Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

I was on facebook this morning and just checking in on my ‘friends’ and seeing what they are up to. Really it was a delay to the inevitable beginning of a Monday at work.  As I was skimming through the latest posts I noticed a lot of the kids from the youth group posting comments about the passage of the health care bill.  Now I can remember being a high school student and voicing my opinions on different topics and I think that is a great way to encourage the excersicing of one’s political rights in this great country.  The thing that concerned me was when some of the posts were getting hateful, and insulting, and just really petty.  And those weren’t just the kids, unfortunately there were several adults that were posting very immature thoughts.

Okay for the record I was not for the health care reform.  Did I contact my appointed representatives, yes.  Did I contact them several times, yes.  Am I scared and disappointed that it passed, yes.  But….. and you knew there had to be one…..I am going to try and show a little maturity.

I work with a lot of kids and for whatever reason many of them look at me as role model, why I have no idea.  But they do.  And because they do I have an obligation to show a little maturity.  Maturity as an American and maturity as a Christian.

As an American I excercised my right when it came time to vote for a president, when it came time to vote for representation on the state and federal level.  However my votes were in the  minority and in some of the cases the majority.  But because my votes were not the consesus does not give me the right to pick apart my leaders, with slander, and hateful comments.  I can not proclaim the great American democratic process then tear it apart when it does give me what I want.  That would be incredibly childish.   This wonderful country gives me the right to vote, to excersie my opinion and beliefs.  But when I don’t get my way I don’t get to throw a temper tantrum.   I even heard stories of people wanting to fly their flags at half mast because they are that disappointed in the vote from yesterday. 

As a Christian I have to remember even more than that in my excersie of democracy.  One is that God did not give me the right to vote, the American democratic system did.  No where does the Bible give me the right to vote and freedom of speech, or anything.  That is a privelege that I have been given by being born in this country where that privelege was secured by the blood of many men and women.  That I have to remember and keep separate.  But the second thing that I have to remember is that the Bible does tell me to respect and obey those who are put into authority over me.  Doesn’t say I have to agree with what they do, or even like what they do, but I do have to respect them as appointed by God. 
So what example do we set for the next generation? Is it one of immaturity or maturity.  When we don’t get our way do we throw temper tantrums and create facebook groups like down with the democrats, or something like that.  I hate to tell you this but we all excercised our given rights as Amercian citizens.  The chips fell down and no matter where you stood on the issue it is done.  It has passed.  Am I scared of what it will mean,  sure.  But even in my worry or fear I will set an example that has faith first and foremost in my God, because He is bigger than any government or bill or law.  And secondly in the faith of the American system. That if something works then we approve it.  And if it doesn’t then we as the people pass laws to change systems that aren’t working. Sound familiar?
Show a little maturity when you demonstrate your views on the new healthcare practices. The next generation of Christians and Americans are watching, and following our lead.

Twenty one year old Shafia and her family were outcasts in their Pakistani village.  They were poor, and many of their Muslim neibhbors scorned them because they followed Jesus Christ.  People called them chura, which means ” lowcaste sweeper” . They were considered the lowest of the low. In Shafia’s village Muslim men harassed Christian girls. Shafia’s brother Rafi publicly confronted them. Months later, he was killed.

The family wanted to prosecute Rafi’s killers, but they needed help.  A man named Masood offered to file the neccessary paperwork for them.  Masood asked Shafia to sign some papers for the case. but later, she discov ered it was a marriage certificate. Masood bragged the two were now married, and Shafia enrage Masood by disputing the marriage.

On Sept. 25, 2007, Masood kidnapped Shafia at gunpoint. He locked her in an upstairs room of his house. He beat her and raped her repeatedly.   Masood told her, ” If you convert to islam, I will stop beating you.” But she stayed strong telling him, ” Christianity is my religion, not Islam.  I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me  then kill me, but i will not accept Islam.”

After four months in captivity, Shafia found the door unlocked one day while Massood was at work. she fled to her family. The family’s situation was desperate.  They had to pay to file a legal case against Masood. They had no money, so they borrowed $217. To pay the , all 11 members of the family worked at a brick kiln, making bricks 12 hours a day.

” Daily in the evening we had a prayer meeting at home with my family. i felt strong in my faith when we read the  Word,” Shafia said.

Shafia and her family ar free from their debt of labor today because of Voic e of the Martyr’s fund. Mondey from the fund paid Shafia’s debt and allowed her family to purchase a rickshaw.  Now the family has a taxi business and they earn enough to take care of their needs.  With her dept paid,, Shafia is living a normal life in her village.  She still attends weekly prayer meetings and continues to stand for her beliefs.

This is a story shared by the Voice of the Martyrs, and is taken from their pulciation ” Praying for a RESCUE”. 

Check out tomorrow to hear the story of the second women, the title of the article is two women.

Okay so I am watching television the other day and of course the inevitable commercials come on in between the shows.  I started to change the channels when a commercial caught my eyes, or better yet my ears were pricked.  I don’t even remember what the commercial was for, all I remember was how long the legal disclaimers were in the commercial.

