Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Landing On Runway One

It’s about to be a New Year.  Most people make resolutions and consider January 1st to be a new beginning. 

I’d rather consider each day a new start.  So many times I have looked at my life and thought, “gee, I wish I’d done that differently.”  In reality, each day and each minute we have the opportunity for a course correction.  We can resolve to make the changes immediately, and the thought that we make resolutions that 99% of the time we don’t keep on New Years Day is silliness in it’s most extreme form.  I’ve talked before about living with “intentionality.”  Change only comes through a minute by minute decision on how to live our life.

How have you used your life?  The story goes that President Reagan once asked the Air Force One pilot why he tried to land so close to the beginning of the runway.  The pilot grinned and explained, "Mr. President, all pilots know you can't use the runway that's behind you."

You still have the opportunity to start fresh and make the most of everyday.  God grants you only so many, how will you use the rest of your life?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Couple Of Thoughts For Today

"Always drink upstream from the herd"


"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance"

                 (I think both are attributable to Will Rogers.)

                       And my favorite:

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

                  (Supposedly attributed to Wayne Gretsky)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thought For The Day On Christmas Eve


Honest and truthful words and evaluations fairly given will ultimately benefit the end result in life when openly expressed.  Unfortunately, they rarely benefit the ones who first utter those truths.  History is littered with the bodies of thinkers whose words ultimately changed the world for the better.

Honesty and truth almost always have a cost.  Progress is never free.

Army Bells


 I have had the pleasure of ringing the bell for the Salvation Army now for several years and recommend it to anyone, if you are given the opportunity.  I can’t guarantee that it will be pleasant for you, especially if you have to stand in the snow when it is 15 degrees outside in front of WalMart.  Also, if you have a tendency to carpal tunnel syndrome you might bring an assistant to ring the bell…LOL

Founded in 1865 by once Methodist minister, William Booth, it’s military organiztional structure serves to emphasize its “Army of God” ministry.  Truly, they choose to be the hands and feet of God in serving the poor and needy.

One of the things I enjoy most about manning the bucket and ringing the bell at Christmas, is I get to meet so many people I know as they come in to shop.  It gives me a chance to wish them Merry Christmas since I’m not constrained by the store to only say “Happy Holidays.”  It also gives me a chance to see the kind of people who are motivated to care enough to help the Salvation Army do its work.  For so many years they have been in the community offering help with food and shelter, gas money, and many other things including their prison ministry.  They provide an essential and valuable service…so what kind of people are the ones who heed the call of my little bell and give to my little red bucket hanging from the tripod?

            The older adults and seniors
            The young children
            The poorly dressed
            The lame and crippled
            The obviously low income
            The minorities

Those Who Rarely Give:
            Adults between 25 and 40
            Single Adults   
       (and they are who we are counting on to make Obamacare work??)

Those Who I Never See Give:
            Women who wear calf length high heel boots
            Men in slacks and a dress shirt

You probably think I’m joking and making this up, but I’m not.  Why is it that those apparently with the greater wherewithal to help are so unmotivated to do so?  Perhaps those who suffer the lack of things recognized the need more than those who have everything they want and have made themselves the center of their own lives? 

I’m sure there are exceptions to my observations over the years.  I hope you are one of the good ones.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bah, Humbug!

Today falls in the category of the days you remember for the rest of your life. 

I have the great fortune, working as a firefighter, to be asked to deliver presents each year through Project Merry Christmas to those families that can’t afford Christmas.  I take my fire engine loaded with donated turkeys and dolls and bicycles and get to see the inside of tiny ramshackle homes you most likely would not want your family dog to have to live in.  I don’t do anything to pay for these presents so I don’t deserve a single bit of credit for what I do, yet I am the one who gets to see the happy smile of joy on a 7 year-old girl’s face when she gets a pink bicycle with ribbons flowing out of the handle grips.

Sure, there are houses I go to on the list that have 50 inch color TVs that are way bigger than anything I can afford.  But, I try to remember that I’m going there for the kids that often don’t have parents who manage their lives very well.  Isn’t that part of what Christmas is about--loving people without questioning, serving without thought of recompense, sacrificing even if those you sacrifice don’t value your sacrifice or your gift?

This Christmas, when all around you are trying to remind you not to call it Christmas and to neuter it’s meaning in an attempt at political correctness, don’t forget what it is really all about.  Jesus was born…only to give his life for all mankind’s salvation.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Centennial School Tragedy

Why the cluster of shootings in Denver?  I have actually been wondering a lot about the mass public facility shootings by young people in general throughout the United States and have to ask these questions:

  1. Do shootings tend to occur in well-off financial communities predominated by liberal values and politics?
  2. Do shootings tend to occur in white communities, or any specific type of geography?
  3. Do shootings tend to occur in communities with fairly strict gun laws already in place?
  4. Do shootings tend to occur in communities that had extensive and lengthy media  coverage of previous shootings in the area.
  5. Do shootings tend to occur in communities that have minimal security procedures at school entrances and also allow open campus policies for students throughout the day?
  6. Are mental health services not adequately available in those communities?

I have a strong suspicion that the answer to all of these is yes.  I'm sure there are many other factors to consider, but these ones trouble me a great deal.  I'm sure this recent tragedy will trigger (no pun intended) another round of knee jerk proposals to disarm America.  While I think we need more controls on weapon sales and access by those who shouldn't have them, I suspect the movement will more likely take shape as an effort to disarm America.  That would be a mistake in my opinion and in the opinion of the framers of the Constitution.

Here Come De Judge

A very interesting piece of news crossed my path this morning.  A sixteen year-old boy was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of four people.  He was given probation.

Yes.  Probation.  The judge felt that the boy came from an affluent family and that made him feel he was subject to privilege…that being the privilege to kill whomever was irritating him.  So now the judge has determined that affluence is a “mental disorder.”  Hmmmm….

The surprising part is that the judge did not commit the boy to a mental institution like all other mental case defenses.  He chose probation.  Now if that isn’t an example of privilege, I don’t know what is!  Kill with impunity and not even be treated for your supposed mental illness.  What is likely to happen?  I suppose the DA will file an appeal and the appellate court will have more sense than this dimwit judge did in adjudicating the case.

What troubles me most about this kind of thinking is the excuse making it gives rise to for bad moral behavior.  We seem to be doing a lot of that in our society.  Good and bad seems to have taken on more shades of gray as the decades pass.  Does this mean that now blacks can kill whites because they are mentally disordered into thinking all whites are racists.  Does it mean that poverty gives one the same right to kill that wealth apparently does in this judge’s mind?  Does it mean that Muslim Jihadists should get probation for blowing up airplanes and skyscrapers in the sky because they’ve been disordered mentally by their radical faith?

Judges serve a long time and wield a great deal of power in our society at all levels.  They usually are appointed or run unopposed for their office in elections, which I find a bit disturbing.  This also reflects on the larger issue of how and who we “pick to serve” in all our government functions…and lately so far, I think we’re doing a pretty poor job of it.  We have liars and crooks at every level that literally buy there way into office and dole out special favors after being sworn in, and it’s conceivable that they are running the country into a financial disaster as well as a moral disaster. 

