Friday, October 29, 2010

Politically incorrect….

The Bible is very clear about the roles of women and men, especially ‘in’ the church. Men are to rise to the challenge of being the ‘head of the household’. Men are called to be the teachers and overseers in the church. Sadly, many men do not rise to that challenge. You might call it a sin of omission. On the other hand, some women sin in the opposite way. In an act of disobedience, they decide to serve God by teaching, being overseers in the church, or ruling the household. In these cases, neither man nor woman is rising to the appropriate challenge. Serving God by being disobedient is not serving God, it’s serving oneself, and burying your talent in the sand, ignoring your responsibility, is laziness.

Ephesians 5:23…For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.

1 Timothy 2:12…I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35…For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Peter 3:1-7…Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

1 Tim 3:2-13…Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?). He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:6-9…An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

2 Tim 2: 24-26…And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Extremism…

If you are a Christian that:

“Love(s) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”…  (Mark 12:30)

…by the world’s standards, you would likely be labeled an extremist. Why? Well, for one, loving anything or anyone with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength would be considered extreme. You would have to be completely infatuated, completely immersed. Secondly, God tells us that loving Him equates to following His commands. If you actually follow and promote all of His commands, not just the ones you like or agree with or that are politically correct, once again you would certainly be considered extreme. Quite frankly, if you were verbal about your beliefs, you would likely be persecuted as well, and I’m speaking of ‘in’ the church at large.

Then we have the Muslim faith. The phrase ‘Muslim extremists’ has been getting a lot of air play, especially since 911. What makes them ‘extreme’, though? It seems to me that they are extreme because they follow their holy book more to the letter than those that aren’t labeled ‘extreme’. The extremists appear to be more zealous about following the commands in the Koran. Indeed, by following them they are more extreme.

I don’t see an easy fix for this. There will always be extremists in both religions. The primary difference that I see is that Jesus, the Prince of peace, promoted true peace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. Jesus told us to love one another, to put away our swords, to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. The Koran commands Muslims to kill the infidels. As near as I can tell, even a proclaiming Muslim that wasn’t extreme enough for the extreme Muslims, might also be targeted by the extreme Muslims. That, in itself, might prevent many Muslims from being vocal about being in disagreement with the extremists and the concept of killing the infidels. In voicing their disagreement, they would be undermining their own holy book.

Jesus is Lord.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Based on faith…

As is common knowledge, the dollar is based on faith. To some degree, a healthy economy is also based on faith. You have to have faith that the economy is going to keep rolling, that it is not going to collapse. You have to believe that so you do not become part of the problem. How do you become part of the problem? You slow consumption, you stop buying as much as you once did. When you do that, you put people out of work. You add to the number of unemployed. It’s really that simple.

What I’ve been noticing is that every time the President tries to do something that would typically give people a bit more confidence, and possibly stimulate the economy, the conservative media and the republicans attempt to undermine it at every turn, and undermine him. As the President tries to instill confidence, they do just the opposite. Therefore, they share in the responsibility and state of the economy. As a matter of fact, if you are one of the unlucky people who are still unemployed, imo, you can lay most of that responsibility on the republicans. It would appear that they would rather make the President look bad than make the economy better.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How bold is your faith?

Mark 9:23…"‘If you can’?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Mark 11:23…"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

Matthew 17: 14-20…When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him." "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me. Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn’t we drive it out?" He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig-tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Matthew 14: 28…"Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

Mark 5:25-34…And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’" But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

Luke 8: 49-50…While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don’t bother the teacher any more." Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

Matthew 9:28-30…When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored.

Acts 3:3-8...When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!"  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

John 14:12...I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Genesis 32:26-30…Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."

1 John 3: 21-22…Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

Matthew 11:12…From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The folly of worry, the wisdom of diligence…

It seems that God is always looking out for us. He’s given us His Word (the Bible) which is chock full of wisdom and guidance. Sometimes, though, we take his looking out for us the wrong way. If we are not careful, we might perceive some of his commands and guidance as overbearing, controlling, unnecessary, or passé. What I’ve discovered is that when we do so, we do so at our own peril. God’s commands and guidance are always for our good…to protect…to bless. Can you think of any that you have ignored and now, upon retrospect, see that you would have been better off following His instructions? I think of all those people that sit in a literal cell somewhere. How many of them regret their choices? How many more live in a figurative cell? For those of you who know Jesus, were you in a state of imprisonment when you came to know Christ? Did He set you free, and if so, are you still free? Jesus instructs the weary and burdened to come to Him…and He will give them rest. Jesus tells us not to worry. Jesus tells us how valuable we are. Do you worry? Do you believe you are valuable to God? Do you rest in the work that Christ performed on the cross?

