13ReasonsWhy

I didn’t want to write this.  There are plenty of other sites to read about this show.  But I’m not getting anything done so I guess I need to get this out of the way.  I’m not going to take time to summarize or comment on filming etc.  You can read other posts for all of that.

There are two sides quickly emerging on this show:  Those who are adamantly against it on one side and millions of high school girls (and maybe boys) on the other who have watched it and probably read the book and experience some form of it every day.

I’m going to point out my 13  issues with the show but don’t stop until you get to the end.

  1. The “F” word is used 258 times.  I don’t know if that is 100% accurate.  It feels like it was said 5 million times to me.  If you don’t hang around high schoolers its not the “F” word that we grew up.  Our “F” word was really bad.  Today it is just a word that comes out with every other word.

2. Gay issues.  Regardless of how you feel on this subject it’s here now.  Our generation didn’t discuss it past “ewww”.  This generation is bombarded with it and they need to make decisions on it.  This show has at least 6 people dealing with it and everyone else around them needs to deal with it too.

3.  No communication with parents.  Zero.  Not one kid in this show has an honest life giving relationship with their parents.  Is this realistic?  If it is realistic we are doomed.  I didn’t count how many times parents said to their children: “You’re a good kid”.   Yeah parents – your kid is good,  it’s everyone else’s kids that are “bad”.

4.  No honest supportive relationships with friends.  At best they are superficial.  At worst they are selfish, hateful, confused and abusive.  The relationships are a means to an end and everyone is fighting to get to the top.   What is the top by the way?

5.  Pre-marital sex.  Pretty similar to the “F” word – there’s a lot of it and “everyone” is doing it.  No signs of birth control.  No signs of protection from disease.  No healthy relationships – it’s just jump in the bed.

6.  Rape.  Not one rape but two.  It’s graphic and it’s brutal and it makes your stomach turn.

7.  Drugs.  This is not a druggy show.  There is some drug usage but that isn’t the main point.  In some ways the issues would be easier to accept if drugs were the starting problem.

8.  Alcohol.  What ever was missed in the way of drug usage, alcohol took its place.  There was more drinking in this series than I have done in my lifetime.   Add this to the previous 7 points and it makes life a drunk driving exercise.

9.  There is N0 God in this show.   Hear me out – there is nothing close to spiritual enlightenment beyond the spirits in the bottle.    Some critics see this as the main reason not to watch this.  I see it as a reality in many teens lives.  Maybe it is the worst point in all of this mess.  Maybe it is the cause for all the other ones.  There is no Truth and there are no Absolutes.

10. Jealousy and hatred.  Yes.  A lot of it.

11. Lack of understanding from adults.  Same goes with the audience.  The response I get from teenagers about this are totally different from responses I get from adults.  Teenagers simply say “Yes it happens”.  Adults try to explain everything going on so they can understand it.

12.  Lies.  I told my kids “if you do something wrong at least admit it.  If you lie about it, it only makes it much worse.”  Yes.  There is a lot of lying with everyone in this show.

13.  Violence.  Slapping, hitting, hitting again, threats, oh and more hitting.  I guess everyone is angry about the first 12 items on the list.

Oh, I forgot.  The big issue in this show is a teen suicide.  This time it is not romanticized or just spoken about.  This is HD living color, brutal, ugly, screaming, bloody suicide.  Let me put it this way – I covered my eyes.  I couldn’t watch.  I probably should have cried.  I was already depressed from watching the show – this just put me over the edge.

Friends have said to me, “how can you watch that?”  You see if you don’t know me I was one of the parents in episode 13.  My wife walked into our son hanging by a wire.  My wife was the one yelling to me to come.  I was the one picking him up telling him to come back saying “No no no no”.  One critic of the show makes a point that his neighbor did this at age 16 so he understands.  No you don’t.  I had friends that committed suicide.  It’s awful.  But there is no comparison to picking up a dead child that seemed fine a minute ago. By choice they are now dead.   There is no way to understand.   Their battles are done, yours are just beginning.

In one minute you are angry about water running over the tub into the hallway.  The next you are facing a life devastation that you will never fully recover from.  How do you reconcile that in your mind?

Here is a good place to breathe….

