Month: September 2015

A Philosopher’s Dilemma

Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Here is a philosopher’s dilemma.  One verse says to be content – the other talks about strict training to achieve a goal.  One says be free while the other talks about competition and winning.

How does anyone win a race without training, diet and discipline?  How does anyone win without a goal and striving to be the best?  No one has ever won an Olympic medal by saying “I am content with my ability”.  No one succeeds at business without a plan to succeed.

Do we strive to have a “happy mix”?  Are we in training or should we just be content?

How about spiritual issues:  Should we strive to be more faithful and more like Jesus or do we stay content with our current nature?

tree

What’s your style of worship?

“I refuse to go to any service where contemporary instruments are used.”

“I’m not knocking hymns, but I’m not dead yet.”

“You probably go to a happy clappy kind of church.”

“I don’t like organ music.  ANY kind of organ music.”

“They are still singing the same hymns that they sang 50 years ago.”

“You listen to that type of music all week.  Why do you want to listen to it in church.”

“I’m sure there is a message in that hymn but I fell asleep before I got to it.”

“Drums?  In church?”

“Pipe organ? Really? And you pay for someone to play it?”

“You sing the same verses over and over again for 15 minutes.”

“Hymnals?  Those songs are 100 years old!”

“I couldn’t worship because I was distracted by all the women dancing.”

“Everyone just stands at their seats.  I need more freedom when I worship.”

“Why do you stand so long?”

“That is beautiful four part harmony.”

“What?”

“Your hymns are written in old English. What is an Ebenezer or a fetter?”

“I left when everyone started jumping up and down.”

“We raise our hands in praise.”

“We’re not at a football game.”

“Your songs don’t have much depth.”

“Your songs are irrelevant.”

“I wouldn’t go to church if I had to worship that way.”

“I wouldn’t go to church if I had to worship YOUR way.”

Psalm 150 NIV

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

hannahpraise

Soul Window

I was touring an historic house from the 18th Century.  The guide pointed out a small window in the bedroom and said this was a “soul window”.  The early German settlers believed that if one died in a windowless room, their soul would be trapped and could not pass.  The soul window was opened near the time of death so that a loved one could easily move onto the next life.

I don’t like to be confined in a windowless room.  Even with central air, I feel closed in.  My soul may not need to be released to the other side but I certainly like being able to see out.

Open your windows today and allow the Holy Spirit to blow in.  Feel His breeze.  Enjoy His wind.  Stand and see His horizon and know His plans.  Be prepared for when the time is right to open the door to walk out into His garden.

Genesis 8:5-7 (NIV)

The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.

window

Leon Wyczółkowski, 1933

You can run but you can’t hide

The story of Jonah has always amazed me (on a number of levels).  My focus today is on verse 5 – “How can you sleep?”  So…there is a huge storm that has seasoned sailors crying.  Typically in a storm, the passengers are freaking out and the professionals are calm.  In this case Jonah is taking a snooze and could care less that the sailors are throwing everything overboard and screaming for their lives.  Minutes later he admits to being the cause, faces his punishment and says “throw me overboard”.

I’d really like to meet this guy and see what makes him tick.  He snubs God (who he clearly knows is the creator and master of the universe), runs away, sleeps through a storm and volunteers his life to save everyone else.  Notice he didn’t jump overboard and commit suicide – he made the others throw him over making them feel guilty for murder.

How would you like this guy leading your church?  I think he would be a hard leader to deal with.  On the other hand, God chose him and stayed on him even when he ran away.  What’s God chasing you down for today?  Remember, you can run but you can’t hide!

Jonah 1New International Version (NIV)

Jonah Flees From the Lord

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

jonah

In the beginning and the end

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God . . .  1st sentence in the Bible

Revelation 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.  Last verse in the Bible

We’ve always had God.  We always have the grace of Jesus.

Is there anything else needed?  It’s a pretty bold statement – we do need food, water and shelter.  Companionship?  Purpose? Vision?

We squeeze our grandchildren in between us and say, “you’re the peanut butter and jelly in our sandwich of life”.  May all the other stuff is peanut butter and jelly sandwiched between God and Jesus all wrapped up in the Holy Spirit!

Amen

hannahpraise

Ladyboys

I began researching this topic because I heard a speaker say “pray for the ladyboys in Thailand”.  This is not a pleasant subject and I would encourage you to use caution in researching it.

The term “ladyboy” refers to boys that are transgender.  Wikipedia definition: Kathoey is a Thai term that refers to either a transgender woman or an effeminate gay male in Thailand. A significant number of Thais perceive kathoeys as belonging to a third gender, including many kathoeys themselves, while others see them as either a kind of man or a kind of woman.[1] The word kathoey is of Khmer origin.[2] It is most often rendered as ladyboy or lady boy in English conversation with Thais and this latter expression has become popular across Southeast Asia.