Don’t get me wrong here.  There are good judges and good elected officials, but it happens more by chance than it does by design.  We desperately need better-educated voters, campaigns that are equally publicly financed and given equal donated TV debate time.  We also need to see that those serving may not go to work for companies for which they passed bills for at least 10 years after leaving office, and term limits must be established that prevent elected career “royalty” in our country.  We also need to realize we can’t keep voting ourselves benefits that we can’t pay for.

These changes can happen.  But it can also happen that we go the route of all other historic democracies…and fail into tyrannical dictatorships.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I have always heard the admonition that we are to submit our will to God.  There is something about that word submit that drives people mad.  Submit is something I do to show weakness.  Submit is negative because it means I can’t do what I want and am controlled by someone else.  Submit is considered being trapped.  God is a bully who just doesn’t want us to have any fun or freedom.

Have you ever felt that way or heard someone express those kind of feelings?  How about if we look at it from a different viewpoint?  We live in a country that is obsessed with making our kids feel good about themselves.  “They’ve got to have a good self-image, so don’t criticize them.”  “Nobody does anything wrong” “Tell them they are great!”  “Everyone gets a trophy!”  “There aren’t winners and losers here!”  Unfortunately, life is not like that.  It’s not reality any more than the word submit being only negative is reality.

Yet there is a reality of being a winner that will transform your self-image.  Consider this:  As a guy, if the most beautiful, intelligent, rich, personable, loving woman came up to you and said I value you and want to be with you forever in a relationship of love, what would you think?  Would submitting to that be a miserable experience?  How about what that would do to boosting your self-image about 100%.   Ladies, you can think the same line of reasoning with that perfect hunk, too.

My point is: God is the most loving and beautiful being in the universe, and all he wants is to love you!  You are infinitely valuable to Him.  Submitting to Him is the most exotic, gratifying, freeing and exciting thing you will ever do.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Politically Correct Christianity

Recently I was at a meeting of Christian singles and the subject came up about a survey of Christians that showed a serious majority believed Christianity was not the only way to heaven.  What surprised me was that some members of the group there at the meeting held the same view.  Some even held other views on homosexuality and sex outside of marriage that were not in keeping with the traditional Christian views that such behaviors were outside of God’s best plan for us.  They justified their positions on these issues by saying that God made homosexuals or that humans have changed over the centuries. I found that position of what I’ll call “Politically Correct Christianity” to be surprising…especially since they said it was even apparently being preached from some mainstream pulpits.

I have repeatedly said here on this blogsite that we need to recognize that we all fall short of God’s expectations for us.  Lying, stealing, murder, adultery, etc. are committed by most all of us, and we still consider ourselves Christians and heaven bound.  Those who are homosexuals or follow another faith or are having sex outside of marriage are no worse than I am and are welcome in my church.  But for me to say that there is no mistake in what they do is un-Biblical…just as wrong as saying that what I do that falls short of God’s expectations is not wrong.  We have an obligation to at least try to live into the expectations of God.  Saying they are no longer “sins” is not the answer.  Part of showing love to one another is the “tough love” of correcting when something is wrong and is done for the benefit of the one corrected.  Yes, I know that many Christians are prone to the idea that “Grandpa God” is just all loving and never would punish anyone, but that idea just doesn’t agree with anything Jesus said.  I’m going to let God be God and do what he deems proper.  I have enough trouble being myself, I don’t need to try to be God and make up my own rules and outcomes.

A very good friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous put it this way much better than I can:

“I agree with you, first we must let God be God.  When a person expresses a belief that conflicts with accepted biblical truth, it has to do with what they want rather than what's in God's word. For a Christian to say that God lets anyone from any faith into heaven, trivializes Jesus' sacrifice for us, ignores the righteous judgment of God, and asserts self-centered disobedience.

We are all disobedient. What's amazing is that the only sin that God regards as unforgivable is the absolute rejection of God and his offering of forgiveness through Jesus. We must realize how petty, selfish and independent we are. We must humble ourselves and cease to believe that we know better than God. We must not believe that we have all the answers and do not need the instruction of God's word. We must not try to redefine God's word in an effort to persuade ourselves that we're obedient.

The Bible stresses that the day will come when we'll say that what God has said is wrong, is right, and what God has said is good is wrong.  That seems to be happening now.  I struggle with both issues of homosexuality and sex outside marriage.  For a long time, I've believed that I should tolerate, but not accept, homosexuality.  As Christians, I think that we are not supposed to become comfortable with behaviors that are accepted by current culture but are offensive and unacceptable to God.  I have Christian friends who say "what does it matter" or "I don't care" in regards to homosexuality.  But doesn't Paul make it clear in his writings that the church should be intolerant of behavior that is in opposition to the will of God and which might make the church useless to God? Yet there are many churches that no longer honor the male/female relationship, instead demanding a different definition of marriage. Aren't they attempting to change God's word with the intent of making the church an all-welcoming, all embracing, all tolerating entity?  I don't think the purpose of the church is to be all-inclusive or embracing of all philosophies.”

We are charged to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  That means no matter what their falling short of God’s word encompasses.  But our faith is supposed to change us as much as possible, and to deny that is to destroy our faith and make a mockery of it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Relationship 101

I’ve mentioned before how strongly I feel that relationship matters more than any of us realize.  We were built for it and when we don’t have it we sicken.  I am going to mention some real obvious basics here, but they are worth repeating and considering on a daily basis with all our interactions.

Most of the discussions I read talk about relationship in terms of how you can make someone else happy by how you act toward them and misses the point that when you actually show concern and caring for another person, it is you that is made happy as well.  Let’s use a very fundamental example: have you ever taken candy or a toy away from a child and seen the hurt on their face.  Did it make you happy?  How about when you gave that child candy or a toy and you saw the look on their face?  Did that make you happy?  It’s not much different in our interactions with adults.  Win an argument by browbeating someone down and I doubt you’ll come away with that much joy…but choose to compliment someone on a job well done and see the look on their face actually give you real pleasure.  (Actually, try it on your wife or girlfriend and tell her how beautiful she is to you and see what you feel after her response.  The opposite would be telling her you are never going to talk to her again…I don’t advise testing that one out.)
Even when you do have to stand your ground and be negative about something like a moral or legal issue, do it from a position of love and self-control…and remember, just because you are the loudest doesn’t mean you are right.

Each one of the above situations is a relational transaction.  When we show love we create something positive.  When we don’t we are left with an emptiness.  When we are driven to abuse others in order to win an advantage or some achievement we show our insecurity.  Relationship is more important than achievement.  How many famous people do you hear about that step all over people in their rise to power and then commit suicide because they aren’t in positive relationships with anyone.

