How Do We Navigate The World From A Christian Perspective?

 

venice-italy-outdoor-scenic-161980.jpegSmooth sailing…that’s what we all would like, isn’t it? Navigating through the issues that this world presents is anything but smooth sailing. We are constantly bombarded with information and news about problems in all parts of the world. How do we sort it all out? How do we make sense of the things we need to? Can we find the time to contemplate the really important matters that face us? And what about the issues behind the issues? I don’t have all the answers, but I would like to share my thoughts on some of the subjects we all deal with. And I would love your input, too. Come join me as we learn to navigate the world from a Christian perspective.

 

 

Speaking Truth to Power

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A few weeks ago, a couple of politicians made some remarks that most people recognized as improper. They both commented that it was okay to be uncivil to those of another political persuasion; one even recommended using physical force on those opposing his views. I waited for someone in their political party to speak against what was said. It wasn’t long until one did. One lone female Senator spoke up and disagreed with them. A few days later a former First Lady also spoke up and took issue with both statements.

It made me think, “Why is it so hard to speak truth to people in power? Why were there only two women who were willing to take up the microphone and disagree with what was said?” There are many answers to these questions. First, most people (yes, even those who are in positions of political power) are afraid to speak up and call out those in their own political party who may be making statements that need to be challenged. Second, there will usually be some sort of repercussions if one does speak up. These repercussions may not be serious, but just the fact a person is not willing to fall in line with the herd will set one apart. Third, it takes real courage in order to speak up and stand up when few others are willing to do so.

We live in a society that is becoming more and more divisive. Tribalism has set in and one is expected to tow the line of whatever tribe one is a part of. We do not have to go along with this kind of thinking or social engineering. We can break out of our “tribal thinking” and be willing to take a stand should someone in our “tribe” make statements that are uncivil, rude or unnecessarily divisive.

Personally, I prefer to not be part of any “tribe.” I want to be an independent thinker that recognizes the worth of each individual and gives people the freedom to think differently than I do. How about you? Have you noticed more pressure than usual to just go along with what your group or tribe is saying and just keep quiet? What do you do about it?

Where are the Martin Luther Kings and the Bobby Kennedys of this Generation?

Having grown up in the sixties, I was privileged to watch and listen to great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. had the vision and the voice to inspire a generation of people to not accept the villainy of segregation. Bobby Kennedy had the same vision and with his position as Attorney General was able to help enforce the law and not allow segregation any longer.

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photo by skeeze courtesy of pixabay

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to us and taught us the power of passive resistance. He never advocated violence and he never tried to incite us to hatred or violence in any form. He was a man whose vision made us all better people and he inspired change for the millions of people who would come after him.

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photo by skeeze courtesy of pixabay

Bobby Kennedy had the ability and the power of the Federal government to implement that change. He believed it was the right thing to do and he brought the full force of the law to bear in order to implement it.

Today there are many worthy causes that I would love to lend my voice to but I can’t. Their leaders inspire hatred and violence and instead of bringing people together they are tearing apart the fabric of our society.

Does anyone miss the kind of leaders that Martin and Bobby were? I certainly do and I am looking for men and women like them, people of high caliber and vision, who can bring us together and help solve the problems we face in our society today.

Hi! In light of the comments by some politicians this week, I thought I would repost this! Have a great week!

 

 

 

Love Your Enemies

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpgOne of the hardest things Jesus ever told his followers was, “Love Your Enemies.” As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have been challenged by this command ever since I first read it. How do we truly love our enemies?

First, we have to decide who our enemies are. On a personal level, our enemies are those people who go out of their way to make life miserable for us. They deliberately try to do us harm, either mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually or socially. They are pretty easy to identify and I bet if I asked you who your enemies are, you could whip out a list pretty fast.

Next we have to look at who our enemies are on a broader scale. They may be the leaders of a country who are threatening to annihilate us or those who are working against our national interests in the international arena. The people in those countries may not actually be our enemies but are people at the mercy of the those in control of the government of their countries.

Then we have to look at who are not our enemies. Sometimes this takes rethinking the word “enemy.” Our teachers are not our enemy if they do not give us the grade we think we deserve in class. Our boss is not our enemy if he doesn’t give us the raise we think we are entitled to. Our parents are not our enemies if they don’t let us do everything we want to do. The judge is not our enemy if he gives us a fine for speeding. Anyone who holds us accountable for our actions or performance is not our enemy.

