Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stolen Valor

From My Perspective - - -

On Wednesday, February 22nd, CNN Justice reported that The United States Supreme Court “…took on the role of constitutional truth-seeker in an especially vigorous argument…dealing with the harm from lies and the value of honor.” The discussion and report was occasioned by:  “A former California politician was prosecuted by the Justice Department for publicly stating he had earned the Medal of Honor, when in fact…he…had never served in the military.” His claim was made publicly: “…at one of his first open meetings claimed to be a retired Marine who won the Medal of Honor in 1987. The highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government is sometimes mistakenly called the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy…he… declared, according to court records. I'm still around." CNN continues: “The justices showed a surprising amount of support for the federal Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim military medals.”

At issue here is integrity, truth, and non-exaggerated representation. One of the discouraging elements of political debates and representations is the finger-pointing by one to another in terms of who is lying and who is telling the truth. It has been suggested that they make themselves to appear to be like a Firing Squad standing in a circle – everyone is vulnerable and in danger. One is caused to wonder – “who or where is the Honest Abe of today?” Part of the dilemma as this matter is discussed in terms of what can legally be done in terms of the Stolen Valor Act is summarized by CNN: “Several justices wondered during the one-hour session Wednesday whether the act would chill other types of speech, while others suggested a narrowly tailored law like this one is important to preserve the integrity of military honors from frauds and charlatans. Justice Anthony Kennedy asked whether the government is going to have a Ministry of Truth and then allow (legal) breathing space around it, and I just don't think that's our tradition. On the other hand, I have to acknowledge that (these lies do) diminish the medal in many respects."

A major reason why Stolen Valor has occurred is because of the Stolen Values of our Culture. Our nation has slowly but surely jettisoned many of the things that were foundational and has allowed an anything goes mentality and lifestyle. When one thinks of where we are heading – same sex marriages; a deteriorating economy; the loss of international respect; the ignoring and  undermining of religious tenets of faith and practice; an increasing cynicism; an enlarged welfare mentality; etc. – one needs to pause and reflect on where and what we once were – and now – where and what we have become and are becoming. Stolen Values has allowed for the Stolen Valor possibilities. The CNN Justice Report concludes that the one claiming what he had not achieved “…was prosecuted on one count of falsely verbally claiming to have received the medal. He had conditionally pleaded guilty, reserving his right to later appeal on constitutional grounds. He was fined $5,000, given three years' probation, and resigned last fall from the utility board based in Claremont, California.” What if that standard was implemented and applied regarding those who have allowed and fostered the Stolen Values of our Culture – what would be imposed upon them as their penalty?

There is a standard for one to follow. Ephesians 4:25 states it simply: “Therefore, putting off falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." We are reminded in Proverbs 21:6, “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death." Proverbs 6:16-17 indicates the things that God hates. Among them are 1) “a lying tongue, 2) a heart that devises wicked plans, and 3) a false witness who breathes out lies.” It is a struggle to keep oneself free of exaggerations and misrepresentations. The tendency to want to do it is so subtle requiring that we keep ourselves alert, being fully aware of our enemy’s strategies, and not allowing ourselves to speak any inaccuracies or indefensible assertions. If we belong to Christ Who is the Truth, then we ought to represent Him appropriately as children of The One Who Is Truth. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cherished Things

From My Perspective - - -

Most people have mementos – items or notes that have special meaning - that have been saved. It might be said – these are some cherished things – things that are held or treated as being dear to one. There is an interesting news report of the past couple of days regarding the U.S. Military and the Afghans. It focuses on a report by the British Broadcasting Company regarding what the NATO and U.S. Military did with copies of the Koran after they concluded that prisoners held by NATO forces in a detention camp were passing messages to one another in copies of the Koran. The copies of the Koran were taken from the prisoners and incinerated. What has and is ensuing is interesting. When Afghans realized that the Koran was being burned, some reached into the fire to retrieve copies and others retrieved what they could from the smoldering ashes. The BBC report leads with: “At least four people have been killed and 20 injured in Afghanistan after protests spread over the burning of copies of the Koran at a US airbase.”Why did they do this – protest and reach into the fire? Because the Koran is a sacred writing and a cherished document for them. Any such action by “infidels” is viewed as desecration. U.S. officials have apologized but so far that is being ignored. One protester, 18-year-old Ajmal, told Reuters: "When the Americans insult us to this degree, we will join the insurgents."