We don’t do relationship very well in American society.  We relate much better to our things rather than other people, and we need to reverse that outcome.  So make your achievements enhance other people, treat others with love and respect, and take pleasure in growing the relationships you have that will truly sustain you.  I don't think it's any accident that the Golden Rule is "Do unto others, as you  would have them do unto you."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Fight For America

I read a Veterans Day article recently that asked “Is America worth fighting for?”  I was shocked by the question.  I was concerned that it even needed to be asked.  The concept of “America” is truly exceptional.  That a country could design itself in such a way that it would value the individual’s rights and set up a system to protect those rights is largely unheard of in the history of mankind.  Now, did we do it perfectly?  No. But it has been a progressive attempt overall to do it right.

I think the article’s real concern was “have we abandoned those principles that we used to found the country.”  Are individual rights being sacrificed in the name of some form of political correctness?  Are self-reliance and family values a thing of the past?  Is government regulation of every facet of our lives the way a free country operates?  Are the inalienable rights to free expression, religion, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness being ever eroded in an attempt to control the overall image of what an American should look like and who Americans should be?

I’m not a big “Hawk” when it comes to wars.  I think war is pretty stupid and is the outcome of failed diplomacy in most cases (though there are exceptions.)  I do think America is worth fighting for, but that fight needs to be fought right now here at home, not by soldiers in the Middle East.  Who we are here in America is what is at stake, not who is threatening us from the outside.

Are we a free country that operates on the principle that the right to govern is derived from those governed?  Do we have a political system that fosters that with intelligent and informed voting by everyone.  Do we have a practical and effective way to remove leaders who do not foster that outcome.  And most of all, do we avoid a system that develops entrenched long term political leadership that is beholden to financial interests and power blocks that literally buy their votes with perks and lavish campaign funding.  And lastly, have we developed a society that looks to the public trough to care for them rather than the self-reliance that our founders believed in.

That America is worth fighting for!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Moonlight Madness

I’m fascinated when I look at the night sky.  Just seeing the moon, what amounts to a gigantic bolder just floating suspended in the sky above us, neither falling nor spinning off into space, leaves me speechless.  I wonder constantly what primitive people imagined about the great “nightlight” in the sky.  What did they conjure up in their minds about the sun for that matter?  And even in our sophisticated 21st century minds can we easily wrap our conceptions around a fire ball in the sky, burning for more years than we can fathom…and wonder, who or what lit that fire.

Half the moon is set to face me in a perpetual wink tonight.  The man in the moon hides on its other side oblivious to Venus as she sneaks up behind him.  Earthbound, I listen to crickets and marvel at how they make their music amid the flowers along the edge of my pond.  Just to look at the detail in one of those flowers (called a weed by my county agriculture specialist) the size of a matchhead at most, yet spreading unstoppably across the entire meadow each summer, makes me again amazed at the diversity and persistence of life on this planet.

I feel sometimes like I take life for granted instead of marveling at the immensity of it and the staggering magic behind it.  Today was simply another day of work and obligations to be met, and were it not for this momentary lapse while looking at the moon, I would have missed it and never appreciated it.  Perhaps we all would benefit from a few more moments of seeing rather than looking at the world around us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More Than 50 Shades Of Gray

I read some amazing statistics the other day.  In America 57% of evangelical Protestants believe that many different religions can offer eternal life.  Conversely, Jehovah’s Witnesses had a majority that held that their beliefs were the “one true faith.”  (Since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this is Heaven right now here on earth, I guess it really doesn’t matter what their percent was!  For them there is no eternal life in heaven.)  The survey of all people who were part of any form of religion in the U.S. yielded 70% who thought other religions were just as good at getting the “E” ticket ride to the pearly gates.  I was floored by all this, and I think it has a lot to do with our political culture in this country in the last 50 years.  They say we are becoming and “entitlement society” here for all our give away programs.  Only 2% of Americans believe they could go to hell…we apparently feel we are all “entitled” to heaven as well.

You see, we are pumped full of “diversity” mantras.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we look down, abuse, or discriminate against anyone because they are different cultures or beliefs or races.  However, it has produced a sense of “relativism” in our society--a “do your own thing” attitude from the 60s, a “situational ethics” of the 70s.  Relativism.  Universalism.  It produces the idea that if we encourage and embrace diversity, that we somehow are affirming that all beliefs are correct and good.  And it has produced a huge backlash against Christians for holding to the tenets of their faith, which is seen as holding back all the openness and diversity embracing political mantra.  We can no longer hold the belief that homosexuality is not what God wants or that marriage is designed to be between a man and a woman to produce children rather than adopt them.  So is it any wonder that we have created an environment to cause Christians to say…hmmm, society says my faith is wrong to believe these things, perhaps my faith is wrong to be so arrogant as to say it is the only way to eternal life.

Christ was EXTREMELY clear.  I am the way the truth and the life…Unless you believe in Me…NO man comes to the father but by ME…Unless you drink MY blood and eat My flesh.  How Christians can say there are other ways to heaven is beyond me.

Then there is the other side to this story.  Muslims are actively promoting speakers who try to prove Christianity a fraud.  They also are actively promoting more Muslims by having three times as many babies as non-Muslim westerners are having.  They literally will outnumber Christians everywhere in a matter of very few years.  When that day comes, all this politically correct diversity will cease to exist in America, a rigid society will ensue, and you will have to earn your way to heaven by your adherence to the tenets and behaviors of Islam.  If that’s what you want, better start practicing bowing down toward Mecca five times a day right now, so you’ll be ready and heaven bound.

Here is a story that makes a good closing point.  I am sorry, I don’t have a source that I can quote for who actually wrote it:

An elderly professor of world religions surprised his colleagues by declaring his commitment to Christ.  He explained: "It was as if I had fallen into a deep, abandoned well.  Muhammad came by and told me it was the will of Allah that I be in this well, then he left.  The Buddha came by and told me if I would cease desire I would cease to suffer in the well, then he left.  A Hindu teacher came by and told me if I was faithful in the well I would escape through reincarnation, then he left.  Confucius came by and told me if I'd not tripped I would not be in the well, then he left.  Jesus came by, saw me, and got into the well with me.  That is why I am a Christian."

The really neat thing about Christianity is that it’s all about grace.  You don’t earn it.  You aren’t required to be perfect and holy.  Ordinary flawed people can ask for that forgiveness and try to change.  You don’t have to earn anything.  No one is perfect…but we are perfected through God’s grace as Christians.  Jesus gets in the well with us.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Father Time

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of time.  Tonight we are going to set our clocks back and change time for our own purposes.  Einstein spent some effort on discussing the concept of time and studying it, and the essence of his theory of relativity pretty much says that time is not constant.  Time is always structured in relation to other things…planetary movement, events, speed, distance traveled, etc.  If these things change then time does.  They did an experiment where they timed atomic clocks traveling around the world in supersonic jets.  When they compared them to clocks on the ground, they showed that less time had elapsed in the jets.  Time in our universe is not constant (to me this has huge unanswered implications for the age of our universe and the geologic processes used to date events on our planet.)  Time seems unfathomable.  To imagine something as timeless is even more difficult to understand.

