Who’s Talking?

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 10:33

Grant_crop_of_Cold_Harbor_photoI’m reading the memoirs and letters of General U.S. Grant, something I’ve meant to do for a long time.  I am struck how things are now as they ever were. The issues have changed, but the behavior of people is much the same.

There was a force at Camp Jackson just outside St. Louis whose command, at least, was sympathetic to the Southern States.  They were well-positioned to capture the United States Arsenal there, gaining much materiel for the Southern cause.  For reasons Grant himself couldn’t fathom, they never moved on that objective and were eventually captured and imprisoned.

What I found fascinating in all of this and more is how vocal those of the rebellion were against the silent voices of Unionists.  Following is a very short excerpt from the St. Louis affair.

Up to this time (their capture) the enemies of the government in St. Louis had been bold and defiant, while Union men were quiet and determined.  The enemies had their headquarters in a central and public position…from which the rebel flag was flaunted boldly.  The Union men had a place of meeting somewhere in the city, I do not know where, and I doubt whether they dared to enrage the enemies of the government by raising the national flag outside their headquarters.  As soon as the news of the capture of Camp Jackson reached the city the condition of affairs was changed.  Union men became rampant, aggressive, and, if you will, intolerant.  (emphasis added)

Civil War Georgia

How many lives lost because too many Unionists didn’t fight with words before bullets?

Elsewhere Grant relates how Missouri, for example, was a slave state, but failed to vote in favor of secession.  Still, they were represented in the South’s congress.  With the intent of the few thwarted, when the pro-south governor died, his lieutenant rightly assumed the governorship, but then simply issued executive orders declaring them part of the Southern secession, despite the will of the people by vote!

In the late 20th Century and on through the present day, the United States has been in the process of secession from God.  This is a movement that has been led by a vocal minority while Christians, afraid of a confrontation, have remained silent.  We find ourselves now at a point where homosexuality is not regarded as a sin, that evolution is accepted fact despite scientific proofs to the contrary, and so many minds have been swayed by the one-sided discussion that Christians find themselves on the outside looking in.

Scientist

How many souls lost because too many Christians didn’t fight back in Word & Deed?

Who’s doing all of the talking?  The atheists, who, by the way, believe in God and are simply angry at Him for some reason.  If there is no God, if what anyone believes makes no difference when we die, what in the world are they so up in arms about?  People with that much fervor have a lot of belief!

Meanwhile, we’ve sat in our pews all comfy with our hymns and orders of service and tried to just hope and pray this will all pass by.  Our opposition has more faith and commitment than we do!  Despite our familiarity with at least a few favorite Bible passages, we don’t ACT on them!  We all know is that we are to put on the armor and weapons of God’s Word, but only in an intellectual, ethereal way.  How many of us are willing to actually swing that sword and take a shot on the armor in real life?

We’ve been quiet and let the minority sway the minds of our friends and our children!  OUR CHILDREN!!

Bull Halsey

General “Bull” Halsey, WWII hero and recipient of some dumb luck!

It seem good always gives evil a head start by standing by as if it’ll all be OK in time.  Always.  Every time evil gets a bigger head start before good finally decides it’s a real fight after all.  World War II was a lot closer than you might think, especially in the Pacific.  Our navy was saved from its own errors, even stupidity, but for dumb luck.  Providence, actually.  With a capital, “P.”

Lest I sound too preachy, I have to say I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone.  When, for example, was the last time I asked someone not to use Jesus’ name in vain while talking with me?  Memory fails.  And I’m ashamed that it does.  I’m resolving to change that on any number of issues.  When I hear something that isn’t right, I need to find a way to speak up and speak out in a loving, Christian way, but speak up all the same.

I invite you to pick an issue.  Just one.  Decide what you’re going to do or say about it.  Get armored up in advance and then do something about it the next time that issue comes up.  If you don’t, well…

…who’s doing the talking then?

Jesus Sad

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Prayer

Praying StruggleThen Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”    Luke 18:1-8

Portals of PrayerI pray.  Not as often or as regularly as I should, but I do.  In the early ‘80’s I started using a daily devotional called Portals of Prayer by Concordia Publishing.  I started keeping a list of people and issues to pray about.  I still use Portals of Prayer, and I still keep a prayer list.  There are people on that list I haven’t seen in years.  Terrence, for example.  I only met him once, but he had a huge impact on me, and I continue to pray for him.  I came to understand that God orchestrated our meeting through an Elaborate Plan; of that there is no doubt.  That was in 2015.  I still pray for Terrence.

