Posts Tagged 'Musings'

Helping the Time to Go By

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So here I am, it’s April 14th, two weeks since my last post. I really had intended to get more regular in posting but somehow… it didn’t happen.  I can hardly believe we’re already halfway through April.

Reminds me of the young man the car repair shop got to bring me home last week and then bring my car back to the shop (I’d arrived too late to catch the shuttle home and was going to have to wait a really long time for it to come back again). That was on a Monday. As I drove, he asked me how my weekend had gone, what I’d done. I told him it had been Communion Sunday and we’d had a pot luck, as we always do the first Sunday of the month, which was a lot of fun. We did a Chinese theme this month which turned out quite successful.

Anyway, he nodded and agreed that sounded nice. “Helps to make the time go by faster,” he said.

I blurted something about already having the time go by so fast, the last thing I want to do is make it go any faster! But for him, that was not the case. He apparently was chronically in search of things to make time pass.

The last time I can recall really feeling that way was in elementary school when I was certain there was something wrong with the clock because for those last twenty-five minutes before school was out it seemed the hands stood still.

Now it seems they twirl madly about the central axis as if I’m in some sort of time machine. If I didn’t have a glorious reunion with my Lord and Savior to look forward to in heaven — and the fact I’ll never again have to concern myself with time’s passage, fast or slow — I might be alarmed at the speed at which it’s passing.

But I canNOT imagine being in a situation where I’m desperately searching for something to just “fill the hours.”  I may not make the best use of my hours, but I have no dirth of things I’d like to do with them. In fact, my problem is having waaay too many things I’d like to do. Far more than I can possibly do in this lifetime.

That used to bother me, but I’ve begun to see it as a sort of idol. Or if not that, then a desire that doesn’t necessarily spring from the mind of Christ. We live in an incredibly rich environment when it comes to things we can do and have.  And we’re constantly being bombarded with advertising about them all. With new ones  appearing every day.

TV. Radio. The Internet. Even if you try not to look for things, those blankety-blank windows rise up before you whenever you click to a new page. They pop up, slide up, drift from the side, drop down from the top, pop up some more and even if “Internet Explorer has blocked XYZ pop-up” you still get the pop-up that tells you the other pop-up was blocked… Who thought that was a good idea?

Finding the “close” icons and clicking on them is rather like swatting a bunch of flies before you can sit down to eat…

I have stacks of books to read, yet new ones are constantly being released. I have a wish list of clear and rubber stamps I’d like to get, yet new stamps are constantly being released. I was determined to stick with my regular TV shows this year, yet new ones are constantly being introduced, and done in such a way as to take advantage of one’s tendency to just sit there when an old favorite concludes until you’re hooked. (I knew I was going to be hooked by Elementary, but tried to avoid Golden Boy. I failed. I’m now hooked on that one, too. At least I’ve decided that Hawaii 5-0 is too annoying to watch anymore and that has dropped off my list…)

(Whoa! I can’t believe I’m writing about TV shows.) Anyway, it just seems that any area you choose there’s always new stuff, and it’s emerging at such a rapid rate I don’t see how anyone could keep up. Unless that was all they did…

I think I’ve complained about this before. Which is weird because I like all the stuff I’m complaining about. I just don’t like that there’s more of it than I can possibly enjoy.

But that’s one of the curses of mankind — the soul of (fleshly) man, says Solomon, is never satisfied, no matter how much it has. Even if it has no more time or room or energy for more, it wants more all the same…

Green Lights and Red Lights

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In this developmental phase of writing a book (ie, the general beginning),  I find myself struggling to be at ease with the process. In thinking about the story, I want to to come up with a sequence of events and yet my mind seems to shy away from that. I start there, but sometimes, almost immediately, it turns away and gallops after other pursuits.

I catch myself, pull it back and the process repeats. I get glimmers of things, ideas, events that might happen, rising to the top of the soup that is my mind, and then drifting out of sight, no connection to anything else, no certainty that indeed these are elements and need merely be connected for me to have my story. Maybe this event or incident will happen. Or maybe that. Sometimes the two are opposites. They can’t both happen. And it seems I should be clearer on the matter, but I’m not.

That tends to distress me. To make me feel stupid, flighty, incompetent. Don’t you know your own mind? Don’t you know what you want to write about, for heaven’s sake?!

Well…no. And no.