Light (electromagnetic radiation) has always fascinated me as well.  The speed of light actually is constant when traveling through a vacuum.  It seems to be about the only real constant in the universe.  How fortunate we are, because light is what causes photosynthesis so plants can live and animals can therefore survive.  How interesting that seems to me that light should show constancy when light is used as the image of God in the Bible.  Darkness is the image of Satan.  Light is what we see by, darkness causes us to stumble. The first of God’s creations was light.  He is referred to as light…and I believe His timeless love and light is the most important constant in the universe.  No wonder some past civilizations worshiped the Sun and it's why I worship the Son.

Don't forget to set your clocks back, folks!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Health Care

OK, here is my question:  Years ago we created a program called Medicare (which you still have to pay for when you start using it) and we also created one called Social Security.  We made it so that those programs had all workers paying into it for 40 or 50 years so they could then collect a small pension for approximately 5 or 10 years at the most before they would be dead.  That is the “actuarial” planning data essentially.  Now mind you, both of those programs are scheduled to go completely broke in only a few years from now.  Given that information, how on earth do we think we can structure a program where everyone below a certain income gets free or subsidized health care (for much longer -birth until death – not just a few retired years) provided by those who earn more and have the money to pay for their own health plan and everyone else’s and still have the program remain solvent.  Not likely to be a sustainable idea from what I’ve already seen the government do with Medicare and Social Security!  I can just imagine somewhere down the line we’ll see the average (unsubsidized) guy with a family of four paying $30,000 a year for health insurance -- or else the government will just continue to borrow money from China until they come over and get the deed for the good ‘ole USA.

Somehow, we need to figure another way that everyone can get health care.  This feels like a band-aid on a broken leg.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quote For Today

Leadership is solving problems. The day (your people) stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.

-Colin Powell- (he said 'your soldiers', but I think it's applicable to any situation so 'your people' is what I inserted.)

And The Beat Goes On...

Loud music styles…why is it we take ALL our cues for church music now from the pop media and their music?…we are dumb sheep followers!  Somehow we feel that if we look, sound, and act exactly like the modern world, then we can fool everyone and get people inside the walls of the church building.  Are we going to dress up like Miley Cyrus next? 

I recently went to another concert of some well-known Christian recording artists in a church and was appalled at the fact that the music was so loud I needed ear plugs.  Before I put them in my ears, I noted that I could not understand the words that were being sung.  What makes the music any different from KISS or Def Leopard if you can’t hear the words in Christian songs???  This act I watched in the concert kept changing costumes and doing dance routines throughout the show…they had FOUR drummers pounding away…and yet kept saying “this is not about US!”  Come on, give me a break!

Jesus didn’t say…ooooh, I need to wear those long tassel robes when I talk to people or they might not listen.  He didn’t say I need to go out in sack cloth and ashes every day to show how pious I am.  That was the custom of the pop culture of the Judeans of the time.  He didn’t say…ooooh, I need to wear a Roman soldier uniform to get people’s attention.  That was the dominant ruler of the day.  No, he just relied on speaking words of truth (well, OK he had the handy ability to raise the dead and heal the sick too…and that trick with the loaves and fishes, wow!) 

Mind you, I’m not saying modern music styles are wrong to use.  I don’t care if you play rock, rap or acoustic blues in church, but you better have a clear Christian message with it.  And I still say if we can’t at least make the words of truth heard in our Christian songs without deafening everyone, we might as well not play ‘em.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I think it amazing that people have so much trouble intellectually with Christianity.  They find all sorts of reasons to reject belief.  They read the Bible and say, how can this or that be true?

One of those discussions I read recently was a discussion on the age of the earth.  Scientists date it in the billions of years and some ill informed Christians date it specifically in the range of 6,000 years.  Part of the struggle is the idea that the Bible is a book of science like a textbook in school.  It is not.  The Bible clearly delineates history of a people in the middle-east, but there is quite likely a huge span of time from the creation of the universe until the discussion of Adam and Eve.  It talks of six periods of time involved in the creation and then a period of rest.  It does not use a Hebrew word that only defines a 24-hour day for each period of time.  We have no way of saying if these periods of time were even uniform.  It uses words like evening and morning (metaphoric beginnings and endings of epochs) before the sun and the moon are even created.  It is clearly a rather general and poetic description of the process of creation.  But, does any of that really matter?  Why let something like that be a hindrance to your faith?  God created the universe out of nothing but his word.  Quite literally it is an expression of his being, as are we. 

I guess the final thing that always amazes me about the lack of belief in Jesus being God’s Son (in whatever manner that is used to describe his relationship) is that so many people can’t believe he rose from the dead as he said he would.  It is fundamental to the Christian faith.  I think the strongest testimony is that 10 of the closest eyewitnesses (his disciples) to his being alive, after seeing him crucified, dead and buried,were all killed horribly in the years to follow for their belief in his divinity.  Most of them expected to be killed for their belief and outspoken attitude.  People don’t willingly die for a lie that they know is a lie.

We don’t need to know precisely how the universe was created, but we do need to know who Jesus Christ is.

I Can't Get No...Satisfaction...

I read something interesting the other day that started my mind wandering about what makes us happy and satisfied in life.  It’s not something we study and think about much, we just keep blindly looking for it.  Type in the word and the first thing on an internet search that comes up is the Rolling Stones.  They sang about it and never came up with an answer.  So what is the answer?

What I read had to do with a study on “work satisfaction.”  Their conclusion was that employees are satisfied with work that they think has value, where they work with people they like, and when they get affirmation/appreciation/recognition for what they do (which only in part involves adequate pay.)

Why does a study on work satisfaction make my mind wander?  Because these “discoveries” in their research actually apply to just about everything in our lives.  Think of it this way, even in marriage we want to know that the relationship has value, that you like the person you are with, and that you are appreciated.  If you belong to a church you look for the same things, too, don’t you?  How many times have I heard someone say, “I just haven’t found the right church home to join yet.”  I can guarantee you they are looking for some expression of these three things.

So what’s the point of talking about all this?  I think that we all need to think about it from the opposite viewpoint of not what we are looking for, but “what we are giving out.”  Do you offer something of value?  Do you seek to present yourself as someone likeable?  And most often neglected, do you appreciate and recognize folks adequately for what they do and who they are?  I believe this last one is the most often neglected.  I just don’t think anyone can appreciate someone enough and in enough ways. 

When is the last time you told your wife how much you appreciate her?  When did you recognize that employee of yours for the good job they did or how much you rely on their hard work?  When did you share with your friends what they mean to you?  I just don’t think we could ever spend enough time building up those around us.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Diligent Beauty

I was in a store the other day and I saw a young lady diligently working on a manual task behind the counter.  She handed me my change and it was then that I noticed she had nail polish on.  The interesting part was that she only had a thumb.  The remaining fingers were gone, the apparent result of a birth defect.  What struck me about this was two things.  First, she was still using that stump to function with a complicated manual task assembling something behind the counter that required two hands.  Second, was that she considered her hand pretty and important enough to warrant pink nail polish on her remaining fingernail.  She gave me my change with a brillant smile that showed how truly beautiful she was.

