Monday, February 12, 2018

To the right time.

Service to others is an important cornerstone of the Christian faith.   I believe that is undisputed.

The most commonly referenced passage in relation to service is probably Matthew 20:28 where Christ says,

"...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve..."

With the Lord Himself saying His role is to serve others, rather than be served by others, it would be easy to focus on "acts" or "action."  Without question, I believe you can identify a believer by what and do, but the key difference is what Christ knew -- the heart.
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In various points throughout scripture, we are told to "wait" (ex: Psalms 37:7) or "meditate" (Psalm 19:14).  But nowhere in scripture gets my attention like Luke 10:38-42.

This is the famed "Brady Bunch" passage: Martha, Martha, [Martha]...  In the 70's sitcom it was "Masha, Marsh, Marsha."

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Clearly, service is important, but within the right set of priorities.

     If you get so busy helping your church, that you neglect to be the Church, it might be time to step back.
          If your volunteer calendar gets in the way of your personal devotion calendar, it may be time to rethink why you are volunteering.
               If your desire to serve others is rooted in the approval or expectations of others, it may be time to step back and refocus on the main thing.

Service to others is important, but it does not distinguish a believer.  Service is not limited to His children.  What sets the service of a believer apart from that of a non-believer is the who and why.  Believers serve the image of their Savior, expressly and solely (or should that be soul-ly) to glorify Him.

Please, go and serve others, but do it as part of a holistic worship of our Heavenly Father.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Spirit groans, even as His Spirit groans.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that "gay marriage" was legal in all 50 states.  Immediately, both sides started shouting -- praise or condemnation.

Today's ubiquitous media coverage -- from mainstream to small blogs like this one--allows a platform for any opinion or slant.   And there have been many leading up to and after today's announcement.

The "Christian Right" (a term I loath) have been outspoken in their opposition to "gay marriage."  Such leaders have shouted about how "gay marriage" redefines God's law.  And that it "diminishes" what God has ordained.  I've heard concerns that two men getting married supersedes what God intended.

In essence, that man's law has overtaken God's will.  This breakes my heart.

How can someone schooled in God's word possible believe this?!?

Those espousing that man has trumped God are not talking about the one true God.  Because that simply isn't possible.

There is nothing man can do or say that places man above God.  The creation cannot supersede the Creator.

No action, no law, no deed, nor even thought happens outside of the God's governance. 

Certainly, most of what happens in this fallen world grieves the Holiness of God.  But it does not and, in fact, can not deminish God.  Statements to the contrary may be newsworthy or popular, but those are man's trappings.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Leave My Hamilton Alone...for now.

I'm not at all happy about the change in the $10 bill.

For one thing, I can think of no other who is more worthy of being on a paper dollar than Alexander Hamilton.  

If anyone deserves the boot, it is Jackson; through the lens of history, it is hard to find much redeeming in him or his legacy.   Perhaps we need a history refresher.

Setting that aside, I'm generally disinclined with changes to our currency, though I do understand some of the reasoning.   Accepting it has to happen doesn't mean I have to like it.

There is some interesting -- and rather obscured -- history behind the selection of who will appear on the face our our currency, and the $10 bill is no different.   While not always an American President, their faces are most common on our currency.   But, there is precious little indication of how particular people (or an occasional animal) were chosen.   But, to be fair, I kind of like mystery; I'm just not happy about it in my government.

I could be swayed toward proactively and deliberately diversifying the WASPiness of our currency.   But, I'm not comfortable with the idea that the WASPs have determined -- in a mysterious way -- how we should diversify.

By mandating the change, and how it will be changed, it automatically diminishes its value.   I'm not suggesting that the whosoever intended to simply give lip service (pun intended) to the choice of a woman on our currency, but that will be the effect.   In essence, "It wasn't the best person; rather it was the best woman."   Or less reserved "It should have been 'Joe The Plumber,' but congress said it had to be a woman, so we ended up with 'Rosie The Riveter'."

Far more importantly, the seeming unilateral decision is missing an opportunity to engage our youth in government.  Let's set some parameters (they can't be alive, they had to have had at least XX years of service, they can't be a WASP (OK, that last one may not fly), etc.) and ask our nation's high school students to pitch their ideas.   Then you can form a group at the state level to select three winners, for presentation at a national forum.   Have a nationally assembled group narrow it down to a handful and then hold national elections in our high schools, and let majority win.

This is the opportunity for our students--who are becoming increasingly disenfranchised--to become engaged in a way that allows their voice (at the least the voice of their generation) to be heard.

