Archive | June, 2013
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I Am a Newsie!

30 Jun

I Am a Newsie!

A friend finally got me to admit something a couple of months ago. I am a newsie (so is he). What that means is that both of us (along with probably a host of other people with ADD/ADHD tendencies in adulthood) can easily get wrapped up in the rhythm of the news cycle, which is not a cycle anymore, but rather a 24-hour stream of information.

Life as a newsie can be like drinking from a firehose, which at the very least should shield our brains from atrophying, as they are used in a multitude of diverse ways while processing the news.

However, there are at least four hazards to being a newsie that I have noted:
1) I have more of a tendency to be attracted to glitzy prepackaged stories, totally input from outside of myself, than ever before. Indepth analysis and synthesis inside of my brain (read: thought) can lag behind. I have traditionally been a thinker. Some of my current reading comes “predigested” and can easily lead me away from thinking for myself. Not good.
2) I am a reader. I have always been a reader. However, the fast pace of the news cycle can tend to make me a “sound byte” reader who skims the more indepth sections of things, reading lots of articles in a surface way rather than reading a few articles in depth. Not good. It is easy to make mistakes and misunderstand things while skimming. Then what is the point to reading if I don’t read accurately?
3) My newsie world has expanded so far in exponential growth that I read fewer novels than ever before. You know, novels–those things that have been written by people with a wonderful command of the English language. Novels originally taught me how to be a writer. I have often stopped to savor passages in novels–passages where the language itself is breathtaking. I should not abandon them now, as I seek to grow in my skills as a blogger.
4) The news cycle can also replace my serious study of God’s Word (with accompanying study aids). Such study is something that has provided me with delight all life long. It has also helped me grow closer to the Lord. If I replace a wonderful thing, the study of God’s Word, with a lesser thing, devotion to the news cycle, I don’t make the best choice I can make!!!

I am determined to get my balance correct! The news is important but so is reading classic novels and newer works. And studying God’s Word is the most important activity of all!

I will conclude by describing a Dilbert cartoon that caused several of my friends to crack up (me included). It involves a young intern switching to the iPad to read his newspapers. He was reading them in the executive bathroom at work, where many people have read the print edition of the newspaper for centuries. His co-workers then figured out that he was never coming out of the bathroom again due to the fact that iPad newspapers are on a continual update . . . Ha ha ha!

Happy reading!

I Am the Velveteen Rabbit!

29 Jun

A friend used the phrase this week “I am the Velveteen Rabbit.”  She used it in response to a person who needed a comforting shoulder to cry on.  We know, from the children’s story of that name, that the Velveteen Rabbit was probably the most comforting children’s toy ever!

I like that phrase–“I am the Velveteen Rabbit.”  I like it for lots of reasons, including the one my friend intended.

I especially like it because it describes what has hopefully happened to someone who has reached my age, 55, and has seen her share of highs and lows.  If she is a believer in Jesus Christ, she has, by then, found Him to be faithful in both the highs and the lows.  She has learned that both good times and bad times don’t last forever.  And she has mostly learned that she is not so much holding on to Jesus Christ as He is holding on to her!!!

Her scars are sometimes visible, like the scars left where my chemotherapy port was when I had breast cancer five years ago.  Those scars, and the invisible ones, were earned by going through hard times and emerging victorious at the other end of the tunnel.  But, most of all, those scars show others that I have become real over the years, like the Velveteen Rabbit whose velveteen fur was eventually rubbed off, only to be replaced by the real live rabbit fur of a real live rabbit!

For the Velveteen Rabbit is real.  In becoming real, we Velveteen Rabbits learn to value other people who can be real, too.  Those who sanctimoniously posture themselves as “holier than thou” are people we pity.  They are too afraid to be real.  Afraid to show others that they too have walked through some dark places, and sometimes are still there.  

The Velveteen Rabbits among us don’t rejoice in those dark places (no one does!), but they don’t hide them from others either.  