All this is just to say…let it go. Let the worry go. Let the stress go. There is wisdom in that because holding on to it doesn’t help, and only harms. Trust in Jesus because you can. The Word tells us that anything not of faith is sin. Trust God. Hand him your worries. Why not? What do you have to lose in trusting God?

On the other hand, don’t be lazy…do what NEEDS to be done. Generally speaking, God is not going to do for you, what you are able to do for yourself. He will not be mocked…we reap what we sow.

Matthew 11:28-30…"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Luke 4:18-19…"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour."

Galatians 6:7…Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Matthew 6:25-34…Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Romans 14:23…But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Proverbs 10:4…Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Ecclesiastes 10:18…If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Marriage

Scripturally speaking, marriage between a man and a woman is akin to the relationship the church has with Christ. Jesus is the bridegroom, and the church at large is the bride. What does Jesus require of the bride?  Faithfulness. What is faithfulness? Well, in the case of our relationship with Christ, He spells it out by saying that anyone that claims to love Him, does what he commands. What He commands is that we love God, and love one another. He doesn’t promise the church that it’s going to be easy to be faithful. As a matter of fact, He tells us plainly that we will be persecuted, hated, rejected, etc, just like he was. So, being married to Christ is not necessarily going to be easy. Your faith is going to be tested. You are going to be under constant attack by the enemy. God is not going to come to your rescue every time you have an issue. You will have struggles. You will get sick. You will suffer pain. Eventually, if the Lord tarries long enough, you’re even going to suffer death. The test in all this is will you continue to be faithful to Christ even when life is painful, frustrating, and difficult, and God seems to be nowhere in sight? Well, my friends, that same test applies to a human marriage. Just as God wants you to stay faithful and committed to Him in spite of all the tests and trials that come along, in like manner, He also wants you to stay faithful to your human marriage partner even when or if things do not turn out the way you had hoped for or planned. Going by Christ, the only real grounds for divorce is adultery, and even under those circumstances, it’s questionable that remarriage is permitted. Yes, if your marriage partner dies, you are free to remarry. The way I read it, though, you would need to find another widow/widower, or a virgin to remarry. That could be tough. How serious of a decision then is divorce if you go by the ‘book’? Quite frankly, if you go by the ‘book’, it’s unlikely that you will ever remarry and, subsequently, ever have sexual relations again. Yes, God wants you to make your marriage work. God wants you to see your marriage to your human partner in the same way you see your marriage to Christ, committed for the long haul. God wants you to be a faithful and committed marriage partner even when it hurts, especially when it hurts. And let’s not forget, that a sin against your marriage partner, is a sin against God as well.

Malachi 2: 13-16…Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

1 Corinthians 7: 10-11…To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Matthew 19: 3-9…Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Mark 10: 11-12…He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

Romans 7:2…For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.

Hebrews 13:4…Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

John 3:29…The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

Revelation 19:9…Then the angel said to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’" And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Ephesians 5:24-33…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Job 1:8-11…Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

Job 2: 2-5…And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The tenuous nature of life as we know it…