People of another political persuasion are not our enemies. They may not agree with our opinions and we may not agree with theirs, but that does not make them our enemy. They are mutual citizens of a country that needs differing political views in order to serve the common good. We need to resist the constant media barrage that seeks to pit those with one political view against another.

People of another religious persuasion are not our enemies. Believing something different than we do does not constitute grounds to classify someone as an enemy. There may be people on the fringe of a religious group that truly seeks to harm us, but the group as a whole are not our enemies.

Once we identify who and who are not our enemies, how do we treat them? How do we actually love them? Jesus continued on and said, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” That sounds like a pretty tall order to me and it will take a major change in our present mindset in order to accomplish it.

Let’s break it down: “Bless those who curse you.” How do we do that? First, we do not curse them back, i.e. if they are swearing at us, we do not return fire with expletives. It takes practice, but when someone is going on a rant, we walk away. If we can, we say something positive to them or at least something that will help to diffuse the situation. We do not call them names, even under our breath. When these people are not on a rant, we may say something positive or uplifting to them, i.e. blessing them.

He then said: “Do good to those who hate you.” This is not easy stuff to swallow, let alone digest. We have to choose to do good to someone who has not had our best interest at heart. This may entail treating with kindness the shrew in the break room who is always gossiping about us or our friends. It may mean helping out a person who has been unkind to us in their time of need. Nothing speaks louder than when we purposely act kindly towards those who have not treated us well and do not deserve our kindness.

Finally, he said, “Pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.” This is actually the key that will open our hearts and help us extend kindness to those who have been unkind to us. If we will spend time in prayer for those who have offended us, we will find our attitudes changing. When we ask for good things for them, the bad feelings we have inside begin to disappear. We begin to see them as the flawed people they are and we quit giving them power over our lives. When we want what is good and best for them, we will behave in a different manner towards them. Perhaps then we can even do what Jesus said. One day we may even be able to love them.

Hi, I’m on hiatus, but wanted to repost one of my faves in this hot political climate! Love you guys  (and gals)  alot!

 

Rain Of God — The Fashioned Woman

This is one of my favorite posts from a blogger who deals with chronic illness. I wanted to pass it on to you!

I woke up this morning with babbling brooks overflowing upon the rocks of my soul that I must write and pray unto our Lord. I sang the songs of worship that flowed from my heart knowing that this was not the flesh that I awoke to, but the presence of God fully in my […]

via Rain Of God — The Fashioned Woman

Gratitude – The Way Back From The Desert of Discontentment

pexels-photo-459319.jpegIt usually starts with a thought. The thought flies through my brain so fast, I cannot even tell you what it was. A few minutes later, another one comes; it lingers a bit and I focus on it. The thought usually starts with some form of “You don’t, You can’t or You aren’t.” The thoughts keep coming and if I dwell on them; I begin to feel discontented with my life.

The negative feelings usually follow the negative thoughts. If I allow myself to think and feel them for any length of time; I begin walking in the Desert of Discontentment. I don’t go there very often, but when I do, I begin to think about my life choices. What if I had made different choices? What would my life be like? Would it be better? If I let my mind go down that path for any length of time, I walk even further into the Desert of Discontentment.

Usually after about an hour of walking in the Desert of Discontentment, I start to look around. It is dry and hot in the desert and very little vegetation grows there. I find myself unhappy and I don’t want to stay there any longer. I turn around and head back the way I came. I look for a landmark to guide me back and then I finally see it.

On the edge of the desert, there is a small hill named Gratitude. If I keep my eyes on the hill, I can find my way out. With each step, I think about what I am grateful for: my home, my family, my health and a hundred little things I quit being thankful for the moment I stepped into the desert.

My hike out usually takes less time than my hike in did. After a few moments of focusing on the things I am grateful for, my discontentment begins to leave. I can see my life and my circumstances from a more positive perspective and I can find my way back from the Desert of Discontentment. And I am always truly grateful for that.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thess. 5:18   NKJV

 

 

Hi! I am on hiatus the next few weeks and will be reposting some of my faves!

What Were the Sixties Like?

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Some of you have been wondering what the Sixties were like. I’ll try to describe them for you.

On Sunday, we went walking with our MAMAS and PAPAS and we would “STOP INTO A CHURCH WE PASSED ALONG THE WAY.” We would “GET DOWN ON OUR KNEES AND PRETEND TO PRAY.” When the service was over we would go get ice cream at the Dairy Queen. It tasted so good! I was just LOVIN’ every SPOONFUL. We were truly “GROOVIN’ ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON.”