I pray for America and our deliverance from the continuing slide away from God and our founding principles.  I pray for the faithful remnant of Christians that have not relinquished their faith, that they are protected and strengthened.  Meanwhile, the discrimination against us grows.

I pray for people who are sick and not likely to recover.  I hold out prayerful hope that the cancer will be vanquished, that damaged minds will be recovered, that a more merciful death be given since death must come at some point.  I don’t see that ground has been gained so far, but I keep praying.

Am I a fool?  No.  Clearly, we are to continue to “bother” God with our prayers.  Many cases exist of prayers answered, of cancers and diseases being healed in this age.  I’ve gone from extreme loss back to a good life, not too unlike Job.  Things do get better sometimes.  Other times the dark side wins.

Jesus healed hundreds if not thousands of people.  They’re all dead now, but His mercy shone as a glimpse of a greater mercy to come.

I pray for mercy in this life.  I pray for the healing and recovery of a number of people.  Some prayers are simply for continued well-being, for salvation, a softened heart to accept Jesus as Savoir, or whatever the need might be.  Prayers for some people have gone on for many years.  Some short term issues are added and dropped off as things change.

Do I sometimes get tired of saying the same prayers for the same people year after year?  Yes, there are some days when I look at my list and sigh.  But I gather myself, remembering the persistent widow of Jesus’ parable, and come to God yet again.

Sometimes I just name the people and picturing in my mind what I’m asking for them because I words feel inadequate.  Finally, when I reach the end of my list again, I wrap it all up with the Lord’s Prayer.  I say it as slowly as I can, stopping after each part and looking at the people’s names, praying that part for them.

Then I close my Bible with the list tucked safely in its pages and put it on the shelf for tomorrow for my next appointment with The Almighty.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Jesus in Gethsemane

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:9-15

Missionary Trip

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’[e] This is the first commandment.[f] 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no other commandment greater than these.    Mark 12:30-31

Hard Rock_Haiti

Perhaps the only food they’ll get in 24 hours!  And they SMILE!

Last summer my church’s youth group went on a mission trip to Haiti with our youth minister and a couple chaperones.  We support a Christian school there, providing meals and more.  Last Sunday they spent the Bible class hour showing us pictures from the trip and telling us about their experiences.

I almost didn’t go.  Most high schoolers are not good speakers – thank you public education!  These kids did a great job, though.  They really got it, the “it” being that you get more than you give when you help others!

Glass of MilkOne young man spoke about how the children he worked with at their school took such good care of each other, especially a mentally retarded classmate. When one asked another for a glass of milk, the request was granted with a smile and urgency.

He admitted that if his sister would ask him to get her a glass of milk, he’d tell her God gave her legs; get it yourself. He started crying with his shame and said he learned he needs to be a whole lot nicer to his family.

A young lady choked up while talking about a young girl with Down’s Syndrome and had to collect herself before continuing.   She asked a mother what she might need. The mother replied with a smile that Jesus had already provided her with all she needs.

This from a woman who lives in a small cinderblock structure with one rom and a closet for food. Seven people rotate between two beds and the floor. They live on the edge of a dump. The river where they bathe contains the runoff from the dump.

Haitian Smiles

Showing US How it’s Done!

As each of the kids told their story, they all had the same basic message. The people they saw were always smiling, always happy, always positive. Our kids felt an overwhelming love for these people in addition to the shame of having so much and not living with their joy.

 

“We went there to minister to them. They were glad to see us and work with us, but in the end they ministered to us.”

Last Sunday I saw a group of high school students who had gained maturity.  I saw a group who’s view of their own lives took a drastic turn for the better. I saw teenagers who learned that, when you give from a place of love, you always Run a Surplus; you never run out.

St Paul

St. Paul Never Ran Out

St. Paul, who always ran a surplus, wrote, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”   2 Corinthians 11:22-28

 

You Have a Nice Smile

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.   Philippians 4:8

I have written on this sort of thing before, but this is exactly the topic that needs to be revisited in a society that is growing increasingly coarse.

Reformation

Martin Luther; Father of the reformation

Last Sunday we went to the late service at church instead the early service, as usual. We were celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with a potluck after the late service, and Julie and I didn’t feel like sitting around.

 

Smiling GirlI’m sure we upset someone’s normal seating arrangements. We found ourselves behind a young family. Their teenage daughter and I made brief eye contact as people often do in crowds and smiled. She has one of those faces that is cute enough, but her smile really lit her up.

