28 September 2008

My Week in Review

Today my soul feasted on the Word. My work schedule has finally changed so that I may attend Sunday services. I have the blessing of being part of a church whose sermons are available online. I have enjoyed the sermons and yet, being part of a corporate worship service is somehow more edifying and, I suspect, more glorifying to our God since He has instructed us to worship corporately.

I used to think that I could be a 'Lone Ranger' type of Christian. That sinful thought was born of equal parts ignorance and arrogance. Now I think that just as there is no salvation outside of conversion, there is no place for ignorance and arrogance in a believer's life. We cannot know everything but we can know something new, wonderful and true about our God every day.

The week has been fraught with turmoil. I can opine at length about the situation our economy is in. I can say without equivocation that I think Paulson should resign or be removed from his position of Treasury Secretary. He obviously knows less about our Constitution and government than I do which is evidenced by his suggestion that he be the sole person in charge of bailout funds and their distribution. It's bad enough that we are considering socialist solutions but to place that much power in one man's hands is clearly not what our founders had in mind when they developed our governmental system. I find listening to the analysis of how we got here interesting. So far I have heard one person mention greed and he was blaming the other guys.

As I was considering various scenarios for the future it occurred to me that it wouldn't be such a bad thing if our economy collapsed. Sure, lots of people, including me, would lose some hard earned money. My retirement portfolio already looks bleak and we haven't collapsed yet. I can't help but wonder if surviving the Great Depression didn't play a part in making the Great Generation, great. We all learn best and grow the most from the painful experiences in our lives. Would an economic crisis teach us to be like my mother's generation? Would I delay gratification? Save more and spend less? Would I be more likely to place myself proned out before the God of the universe if I had less confidence in my own ability to make ends meet?

My last thoughts before signing off have to do with some startling reading and a YouTube video that shocked me. I am reading, for reasons I won't go into here, a book written by an apostate 'expert' on Christianity. What startles me is not that a man (or woman) is capable of renouncing his (or her) faith. I am taken aback at realizing the tripe and heresy this particular author promotes from a scholarly perspective is the same tripe that our neighbors in the church pew believe and our 'pastors' promulgate from their pulpits. There is indeed nothing new under the sun. Heresies and errant theologies have abounded since man first decided he should be like God.

The video I watched on YouTube was the work of a particular heretic. I watched as he, under the guise of obeying God, kicked a man with metastatic colon cancer in the stomach. Presumably he did this to heal the man. I was sickened and angry. Yet, as I thought about it more and more I realized that not standing up for the truth when things are just a little bit wrong is equally devastating to the souls of those who hear a mostly correct gospel as it is for those who are kicked in the guts with a blatantly false gospel. In fact the slightly tainted gospel is more deadly because most people will ignore the small inconsistencies but will cry foul when the abuse is more readily apparent.

I leave you with this from J.C. Ryle:

And faith, simple faith, is the only thing required, in order that you and I may be forgiven. That we will come by faith to Jesus as sinners with our sins, --trust in Him,-- lean on Him, -- confide in Him, -- commit our souls to Him, --and forsaking all other hope, cleave only to Him, -- this is all and everything that God asks for. Let a man only do this, and he shall be saved. His iniquities shall be found completely pardoned, and his transgressions entirely taken away. Every man and woman that so trusts is wholly forgiven, and reckoned perfectly righteous. His sins are clean gone, and his soul is justified in God's sight, however bad and guilty he may have been.

21 September 2008

The LONG Awaited Post

Not having days off for two weeks coupled with having terrible allergies has made it difficult for me to catch up on things I have to do as well as those things I just want to do. Last night, miserable with allergies, I took a 24 hour Zyrtech. It worked well, I think. I am not sure that sleeping 12 of the 24 hours makes it worth taking the medication but while I slept, I wasn't bothered my allergy symptoms. I did, however, miss church because I couldn't justify driving with a medication fogged brain. I won't be taking the 24 hour variety again.

