Democracy or Idiocracy?

The latest election is over and now we must live with the consequences of our choices. Some of the consequences will be good and others, not so much. Most of the pre-election coverage was on the presidential election, but we also voted for governors, mayors, and city councilmen.

We are impacted to a certain degree by the presidential election, but we are more personally impacted by the winners in the state and local races we have voted for. It is in these arenas that we must take a good hard look at what our votes did.

These democratically elected officials will either work for the common good or they will create an environment that most will find difficult to live in. For example, did we vote for city or county officials that will defund our police? That decision will make our city much less safe and we will be living in an Idiocracy.

“Idiocracy – government that is based on abstract theory.  definition.org

Did we vote for district attorneys that will not require cash bail? Will the criminals be free to roam our streets? Will the shoplifters return to loot and pillage small businesses within ten dollars of the amount required for a felony? Again, we will live in an Idiocracy.

Did we vote in city and county officials that will not properly deal with the homeless problem? Will they allow the homeless to live on our sidewalks and not help them move to more humane conditions? Again, as we make our way past human waste on the way to work, we will know we are living in an Idiocracy.

We can complain all we want but in the end, the choice is ours and we have no one to blame but ourselves when we have poor leadership. So now what do we do if we are stuck with poor leadership and living in an Idiocracy for the next two or four years?

We must pay close attention to the decisions our local officials are making and refuse to vote them in again. It does not matter which party they represent, we must not continue to vote in poor leadership that will not look out for the common good. Democracy or Idiocracy? It’s easy to tell the difference.

 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

Informed, Conformed or Transformed?

When you think about your past, how does it make you feel? Recently, I heard David Jeremiah say that our past should inform us. He was saying we should learn the lessons it has to teach us and move on.

My thought was, “That’s true, but the past usually conforms us.” Our successes, our failures, the culmination of all of our experiences conform our personality and identity into a certain shape. We view ourselves a certain way and the world views us a certain way and it solidifies the conformation. “Conformation – the act of conforming or producing conformity.” Merriam Webster.

But our past and our experiences are not the only forces that are trying to conform us into a mold. We have all felt the pressure to fit in, to conform, to be like everyone else. Those forces want to tell us how we should view ourselves, what our value is, and how we should think and feel. 

Scripture calls these forces, “the world.” They are the totality of people, media, marketing and education that are trying to conform us into a predetermined shape. Make no mistake, these forces are real and without some real pushback we will end up spending our time trying to morph into a shape we were never intended to. 

What should we do if we are tired of trying to fit into the mold the world has made for us? Is there an alternative? Fortunately, there is… we can be transformed. “Transformed – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” Oxford Dictionaries. 

How does this transformation take place? Scripture tell us we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To be transformed we must make a concerted effort to spend time in God’s word. It will begin to change the way we view the world and how we view ourselves. We will learn the truth, the real truth about our identity and value. We will learn to appreciate our individuality and move away from the conformity of the world. Bit by bit, slowly but surely, we will be transformed into the person God created us to be. 

Informed, Conformed or Transformed…we have a choice. 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12: 2

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Coin of the Realm

“Coin of the Realm” is an 18th Century phrase that relates to what currency is used in a particular country. As anyone knows who travels from country to country, you must change your currency depending on which country you are in. In America, we use the dollar; go to Mexico, it is the peso… you know the drift.

Also, depending on which country you are in, there are  different denominations based on that currency. In America, we have the one dollar bill, the five dollar bill, the twenty, fifty, one hundred, the thousand and up it goes.

The same is true for the Kingdom of God. It has its own currency. Those who are Citizens of the Kingdom know it and use the currency regularly. This currency is legal tender for all transactions within the Kingdom. There are different denominations of course, and different uses for each.

To name a few:

Faith – “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11: 6

Love – “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Obedience – “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 15: 22

Mercy – “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Holiness – “and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

These are just some of the denominations used within the Kingdom but there are others such as: Righteousness, Peace, Hope,  and Faithfulness. All are valid currency within the Kingdom.

Some of the currency is used in person to person transactions as in the case of Love and Mercy. But other denominations are used in our transactions with the King, such as Faith and Obedience. Still others sit in our account and are evidence of our Citizenship in the Kingdom.

So the questions we ask ourselves today are, “How are we set with the Coin of the Realm? Are we rich or impoverished? Do we need to build our account up in any area?”

If the answer is yes to the last question, we need only to check with the King and talk to Him. We can also look in His Guidebook and find out about the Coin of the Realm. When it is our time to stand before the King, we don’t want to have a negative balance in our account!