But my pastor says there are far more red lights in life than green ones. That we spend more time waiting for the doors to open than walking through them. So it seems to be here. I am waiting. And I must be at peace with it. I must remind myself that the Lord is involved in this, that I can trust Him to lead me in developing something that will be pleasing to Him.

Addendum:  This is a piece I wrote for my own edification back in April of 2001. It remains as true today — this very day — as it was then. I’m sorry to say that six books later, I still must endure this experience. Repeatedly. It is of some comfort to know that I have gone through it before — and enough times that I actually wrote about it for future reference.

Turn it Over to Him

Recently I’ve been writing about my attempts to get my mind around some of the concepts in my pastor’s current teachings on Galatians 2:20. One of them is the following:

“After salvation, faith is the active entrusting of our lives to the One who died for us and lives inside us. And we’re supposed to do it on a daily, moment by moment basis.”

I hear that and agree with it, but when it comes down to application… I’m not sure what that looks like. Pastor Farley has said we should take an area of our life that’s driving us nuts and apply this teaching to that. My failure to consistently work on Sky is just such an area. What has become of my self-discipline? And how do I apply this active entrusting of my life to Him to the matter of my lack of self-discipline in working on the book?

“Step by step, day in and day out,” said Pastor John, “we’re delivered from problems and obstacles by HIS life. By the fact He lives in us. We simply need to believe that.”

Well… I do believe that. I think. Or do I? And if I do, what does that mean I … well, DO? Immediately I begin to think in terms of disciplining myself again.

But then he said it’s not ‘Let go and let God, it’s actively relying on Him to live through me. Because it’s a battle. The flesh doesn’t want to do that. It never wants to entrust itself to another. It wants the spotlight. It wants anything but “Sorry, step aside. Jesus Christ is gonna live His new life in me now.” Anything!

Like, “What if I reform myself and promise to do better?”

Or, “I’ll feel sorry for my sins. I know I was bad. I’ll deny myself in certain areas.”

He didn’t say if “deny myself” referred to “No more chocolate chip cookies for you until you toe the line” as a punishment to atone for infractions, and maybe he did, but my first thought was that it sounded a lot like some of my self talk: “I have to do better. I have to have more self-discipline, more awareness of the distractions. Maybe I should unplug the modem or revise my schedule to be more focused on my calling. After all everyone knows you must deny yourself “a thousand unimportant things and a few hundred important things in order to do the one most important thing.”

Maybe both are covered in his reference. Because the denying of things to self is certainly a function of the self-reform Pastor John mentioned as being part of the flesh’s plan: “I’ll deny myself in certain areas!”

“No!” said Pastor John. “We’re done with you. We don’t want to hear any of that! We’re starting over. What do we do? Believe He’ll come through for us every day.”

So… does this really mean I just step back, stop with all the attempts to fix myself and turn it over to Him? “Here Lord. I’m turning this issue completely over to You. Live your life through me. You handle me and the book. If You want it done. I’m trusting you to take care of it.”

Is that it? But what exactly does that mean in the practical? I don’t think I know what “turning the book over to Him” entails on a moment by moment basis, since obviously I do have to actually write it. Yes, I’ve already done that to some degree with respect to its content. Is it now to be the writing as well? Certainly ny flesh hasn’t been doing much of a job getting with the program. But can it really simply be a matter of not obsessing and just reminding myself over and over that He will do it, if I turn it over to Him?

Show me, Lord. I’m going to do this as best I know how and trust You to see it done.  In Your timing, not mine; according to Your schedule, not mine…

“Faithful is He who calls you and He will bring it to pass.”                       ~I Thessalonians 5:24

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”      ~Galatians 2:20

A Multitude of Words

I’ve been thinking of this new media we have today and all the interaction it provides. Or maybe not interaction so much as everyone getting to comment on whatever matter is at issue. And, it seems, even expecting to comment. Used to be, if you published an article in a print publication, the only way someone could respond was by writing a letter to the editor. Only those who were most compelled to respond would go to the trouble of doing so.

But these days it’s easy (except for those of us who are daunted by those  wavy letters we must identify and type in before publishing a comment to prove we’re not cyberbots). But even that is easier than typing out your letter, editing it, retyping, getting the snail mail address, etc. Then you’d have to wait around probably for two issues before you even had a chance of seeing your letter in print. And most likely you never would see it, since the page constraints of print media would limit the number of letters published in each issue.  And in those letters you probably wouldn’t find a lot of repetition among them.

