All Things Work Together for Good

November 29, 2016

“All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.”  Romans 8:28

Someone made the comment the other day that we didn’t have protests by the losers when Obama was elected, although there were surely people who disagreed deeply with his stated positions.  I wondered why that was.  It couldn’t be that the election wasn’t close.  People still protest, even when they are a small minority.  I think the reason is a philosophical difference in the outlook on history.

Most conservatives are also religious–not all, but most.  If a person believes in God, the tendency is to believe that God stands over and behind all governments–indeed all powers on earth.  This God is good, and therefore, whatever happens is ultimately allowed by God for His purposes is the underlying premise.  Human history is part of a grand plan of God for ultimate good.  Having this sort of philosophical underpinning, whether or not it is stated as such, doesn’t promote protest to have one’s own way.  It may promote protest that is issue based, such as the March for Life, where a cause is thought to be  godly, not personal.  But it doesn’t result in protest over the outcome of an election.

What is Journalism

November 29, 2016

I joined the journalism club in college, and at the first meeting of the semester, I learned that journalists occupy a very special place in society.  Since “the pen is mightier than the sword”, journalists were the opinion shapers of the society.  It was up to us to make sure, basically, that righteousness would be established in the country.  Our job was to point out all the evil in society and make sure that right prevailed.  It sounded like superhero stuff to me.  I was kind of a soft hearted person who was very attracted to stories of people who were suffering in this world, and I was convinced my writing would make their lives better.

Further into the semester, I realized that to please my professors, my stories had to have a solution.  I had to tell the reader what needed to be done to solve the problem I had uncovered.  And it wasn’t any good to get various opinions on a solution and leave the conclusion to my reader, I was to mold the reader’s opinion as to what was right in the situation.

Today the media is widely considered to be biased.  The only way to get at some kind of middle ground is to read a lot of sources, and try to find truth.  But how many people have time to do that?  So many get all their news from one source, and as a result have their opinion shaped.  But why is the media so biased?  They are the products of that journalism education I experienced, which makes it the job of the journalist, or television journalist to be an opinion shaper, not one who uncovers facts.

Ultimately I left journalism for another field.  I was constantly in trouble because the more I searched the more I saw there were two sides to every story, and my professors were not happy with that.  I am happy for the education I received up to that point, because I did learn reasonable mastery of the English language, and I retained an inquiring mind.  These have both served me well in life, if not in what today defines journalism.

Psychology of Protest

November 29, 2016

When you are suffering, when your life is unsatisfying, you will always search for meaning.  For some, the meaning is found in a particular ideology or worldview that puts everything you experience emotionally into a niche of the system.  If you are suffering poverty, there’s a reason that fits the paradigm.  If you suffer what you experience as oppression, there’s a reason.  If you are sad, fearful, depressed, or dissatisfied with life, there’s a reason.  According to the ideology the reason is never found inside yourself or your life choices, but always in the society at large, and the solution is found in government.  That is why protesters from many different causes can join together in one large march.  They are all demanding change according to their ideology, and one that encompasses every grievance will attract a variety of people.

Protestors are not reasonable people.  They don’t really want solutions to problems facing the nation as a whole.  They want their own way.  They are convinced that a change in government policy will give them what they want, and they are convinced that what they want is righteous.  There is no middle ground, no center, no compromise.  Frustrated that they have not found a way out of their dilemma, being exposed to only one point of view, anger at their situation becomes anger at everyone else who isn’t protesting with them.  They may not understand how government works, but since government is the god of their worldview, they are demanding government give them what they want, regardless of consequences.

Politics as Religion

November 29, 2016

An alarming trend has occurred in America that hasn’t probably occurred since the Civil War.  Families have become divided, to the point of not speaking to one another, over politics.  A recent New York Times article on the subject shows that it tends to be the left who separates from others over their views.  What has happened?