I passed close by her at the potluck and stopped her for a second just to tell her she has a very nice smile. She smiled, of course, said thank you, and we moved on. That was it. No conversation, no chit-chat with someone new as is often the goal of a potluck at a large church.

I like to think I made her day. I mean, who doesn’t like to be complimented on one’s appearance?

Zig ZiglarPeople complain too much. We are too much a product of Jerry Springer and his ilk. We’ve been instructed to believe that the way to getting what we want is to make a fuss, to be confrontational, but that is completely wrong! See last month’s Unforgettable. As famed motivational speaker Zig Zigler often told his audiences, “The key to getting everything you want is to help others get what they want.” Not in a selfish way, but in a self-sacrificing way that understands you might not get anything back. Don’t be nice to people to satisfy your own selfish desires. JUST BE NICE!  Over the long run, things will work out for you.

Dick Van Dyke MemoirI recently read Dick Van Dyke’s recent autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir. The secret to his success was just working hard and being nice to people. I was amazed to read how often people would go to bat for him and get him huge breaks for no other reason than they liked him! He had failures too. Everyone does. But the arc of his life is one of great success.

Carl Reiner chose him to play the lead character on The Dick Van Dyke Show when he was a complete unknown. That character was based on Reiner himself, but he was told he was wrong for the part and needed to be recast. When they were searching for a series title, Sheldon Leonard said they should name it after Dick, since he’s the lead. Leonard’s reasoning was that The Danny Thomas Show started out as Make Room for Daddy. He figured they’d just “cut to the chase” and name this new series after Dick at the outset.

Co-star Rose Marie, who played Sally and was a star since childhood quipped, “What the hell’s a ‘Dick Van Dyke’??”

Such a huge break for such an unknown, but his hard work and kind nature are what carried him through.

As Christians, we shouldn’t be nice in order to get things. Hard work and kindness will not get us all our own TV shows. If they did, who’d be home to watch?!? But showing the same kindness and love that Jesus showed us will make our lives and the lives of those around us better.

So, when I can give someone a sincere compliment, I do. On rare occasions people actually get upset, thinking I’m after something or hitting on them. I won’t let that stop me from trying to spread a little of the love Jesus showed me. The times, like last Sunday, when the compliment was another winner, far outweigh the odd clinkers.

Be nice. Smile. Play well with others. And, “…if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Smiley Face

Already Gone: Part 2

Already GoneContinuing from the last post, what do we do about our young that are leaving the church in such large numbers? The first thing is to recognize that there is a problem, and our church personnel – professional and volunteer – are part of the problem, despite their sincere devotion and best efforts.  In their defense I offer the old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  I’ve been part of the problem until I got my eyes opened.  I’m right there with you.  Don’t believe me?  Well, I can’t dodge it, because I have a daughter who’s left the church and isn’t so sure about God anymore.  That despite being one of the most fervent young women at church and in her confirmation class.  We ALL let her down!  She left for all of the reasons on the last post.

Next, to help you put the facts behind it, follow this link to the book, Already Gone, from the Answers in Genesis organization, which founded the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, OH:

https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/already-gone/

Get the book and the DVD. Don’t take offense if you’ve done your best and feel like you’re being dumped on.  Remember, I’m in there with you!  A lot of people are!  Get the facts from the studies that were done to produce this material.  Check the resources they cite at the end to turn your own church and Sunday School around and start reaching your kids.  There’s a lot there, and I’ve barely scratched the surface myself.  But, based on my childhood memories, here’s what I have to offer on my own.

kids-table-630x420No more Kid’s Table religion!!!!

Do your kids have their own, separate table at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whenever? If so, knock it off!  Put everyone together.  Kids learn from adults.  We never had our kids sit anywhere but with the rest of the relation at table.  They learned to be adults by interacting with them.

The same applies to Sunday School! Especially since we ALL have some catching up to do when it comes to defending our faith in this society.  Let’s ALL learn – TOGETHER – why we can trust everything in the Bible from Genesis 1 on.  Let’s all learn TOGETHER how the Bible does stand as an authoritative source of world history, and not a smoky reflection of fables.

Exodus CaseGet relevant/current material!

Use sources such as The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller or The Answers Books by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. Keep your eye on various ONLINE news sources for articles about science and religion.  WARNING: you will not find such things in the mainstream media.  Most of what I’ve found for my blog posts were in The London Daily Mail Online, US and – believe it or not – YouTube!  There’s admittedly a lot of garbage there, but there’s also a lot of good information.  You just have to review it discriminately!

