Month: March 2016

Not By Ourselves

Why would a gracious God send pestilence upon a people? Why would he allow foreign armies to overrun their cities? Why would he refrain from intervention when innocents are killed?

These are questions which have been asked since man was able to ask questions. I believe we know the answer, but do not like it. We need someone to blame, and he is the most powerful target we can imagine. Yet, the answers point back to ourselves and to the relationship we have with him. He has chosen not to force a change in our exercise of free will. As a result, we do bad things to each other. Innocents are killed by people. Also, he wants us to realize our need for dependence on him.

Does God have such an ego that he wants us to bow down and declare our dependence on him? We might ask our quesrtion a little differently: What does he have to prove? If he created the world and us, what more does he need to do to be seen as trustworthy and able to take care of us?

We need but acknowledge that we are dependent on him to get through our time here so he can complete our makeover to be like him. As long as we fight that notion, we will continue the path we find ourselves in. If we can relinquish the need for control, we can allow him to do what he desires (but not with force) to do in our world. It take a willingness on our part.

Advertisements

Sound Bytes

It’s a shame about sound bytes. They provide only a few seconds of a person’s ideas. The term “byte” comes from our popular use of technology and represents a miniscule measurement that doesn’t explain a real idea. So, we use the term to define a phrase or sentence of a person’s longer narrative. Just as the still picture of a frown goes with a headline that a person is not happy with something. The picture and the emotion may have nothing to do with each other, but convey what the writer/editor wants it to.

If you have ever received a letter from a relative, it would be absurd to take one sentence from it, divorced from the paragraph or the whole letter and quote it alone to convey the writer’s attitude about the family or the world. We know it wouldn’t be fair to our kin to do such a thing, but we do it with our look at the interpretation of ideas, scripture or any other form of literature because we are either too lazy or too opinionated to look further.

If we don’t widen or attention span, we will make the mistake of believing a brief moment of nose-scratching or sneezing as the sum of a long-term plan for governing or leading. We have the ability to do better, if we have he forethought to examine our surroundings more carefully, and for a longer period of time.

Different

There are some who would have us believe we should all be the same, in ability, in wealth, in inner drive and in a hundred other ways. Some would even have us all be the same in faith and religion (or the lack thereof).

Simply put, we are different. In all the wasys listed above, and the other hundred ways they may include, we are not the same. We are not created nor “wired” to be the same. Being treated equally under law is not the same as being treated as equal. There are extroverts and introverts. There are workers who need a quiet atmosphere to work with numbers or lab specimens. There are also people who can greet you every day at the local retail store or hospital who thrive on contact with people contact all day.

In these differences, some are content with cleaning floors and others want to take on more responsibility and be in charge of things and people. Some will be paid more than others. It’s not that some are bad and others good (though that can also be the case), it’s just that we are different. Without those differences, we would all be mechanical creatures traveling to our assigned places to do what someone else thinks we should. Scary books and movies have been produced to depict that type of society.

I am grateful for those who will repair my plumbing or fix my car, but they also need someone to teach their children, preach their sermons and conduct their funerals. We have our natural abilities and can voluntarily use them for the betterment of society as a whole. I can’t see anything wrong with that. So, if anyone feels we are not equal enough, I would say give up your own abilites and the corresponding income, not mine.

Updating Our Settings

On one of my devices I was told there was an update available to my operating system. Of course I updated it! Who wouldn’t? The old one would immediately be outdated, and who can bear that?

Then I wondered if my spiritual operating system needs upgrading. This is a daily update and install brought about by reading, prayer and thanking God by walking around with him. The update is visible, if my installation was done successfully.

This is not to make light of spiritual renewal but merely to use today’s terms we use constantly to remind us of our true purpose and how to live God’s love while we are on this journey. May your update be successfully installed.

Conscience or Practicality

In our current election frenzy (a necessary process) we are often times caught between our conscience and the practicality of the outcome of an election. We would like to vote for a certain candidate because we believe he/she would be best for our country, state or local office. On the other hand, we wonder if our vote is “wasted” because our candidate cannot be elected because not enough people think as we do. Then, we are faced with the “electable” candidate for which we hold little favor. There we are in our dilemma.

It would be great if for once we could latch onto a person who is both best in our minds and electable at the same time. We are tempted to vote “none of the above” and leave it, but we still are in the position of helping the “other side” by not casting a vote for “our side”.

Plenty of people will tell you about being a Christian and voting a certain way, and if you don’t you are not. Hogwash! It is okay to participate, but it is also okay not to participate. I favor voting, but you are not less if you don’t. I do believe it takes a lot of prayer, thought and research to make the best possible choice we can. If you are looking here for a solution to the dilemma, you won’t find it. I’m in the same boat you are, but I will try to help keep it afloat. I’ll row if you will.

