Tag Archives: Proverbs

A Lesson from Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse: dishonouring parents brings a curse

What remains to be said about the tragic death of the famed jazz-soul singer Amy Winehouse? Well, in the secular press you’ll find lots of comments that go something like this: A short sad life, such a waste of talent. Too bad. All true, but not very illuminating or helpful for others.

The Economist news magazine made a deeper analysis in its obituary of Winehouse with this observation:

“Perhaps above all, her life was a lesson in the dangers of early, overwhelming fame—and an admonition to a popular culture that, like a primitive religion, revels in the destruction of its gods” (“A losing game,” Aug. 4, 2011).

Not bad! But still there is a more profound lesson that may be drawn from Winehouse’s recent induction into Club 27’s list of notable dead young musicians that includes: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones among at least 43 others.

While I don’t believe in magic, I do believe that there is such a thing as a curse. The Bible warns:

“For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them” (Proverbs 29:1 Message version).

Amy Winehouse’s parents, Janis and Mitch Winehouse, a few years ago publicly lamented how their daughter’s remarkable, explosive career as a singer/songwriter [her 2006 album Back to Black won a record 5 Grammys] pushed them to the fringes of her new, highly successful but also highly stressful life.

From Mitch and Janis Winehouse’s perspective, their beloved little girl was transformed seemingly overnight into a popular culture music “god,” who was now surrounded by an entourage of “cool” drug-abusing music scene types and tabloid media hacks who fed off her like sharks at feeding time. Their “little angel Amy” became bad girl Winehouse who could be counted on for a good time by music scene low lifes and a stream of outrageous headlines for the tabloid rags. For years Winehouse’s lifestyle of binge drinking, occasional violence, and poly-drug abuse amply fed these various parasites while simultaneously driving her parents to despair.

The Winehouse family tried repeatedly to intervene in their daughter’s life because they knew she needed rescuing from her own self-destructive behaviour. But their efforts availed little because Amy refused to fully cooperate with her parents and change her lifestyle. After all, overcoming addiction and other destructive behaviours requires a meaningful commitment on the part of the one with the problem. In spiritual language this is called repentance.

For those willing to hear—making the Fifth of the Ten Commandments part of your lifestyle offers protection from the personal unhappiness that comes from practicing the primitive, self-destructive religion lived by so many of today’s ”entertainment false gods.” In contrast to depression, unhappiness, violence, and addiction, the Fifth Commandment offers the blessing of strong families and peaceful, happy lives. Such a good blessing is explicitly promised by that commandment:

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 (NKJV)

Of course, this vitally important principle of living was not just taught by the Old Covenant. The Apostle Paul made sure it was thoroughly ingrained in the ethos of the nascent Christian church:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives, His co-Creators in your existence], for this is just and right.
Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—this is the first commandment [or “the preeminent commandment”] with a promise—
That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 Amplified version.

It should be noted that the Fifth Commandment was not just directed to young children who are still living at home with their parents. Jesus Christ made the specific point in the Gospel of Mark chapter 7 verses 10-11 that it continued to be the duty of adult children!

God’s law, His Moral Logic of the Universe always works—doesn’t matter whether you believe there is a God or not —it works for both believer and non-believer. This was a core teaching of the Apostle Paul:

When the Gentiles [non-Jews] sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews [Amy Winehouse was Jewish], who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life (Romans 2:12-16 NLT

Amy Winehouse very publicly failed to obey the Fifth Commandment. Consequently, she also failed to receive the commandment’s promise of long life, well-being, and a happy family of her own. Instead she got the curse of an early, untimely death. This is the totally un-PC lesson you’ll never read about in the secular press. But it is the truth.

Evil deserves Justice


How do we, as a society, effectively respond to evil? This week the B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Johnston sentenced Kruse Hendrik Wellwood, 17, and Cameron Alexander Moffat, 18, to life in prison with no possibility for parole for 10 years. They were convicted by a large amount of grisly evidence and by the testimony of their own mouths.

What was the crime Wellwood and Moffat committed? Judge Johnston said,
“It goes without saying first-degree murder with intent to kill is the most serious of offences. The circumstances of this murder as admitted by the young persons are so horrific that no words can adequately convey the inhumane cruelty these young men show Miss [Kimberly] Proctor. They planned in advance to sexually assault and kill Miss Proctor. They chose her because they thought she would be an easy target, not necessarily because either of them had any ill will towards her.”

