Categories
Uncategorized

It’s Only Money!

For anything of real value in this world there’s always a counterfeit. Something that has the appearance of the genuine article but is actually nothing but a cheap imitation. It may look, smell or even provide us with comparable performance in the short term but that’s usually where the similarities end.

Money is kind of like that, many people often mistake it for love or happiness…

Can you imagine anyone purposely choosing a fake Rolex watch over a real one or a Cubic Zirconia over a real diamond?  You might be unaware of it but most if not all of us do something very similar to that on a daily basis!  It’s evident in some very significant aspects of our lives, from the way we treat each other on a personal level to the corporate structures we patronize. When we purchase food’s that have been commercially processed by large corporations we become part of an industry that has little or no respect for life, certainly not for the lives of the animals they inhumanely raise and slaughter or for the lives of the workers they hire for sub-standard wages to work in dangerous pesticide saturated environments and who not surprisingly also have no respect for us either! Is life sacred to you? From my perspective that’s a simple yes or no question, and if the answer is yes then the truth of that belief should extend to all life regardless of whether it’s born or unborn or walks on two feet or twenty!

Instead of approaching peoples health from a holistic perspective that takes into account the root sources of our maladies which are physical, spiritual and nutritional, we’re a nation of people who’d rather choose a pill that only masks the problem by eliminating  symptoms to some degree. We’re willing participants in a system that disrespects us by seeing our health as a business with profit as the real objective. We’d rather pay the sometimes exorbitant monetary cost and expose ourselves to the possible side effects than do the real thing which no doubt would include us making some of the different food choices and lifestyle changes as well.

Nope, hunt-uh, no thanks!

As I thought about all of this I really struggled to understand why people,myself included, seem to be more comfortable with fake than they are with real…and this is what occurred to me. Maybe it’s because before we’d be comfortable with real,which is respectful, caring and is based in ethics we’d have to insist on those same qualities in ourselves…We’d need to have a healthy self respect that wouldn’t allow us to be a part of such a thing, or consider doing the unthinkable…caring about others more than ourselves! Give us just one reason to choose something less and we’ll swoop down on it like no tomorrow which is smack dab on the doorstep of where this sort of unsustainable thinking has landed us.

We’ve chosen what we think makes economic sense, and on both a corporate and personal level we’ve gone with what will make us the biggest profit or save us the most money with not much thought being given to the long term consequences.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I’m certainly not against people making a living and based on Paul’s writing in the above verse I don’t think he was either. It’s placing money or the power it conveys above people, to love it, which is merely a representation of value more than we do others is to sow seeds of sadness into our own lives. What we’ve failed to understand is that it is truly “Only Money” and that someday, maybe even today, we’ll live a life that reflects our accountability for the choices we’ve made.

Categories
Uncategorized

The American Nightmare

For me it’s sort of an inescapable conclusion that at some point in the future man will look back at what once was the United States and weep. Perhaps he’ll be overwhelmed by the loss of what once was,or enraged by the self serving greed that was responsible for it’s demise! He may even be dumbfounded that people were so complacent, that they let themselves be used for profit and then be tossed out like garbage afterwards.

Call it what you will, absurd perhaps…negative, unpatriotic?

One thing’s for sure, it’s bad news!

In this post and in forthcoming installments I’ll explain my perceptions of why I feel as though we’re  headed for the rocks and leave you to draw your own conclusions.  While  considering how to best accomplish this I was at first discouraged by the scope and complexity of the problem and  then also perplexed over deciding which of our national issues to include. My intent is not to be exhaustive or to bombard anyone with more information than most people care to know, but instead to provoke thought and discussion as I casually relate what I perceive to be happening to all of us who call ourselves “Americans”.

Where to start?

They say that if you’ve got your health you’ve got everything. If you doubt it, simply ask the next terminally ill billionaire you meet which he or she prefers–his or her money or his or her life!

As our nation has become more and more urban and less and less rural something critically important has changed with regard to the average Americans diet and “lifestyle”. People stopped growing their own vegetables and raising their own animals opting instead to simply get a job and buy those things from a store. I believe it was called the industrial revolution. Sounds important, doesn’t it? We then turned this most important responsibility over to corporations whose primary motive is profit and then somehow we’re shocked and disillusioned that they might not live up to the claims they make in their commercials of how they “care about your families health”. In fact, the results of this sort of  “caring” are the primary precipitating factor to practically every major health problem we have in this country!

We’re a nation of over-fed and obese, malnourished people…Huh?

