Thursday, May 29, 2008


I was just thinking about - - -

It seems as though a basic need for most people is to be accepted. People want and need approval by their peers, and acceptance in terms of achievement and personality. An old popular song captured the idea of it in the Lyric: “What the World Needs Now – Is Love Sweet Love, It’s The Only Thing That There’s Just Too Little Of…” Most thinking and caring people would readily agree that a greater effort and expression needs to occur to show the reality of true love and acceptance. However, think of the anguish for those who are abhorred, execrated and treated with antipathy. A part of the root in abhor is the word “horror”. The “horror” of intense hatred. Execrate means, “to detest utterly; abhor; abominate; to hear and be the object of curses…” Antipathy has the idea of: “Contrariety or opposition in feeling; settled aversion or dislike; repugnance; distaste…”

This serves to remind us that there are those in our world who hate, and are hated. The cruelty of man to man; the atrocities of nations against people-groups; the utter disregard of being humane. Even though some today would deny the reality of the Holocaust, the overwhelming evidence is recorded and documented. And even though these denials persist, there are nations today that are threatening to produce another Holocaust in our day. We hear a word both politically and religiously “Jihad” and never pause to reflect on the possibilities of it. Jihad means: a holy war waged by Muslims against infidels; any vigorous, emotional crusade for an idea or principle…”

Regardless of what one might like to think and believe, Christians and Jews are The Infidels in the minds and plans of the Muslims. Jihad will be carried out whenever and however – be it a 9/11 attack, or roadside bombs; or an individual willing to blow himself up in a busy place or where there is a gathering of people. The idea is to spread uncertainty, fear and terror wherever possible. Some pending news is that a terror cell is leaking word that Weapons of Mass Destruction are being planned for use in the near future in an undesignated place – all in an attempt to spread fear, and panic, terror and death.

Just think of being a Nation that is surrounded by other nations who deny that nation’s existence. Just try to imagine what it is to be Hated and Despised. Basically, Israel stands alone amid the Middle East where they are the objects of hatred.The tensions are constant. The 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency has demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium. Yet Tehran keeps saying its uranium enrichment is just a peaceful effort to produce electricity…To many nations, especially Israel, it seems only a matter of time before Iran breaks out as a nuclear power, ratcheting up tensions across the Middle East. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after his election frequently began to call for a complete end of the State of Israel (its total obliteration).

Jesus indicated in His Words recorded in Matthew 24:9-13, “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Jesus is speaking to His followers and indicating they will be among those scorned, despised and hated. Just like “His Chosen People”, the Jihad (or some other cause or movement) will purpose to bring about the demise and obliteration of those who believe in Christ and follow Him. It’s a dangerous world and we live in dangerous times…

Think about that with me - - -

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I was just thinking about - - - -

When our children were being nurtured, a song they were taught contained these words: “Be careful little mouth what you say…The Father up above is looking down in love – Be careful little mouth what you say.” It would be a wonderful premise and practice in the world of politics if each involved individual would guard their lips, thoughts, and expressed words. That has bearing on a word that was used in a political response yesterday (Friday) – Assassination.

There is a connotation that is inescapable with such a word. It implies a plot, or scheme, or desire to eliminate another individual from the public discourse or political arena. Some words have a sharp “bite” to them – they sting, as well as conjure up all kinds of historical reflections from the past. Many of us lived through a bleak period in history when in seemingly quick succession three prominent men were assassinated – John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. It was so unexpected and so unnecessary. Political protest is one thing – murder of a person is another. There was also the attempt on the life of George Wallace on May 15, 1972 when he ran for President.

It is very disappointing to have a political candidate reference the possibility of an Assassination in terms of why that one is remaining in the political contests at this point. This is a remark that was first made on March 6, 2008 in an interview with TIME Magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel. Then yesterday, in an interview with the South Dakota newspaper the Argus Leader, the comment again was made: “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California…” The comments are marginal and seem to have a touch of both the cynical and sadistic. It’s difficult to imagine that one’s hopes and availability would be tied to such a desperate and vain possibility. Assassination is not just a Bullet aimed for another human being. In the past year, a political leader in Kiev, Ukraine was subjected to a chemical substance. Some may remember April 5, 2007 and the political challenge between President Viktor Yushchenko and his rival, Premier Viktor Yanukvych.

