31 May 2008

Sisters and Visitors

My sister is coming to visit from California. The economic outlook for people in California isn't pretty. It's downright scary. I am hoping that my sister will come to Kentucky, relax and see that she can make a life here in Kentucky. However wonderful that thought is, my first hope would be that she would come to understand the truth and her need of the gospel. She thinks she is a good person and I am a religious nut. She comes by that assessment of me honestly. I was pretty zealous about what I thought the gospel was and pretty ignorant of what it truly means to be saved. The two are a poor combination.

Theology matters and what you win them with is what you win them to. These are both things I have learned from my friend, James White. I have learned a great deal from him. I wish I had learned it earlier. I might not have botched up the relationship I have with my sister. For many years she avoided me and I in my pride, I thought it was because my righteous life made her feel guilty. Yeah, great way to be winsome.

Along with our lack of gentility, I think we have lost the notion that it is important to be winsome. Not that we can charm people into the kingdom, but it's much easier to listen to us when we are being winsome than when we sound like screeching pipes.

I am hoping to be both winsome and loving while my sister stays with me. I hope to be fun. I want us to laugh and remember our childhoods together. I want her to know beyond a shadow of doubt that I love her and that my love for her compels me to share the gospel with her. Lord, help me undo the years of ignorance that get in the way.

28 May 2008

Gentility

I had a conversation with a friend and brother in the Lord about kindness. We talked about it in terms of what it is and did we find people, God's people, being kind. I think we fail at kindness. I think there should be a gentility about God's people that should be more apparent. Gentility isn't a word that is often used so I looked it up here: http://www.answers.com/topic/gentility.

Thesaurus: gentility

noun

  1. Well-mannered behavior toward others: civility, courteousness, courtesy, genteelness, mannerliness, politeness, politesse. See courtesy/discourtesy.
  2. People of the highest social level: aristocracy, blue blood, crème de la crème, elite, flower, gentry, nobility, patriciate, quality, society, upper class, who's who. Informal upper crust. See over/under.
Could it be that because we don't care for the second set of synonyms we have abandoned the term and employing its meaning, carelessly discarding the first set?

When I was giving seminars to college students, one of the things I would teach them was etiquette and manners. Good manners have always been associated with intelligence and ability. I was always a little bit surprised at how few of my students could define what it meant to be well mannered. These were great young men and women. They were bright and articulate, but somehow anything beyond learning the basics of saying "Please" and "Thank you" had escaped them. To their credit, they wanted to learn.

Manners consists of more than employing a bit of sugary-sweet niceness. Readers that are old enough will remember Eddie Haskell, who was anything but sincere in his attempts to use charm and manners. Real manners require grace. Lots of grace. The point of manners is the comfort of others. It takes kindness, empathy and the denial of self. All qualities believers should possess in abundance.

My friend correctly diagnosed part of the problem. We are forever comparing our behavior to that of our peers. We are mercurial. We set conditions upon our behavior. When they are nice, we are nice. When we respond tersely to someone, we justify it by their prior treatment of us or the bad day we are having. We will even try to use terms like "righteous anger" or "righteous indignation" to justify our less than cordial demeanor. The problem is our example is Christ, not our peers. Our anger is seldom righteous.

We should be treating others as if they are housing great treasure. The Spirit of God abides in believers but all are created in the Image of God. We should be treating everyone as if they are the elect of God, because we don't know that they are not. We are all made from the same dirt and have the same need for salvation.


Galatians 5:19-26
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
(NAS)




26 May 2008

Memorial Day

While pursuing my history degree, one of my professors asked me if I would consider interviewing a primary source instead of writing a traditional paper. He told me to interview the matriarch of my family as they are most often the keepers of family history. I jumped at the opportunity. My professor enjoyed the paper so much that he said he wanted me to do it again. I asked if I could interview my father, who had served in World War II. The professor agreed and I am grateful. It was the one time that my father and I connected. It changed our relationship completely.

My father suffered from what would be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and as a result he seldom slept. When his body betrayed him and allowed sleep to overtake him, you didn't want to be the one who woke him up. He never spoke of his experiences in the war. Two things happened that allowed him to finally talk about his service time. One was a bit of jealousy that I had interviewed my aunt and the other was Steven Spielberg's movie, Schindler's List.

My father had been among the first soldiers to find Dachau. He was with a group of men who found the back side of the camp. He took pictures. He told me that he and the men he was with took the pictures, "Not because of some sick curiosity but because we were afraid no one would believe us." I won't go into the horrible details of what he saw. Not that I am afraid to retell the stories. I will tell them to anyone who wants to listen. Those stories are not the reason for my post.