When you think of something that you have a question on, Google it! And read your sources critically!  As Ken Ham always exhorts people to do, interpret everything in light of the Bible, as it is the authoritative Word of God.  Do not try to shoehorn man’s ideas into the bible!

Ultimately, look for sources such as Answers in Genesis to provide scientific, biblical foundations to deal with the lies told to us and our children. There are those who are committed atheists, bent on gaining as many converts to their religion as possible.

This is evil at work. Why do I say that?  If they believed that there is no soul, no God, then what does anything – including their atheism – matter?  Why do they care so much about destroying religion?  Even if they believe that religion is indeed nothing more than the “opiate of the masses,” our of sheer concern for their fellow man, allow them that “opiate” to make life more tolerable.

satan BBut, no. They want to destroy any belief in God.  They follow in the footsteps of their own “father, the devil, and (they) want to carry out (their) father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  John 8:44.

By the way, another great source is https://www.biblegateway.com/.  The above bible verse was tickling in my mind, and I found it using the search engine at that site.  Any topic you’re looking for an answer to, type it in  there and see how many passages pop up.

The kingdom of God is not at stake.  It will survive and even triumph no matter what the devil and his servants do.  But our children can be casualties of that war.  Can you think of a more heart-rending thing than knowing your children will spend their eternity in hell, a plaything of Satan and his demons?

Please join me in trying to revamp our churches to reach our youth who may have already decided to leave. Learn with them to allow you all to talk together about God and the world He’s told us about in His Word.

MonkeysOne last thought…a story really. A behavioral scientist did a study involving a troupe of monkeys. He split them up and kept the main group in their enclosure.  Nice stuff, nice food, etc.  Except how now made sure that, every day, there was an exquisite bunch of bananas hanging from the top with a way to climb up and get at it.  Whenever a monkey tried to climb up to them, graduate students were standing by with a fire hose they used to blast both the offending monkey and everyone else in the cage.  Pretty soon the monkeys started beating up the “slow learners.”

Then he started cycling the other monkeys in, one or two at a time. Back came the fire hose and shortly afterwards the beatings by the troupe.  This kept up till the hose was no longer needed, because the troupe was policing itself.  And no monkey now in there had ever seen the fire hose.  But they still beat up anyone who tried to get those luscious bananas.  Why?

Well, heck. I don’t know.  That’s just the way we’ve always done it around here.

Are you seriously going to make the changes necessary to save our children from leaving the church, or just be another monkey, doing what’s always been done…regardless of the results?

Already Gone: Part 1

Already GoneBook Review: Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer

Do you have a son or daughter in high school or younger? Do you take them to church and Sunday School?  Are you doing your best to raise them in a Christian way, teaching them God’s Word and modeling good, Christian behavior?  I hope so.

I did my best to raise my daughters such, although I didn’t do it perfectly. In part, I raised them the way I was raised, and that wasn’t always the right way.  We had bed time devotions when they were little, which was good.  They enjoyed it.  We went to church every Sunday, but I did not insist on them going to Sunday School.  Already Gone finds that Sunday School, as most churches run it, is a prime reason why kids leave!

I hated Sunday School with a passion. Vacation Bible School was my personal slice of hell over the summer.  Why?  Because I found them both to be inane.  Cartoon books of bible stories painted in primary colors were irritating.  Something inside me told me it was all wrong.

Sunda School

Exactly the sort of cartoon that weakens the message in kids’ minds

The pre-packaged answers and questions were the worst. My friends and I always knew the answers – they’re usually “Jesus” or “God” right? – but we never raised our hands.  It was embarrassing to participate in such a dog-and-pony show.  I’ll admit I sometimes contributed just because I felt sorry for the teacher having to sit there, twisting in the proverbial wind.  That was all in grade school from as early as I can remember.  I checked out in high school.  No one could make me go.  No one.  I wasn’t checked out on God, mind you, but certainly on Sunday School.

 

Why am I telling you this? Refer to the first paragraph.  I truly hope you are doing your best, but a recent study revealed that the odds are against your children staying with the church past high school.  The choice to check out doesn’t happen in college.  Oh, no!  They’ve already decided as young as junior high.  They’re just biding their time till they can act on their decision.  Fully sixty percent of our youth are rooster-tailing it away from the church doors once they’re able to.

Once in high school, I realized I was too big and too much of a pain-in-the @$$ to be controlled. I went to the building every Sunday, but ditched Sunday School altogether and sneaked down to the gym during services to read my bible or contemplate…whatever.