Now between Facebook and blogs and Twitter and Amazon everyone gets to put their two cents in. In fact, for a while now our local news anchors actually take precious time to report what viewers are saying on the station’s Facebook page:

“Sally Sniverliver said, ‘I really think the new development is a good idea and should be encouraged.’

“And Harvey Schmortz said, ‘The new development will only take up city funds that would be better spent for other uses. Like fixing the giant potholes in our streets.'”

This is news??? (Okay, I paraphrased, but what was said was consistent with my paraphrase — it’s still not news). Why should I care what Ms. Sniverliver and Mr. Schmortz have to say? If I want random comments I can ask my neighbor. Or the grocery clerk…Or listen to the local talk show where people call in.  Why are the reporters reading us their Facebook page???

Maybe they think  it makes us feel more connected to the station. More important. Maybe they think it will make us watch more consistently in hopes our Facebook page entry will be read.  Are these really the only way news stations can think of to boost viewership?

But I digress. My point is that there are an awful lot of words being spewed out there in cyberspace and I think it has significance, maybe in what it says about our society. I’ve been to blogs where a post has 857 plus comments. Does anyone actually read all 857 comments? Do the people who wrote the original post even read them?   The most I’ve read of such a huge number of comments is about 50.

Bottom line: it seems like communication, it seems like interaction and connection, but is it really? Or is it just  letters strung together with some spaces in between, a bunch of 1’s and 0’s and not much more…

“Do not take seriously all words which are [written],” says Ecclesiastes 7:21

And, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,” says Pro 10:19. “But he who restrains his (typing fingers) is wise.”

Not to say I don’t appreciate the comments I get from my readers… I do. But mostly you all are very thoughtful, classy commenters and I thank you for that!

A Busy Weekend

It started with me getting out of bed before seven on Saturday to shower and then run off to take my mother to the grocery store. When I got home it was water the grass, eat breakfast and hang out a load of sheets, then Stu and I were off across town and out to the Desert Museum for the Saguaro National Park Symposium on Climate Change. We went, not because we have a great interest in climate change, but because a friend of ours was giving a presentation on the research she’s been doing on frogs in local drainages. Despite the climate change billing, it was fun. We listened to an hours worth of talks — our friend’s and three others — and it brought back memories. Both my husband and I have degrees in Wildlife Biology (I think they call it Wildlife Ecology now. Or maybe Wildlife studies?) and at one time in our lives were looking at maybe doing the same sort of work as was presented in the talks.

Of course that was not God’s will for our lives, but our interest was still strong enough we were engaged by what we were hearing. Afterward, as we headed home through the desert, we were surprised to find thunderheads building to the south and east — surprised since supposedly the monsoon has ended.  They were so cool, I told Stu to stop the car so I could take pictures.

Once home, we ate lunch and then did Skype with our son in San Diego — for two hours! And after that it was time to walk Quigley, eat dinner and then my hubby went off to meet with a high school friend in town from Pennsylvania. I was invited but I had already turned into a pumpkin from all that interaction, travel and stimulation and was in sore need of down time. So I stayed home, went over my notes from Bible Class and finished a birthday card.

Today was our local assembly’s monthly communion and pot luck. We usually gather on Sunday’s for a recording of classes taught in Massachusetts earlier that morning (Their 10am is our 7am) in the home of one of the deacons (I learned only recently that meeting in separate, public church buildings didn’t start until the third century BC  A.D.  — see how pathetic my brain is when drained? — Until then, most church groups met in homes.) On the first Sunday of each month we do communion along with the Somerset, MA congregation, and have a pot luck afterward with lots of talk and fellowship.

I don’t usually get home till mid afternoon or later. At which point my introvert self is completely drained of energy and my brain is full of stuff in need of processing. I love that analogy to the bank where all the deposits are being accepted, but nothing is actually being catalogued or recorded. If that’s not done soon, chaos will ensue.