Today is about remembering those who have fought and died in conflict. Of the group of men my father went to Europe with to fight the war, only 8 of their original numbers survived. Dad took a Nazi festoon off the building where the Nuremberg trials were held. The 8 surviving men signed it. Our family still has the flag. When I look at it, I am grateful for my father's life being spared. I also think of the men who weren't there to sign their names.

"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868 "..

Let's not forget those who are serving us now. Do we make pledges to aid and assist those whom the fallen soldiers leave? Do we see them as a sacred charge? Or does having the war on a different continent change things? Have we so changed that the idea of caring for the widow and orphan never crosses our minds?

James 1:27
27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.
(NAS)



23 May 2008

The Compulsion to Worship

You and I are both slaves to something or someone. Despite the way autonomy, independence and individuality are pressed into the fabric of our being, it is a delusion. You, me, the guy next door, all of us without exception are enslaved. Whether we be bond servants of Christ or enslaved to our own desires and passions...we are enslaved.

I know why some Christians try to introduce people to the gospel of Christ by saying we all have a God-sized hole that only Jesus can fill. I understand why the analogy is attractive to them, but I find it really ridiculous. It would be more accurate to say we created for worship and therefore, we will worship something. We are compelled or driven to worship. Left to our own and without divine intervention, we will worship ourselves by pursuing anything that provides us temporal relief and enjoyment. Temporal relief from what you ask? The compulsion to worship.

The next step in my plan toward discipline is to reread several books. Elyse Fitzpatrick has written a fabulous book titled "Idols of the Heart." One of the benefits of spiritual discipline is being to identify what you are worshiping. I plan on rereading "Idols of the Heart" as well as "The Secret of Self-Control" by Richard L Ganz. I also have "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald Whitney. However wonderful these books are, and I recommend them and their authors, it is for naught if I do not first spend time in prayer and in the Word.

There are so many things to learn and I have a much better opportunity to learn them if I will submit myself to discipline. I need prayer. I need God's intervention. My want to is puny and my need to is enormous. Somebody keep me honest and ask me how I am doing on these goals.
Please?

22 May 2008

Mixed Bag

I am exhausted. I got so little sleep last night. I don't trust myself to take on a topic... so here are some observations. I saw senator John McCain on Ellen Degeneres' talk show. Ellen was kind and complimentary toward the senator while they discussed what she called the elephant in the room. They had a respectful disagreement regarding California's recent reversal on gay marriage. Ellen made an argument that equated not allowing gay marriage to saying "you can sit here, but not here." The intimation of course being the horrible way our country treated people of color is comparable to not recognizing same sex marriage. That argument isn't valid of course because marriage is a covenant before God.. but I have to give her credit for articulating her objections respectfully. Senator McCain was equally pleasant while holding his ground...but never quite articulating why. It's going to be an interesting election. I'd say we were doomed but as a Christian, I always have hope.

Chaos is happening in my family. Ah.. it feels so.... normal.

I watched the movie Juno. I hated the way I loved it. It was everything wrong and everything right all at once. I liked Allison Janney's character or maybe I just like Allison Janney. I miss West Wing where she played C J Craig. Yeah, I know... West Wing could have been called Left Wing. I liked the characters, I liked the topics....even when they made me cringe... I like Aaron Sorkin's writing. I loved Studio 60 and they took it off the air. They did that to a lot of shows I liked, like The Nine. What's up with that?? I am currently hooked on programs that are not found on ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC. Have you seen "I Survived" .... it is riveting.

Speaking of riveting.... I will leave you with this... and await your responses.

21 May 2008

The Whole Truth

The problem with general revelation is that every fool has an opinion on what it means and trust me, this world is not suffering for want of fools.

The other day I confessed to being a fool because I lack discipline. Being foolish isn't difficult, it is admitting you are a fool that is problematic. When you prize intellect you conversely despise foolishness. Despite the commonly held belief that most of us suffer from low self-esteem, I haven't met a person yet that truly hates him or herself. I am no exception. I don't know about you, but when I hate someone I am secretly glad when something unpleasant happens to them. I have yet to be truly happy about unpleasantness in my life. Sure, I have talked myself into not reacting externally the way I feel internally about my misfortune. I have even seen God's wisdom and mercy is the midst of whatever no good, miserable awful thing that is transpiring. However, to say I was actually happy about the darned thing would be to perjure myself most egregiously. Whenever I encounter misfortune, disappointment, frustration of desires, you can be certain I will need to repent.

We live in a society that worships science and status. It's hard to know which of the two has more faithful followers- especially in the church. We push everything into a medical model and will seemingly do anything to improve our place in our communities. We want to take a pill to relieve whatever suffering we experience. We want to run faster, jump higher and live longer while looking better than our neighbors. We want to be smarter. We want to be accomplished. We want to have the best food and drink the best wine. We want to be comfortable in our assessments of environs. We like general revelation because we are foolish enough to think that we are brilliantly coming to the obvious and correct conclusion with our evaluations, especially when we conclude there is a God.

