TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

We’ve been hoodwinked as the greatest heist our earth has ever witnessed is unfolding before our very eyes and we all have become willing and unwitting participants in it. It is the heist of the human race, and our cunning, accusing, and over-confident enemy – that old snake, the Devil, Satan – has orchestrated his plan to perfection, making us more divided and divisive every day – with each post, opinion, tweet, remark, and news cast. Unfortunately, we are too caught up in the melee to notice.

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. Ephesians 6:12 (TLB)

So as we self-implode “the father of lies” is sitting back, smiling and laughing – since we’re doing all the dirty work for him and he doesn’t have to lift a finger.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NASB)

We’ve been duped and bought into the biggest lie of all: that another person – a person who is different from me – is my enemy. And as our real enemy’s “perfect storm” plays out we destroy and devour one another.

Stay in control of yourselves; stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is stalking around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NTE)

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

We can’t stop living because some of us are dying.

100% of human beings die. The hairs on our heads, as well as the length of our days are numbered.

You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. Job 14:5 (NLT) 

We can do nothing to change the quantity of our days, only the quality of them. We do what we can to preserve life, exercise prudence, and not live recklessly or arrogantly, but still we watch some die who “shouldn’t”, and others who “should” die, yet don’t. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to kill the exact number of us it is destined to kill – not one more, not one less. Tens of thousands of us die each and every day from a variety of causes – people of every age, size, shape, and color – but we have never “shut down” the world because of this.

We haven’t stopped driving though some of us die in traffic wrecks. We haven’t stopped eating though some of us die from choking on food. We haven’t stopped swimming though some of us drown. We haven’t stopped having sex though some of us die from it by heart attack, aids, std’s, and unwanted pregnancies (tens of millions of babies are aborted each year after people have had sex). We haven’t stopped going outside though there are hungry wild animals out there who kill some of us. And what about the millions of us who develop and/or die from cancer each year? We live on, knowing that some of us will get it and some of us won’t, some of it can be treated, some of it can’t.

We know for certain that cigarette smoking leads to lung disease which kills tens of thousands of us every year; We know for certain that pornography is connected to and associated with tens of thousands of crimes, abuses, addictions, and disorders; We know for certain that alcohol destroys and kills tens of thousands of us each year; We know for certain that soda, cheesecake, and donuts contribute to obesity and diabetes which kills tens of thousands of us each year – yet we haven’t banned cigarettes, pornography, alcohol, or sweets. So, what is this sudden concern right now for the safety and well-being of human life and “shutting down” the world in which we live? (According to the Associated Press, 80,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 season; as of this writing there are roughly 40,000 worldwide and 4,000 U.S. deaths due to coronavirus COVID-19).

We can’t stop living because some of us our dying.

People live; People die. We call this life. Death has always been here with us. No one dies too soon, no one dies too late – we all die right on time – our time.

This is not a time to live in panic and fear, but to stand together, under GOD, in faith. We must carry on and continue to live in common unity – to work, play, attend school, shop, celebrate, mourn, and worship GOD – and everything else human life entails. We should take advantage of this unique opportunity to re-examine our lives, reset our values, and reform our systems of government, healthcare, business, education, entertainment, religion, etc…

But we shouldn’t return to “business as usual” either. We have just learned that we can live without a lot of things – things that just a few weeks ago we would have never dreamed we could forego. Things that were a part of our every day, every week rhythms and routines. Yet in such a short period of time we have adjusted, adapted, and changed. We have also learned that the Church is not a building, that being able to go to work and school is a blessing, and that we miss each other – even those frustrating, annoying, irritating people we used to interact with every day.

We need to live better and smarter. We need to live more simple, humble, selfless lives. Yes, we should be vigilant to wash our hands, fold them in prayer, and use them to help and serve those around us. While we’re at it, how about incorporating a little common sense into the way we live, since it has been replaced by too much non-sense. A great deal of life is a matter of being disciplined and responsible on a daily basis – doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, each and every time (we find what is right by reading the right book, The BIBLE).

We can’t stop living because some of us our dying.

Physical life ends in physical death – this is a certain, given fact. But we are both physical and spiritual beings. Spiritual life is eternal – it is spent in perfect relationship with GOD and His people, or in absolute isolation alone forever. Yes, death is certain, but so is life.

He who has the Son [by accepting Him as Lord and Savior] has the life [that is eternal]; he who does not have the Son of God [by personal faith] does not have the life. 1 John 5:12 (AMP)

I am certain, as I hope we all are, of this“All my days GOD has been faithful; All my days GOD has been so, so good; With every breath that I am able, I will speak of the goodness of GOD.” (Goodness of GOD, Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson, with a few grammatical liberties taken)

 

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

HOW LOW WILL A SPECIES GO?