Good Assumes Bad

If we had never tried to obey an impossible law, we would never understand grace and mercy. If we had never had to earn anything, we would not understand a gift. If there had been no bad news, we would not appreciate good news.

It’s not that we enjoy impossible laws, earning every single thing we have or hearing bad news, but we understand those things are necessary to give us a proper perspective. The good in the world assumes there is evil.

We must hear the bad news before we realize we even need the good news. The bad news is we are doomed to destruction in our own power and abilities. The good news is we have a loving Creator who has always had a plan and a person in place to relieve us of the consequences of our weakness and “badness”. We then operate out of gratitude and a need to pass the news on to others. We can also be present for each other when things go bad.

Your Word

The most admired people I have met or heard of were people who would do their utmost to follow through with what they said they would do. Those people are worth emulating and following. They are trustworthy. It would never occur to them to purposely do otherwise. It is built into their DNA somehow, through teaching, example and dedication to God.

On the other hand, those who do not honor their word throw the world off balance. If they make a statement, you cannot depend on it being honored. Thus, you must maintain a type of nervous flexibility that keeps you in doubt. I realize nothing is certain in this world except God’s presence, but it does wonders for our daily lives to interact with some solid people who take responsibility for what the promise.

If we can manage to be that type of person, we will help to reassure others that this world is not lost to dishonesty and cheap talk. In most cases, our word is really all we have. Think of the freedom we would have without the need for contracts, lawyers and all the thing we put into place to force people to at least act honestly. Let’s remember: someone is watching and they will determine part of their view of the world by what they see in us.

The Art of Getting Elected

We look around us today and may come to the conclusion that our political process has never been uglier, sillier, and more chaotic. Yet, history tells us differently. Though some stated emphatically they did not want the country to break up into parties, it was inevitable. The second and third presidents had some back-room type deals and dividing lines even early on in our fledgling country. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vying to succeed George Washington as president. Though they worked together when necessary, they also were rivals when it came time to run for the same office, they acted as rivals.

Newspapers caricatured Abraham Lincoln as a comic-type creature, and described him as looking like a gorilla. There were threats on his life so that he had to send decoys by one train and take another just to get to Washington to go to work.

These things in no way excuse the damaging things said and done in our process, but at least we need to realize that mankind hasn’t change that much. We are not evolving into a better race, but are still spiritually weak and need our God to be better candidates and better voters.

Who Are We?

At times in our lives we become identified with a particular issue on which we are focused. It might be anger (even righteous anger). It might be a social or moral issue. It could even be an idealogy. Whatever it is, it says who we are at that point in our lives.

If the issue is a negative one, such as anger, it pays to ask ourselves, “Who am I withouth this anger?” If it is an idea that isn’t shared or we decide to change our minds, the same question can arise in an effort to readjust our thinking.

Hopefully there is a basic identity we have that doesn’t change, and is a our worldview no matter what else may come and go. I believe being a creation of the Creator is the key to our ongoing identity. Only through him can we develop the nature necessary to trust and be trusted. If we miss that foundation, we will wash away with the storm of doctrine or idealogy that can sometimes blow at 200 miles per hour and be rated as a category 4 wind. The current state of our race for the top of the political heap can be an example of such a one-dimensional identity. When the storm blows over, we must still have an answer for the question of who we are.

Tag, You’re It

In a previous post, I introduced some of the organizational benefits of recess. Not the congressional recess, but the classroom-to-playground type. Before the bell stopped ringing (unless some cruel teacher held us for an additional five seconds, which we heard none of it anyway) we would fly out the door. We could yell instructions or pick teams on the fly. By the time we found our spot on the ground, we could start play of the game immediately. Within two minutes of leaving the building we were deeply involved in competition or simply free play.

We were free of the shackles of books, desks, concrete and cinder blocks. We knew it would end, but not now. We lived for the next five minutes, and after that, we didn’t care. Someone else was responsible for the schedule. We yelled and ran and pushed and pulled. It was play and combat at the same time. This was not the era of guaranteed safety for all. There were risks. Feelings were hurt and heads were bumped. Monkey bars were bare metal, and hard ground underneath! The best way to handle it is, don’t fall. The slide was tall, and so were the swings. Again, the best advice is don’t get on it, or don’t fall if you do. Hang on. The view of kids horizontally hanging on to the merry-go-round with one hand as it spun is an awesome sight. Sometimes one would fly off and bounce on the ground. So? If they’re okay, good job. If not, take them to the teacher. She’ll know what to do. Meanwhile, we have business here. “Be careful” was a distant, futile warning that was for someone else. We were our own masters for a precious few moments.

What are we to make of all this? Maybe nothing. Meantime, while we are contemplating the meaning of it all, TAG, YOU’RE IT! Catch me if you can.