I am not a psychologist.  I am not running stats on whether this show is helping or hurting the teenagers.  I can say if you are a parent you might want to watch this.  It is awful and it is depressing and it will make you feel terrible.  Do it anyway.  You may even want to watch it with your teenager.

Hug your children today and do your best to fight or understand all 14 of these issues.  It’s that important.

Sin Tax

We are moving into an era of “Boutique Taxes” as I call them.   A better term is probably “Behavioral Taxes”.   This is not a new idea but it is quickly picking up popularity.  The idea started as “sin tax” and it was gladly put on alcohol, tobacco and gambling.  Conservative America didn’t fight them because it was a tax on “sin”.   The “sinners” didn’t object because they enjoyed their sin so much they didn’t care if it was taxed.  They admitted it was wrong and in some kind of weird thinking “they deserved the tax”.

Our governments are always looking for a new income stream to fund burgeoning budgets.  Instead of blanket taxes that make everyone mad they are turning to these focused taxes.  Here are a couple of examples:

Gasoline tax: a penny here and a penny there and no one is supposed to notice.  The money is supposed to go to road improvement but does it really?

Marijuana tax: can’t beat them….join them and tax it.  I mean really….who is going to object to this tax?  No one.

Soda tax: https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/its-not-rocket-science?utm_term=.egqN7EQ8WW#.cmzMB4ePkk.  I believe this will take off like the space shuttle.  Add a little more fuel and this will be everywhere by 2018.  I don’t care about the other sin taxes but this one will hurt me when it comes to my neighborhood.  Or….will it help me to stop a nasty habit?

Our governments have got on to something.  They can raise taxes and be socially correct.  They can punish people for non accepted behavior and even make changes in said behaviors.   How many have stopped smoking because of the cost and attention?  Will the same happen with sugar?  On the other hand they can legalize illegal behavior, control it and earn income from it.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Let’s take this concept to a broader scope (because you know the government will).  What if they tax divorce?  How about abortions? (oh, yes that could be another blog coming!)  Salt?  Obesity?  What if they take it farther – taxing churches that have certain views?  Bibles?  TV?  Twinkies? Ice Cream?  Is this an over stretch of our governing bodies or are they right in being the big brother and taxing “bad” behavior?  Should they be permitted to legalize behavior in the name of tax and control?  How about prostitution?  Gambling is already out of the box and will never go back.  Our states even promote it with their lotteries.

If a small potato chip bag goes from $1 to $2 because of a salt and oil tax will you stop eating them?  Will a poor person stop?  We’ll see.

Romans 13:7
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
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Left Over Spirituality

I had left over chicken cacciatore for lunch today.  I microwaved it for 2 minutes and took a bite – it seemed ok.  When I dug down to stir it up the bottom was still ice cold.  I nuked it another minute and stirred and then ran it for another minute.  It turned out pretty good but I’ve had microwaved leftovers that could frighten a dog’s pallet.

There are a couple rules about leftovers: 1) The food needs to start out great  and be appropriate for heating up later.  Ex.  A quick stop at McDonalds may seem like a good idea when in a hurry but don’t ever microwave a Big Mac and fries.  Just trust me.  2)  It needs to be fresh – a microwave is not going to help “dead” food with mold on it.  3)  Eat it fast before it starts to go downhill.  Microwaved foods seem to have a half life and can’t be heated a 3rd time.   4) When in doubt, throw it out.   If a fresh run to McDonalds is better than the leftover, don’t eat it.

So….One of the problems in Christiandome is people constantly feeding others old leftovers that are warmed up in the microwave.   For my generation, it was choir and quartets on Sunday nights.  I could see the mold growing from the back of the church!  Fresh food in that period was hippy Jesus music.  That sound was tough and spongy when I tried to serve it to my kids.

What are you eating now?  Leftover prosperity gospel?  Warmed up end times doctrine?  Stir fried house church?  Grilled King James only scripture?  Maybe you are one of the 30-40 somethings that would rather starve than eat another re-heated meal that gave so much nourishment to your parents.

Here’s an idea.  Grow a garden with the food you like.  Make something fresh and delicious that makes you healthy.  Just remember, that no carb diet or vegan diet or gluten free food that YOU love may not be good for your kids in ten years.

Mark 2:22 (NIV)

22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

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Want to be a millionaire?