We had such a good time on Sunday, we might just skip school on Monday. My friend BOB and his buddy DYLAN would come over and when the principal’s office called to look for me, I would have BOB answer the phone and say, “IT AIN’T ME BABE, IT AIN’T ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.”

We would go down to the beach and we would “SIT ON THE DOCK BY THE BAY” with my good friend OTIS who was from REDDING. We would swim, laugh, surf and laze away the afternoons. It was fun but when I got home, I was always in trouble. My dad would warn me about my ASSOCIATION with my friends, but I would say, “Dad, I really “CHERISH” them! He didn’t like the fact that I hung around the BEACH with the BOYS and he would ground me. I would have to call my friends and say that “I HAD FUN, FUN, FUN” but “MY DADDY TOOK MY T-BIRD AWAY.”

I would, for sure, go to school the next day and I always sat in the back of the class and day-dreamed. My friend JUDY from COLLINS, would look out the window and say things like: “I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. IT’S CLOUD’S ILLUSIONS I RECALL. I REALLY DON’T KNOW CLOUDS AT ALL.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I thought it was sounded really far out!

In the summer, I would travel with my friend MARY and her brothers PETER AND PAUL. It seems like we were always “LEAVIN’ ON A JET PLANE” and I didn’t “KNOW WHEN I’D BE BACK AGAIN.” We went to England and met a lot of nice people including some royalty. We met the “DUKE OF EARL” and found out his real name was GENE CHANDLER. A man named HERMAN had friends that weren’t very social, so we called them the HERMITS. HERMAN was a little off. He also thought he was royalty and called himself “HENRY THE VIII!” We also met a guy named GERRY in Liverpool and his friends THE PACEMAKERS. They helped us take a “FERRY CROSS THE MERSEY.

It was a time of great social change. Men grew their hair long and a group called the COWSILLS made a lot of money singing about “HAIR.” Someone even wrote a Broadway play about “HAIR” and it travelled the world and made a ton of money.

In the mid-sixties, JAMES BROWN told us that “IT’S A MAN’S, MAN’S, MAN’S WORLD,” but later on my friend HELEN was always REDDY to tell people she was “WOMAN,” and she wanted people to “HEAR HER ROAR!”

Technology took us to the moon and scientists discovered THE FIFTH DIMENSION. Astronomers saw that “THE MOON WAS IN THE 7th HOUSE AND JUPITER ALIGNED WITH MARS.” We were hoping that “PEACE WOULD GUIDE THE PLANETS AND LOVE, LOVE WOULD STEER THE STARS.” It was truly the “AGE OF AQUARIAUS.”

The most important piece of advice I got was my friend, SCOTT, who lived up on the McKENZIE. He told me that “IF I WAS GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO,” I should “WEAR SOME FLOWERS IN MY HAIR.” So I did!

So there you have it…hope you have a little better picture of the Sixties!

Marine Angels on Assignment

It was the early Seventies,  I was going to college at Southern Oregon University. It was a time of great social upheaval and cultural change. I met a girl from California and we became friends. Wendy was a kind and loving person and had a quality of innocence about her. She asked me if I would go with her to see a friend in Arcata, California. I asked her how we were going to get there. She said, “We’ll just hitchhike.”

That didn’t sound too great to me. I had hitchhiked once while at college and it was only for a few miles. That time, a friend and I were riding in the back of a pickup. I didn’t feel safe and did not want to stay in the truck and so my friend and I got out at a stoplight a few minutes down the road. I expressed my doubts to her, but she convinced me to go. Her plan was to only take rides from women. It sounded somewhat logical to my teenage mind and so I went.

At first, everything went well. We got rides from women and were well on our way down the Redwood Highway. Our last ride left us on the road while it was still light. As time passed, no one suitable came by and we were left standing on the side of the road as it began to get dark. We were totally unprepared to spend the night outside and had not taken sleeping bags or blankets to keep us warm. Neither did we take flashlights or matches.

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I was beginning to get worried and was very unhappy that I had chosen to go with Wendy. I’m sure I was thinking that if I ever got out of this situation, I would never hitchhike again. It grew dark and a car stopped. We looked inside and there were two young men with blond hair and crew cuts in the car. They looked different from the students we went to school with. They were very clean cut and looked safe and responsible.

