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.

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Pursuing happiness may be one of our inalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence, but is it really a worthwhile pursuit? How many people are truly happy? We have all heard others say: “If it makes her happy,” and “He deserves to be happy,” or “Do whatever makes you happy.”

Are you happy? Am I happy? What makes us think we are even supposed to be happy?

Happiness is subjective, as well as a shifting target. One day it’s here, the next day it’s there. It fluctuates like the wind, flows in and out like the tide, then flees the second problems arise. Happiness swells from a selfish, rather than a selfless perspective, and what makes you and me happy today won’t make us happy tomorrow.

Happiness is elusive until it has this or does that…then it changes again.

Happiness desires prime rib and lobster until it has it;

Happiness wants a Manhattan penthouse, a beach-front cottage, or cabin in the mountains until it has it;

Happiness longs for a Lexus until it has it;

Happiness is often found waiting for the weekend or retirement until they arrive.

But something newer, nicer, bigger, and brighter will appear and then we will want that instead, because happiness lives in the immediate and lasts only until it sees the next thing. Likewise, happiness only stays around when our happenings are kind to us, once our happenings get nasty, it is nowhere to be found.

 

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

Godliness with contentment pursues the eternal and welcomes the present. It doesn’t dart when difficulties come, but intentionally moves god-ward, on a steady, lifelong quest seeking to know GOD and be known by GOD. Godliness with contentment tries to carry a Christ-like attitude and produce long-term Spiritual fruit – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) – no matter what happens to be happening to us. Nobody does this perfect, or even close to it, but godliness with contentment embraces all of life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – causing an increasing level of satisfaction and significance.

For godliness with contentment is okay with what it has and where it is…

Godliness with contentment can enjoy a cup of soup and crust of bread;

Godliness with contentment can live very well in a tar-paper shack, a studio apartment, or a mud hut on the Serengeti;

Godliness with contentment likes the old Buick LeSabre just fine;

Godliness with contentment doesn’t expect to retire, but to transition into its next assignment.

While happiness is about right now and what’s next, godliness with contentment makes the most of today while preparing for tomorrow. It is both responsible in this life and ready for endless life, allowing for peace and joy through it all.

 

Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!  Psalm 144:15

POLITICALLY CORRECT

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” – George Orwell

Can anything “political” be considered correct? Supposedly, politically correct speech attempts to be nice, neutral, and non-offensive, but in reality, this is an impossibility. Just take a look at Jesus. He was the most caring, compassionate, and helpful person who ever walked and talked, and certain people still hated Him enough to beat Him ruthlessly, mock Him relentlessly, and then murder Him on a Roman cross. No, people are not neutral over important or even unimportant issues. People have real opinions and it is imperative to know what they are. So instead of trying to be politically correct, how about this: 

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,   Ephesians 4:15 

Political correctness attempts to conceal the truth and coerce its listeners. It is interested in giving an image, gaining supporters, and getting votes. In doing this, political correctness does not present a neutral position, but a neutered one. It is both impotent and irrelevant since it won’t commit to anything. Sure, there are times when the truth can hurt, but as Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho said: “Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.” 

Speaking the truth in love focuses on enhancing trust, edifying relationships, and encouraging dialog. It places a priority upon protecting the character of others, not silencing the opposition. Speaking the truth in love emphasizes communicating in a way that is not boastful, proud, nor rude, and it is also quite simple to do.

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”  Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe

So how about we put an end to all this patronizing and placating one another with political correctness – which isn’t correct at all – and commit to doing as Great Grandpa reminded us to do, “Always speak the truth but don’t always speak.”

 

OPINIONS MATTER

There is a barrage of opinions being aired everyday about everything and this is good. Everyone is entitled to both have and to voice their own opinion about the various issues, items, and happenings going on, and everybody’s opinion is a valid one. Some opinions are right, some are wrong, and some are totally irrelevant, but still, opinions do matter. Differing opinions are not a problem, people should have different opinions about various matters because we are different – we have different needs, we have had different upbringings and experiences, and we view the world in different ways. Differing opinions drive people to talk, to test, and to try new approaches.

Yet few things in life are worse than having an opinion without knowing why you have it.

Problems arise from people without their own opinions who attempt to silence those opinions which oppose theirs. These people can provide no reason of their own for supporting the opinions they have adopted because their opinions belong to somebody else, i.e., they have an opinion without knowing why they have it.

Thus, these people are threatened because they know they cannot accurately explain or defend their opinion, since they have never really thought it through, so they resort to using force, generating fear, employing terror, and/or playing the role of the victim to accuse those who differ in opinion as being haters.

Really? Because I have a different opinion about a matter means that I hate? How and why can I hate people I don’t even know?