We often focus on our shortcomings to our detriment.  We tell ourselves we are limited and can’t do things because of our handicaps, our lack of skill, our deficient education, or whatever setbacks stand in front of us.  We quit.  We also stop thinking “outside the box” to solve problems and we most often lose the incentive to put in the extra effort to succeed in spite of our handicap.  I’ve noticed since the passage of the American’s With Disabilities Act that it is more common to file lawsuits over perceived failures to comply, than it is to find ways to function in a less than perfect environment.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t comply with reasonable accommodation and the outline of the laws regarding handicaps, but sometimes this whole thing gets silly.

I recently encountered a complaint that adequate Braille labeling had not been put up to allow someone to differentiate one appliance from another in a public facility.  If I shut my eyes and turned on the machine I could instantly tell what it was, so it set me to thinking…do we have to label the coffee pot, the towel dispenser, the toilet as to their function in Braille.  It gets pretty ridiculous if you let your mind wander.  (We had a fully sighted employee years ago who liked to label stuff, like “tool box” “manuals” and the like.  One other rather snarky employee who was annoyed by it came in one day and decided to label the countertop “countertop” and even labeled the floor as the “floor.”)

So, back to the girl with the smile.  She could have easily said, “I need special accommodation and someone else will have to do this task.”  She didn’t.  She learned how to adapt to the situation successfully.  How often do we adapt to our handicapped life situations?  Whether they be physical or emotional we are always challenged to make the effort and not sink back into that dark place where we expect others to always do for us.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Show Me The Money

OK, let’s take a minute here to put things into perspective.  Take a dollar bill and stack it onto another one.  Paper thin.  Not much height to that.  Well, keep stacking those paper thin bills on top of each other, and do it until you have 16,699 trillion of them stacked up.  You could stack them to the moon more than four times doing that.  That represents the current debt of the federal government.  That does take into account any borrowing by individual states or local governments…and it doesn’t even start to consider the $11.13 trillion in personal debt that Americans carry as individuals and families.

So, yesterday congress finally came to an agreement about this problem…and once again raised our debt limit so we can borrow even more money.  The “evil republicans” who want to reduce our spending have once again been put in their place.

Plato said democracies can’t work because voters will always vote for their self interests rather than the common good.  John F. Kennedy was famously quoted - ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.  And still, twenty years later we became a “debtor country” due to our ever-increasing need to consider our materialism and personal self-interest over the common good.

Paul made a good comment in the New Testament letter to Timothy that love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.  Material cravings inevitably lead us astray from our faith and from good government practices.  Proverbs warn that “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”  On the world stage, that is the last place we need to be right now!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Religious Persecution In America

"Before Allah closes our eyes for the last time, you will see Islam move from being the second largest religion in America—that's where we are now—to being the first religion in America…Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant…the Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."  Now that Os Guinness has made these statements by Ahmad and Abdul-Malik public, denials have come forward by Ahmad.  Just the same, I find the whole thing kind of scary.  And remember, the Islamic faith expects to be the government, not just a place you attend church or a faith you follow.  It will not be a democracy.  Look forward to “honor killings” and “public stoning” (and I don’t mean getting high on pot!  Also look forward to Christians or any other faith being put in jail or put to death.

Forgive me if the following is a bit disjointed, but I am truly annoyed.  We live in a country where hostility to Christians is currently tolerated and even encouraged, but religious tolerance is demanded of other faiths and in particular Islam.  The situation seems to get worse every year.  (Just as frustrating is we have a President who is strangely silent when blacks gang up on a white to beat or murder, but rages at the racial prejudice that he suspects when a white does the same to a black - prior to even knowing the facts in the case.)  We have a President who unlike the last 17 government shutdowns ((which I don’t agree with by the way)) has made an effort to make it more unpleasant for all of us while it happens.  He even has his administration officials telling chaplains in the military that they will be disciplined or arrested if they even voluntarily perform religious duties or minister to those in need (which was never done in any previous government shutdown.)   In the last three years the Pentagon has censored chaplains’ public prayers, sermons, etc. and generally intimidated those who perform those jobs in spite of congressional resolutions and demands to the contrary.  Even the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year called for religious freedom protections that have yet to be implemented by the Pentagon.  Now contrast that with the local military base…can you see the cooks being told not to prepare food?  No, you can’t and you won’t.  I worked for the government and went through government shutdowns when budgets weren’t passed.  We were told to go to work and do our jobs that the public expected us to do…and if we didn’t show up we were guaranteed we would not get any retroactive pay when the budget was passed.  Our president’s decision not to talk, negotiate, or compromise on anything, but rather use tactics of intimidation is divisive beyond belief.  Here is a guy who came in to office on the platform of working together and reaching across the aisle and yet has become the most obstinate and divisive president in the last 150 years.

Did you know that it is proven by repeated surveys that religion lowers the risk of substance abuse?  Yet we spend enormous amounts of money on drug interdiction programs and law enforcement activities to slow the rise of our ever- increasing need to run away from our lives through the use of drug and alcohol abuse.  Here’s a fact to make you realize the enormity of this potential: Those who do not attend religious services are on average five to seven times more likely to use illicit drugs and binge drink on alcohol according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.  And yet here we are letting our government stifle and intimidate the very thing that can really have an effect on the crushing societal ills we face.  I seriously question whether our President actually believes in religious freedom and tolerance.  If he does, and these things are happening around him, then I guess I just have to come to the conclusion that he is incompetent.  Either way, we need to make our voices heard on issues such as these and find elected representatives of integrity who will carry our wishes forward in action.  It is our fault if we don’t.  As I quoted elsewhere before recently from George Bernard Shaw “democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

You may all have differing viewpoints on all this and I welcome your thoughts and comments either way.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

As The Beatles Once Sang - "Come Together"

George Bernard Shaw claimed that "democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve."

Once upon a time our country was founded upon the principles of consensus and compromise.  Sure, we built in the mechanics of simple majority vote and for larger issues we demanded a more involved process and larger percentage than a simple majority (like constitutional amendments.)  But still, we were more unified in our approach and held to the idea of a basic moral consensus and expected our political leaders to reflect and advance this consensus for the common good.  We don’t do that anymore.  In fact, I don’t believe we live in a society that has a moral consensus at all anymore.  So much of what we have become is a product of the 60s “if it feels good, do it” mentality of “me first.”  So compromise in our country becomes difficult.  As a result we do things like we just did in shutting down the federal government by not passing a budget.