Like I said; checked out of church, not God.

Easter Cartoon Tomb

Oh, good… another cartoon

I was sick to death of the bible stories repeated ad nauseum every year in slightly elevated terms. They just didn’t have any relevance to my life.  I knew them backwards and forwards, so who cares anymore?

 

No, it was college when I started checking out of God. I did some exploring of other faiths in high school, but college almost got me away from God.  I studied geology for two terms and was highly disappointed that there was no evidence taught of the biblical Flood.  There was plenty of evidence that seemed to support evolution, and an earth that’s billions of years old.  The same story came through in other classes.  To this day, thanks to psychology and sociology studies, I can explain away religion as a matter of evolution, survival, and stimulus and response.  I really can.

Now, however, I know those arguments don’t hold water. Not when taken as part of the entire universe.  I finally learned that God really is the ONLY answer to any question.  Some part of me heard God’s siren call to come back, and praise to Him I came back.

The church does an OK job of telling bible stories and preaching sermons with the proper, formulaic proportions of Law and Gospel. And therein lies the problem.  While I believe the stories given to us in the Bible are literally true, just the word “story” connotes something not necessarily real or true.  Sermons too often don’t connect God’s ScientistWord to real life.  Some pastors are afraid to preach openly on social issues such as homosexuality, abortion or other hot issues.  Why do the kids leave?  They don’t see the relevance to the real world!  For them, Bible stories become just that…bible STORIES.  There’s no connection from the church.  Our secular society and schools are doing ALL of the talking!

I’ve been fortunate that the Holy Spirit has kept me in the game, even when I didn’t have answers to evolution and secular biblical scholars telling were us that most of the stories and characters in the bible are allegories and amalgamations of people from other cultures.

Now, in the last few years, I’ve discovered materials and information that address whether Creation happened just as described in Genesis. I now know that the Flood was real and ALL of the geologic layers were laid down by the Flood.  Read my article, Evolution and the Geologic Record.

By reading multiple news sources and googling topics I’m curious on, I’ve found out a lot of ground-breaking information on where science and honest research is disproving society’s secular “facts”:

Tel_Dan_Stele_01

The Tel Dan Stele Inscription References the House of David

So-called biblical scholars have long argued that King David was never a real individual. He never appears anywhere in history outside of the bible.  Turns out they were wrong.  See my article, King David.

 

Is there life after death? Seeing Death from May 2014.

sacredfireDo you doubt that The United State of America was founded on Christian principles? Give Founding Fathers a look. By the way; George Washington was NOT a Deist.  Try the book George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

Moses has also been considered myth, but see my sources in – what else? – Moses from July 2014.

The Big Bang? Could be a Big Bust!  Mind you, these are posts pointing out muffed research and Bang-shattering revelations by non-Christian scientists.  Read The Big Bang Theory, and Down the (Black) Rabbit Hole. The latter article reveals that black holes may be impossible, proven mathematically, and putting the Big Bang to Bed!  Along with deep time and evolution theories!

Exodus CaseDid you know that the famous Step Pyramid in Egypt is part of a larger site called The Sakkara Complex? That very secure, walled site contains what appear to be ancient underground silos.  What has been found at the bottom?  The ancient remains of GRAIN!  Do you recall how Joseph saved Egypt from famine by storing grain for the lean years?  Hm…  And there are depictions of men carrying sacks up the steps from the bottom at the site.  The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller examines this and many other archeological finds that support a literal reading of Exodus.

If only churches would be looking at what’s out there that connects the bible to the real world, to show biblical events are REAL history! What to do?  Stay tuned for Part 2!!

Unforgettable

Jesus SmilingPeace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.    John 14:27

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.    John 17:16

We are back confronting the WIIFM (What In It For Me) issue I just pointed out in my recent article about relationships; Why Marriages Fail.  I commented on an article, which essentially tried to help people expect less from their spouses and get more from their friends.  The author was trying to give advice on how to fulfill your own needs while preserving your marriage.

The whole thing was written from a selfish point of view.

So…here we go again: Scientist reveals how ANYONE can make themselves unforgettable for all the RIGHT reasons in three simple steps.

wiffleball

A WIIFM Ball?  Full of holes!

WIIFM, right? It’s all about me and how to be in control, how to be loved or at least admired.

 

Aside from the pure selfishness involved, it’s also a color-by-number approach to dealing with people, and that’s just wrong!