A program that has gained considerable viewership is called: “Hoarders.” It is a study about people who have accumulated so much that their home or dwelling place is no longer habitable. Many of the things hoarded are broken, useless or worthless – but the person possessing them becomes very emotional and a bit combative as things are being removed. Those who observe the program see it as study of mental health issues that need to be addressed and the person assisted to overcome that habit of accumulation and unhealthy environment. There was a story the about The Collyer Brothers in New York City during the 1930-40s. For their own but unknown reasons, they became recluses and hoarders. The New York Sun from that day reported: “A Surrogate's Court official hired movers…to empty the house. After ripping out the cellar doors, they began removing Homer's 2,500-volume law library, only a 10th of the books in the house. Amidst hundreds of tons of garbage, they found family oil portraits; hope chests jammed with unused piece goods, silks, wool, damask, and brocade; a half-dozen toy trains; 14 upright and grand pianos; chandeliers; tapestries; 13 ornate mantel clocks; 13 Oriental rugs; five violins; two organs, and Langley's certificate of merit for punctuality and good conduct from Public School 69 for the week ending April 19, 1895…The Herald Tribune reported that the movers, in clearing only two first-floor rooms, had removed 51 tons of stuff. Another 52 tons later…they found Langley's body. Police told the Sun that his clothing may have snagged a tripwire, releasing a booby trap that had buried him alive in paper…All the Collyers had wanted…was to be left alone.”

If you prepared a list of things that you cherish, what would you have as the ones with greatest priority for you? Why would you cherish them? Would there be any Books on that list? Some religious symbol? Personally, one of the priority items would be to try and retrieve the children’s Baby Pictures off the wall. The rationale is obvious – they would be among the irreplaceable things. What do you cherish the most and why is it cherished? Those who rank the best-selling books of all time find that The Bible is still rated Number 1 with more than 6 Billion Copies sold. Other books on the list have as Number 3, Noah Webster’s – The Spelling Book with up to 100 Million, and Number 6 is the McGuffey Readers. In the Church, a favorite Hymn is The Old Rugged Cross. Part of the Lyric is: “So I’ll cherish the old, rugged cross…I will cling to the old, rugged cross…” Do we cherish it? Why? Your answer should be because Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sins. The Word of God should also be cherished similarly to the Bereans in Acts 17:11-12, “These were more fair-minded…in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily…Therefore many of them believed.” Do you cherish the Word of God and study it daily? Why not? Consider these things with me!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Time For Fear

From My Perspective - - -

On an individual basis, fear is an innate reality – a child in a playground in the presence of a bully; the soldier in battle and an unseen enemy, or one willing to be a human bomb; receiving word of a disease that is incurable; a criminal breaking into your home and holding one as a hostage – our minds can imagine all sorts of things that can and do generate fear. There is an entire industry that is designed to help and enable people to cope with their fears – the sense of panic, stress and anxiety.

The University of Illinois Counseling Center at Urbana has addressed this reality and offers steps one can follow to alleviate the trauma and fear. Their suggestions under the heading of “Strategies For Coping With Fear After A Traumatic Event” states: After witnessing, experiencing, or hearing about the details of a violent or threatening event, many people experience a heightened sense of vulnerability or fear. In order to better manage this fear reaction, the following suggestions are offered:(1) Validate the fear. Know that it is normal to feel fear and accept the range of emotions you are experiencing. (2) Share the fear with others… (3) Find ways not to be alone. (4) Share responsibilities for tasks that are difficult or frightening for you to do. (5) Strategize how to react in a crisis. (5) Create a safe environment…evaluate the physical surroundings in which you live and work… (7) Get accurate information about the trauma…( Recognize the normal reactions to fear… (9) Remember that you cannot control everything… (10) Realize that the passage of time will decrease your fear response…If over time your fear reactions to a traumatic life event continue to…affect your daily functioning, professional assistance may be of benefit.” Are they correct?