This morning in a meager attempt at being disciplined, I have been reading notes I took while listening to my pastor teach us out of Philippians. A couple of things caught my eye. "Joy is contingent upon truth." And "Real truth is trusting in Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has accomplished." The last two weeks pastor has preached, I have been reminded of things I have been taught before. Things I knew as truth and have either failed to employ or for which I have failed to see a larger significance. One of those things is general vs. special revelation.

Psalm 19 is one of my favorite psalms. It is a great example of what is available for us in general and special revelation. Verses 1-6 are general revelation, verses 7-14 are special revelation. One of the very first 'Christian' songs I learned was based on that Psalm. It's a Ralph Carmichael song entitled, "He's Everything to Me" The song starts out as a proclamation of general revelation and I used to assume it ends up with special revelation. Now I'm not so certain. It seems to be a bit man-centered to be special.

As a biblical counselor, it is the special revelation held in the Psalm that I value most- with emphasis on verses 7-9. I consider truly biblical counseling to be a restoration of the soul by exhorting and encouraging a fellow believer to correctly value the Word and to rest in its promises.

"The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. "(NAS)

I am not wrong about that, but it does fall short of the truth. General revelation is available to all and it is possible for someone to make correct observations concerning what they see. It is even possible that their conclusions can be true... but ... like my conclusions... they can and will fall short of the entire truth. Psalm 19:13-14 ends with the psalmist saying, "Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous {sins} let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."(NAS)

Paul's admonition to the Philippians to put no confidence in the flesh is echoed here by the psalmist. That's the final bit of truth that I cannot leave out. I can't trust that the observations and conclusions I come to are right unless they render me helpless and in absolute dependency on Jesus Christ- who He is and what He accomplished.

I fear I am not doing justice to what I am trying to say. It's akin to the difference between having faith in your faith instead of having faith in the sufficiency of Christ. Faith in faith is man-centered, Faith in the sufficiency of Christ is God-centered. All revelation is general revelation unless it renders you hopeless in everything save the sufficiency of Christ alone.

18 May 2008

Homing In

There is something about aging that causes you to reflect on things differently. I was telling a friend the other day that there was tremendous freedom in being fat, over fifty and having gray hair. It eliminates the game playing of being young, beautiful and single when you're single, 'fluffy' and look your age. I get to say what's on my mind with the freedom of just being me and have acquired the wisdom of knowing when to shut up (most of the time).

My birthday was fun. My sabbath day has been both encouraging and convicting. I have hopes for tomorrow being spent in the garden. I want to subdue a small piece of earth in my backyard. The last two years horrible squash bugs have decimated my zucchini. This year, we are at war. I am planting nasty smelling flowers that bugs don't like all around my vegetables. I am ready with my soapy water and if that doesn't work..... I'll wage chemical war on them. So what if I glow in the dark after consuming my Swiss chard? I will not be foiled by creepy crawly things. I hate 'em. As my friend Carla would say, Gak!

One of the things that I truly loved about working in Student Development, was watching the students transition from their first year to the young men and women they would become. It is easy to see the hand of God at work in others when you get to invest in their lives and be an 'interested party' instead of a casual observer. I received a letter from my niece today. It was a poignant letter about growing up and how to know where your home is. She acknowledged that our ultimate home is in heaven, but the rest of this must be important or God wouldn't have designed it for us. She went off to college in another state, made her important relationships with other students who left their home states and came to matriculate at the same college. Now she is working in another state with a job that allows her to travel.
She knows the job she is in is temporary and wants to know how you decide where home is when your heart is with family and friends scattered hither, tither and yon.

I am excited that she is asking this question. I am grateful that she is giving me a chance to see her grow in wisdom as she comes to some of the hard things about being an adult. I like that she knows me well enough to know I would tell her that heaven is our ultimate home. I also like that she decided to pose the questions in letter form. I like writing old fashioned letters. I just wish I could do it with the panache of some of the letters I have read that were written two hundred years ago. We have so damaged our ability to communicate heartfelt truths by reducing our vocabularies to what is appropriate for television and newspaper. One of the first things they teach you about writing is not to write above your targeted audience. I understand why, but it is sad.

In keeping with my discipline theme, today I did garden. Tomorrow's goal is to write my niece and offer her what I know about making life decisions. Tonight I will reflect on what the Word says on the topic. If I come up with something profound, perhaps I will share it. I may share it anyway. Not having something profound doesn't seem to keep me from posting.