Searching the internet for this subject hits the range of sad, horrified, sickened and disturbed. (Like I said be careful)  Below are excerpts from various blogs of personal interaction:

“Ladyboys are men who dress as women and toms are women who dress as men. To say either group identifies as “men” or “women” would oversimplify the issue. The polite term for katoey in Thai literally translates to “third gender.” Thai has no gendered pronouns, but when Thais refer to ladyboys and toms in English, they consistently used “her” and “him” respectively in such a natural way it seems to reflect the way they think of the people rather than an effort towards political correctness”

“It is a troubled world for these people, at times, dark and abusive. In the search for life and love they look in every direction.”

“Pray for healing, transformation, restoration, spiritual breakthrough, workers among this community”.

“You know it is so easy when you come on a mission trip to be visualizing what you will do and who you will work with and how it will look. For me I was thinking I am going to work with children and with the women who are sold as ugly. Then just as easy as that is for me to visualize God says child I have other plans.ha he has a mind of his own…..Let me tell you about LadyBoys; they all are men that have been surgically altered and portray themselves as women and for all intensive purposes live and sell themselves as women. These are men that have gotten lost along the way just like we get lost along the way sometimes. Sometimes they have been emotionally or physically abused as children and to the extreme. Now more than anything they just look for love and acceptance wherever and however they can get it”.
“We are headed to Bangkok this week to focus on working with a group of Ladyboys…I love it when God changes my plans and trades them in for his !  As a westerner, I did not understand what being a ladyboy meant in Thailand. There are 67 million people in Thailand, and an estimated 2.8 million of them are prostitutes—men and women. Sons and daughters can be sold for as little as $12 and can serve up to a dozen customers daily. The problem is so widespread, there are more centers of prostitution than there are schools”.
“Some boys make their own choice to become Ladyboys.  For some though, the choice is made by the parents at an early age.  So the parents will look at their sons, and choose the one who exhibits the most feminine qualities, change his name to a ‘her’ name, dress him in girl’s clothing and give him girl toys to play with. He is now a Ladyboy. Then they have the assurance that at least one of their children will provide for them, especially if they enter the sex tourism industry where the money is good”.
“Michelle is a lady boy from a village outside of Chiang Mai. He was asked when he was younger what he wanted to be when he was older. He said he wanted to be a hairdresser. From a young age Michelle was put on hormones because his parents thought he should have been a girl. Michelle has lived through life as a man but being pumped with hormones that make him feel female. He has no identity. Stuck between manhood and womanhood”.
Looking into the Bible, there are several people who dealt with identity issues.  Joseph was a leader in Egypt and hid his true identity to his brothers.  Jacob disguised his identity to trick his father.  Moses was raised with an Egyptian identity.
For someone changing their identity there are a number of possible motivations:  Deceit – Trying to fool someone for profit or gain; Slavery – Being forced to hold a different identity; Protection – changing identity for self preservation; Confusion – gene/heredity/sexual issues of living a life different than the outer self may appear.
How do we respond as Christians?  First off, pray.  Second, learn and learn and learn.  Third pray for compassion and wisdom.  Fourth, find a ministry that is reaching a people group on your heart and support them or get involved.

Zechariah 7:8-10 (NIV)

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’    Could this apply to ladyboys?

ladyboy

Be Transformed

A guest speaker approached a pulpit to speak.  No one in the congregation had ever met him. He was slightly overweight – not obese, but definitely could have lost a few pounds.

He started off saying, “Good Morning, how do I look?”  There was nervous laughter.  He said, “You’re probably thinking that I need to lose 50 pounds and I then I would look great.  C’mon, be honest.  Except none of you know what I looked like before.  You only see me standing here as I am today.  You don’t know if I gained 50 pounds this year or lost 50 pounds.  You are only judging me on what you see NOW.  So what do you think, am I gaining or losing?  You can’t tell can you?”

He let that sink in for a minute.  “The truth is – is that I WAS 300 pounds overweight.  I finally took hold of my life and through diet and exercise I have lost 250 pounds over the past several years.”  The crowd roared with cheers and clapping.

When you see someone on the street, you don’t know if they are coming or going.  Are they improving or are they falling?  Is their life better or worse than a year ago?  No one stays stagnant for long.  Are they becoming a sinner or are they transforming into Jesus’ likeness?

A couple walks into the church – not married but living together raising a child from another man who does not know the child.  Have they just come to the Lord or are they falling from a Godly upbringing?  Are they trying to build a new foundation or are they still living on a crumbling one?

Are you gaining or losing?  Improving or failing? Falling into sin or being transformed?