Life on planet earth can be a wild ride. As we know, historically, the earth has gone through some interesting events. Ice ages, volcanic episodes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, meteor showers, hurricanes, tornados, etc, come to mind. You just never know what might occur on the planet next, or for that matter, what the universe might inflict on the planet. In the interim, a relatively calm period in conjunction with scientific advancements, has likely created the most numerous, dependent, and fragile society yet. Most of us aren’t farmers anymore. Most of us don’t live by the river. Most of us don’t hunt our own food and make our own clothes. Individually and as a country, we are now more inter-dependent than we are independent. Ultimately, in one way or another, most of us rely on others to provide for us, whether with job opportunities or the products and services we depend on. Services like those that provide safe drinking water, electricity, natural gas, sewage management, phone, internet, etc. Products like food, clothing, vehicles, gasoline, and you name it. The list could go on and on. Complicating the fragile nature of these inter-dependencies, we have built huge cities right on the coast lines, in deserts, floodplains, and on or near major fault lines. We have houses perched on cliffs. Apparently we are not concerned enough about the possibility of natural disasters to make better choices. Remember Katrina? Imagine a devastating event that affected much of the earth. In our current situation, it wouldn’t take much in the way of a natural disaster to potentially cause a human catastrophe beyond measure. Interestingly enough, mankind has potentially created his own catastrophes as well. He has been so irresponsible, incapable, and/or corrupt regarding governing and finances, that the whole world’s economy appears to be on the brink of collapse. He’s also built a weapons arsenal (nuclear, biological, and chemical) that could wipe out life on the planet. And let’s not forget the possibility that man’s irresponsibility regarding the stewardship of the planet could also potentially upset the balance enough to wreak havoc. Once again I think of scripture. In the book of Revelation it speaks of a time when all the merchants will mourn because no one buys their cargoes anymore. In the books of Mark and Matthew, Jesus speaks of a time so bad that no one would have survived unless God stepped in and shortened those days. Bottom line, it’s not a matter of if catastrophe strikes, but when. Jesus said to ‘watch’, and to be prepared. As near as I can tell, being prepared ultimately means keeping our focus and being busy about His business (Matt 24:44). Remember the parable of the 10 virgins? Some were prepared, were ready, and some were not. Remember the parable of the talents? Some had invested wisely, and were rewarded, and some had not and were cast out. Are we ready or will we be surprised by what lies ahead and ultimately….His coming?

Matthew 24:37-39…As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:42-44…"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

1 Thessalonians 1-4...Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Regulate this…

Smaller government. That seems to be one of the political mantras of the day. I wonder what that really means to those that are doing that chant? Have they thought it through…do they have specific things in mind....and if so…what are they, and are they practical? What programs and regulations do these people want the government to cut? Social Security? Medicaid? Medicare? Wall Street regulations? Banking regulations? Would they like the government to remove the regulations that require businesses to invest in Unemployment Insurance or Workman’s Compensation Insurance? If the government didn’t force employers to provide this coverage, what do you think would happen? Do you think businesses would voluntarily continue to pay your wages and cover all your medical expenses? Let’s face it, without government regulations in place to protect us, we’d be in a world of hurt. It appears to me that the government grows as needs are revealed. In like manner, laws are created when it becomes obvious that a law is needed to govern some behavior. Would it be better if the government just ignored the needs?

This is where we are with health care. The need for health care reform has become obvious. Extremely high health care costs, and thirty million Americans that can’t afford coverage. On top of that you have the baby boomers entering retirement age. Unless there is some reform, the whole system will collapse. President Obama is being honest about this. He isn’t covering it up, he isn’t ignoring it, he isn’t going along with the status quo. He’s taking a lot of heat, too, but he’s acting responsibly. Bottom line, something has to give….and it might be all of us. We all may have to give a bit more so that we can support a humane system. I shudder to think of a time in the United States of America when seniors will be homeless and scattered all over the streets in large numbers because they have lost everything due to health issues and the associated costs of treatment.

And for those of you who say…they can just go to the ER. First off, that cost is laid on the government as well and it’s at a premium. And what about this scenario…you go to the ER and discover that you have cancer or some other issue that requires ongoing treatments. Does the hospital then schedule you for these treatments knowing that you are not able to pay? In my experience, hospitals will refer you to the appropriate specialist for follow up. Just try getting into a doctor’s office or a specialist's office without paying. What about any prescriptions that you may need…maybe for years? Does the hospital give those out for free, too? No, I don’t think that the ER is a good alternative to real health care coverage. I think it’s very likely that there are a lot of people quietly dying because they know they can’t afford to go to a doctor. They may end up in the ER, but by the time they do, it may well be too late.

What kind of America are we going to be? Forgive me for saying so, but I’m thinking of these scriptures…

1 Timothy 6:10…For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5…Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Profundity…

As I’m certain was quite typical of the era in which I grew up, I learned the Lords’ prayer, and at an early age was taught to recite it at bedtime each night. Obviously, at 5 years old, it was mostly a routine, with only a basic understanding of the meaning. While still a child, though, I recall struggling to concentrate on the meaning/words in the prayer…instead of just flying through it. If need be, I would say it a number of times…until I felt that I had connected with the words and ‘meant’ what I said.

Now it’s many, many years later, and in some way, that’s happening to me again. This time, though, I’m finding a new dimension of profoundness.