I turned the channel and this time instead of trying to find another show to watch I was looking for commercials.  And it didn’t take to long to find commercials that also had the legal disclaimer on them.  And as I watched more and more commercials over a fifteen minute span of time I noticed one thing.  That the legal disclaimers in the commercial were longer than the advertisement for the actual product!

I don’t know which is worse in this world that we live in.  One, that we are a country were sueing someone is a sport and a way of life.  Or two, that we have determined that a product that has more risks than benefits is a worthy product to sell.

There was a time, and admitedly I don’t have personal rememberance of it, that a man stood behind his work.  You didn’t need the disclaimers because if your product wasn’t worth the work or was faulty then you made it right.  Where did that legacy go?  Now it is all about the almight dollar and how much can I make, and how well do I have to protect myself with legal disclaimers so that I can keep all of the money I make.  Forgot about just making a product that is needed. Forgot about making a quality product.  How quick can I get it out the door to someone is selling.

And don’t think I am laying all the blame on those that make the products.  I take part of the blame as well, and so do you.  That’s right we take part of the blame.  We are buying the junk.  We are forcing the twenty five second legal disclaimers on the thirty second commercials because we believe that because we bought a faulty product we deserve millions.  When we could have done the research a head of time to see what the companies reputation was.  How they were filed with the better buisiness bureau. Before we read the consumer magazines that described the tests done on the product. 

We are also to blame for allowing ourselves to become a society of at this moment and now.  I want so therefore you must give it to me and I will pay what you want.  While that is the definition of captilism, and I believe in captailism, I also believe in getting what I paid for.  So we are a society that has created such a demand that has lowered the quality of products in order to meet that demand.

Slow down, take a breath and demand quality products. Don’t except anything less. If we demand the quality be there and stop accepting the lower quality products.  Then the industry, the producers, the creators of so many things will raise their level of quality if they want to remain in business. We have the power.

Everyone has the need to be needed. Everyone has the desire to be wanted by others. Everyone has the compulsion to be appreciated and significant. That is human nature, and don’t say that it is necessarily wrong, or bad. However it is when it gets a certain point I begin to wonder why we are the way that we are. Being significant is a tricky thing, why is a person significant and not another? Albert Einstein, Napelon Bonaparte, Kurt Vonnegut, or Samuel Clemons. All of these men are significant. But many of us, dare say it a majority of us, will never reach the significance of these individuals; myself included. What makes these individuals significant? Is it something that I can take and learn from them to apply to my own life? Perhaps. There are things that I can learn from them that could help me be a better person. But being significant? I don’t know that is something that I think that we have to value on a more individual basis. If I don’t like to write stories about the Mississippi River then I can not be as significant as Mr. Clemons. If I do not want to conquer a large land mass then I can not be as significant as Mr. Bonaparte. If I don’t like scientific theory then I can not be as significant as Mr. Einstein. It I didn’t enjoy creating science fiction stories then I can not be as significant as Mr.Vonegut. So how can I be significant? Perhaps I can be as significant as I can be. But who am I? That is something that each one of us has to answer for ourselves. Each one of us is different, each one of us is significant for who we are. Some of us are fathers, some of us are brothers, some of us are sons. But not all of us are sons, not all of us are brothers, not all of us our fathers. The difficult thing about determining our significance is that it is as addictive as tobacco, and that is from personal experience. Valuing your significance is very often can begin by being big battle with pride, envy, jealousy or any other host of green eyed monsters. Your own significance is never an issue until you start looking around at other people. The moment that you look at others and start comparing yourself to others is when your significance becomes a problem. To everyone living in the state of Ohio I am completely insignificant. I am nothing. But to everyone who lives in my house. Who works in my office or for my company. To those who I serve with at my church. To them I am not inisignificant, I am valued. But why is it in human nature that no matter how many good things we have in life we always look at the others that we don’t have. Everyone wants to be significant, but when it matters when don’t pay attention to the ones that we are significant to already. We focus more on the things that others are valued for and ignore the those that already value us as important.

I am a licensed CPR instructor for the American Heart Association.   I have been licensed to train those who are willing to serve as foster parents, in the manner to perform CPR.  Once my job required that I did this basically on a monthly basis.  However things change and jobs change, and that is not a bad thing.  As I was thinking about thhe classes that I would no longer be teaching CPR came to mind.  And I started to think about what CPR really is.

Of course it is  two breaths per thirty compressions.  And checking to make sure the scene is safe.  And doing other things not neccessarily in that order.  But those are the steps of CPR, what is CPR?  The answer I could come up with is trying to resart someone’s body by maintaining their heart and circulation functions.  You breath for them, you pump their chest so that the ciruclation will continue to flow throughout their body.  Your end goal is either to  resucitate the person, or keep the person respitory functions going until trained help arrives. All in all a good thing, no one would argue. 