After sentencing, outside the courtroom, Fred Proctor, the father of Kimberly Proctor, said of Wellwood and Moffat, “To me they’re just monsters and monsters are not rehabilitatable.” Mr. Proctor disputed the appropriateness of the judge’s sentence arguing that the murderers deserved the death penalty for their actions.

Wellwood and Moffat lured Kimberly Proctor to Wellwood’s home in a Victoria, B.C., suburb where they bound and gagged her, raped her, beat her to the point of breaking bones, strangled her, mutilated her body with a knife, performed necrophilia, put her body in the freezer and then dumped her body in a lonely public park, setting fire to the remains in an effort to destroy any evidence. Victoria’s Times-Colonist, April 5, 2011, reported:

“Psychiatric and psychological reports on the teens—who were 16 and 17 at the time of the murder—show they are at a high risk to re-offend violently and sexually. The reports also show there is little chance they can be rehabilitated.”

These two young men admitted deriving an overwhelming adrenalin rush from inflicting pain, suffering, and death on another human being. They exhibited a complete lack of conscience, empathy, and heart. Doing evil gave them pleasure. In fact, their blood lust was driving them to repeat their monstrous offense. When police finally caught up with them, the sadistic teen murderers had already identified their next victim.

So, ten years from now, should Wellwood and Moffat get their parole and be released at ages 27 and 28, respectively, would you like them living next to you? Talking to your daughter or granddaughter? That’s what our present legal system is planning. Is this justice? Or is this a perversion, a mockery of genuine justice?

What is the just thing to do with our “Wormwood and Malediction?” Well, if our society had not turned its back on the God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures we would know exactly what to do with these monsters. We would know which laws should to be enacted and enforced to effectively produce a society of increasing peacefulness rather than the one Kimberly Proctor found herself living in.

But, of course, these days our mainstream media, as a general rule, mocks the Creator God and ignores His teachings. Our media’s gatekeepers shutout and marginalize as eccentrics and troglodites those social conservatives who would point us back to humanity’s original instruction book as the source for understanding the nature of justice and its administration.

But instead we see a secular society that is increasingly clueless about how to effectively “weed and feed” the ordinary garden variety type of human dandelions much less how to actually cut off by the roots the noxious giant hogweed sort of evil among us. Consequently what we see is a society where the value of human life is on sale and getting cheaper by the day as we degenerate.

You and I are stuck with a practically unaffordable big government legal system that spawns systemic injustices of all sorts leading inevitably to crowded, revolving door Club Feds from which people like Wormwood and Malediction walk out scot free after a few years of being fed, housed, and supervised at great public expense.

How long will this go on? I would guess until we learn our lessons.

The first lesson is that any society that cuts itself off from its Creator eventually becomes corrupt, filled with violence, brutal, and cruel, engendering many  individuals who lack natural human affection (cf. Genesis 6:11 & 2 Timothy 3:1-4).

The second lesson is that the “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7 New Living Translation).

Now when it comes to properly rewarding murderers, the Creator has something to say to those charged with administering justice:

And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image (Genesis 9:5-6 NLT).

As a society, we have a God-given responsibility to administer justice to cold-blooded murderers by executing them. This is the instruction of the Creator God who made man and woman in His image and breathed into them the breath of life. The consequences to our society for its failure to atone for the shedding of innocent blood by executing convicted murderers is to bring some measure of blood guilt upon our entire community (cf. Deuteronomy 19:13 and 21:8-9). As a direct result of our lack of motivation to see justice done as prescribed by the God of Justice, it will not go well with our communities. As it was written so long ago,

Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 16:20 English Standard Version).

Good Samaritans do the right thing

Are you ready in your mind to act instantly to do the right thing should you be called upon to help out in an emergency?

January 17th seemed a normal enough start to a Monday morning for Constable Lane Douglas-Hunt of the Victoria police department as she walked out of a downtown convenience store where she had investigated a complaint about a stolen candy bar. But life can turn in an instant.  Suddenly a mentally unstable man with a taste for violence and a large filet knife launched a vicious, unprovoked attack on the young rookie constable, stabbing her in the neck and then slashing her hands as she attempted to defend herself.