It would seem for some people that politics has become their whole reason for being.  They see themselves, their world view and their ideology as having all the answers for a fulfilling life.  Rather than look at every issue from both sides and form a rational response, politics for some has become irrational.  They have only looked at one side of an issue, refuse to see there might be another side, and instead brand those who disagree as not “wrong” or “misinformed” but as actually evil.

If I do not agree with the worldview, I am a hater, and an evil _____  fill in the blank with whatever pertains to the issue at hand.  There is a litany of words to choose from.   And the person who banishes a family member feels very righteous and justified in doing so.  They see themselves as being on a moral high ground, courageous and sacrificial in banning others from their lives, even if those people were once important and loved.

Politics has become the religion of some.  It is based on a philosophical system that sees the world according to a particular paradigm.  Everything about life, meaning and satisfaction can be explained according to this paradigm.  It differs from religion only in lacking a God, and lacking a faith in a life after this one.  It gives the person meaning and purpose, as well as a sense of their own righteousness, and therefore, examining and possibly changing some of their beliefs is psychologically threatening–hence the lack of ability to reason with someone who disagrees.

A reasonable faith, one that is based on looking at all the available arguments and choosing the reasonable solution, is a faith that allows one to listen to others without feeling threatened, and allows for a periodic re-examination of conclusions based on further evidence.

The ideology as religion will probably not last for most people.  Government becomes a very unsatisfying God, and the older one becomes, the more one realizes one’s own mortality.  Ideology doesn’t answer questions of transcendence.

Prayer for Success

November 11, 2016

Father, we come before you because of what Jesus has done for us.  We ask that you would bless us in every way, but especially that you would bestow great spiritual blessings because we believe Jesus and claim him as our Lord.  Protect us from all evil and deliver us from any and all danger.  Do not allow us to be tempted harshly.  Please let us experience Your Presence in our lives, your goodness and your love.  Give us joy in reading your word the bible, and speak to us as we read, speaking words of encouragement and words of direction.  Place us securely on the path you have planned for us.  Give us work to do that fulfills the personality you have given us, and that allows us to develop and use all the gifts and abilities you have given us.  Let our work for you be successful, even if we don’t always see the results with our human eyes.  Let us be successful in your eyes.  May we make Jesus more loved than He was before we began.

Provide for all our needs as you promised when Jesus said “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things will be added to you.”  You know we need food, clothing, shelter and transportation, as well as the specific materials required for the work you are calling us to do.  We thank you in advance Father, for we know you hear the cries of your children when they call to you, and you answer us in ways that are even greater than we ask for or even imagine.  We ask you these things in the name of Jesus, name above all names, most powerful name in all the universe.  Amen.

Do not Judge

November 8, 2016

“Do not judge” is thrown at anyone in this culture who has the audacity to say anything is wrong.  We are not to judge what other people do.  Seemingly, right and wrong have been done away with, and to say anything at all is morally wrong marks one for the brand of ignorant, intolerant bigot.  Apparently right and wrong depend entirely on the person and the situation, and can change accordingly.

However, when it is thrown out that Jesus himself said “Do not judge”, there is a misunderstanding of what he meant.  It applied to passing judgment on persons–assuming to know their heart.  It was assuming the role of God that he was against.  He was not against saying certain acts were wrong.  Those who quote “Do not judge” miss the next point, which was “go and sin no more.”   He said “Does no one condemn you?”  And it was that, the condemnation, that Jesus was forbidding.  He wasn’t saying adultery was  not a sin, only that condemning another human being was not to be done.

It is interesting that people who claim there is no right or wrong but it all depends on the situation, find much is wrong when they become a victim.

The Throne Room

November 6, 2016

An allegory explaining why Jesus died to redeem mankind

Long, long ago before the first humans were even created an assembly was called in the heavenlies.  In the throne room of God were the Father, the Son, Satan and all the angels remaining after the great angelic rebellion.  Satan had told God “I will not serve you” and vowed to become the Enemy of God, the Usurper,  the hater of God and all who love Him.  The angels who had rebelled with Satan were not present.

Before them played the vision of human history, from the creation, through the rebellion of mankind, and all that happened after that.