We humans have gone mad – “angry” mad and “crazy” mad. We may possess the highest intellect of all species, but we behave at the lowest, weakest, and most immature levels in fulfilling the basic purpose of our existence:

Let the conclusion of all of these thoughts be heard: Fear God and obey his commandments, for this is what it means to be human.    Ecclesiastes 12:13

We are human, but we seem determined to dehumanize one another. We exercise our intellect and innovation to use and abuse one another in horrific ways. We tend to evaluate everyone we encounter and decide who is above us, who is below us, and who is with us; who is for us and who is against us; who are friends and who are foes.

We all do this. But why? What drives us to devalue and dehumanize one another?

What does one group (or one person) gain in tearing down another group (or another person)? Where do these deplorable acts and despicable intentions come from?

All the things the world can offer to you—the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority—do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world.  1 John 2:16

When other creatures do cruelty to each other it is mostly a matter of survival, but not so with us – we humans do cruelty out of spite, and as a way of gaining some measure of significance.

Where does such hate originate?

Why do our differences produce such fear? Why do our differences provoke such animosity? Why do our differences promote such violence?

Our differences should not divide us, but further develop us. When we encounter other humans – people who are similar, but not the same as us – they provide us with opportunities to grow – to consider fresh approaches, to create new solutions, to combine shared visions.

At the crux of this issue, is whether our differences generate a reaction of fear or a response of love within us.

Fear divides, Love unites; Fear creates tensions, Love calms tensions; Fear looks for an advantage, Love looks for common ground; Fear points fingers, Love shakes hands; Fear incites fights, Love invites forgiveness.

As human beings, we are created with a capacity to have “free will.” Yet our wills are not free – as clearly evidenced by the ways in which we demean and devour, maim and manipulate our fellow members; in how we compare ourselves to others, compete against others, and covet what others have.

We have no true degree of “free will” until our wills have been freed – freed by GOD and His true light, His unconditional love, and His eternal life – available by His generous grace, through faith in the death and resurrection of His glorious Son, Jesus Christ.

The problems we are dealing with today are not political matters, but personal ones. Governments cannot dictate decency. The culprits are hardened hearts and haughty minds. And until we are touched by the only supreme and superior One – cleansed in Jesus’ redeeming blood and transformed in the renewing power of the Holy Spirit – our wills are held captive in fear fear that has us chained and locked in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifefear which counteracts our capacity to love those of our species who are like us, but not the same as us.

There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love.  1 John 4:18

May our species advance to higher, not lower, levels of existence. May we humans of all countries, colors, creeds, and convictions, learn how to accept and appreciate our differences, and live together in the perfect love of Jesus – a love that cancels, corrects, and casts out all fear.

A SIN PROBLEM WITH A JESUS SOLUTION

All in all, after everything has been examined and argued, dissected and debated – whether in matters of war and peace, religion and politics, gender and race, crime and justice, health and education, economy and environment, marriage and family, pride and prejudice, gossip and greed, arrogance and ignorance – it all boils down to this one thing: we have a sin problem with a JESUS solution. So until we get this right, and until He returns to make everything right again, we will continue to live in this world of hurt.

“WE DESERVE BETTER”

Just a thought…is it too much to ask that we replace the political nonsense we are in the midst of with some good old plain common sense? Our political process has become a media circus and is an embarrassment to our nation. How much more of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump can we stomach?

How about “we the people” of the United States of America begin a new “WE DESERVE BETTER” campaign, and refuse to step into the election booths until we have a few truly viable candidates – people who are actually in touch with real life, and who can honestly identify with the daily concerns, challenges, and needs “we the people” face.

Yet, on the other hand, maybe these candidates are exactly what we deserve, since we have denied, mocked, and left our Creator GOD – our source of provision and protection – and assumed responsibility for our own welfare and taken credit for our own success. Maybe Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump do represent who we are and what we have become?

Personally, I believe WE DESERVE BETTER. I expect better and want better for my children and grandchildren, my friends and neighbors, all my fellow citizens, and also for myself.

SHAMEFUL CHARACTER

“In all tests of character, when two viewpoints are pitted against one another, in the final analysis the thing that will strike you the most, is not who was right or wrong, strong or weak, wise or foolish…. but who would go to the greatest lengths in considering the other’s perspective.” ― Mike Dooley

I find the current political process to be disheartening. The presidential candidates treatment of one another (in both parties) is shameful – a continual barrage of belittling, degrading, and insulting each other. When children act this way at home or school they are immediately disciplined; when employees exhibit such conduct in the workplace they are written up or terminated; and when this type of behavior is demonstrated out in the community people are often ticketed or arrested.