Partisan politics rules the day rather than effective compromise and consensus decisions.  I, like many others, believe our lack of moral foundational beliefs is the root cause.  The democrats have their world view, the TEA party has theirs, and the rest of the GOP has its own beliefs.  They all use what power they have to try to achieve their goals without compromise.  When you get right down to it, they reflect the segment of people that elected them, and that is proof enough to me that our own society is lacking in a moral consensus.  We are broken as a country. 

We have a growing group of people in the country who even believe the government as a whole is a sham.  A mere act for the audience to watch, while real governance is hand picked and orchestrated by an illuminati of the rich and powerful.  While I think this is reductionist nonsense fostered by internet garbage, I do think it is a feature in our voting blocks (or actually non-voting blocks.)  Large parts of the populace then become totally unrepresented in the consensus process.

Before we can find leaders who are true “statesmen” who govern from a common moral viewpoint, we need to have that in the country as a whole.  If one party and segment of the population is committed to destroying babies and providing cradle to the grave care and support to all without expecting someone to make an effort in life…how can we possibly govern from the same moral viewpoint?  If another segment believes God is a useless fictional acachronism and elects their representative to be a “leader,” how can we ever reach consensus? If one party only favors the donors to their campaign, how can we ever reach consensus? 

We were formed as a nation of faith.  We need a basic moral base from which to be governed and to choose from to elect our leaders.  We no longer have that. The change must begin at the root of the problem…and that is…us!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Snake Oil Salesmen

                                         Swallowing the Supplement Pill Hype

I recently read that studies are now demonstrating that all the anti-oxidant pills we are taking don’t reduce free radicals, but actually may be promoting more.  We began down the path of swallowing the “big lie” centuries ago, but our big gulp was in the fifties when Monsanto said “better life through chemistry.”  We even dream of being master of life itself.  It doesn’t surprise me that our synthetic approach to good health is not doing what it says it will.  I suspect perfection in a pill likely will remain a myth forever.  (And I’m truly concerned about all the seeds Monsanto makes with herbicides and pesticide properties built in to grow our food.  We’ll leave that discussion for another time.)

I think we were designed to function well and be healthy, and most of how that is to be accomplished is revealed by the body itself.  For instance, look at the teeth.  They are mostly the kind that are designed to eat vegetables and not the kind of teeth carnivores have.  I suspect that means we are supposed to have a diet high in grains, fruits and veggies.  Do we do that?  The 16-ounce Diamond Jim Brady prime rib is still the gold standard for dinner.  How can we expect to be healthy when we still pursue that ideal?

Like a campfire or a car, the body is a fuel-burning machine.  It takes carbon compounds and oxidizes them.  Having a blood stream that effectively carries oxygen, carbon based fuels, and successfully cleans out the wastes generated by that burning makes for an efficient machine.  It’s not much different than the engine in your car.  Remember how they always tell you, you have to really run your car and get it hot to burn out all those carbon deposits when all you do is short trips from one parking lot to another.  So, maintaining a system that flows highly oxygenated blood effectively through your vessels is a top priority like any efficient healthy machine. Think trains…one goes by every 10 minutes along Interstate 40.  Imagine if it only had 4 cars on each train, or if they dropped it to one train an hour.  Los Angeles would collapse.  That’s what happens to our bodily systems without the cardiovascular carrying capacity for oxygen and wastes.

It’s all about circulation and oxygenation.  That means EXERCISE.  Sure, control your diet and don’t eat too much fat and sweets.  But the biggie is we weren’t designed to sit in front of a TV or computer all day.  We were supposed to get out and grow and gather food and run faster than the lions could that wanted to use their carnivorous teeth to eat us.

Keep your weight in check and your fitness level high.  We need proper body nutrition from natural foods, weight in normal range and cardiovascular health…not a bunch of supplement pills.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Thoughts For Today

We don't often improve a lot from our successes.  But when our mistakes come along we can learn a lot from them.  So when failures come, remember that they are a gift and an opportunity to grow.

Ever hear the phrase "He's a man of few words?"  It's usually meant as a compliment when it's spoken. Listen more and speak less, and your words will have power when you use them.  Often we speak in anger, arrogance, ignorance or defensiveness.  Try speaking in love.

There's a lot you can learn in life...if only you realized you needed to.

And finally, from my friend Phyl: "Winds of change have a mixed scent"

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kill Every Man, Woman and Child

My Mom refused to read the Old Testament.  She was appalled by the violence and especially by the directive from God to the Jews to kill all the Canaanites and take their lands.  It’s a hard thing to understand and I’m sure it’s a stumbling block for a lot of people when reading the Bible.  This story offends our sense of moral righteousness to kill non-combatants and even innocent children.  How do we explain this?  This is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever written about.

In Ezekiel God tells us “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”  Yet God determines our life span as the creator.  He has the authority to terminate us at will.  He made us and he can take us out.  Man, on the other hand has no such authority.  In fact the Bible clearly establishes throughout that mankind is to follow the rule of proportionality in all actions.  Eye for an eye was not set up to show cruelness, but more likely to establish punishment that was NOT excessive.  So, simply put, God has the right to make the judgment of whether the Canaanites should live or not.  When he transmits the directions to the Jews to carry it out he has granted them that authority in this one instance to kill everyone in Canaan.

Recognize first that the Canaanites were an evil, cruel and violent lot.  I suspect we can’t even begin to imagine their depravity.  They practiced temple prostitution and child sacrifice that we know of, at the very least.  They were not a nice bunch.  God decided to judge them using the Jews.  Life was violent and cruel in ancient times, and we need to recognize that it is the very Bible we are questioning that brought us the high moral values we operate from today.  Not committing wanton murder, not stealing, loving your neighbor.  The common thread of the Old and New Testaments overwhelmingly supports this merciful approach but for the instance of wiping out the Canaanites (and Judging Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins -- even then God told Abraham he wouldn’t wipe them out if even ten righteous persons were in those cities.)

What about the children?  They are innocent, right?  Perhaps.  But to me, they are outside the age of moral responsibility and got a better deal than living as a Canaanite when they got promoted directly to Heaven.  At least that is my position on it.  I believe grace is extended to those below an age of accountability.  (Still, I wish they hadn't been killed...although I fully recognize from a practical social standpoint they would likely become an enemy of the Jews when they reached independent adulthood and perhaps seek to revolt and revert back to what they had known.)

Now, how does that compare with the Islam of today?  The radical Muslims use their Koran to justify killing of anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.  They believe, not as Christians do -- that God loves everyone…they believe God only loves Muslims.  They freely kill women and children, even of their own faith as propaganda and fear-mongering tactics.  They kill their own children if they get involved with people outside their faith and appear to abandon Islam.  To me, this is not the God of the Bible.  Again, I am only speaking of the Radical element of Islam.