We got in the car; it seemed like our only choice at the time. As we introduced ourselves, they told us they were Marines on leave from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. I told them that my brother was a Marine and where he was stationed at the time. Their level of concern for us immediately went up a notch. Because I was the sister of a fellow Marine, they felt an obligation to take us exactly where we needed to go. They wanted to make sure we made it to Arcata safe and sound.

We arrived in Arcata late that night. I slept on the floor of the dormitory where Wendy’s friend was staying. I remember thinking how God had taken care of us by bringing those two young men along that deserted highway at just the right time. Were they actual Marines or God’s angels sent to take care of two very foolish girls? I will never know, but I will always be grateful for the ride they provided and the concern they showed us that night. It is an experience I will never forget.

How about you? Has God provided for you in extraordinary circumstances? I would love to hear your story. I’m sure God’s angels have looked after each and every one of us. They surely walk among us, for as the Scripture says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2.

 

 

“What’s In Your Hand?”

In my last post, I talked about finding our gifts and talents. So what happens when we do know what our gifts and talents are? Can we just move forward and find a path that will help us express them and use them for the benefit of others? Sometimes the way is clear, but at other times it is blocked, and many times we are the one’s blocking it. How do we block our own path forward? Through Self-Disqualification. 

What is Self-Disqualification? It is where we tell ourselves we cannot move in a certain direction because we either do not have the resources, qualifications, or we believe our past has disqualified us. Let’s look at each reason and let’s take them in reverse order.

Our Past: We disqualify ourselves and keep ourselves from moving forward because we have made some mistakes in our past. We tell ourselves, “Surely God cannot use someone like me.” This is the height of self-negation and it does not take into account the grace and mercy of God: the God of Second Chances. Let’s look at a few examples of people God used in spite of their mistakes: Moses killed a man and fled the country he was living in. God called him to become the leader of his people and help bring them out of slavery. Joseph spent considerable time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Pharaoh took him from prison and made him the second in command in Egypt. David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband killed when he found out the woman was pregnant. God used these men in spite of the mistakes they had made or the places they found themselves. If he could use them, he can surely use us.

Our Qualifications: It is true that many times we don’t at the moment have the qualifications to do the job we aspire to do. That said, it will take some time and effort to find the right school, internship, or training we need. Remember, no one is born qualified. Each of us must find a way to get qualified if we want to pursue a certain career path or area of giftedness.

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The Resources: Granted we all need some resources to move forward. We may need a grant, scholarship or loan in order to get more training. We many need money for transportation if we want to volunteer somewhere and get our training that way. We all need something. But here’s the deal, each of us has something we can use to begin right where we are. How do I know this? Let’s look at one of the examples I used earlier. When God called Moses, he was living on the backside of the desert herding sheep.  Moses gave God all these reasons why he couldn’t do what he was being asked to do. Finally, God said to him, “What do you have in your hand?” Moses told him it was a rod. God then had him use what he had in his hand to help him accomplish the task he was given.

So I would say to you? What do you have in your hand that you can use to get started on your journey? Is it a pen, pencil, artist’s pad, mop, broom, vacuum or laptop? Is it a mower, rake, shovel, steering wheel or cell phone? We all have something right where we are that can help us get started in the direction we need to go. So let’s take what we have, where we are and get started. The journey will be exciting. We don’t know where it will lead and who we will meet along the way. But sure as can be, we will never get there if we don’t take that first step! 

Where Do Your Gifts and Talents Lay?


images[3]This week I am reading a biography of Winston Churchill. When we think of a larger than life figure like Winston, we assume he had a life of success at every turn. Usually that is far from the truth. Winston was not a good student. He was not good at foreign languages and math. He failed the entrance exams for at least two schools he wanted to get into. He needed to be tutored in order to pass the required tests. 
One exam he took between his Junior and Senior levels of education was Latin. It was a two hour test. He wrote 1. on the paper. About a half an hour later he wrote (1.) and put parentheses around the number. That was it. He just sat there unable to answer the questions. Mercifully, the headmaster came and took his paper and he was able to leave the exam room.

What people didn’t know about Winston was that he loved History and English Composition. He was talented in those fields and they would prove key to his success later in life. He was also stubborn and he refused to give up. That served him well when he was helping his country face the Nazi’s during the Second World War. These gifts and talents are part of what made him a great leader.