Fortunately I don’t have to go anywhere that I know of tomorrow. I have delusional hopes of maybe getting in some work on Sky, but if the usual pattern for post-communion Mondays’ follows I’ll probably just moodle. But I’ve put all that in the Lord’s hands, having arrived at the conclusion that I have no idea what’s wrong with me, if anything, what I’m doing wrong, if anything, if I really have no self-discipline, or just a multifaceted calling that demands flexibility. Today in class one of the speakers reminded us of 2 Peter 1:7  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  Not just anxiety, but your whole life, and your gift, he said. Weird that he’d say that, but it was just what I needed. Cast it all on Him and leave it there.

It’s the leaving it there that’s the tricky part. When I first wrote that down in my journal, I followed it with my next thought: “That can’t be right.” But when you set that down in writing, you see how absurd it is. Do you believe what the Book says or don’t you? Is there something unclear about “all”?

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Silver Linings

I was out taking pictures of our clouds the other day…er… more like a few weeks back, and this was one. I love our clouds, and the way the sun plays with them, brings out those silver linings.

(Silver linings: A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.)

Looking at this photo, I can see that the bright linings show the sun is shining beyond the cloud and perhaps soon will be fully manifest. Kind of a cool analogy to the Lord… He’s always there, shining, but sometimes clouds get in our way and we can’t see that. Forget to see that. In tonight’s lesson, Pastor McLaughlin reminded us that when we react to people, to unjust treatment, to a difficult situation, it’s because we’ve gotten our eyes off of the Lord — we’re no longer occupied with Him, but with ourselves.

Never a fun place to be. Especially since, when occupied with self we become like those smudge pots they used to use in orange groves to keep the fruit from freezing — belching out black smoke that further obscures our view of our Lord. Our Good Shepherd.

I’ve had a busy, draining few days… well, nearly a week now, I guess. Started feeling the effects of it yesterday (Monday) but had housecleaning and the monthly trip to the cancer center with my mother. I told myself I would rest today, but then kept coming up with all these things I “should” do. As it turned out, I rested despite myself, because it was one of those flitter days, where I flit from thing to thing and can’t recall quite how I ended up doing the things that I did. Generally when I get to the end of such a day I start to condemn myself, but today I recognized the pattern. It’s part of being tired, part of the resting. So I’m going to stop with the condemning and just enjoy the results of the day. Which is that I’ve gotten to rest, and when I do that it always surprises me what a difference it makes in my motivation and my attitude.

Is Koran Burning UnChristian?

After last week’s post on the guy in Florida who was going to burn the Koran, I was asked by several people what I think about a Christian burning a Koran in order to deliberately provoke the Muslim world — isn’t that unChristian? I’ve thought about it all weekend and can’t come up with a definitive answer, though I’m probably closer to “how silly” than “ooh! That’s bad!” And at the same time very aware of the fact that God can use silly, sinful and even evil acts of man, including Christians, to fulfill His plan and bring glory to Himself.

There is no verse that says “Thou shalt not burn a Koran.” Nor is there one that says, “Thou shalt respect all other religions.” Yes, we are to be at peace with all men – so far as it depends on us. And yes, sometimes we are to operate in the law of love and sacrifice, giving up what we are free before God to do, but over which the person we are with will stumble. We’re not supposed to deliberately make people sin.

On the other hand, Jesus deliberately cracked corn in front of the Pharisees on the Sabbath (which you weren’t supposed to do), He healed people on the Temple steps on the Sabbath (no healing allowed either), told a guy He healed on a Sabbath to pick up his bed and go report to the Pharisees (aren’t supposed to pick and carry things like a bed) and in every case provoked the Pharisees to anger, judging and outrage. Of course they were already angry and judgmental and looking for ways to discredit Him, so I’m not sure He actually provoked them, so much as brought their inner true motivations to light.

In any case, I can’t say categorically that to burn a Koran to provoke a reaction (or prove that you are not going to be intimidated by the threats of fanatical and violent devotees of an evil religion?) is “unChristian.”

As for the idea that burning a Koran will not bring Muslims to the Gospel, but rather drive them away — How do we know that?  Yes, absolutely such an act is not going to bring a diehard believer in the Prophet to Christianity, but neither is anything else. But what about those with doubts? Might they actually be swayed — inspired even — by the sight of someone daring to “insult” the book that is supposedly the word of a god so thin-skinned and impotent he has to rely on people to defend him?  In some ways you can look at burning a Koran as a defiance of a false god — one that shows the tyranny of one religion and the freedom and mercy of another.