The common line is….”I just wish I could win the lottery.”   Or….”I’ll be working until the day I die….I don’t know what retirement is.”   Some of us justify our poorness by saying “my treasure is in heaven” or “I’m richly blessed in other ways.”  All of those may be true statements.  Wealth is a tricky creature.  There are new get rich schemes started every day.

I made the decision at a young age to own a business.  Other than part time summer jobs while I was in school I have never worked for a company.   For me it was a passion.  Of course I thought I’d get rich along the way but that wasn’t my driving force.  But when my company bottomed out in 2009 I hit rock bottom with it.  Two things bothered me – 1) It was my baby and it was dying and I had to do something to save it; and 2) I immediately thought that I was too old in my 50’s to recoup the loss and rebuild it.   For the first time I wished that I had gone another path – school teacher, pastor, or anything that was paying a pension.    I won’t get into the depression topic but you know that was rough.

The crazy thing about wealth is that we all work to get it.  Some of us make it to “wealth”  but most of us get to the level of “getting by”.   “Getting by” is a very subjective term and worthy of a whole different article!

Here is the crazy point that I’m getting at:  I started my business in 1980.  I bought my first Apple Macintosh in 1985 (I still have it).  I sweated a lot of trials and frustrations over the last 36 years trying to make it.  I could have easily bought $10,000 of Apple stock, taught 6th grade and I would be worth almost $3 million dollars today plus a pension.   Did I miss the opportunity?   Yes but I could have bought $10,000 in stock in 2007 and I’d be worth $740,000 which is far better than my business did in that time period.

Opportunities don’t disappear.  Yes they change.  The hard part is knowing what will be an opportunity and what will be a failure.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started out close to the same time as me.  I don’t need to tell you who made more money.  Someone will come up with the new opportunity today.  I don’t care how many times you have failed in the past, you can be a part of the new thing today.  If not today, maybe tomorrow.

God doesn’t want you living in a shelter.  He has opportunities laid out before you every day.  Wake up tomorrow and look for them.  You might be surprised what you find.

Ephesians 5:16  Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
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National Day of Mennonites

With everyone and everything getting a “National Day”, I thought it was deserved to have a National Mennonite Day.   In January alone there are ridiculous days for: Hangover Day, Bloody Mary Day, Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, Drinking Straw Day, etc etc.  I don’t know who promotes these ideas or how they get established.  I assume that someone makes the first step in “declaring it”.  Maybe someone will read this and know how to take it to the next step.  Do we contact a Senator?

Here is my declaration:  I am nominating January 31st (the death date of Menno Simons) as “The National Day of Mennonites”.   We don’t know his birthdate so I went with his death date instead.

If you know what to do next, please let us all know.  Maybe someday the mail will stop and the banks will be closed.  We could get a day off from school and work.  Mennonite Schools should definitely be closed to honor the day!

I did my duty.  Now do yours.  Write letters.  Protest.  Make T-shirts and wear them to conference.  Make banners to hang at your church.  Everyone should be able to enjoy a National Day of Mennonites.  There could be sales but wait…Mennonites don’t spend money.  Oh well, we’ll think of something!

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Don’t Believe the lies

It’s a brand new year…again.  Time to set goals and to reflect on the past year.  My encouragement for this year is “Don’t believe the lies”.  We all battle the attacks of the enemy in some way.  For some we may be too fat.  For some we may be too old (or too young).  For others we may be worthless or without talent.  I’ve said it before that I battle with “Failure”.   Here’s my example today:

I’ve been playing the stupid (I call it stupid because it is very addicting!) game of ‘2 Dots’ on my phone.  I hit a level that I couldn’t pass.  Immediately I began to believe that I wasn’t good at the game and that I was a failure because I couldn’t pass one level.  God pointed out to me (as a lesson) that I was battling over level 775.  “If you are not good at this game, how could you have won 774 games before this level?”  Good point I said.  “Remember when you got frustrated at level 50 and you quit and deleted the app only to download it again the next day start over?”  Yes I said and I now I’m at 776 because I finally won 775 as I began writing this.

How many times do we look at one failure and believe that our whole life is a failure?  How many times have you loved your children but you sulk when you lash out in frustration or weariness and believe that you are a bad parent?  How many times have you sinned and felt like God will never love you again?  How many times have you ended a project and say you will never try again?