Did I say drugs? (How's that for segueing?) Perhaps because I am wondering... is our entire culture medicated out of their minds or is it just those who profess to be Christians? I am asking because it doesn't appear that anyone is paying attention to what is going on here. I am reminded of that bumper sticker that says "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." One of the reasons I put the Craig Ferguson monologue on my blog is because it appears he is paying attention and trying to get the rest of us to do it as well. Is it working? Sadly, I don't think so. If the other folks can pay attention, what can't we?

For a while I double majored in college, taking both History and Psychology and have benefited from the former much more than the latter. You see, history is cyclical and if you've learned to identify a few of the cycles, when the next set of circumstances appear, if you're clever, you'll recognize them for what they are. For instance, Obama's political fix sounds suspiciously like the old "New Deal" brought to us by FDR which nearly killed us on the first time. Sure, the battle cry sounds absolutely brilliant, "Relief, Recovery, Reform." The truth was it took a war (WW II) to fix the economy fixes that FDR initiated to fix the depression. Depression? My mom would correct me, "The Great Depression."

Now before anyone goes crazy and wants to argue the merits of the New Deal let me say it wasn't all bad. We have state parks, dams and roads as a result of putting people to work, which we still have to this day. Unfortunately because the cost of maintaining these things requires government and people being what they are.... the bureaucracy and red tape to keep the parks and roads open has required exorbitant fees and salaries and oversight.... so most of the parks are either too expensive for families to visit or closed because the government doesn't want to pay for the salaries necessary to keep them open. Of course that means that they are pointing the fingers back at John Q Public saying "It's not our fault, you didn't want to pay more taxes, remember?" We seem to forget that whatever system we put in place it takes energy to keep that system in motion. In this case, energy converts to tax dollars. The simpler the system the less energy it takes to keep it going. Bottom line? I am saying it didn't work when FDR tried it, it's not going to work now. It will never work. How do you mix socialism and capitalism? You have to pour energy into them to keep the two whirling around chasing each other in a blender of confusion. If you take your finger off the button and the energy stops, the lines of demarcation become evident as the layers stratify.

Speaking of socialism, isn't that what you call it when the government steps in and bails out failing businesses? Why are we willing to believe that the entire economy of the world is dependent on AIG? First of all let me say this: Christians, WAKE UP! It is Almighty God that holds the world and all that is in it in His capable hands. Quit freaking out about the global economy and start paying attention to God's economy. Let's put the cards on the table, shall we? While I think that McCain and Palin are better political leaders than Obama and Biden, neither ticket hold my hope. I will vote and I will debate the issues with anyone but I hope in the absolute sovereignty of God.
Daniel 2:20-23
20 Daniel answered and said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.
21 "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding.
22 "It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
23 "To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for Thou hast given me wisdom and power; even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee, for Thou hast made known to us the king's matter."(NAS)

Perhaps we should be looking at the lessons learned by those who navigated both the Great Depression and WWII. The Great or Silent generation has much wisdom to offer us. They knew the difference between want and need. They learned how to make do and how to use something up. They lived in smaller houses and grew victory gardens. They worked hard and saved more. In a world where the church had abdicated its responsibility to the government to take care of the poor, orphans and widows, they knew the power of giving someone a hand up versus a hand out. No, they weren't perfect, but by God's grace they made it and we will make it the same way.

I feel a nap attack coming on. More later, Lord willing.

20 September 2008

Talk Like A Pirate Day

My youngest, being related to me and, therefore, somewhat crazy, sent me this picture of my grandson for "Talk Like a Pirate Day." If I get a picture of him wearing or carrying a towel with him in May, I'll know for certain she's the best darn mother on the planet!!
For those of you wondering what has become of me. I'll write soon, Lord willing, thanks for checking on me. Work is good for paychecks but so gets in the way of stuff you'd rather be doing.

11 September 2008

Intelligent Observations.... on Television??

