Friday, July 21, 2017

Moral-less

  Today I read an article about an incident in Florida where a disabled man was in a pond drowning and frantically crying for help while a group of teenagers not only watched and yelled obscenities at him but also videoed him drowning and not one offered to help him. The man did drown and the kids posted the video online. (Click here for the news story)
  While the behavior of those teens is horrific, it is hardly shocking in this day and age. Similar stories of youths and young adults sinister behavior are a regular fixation on our news outlets. The regularity of such occurrences raises several questions. Questions such as why do these children and young adults not have any moral compass and what can be done about it?
  Sitting back and reflecting on my 50+ years of life I consider the changes our society has gone through in that time, some good (civil rights, gender equality) and some bad (general loss of morality, intolerance of opposing ideals, and civility in general). Yet why have those changes occurred, more specifically what has given rise to these bad changes - changes that have given birth to hostility and hate?
  Once we knew how to argue with each other then share a meal and enjoy each others company afterward. Once we held respect for life, for our elders and for authority. Once we were guided by high moral standards - even those who were not religious did as well. What has driven our country to the precipice implosion?
  It is all too easy to point fingers at innovations of technology such as television, computers and the internet yet I believe the real culprit is much deeper, after all a TV and a computer are simply inanimate objects and can't do anything we as humans don't tell it to (at least until full on Artificial Intelligence becomes a reality - if it does).
  No, I fully believe the cancer plaguing our society today is caused by the removal of religion from our secular landscape. Removing the ten commandments from schools, not allowing prayer in school and at school related events such as sporting events and graduations has removed the teaching and integration of moral values from our youth over the years. Those youths have in turn grown into adulthood and now hold positions of power in business and government from which they can influence decisions which are designed to remove God from our society all-together.
  Not only has this crusade removed God from our schools but it has also encroached further into our society in a drive to obliterate God from our country. The Boy Scouts of America are routinely under fire and often forced into subjugation because the organizations core principles are to teach patriotism and morality (regardless of religion) to boys and young men. Other secular organizations also face similar assaults on their core principles.
  This cancer of trying to remove God from society must end if our nation, indeed even our world, is to survive into another century. How do we stop it? It won't be easy and we who seek to instill a moral compass into the world must stand firm in resolution to oppose those who would remove our God from our halls of justice, our government, our schools and our public spaces.
  Secondly, we must educate the fact that our nation was founded on Biblical principles beginning with the pilgrims who were seeking escape from religious persecution much as we are persecuted today, albeit in different ways. While all who accompanied the pilgrims may not have been religious (possibly the soldiers and sailors who stayed on in the new world) the great majority of the early settlers were. A hundred years later the leaders of the colonies gathered and drafted a document that clearly included a belief in God when they referenced God four times in the Declaration of Independence.
  While a parent is ultimately responsible for instilling a child's moral values it is reasonable to assume many parents fail in that responsibility for a variety of reasons. While it should not be a school's mandate to instill moral values I would argue that simple things such as teaching the ten commandments and saying prayer in school would go far in improving our nations morality. Teaching that it is wrong to murder, steal, lust, bear false witness, respect your parents or to covet are all parts of the ten commandments that certainly can cross no religious lines or offend non-religious society.
  In my opinion the answer is to have a constitutional amendment which allows specific teachings that may address issues of morality based on religion yet are not religious indoctrination. A pipe dream I'm sure, nevertheless our nation is doomed to annihilation unless we are proactive in restoring moral responsibility within our borders.
   



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Child's Place

NOTE: I came across this article courtesy of a friend who posted it on their Facebook page. It so eloquently expresses beliefs I have tried to express in the past but not nearly as well as the author John Rosemond does here.

            I recently asked a married couple who have three kids, none of whom are yet teens, “Who are the most important people in your family?”
            Like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they answered, “Our kids!”
            “Why?” I then asked. “What is it about your kids that gives them that status?” And like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they couldn’t answer the question other than to fumble with appeals to emotion.
            So, I answered the question for them. “There is no reasonable thing that gives your children that status.”
            I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they’re having with their kids  - typical stuff, these days – are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they have created a stable family.   
            Furthermore, without them, their kids wouldn’t eat well, have the nice clothing they wear, live in the nice home in which they live, enjoy the great vacations they enjoy, and so on. Instead of lives that are relatively carefree (despite the drama to the contrary that they occasionally manufacture), their children would be living lives full of worry and want.
            The issue is really the heart of the matter. People my age know it’s the heart of the matter because when we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families. And that, right there, is why we respected our parents and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time in the United States of America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.
            It was also clear to us – I speak, of course, in general terms, albeit accurate – that our parents’ marriages were more important to them than their relationships with us. Therefore, we did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after school activities. Mom and Dad talked more -  a lot more – with one another than they talked with you. For lack of pedestals, we emancipated earlier and much more successfully than have children since.
            The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.
            The most important thing about children is the need to prepare them properly for responsible citizenship. The primary objective should not be raising a straight-A student who excels at three sports, earns a spot on the Olympic swim team, goes to an A-list university and becomes a prominent brain surgeon. The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened.
            “Our child is the most important person in our family” is the first step toward raising a child who feels entitled.
            You don’t want that. Unbeknownst to your child, he doesn’t need that. And neither does America.

