Monday, September 28, 2009

YouTube to NBC to Scripture...quite a journey

God is love.

It is a simple sentence. Complete in fact with its subject and verb and proper punctuation. Short - concise - to the point. Complete. It is from here that a recent set of readings began for me and brought me from youtube to the evening news to the Bible. It was an interesting journey.

A recent youtube not-so-sensational video has been shared quite a bit both on Facebook and via many of those viral emails meant to - let's be honest - get the readers just plain upset. This video shows a group of very young school children standing together and singing. It is not the act of singing, but rather the lyrics, which have a good many people questioning just how rational the thought process is of a good many adults. These children find themselves in New Jersey - not a foreign land (though perhaps aliens have landed). The song they sing is not a politically correct version of American The Beautiful, but rather a song of praise to "Barrack Hussein Obama". I did not add his middle name for inflammatory purposes, I write it because it is what they sing. They sing of "equal pay for equal work"....I'm not sure what a 1st grader knows of this, though perhaps many came home asking for a substantial allowance increase. These children have been taught that a man by virtue of electability and "doing good" is praise worthy.

My day only got better when I turned on the evening news. Thanks to general thriftiness, this means I choose from one of three major news networks - NBC it is....that Brian Williams is the better looking option. Stories abounded that night on the good people are doing for others in the midst of the economy. Propping up how "good people" would surely not want the uninsured to die of cancer. Really lots of news about people generally described as "good" (unless they were speaking of someone not a Democrat).

In the end, my day was best when the Bible was read yet again and we found ourselves in Psalm 81 accompanied again by a little Abraham Kuyper. Our Psalm includes a lovely listing of all Jehovah did for His people..."In distress I rescued you..." and my personal favorite for its vivid word picture image, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." Yet as is often the case with stubborn Israelites and even more stubborn Americans, " people would not listen to me". And so the Lord gave them over to what they desired most which only lead to their enemies getting a foothold (yet again) in a very physical way.

All of this makes me marvel a great deal. To say I am not political would be a really gross piece of sarcasm. But I'm not married to a political party. In fact, in recent years I'm quite disillusioned by most anyone who ends up in Washington. A good many men and women have been ruined upon entering such service...such appears to be the nature of the beast. Yet I do remember when, at the very least, America as a whole valued leaders who (perhaps for show...but that part is not our responsibility) attended a church service and called upon the one true God as their source of inspiration. My how we have changed. We have embraced "good people" - not really caring that there is no source or basis for that good. If "God is love" how can we love apart from Him? How can anyone?

And finally, if a nation that calls upon the Lord is blessed where does this leave us? A nation full of "good people" with no source of good. A nation that praises humans who don't praise the one true God. And, how can it not be, a nation which will be given over to its enemies. If only we would "open wide our mouths" to the Lord rather than to a government.

Transparent Language

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helping 101

What we often struggle with, I have become increasingly convinced, is a failure to know exactly how to offer assistance to those who may (or even may not) need a hand up. I do not know if this is something notoriously thrifty Dutch people in West Michigan especially stumble through, or perhaps it's more a result of living in the last few eras of prosperity. It could easily be a spill over from years of money easily made.

We all need to learn a number of things. First off, it is often best to just give help rather than offer the same. My dad would attest to the fact that men will not make phone calls when told to "call if you'd like a meal". In fact, most people won't make that call...Instead? Bring the meal - leave the meal in a fridge at quote a marketing genius from a few years ago..."Just Do It". Action is better than the offer of action.

Especially in the times we find ourselves, even people who would normally have been able to lend a hand cannot necessarily do so....or at least not to the level they once could. If the assistance now offered is somehow lesser than before, offer the assistance but not the information as to just how "lesser". If the bread you are sharing and offering to break with someone who is suffering just happens to be day old, don't feel the need to share the 'day old' portion in the description.