First, the scientist/author says you should back up your points in conversation with facts and be sure to repeat yourself three times to be sure you are heard. Should I also throw salt over my left or right shoulder, stand on one foot, and have a clove of garlic in my pocket?

Good communication should be built on facts, tis true. How about we start with making sure we are communicating something worthwhile in the first place? But let’s move on…

Second, surprise them and ask questions. OK, getting warm. This is starting to focus on them not yourself, but the motivation expressed in the article is purely selfish: How I make ME memorable! Surprise them? How about a party-popper? Squirting plastic flower on my lapel? No?

Third, “According to science, the more inspired, motivated and excited your audience feels by what you’re saying, the more likely they are to remember it – and you.”  Again, getting warm, but how do you come up with those motivating and inspiring gems?

Obnoxious PeopleFIRST – Stop trying to figure out how to make everyone like you!  There’s no way you can really inspire people without first getting to know them and their needs!  Start with being interested in them first and only!  Take yourself out of the equation completely.  Just be concerned about them!  You can make the most interesting points in the world backed by an encyclopedia of facts and repeated ad nauseum, but if you’re a manipulator and/or an insecure, egotistical jerk, no one will like you!  Period!!

SECOND – This whole step-by-step, color-by-numbers approach to relationships is bullshit!  Planning out specific, individual actions calculated to accomplish a task, a communication is BS (I’m trying to hold my cussing down to once per article)!  Instead, use what I call my Rock Method from my acting days.  Click on the link for the full article.  My essential point in The Rock Method was that having one, powerful motivation is better than having a multitude of individually choreographed choices.  Here’s an excerpt from the article, my favorite example:

I was asked to come to a modeling school to help coach young modeling hopefuls in relating to a television camera. I walked in on an exercise one of the faculty was running.  She was attempting to teach these girls how to enter a car with a dress on, being sure to keep their knees together.  Each girl took her turn, sitting onto a folding chair that represented a car seat.  Each failed as the teacher kept confusing them with multiple techniques and movements.  I asked if I could take a swing at it.  Obviously thinking I couldn’t possibly succeed where she had failed, she told me to try, if I could.

How to get out of a car in a skirt or dressI sat cross-legged on the floor about ten feet in front of the chair and cupped my chin in both hands. Staring intently at the seat, I said, “OK, ladies.  One at a time.”  Giggling, they all got it right in one round.  I dropped a rock in their stream.  They only had one conscious decision to make, not a multitude.

THIRD – While surprising and motivating people is good in itself, I personally do it for the sheer fun of it, not to make an impression so people will like me!  I do it, because I get a kick out of helping other people make their lives better!

See my article, Smart Blond.  I helped this young woman regain her life, and I never even knew it! Only after the term was over and she came to my office to say thank you did I learn what I’d done for her!

That’s it, my friends. It really is that simple; put other people first with no thought of gain for yourself.  That’s it!  Be a Christian, a Little Christ who is interested in the welfare of others first.

Zig ZiglarZig Zigler has said that the key to getting everything you want is to help others get what they want. He also cautioned that this was not some magic formula to satisfy your own selfishness.  You don’t always see a return for your efforts.  It isn’t a color-by-numbers solution to life.  It’s an attitude that succeeds over the long haul.

That’s what Christianity is, a long term approach to – not just life – but eternity. It’s the way to have a relationship with God first and foremost.  It’s also the right way to relate to the rest of His creation, our fellow created beings.

Washing FeetWhen the disciples were arguing about who would get the places of honor in heaven, Jesus simply told them that the first will be last, and the last will be first. Washing each other’s feet, literally and figuratively, is the practice of humility that He wanted them and us to follow.

Being liked by others, first of all, should not be our goal in life, let alone developing a sure-fire three step approach for it. Our goal in life should be having a great relationship with God and using that as our basis for dealing with everyone we meet.

Fight…But in a Good Way

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Fight the Fights

The American President – “Fight the fights that need fighting!

“You only fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!” A.J. MacInerny to President Andrew Shepherd,  “The American President”

 

This is hard, because I don’t do this really well myself. I guess that’s why it’s a good post to write.  I’m doing it mostly for me.  Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful too.

St PaulSt. Paul definitely fought the good fight. He even went for it when he couldn’t win.  He’d been shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, left for dead, and more.  He was a smart guy, so I’m sure he saw a lot of those beatings coming.  He didn’t have to go to Rome.  When he was on trial in Jerusalem, he could have gotten off easily.  But, no, he appealed to the emperor and his Roman citizenship.  That pretty well sealed it for him.  Rome is where he was imprisoned for a long time and eventually executed.  He told the ship’s captain who was taking him to Rome not to sail according to plan.  Bad time of year, bad winds, bad storms.  Paul tried to warn him, but they shipwrecked.  Told you so.