The first word of the Lord’s prayer…the very first word…OUR…is huge to me. Have you tried to really get to that place? To be the larger ‘our’ instead of a me or an I is not easy or natural, but I believe it is a proper place through which to approach God. I see the spirit of that first word as preparation to enter into a true dialog with God. It reminds me a bit of the scripture that says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). God doesn’t inhabit just words…but real heartfelt praise somehow enables us to enter into fellowship with God. In the same way, getting to that real place of ‘our’, sets the stage for fellowshipping with God. Can we let go of self long enough to be part of ‘our’?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What has been confirmed again…

I’ve been paying close attention to the political scene in the USA for a few years now. What has been confirmed to me is that we have no hope…no chance…as a species, of EVER getting it together. We are SO absolutely corrupt that the only chance, the only hope we have, is in Christ. The human race will never, and can't ever, get it together. I’m hoping that you understand that. That you understand that your only hope is in the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, that is in Christ Jesus. If you haven’t come to that conclusion yet, I pray that you will…sooner than later.

Jeremiah 17:9...The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Genesis 6:5...The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

Psalms 53:3...Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.

Isaiah 53:6...We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Psalms 51:5...Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Isaiah 64:6...All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Revelation 12:9…The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

1 John 5:19…We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Revelation 3:20…Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

John 6:28-29…Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Acts 4:12...Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bush and Obama…

Like you, I remember when George W. Bush was the president. I supported ole George, especially in the beginning. I liked the fact that he was a confessing Christian and appeared to be a no-nonsense sort of a guy. He was strong in his resolve…whatever that resolve was. I appreciated that about him at the time. On the other hand, and in retrospect, he did some things that were questionable. Giving tax breaks to the rich (when you, your family, and many of your friends are rich) seems a bit self serving. Going against the majority of the world and the United Nations and invading Iraq, capturing and deposing its leader (Saddam (who happened to have a tiff with your dad)), and then allowing him to be hung, all under the presumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, is questionable. I’m not a fan of Saddam, mind you, but I’m also not a fan of invading countries under false pretenses, or in error. Oops. Imagine if some other country did that to us? What would our opinion of them be? Pointing to new housing starts to prove that you know what you are doing regarding running the country and the economy, when in reality so many new housing starts were due to a lack of proper regulations and therefore, the numbers were totally inflated and the entire housing market nothing more than a house of cards on the verge of collapse…gambling with the entire world’s economy….is questionable. Either George knew what was going on and was just hoping to make it through his term before it all fell apart…or something much worse….he didn’t know what the hell was going on. About the last thing I remember George doing was handing out rebates to every American and then giving 800 billion dollars to big business in hopes that it might fend off the next great depression before he got out of office.

Then along comes Obama. People are kind of sensitive to this word…but indeed, he did INHERIT a complete nightmare from our previous republican president. Obama did some fast work. You have to give him that. This guy was busy…he was moving....trying to prevent a world wide depression while addressing many other issues. I thought he exhibited great strength and resolve. I think he did what he felt he had to do to prevent a catastrophe. Yes, we are at 10% unemployment…or maybe more…but it could be 50% or more. If any of us have a job right now, I think there should be room for thankfulness. Obama ran on a platform of ‘change you can believe in’. He was elected by the people, and I find that he is trying to make changes that will make a real and lasting difference. He is really trying to fix some of the fundamental issues that brought the country to the brink of disaster. This means changes are needed. Many people hate change….especially if it touches their wallet. We were 10 trillion dollars in debt when Obama stepped into office. How do you fix that? You have to generate more income somehow. How would you do that? Sorry to say that realistically, taxes may need to be raised. This may upset some people...but under the circumstances, it appears to be the responsible thing to do. What do you suggest? The republicans always say that smaller government is the answer. What the republicans mean by smaller government is less regulations on business. I say….get a clue. Hello?!? That is what brought the economy to its knees folks! Yeah…let’s let the rich make the rules. They have to be held accountable my friends…because you can’t trust human nature. They have to be regulated. They have to meet a certain standard.

When it comes to increasing taxes…who can afford to pay more taxes? It sure isn’t the people barely making enough money to put food on their plates. Okay…so what do you do? Hey…maybe raise taxes on those making a quarter of a million bucks a year or more? How about we raise taxes on things that really aren’t essential…but would fall into the category of unnecessary/optional? That seems kind of sensible to me. Got any better ideas? Let’s hear them then.

