Category Archives: Self

Self – how to achieve peace with

Genesis 3:1-9, 21-24 has a perspective we need to accept.  It says that Eve thought the forbidden fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom.”  In other words, she thought she’d be wise if she knew evil as well as good.  But she and Adam gained only knowledge, for no wisdom exists by disobeying God, however much we learn about sin.  There’s only guilt, fear and punishment.  The very first result of sinning was the guilt of nakedness that forced both to hide from each other.   Unfortunately for them, the same guilt caused them to hide from God, a guilt that only an animal’s blood could eliminate.

Having unsuccessfully warned them not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God banished them from Eden to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life.  That prevented them and us from living forever in sin.

The Bible account rings a tocsin at our culture.  For we’re still trying to find peace with ourselves by education, science and technology.  When we don’t find it from the above, we resort to personal creativity.  One lady began a Kindness Rocks Project:  rocks with short, nice, kind messages.  Another lady makes a living as a landscape designer turning back yards into showplaces of personal self-worth:  “I’m pretty inside and out.”  San Diego U-T, 8/12/17

Part of this reflects the narcissism of Americans.  We consider ourselves “beautiful” and want our surroundings to reflect it.  Part of it is the expansion of educational classes in many careers never before available.

Understand the spiritual implications.  Like Eve, many consider that what they want, desire and crave is what proves their self-worth.  Any effort at creating something soft, quiet and helpful are subliminal messages to ourselves:  we really are worth something.  We’re really trying to convince ourselves:  we’re O.K.  Give us time and we’ll get life right.  Let our creative urges flow long enough and we’ll correct the wrongs that our alienation from God have caused.  (This isn’t how the unsaved talk or think; it’s the Biblical message they need to hear.)

The Genesis text warns us:  we’re sinners needing God’s forgiveness in Christ to recover what Adam and Eve’s sin lost.  We’re never going back to Eden on our own.  God set cherubim and a flaming sword to keep people from Eden.  And the way back only re-opened through Jesus Christ at his death.

Without God we’ll always create outside stuff to seek inner peace.  While God warns us we must seek peace with him that cleanses our sins before we have personal self-worth.  Then we won’t need the fluff we now rely on to give us meaning.  For we’ll be the testimony, not of our goodness, but of God’s grace; not of our value but of the Master’s all-embracing perfection.

Consider this also:  whenever we take it on ourselves to prove our worth, we seldom find anything we do is sufficient proof.  Where confessing our sins and being baptized into Christ automatically provide proof of worth—by grace alone we’re saved—we can never on our own be sure if we DO enough, create enough, think highly enough to earn acceptance. 

Check out my E-books and website at:;

 Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at






Self – too accurate a portrait of

The Daguerreotype, named after its inventor Louis Daguerre—why can’t foreigners have names like Jones or Smith?—offered the first likeness of humans on film.  A productive business in the art flourished in New Orleans.  (In honor of our friend Mike Brown, in NOLA—New Orleans, Louisiana.)

A cumbersome procedure, the study had to sit quietly, unmoving, while the plate developed the image.  The photographer had a gadget that fit around the back of the head, holding it still.  Like all cameras—and not a few portraits—they re-produced only what existed.  Which brought howls of dissatisfaction to many people, who didn’t like what the camera photographed.  The Daguerreotype unfailingly replied that, “The camera reports nature’s truths.”  Photography in New Orleans, 32-33

Which has a spiritually relevant point.  We don’t like what God says about us when he calls us sinners.  We don’t want to be called sinners.  We’re decent, moral people.  We pay our debts.  We support charities.  We congratulate any honesty or generosity people show.  We express regret when disaster afflicts others.  We bravely endure when it afflicts us. Let us be valued, not criticized.

Too bad.  Nothing we mention as our value impresses God.  Nothing secures our relationship with God.  Sinners we are and sinners we remain, even after our baptism—only then we’re sinners saved by grace.  But not because he doesn’t see us as we really ARE.

Let us never come to God complaining about how his WORD pictures us.  For it’s exactly what he sees when he views us.  His Son didn’t die because we were easy on his eyes and naturally attractive to him.  We were, and are, natural spiritual rebels who must lay down our arms and surrender to him.  Only then do we acquire the spiritual beauty we think we have without surrender.

