Archive | January, 2014
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Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

31 Jan

Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

This piece, on worldwide poverty, brings to mind our microcosm in the U.S., as addressed by the President in the State of the Union address Tuesday night (January 28, 2014).

I had some thoughts on the wage inequality that the President raised. I don’t believe it will be touched by raising either the federal employees’ minimum wage to $10.40 an hour, nor the country’s minimum wage to $10.40 an hour.

First of all, most federal employees already make far more than $10.40 an hour, so that statement was just window dressing anyway.

Secondly, what can be done on $440 a week? Not much here. Even two married people, both making minimum wage, would be barely able to scrape by on $880 a week in coastal Virginia.

Should we federally control prices? In a free market? Never. That would be the worst of Soviet communism, come to fruition on our own soil.

So how do we equip people to live in this expensive economy?

Certainly not by preparing them to be minimum wage workers all life long.

Our newspaper, not a bastion of liberal nor of conservative thought, laid it all out again last week (these statistics are well known and have often been reported by bipartisan sources): point #1) there is a huge difference in wages between high school graduates (or dropouts) and college graduates, point #2) college graduates tend to marry each other and point #3) college graduates are the ones who still believe in the institution of marriage and embark on it, trying to make it last (high school graduates and dropouts tend to be the ones who believe that the entire institution of marriage is flawed so we should all just cohabitate whenever we wish).

I have had people who don’t believe in the institution of marriage try to give me anecdotal evidence that suggests the above points are not true. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But the points are true.

So, given that, I was less than encouraged that neither the State of the Union nor its rebuttal led to a discussion of strengthening the family.

It seems that finishing college and embarking on long-lasting marriages is the way forward economically for Americans.

Yes, we used to be able to make it in single-earner households. Some, by drawing down their requirements, still do. But most of us do not. World War II changed that by putting women to work. The economy grew to the point that it costs the wages of a husband plus the wages of a wife to live.

Society shifted. Life is like that.

Any constructive ideas from others about the way forward?

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Will We Recognize Each Other in Heaven?

31 Jan

Will We Recognize Each Other in Heaven?

In short, yes!

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Could Your Simple Act of Charity Affect People 1400 Years Later?

31 Jan

Could Your Simple Act of Charity Affect People 1400 Years Later?

This is a wonderful reminder that we are all interrelated.  All almost seven billion of us on earth right now, and all of those people in history.

 

God has woven a tremendous tapestry out of His story.  I believe He will tell that story to us in heaven someday, beginning to end.  

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Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

31 Jan

Learning to Lay Down our Preferences . . . For the Greater Good!

It remains one of my greatest joys to see the Church of Jesus Christ working together and loving each other, despite the vast diversity therein.

It remains one of my greatest puzzles to try to understand how, sometimes, people can sit one seat away from each other in church, then spend the week savaging each other behind each other’s backs.

What is worse, sometimes people can equate their snarkiness and sarcasm with spirituality. Well, it is spiritual all right, but not of the place we strive to enter at life’s end . . .

But at the end of the day, I will take my church and its people, warts and all. God knows what He is doing there and why He put us together.

I am not the only person who has a familymember struggling with OCD or another life-dominating condition. It is easier to struggle alongside others who understand what it is to struggle . . . and might even have suggestions that help in my struggle.

It is better to be around people who remind me that nothing is too hard for God, even when it is too hard for me.

Who encourage me to come back to fight another day!

I am convinced that the biggest killer of fellowship and, really, of hope itself is comparisons. Especially within the Body of Christ.

God told us not to compare ourselves to others but the human race is blighted with this tendency.

I am learning, as I age, that I can’t stop that happening. I can gently point it out. I can gently refuse to join the conversations that start that way. And I can gently just leave people alone when they pick at me or others, realizing that it is not really all that important to stop them from comparing themselves to others and trying to come out favorably. Does that really harm me? No.

