Going ‘Postal’

Today a new tragedy.   2 news persons where shot dead on live tv, the result of a disgruntled employee.    The news is full of these anymore, unhappy employees, family members, students deciding that they no longer want to live this life, and are determined to take out all those who they feel were the cause of their unhappiness, depression etc.

This increasing number of incidents tells me that we are in serious trouble.   Who is next, who will be collateral damage in some self-righteous person’s rage against those who have ‘wronged’ them?

I see 3 major issues in our society today that have lead up to this happening.

  • The ‘it’s all about me’ attitude
  • The unwillingness to accept any responsibility for anything in their life
  • Blaming it all on mental illness

I know that I am not going to make any friends with that last statement but I will forge ahead.   Yes, there are many mentally ill people in this world and it’s a horrible problem that needs much attention.   Is it possible that some of these are directly related to mental illness?  Absolutely.    But I firmly believe that the majority of these are not mentally ill people.   I believe that they are selfish, self-centered people who have never been required to take responsibility for anything.   They were never taught that their happiness, livelihood, friendships, lifestyle etc. are their responsibility and require effort and work.   They believe that it’s up to their employer to provide their dream job, their spouse to fulfill their emotional needs, their friends to fill their other emotional needs and that the world owes them a living.  They believe that they should be treated like the best and the smartest and that no one can dislike them or even have a harsh word for them regardless of the effort they put towards being the best, smartest, friendliest etc.   They have never been taught the lesson that how people perceive you is 99% your responsibility.

We live in a society that is increasingly in favor of allowing anyone who isn’t ‘happy’ with their life to end it by killing themselves.  It has become a cause to be celebrated.   Life has no intrinsic value anymore unless you want it to have value.   If you have decided that your life has no value, we will celebrate you instead of trying to convince you otherwise.

We have also created a culture where people think they are entitled to be lauded at every opportunity (participation trophies anyone?) and if they aren’t something is wrong and we need to do something about it.  We have implied that everyone is entitled to praise where it is not warranted, happiness when we haven’t done anything to work for it, acknowledgement for showing up and on and on.   We have told people that unless these things happen they can’t be happy.   We have told them that if they aren’t happy then life isn’t worth living. We have told them that fame is what matters and that living an ordinary day to day existence with the peaks and valleys and joys and sorrows that are a part of life aren’t enough.

So we must extend this to the person who has decided that they no longer want to live and if their life has no value then the lives of the people who have ‘wronged’ them also have no value.    With this mentality it is easy to see why someone who has decided that they can no longer live would decide that ‘if they have to die’ then why should those who have caused them so much unhappiness live either.  They are going to ‘get their 15 minutes of fame’.

As long as we continue to celebrate this idea that the only value that life has is in the mind of the individual, it’s just going to get worse.

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What’s missing in the Church today?

Ask people what’s missing in the church today and you will get a laundry list of things from Christians and Non-Christians alike,  ranging from compassion to inclusion.   When we listen to the non-christian tell us what is missing and what we should do to get more people into the church, it’s easy to fall into the trap of agreeing with many things we shouldn’t agree with.  The Non-Christian would tell us that they want to see the Church be more inclusive, more open minded, should ensure that sermons don’t talk about hell and so on.

Church, these are things we can’t agree with!    We are called to be ‘salt and light’, in other words to be candle in the darkness and a welcome addition.   We can’t be either one of these things if we are not any different from those around us.  If we are dwelling in the darkness along with the rest of the world how will our ‘candle’ shine the path to righteousness?

The Church as a whole has left it’s first love.   They no longer believe that the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God.  They have given up man as a beautiful being created in the very image of God and instead have bought the lie that is evolution.  That God gave us no more thought than a tiny speck of matter floating in an endless sea.   The Church accepts many different forms of perversion and says it’s ok and not only welcomes it, but celebrates it.

As we question why people are turning from the Church and as we move forward to face the persecutions that are come upon us we no longer have the weapons to shine truth into a lost and dying world.  We are no longer a light in the darkness, a candle in the wind   How is there hope in the Church when the church is embracing the same sin that people are dying from?

People might say the Church needs more compassion, fervency and urgency in prayer, more evangelism, but those are only symptoms of the real problem.   The Church cannot preach a saving, hope filled message when they are frolicking in the same morass of sin as the rest of the world.

If we look no different and act no different how can we expect anyone to accept that our message is one of hope and life?   The world sees the Church’s hypocrisy and calls it out and the Church has no defense for they have left their first love.

We draw people to our Savior by our actions in and out of the Church, by our character when no one is looking.  People no longer desire to be like us, because they are us and we are them.

Church,  I urge you, I beg you!  return to your first love!  Pray for forgiveness and return to the God who loves you and who has called you to be his people.   God has not changed nor moved away, WE have changed and we have changed the meaning of the Word of God as well.  The Bible must again be considered the True and Inspired Word of God.   We must first understand that the New Testament of Hope and Forgiveness cannot exist without the Old Testament Law.   We must understand the difference.    We must be able to proclaim to a lost and dying world that their hope isn’t found because they find a Church that welcomes and celebrates their sin, but instead it is found in a True and Right relationship with God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

We have to lead the way.   The Church must turn from it’s wicked ways or it will lead it’s people to hell on path filled with unrighteousness and sin glossed over by the acceptance it has granted.