Is there not a greater purpose for fear as an innate reality? In the remarkable and wonderful way in which mankind has been made, does Fear have a useful and beneficial purpose for one’s well-being? The Bible addresses the subject of Fear in a relevant way for the betterment of mankind. The Hebrew uses three words that mean: “reverent fear, terror, or dread.” The English Translations generally translate these words simply as Fear. In the Greek, there are two words used to mean either fear or terror (Phobia), or reverence or honor (tamao). When it comes to how one should approach a Holy God, the English tends to gloss over “Fear – Being Afraid” by likening God to an earthly monarch and how one would approach such a one with solemnity, awe or reverence. However, God wants His creation to approach Him differently. In Jeremiah 5:21-24, we are given God’s design for how mankind should approach Him. “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. Do you not fear me? Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail…But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, Let us fear the Lord our God...” It sounds like an observation about our world culture and our own country.

Romans 1:18-32 contains a summary of where we may be as a nation – unrighteousness everywhere, as well as how and why we have gotten where we are. “…And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness…They are…haters of God, insolent...Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Why is this the case? Why has this generation abandoned God and His Word? In Romans 3:10-18, there is another summary of what God sees: “None is one understands; no one seeks for God…the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In the midst of this cultural indifference toward God, there is still a flickering gleam of hope. In Romans 3:24, God still allows that one can be “…justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Don’t let this moment escape you.  Turn to Jesus Christ for redemption, forgiveness, new life in Him. Be thankful that His Love, His Mercy, His Grace remains available for all who will believe in Him. Consider these things with me!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Time To Speak or A Time To Be Silent

From My Perspective - - -

There are different times and issues that require more than – “we’ll pray about it” – or – “we’re working behind the scenes” – or – “we have contact with those on the inside…” Some of that may be true but these are statements and indications by some who are involved in mega-churches in the country. These type comments make it seem like a choice has been made, namely, to remain silent. Are they making the correct choice? Some of those responses sound pious and “Christian”, but are they actually more politically correct than not? Have they allowed themselves to be convinced that “we don’t have a dog in this fight”? Are the mega-churches allowing themselves to be “used” (or abused) by politicians for political purposes and ends? Has the Church allowed itself to be gullible rather than standing on principle and being defenders of the faith? It appears they have preferred the former rather than the latter.

Some of the Headline stories in the Christian Post indicate how churches are involved in secular happenings. (1) NYC Churches Shut Out of Public Schools Starting Sunday By Nicola Menzie – “Although the New York State Senate has passed an amendment that would reverse the New York City Board of Education and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to evict nearly 70 churches from the public school spaces they have been renting, the deadline for departure remains this Sunday, Feb. 12.”  In a story brought to the forefront by the Roman Catholic Church – (2) White House Defends Contraceptive 'Compromise' Amid Uproar By Napp Nazworth – “White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew appeared on four separate talk shows Sunday and said that the change to the birth control mandate offered by President Barack Obama on Friday should put the issue to rest. Republicans Rick Santorum and Paul Ryan, however, criticized Obama's proposal as not a genuine compromise.” (3) Michelle Obama Visits Fla. Mega-church; Urges Religious Groups to Fight ObesityBy Anugrah Kumar – “First lady Michelle Obama Saturday visited the Florida mega-church where one of President Obama's spiritual advisers is the pastor. She encouraged faith-based groups to join her campaign against obesity, saying your bodies are temples given to you by God." And (4) NJ Mega-church to Sing Adele, Bruno Mars, Cee-Lo Songs By Brittany Smith – “Liquid Church, one of New Jersey's fastest growing mega-churches, will be singing Grammy-nominated pop music during the months of February and March at its Sunday morning church services”! Are these the things that the Church of any description should be doing?

One wonders whether or not Jesus Christ – the Head of the Church – as He views The Church – of which He said: “the gates of hell shall not prevail upon it” – would be pleased or displeased with what the church stance is today? Has the culture been allowed to impact the church or has the church allowed itself to be come so impotent that it can no longer impact the culture or world today? If we inserted churches of today into Revelation 2 and 3, what would Jesus Christ say about these groups and their choices? Would it be Revelation 2:4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place, unless you repent.”? Or will it be Revelation 3:8, 10-11 – “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name…Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

The problem and condemnation are stated plainly in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot…So, because you are lukewarm…I will spit you out of my mouth.” Don’t let Jesus Christ find you as one who is tasteless so that you become a pool of expectorant at His feet. Embrace and do the words of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


From My Perspective - - - 

When one considers the ramifications of an imposition, it soon becomes evident that it is a task or an assignment that can be easily construed as someone else’s burden or obligation that has been placed upon another. It has been imposed or given as a duty or requirement to be carried out to completion. It is often considered to be of the magnitude of something that is extraordinarily burdensome or an unusual requirement or task. Sometimes it is that Person A doesn’t want to waste his time on the task so he gives it to Person B to complete it (an many times Person A will take the credit for that which Person B has done).