They realize that God is growing us to holiness, not through keeping our lives free of trials, darkness, and times of asking “Why, Lord, why?” but rather through His utter faithfulness at all times, in every trial.  

They realize we can be weak, because He is strong . . .  

Reaping the Whirlwind–What Idolatry Will Do to Us in the End!

28 Jun

There is a reason that gay marriage will never satisfy the people who enter into it.

It is against God’s design.  Therefore it is idolatrous.

It takes a person and puts him into God’s place, in the belief that that person can become not only our entire world, but also our god and our universe.  We fire God and try to replace Him with a human being.  It will never work.  It doesn’t work when heterosexuals try it either.  

Once we depart from God’s ways and God’s design, we are on our own.  And we make some huge mistakes therein.  Our hearts are built for worship.  If we don’t worship the true God, we will manufacture a god and worship it.  Right now, worship is being directed to the institution of gay marriage.  But it will not ultimately satisfy, and great will be the crash when the people who counted on that institution, and their partners in it, to satisfy them deep down inside, in that worship place.

You see, the suicide rate is not only high among gays because they are bullied.  It is also high because, deep down inside, they have a conscience with its alarm system going off.  They know that their desires are not according to God’s design.  They know that they are going their own way, apart from God.  And they sense that they will never, never be satisfied by the results of that sojourn.  

Even if they could force every other person in America to praise them for entering into a gay marriage, their own consciences would still affirm that something is dreadfully wrong.  And they would still face suicidal tendencies, from their own hearts, because their hearts are estranged from the true God. 

It is not a place I would wish for my worst enemy to be trapped.

And, you see, the huge difference between a gay idolator and a heterosexual idolator is that, if two heterosexuals marry each other in an idolatrous relationship, they can later get right with God and make that relationship work.  A gay couple can never, ever do that.

All idolatry is sin.  But homosexual marriages create a legalized sinful state that is going to produce some immense consequences for those who enter therein. 

No one wants to be estranged, not only from God but from their own souls.  And this is what will happen to gay couples who proceed along the road to gay marriage.

You can never, ever make a person god in your life and have your relationship and your life succeed.  You will live in brokenness, by definition.

I say this in utter sorrow, as today a friend since college is marrying his boyfriend.  I purposely did not tag this post to call his attention to it.  If he sees it later, that will be God’s intervention in his life.  

I don’t know what lies ahead for gay people.  It seems that programs to help them have heterosexual desires only work every once in a while, for certain people.  

So it seems as though gay people may need to purpose to be celibate, in order to serve God in integrity.

Not an easy life.  It is not easy for heterosexuals who don’t marry either.  Almost everyone wants to belong to someone in a physical relationship.  

But certainly, as Jesus said, it is far better to sacrifice certain temporal comforts than to sacrifice our immortal souls.  

Heavy things to ponder.  I am here to pray with anyone who needs me.

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Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

28 Jun

Losing 110 Pounds in 20 Minutes!

I got my new base ID today and, with it, a new picture of me, replete in a new red dress. The ID I turned in had my picture 110 pounds ago, in a red jumper that was precisely 10 sizes bigger than the dress I wore today. In essence, I lost 110 pounds in the course of a 20 minute photography session!

I was thinking about the fact that there are no shortcuts to weight loss. And wondering why God designed the universe that way.

Weight loss (and weight maintenance in a healthy state) are decisions we make one mouthful at a time. And daily when we decide whether we can find a half hour to work out before we flip on the television or the Netflix stream on our computer.

With very rare exceptions, most of us carry weight that is mathematically related to the quality of what we eat, how much of it we eat, and how much we exercise.

I have learned to shudder when I see most snack foods–full of sugar and salt for cheap flavoring, full of preservatives so that they will last on a shelf for years, full of . . . zero nutritional value.