One other area is Character Assassination. The attempt to raise question and suspicion about a rival for an office or position. This is an attempt to verbally besmirch the good name and character of a person. Words are like feathers in the wind – once they are uttered, they reach many places very quickly. With the availability of the Internet, words said in a somewhat semi-private setting are suddenly broadcast throughout the world. In the Bible, James 2:19-20, we read: “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God…” Also, in James 3:6-8, “…the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

In Matthew 12: 36-37, Jesus would remind His followers, and all others that: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Since that is true, each one should have as the axiom of life: “Be careful little mouth what you say!”

Think about that with me - - -

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pragmatic Paralysis

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It appears that there is a lack of people of principle, and those who have sufficient backbone to be willing to die for what is right – for that for which compromise is unacceptable. Some of the definitions for “Pragmatism” state the issue clearly for us. Pragmatism is: (1) a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value; (2) A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems; and (3) the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth…

The way this generally works is that accommodations are made and compromises embraced to allow “the end justifies the means” in most issues of life. This, of course, minimizes uniformity based upon structure of any sort and a permissiveness that found some expression in “I’m OK – you’re OK!” approach to life. Some years ago, Debbie Boone sang a popular song that embraced such a philosophy. The lyric that was heard everywhere was: “…You light up my life; You give me hope to carry on. You light up my days and fill my nights with song. It can't be wrong when it feels so right - 'Cause You, You light up my life. The words: “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right…” are at the heart of lifestyle and thought patterns of our culture today.

Anyone involved in the field of engineering knows how important it is to have a clear understanding of the principles of Form and Function. With the right embrace of Form and Function, the result will always be satisfactory. The engineer follows particular principles of structure in order to achieve a desired and successful result. The Design requires absolutes and sound principles and values regarding Structure.

The Apostle Paul states this principle in terms of acceptable and attainable lifestyle – that which is guided by Form and Function principles. To achieve the desired and successful result, the principles must be adhered to without compromise or adaptation. There is no room here for the Chameleon Syndrome to kick in and dominate one’s thinking and action. In Philippians 4:8 (NIV), Paul states: Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” And Verse 9 (NLY): “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.”

There is risk that as one tries to be all things to all men, he becomes one who is a nobody for anyone. Too much vacillation serves no one efficiently, effectively or well. It amounts to whether or not one desires to be “liked” by a lot of people, or one who is a person of principle and is respected because of sound direction and policy. It’s a choice that must be made! Without absolutes, how reliable can one be?

Think about that with me - - -

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mental Lapse

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It’s amazing how we can conveniently forget some of the basic truths of life. We know what is foundational to our value system but we allow ourselves areas of flexibility – trying to avoid being dogmatic in a pragmatic world. And yet, we know that the entire Cosmos is based upon absolutes. In the area of science, the chemical formulations have to be based on absolutes or a disaster will ensue. In the area of Mathematics, there are absolutes that allow for the universal reality that 2 plus 2 will always be four.

The axiom that has served our nation well for many decades – “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” – needs to be revisited. We can get caught up in the political rhetoric of some charismatic speaker or speakers and become part of a herd that could just as easily be led over a cliff instead of into green pastures. The issue we face as a nation is that God has become repugnant and we look at and to certain people to meet our deep felt needs. We are so close to the edge of substituting Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” to – if we elect a political party, they will care for all our needs – Universal Health Care; Gasoline Subsidies; Disengagement from Battle Fields; Taxation of the wealthy and redistribution of revenues to the Poor; etc. It sounds like Utopia! It leads us to think we can exist in a Brigadoon continuum – (Brigadoon is a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, though to the villagers, the passing of each century seems no longer than one night. The enchantment is viewed by them as a blessing rather than a curse, for it saved the village from destruction. According to their covenant with God, no one from Brigadoon may ever leave, or the enchantment will be broken and the site and all its inhabitants will disappear into the mist forever).

