“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.

Advertisements

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”.

TIME FOR AN UPGRADE

How blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,    Psalm 33:12a

Who are we and what are we all about? Can anyone answer this with even a smidgen of confidence?

We used to know. Not anymore.

We used to share a united purpose birthed from a united passion. Not anymore. Our currency still says “In GOD We Trust” and our Pledge of Allegiance still states we are “one nation under GOD” yet His Word is mocked and His ways ignored by most of our citizens.

We used to adhere to a few critical, common, core values of faith, freedom, and fairness which provided the foundation for our lives and relationships. Not anymore.

We used to be a nation where men are men, and women are women. Not anymore.

We used to expect quality products and services delivered by expert craftsmen and professionals. Not anymore.

We used to be a country where character, courtesy, modesty, and manners mattered. Not anymore.

Our nation, the United States of America, no longer has an identity by which she is known, and thus, no longer has any measure of unity amongst her inhabitants.

Today we are a mishmash of “ism’s”, ideologies, agendas, and lifestyles that are incompatible with one another and have produced our current state of division, confusion, and conflict.

Today in our country everything is a disposable commodity – homes, automobiles, appliances, babies, marriages, and families.

Today we live in a society that demands instant gratification. There is no longer any waiting for or working toward obtaining things, rather, everything is expected right now! Advertisements bombard us each day, telling us to purchase things we really don’t need in order to impress people we will never meet.

Today we are a nation of takers and talkers with an economy driven by consuming whatever we can get our hands and lips on; coveting what everyone else has that we don’t; and then communicating all of this via some form of media to the rest of the world.

Today we are a rude, arrogant, inpatient, self-absorbed population, living in an era of mediocrity and compromise, with everything being quick, convenient, and cheap, which also means most things are faux and inferior.

Today we live in a land of plastic, pretend, and over-portioned – money, body parts, food, etc… Personas and pictures are “doctored” in order to present and imply false images. Very little is real anymore, and somehow we are okay with this?

Today we import huge amounts of shoddy merchandise (junk) from other places around the world that is produced by abused and neglected (sweat shop) labor forces. Why?

All in all, we are a weakening and darkening nation and we will eventually crash if we continue as we are. History describes how all other dominant civilizations have fallen and so will ours – for we are not an exception to the rule. We have sold our integrity – trading our once GOD-fearing, adventurous, risk-taking, hard-working, no-quitting, united spirit for nothing more than a façade that attempts to hide our vast debt, deceit, and depravity. This should make it obvious to us that all ideologies and agendas are not equal. Some are neither good nor beneficial to our nation nor any other. All roads, religions, and regimes do not lead the same good, right, true, and healthy place. We must have an irrefutable, unshakable starting point – a baseline from which to build and grow from.

So return to your God. Show kindness and do what is fair, and wait for your God all the time.   Hosea 12:6

The inability for our government to agree on anything is a direct reflection upon who we are and what we are – we no longer know. We are in the midst of a total system failure and in extreme need of an upgrade in order to regain our identity. We need to turn back – to reform our thinking and align ourselves with GOD. We need to re-install Biblical truth into our nation and then reboot our lives upon it; for we have picked up a number of viruses which currently impair our senses and keep us distracted by insignificant, secondary matters. We have lost our way.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.   John 14:6

JESUS is the way.  JESUS is the truth.  JESUS is the life.

Instead of arguing over this, we need to accept it – trust it, teach it, and move forward. Who in their right mind can look at the happenings throughout the world and within our nation and deny the fact that we desperately need saving – that we absolutely need a Savior? We need to fill our minds with the truth found in GOD’s Word, as nothing else has the power to restore us.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.   Luke 2:11

No greater identity exists than what is found in Almighty GOD through His Christ. If our nation is to endure, our identity and unity must be found in the Savior JESUS. May our nation unite, one and all, in Him.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

IN THE KNOW

Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:

How to deal with real life situations?

How to interact with difficult people?

How to handle challenging circumstances?

How to respond when unexpected events occur?

Here’s where people “in the know” look:

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?

Or know when we play the fool?

Psalm 19:6-12

 

Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?

Here’s where people “in the know” turn:

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 3:16-17

People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:

 …because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.

So here are a couple questions:

Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?

WONDERS & WOWS

I’m at that age where I get to enjoy the blessings of grandchildren. This has helped me notice again how life is full of wonders and wows. Everything is new, special, and fun for children. This past week, my 6 month old grandson, Charlie, found out about the wonders of Cheerios. He looked them over, picked them up with his tiny fingers, and attempted to get them into his mouth to experience their texture and taste. WOW!  A couple months ago, I assisted my 5 year old grandson, Brady, in the wonder of riding a bicycle without training wheels. The look on his face when he knew he had mastered this was priceless. WOW!

Here are a few more wonders and wows of childhood you may remember: building a sand castle, catching a firefly, sucking an ice cube, hearing a cricket, picking a bouquet of dandelions, making a snow angel, losing a tooth, roasting a marshmallow, chasing a butterfly.

