be denied. Not a stillness that lets one "rest in peace" (there will be NONE of that in HELL!) or a quiescent purposeful dormancy, but a bare boned exposure and amplification of every thought.

Out of respect for our standing as independent creatures, made in his image, God only speaks to us in hushed, beseeching tones, and hopes we will listen. He tells us of himself through the magnificence of the material world he created, and waits for the one logical response. He answers our deepest questions in the QUIET form of a book, and only invites us to read about his ways.

One day such quality QUIET times will be unavailable. After a terrible windstorm, an earthquake, and a raging fire, God finally got through to Elijah in a gentle whisper. We should keep our ears perked up for that small QUIET voice of God, for he wants to save us from the forever badgering voices of guilt and shame that will plague those in HELL forever.

For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
                                                                                                        2 Corinthians 6:2

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017


                    Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

The number one sin. The first sin. The worst sin. And the polar opposite of perhaps the most foundational virtue, humility. Humility allows one to listen and to receive from God what he says is needed (forgiveness and salvation). PRIDE works in the antagonistic direction. It is diametrically opposed to any consideration of God's perspective. Like "the lust of the eyes" and the "lust of the flesh," the PRIDE OF LIFE originates with the world and only supplants God.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Instead of the Lord's Prayer, here is PRIDE'S prayer:

"Our imaginary friend, who really is nowhere, forgotten be your name. MY kingdom come! MY will be done; here in my house and everywhere I go. You can't give me anything, and I won't give you anything. I will never forgive you for anything, but hold your nonexistent self in contempt instead. Nothing is wrong, so there is no "temptation" to avoid, and I will deliver evil wherever I go."

And it is this spirit that speaks ever louder and more powerfully into the ear and out the mouth of those in HELL.

Psalm 36 speaks to our PRIDE.

1  I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2  In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
3  The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
4   Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.

PS After further analysis, I have concluded that my milk pouring is not all I cracked it up to be.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017


                    Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

My biggest fear, in writing these posts on HELL, is that the ideas offered and the perspective given are merely an expression of another fallible and foibled person (me). Of course any time anyone opens his or her mouth, or puts ideas out by pen or keyboard, they are taking responsibility for what is expressed. And I do. That's why I am scared. I do not want to be responsible for any misleadings or false teachings or OPINIONS which might misrepresent the truth about God or his order.

Misrepresenting God by the pushing of faulty OPINIONS can readily cause someone to "stumble." Here we see that each of the 3 synoptic Gospel writers share what Jesus had to say about the seriousness of such a mistake.

Matthew 18:6
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:2
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of  these little ones to stumble.

Mathew went on in verse 7 to suggest stumbling would indeed happen, and to warn us to be careful with our assertions. "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!"

This is why I try to reference a voice from The Bible in each post. Please call me out if a thought expressed here is not either backed up directly in Scripture, or easily inferred. Or if my inferences are flawed.

I think we suffer much from pushed OPINIONS. We have a new name for the phenomenon of mere OPINIONS being disguised as established fact: "Fake news." We stumble enough on our own without being mislead or encumbered with anything extra-factual.

But HELL, I think, will be filled only with untruth. Jesus said that he IS truth, so there will be only the opposite in HELL. Only OPINION. Which of course leads only to argument and dissension and bullying and hate. One aspect of HELL will be like being sucked into a Facebook comment thread where absolutely nobody can even present a fact and where no rules of logic can be used (they are too much based on truth). So yeah, like a Facebook comment thread!

What a horrible place to dwell in forever!

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Monday, April 17, 2017


                      Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

In case you think this post is "all about you," let me set you straight. It's all about ME! 

You may be projecting a sarcastic voice into that last statement of mine, but alas, no. Too often--as in ALWAYS--I approach the day with that very ME-centric attitude. "How will the weather effect ME? today? Will anybody interfere with MY plans today? Nobody better have an accident and be lying there dying on the highway when I am trying to get to Walmart!" That last one may be a stretch (there is always another Walmart in a different direction), but you get the point.

