Archive for July, 2016

Who You Know

July 31, 2016

In all the tumult and chaos of the world today, we wonder what is secure.  What can we trust?  What can we hold on to and be safe?   Some people have a little place in the country.  Some people have an underground bunker.  Some are hoarding, and backing that up with guns.

Maybe the biggest part of preparedness is getting ready to meet God.  We are all going to die one way or the other–through war or terrorism, through an automobile accident, illness or freak accident.  And then whether or not we are close to the end of the world, it is the end of the world for us when that final event happens to us.

Jesus talked about the end of the world and his own return.  He said when he returns the glory of it all, the glory of His appearance, and the sheer magnitude of the earthly changes happening–noise, light and movement, will have everyone trying to hide in caves if they don’t know Him.  For those who have a relationship with Him, we will recognize who we’ve been waiting for.  We’ll hold our hands up like little children waiting to be picked up by their returning parent.  And so it will be that those who go with Him leave this dimension.  Those who hide will stay.  And when He leaves, He takes all the light with Him, leaving those here in the “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Perhaps taking time to know Him, studying the stories of Jesus, talking to Him in prayer and checking out the truth of His claims is the best preparation for these times, after all.

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Election 2016 part 2

July 31, 2016

I keep hearing dire predictions about what will happen if Clinton wins.  I keep hearing dire predictions about what will happen if Trump wins.  I hear how much someone hates one or the other of the candidates.  But in one sense, who occupies the White House doesn’t matter.  God will have His way with this country.

This doesn’t mean God won’t punish people who lie, destroy others, steal, and support moral wrong.  He will punish those who violate the natural moral law which has been around forever.  But despite all the evil and dysfunction, He will accomplish His purposes in the world.  Good people may suffer in the backwash of some of the evil things other people do.  People still get in the wrong place at the wrong time, and good people will be jailed and perhaps killed for being on the wrong side of the political winners.  At the same time, God is using all of it–all of it, to accomplish eventual, eternal good for those who love Him.  Rather than worry about who is in the White House, we ought to worry about whether we are part of God’s house.

Election 2016

July 31, 2016

“One of the most contested, controversial,dirty,ugly, (etc) elections in the history of the United States.”  We hear quotes like this daily.  This is truly one for the history books.  Trouble is:  no one likes either candidate much.  Yet what is truly amazing, is that people are still looking to politics and government for solutions to their own problems.  When will we ever learn?

Politics always gets ugly.  Politics always gets corrupt.  Politics is more about power than about helping people.  Politics always lines the pockets of the winners and their allies.  Politics has rarely solved anything.  People still have the audacity to hope that flawed human beings might force other flawed human beings might make their own lives better.  And they also hope they might win the lottery.

Ultimately what will make a difference is change on a small level across a wide spectrum.  When people all over the United States decide to do something to better themselves.  When families decide to help each other realize the goals of each member.  When neighborhoods pull together to better their common space, then things get better.  Its easier to petition a local city or county council to provide bus service to a neighborhood than to get the federal government to build more public transportation.  Its easier to start cleaning up one’s own neighborhood as a group of neighbors than it is to get a federal urban renewal project to do it.  Local programs are smaller, but more immediate, and often more wisely accomplished than that done on a big scale by outsiders who sometimes create new problems because they don’t know the local situation.

When change comes–a sea change, it will be the result of lots of individuals in lots of families in lots of neighborhoods pooling their talents, wisdom, know how, and goodwill to do good right where they are.  What will be the motivation?  In our past history it was love of God and love of neighbor–till we went back to the default “me ” setting and added politics to the mix.

Two Ways to have Order

July 20, 2016

Seeing the events of the summer of 2016, we see a country on the verge of breakdown.  People have stopped listening to each other.  They have stopped being concerned for the common good.  They have started thinking only of the good of their group, passing around blame and fomenting hatred.  The country has forgotten its common humanity, what it shares, and empathy for others or other points of view seem to be gone.

There are two ways to have order.  In the first, people will be spiritually strong, and good.  They will essentially govern themselves, by working together, helping each other, and above all else, they will be civil.  When that breaks down, there is only one other way to have order–that is at the point of a gun.  At that point governments use force, civil liberties are suspended, curfews are raised, and where one can travel and what one can do are severely limited.  Democracy only works when people use their freedom wisely and peacefully.  Anarchy leads to the loss of freedom.

 

July 20, 2016

“As a man thinketh, so is he” Proverbs 23:7
Much has been written about why some people seem to succeed in reaching their goals despite rather daunting circumstances, and others seem to go off track rather quickly. All sorts of psychological and sociological theories have been advanced, but it may just be as simple as the thoughts one thinks.
I’ll tell the story of a young person who grew up in poverty. This family had almost nothing and the attendant problems of medical bills, lack of grocery money, lack of proper clothing, lack of transportation and so on. This young person was determined to go to college, no matter what. The goal seemed unreachable to some because of lack of money, but the person both expected it to be hard, and expected it to be possible, eventually.
Before attempting college, he had to get money for a car. He got a job at just above minimum wage and worked full time for months until the car and insurance could be procured. He then enrolled in community college and worked part time while attending college full time. He decided to use some of the community college time to get a skill that would pay better. He became a pharmacy tech, and immediately saw an increase in income. Then it was on to university. This meant procuring housing and another job. He got a job first, working full time night shift (because it paid so much better than day shift). He decided sleep could be most easily moved to fit the schedule. Then he found an apartment. It was not close to the college, and was in a lower income section of town, yet was quiet. This was important due to the need for sleep. Then he enrolled in the university. Due to the need to work full time, it was hard to take a full load in college, so he just took 12 units at a time, and with care, planning and working premium shifts, he was able to pay off each semester’s tuition as it came due. He saved for emergencies such as car repairs, and kept plodding along. There was a bit of time for social activities, but these had to be chosen wisely and around work and study. This went on for 5 years, and humorous things happened like falling asleep in class and falling out of the desk onto the floor. But eventually graduation happened, and a career progression in the field of education, a graduate degree (earned over years of time), and promotions.
How did this young person succeed in meeting his goals when no one he knew in high school did? He never expected it to be easy, he was willing to do whatever it took, he was able to delay gratification, and he never gave up. Persistence, belief in the value of the sacrifice and the big picture got him through, on to a better life and out of the poverty he was raised in. We think our thoughts, we experience emotion triggered by our thoughts, and we act in accordance with out thoughts. It all begins in the mind. “As a man thinketh, so is he”.