Saturday, December 28, 2013

The "Duck" Controversy

Psalm 75:7   But God is the judge:  he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

Well, according to the news, Phil Robertson is back with The Duck Dynasty.  This whole Duck controversy could have been avoided if religious zealots were as eager to read and follow God's other teachings as they are to look for "sins" they can use to chastise people they don't even know.

Just as arrogance comes from a poor self concept, so, I believe, does the need for zealots to cast literal or figurative stones on sinners.  When we feel good about ourselves, we are so busily engaged in productive activities that we have no need or time to run around behind others looking for their flaws.

In my denomination we are taught that Jesus Christ was the only perfect human being.  It took the Son of God to reach that desired state.  Although we are expected to aspire toward better hearts, thoughts and behaviors, we are forgiven by God and Jesus as long as we have accepted Christ as our Savior.

Throughout this long war in the Middle East, we have become more familiar with the zealousness that formed the basis of Biblical religious beliefs.  We look with horror at the treatment of women and children . . . the stoning of others . . . the killing of young girls for being raped . . . etc.  But, as usual, we cannot see the horrors of ourselves when we behave in the same, though somewhat subdued, manner as the radicals of another religion in another country.

Over and over in our Bible we are taught not to judge others.  Judge not or you will be judged.  God judges.  Who set you up to be judge?  Who appointed me judge?  But over and over we judge others.  It's like a forbidden fruit that becomes irresistible because it is forbidden.  (In fact, isn't the tree in the Garden of Eden sometimes referred to as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil)?  Yet, we don't even notice we commit this sin.

Who is the Duck Dynasty anyway?  Who is the family that stars in another dubious reality show on television?  Are you Dynasty fans feeling insulted?  Is the Dynasty family feeling insulted?  You see, all I said is who are they and dubious reality show and you feel offended.  Yet, you think nothing of criticizing others for anything and everything you can.

But, it does make you feel self-righteous, doesn't it?  Our sins cannot be erased by pointing out flaws in others.  God knows our hearts and minds.  Unfortunately for Him, He knows every sin we all commit.  As we think in our hearts, we are known.  We cannot disguise our own flaws by striking out at others.

It's a little like lay people who go around diagnosing mental illness in others.  They aren't qualified.  Neither are we qualified to determine which of us sins the most.  That's God's job.  He's told us all through His word.  Our job is to remove the beam from our own eye.

Had the members of Duck Dynasty followed directions -- the directions of the God they purport to serve -- their controversy would not have happened.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cast Out Thine Own Beam

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"  Matthew 7:3

It is hard to decide if more words are needed besides the scripture itself.  Probably all of us have criticized others, and sometimes for things far less important than our own "sins" of commitment or omission.  Jesus is saying much the same thing he did when he said ". . . let he who is without sin cast the first stone". 

Plainly said, eliminate our own faults before we start looking for fault in others.  Ours probably are worse than theirs.

There is a joke going around recently.  Even Joel Osteen told it in a sermon.  It is to the effect that a recently departed, when arriving in heaven, wondered why so many sinners were there -- thieves, murderers, etc.  When everyone remained silent, God said to the new arrival that he would have to forgive everybody, because they were stunned to see him there.

That is so like us all. We consider ourselves right and perfect, while being snooty about the faults of others. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Safety in the City

Psalm 119:117  "Hold thou me up and I will be safe . . ."

The larger the city, the bigger the illusion of safety these days.  The cheaper the neighborhood, the more likely crime will occur.  That's why we need to be constantly thankful to the Almighty for any days free of risk.

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, there were several occasions when I worked a second job at night.  In 1996, I had repetitive car repairs and buying a different used auto seemed to make it worse.  So, I took a second job to pay off the bills.  While working at a call-in center for pizza delivery, I noticed cars that seemed to be following me home.  The first two I saw were old rattle-trap vans.  One was medium blue.  The other was a patchwork made from several old cars.  There is no definitive proof who was driving them, but three such vehicles belonged to people who worked at my day job.  One was frequently in my neighborhood.

I began varying my route home.  One path I took, three little teenage boys would pull in behind me.  They drove two different vehicles.  After I retired, I was out during the day where cars and people are more visible.  A sudden movement caught my attention.  When I looked that direction, one of those cars was there.  I saw a teenage boy trying to slump down and hide himself from sight.  The driver, I knew to be the previous owner of my townhouse.  The family had been evicted and the kid, now older, was stalking the old lady who had bought their home.

There were also three slant front vans that were frequently in the parade.  I never found out why they did it, but two of the three came barreling out from behind the building of my day job one morning.  One was being driven by a man whom I believe to be the night shift janitor.

A supervisor at one of my jobs had a habit of hiring her family members.  Her sister's car broke down on the highway, so the family bought her a more reliable one.  When the one that had broken down followed me into the secluded location of my newest second job, I inquired what had happened to the broken down car.  I didn't say I knew that her brother had been driving it.

Just after that encounter, a large gold car, probably and old V8, began circling around and around through my route.  I'd seen them in maybe three to four locations on a single trip.  Then I'd get to my community and a great big Neighborhood Watch truck would tailgate me to my corner.  That sure made the terror complete.  I guess they thought I could read those tiny door signs through their high beam headlights.  The night the gold car got within three blocks of my house, I asked a day manager if I could do work at home for extra income.  She agreed.

Soon, two of the men from the gold car began working for my company.  One of these threatened to shoot a manager if she did anything to cost him his job.

Years later, the third one was arrested for killing and cooking a friend because he had always wanted to know what it was like to eat a person.  It made me shudder to wonder if I were on the menu for lunch back then.  And, no, it isn't funny, is it?  He lived just blocks from me.

There is no question in my mind that God protects us . . . holds us up so we will be -- if not free of all harm -- at least safer than we could be.  Don't you wonder how people stand living in a war zone?

It is said God won't give us more than we can bear.  Sometimes many of us just wish He didn't think we were quite so strong.

But, thank you God for any and all protection you can offer.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Okay To Pray For Peace

Jeremiah 29:7  "And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon.  Pray for her, for if Babylon has peace, so will you."

There is a relative of mine who is obsessed with Jewish matters.  I've no problem with being concerned for the Jewish people, or for the Palestinians, and yet I do have a problem with obsessions of any kind.  Recently, if a Jewish message is not posted to my Facebook page, she sends it to my e-mail.  I have been quite fond of her since I laid eyes on her when she was three years old.  I mean her no harm by this article.

Yesterday she sent an e-mail that I didn't quite understand.  A couple of things stood out.  She was rebutting a recent article from one of my blogs.  And, she was sending Jewish scripture that if there ever was a two state situation between Palestine and the Jews, that would be the beginning of the end of the world.  (Personally, I hope the world still twirls long after my demise.)

Then, today, I've run into two sources that someone shared on Facebook that include the above scripture.  Do you suppose God had a hand in this?

The bottom line -- our Christian Old Testament, that includes books from the Torah, states that we should work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon because if Babylon has peace, so will the Jews.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I am weary of the repeated and repeated conflicts of any people.  Peace where and when we can get it is a wonderful experience.  I guess the problem is one has to actually experience peace once in a while to know this.  I wish all cultures could bury the hate and grudges and learn to live together.  I'm sure God does not want us at war all the time.