I’m not even going to go into the whole health care debate except to say….what ideas do you have? How do you fix the problem of 30 million Americans…mostly hard working Americans, not able to afford to go to the doctor when they are sick? Something is wrong with this country if that’s the truth. Maybe it really is time for a change? Maybe you that hate the idea just need to think it through? What is more important to you…the loss of a few bucks in income, or the well being of those who can’t afford health care through no fault of their own? Try to remember that contrary to what some conservative radio talk show hosts espouse, we are not all created equal when it comes to abilities.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Christian Interpretation of the health care debate…

I wonder what side of the health care debate Jesus would be on? Generally speaking would Jesus be more inclined to be a socialist or a capitalist? Personally, I can’t see Him as being much of a capitalist. After all, he was homeless and spent all of his time selflessly serving others for free. Apparently, his disciples did take donations to be distributed among the poor, though. So, currently America has 30 million or so people that can’t afford health care. The majority of these people work full time jobs…but the costs are so high for health insurance/care that many small businesses and individuals just can’t cover the costs. What do you think Jesus would do, or what do you think Jesus would want you to do? Do you think He would want you to harshly judge/condemn those people who are not fortunate enough to work for a business that can afford to provide health care for their employees? Do you think Jesus would want you to turn a cold shoulder to the individuals and families that don’t garner a large enough wage to afford to buy their own coverage? And what about those people with pre-existing conditions? Do you think He would want you to just ignore their needs? The second commandment….love your neighbor as you love yourself….would seem to say ‘no’….Jesus would not want you to ignore their needs, and we absolutely know that Jesus would not want you to judge anyone harshly. Right?

Acts 2:44-45…All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Acts 4:32…All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15…Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

1 John 3:17-18…If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Deuteronomy 15:7…If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.

Proverbs 19:17 ¶ He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Isaiah 58:5-7…Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?  "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Luke 18:22…When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Deuteronomy 15:10-11…Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The primary difference…

I still remember a brief political discussion that I had with my father when I was still a child. I have no other recollection of any other political discussions with him. Simply put, he conveyed that the republicans are on the side of business, and that democrats are on the side of the common people.

In your opinion, does this hold up?  Did it ever?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The fly in the ointment…

How can the two party system ever work well? Let’s say a sitting president from either party comes up with a great plan. A revolutionary plan…one that would finally get America back on track. Is the other party going to support it?  Of course not. They are on the opposite team, and as near as I can tell, it’s all about winning. If the one party admitted that the other party was doing a great job, who do you think would get elected the next term? It would be self-defeating to give kudos to the opposite party no matter how great their ideas were. As a matter of fact, the better the ideas, the more adamant the other party might be that those ideas are crap. To support those ideas would be like you voting for the opposite team. That is forbidden. The problem with this, of course, is that the ultimate goal then becomes winning at any cost…instead of looking out for the best interest of the American people.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on tax breaks…

I think the term ‘tax break’ can be misleading. When you think about it, any tax break ‘costs’ the government that amount of money. It equates to a loss of income generated. It’s not free. Therefore, you could say that in essence, a tax break is just another type of spending bill. When it comes to creating jobs, currently there seems to be two primary options on the table….spend that amount of money to create jobs right now (infrastructure), or give away that amount of money via tax breaks in hopes that it will stimulate job growth at some point down the line.

As we all know, the government already spends more than it brings in. Giving out tax breaks seems counter-productive unless you are certain that those tax breaks will equate to more money coming in than the tax break itself costs. Also, it’s a lot easier to give a tax break than it is to take one back. You better be sure it’s going to work before employing it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What is Obama up to…

Torture and the Law

Compiled by Vienna Colucci, November 2001

What is torture?

Torture cannot be defined by a list of prohibited practices. Human rights treaties define it in a number of different ways, reflecting the different contexts in which they were drafted and the purposes of each particular treaty.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984 and entered into force on June 26, 1987.

It defines torture as any act by which:

severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental; is intentionally inflicted on a person; for such purposes as:

  • obtaining from him/her or a third person information or a confession
  • punishing him/her for an act she/he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed
  • intimidating or coercing him/her or a third person
  • or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind;

when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

What is ill treatment?

It is impossible to draw a clear dividing line between ''torture'' and other ''cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.? Whether an act of ill treatment constitutes torture depends on a number of factors, including the nature and severity of the abuse. Both torture and ill treatment are prohibited in all circumstances by international law.