Check out my E-books and website at:;           

 Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at

Self – God reveals our real

The morning after the deadly Galveston hurricane, 1900, a priest walked the clogged landscape, trying to gauge the human casualties.   At the wharf a group of men prepared to sail a yacht to seek outside help.  The priest urged them to minimize the losses.  He thought it better to later increase than reduce the numbers.  He even suggested they project the losses at 500 people.  Isaac’s Storm, 233.

That’s like Samuel Chamberlain’s book The New England Image.  He admitted to standing idle for hours while waiting for the correct amount of sunshine to snap his photographs.  While admitting that New England had many less attractive moods, his book captured its “sunny aspect.” p. 11

That’s also like us.  Most of us don’t wear our “getting-out-of-bed” look when we start our public day.  We want to greet, not terrify acquaintances.

The trouble comes when we come to God flaunting our ‘best” side, hiding our “worst” side and expecting him to see only our made-up self.

He won’t have us that way; won’t accept us that way; refuses to tolerate as that way.  The first beatitude remains, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” Matthew 5:3.  Those who understand their pitiful spiritual state before God; their soul’s just-out-of-bed” horror.  Before we appreciate Christ’s forgiveness, we need to upgrade awareness of our unfitness to receive it.  We have no merit before God.  None.  His willingness to remove our unfitness depends on our admission that we don’t deserve it.

Check out my E-books and website at:;           

 Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

 New book:  The Parables of Jesus at

Self – no limit to what we can spend on

An article in Saturday’s U-T, 6/24/17, revealed the latest home-improvement idea:  create outdoor living that compares with indoor luxury.  That way you can be simultaneously homeless in comfort while free at any time to seek indoor security.

Of course you need the accouterments of successful outdoor living.  Perhaps the most important is a sound system and flat screen television.  That way you can be a nuisance to the neighborhood. They can call the cops who’ll come and tell you to “turn it down.”

Then you’ll need a fire pit to keep the chill away after Old Sol sets in the West over the great Deep.  And what would the outdoors be without comfortable furniture, rugs, carpets and/or tile? To say nothing of a daybed when you can nap (a good idea), or read (OK also), while zephyrs float lazily by.  Then, when you awaken or tire, you rise and reach the high tech grill on which you can cook a meal or snack.

To complete the outdoor-indoor delight, build a bar at the end of one wall.  Then you and your guests can booze up the place.  What’s America for if it isn’t to drink alcohol?  Oh, and don’t forget…string some lights along the perimeter.  So Cal doesn’t have much trouble with bugs, and people do need to SEE.

Your Eden in lifestyle awaits.  Just overlook the thousands of dollars you’ll pay for the things “you must have” to be a complete indoor-outdoor afficianado.

Jesus told us to crucify self, to live in self-denying discipleship, to spend little on what constitutes any kind of self-indulgence.  Against his every refusal to tolerate us if we disobey, we continue in self-absorbed conspicuous consumption.  Our every failure to succeed as Christians without him fuels our desire to remain self-willed.  We consider every demand for self-denial a permission to live self-indulgently.  What perverse people even disciples are.  And how much more so those who don’t recognize Christ’s ownership of life and his right to order our obedience.  Listen to him when he speaks.  Obey when he commands.  Or we’ll be useless to him now and sorry for ourselves forever.

Check out my E-books and website at:;        

Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley) 

New book:  The Parables of Jesus at

Self – scripture’s portrait of us as accurate, not pretty

Abraham Lincoln stood about 6’4”, but his looks stood quite a lot lower.  His face looked considerably handsomer when lighted by his smile.  But he wouldn’t have been a finalist in any looking contest.

With some justification, Matthew Brady claimed that his portrait of Lincoln, taken after his Cooper Union speech, helped make him President.  Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles commissioned a portrait of the President that he considered a good likeness.  The President didn’t disagree, but had a story.  A western man secretly had himself painted to give his wife a birthday present.  But her response on first seeing it was, “Horribly like.”  Which Lincoln considered appropriate to Welles’ portrait of him.  War years III, 428

Well…we all like our best side photographed.  Some of us think we have no “best side.”  Any picture is “horribly like” us.