White, Black and the case of Privilege in America

You have probably read about it or maybe even been accosted by someone telling you to ‘check your white privilege’.   This is the new rallying cry on campuses and institutions across the country.

If we are not black we are supposed to cower away in shame and feel guilty from gaining some ephemeral benefit from things that happened decades in the past.

So what exactly is privilege?  Merrian Websters dictionary describes it this way:

  • a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others
  • the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society
  • a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
  • such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office

So right away we can see that historically white people have had many right’s or benefits given to them that were not given to blacks. White privilege definitely existed in a historical context.  Fast forward to today, legally none of these rights or privileges can be denied to anyone because of the color of their skin anymore.  We even have organizations and policies that exist to prevent it in certain institutions.  So continue down the list and see what other kinds of privileges are granted to people.  Now we see privilege based on money, position etc. Privilege exists everywhere you go.

Privilege will never go away.   There will always be people who are given an elevated level of privilege for whatever reason, be it money, family name, stardom, the color of your hair,  you name it.

What happened in the past was shameful, but it is the past. We can’t change it, we can’t make it go away.   If we are ever to become the nation that we claim to want, we have to put the past where it belongs and move forward.

The ‘check your white privilege’ movement (which is strangely mostly directed at white men), needs to be seen for the lie it is.   It is used to stop open and honest debate but more than that it is used increasingly by people who are desperately trying to hide from the truth.  The truth that our nation is broken and that it can’t be fixed if only a single group of people would ‘check their privilege’.  The truth that we all need to willingly accept a hand ‘up’ and not a handout.   We need to pick up our responsibility at the door and recognize that we all must work towards that future, where privilege is granted based on behavior and not on skin color.

The victim blame game

Playing the victim is a dangerous game.   It deceives and blinds us to the truth, not only of the reality around us, but the reality within us.

On any given day there are a multitude of ‘victim’ masks we can wear.   The victim of society, of racism, of rich elitism, of nepotism and a whole host of others.  It is now trendy and fashionable to be a victim of some sort and make that a cause celebré.

We fail to see the inherent dangers in playing the victim game.  Playing the victim game not only has a tendency to blind us to the truth, it also deceives us.  It can convince us that we have the high ground and gives us reason to look down on others.  It takes otherwise rational people and morphs them into people that are no longer recognizable in their beliefs, attitudes and actions.

It blinds to the responsibilities that we hold, to provide for our sustenance, livelihood, safety, happiness and so on.   It slowly convinces us that those things no longer belong to us and the responsibility for providing those now belongs to someone else.

In our new found excitement to join in the cause, we fail to see how it not only changes us, but how it diminishes those who are the real victims.   It shunts them aside like yesterday’s news and they lay in the wake of our eagerness to prove that we are somehow the real objects of concern.

We become greedy automatons, whirling around on one merry-go-round cause after another, caught up in the frenzy and eager to get our share, leaving a string of broken, beaten down people in our wake and stepping on and over the bodies of those left behind in the wake of another cause, rushing to get on the bandwagon before it leaves.

We rush heedless into dangerous situations leaving behind all caution, knowing that if something happens we can just play the victim card and all will be well.

We are playing a dangerous game and the cards are running out.   Soon there will be no one left to blame, no one left to pay the piper.    We will be left beaten down and broken, with no knight on a white horse charging to our rescue.

Alone and afraid,  what will we do when all we have left is the knowledge that we alone are to blame, when we alone could have prevented what happened.

It’s time to take a step back.   Don’t be so willing to believe that every Hollywood personality or every scientist or every politician knows what’s best.   Give yourself time to really think about what is happening.   Not all change is good or even necessary.

But most of all it’s time to step back and stop playing the victim blame game before it’s too late.

Once upon a time…………

I would like to tell you a story.  It begins………..Once upon a time….

Once upon a time there were 2 words, these 2 words were welcome, even respected and heeded.   They were important words in our society because they were part of the way people conducted themselves.   They spoke to the character of a person.    People who didn’t have these 2 words weren’t well thought of or respected.   They tended to lean towards the lazy, maybe even criminal elements of society.

Once upon a time people understood the concept that everything they did had a consequence.   Some consequences were personal, others affected a multitude.   Some consequences were positive, a few were neutral and some were very negative.  People understood that if you hit your hand with a hammer it would not only hurt but might break a few bones, they understood that if you committed a crime you were most likely on the fast track to the penthouse suite at the local jail.  They also understood that if they were honest, loyal and kept their word they would be respected and more than that could live easily with themselves.

Sadly these 2 words have had a rather hard life and it does not look like they will end with ….Happily ever after.

I am speaking of Personal Responsibility.   That character trait that defines people who understand that not only do actions have consequences, but that the person doing the action should accept the responsibility for the outcome.