While wonders and wows seem especially true for little ones, they are present throughout our lives. There is still much to wow us and make us wonder, even as we grow up and move through adolescence and adulthood. Do you ever wonder now? Do you ever wonder enough to be wowed?

Take a good look at God’s wonders—they’ll take your breath away.  Psalm 66:5

Do you ever wonder about GOD and His creation? Things like a volcano, a coral reef, a galaxy? Do you ever wonder about the uniqueness’s of a walking stick, a sea horse, a humming bird, a giraffe, a blue whale? How about a rainbow, a snowflake, a shooting star, the morning dew, the ocean tides? Have you ever wondered about a spider’s web, a chicken’s egg, a bee hive? WOW!

Do you ever wonder how GOD gave us human beings the capacity, the intellect, and the ambition to imagine, invent, engineer, build, and manufacture? Things like the Panama Canal, the Great Pyramids, the Mackinaw Bridge, the Channel Tunnel, and Hoover Dam? Do you ever wonder how the power of hundreds of horses is harnessed into automobiles that everyday take us everywhere we want to go? How huge, heavy airplanes are able to fly through the air at unimaginable speeds and altitudes? How ships the size of a Midwestern town can float across the ocean? How we can communicate with people all over the world on devices that have no wires attached to them? WOW!

Wonders and Wows are all around, but most of us just don’t take the time to notice them. We’re too busy, too much in a hurry, too distracted, too dull. Instead of wonders and wows, our lives consist more of worries and woes. We can choose otherwise, though. And here is perhaps the greatest wonder ever:

 For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. 1 Peter 3:18a

WOW!  

TOO GOOD FOR JESUS

Too good for Jesus – this sounds strange doesn’t it? But isn’t this the way it is with some people? A few posts back I wrote about how The Bible separates people into two main categories: GOD-fearers and fools. One of the places this is referenced is Proverbs 1:7  which reads:

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

GOD-fearers deliberately choose to acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth, they attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD, admit dependence upon GOD, accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters, and adore GOD by worshipping, thanking, and praising Him. Fools deliberately refuse to do these things. So all of us are either GOD-fearers or fools, right?

In addition, there are two basic things that keep people away from Jesus, one is ignorance, the other is arrogance. Fools then, come in two varieties – ignorant fools and arrogant fools. Now before someone gets their underpants knotted up, and thinks this is too insensitive, allow me to present a bit of personal disclosure. I used to be a fool of both types. First, I lived as an ignorant fool for many years before I investigated Jesus for myself. After that, I became an arrogant fool by allowing religion to justify my life rather than Jesus. I’m happy to say I am no longer a fool, but I am a first-degree jerk and jackass at times, since I am still very hard-hearted and hard-headed (just ask my wife). Thankfully, GOD grants many opportunities to help me develop, mature, and get over myself. I read a good book about Jerks a couple years ago titled Don’t Let Jerks Get The Best Of You, by Dr. Paul Meier, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993. It’s a good read for anyone who is interested.

Now back to the topic of fools. Here is something else that is found in Scripture:

Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself. Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head.  Proverbs 26:4-5

This sounds like a contradiction at first, but it isn’t, for the fact of the matter is ignorant fools and arrogant fools need to be handled in different ways. So it’s important to know the fool you are dealing with. Ignorant fools don’t deserve a response since they are clueless in what they are talking about, and if you attempt to enlighten them you will look just as ignorant as they are. On the other hand, arrogant fools deserve a response – a response that is in clear, plain terms that exposes their silliness and keeps them from getting even more full of themselves.

Ignorance can only be used as an excuse until information is presented. Once the GOOD NEWS message of Jesus is shared ignorance instantly changes into arrogance if it not accepted. Arrogant people struggled with Jesus since they thought they were already good – too good for anything He had to offer. They were unwilling to admit they were diseased and broken with sin, and they were infuriated that He would even suggest such a thing about them.

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend My time with those who think they are already good enough.”  Luke 5:31-32

Not much has changed. Today, arrogance (pride) is probably the greatest obstacle to Jesus as many people think they are already good enough. What a foolish notion. But this is the way arrogance operates – it lives, works, and plays in the arena of comparison. Arrogance is quite aware of everyone else’s deficiencies, but disinclined to consider its own – the very things Jesus came to save people from. And here’s the irony of it all, real fools actually think GOD and GOD-fearers are the fools:

 For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power.      1 Corinthians 1:18

Nothing but foolish arrogance resists Jesus, rejects His message, and refuses His gift of salvation. Only arrogant fools believe they don’t need saving – that they are too good for Jesus.

Do they really believe they are already perfect? They must. What else could keep people from believing how someone else (Jesus) has already taken their punishment and paid their debt to make them free and clear, as well as clean and new? But still they say, “No Thanks, Jesus, I’ll take what I deserve.”

 Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool hell-bent on folly.                                         Proverbs 17:12

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.