So why do we put up with this when it comes to politics? Why is some of the worst behavior tolerated by those who are supposed to be our most esteemed public servants? And why do we the people accept this, applaud this, and endorse this week after week as it is aired over national television.

This is absolutely shameful and so is our approval of it. Shouldn’t the current and upcoming President of the United States, as well as every other public servant at the federal, state, and local levels, represent the best of character and attest to the highest virtues of humanity? Yet, where is compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience being displayed by these candidates? Where is common courtesy? Where is the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable? Instead, we have name-calling, mud-slinging, and party-bashing. A shameful demonstration of character, yet nobody seems to care.

Don’t all of us have better things to do, and don’t these candidates have jobs to attend to? Just think if all of the money, time, effort, energy, and hot air being spent on campaigning (and the reporting of it) were used to help hurting people in our nation and around the world? Certainly a great deal of good would be done, rather than this nonsense.

 

 

BETTER GENERATIONS

In 1998 Tom Brokaw released a book titled The Greatest Generation, that tells us about the generation of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, and then fought in and/or contributed from the home front, in World War II. Though I haven’t yet read this book, I agree with Mr. Brokaw that this was (and is) a great generation which accomplished much. What stands out most to me is at the core of who these men and women were (and still are for those living today) was a true willingness to make sacrifices and go without, to share and direct resources where they were most needed, and to voluntarily serve one’s country and community for the greater good of all. Sacrifice, sharing, and service – three characteristics best expressed in the life of Jesus Christ.

But, by enduring so much through an era of depression and then war, these men and women from The Greatest Generation didn’t do the rest of us any favors in one aspect – for they vowed that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” – and this declaration, I believe, is where many of our problems today stem from. Though it sounds wonderful in theory, the results have been disastrous, because “better” has erroneously equated to mean “easier,” and as we now see, “easier” doesn’t turn out “better”. For in wanting their children and grandchildren “to have it better than I did,” each succeeding generation has had more and more given to it, with less and less expected from it. Thus, every subsequent generation has received a lesser degree of parenting as well.

Here are four different versions of two verses from The Bible on the topic of parenting:

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 (King James Version)

Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.  Proverbs 22:6 (Good News Translation)

 Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.  Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)

 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.  Proverbs 22:6 (New Living Translation)

 

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.  Proverbs 13:24 (King James Version)

 Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to correct them.  Proverbs 13:24 (New International Reader’s Version)

 If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don’t love them, you won’t correct them.  Proverbs 13:24 (Common English Version)

 A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.  Proverbs 13:24 (The Message)

 

Effective parenting requires training, teaching, pointing, and directing; it also includes lots of correction through loving discipline. Unfortunately, when parents decide that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” it often ends up like this:

Not saying “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop It”, “Knock It Off”, “Quit That”, “Cut It Out”, “Wait”, etc…

Giving in to all wants (which soon turn into demands);

Rewarding all “participants” as well as not keeping score to determine the winners and losers in anything;

Excusing inappropriate behavior;

Ignoring a lack of manners;

Foregoing common social courtesies.

 

As Proverbs 30:15 (The Message) states:

A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Three things are never satisfied, no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!”— hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire.

 

Since WWII, we have produced multiple generations of children who cry out “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Thus we have millions of spoiled brats and crybabies in our society who have entered into adulthood and run into roadblocks, because they have never had to wait for or work toward anything in their lives, nor have they developed the ability to think and speak intelligently for themselves. Now, as adults, they are unable to discuss and debate important life issues, so instead they call foul, cry victim, and play the “hate” card. They accuse, attack, and attempt to silence those who disagree with them, and continually jump from bandwagon to bandwagon in their support of popular causes endorsed by celebrities and perceived “social victims.”

Compounding this has been the ever increasing divorce rate over past decades, that is now around fifty percent. Think about it – at least half of all men, women, and children in the United States are products of at least one broken family unit, which carries varying levels of emotional and relational baggage. Parenting is difficult enough in homes which have never experienced a divorce, but after divorce occurs everything becomes more complicated for an infinite number of reasons. This isn’t to place blame, just to state the facts of a situation that has greatly contributed to our current state of affairs, as divorce is usually accompanied by things like guilt, fear, confusion, misunderstanding, struggle, bitterness, pain, etc…, and often leads parents to give more and expect less from their children.

Of course, at the root of this is our broken human nature. The more we have handed to us, the less we appreciate it, the less we care about it, and less gratitude we show for it. Getting something for nothing breeds contempt. It produces disrespect for ourselves, as well as for those who give us what we know we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. Deep inside we realize there is something wrong in not having any of our own “skin in the game”, but we are too under-developed and undisciplined to do anything about it.