Biblical principles have been relegated to the sideline in our culture. However, it might not hurt to have some of our “political leaders” – those with fanciful notions about how to better society – to consider: (1) Provision was always to be made for the poor. Leviticus 23:22, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.” (2) Reality of the Poor - Matthew 26:11, The poor you will always have with you…(3) A man is to be ambitious in providing for himself and his family - II Thessalonians 3:10, “…we gave this order: If anyone doesn't want to work, he shouldn't eat.” And (4) I Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Nowhere does one find that the secular government is intended to be the controller and provider for the citizenry. Government is to provide order for a society. When it intrudes into areas where the Biblical ethic is to be functional, it has stepped over the line and attempts to become what it was never intended to be – the god of the culture. Ecclesiastes 12:1 through 7 is a good reminder of what once was, as well as what a nation has allowed itself to become – (NLT) “Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living. It will be too late then to remember him, when the light of the sun and moon and stars is dim to your old eyes, and there is no silver lining left among the clouds. Your limbs will tremble with age, and your strong legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to do their work, and you will be blind, too. And when your teeth are gone, keep your lips tightly closed when you eat! Even the chirping of birds will wake you up. But you yourself will be deaf and tuneless, with a quavering voice. You will be afraid of heights and of falling, white-haired and withered, dragging along without any sexual desire. You will be standing at death's door. And as you near your everlasting home, the mourners will walk along the streets. Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don't wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

Think about this with me - - -

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pain Relief

I was just thinking about - - -

If one takes the time to visit in a Nursing Home facility; or a local Hospital or Medical Center; or a host of other Medical Complexes within a given area, one finds there are many people concerned with the various maladies of life. In many instances, Pain Management is becoming a growing Practice and Treatment area.

People confront and adjust to all types of Pain. Some who struggle with the complex economic pain and issues of our time, call a Church or some other Relief Agency seeking assistance with Bills and Food. Some who struggle with mental pain - Anxiety, Depression, or an Inability to Cope - are referred to a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist. Others who have difficulty with Joints and Bones causing pain seek out a reputable Orthopedic Clinic for recommendation and/or Surgery to replace the area of discomfort or malfunction. Those who struggle with ancillary pain, such as Migraines, Arthritic Limitations, and Bone injury seek out a Pain Management Clinic for recommendation and management of the pain.

If one goes to a Drug Store, or a Pharmacy Section in a larger all-purpose Chain Store, shelves are stocked with all kinds of over-the-counter possibilities for Pain Relief – pills, capsules, lotions, creams, etc. – by the hundreds and thousands. It is estimated that in the USA Americans consume more than 29 Billion Aspirin each year. And there are other similar products – Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Naproxen – and countless others that are bought and used to manage Pain and to find some Relief.

It’s interesting to note the area of Spiritual Pain. In Ecclesiastes 2:17 through 26, a man considered to be wise, wrote: So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me…a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me... This too is meaningless. So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God…”

There are no simple answers for the complex needs one confronts, but a sustaining answer to all situations needing Pain Relief were uttered by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28 through 30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Try it! You might like it!

Think about this with me - - -

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Remember Mama

I was just thinking about - - -

Sixty years ago, a Movie adaptation of the play – I REMEMBER MAMA – was produced. It is a play that is based on the diary and memoir entitled, Mama's Bank Account, It focuses on a family from Norway trying to adapt into life in the city of San Francisco in the 1910s. There was a Television adaptation as well. The idea of the Play was to share the lives of an immigrant family adapting into the new world and the various experiences encountered along the way. It reminds us of a different time when a family was more inter-dependent and when the Mother was more central to family life.

Some years ago, the humorist and storyteller, Lewis Grizzard, would soberly remind us all, “Don’t Forget To Write Your Mama – I Wish I Could Still Write Mine.” Many of us can identify with those sentiments as we approach another Mother’s Day. For some, Mother is just a memory of days past. For others, there remains the opportunity to “Remember Mama” in a special way this weekend.