In times of international armed conflict, ill treatment (described as "inhuman treatment'' and ''willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health' in the Geneva Conventions) are prohibited and criminalized as grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. These grave breaches are also incorporated in the jurisdiction of the Yugoslavia Tribunal and of the International Criminal Court.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibits ''violence to life and person,'' in particular ''mutilation, cruel treatment and torture'' and also prohibits ''outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment''. These terms include ''other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment." The drafters of common Article 3 avoided a detailed list of prohibited acts in order to ensure that it had the broadest possible reach, leaving no loophole. As the official commentary by the International Committee of the Red Cross explained:

''It is always dangerous to go into too much detail -- especially in this domain. However great the care taken in drawing up a list of all the various forms of infliction, it would never be possible to catch up with the imagination of future torturers who wished to satisfy their bestial instincts; the more specific and complete a list tries to be, the more restrictive it becomes. The form of wording adopted is flexible, and, at the same time, precise.''

Every act of torture is a crime under international law.

  • If torture is committed in an armed conflict, it constitutes the war crime of torture.
  • If torture is committed as part of a systematic or a widespread pattern of similar acts, it constitutes the crime against humanity of torture.
  • The Convention against Torture prohibits torture as an independent crime, as a war crime, and as a crime against humanity, absolutely and in all circumstances.
  • The Geneva Conventions prohibit the war crime of torture in both international wars and internal conflicts such as civil wars or rebellions.
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court prohibits torture when it constitutes genocide, a crime against humanity or a war crime.

Are there exceptions to the prohibition against torture?

No. Article 2(2) of the Convention states that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

The prohibition of torture has a special status in international law. It is part of customary international law, which means it is binding on all states, whether or not they have ratified any of the international human rights treaties.

The prohibition on torture is also a ''peremptory norm,'' which means that it cannot be overruled by any other law or by local custom.

May the United States extradite a person to a country where she/he might face torture?

No. Article 3.1 of the Convention against Torture states that: "No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

------

People complain because of Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay facility. Why would he do such a thing?

People complain because Obama is having Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried in conventional court instead of a military tribunal. Why would he do such a thing?

Could it be because it’s so easy to cross the line when no one is watching, when there are no real witnesses? Is Obama trying to hold us to a higher standard? Is that bad?

I wonder if Jesus would be for or against these changes?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The trouble with the law…

…is you may forget about grace. Still, no matter what anyone tells you, though our ultimate destiny is not determined by keeping the law, we are still commanded to follow the law. Right? Remember what Jesus said?

Matthew 5:18…“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Loving God and loving your neighbor is commanded.

Matthew 22: 36-40…"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

You might say that all the other commands are included in those two.

Romans 13:8-10…Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus tells us that we are his disciples if we DO what he commands.

John 13:35…By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 15:14…You are my friends if you do what I command.

James speaks about faith without works being dead.

James 2: 14-17…What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

The list goes on and on.

All that said, though, we must not forget that Jesus didn’t come only to teach. He also came to die, and He did so out of love and obedience. He did so to save us. Faith without works may be useless, but works of the law won’t save you (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus saves. He is that foundation we build on (1 Corinthians 3:11). Our obligation is to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20). As our Lord, we should want to please Him…we should want to follow His commands. If our life doesn’t in some way testify to our having a relationship with him, then it is quite likely that we fool ourselves and the truth is not in us. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Simple Truth…

Matthew 22:36-40…"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

What’s interesting to me about this scripture is how the two commands are similar/circular. If you ask the questions, how can I love God, how can I show my love for God, how can I prove to God that I love Him, scripture answers it by saying that your love for God is revealed by following His commands. What is His most important command other than loving Him? Loving one another. So, in reality, to show your love for God, you are commanded to love your neighbor as yourself….THAT is showing your love for God. And notice, the command isn’t just to love your neighbor….it’s to love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, putting their importance, and their needs, on the same level as yours. It’s like sharing yourself with the world. Instead of being this little self contained entity, this center of the universe thing, you become part of all of humanity. Love is a spreading out of yourself…a giving up of yourself. He who is least is the greatest. He who is greatest is the servant of all. (Mark 9:35, Mark 10:33)

Matthew 7:12…So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

John 14:21…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

John 15:10…If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

John 13:34…"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35…By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Romans 13:8…Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

1Peter 1:22…Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1John 3:11…This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1John 3:23…And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1John 4:7…Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1John 4:11…Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1John 4:12…No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

2John 1:5…And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

1 Peter 4:10…Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Matthew 25:34-40…"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ "The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Is the love that is in you, finding its way out?