A Mangy Faith

Poor Tomasso, a cold, wet winter followed by a big temperature swing, almost always brings the same thing. Mange, biting lice, whatever you might call it in your neck of the woods, cattle (and other animals) get it. If you don’t treat it promptly, it’ll spread to others and can lead to weight loss and significant health problems.

It isn’t from a lack of care, as some may think. Instead, it’s a natural result of living in the elements found in this world. If you think about it, the same happens with us. If we immerse ourselves in this world, we’re going to get spiritual mange.

Physical or spiritual, mange literally sucks the life out of you. #SpirituallyWeak #Faith #Mange Share on X

To guard against mange (caused by mites) or a lice infestation (sucking or biting) affecting your herd, you must keep watch for its telltale signs. It’s not uncommon for cattle to scratch themselves on a tree trunk or barn pole, but when their hair falls out in spots, you know something ain’t right. A later sign is a loss of appetite as the cow becomes more preoccupied with itching than eating. I don’t fight this battle every year in late winter/early spring, but I’m always prepared for it. And when you see the first signs of an infestation, you treat it.

When caught early, treating mange in your livestock can be as simple as applying a topical treatment such as Permethrin™ or some pour-on. When applied effectively, you’ll see it working in less than a week. Their hair will start growing back, less itching, and more comfort.

What are some of the signs of a mangy faith? We begin to “go through the motions” in our faith walk instead of immersing ourselves in our faith. It starts out slowly. We’ll justify not going to church Sunday morning because we had a hard week, and we should rest more. The Bible tells us to rest, right? Other signs include being too busy to pray. God isn’t listening anyway. The fruit of the Spirit in our lives begins to soften and smell stronger. That’s decay you’re smelling, not growth.

And while you could spray yourself with Permethrin or Ivermectin (in case you’ve developed both a mangy and a wormy faith), they are not effective treatments for what you have. You’re infected with sin, my friend, and the most effective treatment in all cases is a liberal application of 1 John 1:9.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NKJV)

Like biting and sucking lice, or those nasty microscopic mites, sin gnaws at your soul and begins feasting on your faith. The longer you allow it to fester on the surface of your life, the more opportunity it has to cause damage. Seeking Christ’s forgiveness for your sin applies His grace and mercy to your soul and frees you from your mangy faith. The treatment already resides within you when you’re a true Believer.

I wish it were as simple as noticing a bald spot, but sin is craftier. It hides in your life, secretly causing damage until someone notices. I pray you have faithful Christian friends who aren’t afraid to apply the words of Proverbs 27:17 to your life. If you see it, say something! Do so in love, but saying nothing is not a loving act of a Christian brother or sister.

God’s blessings,


Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:00 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.


38 thoughts on “A Mangy Faith”

  1. JD you know I smile at those Italian heritage names. But I also smile at the way you draw spiritual life analogies that we need to chew on (no pun there- seriously- ponder). Thank you again.

  2. Kathy Collard Miller

    I can apply your lesson, J.D., that when I’m spiritually itching to believe a lie, I need to put on my spiritual armor with a healthy dose of Bible truth. As always your insights are inspiring and empowering. Thank you.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear that Tomasso came down with the mange, J. D., but it sounds like your eagle eyes caught his plight in time to avert what could have been a bad problem for the whole herd. Once again, your analogy rings true in our spiritual lives, too. When one person in a church community becomes infected with spiritual blight, it can affect the health of that entire group. We need to check our spiritual health daily, and ask God’s forgiveness the moment we detect sin of any kind. Thanks again, dear friend, for another amazing analogy. Blessings!

    1. Great post, J. D. It is a blessing to read about your ranch activities and remember our visit there. May God bless you and sweet Diane!

      1. Thank you Ms. Evelyn. Oh, how Ms. Diane and I enjoyed your and your friends’ visit here. I hope they can come back this spring when it’s warm and dry to have a better visit. It would be our honor, and Fate just isn’t that far away. God’s blessings ma’am.

    2. Amen Ms. Martha Jane. You make such an important point here. When we see that “spiritual blight” (what a good analogy here, blight is a type of surface fungus that easily spreads from one piece of fruit or a leave to another), we must point it out, in love, and treat it early before more damage can be done. It breaks my heart to see so many churches experiencing “spiritual blight” these days.

    1. Thank you Ms. Gail. Not exactly the same ailment, but the impact and adverse effects are the same ma’am. In ways though, we can say that sin, all be they in different forms, is all the same ailment. Great point. I love when the teacher becomes the student. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. Love the word picture of comparing a “sin” infestation to the microscopic mange. It is there doing damage before the hair loss and excessive scratching, by then it has taken hold unseen. Oh, how sin, especially “secret” sin works the same way. It eventually comes to the surface and is exposed for what it is.