The history of Mother’s Day is interesting. The brief review states:

The woman credited with founding Mothers Day is Anna Jarvis. Anna Jarvis was inspired by her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis who organized "Mothers' Work Day Clubs" in the 1850's. The clubs provided medicines for the poor, inspected milk for children, provided nursing care for the sick, and shelters for children with tuberculosis. When the Civil War broke out…In a remarkable display of courage and compassion the women nursed soldiers from both sides and saved many lives…
Anna Jarvis was born in 1850 and was an impressionable child and teenager when her mother was at the peak of her courageous work. So in 1907, two years after her mother's death she organized the first "mothers' day" in Grafton, WV that the work of peace-making and the war against poverty which her mother waged would not be forgotten.

In 1908, Anna Jarvis requested of her pastor that they have a special service on Sunday to honor all of the mothers of the congregation. On May 10, 1908 they had a special service and presented a carnation to all the mothers who were present in that service.

Somehow that tradition seemed to catch on and on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May every year as Mother's Day. He said it would be a time of public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.

For almost a hundred years, the tradition of Honoring one’s Mother has occurred on the second Sunday of May. In Proverbs 31:28 through 31 we have these words regarding the godly Mother and Wife:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” My Mama used to remind her children of the truth in Nahum 1:7, "The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him."

Try to Remember Your Mama. Call her or write her. I wish I could still call or write mine!

Think about that with me - - -

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Obvious Perception

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One of the abilities that we all possess to one degree or another is that of perception. In Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, we find this definition of perception: “To obtain knowledge of through the senses; to take cognizance of the existence, character, or identity of, by means of the senses; to see, hear, or feel; To take intellectual cognizance of; to apprehend by the mind; to be convinced of by direct intuition; to note; to remark; to discern; to see; to understand.”

However, we are part of the generation that parses the meaning of the obvious to an extreme. When a scandal was unfolding in the White House regarding immoral and indecent acts, the defense offered by the offender was – “it all depends on what ‘is’ is”! This kind of approach is a product of the Situation Ethic way of interpreting life in general and one’s behavior in particular. Situational Ethics was pioneered by Joseph Fletcher (1905-1991). According to Fletcher's model, he states that decision-making should be based upon the circumstances of a particular situation, and not upon fixed Law. The only absolute is Love. Love should be the motive behind every decision. As long as Love is your intention, the end justifies the means. Justice is not in the letter of the Law, it is in the distribution of Love.

The error in Fletcher’s approach, as well as with most well-intentioned and fanciful approaches to life, is the failure to observe context on the one hand, and result on the other. For instance, Fletcher's model of Situational Ethics appears reasonable on the surface, yet given careful consideration, its flaw becomes apparent. Situational Ethics is based upon "God is Love" in I John 4:8. However, in the very next chapter we read, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). Obviously, there are set and fixed boundaries for all of life and for every action or involvement. Personal drive, ambition, determination all must fit into and comply with the fixed boundaries. Otherwise, there would be bedlam, chaos and discordant disruption.

The political times we are enduring are just a passing example of this view of life. Tim Russert of NBC News stated following the Primary in Indiana this past Tuesday: "We now know who the Democratic nominee's going to be, and no one's going to dispute it…Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they'll say: 'What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you're staying in the race?' And tonight, there's no good answer for that." However, the “her” is undaunted and believes there is nothing but Green Lights ahead in her quest and journey toward the White House.

Just this one additional thought regarding an “obvious perception” that goes unnoticed and is seldom observed from Proverbs 21:1-6 (KJV): “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turns it wherever He will. Every way of a man (or woman) is right in his/her own eyes: but the LORD ponders the hearts. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. A lofty look, and a proud heart…is sin…The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that find (seek) death.”

Think about this with me - - -

Monday, May 5, 2008


I was just thinking about - - -

It is tremendously important that our words connect to a logical thought or premise. If all we had were abstract thoughts and statements, we would be left with confusion and chaos. An illustration of this type situation appears at the end of the Book of Judges. The very last words (Judges 21:25) state, ”In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” When there is no line of command, and no set standards, and no authority structure – the result is calamitous. It wasn’t until some authoritative structure developed that reason and order began to return to that culture.