That’s right, we consume foods produced under unnatural conditions which are not only practically void of nutrition but are for many reasons outright toxic to us. Our bodies continue to crave nutrition that our foods don’t have and so we continue to consume more and more in an attempt to satisfy our needs.  What happens is that in this futile process we end up ingesting a incredibly high number of calories we have little or no chance of burning since few of us do very much daily manual labor while sitting at a desk or driving a truck.

Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer…

Recently I met a lady from Africa whose mother came here for a visit. When taken to a local grocery store she was at first very impressed with the great abundance and apparent quality of the food she saw but after tasting it her opinion changed. Within weeks she told her daughter that she had to go home because she couldn’t eat our food. I believe the reason for her aversion is that she simply knew the difference between the real food she was used to and our fake food! I further believe that food does, or at least should have, “soul “. That love is a tangible ingredient that can be touched and tasted, one that’s essential to our health and one that’s sadly absent in our food supply! It seems as though in the name of corporate profit we’ve been duped to the point that we don’t, as the lady’s mother did, even know the difference!

Exactly who are the expediters of this American nightmare? I’m not afraid to name names….Corporations such as Monsanto,Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland top the list of entities who are out to monopolize our food supply and force feed us nutritionally bankrupt, genetically modified,commercially irradiated, poisonous, substances cleverly disguised as food! It’s almost as if our government has pimped out the American people to these food conglomerates, and to the World Health Organization with their “better” ideas such as Codex Alimentarius

But don’t be alarmed.

Because we in America have the best health  sick care system in the world–

And that’s the topic of my next rant blog entitled

“Sick and Tired”

Categories
Uncategorized

Against The Wall

All of us enjoy a good story, but what is it that makes a story good? I suppose that’s an entirely subjective question, one that if I knew the answer to I’d be writing screenplays or books instead of this blog! But I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I were to say that most people are drawn to a couple of specific things. Most people love hero’s and how they inspire us with their courage and “never say die” attitude. It’s their charisma, confidence, leadership and direction that compels us to follow them.  I was ready to fight in the Roman Colosseum myself after listening to Russell Crowe  lay out the simple facts of life and death to a band of hopeless slaves as Maximus in the movie

“Gladiator”

“Whatever comes out of these gates…we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together! Lock your shields! Stay as one!

Stories about brotherhood, love and honor that through their medium remind us that there are no dress rehearsals in life…that it’s all real and it all counts

“Good Will Hunting”

Let me tell you what I do know. Everyday I come by to pick you up, and we go out drinkin’ or whatever and we have a few laughs. But you know what the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on the door ’cause I let myself think I might get there, and you’d be gone. I’d knock on the door and you wouldn’t be there. You just left.

This next scene always gets to me, some people take love and friendship very,very, seriously

What problems does he have, Sean? that he is better off as a janitor or in jail or hanging around with–And why does he hang out with his friends? Because any one of those kids would come in here and take a bat to your head if he asked them to. It’s called loyalty!

Most great stories are about overcoming adversity of some kind, we love to pull for the underdog! We seem to identify with people who find themselves fighting the good fight for the sake of all against evil and insurmountable odds.  Typically they’ve got nothing going for them other than their heart and the fact that they have nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

Years ago I heard a story about a football team in a championship game. Things weren’t going well at all and they had taken a pretty bad beating over the course of the afternoon. With only minutes left in the game, and what would be their last possession, they had the ball deep in their own territory.  They needed only one touchdown to win but as they walked towards the huddle that goal seemed impossible, they all felt as though they were already beaten. As they leaned in together to hear the Quarterback’s final direction, this is what he told them.

“Good job guys, I think we’ve got ’em just where we want them…They’ve counted us out, they think we’re whipped, and my guess is that most of them are already thinking about what their going to do after the game is over, but I’ll tell you what we’re going to do right now! After that ball is snapped we’re going to completely take them by surprise, we’re going to play like it’s the first play of the game instead of the last, like a team that knows it’s going to win! I look around at all of your faces and I know you want to win, well I’m telling you how we will, and that’s together! Men, no victory is as sweet as one that is pulled from the fearsome jaws of defeat, seize this moment, it’s yours for the taking!

Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s some point I’m trying to make with all of this or if maybe I’ve decided to turn this into a film review blog. If so, hold on…

Do you hear that grinding noise? Don’t be alarmed, that’s just me changing gears.

There’s a story that’s playing out all around each and every one of us everyday. It’s about us individually and the church as a whole.Our combined stories are all part of a much bigger story that we also have a role in.  It’s a grand drama, a classic tale of good and evil with hero’s and villains, winners and losers, it’s a full cast! Some of you probably know what I’m talking about, the rest of you think I’m nuts, that’s okay.