I also don’t think we are supposed to “respect” Islam as a religion. It’s a compendium of evil and lies, it’s tyrannical, it blasphemes God, insults the Lord Jesus Christ. I can respect someone’s right to believe it and will leave them to do so, but I don’t respect “Islam” at all.

At the same time, I’m not comfortable with the whole activism scene. I don’t think that’s really the way Christians bring change to a nation, so personally I would not be out burning Korans to make a statement. I can’t see any need to incite Muslims, since if you noticed my update to the Koran burning post last week about Michelle Malkin’s column The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage, it doesn’t take much to incite them: Underwear, sneakers, fast food packaging, teddy bears…

Still, I have to say in the end, there’s just something creepy about someone believing a book can be insulted, and that it’s their duty to make sure no one insults it anywhere in all the world, threatening to kill those who even suggest they might. It’s the bullying I don’t like. And the tiptoeing and hand-wringing from our leaders that I like even less.

Thoughts on Righteousness

Well, I’ve been sitting here at the computer for half an hour, waiting for God to give me some kind of words. Nothing came so I went and read blogs, and news sites, but I’m finding myself losing interest. So many lies, so much exaggeration, so much… negative and unpleasant stuff. I know my Lord is in control, know He’s allowed all that stuff, know, too, that He’s promised never to leave me nor forsake me, to provide my every need for as long as it’s His purpose that I remain on this earth.

I’m much more interested in the things we’re learning in Bible class about who we are. Particularly the idea that this righteousness we receive at salvation — God’s righteousness, not ours — is a gift. Not something we earn, not something we can improve on, not something we have in any way except as we are in union with Him. I still have it even if I’m sinning. I’m not operating in it, yes, but I still have it. Still in union with Christ even when I’m working myself into a tizzy over some situation I’m trying to control, thinking I have to control it or else…Even when I’m feeling sorry for myself or put upon, or whatever. It’s there. I’m righteous. Because I’m in union with Him and share everything He has.

But that’s my position. I want to be righteous in experience. But just wanting it doesn’t make it happen. Trying to be righteous doesn’t make it happen. In fact, if  one tries to be righteous one will unquestionably fail because… it’s a gift, for one, and two, the world’s idea of what is righteous and God’s idea of it are two different things. While you might succeed in erecting a form of righteousness, you’ll have done it from the wrong power. It’s the word of God, working its way into our souls from daily exposure to the teaching of the pastor that changes our thinking and by that enables us to experience the righteousness we’ve been given.

But what exactly is righteousness? The English word for righteousness I learned tonight, derived from “rightwiseness.” You’re right in the sense of being wise, having wisdom.

The online dictionary defines right as

1.in accordance with what is good, proper, or just.

2.in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle.

3.correct in judgment, opinion, or action.

4.fitting or appropriate; suitable: to say the right thing at the right time.

All those definitions relate to wisdom. You must have wisdom to ascertain what is good, proper or just. You must be wise in the ways of the Word to be in conformity to it. As a person thinks in his heart, so he is, the Bible says. Thinking is the source of speech and action. Righteousness isn’t being all glowy with power or rigidly adhering to some codex of behavior, whether the Mosaic Law or some modern-day code. It’s first of all thinking like He thinks. At salvation we’re put in union with Christ and given the ability to understand spiritual information and phenomena. But that doesn’t mean we have wisdom. Wisdom must be bought with hours and days and months and years of our lives, submitting to a Pastor’s teaching, learning more and more of what the Bible says, and through that more and more of the Lord who has saved us, and of the righteousness He has given us.

I’m learning more, too, about the importance of the filling of the Spirit. Only what’s done, said, thought in the power of the Spirit is of worth — gold, silver, precious stones. Whatever’s done in the power of the flesh is worthless. Outwardly two people can perform the same act, one from the right power, the other not. One will be rewarded, one will not.

In the same way, two people can study a particular verse, one filled with the Spirit, the other not. They will come to different conclusions. The one not filled with the Spirit cannot understand the divine meaning in the words. He will know the scripture according to the flesh, not according to God’s view.  The soulish man cannot understand the things of God. They are foolishness unto him. There is a way that seems right to a man… God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways.

Not filled with the Spirit you can study the Word all you want but you’ll never understand true righteousness. You see that the Word speaks of it, but the world has its idea of what righteousness is, and that’s what you’ll glom onto; that idea will make sense, will be comfortable, will seem right… yet it is nothing but the ways of death.