Never say never . . . but I want to make my consumption of processed foods a rare thing. It grieves my heart that they are the cheapest foods in the stores, even in the convenience stores where they are marked up pretty high. Teens and poorer people without cars often buy their food in convenience stores. Teens and poorer people without cars often don’t have access to education about the nutritional value of various foods (or, in the case of teens, they may hear nutritional information but choose to not process it!!!). And those poor brains, when all they get for nourishment is potato chips and Coke!!!

I am hopefully not becoming a food snob, but I want to be a voice of reason in a crazy world of idolatry.

You see, I think the reason God made it so that we have to partner with Him to lose weight, one small decision at a time, is because we would otherwise make an idol of our food, rather than worship the giver of that food.

We still can and do. I read in the paper today that 41% of Americans regard themselves as overweight or obese when . . . it is actually 68.8% who are! Seven out of ten. No wonder the American Medical Association just gave in and declared obesity to be a disease. There is no fighting a statistic like that. We love our food in this country!

I have spent years at weights far higher than what my body was built to carry. I could do it again. I am not home free till I go to be with Jesus someday, to that world where temptations, sin, and idolatry no longer exist.

In the meantime, I struggle, one mouthful at a time, one decision to work out at a time.

But that is good, for the struggle directs me to the foot of the Cross, where I see Christ, who triumphed in my struggles for me.

I truly believe that, if we could eat anything we wanted and never gain weight or if we could will ourselves to lose 110 pounds and have it come off in a week, we would be neckdeep in food idolatry. I believe the struggle helps free us from the idolatry.

Food is a wonderful gift and, in one way, I will always be a foodie! I love cooking and trying new recipes and trying new herbs and spices and trying new combinations of things . . .

I just know that I can’t eat high density calories every day of my life. Either I eat them in smaller portions or I choose to eat something else instead.

And God is faithful, oh so faithful.

I am so totally ordinary, if I can do it, anyone can.

You Stick Out, But Not Like A Sore Thumb!

28 Jun

I got into a conversation with the woman who was selling me my salad at Quizno’s today.  The proprietor of the place was gone for the day, so she was there from another Quizno’s, which she runs, to substitute for him.

I had had a new ID made on the base today, so I had worn a new red dress for my picture, a batik in a size 10 that is just loose enough on me to make me feel like a million dollars.

She picked right up on my joy at wearing a nice dress–within three sentences she was telling me about an upperscale dress shop that used to be next door to her Quizno’s.  

Funny thing though . . . I hadn’t mentioned clothes.  

How did she know that I would be interested in a top-notch place to buy them?

The clue was in the way I dressed and carried myself.  Without a word, she saw that I have high standards for myself when I go out in public.  

The more the world gravitates to the grunge look, the more people like me stick out.  I kind of like that.  We all get to choose our standards.  But we don’t get to choose how people react to them.  Those of us who believe that we show esteem for others by dressing nicely around them get a reputation for being people who value quality, and not just in our clothes.  When we go to church dressed nicely, we show that we esteem God, too.  Nothing but the best for my Lord and for the people who surround me!

I have heard several people say, within the last forty-eight hours since the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage were publicized, that people who marry an opposite gender partner and stay married for life, raising several children, will not long be the norm.  But those writers have gone on to say that there is an upside to that!  

They have stated that it is now becoming possible to sit next to a stranger on a plane and, by finding out that they married at age 20, while still in college, and stayed with their same spouse for the next ten years, while having three children, to take an educated guess that those familymembers are Christians!

Not bad–being able to be a  walking, talking testimony for Christ just by having a certain family configuration.  

It won’t be long, folks.  They say it won’t be long.

And, oh the chances you will have to speak of God’s grace in your life then.

For we Christians are no better than other people.  

We just serve an awesome God, the only true God, who is better than the alternatives in every single way!!!

A Post to Begin the Discussion of Race . . .

26 Jun

 

The below post, from Evangelist Dave Kistler, prompted a response from me (below his post).  See what you think!

