What We Allow In by Randy Rowley 10/20/14 ©


On a hot day in early June, two friends and I launched my bass boat on Lake Decker for a morning of bass fishing.  Soon after arriving at the hot water discharge, I caught a 15-inch long bass on a mossback shiner color Rapala Clackin’ Rap lipless crankbait.

As he only weighed about a pound and a half, I didn’t bother with my net and instead swung him out of the water and into my boat with my rod.  I’ll never know why, but I lipped him (grabbed his lip with my thumb and index finger) with my right hand, which was not my norm, as I usually lip bass with my left hand and use my right hand to remove the lure.

I couldn’t unhook him with my left hand, so I reached down and grabbed a pair of pliers and then grasped the hook with the pliers.

Then things went wrong.  The bass shook its head hard, and I lost my grip.  As the bass fell, one of the hooks embedded itself in my right thumb, and another hook caught me in my right index finger.  The bass was dangling from my hand, still shaking his head.  Every shake drove the hooks further and further into my flesh.  I put the bass on the floor of my boat and eventually freed the lure with the pliers.  I then returned him to the water and went to work on my hand.

I pulled the hook out of my thumb, but the hook in my finger was buried past the barb.  I tried to pull it out and couldn’t budge it.  I then tried to cut it out with my knife, but it was too dull.  I borrowed Burl Fulenwider’s knife and got the same results.  (Dustin Rhodes didn’t have one for me to borrow.)  I then used a pair of ring pliers to remove the hook from the lure, which was not easy to do with my left/off-hand.

Now, all that I had sticking out from my finger was the treble hook.  As I needed that finger to cast my rod and work the reel, I was in a quandary.  Rather than not fish for the rest of the morning, I decided to cut the barb closest to my finger with a pair of cutting pliers.

That also proved to be a big mistake.  I left about ¼” of the hook outside my finger, figuring that would be enough for a doctor to grab with a pair of surgical pliers.  But to my chagrin, I watched the remainder of the hook work its way inside my finger over the next several hours.  My dilemma was finally resolved in a minor ER seven hours after I hooked myself.  The doctor had to cut out what my poor decision had allowed to enter.

A near-universal experience of humanity is we have friends.  Some of us have a lot of friends, but none of them are particularly close.  Others don’t have many friends, but the few friends that they have are tight-knit.  Most of us fall in between those two extremes.

More than just liking and sharing our Facebook posts, friends are people with whom we can share our sorrows, dreams, failures, and victories.  True friends are with us through thick and thin.  They encourage us, challenge us and reprove us when necessary.  We don’t have to tell them our hunting, fishing, and shooting stories, as they were there with us.

Especially we men tend to develop friendships with other men who like to do what we like to do.  Our friends hunt, fish, and shoot with us.  Some even play sports and serve others with us.  For example, our club was founded in 1988 because seven men went on a Mouflon and Corsican sheep hunt.  We had such a great time that we decided to form a club that provided similar opportunities.

We men also tend to develop friendships with other men who think the way we do.  Sure, we’ve got acquaintances that see the world differently than we do, but we don’t call them the honored title of “friend.”  Why have a friend who is going to argue with what you say?

Friends are essential for our spiritual and mental health.  They not only make life more enjoyable, but they also make it worth living.  But what makes a friend a true friend is how they treat you when your world collapses.  Fairweather friends will either shun you or run away, but a true friend will get down in the mud with you and help pull you out.

We all know (or at least have read stories or heard about) people whose sins became very public.  In most cases, these moral failures didn’t just happen out of the blue but took a long time to develop.

What do you think is the primary reason that people experience moral failure?  Some would answer lust for power and riches.  Others would say addictions.  But I believe that a person’s moral failures usually start from who they allow into their lives and eventually call friends.  They let people gain a foothold into their lives, who they know should never have been there in the first place.

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Just as Christ-like friends can help sharpen us to become more like Christ, worldly friends can help sharpen us to be more like the ruler of this world.

2 Peter 3:17 (HCSB) says, “Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability.”

Just as a Christian should desire the lost to come into God’s kingdom, the lawless desire to take us away from God’s light and for us to become more like them.  After all, we’re no fun when we don’t want to do what they want.

Are people who are a bad influence the only reason a person fails morally?  Of course not.  When we sin, it is because we chose to do so.  We wanted to do it and did.

Do people who have upright people in their lives still fall into sin?  Of course, they do.  We have a sin nature.  All of us have sinned and will continue to do so.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But as we grow as Christians, we will sin less frequently and exchange sin with service.  If we’re growing, the things that once appealed to us will eventually become unappealing.

Knowing that, why do we allow the ungodly into our lives, call them our friends, and think that we can be immune from their influence?  It’s like wrestling with a skunk and expected to come out of it smelling fine.  It won’t work.

What starts as a betting pot with our fishing buddies on who will catch the biggest fish on a particular weekend leads to a gambling addiction.  What begins as going to a “gentlemen’s club” after a round of golf with our foursome leads to a marriage-killing affair.  What starts as a few happy hours with co-workers after work turns into alcoholism.  When we run with other people who live life on the edge, why are we surprised when we fall off the cliff?

Often a person fails morally because he or she has ungodly friends and isolates himself or herself from godly friends.  People who develop friendships with people who they shouldn’t allow in their lives simultaneously push away brothers and sisters who could have spotted the oncoming 18-wheeler and helped them avoid it.

Just as leaving that fishhook in my finger could have resulted in infection or worse, becoming friends with ungodly people can lead to dire consequences.

The hook

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

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