I agree, all this is a difficult issue to examine.  I offer my thoughts only as my thoughts and know you may have many other feelings and questions about it that perhaps only God can answer someday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three In One

I find it interesting that mankind finds it so difficult to accept the religiously sponsored idea that the Christian God is really three persons in one being, and that Jesus was actually part of who God is.  Secular society has no trouble understanding that each of us is made up of a brain that has an Ego, a Superego, and an Id.  Never any arguments heard about these three distinct personality elements in your noggin, is there?  And they are completely invisible to anyone.  They can’t point to any of them in the brain.  Also, there are no arguments that people can suffer from mental illness wherein they have multiple personalities (of even different sexes!)  Society just swallows that one from the intellectual community like they were saying the “sun comes up in the morning.”  Then of course there is 3 in 1 oil, and I'm sure using this image will tick somebody off.

And yet an entity that is deemed responsible for calling creation into being cannot be seen to fit anything but a singular mold?  If he is even accepted at all.  Why is that?  Remember, Jesus claimed that “I and the Father are one….he that has seen me has seen the Father.”  The authority from God was not claimed just because he felt like it, it was claimed because he had that authority as part of God.  It is also essential to the aspect of Jesus dying on the cross and returning to life after three days in the grave to prove he was God.  God describes Himself as a “relational” character with himself and with us (at least that’s the goal, he wants a relationship with us…something we often seem to thwart at every turn.)  Now the “Superego” of God the Father himself even Jesus acknowledged was greater than he was, so in this triune being there are differences in function and in power.  Hmmm…like the Superego that controls the Id and the Ego? 

The creator and giver of life is no small figure that can fit neatly in the box of our intellectual choosing.  He is much larger than that.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I was listening to noted educator Michelle Rhee recently and something she said really caught my ear.  She said that we need to evaluate the ability of our public school teachers and keep the good ones.

We pay people sometimes up to $12 million a year to toss a ball through a metal hoop on the wall (or for that matter use a stick to whack a tiny ball and run like the devil was chasing you.)  If they don’t do it well enough, we get rid of them and find someone who does.  This is purely and entertainment business.  Teaching in a public school is a fundamental value in society that needs to be done extremely well. However, in that teaching environment we pay them more to stay in the system for years, and we pay them more to take classes on how to teach…and never assess their ability to do the job.  If they don’t do it well, we don’t pay them less or fire them or trade them to the minor leagues because tenure rules and unions protect them.  They basically have to molest a student to get tossed.

Where is the logic in all this?  In private secondary schools bad teachers are more often evaluated and removed because those schools have to compete for students based on quality of education and achievement outcomes.  And those teachers are usually the lowest paid teachers in the land earning usually half what public school teachers earn.

Our country is steadily falling in its educational ranking world wide.  We don’t train enough scientists and engineers in this country anymore and have to import our skilled technically trained workers from places like India and China and Japan.  Half our kids in many places never even finish high school anymore.  The dropout rate is enormous and should frighten every American.

Why should we be frightened of evaluating the performance of our teachers and holding them accountable?  I remember a comment Dave Barry made once.  It goes something like this:  “In Japan the people are really serious about things and education is important even to the point of going to school far longer hours than we do…but hey, in America we can throw a really great party!”  Is that all we’ve become is a bunch of people intent on pleasure and the easy life?
Quote of the Day:

"Great people plant trees they'll never sit under."
                                          courtesy of John Maxwell.

Freedom Of Speech, Freedom Of Religion...Really???

It has shamefully become clear that in America your freedom of religion and speech are no longer constitutionally guaranteed rights under the Obama “lead from behind” presidential model.  I have reproduced comments below I recently read from Tony Perkins that every American should be outraged over. My own comments are italicized in red: 

“Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was brought into an internal dispute over a class at Lackland Air Force Base. His superior (and open homosexual) Major Elisa Valenzuela was irate that a trainer suggested that same-sex "marriage" was a divisive issue that could have devastating effects on America. When Valenzuela caught wind of the comments, she solicited Monk's advice on how to punish the trainer. He suggested that they use the moment as an opportunity to teach tolerance for all opinions.”

“That infuriated Valenzuela, who demanded to know Monk's stance on marriage (after first warning him that supporting homosexual "marriage" is "official military policy.) He refused to answer, explaining to her that if he did, there would surely be consequences.”

“Turns out, he was right. After 19 years of spotless service, Monk was relieved of his duties. In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, Monk was almost speechless. "I was essentially fired for not validating my commander's position [regarding] homosexuality," Air Force representatives shocked everyone by reading Monk his Miranda rights and informing him that he was now the subject of a criminal investigation. They claim Monk made "false public statements" to Fox News -- specifically that he claimed he was being targeted because of his Christian beliefs…”This was retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint." So much for the Pentagon's insistence that they would never court-martial service members for their faith!”

“Two years removed from the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" debate (which the Pentagon vowed would have no effect on the military's treatment of marriage), our service members are being told that there's no longer a place in the service for people who agree with the majority of Americans (and 37 states) on marriage -- or worse, prosecuted for holding beliefs that, until recently, even President Obama shared!” (My comment: He’s really good at the “Change” part, not so much on the “Hope” part.)

“At a time when the Air Force is defending drag queen acts on military installations, Christians deserve the same kind of tolerance. When the cross-dressing show came under fire, Brigadier General Tammy Smith, the first openly gay general, said, "I would ask you to also give space to people to be authentically who they are." Shouldn't the same apply to Christians? In the Obama military, anyone can live proudly and openly -- unless they're believers.”
  • President Obama announced his opposition to a provision in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act protecting the rights of conscience for military chaplains.
  • Officials briefing U.S. Army soldiers included "Evangelical Christianity" and "Catholicism" along with the terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas as examples of "religious extremism."
  • Servicemen expressing their religious position on homosexuality are receiving severe and possibly career-ending reprimands.
  • A senior military official at Fort Campbell sends out a lengthy e-mail instructing officers to recognize "the religious right in America" as a "domestic hate group," (akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis) because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.
  • An Air Force officer is told to remove a Bible from his desk because "it might offend someone

Does any of this chill you to the bone?  Do you realize the potential for allowing this as it applies to anyone else who hold a belief, opinion, viewpoint other than the approved governmental speak?  You all know by now that I believe we are charged to love homosexuals just as we would anyone, but that does not mean we condone all behaviors or see them as right.  Without freedom of speech and religion, we are nothing as a country.  It is the underpinning of all that created America.  How can this be allowed in the very military that is the defender of all that we stand for?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Thought For Today

My though for today...

"One often learns more by asking questions, than by giving his 'answers'."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Is God Like?

I often wonder about the nature of God.  We, as humans, tend to put Him in a box.  For one thing, we tend to call him Him.  Sometimes we attach personality and form when we really have no reason to or basis to support it, and as for what He looks like…well, that is best exemplified by Moses when he was told by God that when He passed by him that he better not be looking or it would kill him.  That really makes you wonder what He looks like.

The more interesting part to me is what kind of being exists for all eternity and can make something out of nothing so that we might exist in this universe as human beings.  The only thing I can come up with is that he takes something from Himself to create something else, for if there is nothing else to use in the void of creation at the beginning of time as we know it, what else could He use?