He said:

“Immigration Bill Contains Provision For Free Automobiles For Illegals!!”

“Within the new Immigration Bill being touted by the Senate is a provision that could provide purchased, leased, or rented automobiles for youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Unbelievable? You bet! But since when has anything the elitists in DC have done actually made any sense? No doubt, this is nothing less than an attempt to secure all future votes by minority groups by providing them “freebies” (i.e. the notorious Obamaphones). As it stands, I pray that this bill is completely scrapped. At this point, it is very bad legislation that will, in essence, legitimize and legalize perhaps as many as 20 million illegals, filling the voting registers with people who came here illegally and now feel indebted to a particular party! This is hardball politics at its worst!!! For those Republicans who are attempting to insure that this bill has appropriate border security in it, I commend their efforts. However, they are being duped again by those on the left who promise all kinds of things they on which they NEVER deliver!”

I e-mailed him back and said:

Dear Mr. Kistler, 

 (A mutual friend) mentioned me to you yesterday–I am one of two people with whom she held a private conversation on Facebook about your column on the immigration bill.  I hope the other person will write you as well, as he is a C-Span fan who watches much congressional testimony realtime.  I read the paper daily and read many news items for my work, but I tend to have to look up C-Span information after the fact.  Just too busy to keep it on in the office!
 
I have not seen the C-span testimony you referenced, but saw the notes made on it later.  It seems that there had been discussion of helping young immigrants find transportation to their first job.  I would have to say that interpreting that as buying them all cars would be hyperbole.  Even if someone said that in Congress, it seems it would have been understood to be an exaggeration.  The way the bill reads implies giving them a bus or subway ticket.  
 
My only idea about that would be that, if young immigrants get that at taxpayer expense, maybe all young people should!  I am a conservative who is not eager to give away my hard-earned cash, but sometimes, I suppose, we have to help people who are motivated to work to be able to get there (as a temporary measure, not as a permanent entitlement).
 
It is far better for them to work, and pay taxes, than to collect welfare.
 
However, my main objection to your column was not your interpretation about the cars, but rather your idea that all minority voters can be swayed by giveaways.  That was one of your sentences, quoted almost verbatim.    
 
(The mutual friend) attends the same church that we do–we are a racially diverse congregation with perhaps 20% of our members African-American and another 10% a combination of foreigners (often missionary kids who come here for their education), Asians, and Latinos.  
 
I can honestly admit I would not show your column to my sweet (usually conservative) African-American and Hispanic friends at church.  I can see their faces now–how crushed they would be to find themselves called out for supposedly wanting goodies at government expense when they know, and I know, that they work hard at their jobs, pay their taxes, and often make great sacrifices to keep their children in our church school. 
 
Mr. Kistler, it is very hard to pastor a racially diverse congregation, but our pastors have worked hard to build that and to successfully pastor it.  It is hard because we have a history of suspicion between the races in America, and worldwide.  We have that history because Satan has worked overtime to thwart racial reconciliation which is presented throughout the Scriptures, but particularly in Acts, as part of our Lord’s great heart for missions.    
 
Unlike you, I am not a professional in the church (but I have had several years of seminary studies), but we both are involved in government issues.  My involvement was 27 years in the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of commander in my field.  Just wanted to present my bona fides, in case there was any tendency to think that I am a crackpot who has never seen the government up close.  I am currently a contract employee on a naval base.  While race relations work pretty well in the Navy, I have never seen them work more beautifully than in the church of Christ!
 
Mr. Kistler, I plead with you to please temper your language on race.  We have come so far in the Body of Christ, but our racial reconciliation is made of delicate fabric and can easily be torn by people using intemperate words.  That is not to say that minorities are overly sensitive, but that sometimes we Caucasians are not nearly sensitive enough to how we sound to those who don’t look like us.  In Christ, Mary Martin 

No One Dies Before Their Time

25 Jun

Did James Gandolfini die before his time? Some good discussion here.

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