Blair Bates, a local plumber with kickboxing and kung fu training, just happened to be driving by on his way to work. Bates saw the attack, and stood on his breaks pulling over to the curb by the pair now struggling on the sidewalk with the assailant on top slashing away at the severely wounded, weakened police officer. The Canadian Press story quotes the intervening plumber as saying,

“It was just an instant, primal, instinctual reaction, and there was no thought, it was just do… There was no adrenaline, no nothing. I just thought, ‘I have to address this….’ I knew that if I didn’t (help) that she was a goner.

“Within split seconds, he threw all 200 lbs. of his wide-framed body on the attacker, knocking him off the woman as the pair rolled on the ground. He could see she was bleeding profusely from her hands and appeared to be in shock. He dug his knee into the man’s back, slugged his ears several times, and subdued him by saying ‘Buddy, just give me an excuse to kill you.’ The trembling officer flung out her handcuffs and with the help of two more people they restrained him.

“Sgt. Grant Hamilton, spokesman for the Victoria Police, said it was the Good Samaritans’ choice to put themselves in danger. ‘Obviously in this situation we’re very glad they did,’ he said. ‘It’s the right thing to do.’” http://home.mytelus.com/telusen/portal/NewsChannel.aspx?CatID=National&ArticleID=news/capfeed/national/VD721.xml

In a world when so many just don’t want to get involved, or get out of their comfort zone should someone need their help, the Scriptures have something to say to each of us about our personal accountability when we see others in trouble.  

Don’t give up and be helpless in times of trouble.

Don’t fail to rescue those who are doomed to die.

Don’t say, “I didn’t know it!”

God can read your mind.

He watches each of us and knows our thoughts.

And God will pay us back for what we do (Proverbs 24:10-12, Contemporary English Version).

Helping others doesn’t always require the years of martial arts training or the sheer guts that Blair Bates was able to call upon to help Const. Douglas-Hunt in her time of need. All that you need is a heart willing to love your neighour as yourself.

A few weeks ago I was driving home in Nanaimo with my 13-year-old son when I heard a loud pop. Suddenly, smoke started billowing out obscuring my vision. Quickly pulling over to the curb, I popped the hood only to see the engine engulfed in flames and clouds of dark, foul-smelling smoke. Not having anything more useful in that old car, I got a bit of carpet out of the trunk and tried to beat down the flames while I sent my son running to knock on the neighbours’ doors so see if someone had a fire extinguisher. Fortunately someone was ready and willing to help and I was able to put out the fire and save the car plus a week’s groceries.

The godly principle is that we are to be our brother and sister’s keeper. God himself promises to pay us back for whatever good we do for others. Now that’s a truly win-win proposition. If we taught this truth a little more vigorously in our society, our communities would soon become much better places in which to live. Hats off to our Good Samaritans!

The tie that binds us: a question of leadership

Canada is one of the most successful nations in the world. Why is this so?

When it comes to landmass Russia is about 1.7 times larger than Canada and has a population that is more than 4.1 times larger than Canada’s. Only 4.57% of Canada’s land is arable or suited for growing food.  In comparison 7.17% of mother Russia is fertile land. So Russia has an enormous advantage over Canada in both food-productive arable land, population size, and a massive landmass that is rich in exploitable mineral and hydrocarbon resources. Also, about 50.4% of Russia is covered by forests in comparison to Canada’s 26.5%.  So it would seem that Russia has a tremendous advantage over Canada and should be significantly richer.

Yet when it comes to comparing per capita income, Canada comes in 11th in the world with $29,740 while Russia only weakly registers as 82nd in the world with a relatively meager $8,920. Russian per capita income is just 30% of a Canadian! Such an economic disparity also shows up, logically, in export and GDP stats. Canada exports about $431 billion worth of stuff per year while Russia ships abroad only $335 billion.  Canada’s Gross Domestic Product weighs in at $1.25 trillion yearly while Russia’s GDP amounts to only $986 billion. The Canadian GDP is about 26% greater than Russia’s (stats courtesy of http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia).