But, you don't have to stop there; there are lessons throughout the process.   There has to be voting systems (think app development), rules for how the process should proceed (political science and civics).   The selection choice will lean heavily on history.    Then there is the campaigning.   Last but, not least, after the selection is made, the bills have to be made and when push comes to show, it mechanical, and can involve what we once called "vo-tech" hands-on type classes and students.

First, lets, leave Hamilton alone.   But beyond that, let's allow our society to get involved in the decisions of our country.   We can take this step to help stop the backward slide, and engage our youth, and in doing so engage our society.

There is ABSOLUTELY no reason why this decision has to be made by a few, when it can be practically and meaningfully be made by the many.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nudity is nudity, right?

I have a question that is bound to stir up controversy, but it is legitimate question:  Why is public nudity socially acceptable in some cases and not others?

For example, it is illegal (in Kentucky) for a women to walk down the street with her breasts uncovered.  But, it is  legal for a woman to stand on the corner with her breasts exposed in the name of art.

In the former, the vast majority of society would condemn the act (at least publicly).  In the latter, it would be more equally divided with the slight majority teetering based on who was asked and what preconditions they mentally placed on the situation.

Now the controversial part, why is exposing your beast in the process of breast feeding (or pumping) acceptable in public?  

Don't waste your breath with the "it's natural" argument, because so is full nudity. 

Don't say, "it's always been this way," because it hasn't.  

I understand the importance (according to least for now) of breast milk.  I accept that breast feeding has been around since the beginning.

I also understand the same logic would have us all walking around fully nude all the time.

The fact that I understand something doesn't mean I want to witness it.  There are lots of things, on nearly any topic, that I understand or at least know about, but don't want to see.  I'm not a Neanderthal nor a prude, I am just fine without (clarification of) the mental image.  In that same way, there are also things I do not care for my pre-teen sons to witness.  

Let's talk about children just for a minute.   Children develop mentally, emotionally, and socially at different rates and to different levels.  There are numerous influences upon that development, but that has nothing to do with this post.  

Children develop the ability to delineate behavior based on their experiences with, and their models of, their respective cultures and family values.  While each culture varies, in every one I'm aware of, there is a distinction made between what is acceptable in one place/situation, but not in another.   

As such, it is lunacy to expose a child you don't know to something and expect that (s)he will instinctively understand that their mimicking the behavior at the same time in the same way would be deemed unacceptable.  And that's a specific, children tend to generalize far more often; I see him doing X, X is only acceptable in the same way/time as Y, thus if he is doing X without issue, I can do Y without issue.  In psychology it is referred to as Associative Behavior, and among other things, it is part of how we learn to cope is social settings.

This post was prompted by a recent incident in my town.  A family amusement park had asked mothers who are breast feeding to "use discretion."  The outcry was fast and furious.  The torrent of outrage was overwhelming.  

It quickly became another "women's rights" rallying cry.  Of course, the park apologized and reversed their policy labeled as "misogynist" by some groups. [The label showing ignorance of the concept.]

To compound this issue, there's actually a state law (the scope of which I can't believe would ever hold up in court) that makes the park's policy illegal.

Now, before we delve too deeply into breast feeding and all that goes with it.  I want to return our focus to the question as hand: When is public nudity acceptable?

More to my personal question, should a person be allowed to expose themselves to my children?  

Should it matter why my child is being exposed?   Art?  Breast feeding?  Air conditioning is broken?  Personal preference (often mislabeled as personal freedom)?

Can we reasonably expect children (and some percentage of adults) to understand why X is acceptable now, but Y isn't?

Nudity and the social mores that accompany it, differs around the world.  And while others might be more in line with your views, let's look at just the good 'ol USofA.

Nudity is nudity, right? 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Marriage -- Back To Its Roots

A while back I used a status update on my Facebook page to preview this post.

I am NOT a proponent of the popular (mis)interpretation of the First Amendment, resulting in the commonly referenced Separation of Church and State.  I believe the Supreme Court grossly erred on their interpretation, and I still hope they will one day correct their ignorance.

That said, I find it odd that the same folks to demand this errant separation are so amenable to it when it works in their favor.  Marriage is, by all accounts, an institution rooted in religion.  I'm aware of no historical accounts of marriage which pre-date the religious sacrament of marriage.

Of course, history has seen the concept of marriage--both sacred and secular--change over time.  Society, not religion, has evolved and expanded the role of marriage far beyond its roots and intentions.  The Law of Unintended Consequences as seen the use of marriage as a simple delineation create a political, societal, legal, and moral quagmire.