-by John Rosemond

Thursday, February 02, 2017

I Was Convicted

  I know what it is like to be on trial and hear the words no defendant desires to hear - "We find him guilty!" I know what it is like to be bound in chains, and discarded from those you hold dear and love to enter a life of uncertainty, of fear, of knowing you are where you are because of your own decisions and actions, torturing yourself knowing the time you spend incarcerated could have been better spent, could have been spent in joy and happiness and love with a future to look forward to.
  Yes I know what that feels like. Not because I was a criminal and actually sent to prison, but because I was a child of God and turned my back on God and the church purposely. When I left the church in 2009, I didn't leave it suddenly, it happened over a period of weeks. At a time of weakness, at a time when I was not a mature Christian, I let evil into my life. Not once, but several times. Not in a huge ugly heap but with small little things that chipped away at my soul. I knew I was sliding downward even as I sporadically went to worship services.
  It was in those worship services I attended though that I learned and felt the anguish of being convicted. Convicted as I listened to the words of the songs being sung. Convicted when I partook of the Lord's Supper when I knew in my heart I was lost. Convicted when the heat of the words the preacher spoke singed my heart. Convicted at the invitation because I knew I was headed for death for not surrendering to Jesus.
  But especially the songs. The songs haunt me even today. For now my soul and spirit has clawed from the mire of a sinful world, I have been released from my prison, I have returned to the fold. I sing with joy and love the words of the hymns. And now I am revived, reborn, renewed and redeemed. Some songs are almost impossible for me to sing now, not because they convict me but because of the joy and love that wraps and protects my heart and knowing how close I came to eternal death.
  I was always told of how easy it is to fall away simply by missing a worship service. How easy it is to miss a second service after missing the first one, easier still a third service, then a fourth and on an on until one day you just stop coming to join the family and worship God altogether. Don't think "that's not me," or "I'm not worried about that," or "It's just one time." Falling away always starts with  "just one time."
  If I had an absolutely, positively, can't miss, sure-fire way to make a million dollars with virtually no effort you'd probably listen up and follow my instructions wouldn't you? Well, I have an absolutely, positively, can't miss, sure-fire way for you to live a joyous life both here and now and in eternal life. You see, there is another type of conviction. One that pierces your heart and soul. One that makes you fall to your knees and cry in joy and happiness. Will you listen? Will you follow my instructions? See me at worship services this Sunday and I'll tell you how. Hope I see you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

OM?

  I feel compelled to write about something of a religious nature. Many of you reading this might not agree but I hope you will consider my point and give it due diligence.
  The topic is the ambivalence the world has with respect to taking God's name in vain. It is especially troubling in this day and time to hear those who profess to be Christians absent-mindedly insert "God" into their remarks - something God has expressly forbidden
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Exodus 20:7
  When we insert "God" into a remark as just a flippant annotation to some abject comment we utter during the course of our day we are in fact using God's name in vain because we are not recognizing the omnipotence and holiness of God when we do so.
  "But!" you say "God's name isn't God so it's okay to say 'Oh my god.'"
  No. No it isn't okay. True the term "God" is a word that recognizes that God is a position or title and Isaiah 42:8 God himself tells us his name is Jehovah. Consider for a moment though that any reference to our Creator spoken loosely and with little consideration for what and who he is can only serve to trivialize him. And in our society now we have found a way to trivialize God even further when in our digital universe we exclaim "OMG!" throughout our social comments. Think of it... we have reduced God down to a single exclamation, to a single word in our society, failing miserably to recognize the awesome power of a Creator who loves us. How sad.
  Having grown up in a very conservative and religious family I have heard it said that even words such as "gosh," and "golly" are extrapolations of God and we should even remove those words from our language. Whether they are or not (and there are those who claim to trace the etymology of the words back to God) the point is still valid - ANY word we use in reference to God would be a practice in trivializing God and reducing him to an afterthought. I don't know about you but I don't ever want to minimize our Creator in ANY way and I pray you wouldn't want to either.
  For another commentary on this subject I came across please click here.