Why such a surprising discrepancy? Among all the nations of this world, in the human development index (life expectancy, literacy, and standard of living), Canada is ranked as 5th among 178 nations while Russia lags behind in 62nd place. In the economic freedom index (rule of law and property rights) Canada is 18th amongst 156 countries surveyed whilst Russia is a pathetic 137th.  Obviously, in such a comparison to Russia, Canada is punching far above its basic national statistical weight! Why?

Why are we doing so much better than the Russians? It comes down to a question of leadership. Consider the past to understand the present, and perhaps to even see into the future.

The Russians brutally murdered their Monarch and their royal family in the early part of the 20th Century and embraced atheism as a national doctrine and Marxist-Leninism as their guide in economics. The result was a long series of brutal, paranoid dictators who oppressed the Russian people in order to control them and spent an incredible amount of their resources on a massive military infrastructure.

Canada, on the other hand, cherished its Monarchy and royal family. Canada also embraced for its theology, for the most part, Judeo-Christian religions with values that flowed from the Bible’s abiding respect for the rule of law and private property rights and a whole list of personal freedoms.

The effect of these different paths followed by Canada and Russia were consequences with very different outcomes.

Canada’s success and its foundational political institutions and documents are deeply indebted to the royal family for the solid cornerstone upon which the Canadian national enterprise has been built. The British/Canadian/Australian/New Zealand, etc. royal family has been one of the most successful political franchises the world has ever seen! Again, it has been a question of leadership.

Queen Elizabeth II, the present Queen of Canada and Canadian forces commander-in-chief, has been home with her people this week celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, and our national birthday–Canada Day—on July 1st. Over 100,000 people enthusiastically greeted the Queen in Ottawa for this celebration.

Most Canadians of English-speaking descent are content with our present system of constitutional monarchy. However, most of the French-speaking are not so enthusiastic nor are those English-speakers infected by republicanism. For them the grass is always greener on the other side. But then we, Canadians, know that whining about the monarchy is as Canadian as complaining about the weather, eating pancakes with maple syrup or griping about having to learn to speak in school that “other” official Canadian language be it French or English.

The plain fact of history is, whether we like it or not, that Canada is what it is today–highly successful–in great part due to the role played in our national life by our monarchy.

The Scriptures have something to say about the important role of leadership in a nation’s well-being:

2When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2, 21st Century King James Version).

And…

4 The king establishes the land by justice, but he who receives bribes overthrows it (Proverbs 29:4, NKJV).

Again…

14 A king who judges the poor with fairness—his throne will be established forever.

In Canada, our very human Monarchy has been the tie that has bound us to each other and to others scattered around the world, setting an example for good, mostly. It has been the tie that has sustained us through thick and thin and we should show respect to our Queen and those who govern in her name. As the Apostle Paul admonished Christians:

1LET EVERY person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment…. 7Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:1 and 7, Amplified Version).

So on the Canada day weekend, let us remember to show respect  and honor to those whose mostly good examples have allowed us to enjoy living in such a wonderful country.

Our present life: an illusion of stability?

There are a number of financial newsletters put out by goldbugs with a survivalist bent that are busy prophesying to cyberspace about the eminent default of our financial systems and the resulting collapse of Western civilization and our present consumer/globalist life as we know it.

I don’t doubt that the incredible debt load of the United States is threatening the U.S. dollar’s continuing status as the world’s reserve currency—time is truly running out for the no-longer almighty dollar.

But it is now equally obvious that the Euro is not going to be the sweet alternative that could replace the faltering greenback.  This is because the European Union’s underlying financial contradictions have become all too apparent to many currency speculators who are selling the Euro short on the market and driving its value down. They talk about the Euro being doomed.

After all, how can you have anything but a soap opera or a fairy tale of a currency when you have one central bank with its single currency acting as the exasperated, over-stretched supranational husband trying to manage a polygamous EU marriage involving 27 sovereign wives who each has deeply ingrained habits. Each of these fractious wife-states has peculiarities when it comes to running her own household’s national budget. While Sensible Hilda and Prudent Gertrude may only spend what a no-nonsense budgetary discipline allows, Impulsive Athena and Romantic Maria will beg and borrow to shop on credit till they drop from insolvency! The only solution for the EU is a scary centralizing consolidation of Brussels’ political and economic power on the one hand, and the loss of national sovereignty of the individual EU member states on the other hand.