“I want them back”, said the Father.

“But they are mine”, cried Satan.  “They chose me because I promised they could be like God.  That sealed it.  Because they chose me, they are mine!”

The Father replied, “That was your sin too, Satan.  You wanted to be your own God.  Do you not realize I could destroy you in a moment and take them back?”

“But that would not be justice”, sneered Satan.  “You claim to be perfectly just.  You can’t destroy me to take what is rightfully mine!  I won this battle!  They chose me freely.  They are mine.  And I care only to destroy them now because you seem to treasure them, claiming even to love them.  Accept that I have won against you.  Admit defeat!”

“Justice must be served” agreed the Father.  “Very well then, I will purchase them back from you.  Name your price.”

Somewhat taken aback, Satan thought for a long time, then grinned.  “Surely you know I will set the price very high.  I demand you become one of them and enter their world.  You will be rejected by many of them, and then killed.  Lets see, not just any death will do, either.  How about a Roman cross?  And before the crucifixion, a Roman scourging, a crown of thorns, slapping, beating with sticks, being spit upon.  Then as you hang in agony struggling in pain to breathe, you will have the knowledge that most of them will stay with me anyway, because they like the sense of control I give them.  You will never do all that!  You could never love the wretched things that much!”

“I accept your price”, said the Father.

Shocked, Satan shouted “You will never follow through with it.!  It will be too terrible!  Love has it’s limits.”

The Son stood and said “I will do it.”  And immediately he began the process through which He would become human, suffer all the indignities of human life, and die a most horrible death to redeem the beloved.

“I will be called Jesus”, said the Son, “for I will save my people.”

And the angels bowed before Him, silent with awe.

 

Justice

November 5, 2016

We all have some sense of justice, no matter how imperfect.  When we see a person or entity hurt someone we love–or even when its a news story about someone who cheated or injured someone else, our righteous anger comes to the fore, and we want to see the wrong righted.  While we may have varying levels of vengeance, or wanting to see someone pay, we do all have some desire to see the evil  made up for, the victim compensated, or the wrongdoing turned around.  Sadly, in our world it often appears that the strong, the rich, and the connected have their way with the weak, scoffing at laws that would restrain them, and somehow getting away with it.  But they ultimately do not.  God is just.  In fact, God is perfectly just.  While not everyone is punished as we would see fit, God in His justice does call everyone to account for what they have done in their life–every single one of us.  Then, as we wish to see God’s justice done, we have to realize we are wishing for justice to be done for and with us as well.   We need to call ourselves into account before God, confess our own injustices and lawlessness to Him, asking for His mercy, and He promises we shall have it.  But we must accept that mercy granted us may also be granted to those who have hurt us.  And there is the rub.  As Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”   Our human minds want justice when we are injured, and mercy when we are the perpetrator.  It doesn’t work that way.

Support Team

November 5, 2016

Everyone famous, everyone successful, everyone achieving great things has a support team.  These are the people who make possible what the front person does.  They are almost always anonymous, content to stay on the sidelines, and they just know within themselves what part of the outcome was their contribution.  Whenever we tend to feel inferior or put ourselves down because we seemingly haven’t achieved greatness, we need to remember that the front person is just part of a team.  We supporting cast are whatever percent of that achievement we have contributed.  It’s a special role.  While our talents aren’t the ones that stand out, those visible talents could never be showcased without the talents we have for enabling someone else to maximize theirs.

Prayer for Courage

October 14, 2016

“Father, I come before you asking your help and protection upon our lives and upon all those we love. Help us to live with joy and with courage knowing You are always for us. Help us remember nothing happens that you haven’t known about for all eternity and nothing happens that you haven’t allowed us to experience for your good purposes. Whatever our futures hold, help us remember you hold us in the palm of your hands and our names are always before you. Let us remember Jesus within us, the source of everything good and let us be faithful to prayer, to reading of the bible and doing those good things you place before us. Help us make Jesus known to others and bring glory to His name. We ask these things in the name of Jesus, name above all names. Amen.”