Even a cursory review of the tax code and the laws on federal, state, and local levels will find it replete with references to marriage.  These, no doubt, were created for good reasons, but they no longer serve the purpose(s) as intended.

As a singular example, let's look at the marital tax deduction.  In today's world this could easily be seen as a regressive tax.  The most common marital status of our lowest income bracket is NOT married.  The marital status of our highest income bracket IS married.  In a society were the norm has both married adults working, the marital deduction is not only illogical, but is a slap in the face to some of those who are in far greater need.

How about we look at medical decisions.  Is it really rational to believe that someone should have a right to make medical decisions for another simply because they are married to them?  Marriage does not ensure an innate knowledge, or even that one person likes another, much less ethical alignment.  It certainly doesn't indicate any level of medical knowledge.

Of course, this disconnect would be equally glaring in each aspect where the sacrament of marriage has been overlaid with secular definitions, rights, or obligations.

The laws that have been developed over time to provide for a norm have become as likely to be punitive as they are beneficial.  What was the norm, no longer is.  The desire for otherwise is irrelevant.

Perpetuation of this entanglement will only magnify and multiply the injustices and negative impact.  This can be seen in every sector -- financial, social, religious, legal, and on-and-on.

It is time for marriage to go back to what it was intended for--a promise between two people as to how they will live their lives together.

All the ensuing, though well-meaning, entanglements which have followed must be untangled and removed.

If the government wants (for reasons I can't conceive) to incentivize people to live together exclusively, they can certainly do so without reference to, or dependence upon, the institution of marriage.

In essence you could have two separate and totally independent functions--marriage and a tax status around cohabitation.  Further, there are already existing laws around things like medical directive, asset distribution, etc.  But, in most cases, these are overridden by marriage.  That need not be and should not be the case.   A person should be free to choose the person whom they wish to make end-of-life decisions or financial decisions.  Better yet, you should be able to proactively decide for yourself how these matters are to be handled when you aren't able to decide; and to do so with the confidence that a spouse can't override your wishes when (s)he is, at best, emotionally weakened.  

Make no mistake, this would require very real, very significant changes is laws and tax code.  Sadly, I feel it would require little change in today's common view of marriage.

For me, marriage plays a vital role in society.  Not in-and-of itself, but as part of a deeper and broader covenant with God.  But, that does not need to be everyone's concept.  Without legal engagements, my opinion of marriage has no barring on you.  If you choose to believe marriage is little more than a nicety to make your mother happy, that's your choice.  Your belief does not degrade or diminish my covenant any more than the person who shared my belief but has chosen to break that promise.  

Without the legal and tax ramifications, each person can (as is right) have the ability to signify their desires without preconceived notions or undesired consequences.

To me marriage is a sacred proclamation between my wife and I, before and through God.   I do not need, nor do I desire the government's permission or incentives to live the life I have been called to live and that I have promised to live within my marriage vows.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One, But Not The Other

I hope we can agree that the days of "No Irish" or "No Blacks" or "No Indians" or "No..." are better off as part of history.

The idea that you can't discriminate against someone because of their race or ethnicity is broadly accepted.  Courts and the (vast majority of the) American public agree that such exclusionary signs are a violation of constitutional rights.

The Second Amendment guarantees law abiding citizens the right to defend themselves, their family, and their property through the use of arms (aka guns).    However, as time progressed and the Country embraced a more genteel world-view, guns have become shunned.  In most states it is perfectly acceptable (and in many, encouraged) to ban guns in places of business.

That is, the business owner has the right to determine if guns will be allowed in the business.   Now, one side of me is in favor of allowing business owners to make determinations for their businesses.  But, they do not have the right to violate the rights of others--their personal preferences do not supersede fundamental rights.

Equally, I'm a huge proponent of State Rights and (extremely) limited Federal Government.   But this isn't a State decision.  A state doesn't get to pick and choose what part of the constitution it wants to uphold.  I'm uncertain how this happened; how we allowed freedoms to be so easy circumvented and tucked in nice/neat boxes.

It is no more legal to place a sign on the shop window which reads, "No Guns" than a "Whites Only" sign.   For reasons I can't understand we have allowed this to happen; we've looked the other way.   We've allowed personal preference to erode a constitutionally protected right.

We can have the debate of if we should have the right to bear arms, but regardless of your feelings for it, we do.   Given that, you can't simply say, "I'm not comfortable" with guns around.   I can assume you, there are plenty in this Country who aren't comfortable with people of different colors, religions, or genders; but you can't (openly) discriminate against them.   Get over it!