17 May 2008

My Talented Friend and Rock Star

It's all part of growing up

Today is my birthday. I am 51. I have officially lived longer than my mother. I have survived several major earthquakes, three fires, five floods, uterine cancer, having my infant body burned by percolating coffee and a childhood from hell. I have been stalked by a madman, been asked to be interviewed for the Australian version of 60 Minutes, received a bronze medal and helped foil a kidnap attempt of a celebrity. In my short 51 years, I have had an incredible life.

I was asked by a former student what advice I would give a 30 year old that I have come to value now that I am in my 50s. The list of things that I value now that I didn't value then and vice versa is huge. Since my current topic is discipline, I would have to say that I wish I had cultivated discipline at an earlier age. Much earlier than my 30s. I wish I had learned the difference between need and want sooner. I have tried too hard to fulfill wants as if they were needs. The want vacuum just moves, it doesn't get filled by things.

I value absolute truth. I would be less tolerant. I tolerated being used. I tolerated opinionated people foisting their subjective opinions on me as if they were objective standards. I tolerated going with the flow instead of taking a stand. I avoided confrontation, and now I know confrontation is one of the greatest gifts God has given us- it's just that we muck it up with our sinful agendas. I would have less fear of people and more fear of God. I would be more patient. I would be offended less and extend myself more often. I wish I had valued humility more than being right.

I would read, meditate on and memorize the Word more. I would call my sin what the bible calls it. Jesus provides a remedy for sin, but He is silent about 'mistakes'. I would advise young people to learn the difference between who you are and the choices you make. I value learning that people are more than their sin, they are souls in peril. I'd drill it in my head as soon as possible that flattery is abuse and that genuine heartfelt compassion can accompany the absolute rejection of someone's world view or lifestyle.

I am overwhelmed just thinking about the things I have learned. I wish there was a way of measuring how much more I will learn if I live another decade. Did you measure your height in a door jamb when you were growing up? Wouldn't it be nice to see your maturity and refinement in some sort of measurement? I imagine if we could quantify it or qualify it we could do more damage to the process.

What wisdom have you learned that you would pass on?

Proverbs 10:23
23 Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; and {so is} wisdom to a man of understanding.
(NAS)

16 May 2008

Listen!

This Dividing Line is something you should listen to. It is something you should think about. It is something you should be in prayer over. If you read this post of mine- in the Dividing Line, James White takes a more in depth look at the house of cards we have built in the US by allowing feelings and minority agendas to drive legislation based on perceived rights.

Discipline, Conviction and Guilt Glands

I am a fool. I have it on good authority. I am a fool because I hate discipline. Proverbs 25:28 says {Like} a city that is broken into {and} without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit. In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about those of us who try to make it through life without discipline. I am not talking about the sort of discipline that is a consequence given to us, I am talking about the self-control, setting up good habits type of discipline.

I really enjoy reading the Proverbs. They convict me, but somehow it hurts so good to see what a wretch I am. Probably because they don't just leave you there in your wretchedness. They tell you the alternative. This caught my attention tonight. Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to words of knowledge. I decided to look for other verses in Proverbs that go with that. I ended up picking these and then topped off my conviction tank with some words from James.

Proverbs 2:2-6
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD, and discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth {come} knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 5:1-2
1 My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding;
2 That you may observe discretion, and your lips may reserve knowledge.

Proverbs 22:17-19
17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge;
18 For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the LORD, I have taught you today, even you.

Proverbs 23:19
19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.

James 1:21-22
21 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and {all} that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.


Oh yeah, the conviction is huge. That's good though. I want to be convicted, the alternative would mean I was indifferent to the things of God. I don't want to be indifferent. I want to be held in the tension between knowing my guilt and knowing I've been forgiven- declared righteous. This is where His grace becomes amazing to me. This is where I find holiness in the minute details of life. The tension that comes from living in a fallen world as an alien... only passing through on my way to being perfected by Him. Discipline. It requires effort. It isn't merely a surrender to refinement. It is active. It gathers wisdom, employs truth, answers folly and keeps listening, keeps seeking Him.

This is my prayer tonight. Teach me, Lord to number my days that I may present you with a heart of wisdom. Teach me to listen to godly counsel and to accept discipline. Let me live and walk by the Spirit and by doing so, bear the fruit of the Spirit. Build in me godly discipline and self control and make me ready to be your tool.

Psalm 90:12
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.
Prov 19:20
20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.
Galatians 5:22-25
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
(NAS)

13 May 2008

The Wizard of Odd....

I like Dr. Mehmet Oz. He has done some specials on health and nutrition that I find fascinating. I have, until now, thought he was brilliant. Actually, I still think he is brilliant, but confess I am re-evaluating that in light of what I saw today. He is a regular on Oprah and the only reason I will willingly watch Oprah is when he's on. Today, Oprah spoiled that for me.