It's bad enough here and now to be so NARCISSISTIC, but can you imagine that tendency growing in power and strengthening in its particularly selfish focus FOREVER? I feel a certain relief when I put someone else over my considerations. But that will never come in HELL. There will be no pause in the self-torment. Like Gollum falling into the molten mountain with that precious ring in his hand, we would go into HELL obsessed with our own vain wishes. Wide-eyed with expectations and desire for self-fulfillment, but only and always being burned by the hot lava of reality engulfing.

It will one day be too late to repent. TODAY is the day of Salvation. Now, let God empower the change from doomed sinner to forgiven and saved sinner with a promised eternity of celebrating Him, and of sharing a beautiful fellowship with the like-minded.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,"  Philippians 2:3

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Saturday, April 15, 2017


                       Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

Who goes to HELL? The MURDERER or the MURDEREE? Sorry, but that's a trick question. The answer is maybe both or maybe neither. 

Our salvation, or lack thereof, does not depend on our actions. A MURDEREE who has never repented of his sins and found forgiveness in the saving work of Christ for his soul does not get a free pass--he is not redeemed-- by being MURDERED. We can not save ourselves by good works nor are we saved by being wronged (even extremely).

And one of us who commits MURDER may still repent, while he still lives, and be saved from HELL! Not that God our judge can ever be fooled by a "jailhouse confession." He looks into and reads our hearts; discerning the authentic from the contrived. This truth may seem objectionable to some who would cry "Unfair!" at the thought of a killer getting off Scot free, But they need to think about it from the other side. "If God can forgive a MURDERER, he can certainly forgive ME of my little sins!" This is truly good news!

A problem is that so many people think that God is fully obliged to punish MURDERERS, AND that he is then duty bound to let the rest of us non-MURDERERS into heaven. As if we could corner him like some high school teacher and convince him to grade us on a curve! While it is true that some sins are worse than others, and will be judged more harshly, it is also true that every sin is equally damaging to our relationship with God and egregious in his sight. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."   Romans 3:23

NO sin will be allowed into heaven, and therefore must be confessed and repented of so the sinner can be cleansed of even the most trivial, but still very real, transgression. The verse above delivers very bad news to those who would claim immunity from sin, but it continues with very good news for those who can admit they "fall short" and would seek forgiveness:  

"and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." 
Romans 3:24

But in HELL? A MURDERING spirit will live on and on. Though there will be no deliverance, for there is no death in HELL. Just as there are many people here and now that "live" in a perpetual state of having died to life, all those in HELL will go on, not so much as the "living dead" but more as the "dead living."

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Friday, April 14, 2017


                           Did you see the INTRODUCTION to this A to Z series? Check it out here.

LISTENING is one of those things we all try to do for our friends and loved ones, but is so often a struggle. "I HEARD you," he will say, but then she counters with "Yes, but were you LISTENING?" We are often reminded of this important distinction. LISTENING starts with hearing, but means so much more.

We do the same thing with God. Although with him, because he does not confront us face to face but rather in spirit, we go so far as to deny even the hearing part! We pretend we don't even believe he exists despite the fact that: "what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:19 

God speaks to us through our consciences, to start. Society may try to challenge us to prove what we say is right or wrong philosophically, but that is a mere distraction from the truth each of us can directly perceive. (Isn't any particular philosophy actually just the collected conclusion of someone else's conscience, anyway? Better to weigh and consider your own.) It IS enough to say "I know because I know that I know." Better to LISTEN to that voice now, and to follow its lead than to deny it and be forced to admit its validity in the end. Refusing to LISTEN is the sin that will lead many into HELL and leave them there with nothing to hear but their own delusions.

Paul went on in Romans 1 to explain what happens after denying God's message.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:21

But what will become of LISTENING for those who choose HELL? I hate to say it, but perhaps part of being in HELL will be an eternal obligation to LISTEN! If hope is the interval between a promise and its fulfillment, then HELLISH hope is just the vain wish for any promise other than the guarantee of continuous and worsening trouble. "My ears are burning." will be more than a clever metaphor, when people are longing to LISTEN, and futilely straining to even hear the tiniest sound of fellowship or contact or interaction.

"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" Proverbs 1:5

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