Image by Stux – Courtesy of Pixabay!

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God Help Us

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As everyone knows, we have a Presidential election coming up in a few days. At this point in time, we are hearing dire predictions from pundits on both sides of the political spectrum about what will happen if the candidate on the other side wins. 

Not wanting you to think I am naive, I want you to know that I do think that this is an important election. Perhaps it is the most important election of our lifetime. However, when I hear that people are anxious, that they are not sleeping, that they are pinning their hope on one or the other politician; I want to say, “God help us.”

If we are placing our hope on a politician, let us remember that no matter who that politician is, he is still a man. Let me repeat that, the politician is still a man. That means he is just as frail, flawed and finite as we are. 

By all means, vote. But then step back, take a few deep breaths and relax. Let us remember that God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is on the throne. He is still “the Blessed Controller of all things,” the One “who puts up one king and takes down another.” 

No matter who wins, let us put our hope in God. He will take care of each and every one of us if we let Him. Let us pray for whoever our leader will be. After all, that person will surely need it. Because as I said previously, that person will be a man who is just as frail, flawed and finite as we are. 

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, and intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all those in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Image by Gerd Altman, courtesy of Pixabay.

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is a word that you don’t hear much anymore. It is from the German and it means “the spirit of the age.” When I think of “the spirit of the age,” I think of what is the driving force behind the people. Prior to 2020, I would have said the zeitgeist was “Self-indulgence” and I would have chosen a handsome man for my image. Self-indulgence would have included materialism, sex, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc. You know, anything that people are indulging in to give themselves pleasure.

Not so with 2020. Looking back, I believe the zeitgeist is “Lawlessness.” In every country, lawlessness is on the rise. In our own country, people routinely break the law and there is little or no repercussions for it. The lawmakers have purposely taken the teeth out of the law and have given the advantage to the criminal instead of the victim.

In California, stealing anything less than  $950.00 worth of goods is not a felony. Hence, people walk into stores with calculators and feel free to take goods right below the limit. If the police are called, the offenders are given a citation. ln most cases, they are not even arrested and taken to jail. They are free to do the same thing the next day if they choose.

Lawlessness, it is everywhere and in every country. Sometimes it is not so blatant, but many times the authorities are aware of it and just turn a blind eye to it. If the offenders fall into certain categories, they are not arrested because it would not be politically correct. What is driving this lawlessness? It is being driven by the zeitgeist of this age. You cannot see it but its effects are everywhere.

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7

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Stay In Your Lane

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” 1 Cor. 9:24

We all know that there are several events in sports in which an athlete must stay in his or her lane in order to win the race. If they get out of their lane, they are disqualified. Staying in your lane is a requirement of the race and an athlete must train so that he or she learns to compete within the specific parameters of the lane. It is the same way in the Christian life.

We must all learn to stay in our own lane. We have all been given different gifts and talents and each of us has an individual call on our lives. One of the most fundamental aspects of our call is that we learn to do what we are supposed to and not have our eyes on someone else’s race and what they are doing. Our own race may not be as exciting or attention grabbing as someone else’s race. It must not matter to us. In order to be successful, we must learn to be content with the race we are called to run.

We also must learn to say no to those things that will distract us from completing our race. There are many “good” things that want to take us out of our own lane and keep us from doing what we are called to do. It takes discernment and intentionality in order to be able to focus on our own race and say “no” to the temptations that want to get us out of our own lane and disqualify us. 

How can we learn to run our own race and keep from becoming distracted and getting out of our own lane? The answer is simple: we must always keep our eyes on the goal, i.e. Christ. If we keep our eyes on Christ and off of other people and what they are doing, we will finish our own race and receive the crown that is set before us. 

Image by Skeege. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Previously published on FCA Resources.

Get Off the Line!

Have you ever seen anyone walking along train tracks? You know that danger can come along from either direction. You want to yell at the person as you walk by, “Get off the line!” 

The same is true for ourselves. We each have lines that we know we should not cross. But sometimes, we like to get as close to the line as we can, maybe even walk on it for a ways. Those that are watching us want to yell at us, “Get off the line!”

Sometimes those lines are obvious to everyone. Maybe, the line of “Do not commit adultery.” We begin to spend time with someone who is not our mate. It seems so innocent at first, but then we like it, we may even prefer to spend time with that person more than we like spending time with our mate! We are walking a line and danger inevitably lies ahead. But just like the person walking on the train tracks, we cannot see it coming. 