I haven't always been anti-Oprah. I am not one of those Christians who only listens to other professing Christians. I appreciate intelligence and people who try to make a positive difference. I really enjoyed her at first. I liked that she left the seedy and scintillating stories of life at its basest depravity behind. I respected that she was trying to make a difference in the world with her benevolence. And then she got all pseudo-spiritual and upside down mystic on us and I lost all interest. The more she has focused her show on universalist metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, the more I pity her. For all the depth and realness she is trying to portray, for all the life giving wisdom she is trying to impart, she is little more than a celebrity Pez dispenser of bite sized, honey covered heresies. She is lost. All her money and all her kind intentions can't hide nor change that. Today she revealed just how over the edge she is. Her show was about past life regression and for some odd reason, Dr. Oz was a guest along with Dr. Weiss- a Harvard graduate and psychiatrist-who was the catalyst for the program. (Proving how little sense one needs for a degree from Harvard or to practice psychiatry.) Let me quote Dr. Weiss and whoever wrote this piece for Oprah:

Dr. Weiss says the most common question he's asked about past-life regression is if there is a presence of God in the process. "I find God everywhere in this," he says.

Think of the experience as an ice cube, Dr. Weiss says. Ice cubes are solid until they're melted by heat energy. They become water, but if you add more heat energy, that water will turn into steam. The same molecule—H2O—is still there, just in a different form.

Dr. Weiss says people are like ice cubes. "We're the solid part, the condensed part. We think we're separate from everybody else. We're not. If you heat us with love energy—not heat energy but love energy—we melt into a spiritual sea," he says. "And if you keep heating with love, you find God. God is the steam. God is beyond the steam—the organizing wisdom that's in every atom of our being."

In the end, we're not so separate, Dr. Weiss says. "We're not different from each other," he says. "We're all souls, and souls are all connected."

Ok. . . where to start with something like that? I am speechless. I go looking to Dr. Oz for some nutritional information and I get 'God is the steam.' I was bitterly disappointed. Tell me about the dangers of HFC-55 and I am right there with you, Dr. Oz. Tell me how eating whole foods and increasing fiber is good for my body. Remind me that I don't want partially hydrogenated oils in my body. Do the food experiments on the other channels and leave Oprah alone. Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain.... she's ruining you. Run Away!

Oprah had terse comments for those of us who are...shall I say... skeptical... of past life regression... "You don't have to believe it for it to be real." No, but it does have to have some logic and sense about it. Apparently she offered regression hypnosis to her studio audience and some declined because they didn't believe. I hope they declined because they had sense enough to see the lunacy in supporting a system of belief based on the presupposition that any of us lives more than once. The bible says it is appointed to all of us to die once and after that, we face judgment. (Hebrews 9: 27) But then Oprah doesn't believe the bible... not the parts she disagrees with anyway. Why consult the Bible? Apparently God doesn't get to tell us who He is and how we shall live... that's Oprah's job.

I hope any of you who are professing believers who watch this tripe on a daily basis can finally see that Oprah is the leader of the lost. She doesn't have anything to offer believers. Turn to the One who really knows who you are and who really cares for your soul. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing else. That's where our hope is found.

11 May 2008

The Gospel not Rights

I was driving through town a few days ago and hit the scan feature on my radio. It's always a surprise to me what will come up. Country? Rock? Christian Pop? This time the radio locked on NPR. A young woman, a polygamist, was making a statement about clinging to her faith even in the wake of the current controversy in Texas. There was a comment from someone about how polygamists choose the suffering when they choose the lifestyle. Before I could stop it, the radio was on another channel and I had driven far enough that I could not get reception when I tried to return to listen to the rest of the program. I wanted to know what was said next and the context of the show.

I have, what will seem by many Christians, some controversial ideas about things like polygamy. I absolutely believe that marriage is a covenant before God and is best made between one man and one woman. I do not see specific condemnation of polygamy in the bible. It is in many ways inferred and shown to be undesirable but it is not explicitly forbidden. It is in no manner encouraged. However, in the United States it is illegal so I haven't much sympathy for the woman clinging to her ill-placed faith when it comes to the law of man. I do feel for her because she has been duped and deceived and her soul is in peril.

I wish I could quote what she said in some capacity here because I immediately thought that the next poster children for tolerance will be the polygamists. Why not? Why shouldn't the polygamists have protected rights because of their sexual preferences? Isn't that what the homosexuals are vying for? That very idea makes me absolutely crazy. At the basest level it is illogical. If what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is none of my business, then why on earth should you be a protected class of people? I become entirely livid when homosexual's equate their plight to what the Civil Rights Movement was for Blacks. Frankly, I do not know why the black community tolerates that comparison.