Having it “better” (easier) has cut short the critical character-building required to produce offspring who are as honest, hardworking, committed, disciplined, and responsible as those from The Greatest Generation were (and are). By having it “better” (easier), most of us have no clear concept of what sacrifice, sharing, and service even mean.

Today, so much of American culture is centered around “self” – self-expression, self-indulgence, self-promotion, self-satisfaction – it’s all Me, Myself, and I (along with my Homies, of course). But what made The Greatest Generation so great was that for a brief period in our history, the notion of “self” was removed, because the survival of our nation demanded it to be that way. Life became an all-encompassing matter of country and community with everyone making sacrifices, sharing resources, and serving in whatever way they could.

How do we get that back? Will it require another depression or recession? Will it take another world war to unite us again? I hope not, but with so much self-interest, self-love, and attention seeking taking place, it will take something significant to wake us up, to shake us up. Perhaps this is why GOD allows us to wallow around in our sin sometimes; why we endure suffering, and experience pain. We need to get to a place where we can actually understand what true mercy, grace, and love really are. Even though The Greatest Generation may never be duplicated, we can certainly turn out Better Generations in our future if we start teaching, training, correcting, and disciplining our children and grandchildren in ways that create greatness, since we are living proof of what doesn’t,  since “easier” hasn’t turned out “better”.

REFUGEES

Just to confirm…

All who support welcoming the Syrian refugees into our states at this time…these people are coming here with nothing other than the clothes on their backs and will need everything to be provided to them. They will especially be in need of a place to live, food to eat, beds, showers, jobs, etc…

Thus, we can count on you to open your homes to all of these folks and take care of their needs, right? Just as you have done for the thousands of homeless veterans and others begging on your city streets, sleeping on your park benches, living under your highway overpasses, right? Just as you have taken in boys and girls from the thousands who are currently waiting in the foster care system, right? Just as you have adopted orphans from the thousands who have no parents to provide for them, right? Just as you help the thousands of widows and widowers in your neighborhoods who are alone, lonely, and unable to properly take care of themselves and their yards and homes, right?

We can count on you, right?

I personally have done and do none of these things, because I am too stinking selfish. My guess is, most of you are too.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.  James 1:27 (The Message)

ENTER JESUS…

Life was never supposed to be so hard…full of fears and failures, diseases and disasters, pains and pressures, sorrows and sufferings, worries and wars. Life was never intended to end in death either. But since “The Fall” in Eden, these things have become part of our everyday experiences. This is the way it works with sin. Truth is exchanged for lies, as the devil, the father of lies and chief thief, wrecks havoc upon the earth. Unfortunately, we humans are all too eager to aid and abet him in his dirty deeds.

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Perhaps you disagree. Maybe you have been able to “dodge the bullet” so far, and your life has been pretty easy going. But what about those in your extended family? What about your friends? What about your neighbors and co-workers? What about your classmates? What about those people in other counties, other countries, other continents? Life is hard; really, really hard for an awful lot of people. It’s a world of hurt, and all these hurting people need saving from their situations and circumstances, from their brokenness and rebellion, and whether you believe it or not, so do you and me. And as for me, it always seems that the hardest thing I have faced, is the stuff I am dealing with right now.

Enter Jesus…

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by Me.’”  Matthew 11:4-6

Jesus came upon the scene and drastic changes began to occur. Even though miracles still happen every day, we also know that Jesus doesn’t always provide physical healing, and He doesn’t always fix our problems. Instead, He walks beside us through our hard times, He shoulders our sorrows, He carries our burdens, He directs our path.

Enter Jesus…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Jesus came and brought GOOD NEWS. Jesus came to bring life back to its original condition. Jesus came to save us from sin, death, and the devil. He told us where to find salvation, how to receive salvation, and what to do in order to flourish in salvation.

Enter Jesus… 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  John 11:25

Jesus came to help. With Jesus, you and I receive forgiveness for yesterday, courage and strength for today, hope for tomorrow. Rather than life ending in death, Jesus made a way for us to transition into bigger and better life – full, abundant life.

Enter Jesus…and hard life becomes whole life.

RELIGION & POLITICS

It’s pretty easy to understand why many people refuse to talk about religion and politics. The Church has been divided for centuries with every denomination (and congregation) pushing its own definition (in both word and deed) of what it means to be Christian. Now we have a horde of Republican candidates campaigning for the Presidency with each giving his/her own take on what it means to be conservative.

We humans sure have a way of complicating simple matters.