Other times, the lines are not so obvious. As believers, we each have different lines we know we should not cross. For some, it may be, “Do not drink alcohol.” For many, it may be, “Do not watch R rated movies.” There are all kinds of lines we know we should not cross.

Whatever the line is, the most dangerous place to be is walking on that line. We think we are so safe, but we are not. We are putting ourselves and our spiritual health at great risk. If we are walking on one of those lines, we need to get off, and fast!

Once we are off, we need to get as far away from that line as possible. Yes, we need to get to a safe place. Break off that relationship and walk away. Dump the alcohol down the drain. Put controls on our Netflix subscription. You know, take action and move away from that line.

Are you walking on any lines? Are you close to a line? Do you need to take action and move away from that line? Only you know, but for all our sakes, “Let’s get off those lines!”

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

A Praying Mantis

Several years ago, I came home from work and there was a praying mantis on the wall in the living room. I really do not like most insects and this one was really big. Usually, my husband takes care of any insects in the house but he was at work. Feeling a little silly, I called his office. 

Amy, his secretary, answered and I told her I needed to talk to him because I had a problem. She wanted to know if it was urgent and if I needed to disturb him (he was with a patient). I said, “Well, there’s a praying mantis on the wall and I don’t know if it is a p-r-a-y-ing mantis or a p-r-e-y-ing mantis.” She laughed, “Can’t you just catch him in a container and put him outside?” I replied, “Of course not. I would have to get near him and I can’t do that!” My husband called me a few minutes later and listened to my problem. He said, “Valerie…” I knew that meant he would deal with it when he came home. 

In the remaining two and a half hours before he came home, I fixated on the mantis. I closed the bedroom doors and tried to stay busy. I cooked dinner and all the while, kept going in the living room to make sure the mantis hadn’t moved. It seemed to get bigger every time I looked at it!  Mike eventually came home, took a plastic container, caught the mantis and released it outside. Boom! Five minutes and the problem was solved.

This story is not about sharing one of my idiosyncrasies (although there are many). It’s about focus and fixation. I had a choice when I came home (solving the problem was not one of them at the time). I could ignore the rather benign mantis and go about my business or I could fixate on him and lose a couple of precious hours of my life and my peace. 

We all have problems, many of which are quite benign. Sometimes we fixate on them and make them much bigger than they need to be. It robs us of our peace and can certainly ruin a nice day. How much better we would be if we could focus and fixate on something that would give us peace instead!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

Courage

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Have you ever wondered what is wrong with the human race? How can we continue to hate and hurt each other? You’d think that after a while (several thousand years) we would have learned our lesson…apparently not. The killing of George Floyd this week and the subsequent riots (notice I didn’t say protests) are an indication of the hatred and malice that exist in the human heart. 

When I watch the events taking place on the streets of some of our major cities, I just shake my head. I am saddened by the lack of leadership within the ranks of the rioters and it makes me miss some of my heroes. Take Mahatma Gandhi, for instance. He helped liberate his country from English colonialism. His philosophy of non-violent protest changed an entire nation. It took a lot of courage and character to react non-violently in the face of senseless violence but he became the Father of modern India and an example to the whole world.

Gandhi influenced another of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. He also believed in non-violence and through his preaching and example, he was able to lead this country out of the dark ages of racial segregation. It took courage and character to  stand toe to toe with the police but he and his followers were able to do it. They received the respect of the majority of Americans who wanted the insidious doctrine of racial segregation legislated out of existence.

If we want to honor the memory of George Floyd and every other American who was killed unjustly by a police officer, we must behave in a way that commands the respect of the people. The vast majority of Americans were appalled by the murder of George Floyd and were more than anxious to see the perpetrators brought to justice. However, the burning, looting and wanton destruction of property have elicited a different reaction to this tragedy. 

Now, all the American people can see are violent protests and angry mobs pillaging and looting. The tragedy of George Floyd is being obscured by the riots and the spotlight that should be on his death has now been shifted to the angry mobs. Make no mistake, it doesn’t take courage to torch a car or loot a business. It takes opportunism, greed and disrespect for the property rights of others.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. threatened the status quo. Their courage in the face of evil was a shining example of how society could be changed by the practice of non-violent protests. The agitators who are leading the violent protests will not change society; they will only leave a wave of destruction in their path. Nothing will justify their behavior and they are certainly no example of courage or character. 

Image by truthseeker08. Courtesy of Pixabay.