Christians read my blog, and only a few at a that. I guess it is just as well, if others read it I would be no doubt dismissed as some intolerant homophobic right-winged conservative. Dismissing me would be much easier than actually hearing my argument and believing me to be genuinely kind, loving and not in favor of the polygamist or homosexual agenda. The problem I have is that our country seems bent and determined to protect the rights of anyone who can stand up and belch out a complaint. I suppose at some level it is the fundamental problem with democracy, not that I would trade it for anything else. It is plain that anything someone decides is their right to be able to do, there is an equal and opposite assertion against it from someone else. We are building a house of cards... rights without objective standards by which to measure or base them, place a culture in peril. Cultures are made of people... people with souls in jeopardy.

I wish Christians would remember that sometimes. We Christians are guilty of wanting to protect our rights too. Yet we seem to forget, the homosexual, the cult member, the rebellious youth, the alcoholic, the junkie, the politician... all...they are more than their sin, they are souls in peril. They are on the precipice of hell and we have the gospel, the Life Line, to offer them, not rights.

Gal 5:17-24
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(NAS)

09 May 2008

Guilt Free Opinions

I decided that I am not going to California, I am going to Hawaii instead. My step-dad lives in Hawaii and I want to see him. He's 80 years old and I don't want to regret not getting to see him where he's the happiest, at home on Molokai. If I go to California now, there will be no chance of going to Hawaii later, but if I wait, there may be a chance to stop over in California on my way to or from Hawaii. I will really have to do something spectacular like get a job before I will be able to afford that, but that's OK. I am praying that God will give me the opportunity to go and make the way for it to happen. I would rather be disappointed now than feel guilty for not trying to see my Pop.

I had the erroneous thought that when I grew up I would like making decisions for myself. Aging is full of choices that are the right thing to do but not necessarily the thing you want to do. You just give in more readily when you're older. Some call it wisdom, I call it weakened resistance. Actually, I think it must be laziness, it takes too much effort to rebel. It is much easier to do it right the first time. It's like having integrity. If you have ever lived your life without it, then you know that there is freedom living your life with it. No bobbing and weaving, no shucking and jiving... just hanging out with integrity.

Today I became involved in and online conversation. It had to do with Christians, psychology, and psychotropic medications. I have a degree in psychology and I am not pro medicating for behaviors. I am not completely anti-medication but I am certain that 90% of the people (qualified as believers) being medicated are not in need of it. It's the coward's way out. I would put them in the same category that I would put those who self medicate--from binge eaters and closet alcoholics to street junkies. I was told that I was being really harsh. When I look at the comment, I totally understand why I would be challenged for being harsh. I come by my opinion honestly and stand by it. I concede I should have softened the delivery.

It's difficult here in cyberspace for people to know what opinions you come by honestly. They likely don't know your history or know that you would put yourself in the coward category and for more than one reason. They don't know your habits or the depth of your kindness. I understand when you put your opinion in writing it can be received as something stronger, bigger, meaner and nastier than you ever intended it to be. That's part of the package though. I also remember how I reacted when I was challenged to think biblically about behavior and sin and the whole medical model of responsibility. Being harsh was one of the nicer things I had to say about the folks who challenged me.

I have percolated a bit on the conversation and have come to a conclusion. I am even more adamantly in favor of life on life, Titus 2 moments between believers than ever before. While I value the communication that occurs in cyberspace, it is poor substitute for the deep and abiding friendships I have with the people who know me best. I am looking forward to meeting some of my online buddies in January for this very reason. I am certain it will only deepen the friendships I have made here.


James 5:13-16
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
(NAS)

08 May 2008

Quirks, Decisions and Dairy Queen

So, I have to make a decision and I am all in knots about it. My kids are in California. My sister has to go to California to take care of some business. She is tempting me to go with her. I could see my grandson and my kidlets. I could see my friend before she has a big milestone birthday. I could have coffee with my buddy Vicki and her birthday is coming up too. I could taste real Chinese food and real Mexican food. I could eat real San Francisco sourdough bread. Sounds good.... but of course there is a catch. Not only is airfare an expense, but renting a car and parking at the airport and stuff.... and then... here's the big one... I would have to be my dear ol' buddy Chet the Wonder Dog in the kennel for a week. That's almost two whole months in dog time. He's approaching 12 years old, he's slowing down and my guilt glands are swelling just at the thought of it.

Now, ain't it funny that a woman who made life and death decisions for years is having such a hard time with the thought of putting her aging canine companion in a perfectly lovely boarding kennel. He'd be safe, monitored, fed, played with and loved. I think it wouldn't be as huge a consideration for me if I had been planning to do this. I need months to sneak up on stuff. It took me 7 years to buy a new couch once I decided I wanted one. That didn't turn out well for me. I bought it, my life changed and then I moved to Kentucky. Here's a pearl of wisdom. If you have to move across country, ditch your furniture. Nothing made it across the 2600 miles unscathed. My new couch got tweaked and one armrest came loose. . . but I digress.... I was talking about my dilemma....where was I? Oh yeah. Going to California hasn't been on my radar. I miss my kids. I love my family. I feel creepy all over for hesitating. All I can think about is how much my body aches now and how much it will hurt to be in a plane for 5 hours at a time. How my doggie will be older when I come home, how my momentum will be thrown off.. When you're old you shouldn't mess with your momentum.