It's been a while since my last article and I am feeling kind of twitchy about a lot of things. I really have missed the opportunity to let the things percolating in my brain have a chance to spill out into my blog and as a result I feel sort of toxic. I mean, I could probably die from holding my opinions in for too long, you know? I considered writing about my recollections of 9/11 and I still may. I also thought I might ease on back into things and then I saw something that caught my attention and I thought, "Oh yeah, that's hitting the blog."

Fair warning, if you are offended by the occasional swear word, don't play the video below. There's nothing worse than what you would find in a PG13 movie or on television. In fact, it is from television. It is Craig Ferguson's monologue from his late night program. And, though I might have left the one or two expletives out knowing that my pastor reads my blog, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Speaking of journalism, though I hardly consider The View a journalistic show, I have been setting my DVR to record the first part of the "Hot Topics" discussion. I did that as soon as the information hit the net about Sarah Palin and her prayer about God's will. What better way to know what liberal woman are thinking? Are you all sitting down? Better strap yourself in for this one, Joy Behar actually said something intelligent regarding Palin's prayer and God's will. She said if it is God's will that we are in a war in Iraq, then things like Katrina and Gustav have to be God's will too if we are going to be consistent in attributing sovereignty to God. She didn't say it exactly like that, but it is a fairly accurate paraphrase. I nearly fell over. The unfortunate part was that she has no idea that she was standing at the cusp of truth, she threw the statement out in an attempt to show how ludicrous thinking being at war could be God's will. See, it's only OK to believe in God's ability to control the universe when He is controlling it in a manner that you would choose. Folks like Behar are perfect candidates to plagiarize Orwell's Animal Farm and attribute the results to God. "Your God can be sovereign as long as His sovereignty correlates with my sense of my fairness. God is sovereign, at times he is just more sovereign than others."

I still have lots to say about the upcoming election and the candidates. Lord willing I will get to it all. Meanwhile, study the diagram of the Preamble and the First Amendment. I want to discuss Palin and Lord willing, I will get to. Meanwhile I have some sleep to catch up on.

05 September 2008

Loose Ends and Stuff

A little over a month ago I posted an article about squash bugs and how the little bugs were taking over my garden and decimating my squash crop. It is with great sadness and frustration that I tell you the score is 45-0 and the squash bugs win. It's enough to make me want to go back to California where the bugs have better sense and either give up or succumb to WMD. Normally I would be complaining about having too much squash and I have only received a meal or two out of my garden.

Now if I am going to be fair about this I need to also say that finding myself gainfully employed meant I had a sudden deficit in my available time to be out there picking the blasted things off my plants. I don't think it would have mattered. They seem to have an amazing ability to reproduce themselves and apparently made whoopie in every shelter and on every curbit leaf in my garden. Not only did they take out my squash but my normally prolific lemon cucumbers were annihilated as well (the curbit family includes cucumbers and squash).

I cannot let the story end here in good conscience though. In an amazing turn of events I seem to have hit the right combination of tender loving care and abject neglect for my green beans to flourish. I only have a few plants but they are producing nicely. I am seriously amazed that God has provided any fruit for my pitiful labors.

Another casualty of my new found employment are my delusions of being invincible. Work is humbling me and while that's good for me I don't much care for it. It is difficult for me to find the balance between striving for perfection in a task and being satisfied when I do most things acceptably and only need to remediation on a few. I am not talking about the laziness I fight. I mean that the job is new to me and I can't possibly know everything I need to know to make perfect decisions. I need both correction and guidance. So, when I am corrected I shouldn't feel like I am moronic and of no use or value to my employer- but that's exactly how I feel.

