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Extreme Measures

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted January 22, 2014

RELIGION – I don’t like the glamorization of Pirates.  I mean they were awful murderous thieves. My boys want to dress up like pirates and I explain to them how awful they were in reality, but thanks to cartoons my boys think they are awesome. Admittedly saying “Ah matey” and wearing an eye patch is pretty fun, but come on they were professional crooks! My boys were to surprised to learn that pirates still exist.
I have on my “to read” list “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” by Captian Richard Phillips. It chronicles his time as a hostage due to terrible Somali pirates.  Modern piracy at sea is still a major problem.

But this week I came across a radical method of deterring the pirates from attacking and boarding the cargo ships. I read in World Magazine that “In the ongoing war against pirates off the Horn of Africa, British merchant navy captains have a new secret weapon: Britney Spears. Loudspeakers blasting hits like “Oops! I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time” have successfully warded off Somali pirates attempting to board cargo vessels traversing the Indian Ocean. Second Officer Rachel Owens told the Mirror that the Western pop culture oozing from Spears’ singles is often enough to repulse the marauding pirates: “Her songs have been chosen by the security team accompanying our tankers because they thought the pirates would hate them most.”

And now you probably hate me as well now that you are humming these tunes in your head. I am positive that the people on board the cargo ships don’t enjoy the songs blaring at deafening levels, but it beats being killed and plundered by pirates. My point is that these men are willing to do anything that they can to protect themselves and their cargo.

Jesus likewise advocated extreme measures to protect our relationship with him. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:29-30  “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  (30)  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Now, I don’t see many one handed Christians or people at church wearing eye patches out of necessity due to gouging out their own eyes in literal obedience to this verse. However many monks in the Coptic Church of Egypt are eunuchs.  They had castrated themselves to try and liberate themselves from the problem of the sexual temptations. That is extreme, and I bet still ineffective although I ain’t going to try it and find out!

So we don’t take this advice literally, mainly because losing an eye or a hand will not change the heart. The advice is a hyperbole meant to challenge us to be willing to make changes that maybe be painful for the sake of our walk with Him. What hard changes need to be made in your life?

For many this may be a change in friends. You simply are in group of people who are bringing you down spiritually and morally. For others, it maybe unplugging the internet. The temptation and access to pornography is ruining your marriage and family.  For others, this may mean giving up alcohol all together. You used to be able to handle a few drinks, but now it is has become a life dominating addiction. Others may need to simply stop being lazy. You are in patterns of slothfulness that are hurting you spiritually and physically.
The point is that nothing will change unless you do something different than you are doing now! Unless you make hard changes you will continue to sing " Oops! I Did It Again " as the sin you refuse to cut loose of drags you down. So what do you need to cut off from your life? Most of us have something, but few of us are willing to do anything about it. Will you?

Pastor Phillip

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