2 Corinthians 3:17-18  (NIV)

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

hannahpraise

Chosen . . . Last

While many people list “gym” as their favorite subject in school, I can’t agree.  You see, I was one of those “chosen last” kids when teams were formed.  If you didn’t have the joy of participating in American Gym class, here is how it worked: The teacher picks two popular jocks to be “captains”.  The “captains” then pick their teams one by one starting with other jocks and their friends.  The picking ends with the nerds, special needs, fat, skinny and asthma kids.  Everyone knew where they fit into the hierarchy before the picking began.  Personally I just stood against the wall and waited until it was over and I was picked by default.  There was something special about the disgust shown in needing to take me because I had leprosy or would single handedly cause the team to lose.  One would think that a teacher would have more wisdom than inflicting pain on their students.

I’m not trying to gather a pity party.   I didn’t feel like I was being bullied.  I just wasn’t “wanted”.  I had no skills to offer.  Teams are not built on social conscience or welfare mentality.  Even if the teacher had written out a team list, I still would have known that I wasn’t an asset.

What does this say about life?  Where do we fit in?  Are we an outcast?  Are we nerds, special needs, fat, skinny or suffering from some disability?  Do we stand back and try not to care?  Do we get angry and try to stand out as rebels?   Do we merely suffer through the life events that we don’t succeed in and try to find joy in the areas that we excel in?  What if we don’t excel at anything?

Here are a couple pointers: give thanks for what you have, never give up, give praise to God and have faith.  God has a plan for you.

Luke 17

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Judges 6

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and saveIsrael out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

gym

Eugenics

To totally understand the abortion movement in America, we must go back to the roots of the movement.  Abortion has been with us since the beginning of time but the tremendous surge over the 20th century can, in part, be linked to a popular movement in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The practice of “Eugenics” not only led to our modern day abortion practices but also led to the Nazi genocide of Jews.  It is an ugly part of our past that is not discussed very often.  I believe that if you want to totally understand the impact of abortion, you need to look at the roots and philosophies of the beginning.

This post is different from most others on this site but I feel that it is a necessary read.  It should only be a start for any reader – there is MUCH more information out there and it is shocking.

In brief:

  1. This movement believed that weak genetic traits, people groups, unwanted, etc could be eliminated by forced sterilization.  Blacks, native Americans, immigrants, people with defects, low intelligence – it was a way to cultivate society into what the “society leaders” thought was the premium stock.
  2. This movement fed into the Nazi practices to eliminate Jews and others.
  3. It was considered a progressive (i.e. liberal/advanced/educated) view.  The right thing to do.  The best for all society.
  4. It was the foundation for modern day abortion, birth control and “family planning”. A progressive way to move from sterilization to a more accepted control of “unwanted” population.  Rather than sterilizing individuals this step handled the “unwanted” population in other ways.
  5. Sterilization was spun in positive terms for society’s benefit.  Sound familiar?
  6. It may be hard to believe that our government and society leaders pushed for this.  It was a dark idea in the progress of our country.  Will we look back on our era in the same way?
  7. Liberal or conservative.  Christian or atheist.  Progressive or red neck. ALL ideas need to be challenged.

Eugenics, the social movement claiming to improve the genetic features of human populations through selective breeding and sterilization, based on the idea that it is possible to distinguish between superior and inferior elements of society, played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.

Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the latter. Stefan Kühl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.

During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements (as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe) rather than scientific genetics.

Several feminist reformers advocated an agenda of eugenic legal reform. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National League of Women Voters were among the variety of state and local feminist organization that at some point lobbied for eugenic reforms.

One of the most prominent feminists to champion the eugenic agenda was Margaret Sanger, the leader of the American birth control movement. Margaret Sanger saw birth control as a means to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life, and incorporated the language of eugenics to advance the movement.[21][22] Sanger also sought to discourage the reproduction of persons who, it was believed, would pass on mental disease or serious physical defect. She advocated sterilization in cases where the subject was unable to use birth control.[21] Unlike other eugenicists, she rejected euthanasia.[23] For Sanger, it was individual women and not the state who should determine whether or not to have a child.[24][25]

Wikipedia – Eugenics in the United States – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

eugenics“High grade person”, “feeble minded”,”defects”

Cup of Water

“It is so hurtful . . . I take the time to write an update and I get zero response.  Did it go out?  Was there a technical problem?  Was it poorly written?  Why didn’t anyone respond?  I added pictures and took so much time detailing what we are doing and I don’t even get a thank you.  From anyone!”  – posted by any missionary around the world

I hear this all the time – usually with tears attached.  Individual supporters and churches demand communication and accountability from their missionaries but seldom respond to the communication that has been required.

“How hard is it to simply respond ‘thank you’ or ‘got it – praying for you'”

You don’t need to respond with your own journal.  A simple “hello” note would be appreciated.

I encourage you to respond with a kind hello the next time you receive an email or update letter – It will be a cup of cool water!

Matthew 10:41-42 (NIV)

41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Childcup