GOD-FEARERS & FOOLS

The wisest and richest human being who ever walked this earth, King Solomon of Israel, said these things:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.   Ecclesiastes 12:13

King Solomon’s father, King David, who is known as “a man after GOD’s own heart” and also a great leader and warrior, said this:

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” They sin and commit evil deeds; none of them does what is right.   Psalm 14:1

Thus, human beings who inhabit our planet can be broken down into pretty simple groups: We have males and females, and we have GOD-Fearers and Fools. The differences between males and females used to be as obvious and basic as anything can ever be, but even now that is being dissected, debated, and determined by high courts and science laboratories. So this post will focus on the main differences between GOD-Fearers and Fools:

  • GOD-Fearers acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth. They proclaim that He is the One, True, Triune GOD who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of life.
  • Fools make up a god of their own by forming an image, fabricating a notion, or formulating a scheme within their own imagination.
  • GOD-Fearers attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD.
  • Fools give credit to Mother Nature, Father Time, Lady Luck, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – just to name a few.
  • GOD-Fearers admit dependence upon GOD, openly surrender control to Him, and yield their free will to His will.
  • Fools boast of their independence, strive for power, and force their will upon others.
  • GOD-Fearers accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters – the good, bad, and ugly, as well as life and death. They allow and invite GOD to work through all things for their good and His glory whether or not they agree with or understand why.
  • Fools panic, complain, and attempt to control and manipulate situations and circumstances in order to “fix” things and “avoid” all pain and strain, so they forfeit their opportunities to grow and develop through such happenings.
  • GOD-Fearers worship GOD. They give Him thanks and praise for who He is and for what He does.
  • Fools worship and praise the things GOD created – nature; people who are popular, powerful, and peculiar; and themselves.

So what group are you in – GOD-Fearers or Fools?

COURAGE, COWARDNESS, OR CRAZY?

There is a lot being said these days in respect to courage. Bruce Jennder, or, I guess it’s now officially, Caitlyn, is being praised and promoted by many media and special agenda groups as being courageous. But is this really what courage is? When did courage become a matter of constructing oneself to the feelings he/she might be having in a given moment, or even over a longer period of months or years?

Feelings certainly play an important role in our lives, for they give us insight into where we currently are physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually; but when feelings are allowed to take control, and become the driving force in our lives, the result is usually something closer to cowardness or craziness, certainly not courage.

For example:

Whenever someone says: “I feel _________” (fill in the blank).

The next question that should be asked is “Why?”

“Why do I feel this way right now?”

“Why do I feel ______ (fill in the blank) about this or that?”

“Why do I feel ______ (fill in the blank) about him or her?”

“Why do I feel______ (fill in the blank) about myself?”

Generally speaking, our thoughts produce our feelings which result in our behaviors. Our feelings are always legitimate, because they are what they are for whatever reason, and we certainly have the right to feel what we feel when we feel it.

Our feelings are neither right nor wrong, but the critical issue is what we do with the feelings we feel? It is important to be aware of them, to explore them, and to understand them; yet to go ahead and act on our feelings can be downright crazy, since this can cause all kinds of problems for us. Plus, our feelings are constantly changing.

Feelings come and feelings go. And our feelings are determined by so many factors like: who we are, what we are thinking about, where we are at, who we are with, what we are doing, what we want, what we need, etc…

Also, our feelings often work through our senses as the things we are seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting can all have an influence on what we feel.

Problems arise when people fixate on their feelings and allow them to control their thoughts and behaviors, without first questioning the feelings in a logical, reasonable, common sense approach. For unchecked feelings can give a person an inaccurate assessment of a situation. Here’s how this can work in some people:

When a person’s true or perceived emotional/relational needs are not being met in an adequate way by the significant people in his/her life, it can generate feelings of insecurity and inferiority, which then may lead the person into thinking he/she is unappreciated, unrecognized, unloved, and unwanted (and feeling these things too). So instead of questioning the feelings and communicating them to others (which would be the courageous thing to do), the person caves in to the feelings out of cowardness and often does something totally crazy.

Where can one turn when there is conflict and confusion between our thoughts and feelings? Where can we find a point of reference – a true north, an accurate measure, a proper gage?

The Word of GOD, The Bible. This timeless, best-selling book contains the standard operating procedures for human life, including all the basic instructions for making sense of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is GOD-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us.     2 Timothy 3:15-17 (The Message)

LIFE IN PRISON

Our lives are full of what we call “oxymorons” – figures of speech in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side. Consider these for instance: “free speech”  “same-sex marriage”  “life in prison.”