Which is humiliatingly true of all spiritually.  Scripture everywhere, once we left the innocence and security of Eden, paints us in unflattering, brutal, nothing-beautiful and everything-homely tones.  And every single frame accurate!

That view of us collides with our view of us.  We consider ourselves not bad looking spiritually if equating spiritual with moral.  Which scripture doesn’t and won’t.  However much we “clean up morally,” we’re still ugly spiritually if outside Christ’s grace.  Only conversion to him from our lost estate, secured by his grace and our obedience in repentance and baptism, gives us a new look, a fancy look, a pretty look, a handsome look—and all because we look like Jesus in our new state.

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Self – improving our image by debasing another’s

In his short story Mackintosh, Somerset Maugham painted Mackintosh as a fastidious legalist, the opposite of his boss, Walker.  At night Mackintosh would awaken and immediately think of an insult Walker had delivered during the day.  What galled him was his inability to return it.  If he tried to match barbs, Walker had a quicker, more biting wit.  If he occasionally thrust a delicate shaft Walker missed it entirely.

What could Mackintosh do?  He hated Walker with an increasing mania.  He had to find a way to diminish him.  He found it in their opposite habits.  Mackintosh could pride himself in being different from Walker.  Walker ate noisily and greedily; Mackintosh thought:  “The barbarian.”  Walker used bad grammar and said ignorant things; Mackintosh thought:  “Uneducated boor.”  When Walker openly despised his assistant Mackintosh thought:  “The fool; he doesn’t know a good man when he sees him.”  In every possible way Mackintosh elevated himself by debasing his boss.

Unconverted human nature often exalts its virtue by critiquing another’s faults.  It’s the sin Paul condemned in II Corinthians 10:12.  Christ’s nature in us WON’T.  Instead, it remembers to “do to others what you would have them do to you….”  Matthew 7:12.  It remembers to “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Colossians 3:13.  It honors the admonition “…but in humility consider others better than yourselves” Philippians 2:4.

Mackintosh finally had his boss killed.  No wonder:  murder lurked within him just waiting a chance to strike.  If we were to extrapolate into a future act what we presently think of someone, what would we do to that person?

Self – the cause we blame last of all, or never

Wherever slavery existed, owners felt threatened by revolts that could come at any time and came often enough that whites never felt safe.  In September, 1739, one such rebellion occurred in Charles Town, South Carolina.  Twenty slaves stole “guns and gunpowder from a  store, killing and decapitating” two storekeepers.

However, instead of heading quickly south to Florida and freedom, they marched along pounding a drum and shouting “Liberty!”  This attracted other slaves until 80-100 had been recruited.  They burned plantations as they marched and killed 20 whites.

The owners in turn mounted an offensive that ran them down on the second day.  They cornered and killed most of the runaways, most after they surrendered.  Then, as a warning, cut off their heads and posted one to each mile back to Charles Town.  American Colonies, 240

Slave owners never stopped to ponder:  slavery itself was the cause of their fear.

Like them, we hardly ever think that our sin causes the problems we face.  We blame the government—which often brings misery to our lives.  We blame education—which is certainly responsible for much of our alienation from God.  We blame the preachers—who are sometimes under God’s indictment for weakly and indirectly proclaiming his word.

We far too seldom blame ourselves.  Even though, as Toscanini once said to a refractory, incompetent orchestra member, we are “what’s standing between”  God and his intention for us.

When Jesus and his apostles preached, they never hinted that someone else was the reason we needed to repent.  We remain the cause of our rejection of God.  We need to repent of being ourselves.


Self – the poorest of all deities

A San Diego Union cartoon featured the face of the late Maya Angelou.  As a crown over her head it had what was likely one of her favorite sayings:  “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”  Union Tribune, 5/29/14

In fact, anyone who ever put his feelings before God’s Word, has made a deity of himself.  The homosexual who knows what the Bible says against the lifestyle, but “thinks” it’s still acceptable, has made a deity of himself.  The moral person who considers Christ’s death on Calvary unnecessary for him since “he’s a good person” has made a deity of himself.

We do not need encouragement to “listen to yourself.”  We do it naturally, innately, viscerally.  We need to be warned “Never do that!”  For self makes the poorest of all deities, because it’s inflamed, swollen and marinated in the Satanic temptation to consider one’s self God’s equal.