Anyway…

As I see it this little story is kind of coming down to a scenario that reminds me a great deal of the examples I mentioned. We are indeed behind, and we appear to be losing ground on just about every front. We’ve taken some hard hits and been thrown to the ground. Through clever tactics, our enemy has succeeded in dividing us and causing us to fight among ourselves in order that his plans might go undisturbed. Even now, he’s infiltrated our ranks and seeks to maintain this subversion by sowing complacency and preaching comfort. We’ve been led to believe there is no battle, that instead this boat we’re on a is a luxury cruise liner instead of a battleship. And yet, right before our eye’s he’s savagely attacked each of our families. The deeds he’s committed are so reprehensible that our minds recoil in disgust and we must turn away!

Now is not the time to wring our hands in hopeless despair, or to mourn what’s been lost.

Instead NOW is the time that we must attack!

In order for us to be successful it’s going to require that we all put aside our differences and come to a new agreement as to what is our common goal. We need a plan that involves putting our strengths against his weakness’s. One that he can have no defense against because each of us is more than willing to die if necessary to accomplish it.

We represent the kingdom of heaven and the living God, and to reveal them to mankind is what we live for and stand for and are ready to die for. Bless God! John G. Lake

Sound extreme? I’ve no doubt that some people who read this will mistakenly equate or compare what I’m talking about with the kind of violent acts committed by terrorists but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s only love that can conquer hate, and so it’s only through love that any real victory can be won!

It’s easy for actors like Russell Crowe who are playing a role to be brave when they know what’s going to happen in the end. Well guess what, I’ve read how our story ends and we should be SO much bolder!

As members of the body of Christ and of Gods one true church we should have the kind of love for each other that puts a bond between us that nothing can break, we should be loyal servants of each other! If we’re more concerned with our possessions or if we can’t see beyond the temporal nature of this present world then we’ll always be vulnerable to being infected with the disease of  “self ” and will be of little use to Gods Kingdom in this battle.

Where do you see yourself in this unfolding drama? You might be among those who don’t believe or who won’t understand it until the very last days when the fight is on your doorstep. You’re much braver than me if your counting on having an opportunity to make the right choice then when you finally realize that it’s your back that’s…against the wall

Categories
Uncategorized

The “Real” Jesus

When asked about his taste in music, Ray Charles was once quoted as saying,

“There’s only two kinds of music, those kinds being good and bad”

and that’s a statement to which I wholeheartedly agree!

I’m not a big fan of most Christian music, sadly, like so many endeavors which are labeled as “Christian” it seems as though the quality of the products produced are lower than those of their secular counterparts. When people talk about books, music, movies or whatever which are produced by Christians inevitably you’ll hear their work patronized with statement’s such as

“It was pretty good, for a Christian writer,musician,comedian,etc…”

As if there’s an unspoken but well understood lower standard involved.

And that’s messed up…

I consider myself to be a fairly typical person, but then again perhaps I’m just caught up in my own “delusions of adequacy.”  I think perhaps a case could be made either way regarding me, but I digress. When I meet people I hope they notice something different about me, I would hope that they would perhaps feel loved in some way! I don’t wear a crucifix outside of my shirt for people to see or have a WWJD wrist bracelet on. If I’ve never met you before, I probably won’t ask you where you attend church within the first ten minutes of a conversation. Some people stress about sharing the gospel or “witnessing” as it’s called, but sometimes the most “Christ-like” thing we can do is just to listen to people.

When people meet me I don’t want them to see a stereotype, I want them to meet the real me.

I am a Christian, but I’m not “Ned Flanders”…(nothing against Ned)

I think that Jesus was a very real person!

Not only in a physical sense but also in terms of how He related to people out of a genuine love for them.

Throughout the bible Jesus’ personality is displayed in many ways. Some of my favorite examples are from His various confrontation’s with the scribes and pharisee’s. This one in particular speaks to me of His sense of humor in dealing with them.

Matthew 9:5

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Jesus perceives their thoughts accusing Him of blasphemy after His forgiveness of sins. I can imagine Him being somewhat confounded by their attitudes, but His reaction is to love and teach them.  He begins by turning the question back on them by asking “whether is easier” which is actually rhetorical in that He knows they can’t truthfully say or do either. Jesus seems to be seeking counsel from these great scholars of the law while simultaneously proving Himself to be God and them to be fools!

Jesus, you crack me up!