Each one of us has been given gifts and talents. Sometimes those talents are not readily identifiable by ourselves or others. Sometimes they are so different than what other people have or what society requires that they are almost unrecognizable. Whether we can identify them or not at the moment does not negate that we have them.

If we are at a loss to figure out where our talents lie and what course we should follow, what can we do? We can look on the Internet and take one of the free tests available. We can also grab a book that has the test in it, tells us about the different gifts and suggested occupations for those who have those gifts. One I read a while back is Dr. Caroline Leaf’s, “The Gift in You, Discovering New Life Through Gifts Hidden in Your Mind.” You can get it used on Amazon for only a few dollars. I have given this book to others trying to figure out where their giftedness lies and what they can do with it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to identify the gifts and talents within them. 51aCXiA3NSL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

Why is identifying our gifts and talents so important? I believe that if we can identify our gifts that we will be able to seek employment in the appropriate fields and lead a more satisfying and fulfilled life. Notice I didn’t say, “We will be able to become wealthy and a tremendous material success.” The happiest people I know are those that are functioning in their areas of giftedness. They are serving where they fit the best in this world and are making the greatest impact in the lives of those around them.

“Cogito Ergo Sum?”

large[1]We have all heard of Rene’ Descartes famous saying, “Cogito Ergo Sum,” meaning, “I think, therefore, I am.” Is it true? I don’t know; should we talk to the goldfish in my aquarium? He exists and I don’t believe he thinks. If he did, he would jump out of there in a heartbeat. After all, he will spend his entire life in a very small confined space. If he could think, he would either be on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. He would most certainly need to be treated for a severe case of claustrophobia. Not to worry though…he’s happy. He probably lives responding to his innate biological needs and instincts. 

One thing we do know for sure is that we think and we exist. Are our thoughts important or are they just ethereal things that fly through our brains randomly? Jesus said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So what does that mean? I think it means that the things we spend our time thinking about become a part of who we are. If we spend our time thinking about positive things, we will become a more positive person. The same goes for the negative. If we dwell on hateful, negative thoughts, we will also become more of that kind of person. We do have a choice about what kinds of things we think about and dwell on. 

Do we always have a choice about what comes into our brains initially? No, not always. We may be driving down the street and see a billboard with a negative sentiment and image. A thought will come into our mind about that image and sentiment. What do we do with that thought? We can choose to think about it or we can refuse to. We have to learn to be intentional about the things we think about. Scripture says that we are to “Take every thought captive.” Kay Arthur said it another way: “Frisk every thought at the door!” 

How do we do that? Simple, we replace it with another thought. We say to ourselves, “No, I don’t want to think on that, I will think on this.” We then choose to think about something positive or different than that image or thought. It takes practice and discipline to stop the negative and move to the positive. Does it really work?

Yes, it happens to me every day. I may be doing something and a random thought will come into my mind. Let’s say it is something negative about someone. I can choose to dwell on it or I can say to myself, “No, I choose to think differently about that person.” I then think about them in a different way and then I move on. I don’t want to harbor a negative image about someone in my brain. There must be something good about them I can think about if I have to think about them at all. Sometimes, I will think on a Scripture verse that helps me put my mind back into a more positive mode.

Will it make a difference in our lives? I think so. I know two people who have dementia. One was a positive person during the course of her life and the other was negative. Now that they don’t have their faculties the way they used to, the basic thought patterns that they have developed during their lives have taken over. The positive person is cheery although she doesn’t remember much, and the other is as negative as she always was. It is sad to listen to her talk; she views everything from a negative perspective. They are examples that our thought choices really do matter.

What if we have chosen the negative most of our lives? Can we reprogram our brains? Yes, it is never too late. Our brain is a living entity and we can begin to be intentional about what we think about. If you need something concrete to help you get started, I would recommend  a book I read a while ago, “Switch On Your Brain,” by Dr. Caroline Leaf. It talks about “The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health.” She has a 21 day Brain Detox Plan to help people reprogram their minds from the negative and help them get their brains on a more positive track. She has worked with the very young and very old and has seen success in both groups. I enjoyed reading her book and appreciated the scientific backdrop for her work.51hyrp28dPL[1] 

What about you? Have you found a way to be intentional about your thought life or are you letting thoughts take root in your brain that are harming you? Cogito Bonum or Cogito Malum: Think on the good or Think on the Bad. It’s your choice!