I love the verse that tells us to agree with our adversary on the way lest worse things happen than her accusations. I am learning to do just that. If someone is picking at me, I ask for specifics. There may be some. Or maybe not. But I won’t know if I don’t ask. And if there are specifics, God can show me whether they have some validity or are just a figment of the other person’s imperfect imagination.

What do we have to lose, other than our defensiveness? And isn’t that a good thing in the end?

I love the Body of Christ.

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These People Really Love Each Other?

31 Jan

These People Really Love Each Other?

In a world where people don’t even smile at strangers in the mall unless they are of the same general age, ethnicity, and coolness factor, what our church has (and I hope your church has) is something totally unique.  It has always been that way with the church of Christ.  

We love each other and enjoy interacting.  Warts and all . . . 

All 32 NFL Teams Reimagined As Famous Authors

31 Jan

This is awesome. All of the NFL teams given a great writer comparison!

101 Books

This is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had for a blog post. So you’ll probably want to stop reading now.

Yet onward I go, wasting an hour of my life reimagining NFL teams as famous authors.

Why? I have no idea, other than, well, the Super Bowl is on Sunday.

I fashion myself a renaissance man. Not really, but I can carry on a conversation about both the Dallas Cowboys and Cormac McCarthy without missing a beat. If you’re the same, maybe you’ll dig this post.

So without further delay, here are all 32 NFL teams reimagined as famous authors.

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The Church Lady . . . through the years since Saturday Night Live!

31 Jan

The Church Lady . . . through the years since Saturday Night Live!

One of the ten best blog posts I have ever read.  Real, and speaking of a real Saviour who meets real people where they really live!

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The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

30 Jan

The Dark Underbelly of the Super Bowl

Enjoy your parties this weekend, guys and gals, but don’t be naive.  There is still a lost world out there that needs Jesus.  

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Sharing Jesus in Cheesy Ways

30 Jan

Sharing Jesus in Cheesy Ways

One thing I truly appreciate about most homeschooled kids is that they tend to understand and even treasure intergenerational relationships.

Not so much with public or even private schooled kids.

I often see their inability, when out walking, to even make eyecontact, let alone speak, when an older person greets them. Since I am pretty connected socially to many others, I have to assume the rolled eyes when two teens meet me on a sidewalk are more reflective of their lack of ability to conceive of a relationship with a person in her 50’s than of anything I have done to offend them by saying “hello.”

That said, my generation, by being two generations older than these teens, can come across as cheesy or hokey no matter what we do sometimes. Sometimes you are just not going to escape the mantra, no matter what.

Some of our old ways of sharing the Lord come across the same way. This post deals with a skywriter and the reactions he elicited at Disney World.

I totally agree with the final question. Are those who are rolling their eyes at skywriters actually sharing Jesus with others or just their cynicism?

Can terminal cynicism be deadly?

I actually do not buy off on the hipster mantra that you have to gain someone’s trust before you evangelize them. That would be limiting God to one evangelism tool in a box of tools that belong to Him, not us (He could still send an angel, after all. He doesn’t need us). If we don’t gain someone’s trust, He might gain it anyway!!!

I often challenge those who see my tract distribution as terminally uncool to tell me their methods that work better to reach others for Christ. Not surprisingly, not many answer that question with anything other than mumbled platitudes.

We need each other. We need to use every tool and every method God has out there.

And we don’t need to be blushing in embarrassment at our fellow Christians, plotting how to hide them in a broom closet so our cool friends don’t see them. Really!

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Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, Will Be in the History Books on Gay Marriage

30 Jan

Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, Will Be in the History Books on Gay Marriage

Our attorney general, Mark Herring of Virginia, knows history. 

He knows that the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case pitted our state against the U.S. Supreme Court. We were ruled to be wrong in our miscegenation laws which forbade “interracial marriage” (in quotes because the concept of races is, itself, a modern concept traceable to Darwin).  

Virginia was wrong in that case.  Virginia came down on the wrong side of history.  