None of the above bodes particularly well for our future financial stability not to mention our political status quo here in Canada. After all, we play but a short, walk-on, secondary role on this world’s stage. We are not a major power. But, since most of us are neither central bankers nor political heavyweights with either macro-economic or governmental clout, we go about our relatively comfortable, day-by-day routines, assuming or hoping that today’s normalcy is stable and continuing for as far as we care to see into the future. But we are probably kidding ourselves.

On a personal and family level our daily lives are most certainly nothing more than illusions of stability.

This past week reminded me of this sobering truth. One of the pillars of our local church and the mother of one of my friends had a stroke. Then one of my 40-something friends told me that his doctor had given him some very disturbing medical test results.

A few days later while driving to my local shopping centre for an errand I had to stop on a busy two-lane road while the car ahead of me made a left turn. Suddenly I heard behind me the sound of screaming brakes as that heavy-footed driver behind me tried to avoid—unsuccessfully—from crashing into me.  In spite of a sore neck and jumpy nerves, I celebrated being alive one more day and enjoyed a little ice cream.

The following day, last Friday, my brother called me to say my 80ish step-dad was discovered by police 60 miles from his home driving on a bike path, not knowing where he was. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in an advanced stage. He’s now in a nursing home while his wife, my mother, who is  now legally blind due to macular degeneration , is now going to have to change her whole life’s routine as it is no longer possible for her to stay in her home by herself.  Everything in a status quo goes along until… one day, everything changes and can never be the same again.

Our present life in this world is inherently instable whether we’re talking about the big picture or just our mortal selves. And no matter how much we cling to the status quo with our fingernails dug in, one day it will all be ripped from you and me.

Surprisingly, the Judeo-Christian scriptures have something to say about what makes life more stable. On a big picture scale the book of Proverbs says:

When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability (Prov. 28:2 NLT trans.)

The prophet Isaiah talked of a time when everything begins to fall apart and become unstable. He made a suggestion of where we can look to preserve our balance and peace of mind in a time of sudden instability:

Look! Listen! 
Tough men weep openly. Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears. The roads are empty— not a soul out on the streets. The peace treaty is broken, its conditions violated, its signers reviled. The very ground under our feet mourns….

God is supremely esteemed. His center holds. Zion brims over with all that is just and right. God keeps your days stable and secure—salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus, and best of all, Zion’s treasure, Fear-of-God.

God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope. First thing in the morning, be there for us! When things go bad, help us out! (Isaiah 33:7-8, 5-6, 2-4 The Message translation)

The bottom line for this Old Covenant prophet was that the only source of stability in a time of instability was to look to the God of the Bible. Not surprisingly, the New Covenant apostles taught much the same thing.

While focusing more on the individual who is faced with mortality, the New Covenant solution to instability is still to focus our priorities God-ward. We are encouraged to incorporate into our daily routine the spiritual wisdom and knowledge that really matters when it comes to how we live our lives.

We may be merely physical beings, depreciating assets, but there still is the possibility that we can convert instability into stability, temporary into permanent, and move away from what is transitory into what is lasting. Consider the inherent stability and permanence proclaimed by the apostle Peter that belongs to Christians who have wholeheartedly embraced the spiritual life:

23You have been regenerated (born again), not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm), but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God.

24For all flesh (mankind) is like grass, and all its glory (honor) like [the] flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower drops off,

25But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever. And this Word is the good news which was preached to you (1 Peter 1:23-25 Amplified version).

You have the opportunity to move from an illusion of stability to the reality of stability and permanence. Are you acting on it? Or do you believe that everything will just continue on just as it is presently without end?

When stepping on someone’s toes results in murder

On a pleasant late July evening in Victoria, B.C. two years ago, 16-year-old Mark Arrieta pulled out a handgun at the strident urging of his 22-year-old “friend,” Somphanvanh Chanthabouala, and shot at point-blank range three other young people, seriously injuring two while killing 20-year-old University of Victoria student Philbert Truong.  The shooting was the result of Chanthabouala feeling “disrespected” earlier in the evening at the Red Jacket nightclub by one of Philbert Truong’s friends, Thuan Le. A witness later said that Le’s disrespect was inadvertent, but literal. He stepped on Chanthabouala’s toes that evening at the crowded nightclub.