Do you see the exciting part about that?  We are pieces of God walking around here in the chaos of modern man!  We, in that manner, are connected to Him in ways that we can’t possibly understand.  Perhaps it is why God seeks relationship with mankind so diligently and wants our love?  He is seeking the parts of his own self to love (imagine giving up a leg in battle here just for a second to draw a poor comparison of how you might feel longing for that part of you.)  Perhaps that is also why there is the God shaped void in every human that seeks God, even when we deny it, and is never fully satisfied with anything else it finds. 

We are seeking to be reunited with the creator of all things.  Where are you looking?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Have Times Changed So Much?

Have Times Changed So Much?
King David of Biblical fame was a well-regarded figure in Jewish history for the most part.  He certainly had his ups and down and was human in all his failings like the rest of us, in spite of the relationship he clearly had with God.  Bathsheba comes to mind and was quite a turning point in David’s life.  I have often given the advice to people on how to succeed in life by saying “show up, do your best, and keep you pants zipped.”   Pretty simple stuff.  If there is any way to fail quickly, inappropriate sexual issues are up there at the top with all the rest.

So David, already married to several women, and who by the way has concubines galore that he can “enjoy” an encounter with any time he pleases (all this already missing the mark as far as I can determine from my reading of the Bible) but it’s not enough.  He just can’t keep his pants zipped.  So he sees Bathsheba one day as he’s out enjoying the air from his castle or whatever it was called instead of leading his troops in battle.  We have sweet Bathsheba, who usually is portrayed as the innocent victim of the powerful king who demanded that she sleep with him.  I don’t buy it.  People of the time were extremely modest and not likely to be up and exposed so a guy could see them taking a bath like King David did.  My take is the lady was doing the equivalent of sunbathing in the nude and knew David liked to stroll along his rooftop and survey his domain.  Houses were typically pretty closely packed, and I suspect he was neighbors with one of his important generals like Uriah who was Bathsheba’s husband.  Bathsheba was a social climber (and savvy enough to see to it that Solomon – her second son with David – was made King after David’s death even though he wasn’t next in line for the throne.)  My guess is Bathsheba had an agenda, and her husband Uriah was no longer part of that agenda.  This sexual sin was the corruption that ate away at David’s rule and caused his ruin.  It took a while, but even his own son turned into a pervert -- raping his sister, and another son rebelled against David and had sex with ten of David’s concubines in public to ridicule his father.  Not a pretty picture.  What we do has consequence.  David sought forgiveness from God for having Uriah killed in battle so he could take the now pregnant Bathsheba without scandal, but he still had to pay the human consequences for his behavior and the example he set for those around him.  The prophet Nathan figures it out and called him on it, and it ate away at his reign and his life.

Is it so different today?  Sexual “freedom” and sexual perversion are common.  We encourage people to live together outside of marriage.  Angelina Jolie, who has a huge and adoring following is advocating having parents encourage their teen children to have boyfriend and girlfriend “experimental cohabitation” at their parent’s house. Huge numbers of women, even in America, are forced into sexual slavery today (much like the King’s concubines.)  People still kill over sex and homosexuality is daily in the news.  We’ve got Governors in California and New Jersey now signing and actively endorsing bills that make it a crime for someone to seek therapy from a licensed practitioner to help them not be homosexual.  Yet those same states are perfectly fine with someone going to a doctor who will maim their body in order to make a man into a woman.  In fact, I understand some people have even had it done at the state’s expense.  My heart aches for those struggling with homosexuality and I am not here to condemn them, but they deserve a right to seek a different path if they choose.  All these sexual sins abound in our society.

All of these things have their human and societal consequence regardless of one’s relationship with God.  David found this out and we are no different.  There is a cost to be paid.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Thoughts for the Day

You discover the true character of another person once they realize they don't need you or can't use you for something they want.

You are not only known by the company you keep, but you are formed by them.

It is often more valuable to pay attention to what people do rather than just what they say.

And then there is the old Chinese Proverb: "To know the road ahead, ask those coming back."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Firefighter's Rules For A Successful Marriage

Firefighters Rules For A Successful Marriage

I’ve been a firefighter for many years and these underlined rules below are on the wall at the station (and also in my bathroom…LOL)  They are critically important commandments for safe and successful fireground operations.  One day I was looking at them and realized how they could parallel successful operational rules for marriage.  So, here are the fire rules with their parallel in marriage.
  • Size up your area of tactical operation
What kind of person is this that I intend to marry?  Are we suited to each other in outlook, character, values, beliefs and interests.  Appearance, popularity, sex among other things can be serious risks to be aware of and avoid.
  • Determine the Occupant Survival Profile
Take a good long look.  Do I think this is the kind of person that I will get along with and be with for the rest of my life?  Am I just attracted to one of those pitfalls in the tactical area of operation and there is no chance of success.
  • Don't Risk Your Life for Lives or Property that Can't Be Saved; Extend LImited Risk to Protect Savable Property
 Once you decide to marry, you will have to make decisions and will find yourself arguing over issues.  Guess what, not every argument is winnable.  Sometimes you might actually be wrong.  If you have differing opinions and arguments, as all couples will, leave room for saving face and compromise.  Know when to give in to your partner’s way of looking at something.  Put on your “big boy” and “big girl” pants and realize that not everybody gets their way all the time.
  • Extend Vigilant and Measured Risk to Protect and Rescue Savable Lives
If you have a strong position on your relationship itself and don’t see a potential compromise, keep an open mind about how significant the issue is and be prepared to re-evaluate your stand on it.  Time may show that you want to abandon your position…in other words, don’t be blindly bull headed, stupid!
  •  Go In Together, Stay Together, Come Out Together 
Marriage is a team sport…spend a lot of time doing things together that bring joy to your time with each other.  Date nights, alone time just talking, doing chores together…you know what I mean.
  •    Maintain Continuous Awareness
Don’t just assume that because he or she promised to be yours forever that they will.            Stay on top of problem areas and seek resolution, communicate and serve each other’s needs.  Marriage takes work!
  •   Monitor Radios
Pay attention when he or she tells you something…there may be a bigger message there than you think.  Communication is a two way process.  There needs to be a sender who is clear and a receiver who understands and acknowledges the message.
  •    Report Unsafe Practices That Can Harm You
Eventually, one or both of you will want to do something that will damage the relationship.  It may be inappropriate friendships, too much alcohol, lack of satisfying sex life, or any number of other problems.  Be self-aware and other aware.  You need to know how what you do will affect your relationship and take action to mitigate that…and no, keeping it secret is not the way!
  •   Abandon Your Position and Retreat
When you find your plan isn’t working, retreat to the basics.  Men generally thrive on respect, women on love.  Find out what love language your spouse gets the message with.  For further details on that, read Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages.”
  •   Declare a Mayday As Soon As You Think You're In Danger

Seek good counsel from a minister or professional counselor to help you deal with issues.  Outside evaluations can often open up lines of communication and resolve problems that have grown cancerous.