2 Timothy speaks of those who have a form of the spiritual life but deny its power (the filling of the Spirit and the inculcation of the word). They are those who are ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. And they use the same words as those who know the truth use. Scriptures, concepts, terms from the Word… all the same.

Well. That last thought triggered a mental explosion of sorts, thought threads running out in multiple directions… the deception of our flesh, the deception of the world, the subtlety of it all… I think I’m having a brain cramp. And it’s time for bed, so I can either  save this for tomorrow, or publish this now and hope readers won’t be too confused. Which shall it be… hmm. I seem to be getting, “Take a risk on God”. So I guess I will.

Avoiding Manholes and Other Musings

This morning as I lay in bed, reflecting and praying, thinking of all the thoughts I should be avoiding, an amusing analogy came to me. Some of you may recall the story of the girl who was walking down the street texting when she fell into an open manhole. Well, as I considered my situation today, it seemed that I was walking down the street of life and needed to be alert and observant so as not to fall into any of the open manholes that unquestionably lay before me, holes of thought that would drop me suddenly into the sewer of my flesh, unpleasant, painful, and often difficult to find my way out of. I have to grope along in the dark for a while, it seems, until I find a not very obvious ladder to freedom.

I think it’s a matter of volition on some level. I can know the doctrine I need to confront the thoughts, recall it and even believe it so much as I’m able…and yet not seem to be able to turn off the negative thinking. Sometimes I think I only want to believe the doctrines, but am not yet totally convinced they are true. Oh, I’m convinced the Bible teaches them, but when I’m down there in the dark and the stink, they don’t seem so real and compelling as they do when I’m topside. [hmm. Could that be because when I’m in the sewer I’m not filled with the Spirit and the flesh is NEVER going to believe the truths of the word of God? Have to think on that… ]

Anyway, I do have to say that applying the concepts of being dead to the sin nature has helped a lot. So has recognizing a lot of the sins that start driving me. It’s only been recently that I’ve become aware of the subtle  self-righteousness that lurks in being “right”. For the sake of argument here, assume I am right in a situation and the other person is wrong. Part of why some things/thoughts are so hard to let go is because “I’m right!” Thus I feel justified in the thoughts that I’m having. When really, I’m not. I’ve fallen into self-righteousness. It’s not up to me to make an issue of who’s right or wrong, only to make sure I remain in fellowship with my Lord.

More and more I’m seeing that for us as Christians it’s hands off. Hands off the details of life and hands off other peoples’ lives. Prior to the trip to San Diego, there were many, many uncertainties as to logistics, timing, how we were going to do some of the things we were being called upon to do. Just thinking of it would make my brain cramp, so I just put it all in God’s hands. He’d handle all the details, as He assured me through many different avenues last week. Of course on the trip everything continued to shift and change and I never really knew what was going to happen until it did. Trust Him to handle the details doesn’t mean handle them so that things work out the way I think they should. Trust Him to handle the details means He’ll handle them so that things work out as He’s decreed (which means all works out “perfectly”) and I’m not to obsess and fret about them. It’s a lesson I have to continually repeat.

But there are other ways we’re to be hands off as well, and that’s with regard to others’ lives. As I’ve grown more and more aware of this concept and the breadth of it, I’ve found in myself a certain resistance. It is so against the ways of the world. And the ways of man, I think… Many of us seem to be natural busybodies, looking at what others are doing and pronouncing a form of judgment on them. Our news does this, the entertainment industry, the sports world, politics… it’s everywhere. Being right seems very important, and making sure that we point out others’ wrongs is almost a duty. There are whole websites devoted to pointing out the errors of various pastors and teachings. We can tolerate maybe toning some of that down, not gossiping about others, trying not to be too critical or critical at all… but still, the idea of completely ignoring someone’s wrongdoing?  That can’t be right, can it? Shouldn’t we go and help them? Point out their error?

Mostly I think not. Yeah, there’s the verse about the brother caught in a trespass and all that, but there are also the verses about “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls and stand he will for God is able to make him stand.” And, “But you there, why do you judge your brother? And you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God…so then each one of us shall give an account of himself to God.”