Paul could have not kept his foot on the gas so hard. That might have meant he’d lived longer, made more missionary trips.  God, however, knew better.  Rome was the center of the world.  What better place to proclaim Christ than Rome?

To all appearances, Paul was going to lose. He knew it was coming.  Jesus told him that He would show Paul “…how much he must suffer for My sake.”  Paul didn’t fight the fights he could win in the body.  He fought the fights that needed fighting for souls.  Even when those souls rejected and tried to kill him.

cone_of_shameAs for me, I can’t tell you how many times I have not spoken about the Gospel with people I know. I couldn’t find a way to insert it in the conversation.  I couldn’t think of how to bring it up without – in my mind – making it a complete non-sequitor.  It might have been embarrassing.  It might have put them off.  But maybe I should just dive in.  Fight the fights that need fighting.  Get the message out and let the Holy Spirit worry about how the message is received.  Just go after it and do the best I can.

Paul had a lot to make up for in his mind. I’m sure he carried the shame of having persecuted Christ and killed so many innocent Christians.  He knew he was forgiven, but we don’t forget as well as God does.  God says, “I will remember their sins no more.”

I need to fight those fights. I need to wade in and do what needs to be done.  I might lose a friend.  I might tick someone off.  I could lose in any number of ways, but certainly not as much as Paul did.

That’s the real trick, isn’t it? That’s earthly loss.  Heavenly loss is something else.

What I’m really talking about is good works, right?

“20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:20-22

We need to fight the fights that need fighting, regardless of whether it looks like a winning position in this world. You see, faith saves.  And faith without works is dead.

Then what happens after we die? Well, my Lutheran upbringing tells me we go to heaven as believers.  Cool.  But I’ve also come to learn that we will face judgment.  For example:

woman-shouting“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:26

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” Romans 14:10

But Jesus will step in and acknowledge us to His Father as we have acknowledged Him. I still don’t take this judgment lightly, because we will face it, and I believe it will be terrifying to see God’s wrath poised to strike us.  I’m pretty fearful of that time, because I know what I can remember.  Bad enough without all of the rest I can’t remember!

One other piece about heaven. There are levels of heaven.  Check out Matthew 11:11 – “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Or Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 6: 20 indicates that we can actually make heaven better by virtue of how hard we work for Christ in this world. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

There will be those who will sit in places of greater glory in heaven than others. Those who shirk the tasks God has given, those who are of minimal faith and works will occupy places of lesser glory.

Am I saying we need to start working the system? No!  We need to listen to everything Jesus told us.  He did so, because He wanted us to know and act.  He wants our actions as a loving response to our faith in Him.

Revelations and the letters to the seven church should also give us a chill. Each letter contains reprimands and warnings about the works they do and don’t do.

Charity

Charity

“And I will give to each of you according to your works…And he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.” Revelations 2:23b & 26.

 

“I know your works…I have not found your perfect before God…He who overcomes shall be clothes in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelations 3:1, 2b, & 5.

Aren’t we saved by faith? Yes.  Recall, however, the above passage from James, which tells us that faith without works is useless.  Why?

Simply put, we do what we believe we should do. If we don’t think that we should share God, help the downtrodden, and do all things Jesus told us to do, well, we have to question just what we really believe.

I use my works as a mirror, some sort of indicator as to whether I’m fighting the fights God wants fought. I must admit I do a lousy job.  I must do better.  Because I want to please God.  I don’t want my name blotted out of The Book of Life.  I want to see Jesus and everyone else in heaven.

Patriotism

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.   Romans 13:1

US Flag TatteredNo country is perfect. Let’s just get that out of the way up front.  All countries exist and have their authority from God.  They may misuse their authority, and “We ought to obey God rather than men…”, but insofar as we do not transgress God’s law’s, we obey civil authorities.

Even evil Babylon served God’s purpose top punish the Children of Israel for a) not keeping His commanded observance of the Shemitah (see Sweet Release) every 7 years and b) sacrificing their children to the pagan god, Molech.

Isaiah and Jeremiah mourned for their beloved country and people, Israel. They were patriots who were grieved at what their country had turned itself into and worked tirelessly as God directed them in an attempt to save it.