Another of the more prevalent stereotypes of Christian people has to do with the idea that all of them are pacifists. The perception is of them being people who would never raise their voice in anger or resort to violence under any circumstances.  It doesn’t say in John’s gospel what if anything might of happened to Jesus that day as He traveled to Jerusalem to observe the passover but apparently,

“He was in no mood”

to discover what was going on in the temple that day…

John 2:14-15

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

During his lifetime here on earth Jesus was a real man with real feelings just like each of us! He had a sense of humor, He could feel pain and sorrow, He could even become angry! It’s a comfort to me to know that being a Christian doesn’t mean we should be always happy or always be serious and sad like the stereotypes portray. I just want to be the person God intended me to be, no more and certainly no less! Helping people do just that is something Jesus was very good at, He brought comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comforted!

I think that it’s so important for Christian people to be “real”, and to not be perceived as being out of touch with the very real struggles that people they might meet are going through. Jesus had great compassion for people who were stuck in the “miry clay” of sin. He understood the temptation’s of this world and the depravity of mans soul that drives him to do something, even if it’s wrong, to fill that void in his heart. He didn’t judge people for having the need which I feel is a critical first step that’s necessary for people to be comfortable enough with us and to trust us enough to actually confide in us about the sin and spiritual needs in their lives so that we might have a “real” opportunity to share the real Jesus with them!

Categories
Uncategorized

The Memories…

It’s been quite a memorable summer in a lot of ways!

The heat was definitely one reason, just about everyone has memories of how they found sweet relief from it. Whether it was in the pool or the pond, in a lake or a stream, most remedies involve finding some COOL water!

They say that summer days are “okay” but the nights are made for love…

Speaking of love and summer night’s, my wife and daughter both “love” all of the little house books which were originally written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  So when we read in a local publication that the  Ozark Mountain Players were performing a play on Friday night August 6-7th  in Mansfield, Mo. called Laura’s Memories we decided to go! We drove the short distance to Mansfield early in the afternoon and took in the tour that’s given daily of the author’s home and the museum which is also on the grounds. It was interesting even for me, to see things like the actual fiddle which belonged to “Pa” and other personal family items.

It was a wonderful night of theater under the stars at the newly built outdoor amphitheater!

I very much enjoyed the overall presentation! An actress who bore a remarkable resemblance to the real Mrs.Wilder introduced each scene in which the players re-enacted stories from her books.

The “Farmer Boys” were quite entertaining!

During the intermission, playwright Terry Spyres took the time to meet and talk to my daughter. She was very nice and my daughter was thrilled to meet her!

I ask you, can there be a better way to spend a summer night then at the fair?

What memories!

I don’t really remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, I was very young, three to be exact. But I can speak with remarkable clarity about the first time anybody ever gave me a five dollar bill. It was on the way to the fair. We were about halfway across the Glenstone viaduct when my father’s large hairy arm reached over the white leather front seat of our 1963 Buick Riviera into the back seat holding two crisp five dollar bills which he fanned apart with his thumb and index finger towards my brother and I.

I was couldn’t of been much more than six years old…

I have no doubt that I spent at least part of my windfall on a pineapple whip ice cream cone. I think they probably still sell them there although I’m sure they’re not as good now. And corndogs, the kind that they make fresh! I always appreciated the medium sized paint brush that was there to use for slathering on the mustard, “these people really know how to eat!” I thought.

Who hasn’t walked through the gauntlet of carnival game row? Can you remember the scary guy that barked you down?  The guy with an earring and numerous tattoo’s chain smoking a Camel no-filter who by the insistent tone of his gravelly voice left you no choice but to,

“Try a free throw kid, every ones a winner!”

How about a Demolition Derby?

It wouldn’t be a proper fair without some type of a grandstand show! Whether it’s a concert, a truck pull, a beauty contest, an actual stock car race or whatever. I’m partial to dirt track car races myself, the kind that put enough red clay dust into the air that you can actually taste it! Along with the horrendous noise of the un-muffled engines, the burning smell of rubber, gas and oil, it’s an experience that never fails to get my adrenalin pumping! It’s sort of a man thing, although I have seen lots of women get plenty excited rooting for their favorite driver!

I need to turn this little trip down memory lane back towards the house…I hope that I’ve reminded you of some special memories you have of summertime. I hope that I’ve provided my daughter with some good times that she’ll be able to look back on with fondness someday. I’m thankful for my memories, they’re like snapshots we keep in our hearts of the moments when we forgot about everything else except the fun we were having! I’m also thankful to God for how He continues to care for me and my family in these tough times. Who like my own father, knows my needs and who’s gifts to me aren’t based on what I deserve but instead on His great love for me!

Thanks Dad…

Remember is a place from long ago
Remember filled with everything you know
Remember when you’re sad and feelin’ down
Remember turn around

Remember life is just a memory
Remember close your eyes and you can see
Remember think of all that life can be

Remember

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry Nilsson-Remember