As believers we’re all royal priests, we all represent ourselves before God and need no one  to stand between us. Not only that, even God Himself doesn’t judge us, having passed all judgment to His son. And the Son didn’t come to judge the world but to save it and will leave the judging to His Word. So it’s really the Word that does the judging. And even if there weren’t all those verses telling us to beware stepping into the role of judging another person’s life, it’s still pretty arrogant to think we really know what’s going on with a person or in a person’s life, seeing as how we don’t have all the facts.  But it’s so easy to think we do. From just a few facts, we construct a narrative and voila: an explanation. Usually not a very complementary one to the victim.

I wrote about it, even constructed a scenario using this propensity in Return of the Guardian King. And still I want to think I really know. When more and more I think we all know very, very little about anything. Including ourselves…

Wealth and Poverty

I don’t read many blogs but one of the ones I do read, several times a week, is Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers. Hanson is a professor of classics and military history at the Hoover Institution of Stanford, and professor of Classics Emeritis at Cal State Fresno. He’s also a farmer. I’ve quoted from him before, and from Raymond Ibrahim, one of the men who occasionally contributes to his page.

Back in November I saved an excerpt from one of his essays (the save is dated 11/14/08) wherein he reflected upon wealth and poverty. I didn’t save the link to the actual essay, and I’m not sure there’d be one anyway, because tonight at least, the archives only turn up a 401 error message.

Oh well. I really liked what he had to say in this quote which is about wealth, and comparing the difference between the wealthy of this country and the not so wealthy. And the truth is, the difference isn’t all that great, and the trade-offs not all that unbalanced:

Although I do better now [economically; better than he did when he was younger], I have no envy or anger at those who make big money. Here are a couple of considerations about the current furor over the Obamatax hikes that, with income and payroll combined with state and Medicare, could put some incomes in the 65% tax bite.

First, it is their money, not mine. I long ago realized that an academic enjoys all sorts of perks, summers off, sabbaticals, free time that higher-paid CEOs or doctors and lawyers do not. Each person to some degree has some free will about the sort of work, sacrifice, and unpleasantness necessary to endure to alter his income.

This is the 21st century, not the 19th. Those who make $40,000 or $80,000 or $1,000,000 per year all pretty much have hot water for their showers. Their tap water doesn’t sicken them, and they watch about the same TV shows and mostly have cell phones. Mass consumerism, easy credit, and technology have blurred the distinctions between wealth and poverty.

That I buy a Wal-Mart sweat suit to ride a bike in the winter for $20 does not mean that I am any colder than the Manhattan exec who buys one with a designer label version for $150 at a boutique on Park Avenue. His $20 million-dollar penthouse apartment is no warmer or cooler than my Selma farmhouse. As far as the private jet, the yacht, the 5 homes, I’d prefer to fly commercial, rent a kayak, and have trouble enough keeping two toilets running and the hot water heater from silting up without worrying about either 50 of them or a staff of 5 to oversee them all.

So the advantages of wealth are more of a status thing and free choices of recreation or more leisure time than a vast difference in material conditions.

 As Americans we are incredibly blessed, and I think we take those blessings for granted. Yes, my swamp cooler is not the greatest when the heat and humidity are both high. But it’s WAY better than no cooler at all, which a lot of people on this world suffer through.

I get to eat pretty much what I want to eat, go where I want to go, do what I want to do. If I want to sleep in, I can. If I want to read a book, I can. Staying home may not give me a lot of prestige and status in the eyes of others, but my freedom is invaluable. Yes, we don’t have a cell phone, or cable, or a plasma screen TV. But we do have a phone, and we have an antenna and a TV. 

Today I went to the store to buy a new MP3 player and the first thing I thought was about the vast array of choices.  How would I decide? Well, it soon became evident that most of the choices offered features I had no interest in. I don’t want to play videos on the credit card-sized screen (I can’t imagine I would ever have wanted to do that, even back when I could see things that small!) I don’t want to send or look at photos. I don’t want 500 songs… I just want something I can download my Bible class lessons to, so I can listen while doing my chores.

And that’s what I got. But still, I have it. And I’d say, worldwide, many don’t. If you pull in all the people who’ve ever lived, I’m in like the .05% of prosperity. I think it’s good to reflect on all the blessings we have. There’s too much talk of things wrong, and things we can’t have, and all the “suffering” we have in this country when really that’s just ridiculous. All the things people must do without, when really, most of us live better than kings of old.


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