The word – Imposing – can be used in a positive and descriptive way, such as: Boulder Dam (or Hoover Dam) is an imposing creation of man. An now, the Bridge that crosses over the Dam is itself an imposing design. If one considers European Castles or Cathedrals, it can be said that they are imposing. Those who entered this country by way of Ellis Island in New York Harbor were greeted by the Statue of Liberty – a very imposing statue that welcomes the “tired masses yearning to be free.” Depending on one’s circumstance – imposing – can also be used in a negative manner. For the one who is on trial for some crime he has committed, if he is found to be guilty, the court will impose an appropriate sentence as punishment for the crime committed.

The Bible makes use of the concept of Imposition. In Deuteronomy 11:26-32, the Lord speaks to His people about their relationship to Him and His Law. He wants to Bless them – but – He also expects them to Honor Him with their obedience to His Word. He says: “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known…you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.” The Blessing the Lord wants to impose is conditional. The people must make a choice (a) to acknowledge God in all things and at all times, or (b) to ignore Him and His word and suffer the consequences of and for their disobedience.

This truth is emphasized again in Deuteronomy 30:14-20 where the Lord says, “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers…to give them."

This perspective and commitment for life is stated succinctly in Joshua 24:15, “…if it seems evil (or burdensome, an imposition) to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." This is the bottom line for one’s life – choose the Lord – or – choose some fabrication of man. May your choice and covenant be – “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Little Is Much

From My Perspective - - -

This Blog began with a background thought of – "It’s All In The Math."The shift to “Little Is Much” was to avoid getting into numbers and how they are calculated and factored in to make a declaration of one sort or another. For instance, it was suggested by the Congressional Budget Office in 2001 that by 2012 there would be a $2 trillion dollar surplus. All that suggests with today’s $15 trillion dollar deficit is the GIGO principle, namely, Garbage In – Garbage Out. “Garbage is a colloquial term in data processing for ‘incorrect input’ which will, according to the proverb, inevitably produce faulty output.” This could also have some political bearing with the heated Republican Primary. With less than 5% of the delegates distributed between four candidates at this time, the statement is that due to one candidate winning in Florida means he will be the Republican candidate in November. That may be but another cliché suggests – It Isn’t Over Until It’s Over!

In The Weekly Standard, William Kristol touches on the numbers-factor in an Editorial entitled: “Why February Could Matter.” He suggests: “The Romney-Gingrich slugfest in Florida appears to have produced slightly fewer than 1.7 million voters in this year's primary. That's down by about 12 percent from the 1.94 million who voted in 2008…There's been a fair amount of commentary to the effect February won't matter much--it's a lull, a break in the action, etc. That's not so clear. February will see 187 delegates selected compared with 115 in January's contests. Two dates in particular will matter: February 7, with caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado (40 and 36 delegates, respectively), and a beauty contest primary in Missouri as well; and February 28, with primaries in Michigan and Arizona (30 and 29 delegates).” You see why the numbers-game can become misleading?

If you shift to a Biblical concept of numbers, one can embrace a faith-principle that says: “Little Is Much If God Is In It.” Just two Biblical citations to underscore this principle. Jesus taught His disciples this lesson in Mark 12:41-44, “Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them…this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Another similar instance is recorded in I Kings 17:8-16 that tells us about The widow of Zarephath. Times were difficult – there was a drought - food and money were in short supply. The text indicates: Elijah “…came…to a widow who was gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand. And she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die." Hopeless and helpless – yet she responds to Elijah and gives him what he has requested – all that she had. “Elijah said to her, Do not fear…The Lord, the God of Israel said: The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” The Widow responded affirmatively and The Lord provided for her and sustained her throughout the drought. When was the last time you employed the faith-principle to trust God in the hard times, the difficult days, the impossible circumstances? Little is much if God is in it!  Consider these things with me!