Now think about that last one for a moment, “life in prison.” If a crime warrants “life” doesn’t it seem strange that it results in a unending prison sentence? Our nation spends billions of dollars annually to house criminals who will never again step foot in or contribute to society in any way, shape, or form. Many of these criminals continually insult, endanger, abuse, and injure prison guards, staff, and other inmates. Is this absolute insanity, or what?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to re-think the way criminals are sentenced and punished in our country. The last public hanging in the United States took place on August 14, 1936, as Rainey Bethea was placed in the gallows in Owensboro, Kentucky for robbing, raping and murdering Lischia Edwards, a 70 year old woman. Oh my! Yes, I can already see the aghast faces and hear the livid outcries. Hanging? Think this through, before you blow a gasket. Hanging is easy, cheap, and done in an instant, plus it doesn’t leave any mess behind either. And also, “life in prison” is not life. It is far more civil and more humane to give a person their quick, due punishment, even capital punishment, than it is to ban them from society and put them in a cage for the rest of their days on earth.

The theory behind punishment is to teach and correct proper behavior, while correcting and deterring improper behavior. Clearly, “prison” is doing very little to correct and deter improper behavior in our land these days. Our prisons are overflowing, and a great many who are housed in them are repeat offenders. Our current “correctional” system is ineffective, so maybe it is time to return to the basics again. Public execution (hangings) was an effective way to correct and deter bad behavior. “Life is prison” is not. “Life in prison” provides food, clothes, and shelter; entertainment, exercise, and education – and by the reports we hear in the news – a whole lot more. It is unfathomable and unconscionable to think that somehow, prisoners have regular access to illegal drugs, elicit sex, and smuggled in weapons. It is inexcusable to hear  about the amount of violence taking place inside prison walls. Why is such behavior tolerated? Aren’t prisoners locked up as our way to put an end to such behaviors? Prisons should not be violent places as prisoners should be in the process of reforming and preparing to return to society. Unruly and uncooperative prisoners should face the same consequences as those who receive “life sentences” – public execution by hanging, for if a criminal won’t behave in prison, they will never behave in society either.

When the general public (men, women, and children) is given the opportunity to see and experience (up close and personal) the formal and final consequences of specific unacceptable behaviors, such behaviors will soon diminish. Locking a person in a cage for life is far less humane than hanging – most people won’t even put their pets in cages today, and zoos don’t even do this very much anymore. And this has little to do with matters of forgiveness, compassion, or human rights. Any and all of us can fully forgive another who has wronged us or our loved ones, yet this has no bearings upon, nor excuses, the punishment which the crime requires – as it is the government’s right and duty to enforce the consequences it deems appropriate.

As far as compassion goes, should the main emphasis of our compassion be placed upon the few who take from and cause fear, pain, and destruction in our society, or to the many who daily attempt to contribute to and make this country a better place to live? Is it really compassionate to lock a person in a cage for the rest of his/her life? Or, is it more compassionate to give a person what his/her crime deserves and get it over with fairly and quickly? What should matter most is what is best to the whole of society, not to the harmers of society. As has been said over the years: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few;” and “the sacrifice of a few for the benefit of many.”

Finally, in regards to human rights. People who engage in any of the behaviors which result in “life sentences” should have their rights relinquished, as they have proved they are a danger to society. We humans have no greater rights than to obey what GOD expects from us in life:

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what GOD is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love,

and don’t take yourself too seriously – take GOD seriously.  

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

Public execution (hanging) is not unjust. A “life” sentence should result in a “life” punishment – that is justice. “Mercy” is not getting what we deserve. Should the most mercy be shown to society or to our criminals? Is it fair, just, and merciful for you and I to “house” people for “life” – which often equates to many decades and billions of tax-payer dollars? This sounds more like a punishment to us than a punishment to the criminals. And a great many of these “life in prison” criminals would engage in the same behaviors again and again if given the opportunity to do so. Is it fair, just, and merciful to have other criminals, who are in prison for lesser offenses, continually cause daily ruckus inside prison walls – creating fear, making threats, and causing injuries to guards, staff, and other inmates? Who benefits from such insanity as this?

Every person on planet earth has every opportunity “to get right with their Creator” at any moment. And one can experience his/her “come to Jesus moment” while rotting in a prison cell or right before he/she hangs from a rope. Physical death is not the worst thing that happens in our life; all of our bodies are deteriorating and in the process of dying. Living is a whole lot harder than dying is, but people are afraid of dying because they don’t know anything about it, since nobody has ever come back from death to explain it. Anyway, all people live forever spiritually – either in heaven with Jesus, or in hell with the satan. So, the sooner that saints get to heaven, the better it is for them; and the sooner that sinners get to hell, the better it is for us.