Decent and in Order

My mama was an accomplished communicator; with a raised eyebrow or disapproving glance she was able to convey paragraphs. It was she who taught me there is a right and a wrong way to do things, and woe betide me if I strayed off that path. I think her favorite scripture was “Let everything be done decently and in order.”

School Girl Carol School Girl Carol

One of the accepted activities was church attendance. Even though she did not attend religiously—she came to faith in her later years—it was good for me, and was a societal norm. So when I had children of my own, to be the best mother I could be, I took my boys to church. They were taught about obedience, authority, being law-abiding, and that work was a good and expected thing. Going to jail, taking drugs, disobeying your parents were BAD things.

But things have changed somewhat since those days. Christianity, and people who adhere to it are now looked upon as the enemy, their beliefs questioned, challenged, criminalized. Our culture today would brand me an unfit parent for taking my children to church, exposing them to an Absolute, who declares He makes the rules. Funny about that. They are all employed, tax-payers, law-abiding contributors to society. What did I do wrong?

Increasingly we read reports of parents being arrested and their children removed from the home because someone somewhere disapproved of the freedom the children displayed when they walked to the store All By Themselves! Home-schoolers are harassed even though the children consistently test better than average across the board.

It would appear that the thing feared by society in general is any independent thinking, outside the control of governmental powers. To stand up in one’s opinions is to invite serious consequences from those who have great ability to enforce compliance. Unlike my mama’s effective eyebrow, they have the machinery of a legal and legislative system to bring people to their knees. My question: will this mean things are done decently and in order, with contributing citizens as a result?

Or something far worse?

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Authentic Life

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. William Shakespeare

What does being true to one’s self look like? This often quoted line from Shakespeare is so accepted as wisdom that many people think it is Biblical. Seldom is it pondered upon. Being true to ones’ self means at the very least knowing what the core self is. If I am going to be true to myself, I must first know what that standard is so that I have a measuring stick to compare by.

The self — what is that? Who are you? The current “educated” elite whose god is science have written knowledgable papers and given TED talks on what makes up a person. They have delved into what defines consciousness, the chemical inner workings of the brain, the response of neurons to stimuli. Biologists have sliced and diced the human organism down to the microscopic cell components searching for more and more insight into what makes us tick. As the many branches of scientific inquiry look deeper in, astrophysicists look farther out looking for origins, or better yet, signs of life elsewhere in the universe. There are ongoing arguments throughout the scientific community about how even to define life. This seems to be akin to pulling the wings off a butterfly to see how it works.

Looking to science for answers to our question is therefore fruitless. The Bible, however, does declare with assurance just what life is and why there is life anyway. It is there we must look for answers to our questions of what is the true self. It is there where we find the purpose in life revealed. Yet, although that true purpose of life is revealed in Scripture for those who seek it, it has remained hidden from the eyes of many if not most people. Like the popular hidden objects games, the truth is in plain view, but sometimes almost impossible to find in the clutter that comes in from many directions. In our frustration we look for a ‘clue’ button which will highlight for us that truth we seek.

I encourage everyone to stop for a moment. Think, ponder, meditate on who you think you are. If I were to ask you face to face “How would you define your true self?” how would you answer that? Akin to that question is this: “Do you live an authentic life?” The authentic life is an outgrowth or expression of a person whose every action is true to their identity and purpose. In touch with the true self, the God-created and sustained self, everything from the inside out is authentic, balanced, in equilibrium, and peace. That sounds like a tall order, a pie in the sky quest. But I believe it is possible. It is definitely scriptural.

In some parts of Christendom there has been much preaching and teaching about “Identity.” Other parts of the Body of Christ have not considered the topic in any way. Whether taught or not, the result seems to be the same: No change in the people, no change in the way we maintain relationships, no change in moving in the power of the Spirit, no change in making a positive impact in the culture around us. Could it just be possible we are missing something?

A second popular topic is our purpose and destiny. Those who are seriously seeking for answers to that question gradually begin to glean a few truths such as: man is created to take dominion; man is created to glorify God; man is created to love God and enjoy him forever. I believe this is only a small gleam of truth coming through a crack in the door; it is not the full story. Even if man’s purpose is learned, his destiny clearly laid out, that does not mean he is automatically living a true, authentic life. Again, are we missing something here?