Getting old isn't for cowards. Neither is being quirky. I like discovering people's quirks. I like it when people notice mine, unless they are annoyed by them. I won't list my friends quirks, but here are some of mine. I don't like to drink the last 1/2 inch of whatever beverage I am consuming if it is in a glass I can see through. My siblings used to make fun of me. Once my sister, Linda, put a slice of cucumber in my drink to see if I would find it. I did. I spewed what I was drinking all over when it touched my lip. I freak out if I sit in a booth at a restaurant. I mean full blown panic. Give me a table I can get away from quickly. I don't sit with my back to the door. I can't touch apricot or peach fuzz. Rubbing cornstarch between my fingers gives me goosebumps and makes me shiver. I hold my breath when I watch underwater scenes on TV or in movies. The Abyss, one of my all time favorites, makes me panic and turn blue every time I watch it. I abhor listening to music I can't understand the words to. As I get older, the choices are narrowing.

Choices.... that brings me back to my California quandry. I am in knots trying to decide. This is one of the times I wish I could open the bible and pick out a random verse and have it tell me what to do. "Yea, verily, arise from your recumbent position and haste to Delta, where thou shalt buy a round trip ticket to California." 1 Hezekiah 2:3. The pressure being too much for me I took my dog to Dairy Queen today and got him a treat cone. It was his first. I thought, "What if I decide to go to California and something happens to him and we never got to go to Dairy Queen together?!" Yeah, that's right. A bucket list for me and my dog. In the Kentucky rain we drove to town, I ordered his cone and held it while he partook. I think he experienced brain freeze. I still don't know if I am going to California, but my doggie was happy. That's all that mattered.

07 May 2008

Real Sportsmanship

Today my sister Karen and I were talking about things that make us cry. For all my 'cut to the chase and give me the bottom line, command presence- rock solid in an emergency' persona - I am easily brought to tears. My kids used to watch me instead of watching whatever movie we were watching and bet on when I would cry.

A favorite moment with my older sister, Laurie, happened while we watched Madame X, an old Lana Tuner and John Forsythe movie from the 60s. It was an overcast summer day. We were in our early 20s and both at home for the day. Our mom was out shopping and left to our own devices we got involved in watching old movies. Several hours later when Mom came home, she found the two of us, curled up with our arms around each other and sobbing, our mascara running in big streams of black down our faces. The sight might have alarmed anyone that didn't know us but our mom just laughed. Shortly after the movie was over, we had the swollen red eyes and stuffy noses that come with a good cry. Dad came home and took one look at us. "Have you guys been watching Old Yeller again?" Perish the thought. I cry at the thought of that movie.

Karen and I are still finding out about each other. In the 32 years were were separated, a lot happened to get caught up on. Karen was placed for adoption when she was born and were reunited 14 years ago. Karen asked me if I got through watching Syesha singing and crying on American Idol. Yup, I made it through that no problem. Then Karen told me about a girl playing softball in her senior year and hitting her once in a lifetime home run.... but she missed first base and when she turned to correct the problem, blew out her ACL. And well... you read the story, it's here. and let there be no doubt, I cried.

Sigh. If only we all did the right thing so easily. Well Done!!

06 May 2008

Black Theology is Racism

James White addressed the heresy of black theology and Jeremiah Wright on today's Dividing Line. James, ever the scholar, bought the books that Wright was touting and read them. He takes the audience step by step through the book and exposes the heresy and racism for what it is. It is well worth the listen.

Obama can distance himself from Wright all he wants to, he still sat in the church and listened to this for twenty years. It is no more moral to perpetuate hostility between races than slavery was. Christianity cannot be reconciled with racism.

05 May 2008

Random Catsup


Ketchup, Catsup... which way did you learn to spell it? I grew up with catsup and it was a real treat when I was able to use some. My father had a thing about control. One of the many strange things he controlled was my use of catsup. I was not allowed to read comic books nor sleep with pillows. All this is beside the point. What I am trying to do is catch up on some blogging and thought the title 'random catsup' was fun even though most folks don't know catsup, they know ketchup.

I have had some topics bubbling around in my brain. So, there is no theme or reason to this. It's just stuff that I need to type to get it out of my head.