I don't think it is my pride that is being hurt, although I am willing to be wrong about that assessment. Instead, I think what I experience is a left over response from having been raised in an environment that was not only abusive but hyper-critical as well. The feeling of worthlessness for having made a mistake in my job isn't shame or guilt as I fully understand that it is impossible to know it all in a few short weeks. I think it is a patterned fear response. This revelation isn't an excuse for that behavior. It reminds me that I am not as sanctified as I think I am thereby humbling me, which is why I am so willing to be wrong about it being a pride issue. Fear, pride or a mixture of both, I only know that I need to remember this in order to better assist the folks I counsel to identify what is driving their behavior and sinful responses.

And lastly, yes I watched Governor Sarah Palin give her speech and I watched Senator John McCain give his. I am trying to let my opinions marinate and settle for a bit. Gut reaction? I like Sarah Palin and McCain is a better choice than Obama. However, both their speeches tugged at my heart and hit me in places that elicit emotional responses from me. I want to think about this for a bit. I don't want to be a victim of advertising and packaging.

03 September 2008

Choices come with Consequences

It wasn't long after my post on my character flaws that God decided to show me something else about them. He decided to let me work through an issue where the laziness of someone before me had caused not only a large amount of work that needed to be done, but some unnecessary out of pocket expenses were paid by a customer. The customer will be refunded and so it seems to be a "no harm, no foul" experience. Appearances are deceiving.

The company I work for paid for an hour of my productivity because someone was forgetful and missed a step that actually only takes less than 10 seconds to complete. The customer in question lives paycheck to paycheck and cares for her parents and her disabled brother. It's all well and good that eventually her money will be returned to her, but when you live hand to mouth waiting for accounting to cut a check can mean the difference between having lights that come on when you flip the switch and having food on the table to feed your elderly parents and disabled brother. Choices she would not have had to make if someone had taken those few seconds to complete their task.

The irony of the situation did not escape me. The customer thinks that I am the kindest and best representative she has ever spoken with because she hasn't a clue that while I found the problem this time, I more than likely created a similar problem for someone else. Not because I intentionally neglected something but because I let myself build bad habits and haven't made doing it the right way a priority.

There are a lot of things that I haven't made priorities in my life as I should have. I can't help but notice the irony in that too because my public safety and emergency management training is based on being able to prioritize and I do that exceedingly well. But the priorities in my life, absent of emergencies, I have handled poorly. I might ramble on about the unfairness of choices you make at 15 affecting you when you are 50, or how if someone had been paying attention to me, I might have learned to make some better choices, but what good would it do?

This also makes me think of John McCain's pick for vice president, Sarah Palin. Here is a woman whose daughter's choices at 17 may have an effect on her mother's political career. Conservative opponents will argue that she must not be a good mom and role model because her daughter is pregnant. Liberals will say "This is what you get when you only teach abstinence, she wouldn't be pregnant if she had been taught about birth control." And there will be a smattering of people in the middle with opinions as well. Pro-lifers will say they are doing the right thing for her to keep the baby. Pro-choicers will say it is ridiculous to be happy about a teenage pregnancy.

Me? Anyone who has parented a non-compliant child knows just how non-compliant even 'good' teenagers can be. My oldest ran off and was living with a man much older than she. My youngest shaved her head and went around town looking like a medieval torture device. I took both of the girls in to raise them after their mom died and I got treated by some as if I deserve sainthood and by others as if the girls behavior was a result of my being a religious fanatic. My kids had it rough. Generally speaking, all teenagers do. Our culture, because of its medicine and nutrition, builds teenagers whose bodies mature faster than they used to. Similarly, they have fewer responsibilities to help the family survive. So we have physical maturity and emotional immaturity coupled with irresponsibility running around in the same bodies. It's a wonder that most teenagers survive to adulthood at all.

Yes, Bristol is young. A hundred years ago Bristol's age would not be as much an issue as her marital status. To my way of thinking there is something valuable in the parent/child relationship evidenced by the fact that Bristol told her parents she was pregnant. In Alaska, she didn't have to get parental permission to have an abortion at 17.

Other than that, I don't have too much to say about Sarah Palin. That might change after her speech tonight. I hope to do some reading about her today as well.