In that context, I am an American patriot. I love the country I used to know and grieve for what it has become, what it has chosen to become.  I pray for its recovery for former glory as One Nation Under God, because it is now One Nation Under Self.

I grieve for the lost character that won two World Wars and generated an economic engine that powered the world. I grieve at the new character that says self over God and country, the new character that turns over hospital beds like restaurants turn over tables instead of putting the patient first, the new character that that disrespects its own home and neighbors in self-righteousness instead of contributing to a positive effort to solve problems.

Do I still say the Pledge of Allegiance? Do I still sing The Star Spangled Banner, standing, with my right hand over my heart?  Yes to all of that!  I do that, because I think most of America feels the same, but is being drowned out by voices with bigger microphones who think they know better than the true majority.

DNA Pirates CoverHas America been hijacked by people with wickedly selfish agendas? Absolutely!  Who else would convince so many Americans to tell God to get lost?  Who else would prey upon their own population and third world countries with terminal experiments in radiation, cancer, and covert  sterilization projects?  See my series on DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral.

But I’m not going to disrespect and condemn the entire country and population in an effort to resist the problems we face. I’m going to stand with my hand over my heart, tears in my eyes, and sing the National Anthem, pledge allegiance to the flag, and communicate in my small corner of the country as best I can what problems we face and what mind set I think will combat those problems.

old-holy-bible-olivier-le-queinecMy first, best action is to continue to pray every day for our country, it’s true leaders, and all those who fight against evil, both on battlefields and halls of government. God is our ultimate Hope and Protection, now and in eternity.  His Protection remains to those who are faithful and is suspended from those who tell Him to leave.

His Protection has left America. It will only return when we look to Him and His Ways to solve our problems and change our hearts.

Even in its weakened state, The United States of America is still a beacon that draws refugees from the world over. It’s still the best thing going on the planet, but that won’t last without a return to the values, to the God that made us great in the first place.

American Flag

Will we ask God to sew it back together?

Guns: A Root Cause Analysis

It’s different now. If you have some savings, take them with you. If you have a pack, fill it and bring it. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one.    Luke 22:36

Jesus: Put your sword back. People who live by the sword die by the sword.    Matthew 26:52

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.    Matthew 22:37-40

How do we reconcile the first two passages above? Defending yourself is one thing, both individually and as a nation.  Having the means to protect yourself is one thing.  Owning and using weapons as a way of living is quite another.

Karate SparringI’ve had friends who earned black and brown belts in a variety of martial arts. To a man and woman, they all had the same basic message for me: every good fighter avoids a fight at all costs.  You never know when you might be standing in front of that one person who’s going to hand you your ass.

Jesus was saying more or less the same thing, but more delicately, of course. Be prepared for trouble, but don’t go looking for it.

Matthew 26:52 also needs to be taken in context. Jesus wanted to be taken.  It was His job.  He had to be arrested, suffer, and die for our salvation.  That wasn’t the time for a sword fight, especially against trained troops.

So that leaves me in favor of gun ownership for home and self-defense. If you look at my article from last Monday, Gun Violence, you’ll see two very important messages.  First, the solution is in changing our hearts as a nation.  Second, you can follow the link provided to a Washington Post article from 12/3/2015, which clearly demonstrates that overall gun deaths have declined over the last two decades, coinciding with an increase in gun ownership!  The only parts of the country with increases in gun deaths are those states – Illinois, most notably – with the strictest gun laws.

Love HandsAs for Matthew 22:37-40, well, that would pretty much solve everything, now wouldn’t it?

Below I’ve pasted in a complete article from msc.com, which does a great job of talking about FACTS, not hyperbole and politics. When I taught corporate management classes, one mantra for solving problems and making the best decisions was “Think about WHAT’s right, not WHO’s right!”

It’s about fact-based discussions. Following is a great one.  I’ve highlighted parts to help you skim the article.  I also kept the links to other articles, which I don’t all agree with.  I provide them for you to look at and analyze yourself in light of the December 2015 article cited at the top and the article below.

******************

Opinion | I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/opinion-i-used-to-think-gun-control-was-the-answer-my-research-told-me-otherwise/ar-AAsRR7y?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.

Read more:

The Post’s View: The worst kind of American exceptionalism

Chris Murphy: Mass shootings are an American problem. There’s an American solution.

Richard Glover: How Australia beat the gun lobby and passed gun control

The Post’s View: Gun control’s silver bullets

Charles C.W. Cooke: The right to bear arms isn’t up for debate