Don’t believe the lies.  You are not called to failure and you are not called to quit.  If you do it wrong this time, throw it out and start over.  God doesn’t love you because you are successful.  He loves you because you are you.  Count the 775 things that you have done right and don’t worry about the one that has you frustrated at the moment.   You have way more successes than failures.  Remember that!

Luke 1:37
For no word from God will ever fail.
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Person of the Year 2016

The first person that came to mind this year was the “Aleppo Boy”.

aleppo

He was the young boy pulled from debris in Syria.  I decided to go bigger and considered an award to all children of war and began gathering photos.  The most iconic photo I remember is from my childhood war (Vietnam) and is called “Napalm Girl”.  Anyone over 55 in America knows who this is.  I wanted to know where she is today and what became of her.  After reading her story, I easily decided to nominate her as “My Person of the Year.”

Her name is Phan Thi Kim Phuc or just Kim Phuc.  She was born on April 2, 1963 (three years younger than me) in South Vietnam.  Kim lived in the village of Trang Bang and on June 8, 1972 at age nine she was hit by a napalm bomb.  She became famous for being photographed by Nick Ut as she was running naked.  Mr. Ut won a Pulitzer prize for the photo and it was featured in the New York Times and Life Magazine.

napalm

 

Kim was badly burned and tore off her burning clothes. In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, Nóng quá, nóng quá (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture. She was taken to a hospital in Saigon where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive.  After 14 months in the hospital and 17 surgical procedures she was sent home.

Phúc was removed from her university as a young adult while studying medicine and used as a propaganda symbol by the communist government of Vietnam. In 1986, however, she was granted permission to continue her studies in Cuba.  She had converted from her family’s Cao Dai  religion to Christianity in 1982.  After arriving in Cuba she met another Vietnamese student who she began dating and later married.   On the way to their honeymoon in Moscow, they left the plane during a refueling stop in Newfoundland asked for political asylum.   The couple now lives in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto and have 2 children.   In 2015, it was reported that she was receiving laser treatment at a hospital in Miami, Florida to reduce the scarring on her left arm and back. The treatment was provided free of charge.  She has continued these treatments even though they are very painful.

 

Kim has said, “Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?”

 

Kim Phúc Foundation

In 1997 she established the first Kim Phúc Foundation in the U.S., with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.  

In 2004, Phúc spoke at the University of Connecticut  about her life and experience, learning how to be “strong in the face of pain” and how compassion and love helped her heal.

On December 28, 2009, NPR broadcast her spoken essay, “The Long Road to Forgiveness.”  In May 2010, Phúc was reunited by the BBC  correspondent  Christopher Wain, who helped to save her life.

There are pictures on the internet showing Kim’s burns.  I chose a happier current photograph.  I have been touched by Kim’s life since 1972 and again now reading about her courage, faith and forgiveness.  I hope this Person of the Year blesses you as well.  Please pray for ALL the children facing war around the world.

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Most of this information is edited from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

Just go to sleep

I had the great pleasure of babysitting two of my grandaughters last night.  The youngest is three and recently had the earth shattering experience of losing her nuk AND her crib at the same time (she has very bad parents 🙂 ).  I had the challenge of getting her to sleep and for an hour while I laid on the floor beside her tiny little bed and she held my hand (finger).  Fortunately, the bed was the perfect height for me to rest my elbow on the floor and rest my arm against the bed without holding it up in the air.

It’s beautiful loving moments like these when the writing side of my brain takes over and I begin comparing this love to God.  Thoughts like – He is right beside us, there is nothing to fear; All God wants is for us to hold His hand and be loved; God’s love is so simple, we don’t need to do anything to win His approval; Don’t complicate God’s love, just reach out and take hold of Him; There is nothing we can do that will separate us from His love.

And then she sneezed all over my face!  You got it, those beautiful tender thoughts kind of vanished very fast and I had enough.  Those tender loving thoughts turned to “just go to sleep!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I was and I am still joyful about my grandkids (I’m babysitting again this weekend).  I do love those tender moments just like God loves tender moments with His children.  But there are times, I’m sure, when God is tired of hugging and rocking and just wants us to get on with what we are supposed to be doing.

“Just do what you are told to do”.  It might be getting some sleep.  It might be eating our food.  It might be cleaning our room.  Just do it.  Savor your love moments with God but when its time to get up and do something; get up and do it!  Don’t hang around and milk the love moments when it is clear that you have a job to do.