Perhaps one of the more difficult assignments in "Helping 101" is to not share your own griefs in the midst of someone else's. This is not a time to compare and contrast. When a sister is going through breast cancer don't compare it to your bunions. When a family is experiencing economic woes don't equate it with your family being unable to take a Disney vacation. If someone has lost a job please don't think this is the same as you losing your keys this morning. And as much as we all experience something along the spectrum of physical suffering just plain use common sense....for example, I suffer with migraines. I would never, however, take my suffering and pretend for a minute it deserves more attention than someone's cancer, heart condition, or even a family's loss of economic means. We all need to work a little harder at forgetting our own problems and attempting to (properly) focus on those of someone else.

Most importantly, offer prayer only when you really intend to pray. Peace that passes understanding is often a gift received courtesy of saints here on earth intercessing on one's behalf. Offer the prayer most certainly....but then carry through and actually do it. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems easier to make a lasagna than to actually take some extra time to offer up a specific prayer.

Cook without asking - share without details - pray like the warrior you are.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Kuyper in plain English...

Under the label of "favorite things":

I am re-reading a book each morning which had spoken to me before and, because of God's good and perfect timing, is speaking even more to me the second (or third) time around. And so, today, I borrow from Near Unto God by Abraham Kuyper: Daily meditations adapted for contemporary Christians by James C. Schaap.

"Imagine everything you own blown away by a tornado - everything, even family. Nothing remains. Really, that's where each of us is at death. As we face our Maker, our real fortunes lie only in our souls, and the only riches we carry belong, really, to him...

"Hell will be littered with creative, bright people, nimble in conversation - people who have sought none of the riches of God.

"To be rich with God is to own Him, to be His temple, to carry in your heart the holy and glorious one wherever you go. To be rich with God is to be refreshed continuously from the Fountain of all good inside one's very soul.

"To be near unto God means understanding that what we really own comes to us both in Him and through Him. It is a mark of our sin to recognize how difficult it is for us to know with true conviction that our fortunes lie in the Lord and not in the things of this world - and to operate on that principle.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remember when....

Birthdays always make me nostalgic. Not in a morbid sort of way, but rather retrospective....I'm not sure a person can be retrospective, but that's the best term I can borrow to describe the act of realizing just how many things no longer exist. Whew. "Nostalgic" makes me feel far too old and anything else seems to promote the idea that just because I realize something is no longer present, I necessarily miss it....

Anyway - since my children think I'm old for mentioning these things, why not share my old age even further. Remember.....

- Cartoons after school in the afternoons

- Bill Knapps restaurants

- Nabisco crackers in a wide range of flavors (I miss the Swiss Cheese ones the most)

- Canvas Nike "tennis shoes"

- Barbie's dream house

- Laverne & Shirley, Mary & Rhoda, Gilligan & The Skipper

- Christmas beginning in malls right after Thanksgiving and not sooner

- Black & White TV that did not have remote controls

- Record players, 8-Track players, Cassette players

- The Lawrence Welk Show Saturday evening (maybe my parents were just older than average)

Anything more and I'll feel like I should have my reservation in for the Holland Home. Whew. No wonder I'm so tired. I'm ancient!! Though I must confess, there was something awfully exciting about having television just one day per week - Saturday morning - when every station (all THREE of them) gave over programming to children. I miss that a lot on Saturday mornings. Kind of like I miss jeans that cover my rear and the color kelly green.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

What I was going to write..

has been erased. Not by me, but rather by an act of electronic 'blip'. I'm instead going to go with by an 'act of God'. He knew that what would have been posted was probably not fit to be read...that I would want to swallow it all back later in an act of contrite embarrassment.

What IS fit to write, what was central to my thought process, where it sprung from (and then went horribly astray in a fit of good old foot stomping anger and frustration and the desire to take people by shoulders and shake them good) was something simple and yet concise:

WHAT does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

I'm disheartened that I'm seeing this more in the world than I am in the church as a body of believers. I'm feeling it more among the groups that conservatives routinely denounce and put down. There are no simple answers just as there are rarely simple problems, yet caring for people during an economic calamity should be something a church excels at....something it does with great humbleness, efficiency, and certainly without one hand knowing what the other is doing.

Now I'm stopping - before the foot starts stomping again....

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