I watch 'This Week with George Stephanopolous' on Sunday mornings as I get ready to go to church. This week he had Senator Hillary Clinton on in a town hall type of discussion. I am not a Clinton supporter. She's not completely wrong about all things, but wrong enough that she won't get my vote. However, I am ticked off about something that was done to her. During this question and answer period a young man stood up to ask a question. He was introduced by Stephanopolous with his first and last name given, his young age and the fact that he had just passed his Bar exam. The Senator offered her congratulations to him for his accomplishment. (Here comes the part that REALLY ticks me off.) He thanked her and proceeded to ask his question, starting with "Hillary, . . . "

Hillary?? Is that what all those years of schooling taught him? To address a United States Senator by their first name? I wanted to sit him down and put him through the Rosemarie school of etiquette. I don't care for the woman's politics but she is a senator. Would he have addressed senators McCain or Obama by their first names? I think not. Now, there is a high likelihood that he was a plant and known to the senator. He might even work for her. He'd be fired if he worked for me. Even if I were on a first name basis with a public official, they would be addressed formally in public setting. I used to coach my students to remember when going to interviews and making contacts that good manners are always associated with intelligence, ability and education. Mr 'I passed the Bar exam at 24' didn't pass my "I know how to act in public" test. Do people get taught proper salutations or etiquette any more?

This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of the #prosapologian minions. We were talking about patriotic songs sung in worship services. He has the opinion that worshiping God and being patriotic are to be separated. He and his family go to church to worship God, nothing else. I don't disagree with him. The conversation made me think a bit and I am still mulling things over. If the Star Spangled Banner was played at a football game, I would stand. I would stand if it was played at church, but I would discuss it with my pastor afterward. I was brought up to be respectful and polite and I worked for 11 years in a para-military organization. Many of these things are ingrained in me. I wish they were ingrained in others.

I had a garage sale. This was a cultural experience. I purposely put very reasonable price tags on items. I wanted to see if I could separate those who were looking for a bargaining experience and those who were looking for decent items reasonably price. I had great fun and learned something about myself. I had many collectibles for sale. I knew what they were and knew that I had under-priced them. I figured if someone wanted to scoop them up and take them to their shop or the flea market and spend their time reselling them, they could. I wanted them gone. If someone fell in love with an item they were likely to get it for next to nothing. If they wanted to dicker about something already reasonably priced, then I wouldn't budge on my price. If they were appreciative, they got lots of breaks.

One young woman came in and was looking for things to decorate her office. She beamed as she told me she had just finished her certification as a massage therapist. She had landed an office and she was going to work. She said all the right things and fell in love with something that would help her decorate. She got the $5.00 bargain of her life. Another woman saw my VCR with remote and asked me if it worked. I said it did. She said.... "It don't got the wire that hooks it up, will you take $2.00?" I turned around, grabbed the coaxial cable she was talking about and said, "There you go." Next she tilted up the VCR to get a look at the face. The remote slid off it and down onto the table. "It don't got no remote." I picked up and said, "Yes, it does. It just slid off when you lifted the front." She frowned. "I am not buying it for myself." I just smiled. She got the wire and the VCR for $5.00. She wasn't happy but I was. I ended up giving away more than I sold, but I am OK with that.

Most of the folks that came in were nice, they were talkative, they were grateful, they were looking for just how low I would price something. One man said "What's the lowest you'll do on this?" It was a depression glass jar and lid and it had a $5 price tag on it. I smiled and said. You know what it is, I know what it is. You know it is worth $50 to the right buyer. Give me $5 and be happy with that." He grinned sheepishly and said, "Yes ma'am."

My sister and brother-in-law went to the Kentucky Derby. This meant finding my sister just the right Derby outfit. Going to the Derby requires a hat. Getting Karen ready was the most fun - I think I enjoyed the process far more than I would have enjoyed the event. It's all about the hat you wear or what you can talk your sister into wearing.... She looked gorgeous. She told me she saw a woman wearing a pink flamingo on her head, another was wearing a lampshade. I hope she goes next year, armed with that information we can have all sorts of fun.

Spring is here and this girl is in the garden. Peas are up, onions are up, asparagus, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, squash, beans... all are going in. With the price of gas up, the price of food is up and my garden needs to expand. I am sitting here eating Taco Bell as my final hurrah. I am going healthy. Veggies, whole grain and fish. Pray for me. I really want to be healthier.

I love my church, my pastor quoted the Institutes during his last sermon. I am so at home. At the book review/exchange one of the ladies I have come to appreciate a great deal took "Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges from me. I can scarcely wait for her to read it so we can discuss it.

Oh... and finally... I heard Whoopi Goldberg rant about people who say they want to make a difference and keep us safe to get the high fructose corn syrup out of our food. It must be chilly in that theological place of eternal punishment. I am with Whoopi. I want the HFC55 out of my food. I will rant about that when I have time.