Quickly arrested after the shootings, Arrieta and Chanthabouala passed their time in the police station’s interrogation room by composing, singing, and dancing (in handcuffs?) a rap song that glorified another recent shooting in the news—that of a Victoria policeman.   Later, the judge presiding at the trials of Arrieta and Chanthabouala watched the CCTV footage of the accused performing their rap song that night and was struck by Arrieta’s and Chanthabouala’s nonchalant attitude towards violence that exhibited a “disturbing callousness.”

Most criminals hide their inner thoughts and feelings from the authorities. But Arrieta exposed his inner state by writing a bit of doggerel that was discovered during a routine search of his cell. He composed it while awaiting trial:

I ain’t got a heart bitch, I got an ice box…Packing for that action bitch u better know I got mine, Any type of situation, I ain’t got no hesitation, Imma real g [I’m a real gangsta] don’t compare me to an imitation.

A callous disregard for another human being’s life doesn’t happen all at once. After all, we aren’t born with a full slate of anger and hate. It takes time to build up a nonchalant attitude towards violence. In grade 4 Mark Arrieta was suspended for starting a small fire. The grade 5 teacher described in her reports that the 10-year-old version of Mark Arrieta whom she taught was disruptive, angry, and disrespectful. Before moving to Victoria from Toronto the troubled youth was involved in an estimated 20 to 30 fights. In grade 8 Arrieta was suspended for hitting a teacher and for bringing a knife to school.

Going from bad to worse in grade 9, Mark Arrieta rarely came to school and reportedly smoked pot every day. Arrieta’s last suspension from school in April 2008 was due to the now well-established pattern of fighting with other students and threatening a teacher. This last suspension from school came only five months before Mark Arrieta murdered Philbert Truong.

Like a missile veering off course, destruction was the inevitable outcome of this angry trajectory. Sadly, both Arrieta’s parents and the school system proved unable to effect a course change.

While awaiting trial, Mark Arrieta told the detention centre’s chaplain that his principle motivation in life had been to escape what he described as the “poverty” of his youth. He resented the fact that his hardworking immigrant parents couldn’t afford to buy him the luxuries he wanted. When other elementary students had something he wanted he became jealous of the material possessions belonging to others. He wanted money to buy the objects he desired.  After his last suspension, Arrieta moved out of his parents’ home, and into the alluring embrace of a “dial-a-dope” drug ring led by Chanthabouala.  Dealing drugs provide Mark Arrieta with lots of money and a like-minded social circle that shared his twisted materialistic values and his nonchalant attitude toward violence.

A long time ago the Apostle Paul warned future readers about what happens when a society turns it’s back on the God of the Bible and His teachings.

For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.

[They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good (2 Timothy 3:2-4 Amplified Bible).

Even on a purely materialistic level of understanding we know that you are, indeed, what you eat. A nation that readily promotes and eats fast-food becomes swollen, fat, obese—in a word, physically unhealthy. This is simple, observable, provable cause and effect. So, why is it that we can’t see that when it comes to feeding the mind “garbage in does indeed equal garbage out”?

Our society overflows with images promoting endless mountains of “stuff” to sell us. It “entertains” us with images of every sort of violent act on our illuminated screens. Why our society even entices us to waste countless hours of our very short lives in this violence-rich entertainment milieux via interactive computer/virtual reality games. Billions and billions of dollars are being made in this greedy exploitation of the gospel of selfishness, materialism, and violence.  The whole world (mostly) has embraced these destructive values. Why should we be surprised when a young convert to selfishness, materialism, and violence goes overboard in youthful exuberance and acts out the images in his head?

Chapter 23 of the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the case of Mark Arrieta. If the people and institutions that had influence on this young man’s life had considered and acted to furnish this young man’s mind with the wisdom presented there, then Mark Arrieta’s life would have turned out differently. For, paraphrasing Proverbs 23:7, as a young man thinks in his heart so he will be.

What we think about and celebrate is of critical importance in determining who we are and what will be our future. Simply put, a good future will come to those who think about good things. But a bad future will come to those who think about bad things. The moral logic of the universe is clear. As the Apostle Paul concluded:

8-9Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies (Philippians 4:8-9, Message translation).