This is true with expression and dialog. If there is no context, there can be no logical sequence in expression or written statement that could lead to an absolute conclusion. As some often state, we need to be able to connect the dots. It is both sad and amusing to listen to politicians as they twist data to fit a particular political bent. For instance, this past week showed a very slight economic increase (0.6%) that would allow recession is not yet upon us. However, in an election year, that does not sit well with particular views regarding the economy. So – we hear one politician make the absurd analysis that the top 10% of the population is not in recession, whereas the other 90% are in recession. That is twisting data to meet an agenda and violates logic. Someone has wisely shared that “a text out of its context is a pretext.”

We like to think of the United States of America as being a representative government, as well as being a Christian nation. We elect 535 people to represent almost 300 million of us and to govern the nation in our behalf. In many ways, it is done well. However, some of those elected do fall under the banner of being “dubious”! We have one in office who once occupied a significant position in the KKK; another who was arrested and plead guilty to an immoral advance in a public facility; another who was caught in the receiving of a bribe and marked money was found in his freezer – and they continue in office. Among those who have been running for the highest elected office, we find one to have blatantly lied repeatedly about an event that never happened; another who exercised very poor judgment in the Keating Five episode; and another who has difficulty with patriotism, and whose spouse has just become “proud” of this nation.

We should always be willing to forgive and restore those who have failed and erred when they admit and repent (turn themselves around) of such behavior. For too many politicians, words are merely political discourse and rhetoric. No right-thinking individual could begin to believe what is being promulgated in terms of what “I will do…” when elected will actually occur. The country could not endure or sustain itself for very long if those “promises” made in a campaign were implemented. It’s almost as though the electorate has become a means to an end for the professional politician – they need our vote to get them into office – and once there, the electorate will be basically ignored until another “vote of confidence” is needed.

In all of the discourse, there is almost total silence about the need to be “One Nation, Under God.” As polarizing as that can be, there must be a foundational place in the political platform to seek guidance and direction from Almighty God. Most Presidential Declarations regarding the National Day of Prayer contain such sentiments – but then – that is the “religiously correct” thing for the “politically correct” to do. A standard that is appropriate for – and that should be embraced by - any nation is stated in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Think about that with me - - -

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Being Forthright

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Have you reflected recently in terms of how refreshing it would be to hear someone speak in a forthright manner on any matter or issue? Wouldn't it be refreshing if someone would answer a clear and direct question with a simple "Yes!" or "No!" rather than qualifying every response to line up with a given set of talking points? How much of what one hears is met with cynicism or doubt, and the respondent is viewed as being mendacious rather than straight-forward? We are part of the “politically-correct” generation and the responses received are many times short of being “correct”!

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shared an important principle (Matthew 5:37) when He said: "Let what you say be simply Yes or No; anything more than this comes from evil.” In this passage, the subject is taking oaths and making vows. The thrust is that one must exercise special care to maintain forthrightness and not fall into the company of those who shade the truth or do not speak the truth in a timely way. There is a balance instruction that there is time to speak and a time to remain silent. However, some carry that to an extreme and seldom take a stand to make certain righteousness is upheld.

In a news column published this week, a list appears naming the 50 most influential pundits in the media. Some of them one would recognize immediately because of the frequency of appearance and diatribe. A discerning individual could almost parrot what the pundit will or won't say based upon the frequency of it being said. It is a position that is maintained and that is seldom confused by the changing data and facts. Out of a population of near 300 million people, one would think there would be others who are worthy to be heard and alternative views that could be shared.

We all know of individuals who tend to operate in the “shadows”! Some appear to be similar to Chess Players or those involved in High-Stakes Poker. They don’t want you to be able to “read them” in terms of the next move, or the cards in hand. In terms of dialog and communication, the parallel would be those who know what a right and proper action is, and privately state the correct action – but when the time comes for an open and public declaration – they are silent. My Grandmother would remind us of the danger and consequence of trying to “play both ends against the middle”!

In the areas where we are, and with the people we know, we should champion forth-rightness and straight-forward dialog and communication. We need to demand honesty and clarity. We should avoid shrugging-off the mendacious and qualifying responses. We should maintain the expectation that one will “say what is meant and mean what is said”!

You think about this with me - - -