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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


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October 16, 2012 - Nibbled to Death

By Scott Harrup

The Animal Planet series Fatal Attractions chronicles ill-fated, and lethal, choices in pets.

An episode our family watched the other night featured a man who led a solitary life while keeping a variety of large lizards. He had no phone. He cared for his lizards, followed a rigorous exercise routine, cared for his lizards, exercised some more, cared for his lizards. … About the only time he left his small apartment was to go to work or to buy groceries.

This almost-monastic lifestyle meant there were no close friends to be concerned when the man was not seen for several days. His employer thought he was just taking some sick time. Long story short, when co-workers became worried enough to alert the police, officers found the man dead in his apartment. He had become a victim of his own pets.

But here’s the biggest twist I see in this tale. The lizards, though quite large, could not have overpowered the man. He was as fanatical about his exercise routine as he was about his pets and could bench-press 400 pounds.

How did the lizards win? They just waited.

The man was bitten while caring for his pets. One bite on his hand was quite deep. But he laughed it off when he showed it to co-workers a week or so before his death. That bite spelled his doom.

None of the man’s pets was venomous. But in the wild, such lizards can take down even large prey with just a nibble. They bite and then wait, observing their victim. Because the lizards’ mouths are full of bacteria, their victim usually succumbs to uncontrollable infection within a few days. The patient lizards then move in for their meal.

For me, that man’s fate serves as more than a warning against owning a dangerous pet — it’s a metaphor for how sin often attacks. Like most people, I identify a personal list of “big” sins that don’t really tempt me. I stay away from people and places and situations that would clearly ruin my reputation, wreck my marriage, destroy my body, or land me in prison.

The great majority of sins are far more insidious. Give in to a “small” temptation here or there, and the effects may not become apparent for a long time. But their infection in my soul is just as real.

On that same episode of “Fatal Attractions,” a woman died when bitten by a venomous pet snake. “I’d never take that kind of risk,” I thought. And then I pondered the other guy. I realized I could probably follow his mistake.

A quick burst of venom or a slower acting “nibble infection” — but both people were equally dead.

So, too, in life. It doesn’t do me any good to compare myself to anyone else and breathe an inner sigh of relief because “I’d never take that risk.” The apostle Paul reminds me in his epistle to the Romans, “For all have sinned” and “the wages of [any] sin is death” (3:23; 6:23).

In the end, I’m on the wrong moral track entirely if all I’m doing is measuring the risk associated with different sins. They all point to death in one way or another, and the only chance I have at life is through God’s grace.

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (



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