Exodus 14:15
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
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Go Mennonite Cooks!

Chef Gordon Ramsay Has Absolutely No Criticism for Mennonite Girls

Chef Gordon Ramsay Has Absolutely No Criticism for Mennonite Girls

LONDON, UK

Surly British chef and television host Gordon Ramsay was briefly tongued-tied on Friday, after being stunned by the kitchen chops of Mennonite cookbook author Lovella Schellenberg and her team who appeared on Ramsay’s television show. The host of Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef usually rips chefs apart leaving them crying in their soup by the end of the episode, but Ramsay was so impressed with the Mennonite Girls that he offered no criticism for the first time in his career.

“What can I say?” said Ramsay. “The culinary ability of these Mennonite ladies is unparalleled in the history of network television cooking shows.”

The Mennonite Girls impressed the famed chef with Ellen’s hamburger soup recipe and Anneliese’s meatballs with mushroom sauce, before leaving him speechless with Charlotte’s Toberlone cheesecake.

“These ladies cook with soul,” said Ramsay. “There’s not a single thing I would change about any of these dishes.”

Ramsay says he plans to make the ‘Mennonite Girls Can Cook’ cookbook mandatory reading for chefs in all his restaurants, and is considering modifying the format of Hell’s Kitchen to allow for more Mennonite content.

“These ladies turned Hell’s kitchen into Heaven’s kitchen,” said Ramsay. “I guess it’s true. Mennonite girls really can cook!”

(Photo credit: by gordonramsaysubmissions )

Mennonites and Black Lives Matter

I have been processing the Mennonite support of BLM ever since I read an article by Ervin Stutzman and responded in a blog (https://mennonitemafia.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/judge-and-jury-folks/).

Today I learned that Mennonite Mission Network is giving money to Black Lives Matter.  To be fair, it is a ‘The Voices Project to offer nonviolent direct action training and organizing strategies to the movement.”  https://serve.mennonitemission.net/Stories/Pages/Mennonite-agency-agrees-BlackLivesMatter-too.aspx.

Let’s break this down and look at this issue from a “Mennonite” point of view:

Mennonites have historically rooted for the oppressed, downtrodden and poor.  It’s easy to see that the church would want to lift these folks up.  Mennonites also have strong connections cross culturally and have a large urban and non white membership.  It makes sense for the church to support a civil group that many white people don’t relate too.

The other side of this issue is where it can get messy.  Some will deny the anti-military and anti-police undertones in the Mennonite Church.  I don’t know anyone who claims this is preached from the pulpit, but most will say it is an unwritten sentiment in the faith.   I wasn’t “taught” by my Mennonite father (who was a pastor) that military and police professionals are evil but the fact that these professionals were not allowed to be Mennonites added up to the conclusion that they are not Christians or at least not Christians worthy of being Mennonites.   Professions that carry guns were not on my slate for employment – they weren’t jobs desirable by true Christians.  I didn’t know any military/police personally until I attended a Baptist Church with my wife.  That was the first time that I really gave thought that there could be God fearing people even if they were required to kill someone.  The thought of military/police service was so foreign that I wasn’t permitted to be a boy scout because the uniform and organization was too similar to the military.

So why would the Mennonite Church feel any need to support “Blue Lives Matter” when they are not given the same respect and support as the oppressed and downtrodden.  A poor black man is gunned down.  It can’t be his fault.  It has to be the non Christian policeman who is abusing his power.  When was the last time that you heard of a Mennonite Church supporting or ministering to police or military personnel?  Do we have any missionaries in that field?  Any chaplains in the military?  Why would we?  We don’t support them or agree with what they do.

Here is the danger.  We may admit that some good comes from the police and military but we keep our distance so our hands don’t get dirty.  We stress that our involvement in BLM is “nonviolent direct action training and organizing” but lets not forget that the reaction from protesters has also been very violent and causing social unrest.  How many innocent police officers have been gunned down and killed even though they had no involvement in shooting anyone?

The Mennonite Church is rushing into support one side while again judging police.  I would love to see MMN give $10,000 to an organization that is ministering to those called to serve while carrying a gun.  Or don’t they deserve that?

Exodus 2:14
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”
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