  5. I’m “itching” to share this illustration with some of my friends in our community group and to suggest that we start checking one another a little more closely for “bald spots.” Beyond that, I feel convicted to look in the mirror of God’s Word a little more carefully and ask the Holy Spirit to point things out that I might be missing.

    Diane and I are always gratefully intrigued when we get to see the world you live in through that special lens God gave you, and we especially love it when the things you see and the lessons they teach are surprising as well as instructive. That was definitely the case today. I’ve had dogs that were infected with mange a time or two, but those episodes were brief and easily resolved and the only thing I learned was that I didn’t want to catch it. The connection you made between mange and the subtle and deceitful way sin can creep into our lives was fascinating. It reminded me once again that I need to both have and be one of those kinds of friends who don’t ignore the bald spots in myself or my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    We need each other to be as healthy as possible because the enemy is conducting a full-on frontal assault against the One we follow and against the things He taught. God bless you, my gifted friend. You have both enriched and instructed us again and we love you for it. Give Mrs. Diane a hug from us and assure her that our prayers and our faith continue to join the many who are fighting this battle with both of you.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron. I’m so very blessed to know I have wonderful Tennessee friends who are there to help me see what I don’t always see in myself. What a truism share in your comments sir, “We need each other to be as healthy as possible …” The point being, God made us for fellowship, both with Him and each other. Thank you and God’s blessings my friend.

  6. Your vigilance finds and pinpoints what the herd doesn’t understand. You have the remedy as well. That’s also the role of the Holy Spirit who searches our hearts and convicts us of sin. Keep the lessons coming, sir. God bless.

  7. Your analogy is right on target, my friend. Our poor animals need us to “rescue” them from attacks of mange, mites, worms, and the other hazards they face. Just as we view it as our responsibility and an act of love, our Father never shirks His responsibility for us. One difference, of course, is we have free will which allows us to choose or not choose to seek our Father in times of turmoil, and to follow His path in the “good” times as well. Our animals aren’t gifted with the choice to choose an owner which loves them more than we do, or to seek treatment for mange (and other ailments) on their own. You’ve shared a wonderful lesson for us, J.D. Our animals are dependent on us for their care. Although we are much more independent in our ability to make decisions, we can learn a lot from your cows. Seek our creator and the One who loves us most and be guided by Him in all things.

  8. “[Sin] hides in your life, secretly causing damage until someone notices.” Your comparison to sin is spot on. May we all have hearts soft enough to receive those words from friends who notice sin growing in our lives

  9. It’s so important to know the signs of sin creeping in. Once we see it, we need to ‘nip it in the bud’. Wonderful analogy!

  10. I got kind of itchy just reading the intro. Sounds awful! Another great analogy to how sin is crafty and affects us from the inside out, eating away at our heart and soul and spiritual growth. May we speak the truth in love to our fellow followers of Jesus and them to us!

  11. You’ve given us another great analogy, my friend, with lots to think about.
    I’m asking myself, “Have I allowed some nasties to infest my soul or spirit?”
    I’m trusting God to answer that question, knowing He’ll help me deal with His response.
    I’m sorry for your affected cattle and praying for quick recovery.

  12. You remind me of 1 Jn. 1:7. “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Walking in the Light protects us from mange!

  13. Poor Tomasso! I’m sorry for his suffering, but I’m thankful he has a good daddy to fix him up. I love your clever analogy because when sin silently creeps into our lives, we get a misery in our soul that only our heavenly daddy can fix. When we get the itch, we’d rather scratch than eat our daily portion of the Word. How wonderful that the blood of the Lamb takes away our sin and heals us up. May we keep feasting on His Word!

  14. J.D. I love the lessons you deliver. Not being a rancher at all, these analogies settle so deeply in my thoughts. Sin lurks and grows in secret and at times, we cannot see it in ourselves. May we allow God’s Word to search our hearts, uncovering it, and receive His correction.

  15. The first dog Parky and I ever had was picked up as a puppy on the side of the road. He had mange so badly that he only had a few threads of hair and you could feel the heat and crawling mites under his skin. He was awful to touch! It took a full year to rid Roscoe of his red mange, the worst kind. Parky would dunk his poor head under the stinking medical rinse. For a day, Roscoe was lethargic. But the treatments finally paid off. Roscoe turned out to be a beautiful dog with a full coat of long black, tan, and white hair.
    I like your analogy as it is very fitting. Succumbing to the elements of the world has a way of disguising its outcome. We have to be proactive. And we must not conform to this world as the Scripture says. Furthermore, I sure don’t want my fruits of the Spirit to start smelling in a bad way!

  16. Oh, that paragraph about how we so easily try to justify our mangy faith! Loved this especially: “The fruit of the Spirit in our lives begins to soften and smell stronger. That’s decay you’re smelling, not growth.” Well, I don’t love the stench. But, I do relish your choice of words here.

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