I encourage you to consider seriously the importance of pressing toward the goal of living life out of your authentic self, with a clearer understanding of your purpose, so that you will be surprised and satisfied, fulfilled and fruitful. The journey to that end may not be a smooth, straight line. There may be some hard work and even pain as you address some dearly held mind sets which have to go. You will be challenged to alter some of your behavior patterns and risk stepping into new ways. All of life, all of your life, is ultimately the outcome of choices previously made. You have the opportunity, if you are alive and reading this today, to choose to change toward all that is authentic. If you decide things are just fine, thank you, then expect no change in the peace and power levels of the life you live. But if you are not satisfied, it is time to move to a better way. As an old dictum has it: If you don’t want a Coke, stop putting money in the slot.

Rescue

 

11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

12 If you say, But we knew nothing about this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

Word of the day, word of the week.  This is a direct command found in Proverbs 24. It is a NOW word for the times we are in. Who is being led to death? Who are those being led to slaughter? Who are the ones who are saying “we did not know anything – nobody told us?”

Well, for starters, Christians around the globe are dying wherever they are near more than a few adherents of Islam.  Appeals for help are largely ignored by our government as well as most churches.  Some times the inaction is based on not knowing what to do,  Helplessness in the face of evil, fear for one’s own life, keeps people busy following their own  pursuits, head down, ears closed.

Keep quiet.  Don’t rock the boat. We don’t want to become targets. Maybe it will all go away.

Islam is not the only source of suffering and slaughter.  Tyrants of all and no religions continue to arise around the world, snuffing out life ruthlessly in their pursuit of power and control. Average citizens who want to live out their lives in peace get run over and run through with cruel disregard.

We don’t do that – yet – in the United States.  We just kill young life, that which does not yet have a name or Social Security number. This is done with governmental approval and financial support. The policy now is so broad that those individuals and institutions which refuse to participate in causing death are penalized and threatened with imprisonment. At the other end of the time line, laws are now in place which deny persons over age 70 the right to corrective intervention in case of brain bleed or stroke.  That which could be done to heal and restore is no longer allowed; the written mandate is “comfort care only.”

NOW is the time to speak up. NOW is the time to do something, anything to resist this culture of death.  As a nation we are careening downhill to chaos. I have been too long silent.  First, it is time to repent for all our whistling past the graveyard. We have looked with horror at the Holocaust of the 1940’s, ignoring the 21st century holocaust around us. We have judged those who did not speak up while Jews were being led away to slaughter, yet we are no different in our failure to speak up against the abortion business and some of the odious parts of the new “health care” act. Perhaps it is not too late to find mercy and forgiveness for our inaction. Perhaps it is not too late.

How many voices are needed to convince a congress person we are serious?  What does it take to stop a juggernaut in its tracks? It is a huge challenge, yet we are told in this passage of scripture we MUST do what we can to stop the evil we DO know about.

Now, not tomorrow. Writing this is for me a beginning step. I can keep silent no longer. We must turn back the tide that is close to sweeping us away. Now.

Music on the Wind

Some of the most brilliant of God’s gems are hidden from public view; they are seldom found scattered around in the dust like old bottle caps or discarded beer cans, today’s equivalent of pottery shards at an archaeological dig. One of those almost hidden ones is Eddie Askew

Eddie’s life work has been with The Leprosy Mission in India, an assignment to put stars in most anyone’s crown. What has endeared him to me is another facet of that gem: his creative side which includes writing, poetry and art. Close to one million of his little meditations and books are in print, with the proceeds going to the support of the Mission, and yet few Christians, and fewer still of the secular world know anything about the man.

His meditations are not wordy, but see truth and beauty intertwined. A man of gentle spirit, he paints as well with brush and watercolor as with words. Some meditations are followed by interspersed poems which enlarge on the topic and penetrate soul barriers to go straight to the heart.

Here is a sample taken from “Music on the Wind,” a series of meditations on the life of David. Following a short discussion of Saul’s armor as being a hindrance to David he penned this:

You are on the edge, Lord, of my world,
not in the centre as you should be.
I’d like you there with me,
but I’m not ready yet
to open up and let you in.
Your foot is in the door,
that’s fine.
I feel I’m in control,
can open it, or close it
as I choose.
But more than that seems dangerous.
I build defences.
Stay close-bound
inside a hard defensive shell
of spurious security.
And lobster-like,
close carapaced within my fear,
wave warning claws
against your loving hands.

Not only you, Lord,
distanced by my doubt,
I hide from others too.
Show only what I think they want to see
and grudgingly at that.
Can’t find the openness
to share the truth with them.

And when I change direction,
look inside,
it’s me I’m hiding from as well.

Lord, keep on knocking,
and let the probing fingers of your love
open the door a little more.
There’s just a chance,
one day,
I’ll really let you in
and find the will
to show myself to you,
to them and even to myself
just as I am.
Accept the freedom that you give
to be myself
and build on it with you.

Some of his works are available at Alibris