But my thougght process couldn’t stop there.  I began to take it a step further and think about it from a different perspective.  First I looked at it from the perspective of the victim.  If I am unconcious, am I living?  Biologically I would propbably say you were still living.  Mainly because there are only two options.  Living or dead, and if your not dead, well then you are living.  But in that moment when someone else is breathing for you. When someone else is pumping your heart for you.  Are you living?  In one sense of the word I would have to say no.

You are exsisting.  You ar functioning but you are not living.  You are not awake. You are not speaking. You are not thinking.  At the moment when you require CPR you are a biological machine that has broken down and needs assistance in returning to living.  Random thought, yes.  But that is the way that I think.  And the fun doesn’t really stop there.

I began to apply this little thought of what does it mean to be living.  And after chasing a few wild rabbits down there holes I came back to a point that gave me a shiver.  Is God performing CPR on me? 

Think about that.  Is God performing CPR on me, or you?  I am not talking about GOd reeaching down from Heaven and with a huge hand performing CPR on me as I lie in the floor of my living room.  But is He required to perform CPR because I am not living?  Have gotten to a point where I allow the routine of life to become so ordinary that I miss the oppurtunities of each and every moment?  Have I lost focus on the important things of this life? Have I allowed ‘things’ to become my god,  or my focus?  Do I trust more in finacnial securities, or legal systems, or governments than I do in my God?  If I answer yes to any of those then am I living?

My answer……no.  I am functioning. I am a biological machine that operates through this life.  I am missing that I can have a realtionship with God.  Don’t read past that sentence without really thinking about it.  I can have a realitonship with God.   I can have life and life abundantly.  Not through the things of this world, but allowing my trust to be in God.  To be in the one who sustains everything.  There is so much more to life than working and thinking.

Is God standing over me, thumping down in my chest like the do in the movies, or on one of my favorite television shows, MASH.  You know the scene you have seen them on any medical drama.  The doctor stands over the patient pounding away on his chest, sweat is dripping down from his brow, his breath is labored from the exhaustion of performing CPR on a dying man.  And he screams something like, “LIVE! FIGHT!” And then there is that scene where the patient goes on the ventilatior, and the relatives have to make the decision about what to do next. 

What is living? There is so much more to this life, than just functioning day to day.  God is calling for you to live? So why not wake up and live with Him the way He wants you to. If you don’t know Him he still reaches out to you.  And the personal part that made me shiver, I do know Him, but I still ask the question is he perforrming CPR on me? Is my faith just a function of what I do? Is Church just a place I go? Is prayer something I should do? is reading the Bible, reading a book?

Life abudant is waiting, for each one of us to live.

Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, etc. etc, etc.  There are hundreds of super heroes.  Each one of them is unique in what they can do and why and how they help the world around them.  Why do we love super heroes because we all want to be the one that swoops in with that special ability, the cool one liner and saves the day.  But have you ever noticed how superheroes always have a price to pay for that?  They have to loose the girl, keep the secret identity, live a solitutude life. 

We all want the flash of being the hero. The one wearing the mask and the cape.  The one that has the awesome power or ability, the one that has all the cool tools and toys.  But you know what is really being a hero?  Making a decision to do what is right, being there for your family, being the one that lifts someone else up to the forefront when they do something great.  That takes more courage and strength than even superman had. 

Don’t desire to be batman, be a man of character. A man of value.  A man of purpose. A man of honor.  In today’s world. And stay true to those words when the world comes to do battle with you. These are the heroes.  Why not desire to be a hero?

I was listening to my favorite Christian Radio Station the other day, WAY FM, and the morning talk show hosts were having a discussion about a song that has a line in it that says the following (paraphrase) ” I found God on a street corner smoking his last cigarette”.  Now what the conversation quickly became was about is smoking a horrible sin?

Now I am an ex-smoker, and I am the last one that would preach about smoking or not smoking.  And if you think I am going there you are wrong.  The conversation on the radio became a comparison of smoking.  Ranking it with other sins.  Ad in the grand scheme of things do I think that smoking cigarettes should be on the same level of sin as say murder, or lying, or stealing.  Can’t say that I would make that decision. But there is a catch in that statement.

The catch is what “I” would say.  Me, the dumb bald one writing this post. I might not see smoking as “bad” sin, or one of the worst.  But when you start putting sin in a priority list you start down a slippery slope.  And before you know it you are in a dangerous space of legalism.  Where you say that it is okay to commit these sins because they are not as bad as other sins.  Sound like anyone from the Bible? 

IF, and I put that in big letters because smoking is something that the Bible does not speak clearly about, if you classify smoking as a sin you can not place it in priorty listing.  Once something falls under the catagory of sin it no longer comes under human perspective and automatically comes under God’s perspective.  And the way that He sees sin is simple, it is sin, and there is no other definition. All sin put Jesus on the cross.  And it is by His blood that we can have forgiveness of any and all sins, because all sins must be forgiven and brought under the blood.