Mark Herring is determined that that won’t happen again.  After being elected to uphold the laws of Virginia as attorney general, he has decided, within his first month of office, that the Virginia state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, established by popular vote in 2006, must be set aside.  

Mark Herring has joined forces with two men in Norfolk who have filed suit to gain the right to marry in Virginia.  

Mark Herring believes that this time Virginia will be on the right side of history.  He believes that the U.S. Supreme Court may use the Virginia case, which might be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, to pave the way for gay marriage in all 50 states.  

Mark Herring is seeing his legacy in the history books here.  The man who bucked a constitutional amendment in his own state to open the way for the South to recognize gay marriage, then for the rest of the country to have it be established by law.  

That will probably be how it plays out.  Really!

There is no shame in recognizing what the playbook looks like.  

God told us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We have to realize that the pull of popular opinion leads many to try to cement their “legacy” rather than to look to God’s Word to see what is right. After all, we teach that all that stuff can be repented on one’s deathbed, right? So someone can both gain a legacy by opposing God’s ways, then renounce it during his last moments on earth and . . . be in a win-win situation. Or so it seems to man . . .  

It is possible to realize that, while God’s view of homosexuality has not changed (because He loves homosexuals and has something better for them than giving in to urges that will only harm them in the end), humans will regard Mark Herring as being on the right side of history.

He will do what, to humans, will seem to be the heroic, loving thing to do.  

Even now, eight years after Virginia’s constitutional amendment, at least one poll shows that a majority would vote to allow gay marriage in 2014.  

Being on the right side of history in a republic has a lot to do with going with popular desire.

But being on the right side of history as God views it is a totally different thing.  

We will not be on the side of righteousness when we legalize gay marriage.  

I believe we will legalize it, but God’s Word and God’s standards will not change.

Was Your English Lit Teacher Wrong About Symbolism?

29 Jan

Turns out that those who tried to read without looking for symbolism in great books may have been on the right track!

101 Books

You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.

Turns out, maybe they were.

This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.

Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.

He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:

The survey included the following questions:

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What Downton Abbey’s Tom Branson Can Teach Us about Authenticity!

28 Jan

What Downton Abbey’s Tom Branson Can Teach Us about Authenticity!

A teaching on holiness riffing on Downton Abbey themes.  What could be lovelier?

Gang Rape as Punishment for Dating within the Wrong Community

24 Jan

So what to make of the village council in West Bengal, India that set a gang upon a woman who had dated a man from another community to punish her via gang rape?

The victim apparently still lies in the hospital, very gravely wounded.

The village council leader and twelve others have been arrested.

 

This is approximately one year after a young professional woman was raped till she died of her injuries, on a public bus elsewhere in India.  

Rape is violence.  But in the first case I’ve described, rape was doled out as punishment, too. Punishing someone by injuring her and putting her very near death.  

Last year’s gang rape actually did kill someone.

How barbaric.  

Still think that all religions are equal?

I don’t blame people for giving up on religion when it is violent and sexually twisted and misogynistic.  

There is no hope in religion if it does not teach us that all men (and women) are made in the image of God and that God cares enough about them to pursue them and to woo them back to Himself from their fallen state.  

Indeed, only one religion provides that assurance.  

Only Jesus Christ is the hope of this fallen, sin-strangled earth.  

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Could We Present the Gospel to Pajama Boy?

23 Jan

Could We Present the Gospel to Pajama Boy?

Are there people for whose souls we simply don’t care?

Lost people whom we would gladly see in hell because we hate their attitude?

Do we realize Jesus never felt that way about anyone? Even us with our hateful, spiteful attitudes sometimes?

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I Almost Fell For This . . . (Read all the way to the end!)

23 Jan

I Almost Fell For This . . . (Read all the way to the end!)

This is very convicting in so many ways!  We are truly a divided nation.  

I was believing this was true, because it could happen this way.  Only it didn’t.  Read on . . .

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