I am very disturbed by the trend I see in our society today.   Not only are is everyone behaving like victims in every respect, we are enabling them to do it.   No one accepts responsibility for anything these days.   If someone picks up a rock and throws it through a store window in retaliation for some perceived offense towards them or someone else, we rally around and defend the person and say it wasn’t his fault, he was forced to by this or that.

This is a scary place to be.   You can’t talk about it because that makes you a bigot, a hater and a whole host of other, many unprintable, words.   We need to work to restore some common sense back into our world.

I am not afraid to talk about it.

Here is what Personal Responsibility used to and should still mean:

  • It meant considering your actions before doing them
  • It meant owning up when you did something that had bad or unintended consequences
  • It meant looking at your situation and stepping up and doing everything you could to make it better
  • It meant saying your sorry and meaning it, not just saying it to save your job, your marriage, your friends etc
  • It meant making restitution when necessary
  • It meant understanding that some things can’t be fixed by saying you’re sorry

When did  we begin to believe that we could move beyond this and not have it affect our society negatively?   We have come so far away from this that not only don’t we understand, we actively fight against the notion that our actions or behavior should have any consequences at all.

Well I am here to tell you they do!

Our words and actions are under a microscope more these days than any other.   We are being scrutinized by our family, friends, employers and the rest of the world.    Our words are taken out of context and used to show what horrible people we are with no understanding of the truth.

There are some hard truths’ that we need to relearn and it’s time to start now.

We no longer understand or accept if we deliberately put ourselves in a dangerous situation bad things may happen.    We are not responsible for the choices other people make, however if we knowingly put ourselves in a place where those sorts of things are known to happen, the the chance that it may happen to us goes way up and THAT is our direct responsibility.

Now some may read this and accuse me of saying that the victim is to blame for what happened to them.   That couldn’t be further from the truth.   There is a distinction between putting yourself in a place where it could happen and actually causing it to happen.   If I knowingly walk through a neighborhood that is known for it’s high percentage of mugging’s, MY actions have now significantly increased the possibility that it will happen to me, maybe even high enough to turn it into a probability instead of a possibility.    I could still get mugged even if I don’t walk through that neighborhood, but I haven’t increased the chance that it will happen by putting myself in a place where it’s known to happen.

We can no longer be unwilling to believe that we can say anything, behave any way, dress any way and not have any responsibility for our choices.   We can’t continue to believe and teach our children to believe that you can walk into a lions den and come out unscathed.    We can no longer believe and teach our children to believe that we can say anything we want and not have any consequences.  Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing but the flip side are the unexpected consequences of what we say.    We can no longer believe and teach our children to believe that they way they cut their hair, decorate their bodies and dress themselves won’t garner attention and some of it negative (this is a topic for a short side post).

In a perfect world we could walk down the street and not have to listen to people say inappropriate things about us or to us.  We could go about our day without worrying about being robbed, carjacked or killed.   We don’t live in a perfect world though.

And one last thought, when you wake up tomorrow, what are you going to change and what are you going to start accepting responsibility for?

 

 

 

 

Oh Brother where art thou?

In the sadness of the past couple days, since the unspeakable act that happened in Charleston, I have done a lot of thinking.

It’s time to start talking about the truth.  Our leaders aren’t talking about it, our media isn’t talking about it, the community leaders aren’t talking about it………….

Someone needs to talk about it.

Hatred is an ugly word and an even uglier condition of the heart.    It blinds us to the truth, it keeps us from stretching out a helping hand.   It eats away like a cancer inside until there is nothing left but the hate.   We are seeing a lot of hatred in our world.  It jumps out at us from the pages of the news with screaming headlines, with hateful abhorrent words, terrorism, racism, murder, torture and more.

It has been said that prayer can accomplish anything and I believe that this is true.  But prayer also requires action.  If one man prays for things to change and doesn’t himself change, will a fire for change be started?

I say that prayer for change must also be accompanied by action.  It must first change the heart of the one praying, then it can spread one to another and another and another.

There is a truth that must be spoken and that truth must spread and the chant must be heard by our leaders and by the media and it must be so loud it can’t be ignored.

In order for people to begin to think about each other as brothers and sisters without color, we have to STOP giving people special privileges because of color, we have to stop grouping people together because of the color of their skin and then telling them they aren’t capable of controlling their behavior or that they aren’t capable or smart enough to attain their goals.

We have to stop the processes that lean towards preferential or negative treatment based on color. It is absolutely critical that this happen.

People will never look at each other with acceptance until we have leaders who will speak up with truth, even when no one wants to listen to the truth.

  • Who will speak the hard words and will lead by example.
  • Who will stop telling the people that they deserve to be treated specially.
  • Who will stop telling the people that they are oppressed.
  • Who will stop telling the people to examine everything for signs of racism.
  • Who will tell the people to stop making excuses for their bad behavior.
  • Who will tell the people to clean up their own neighborhoods and accept the hands that are outstretched to help, instead of expecting it to be handed to them on a silver platter.

Not until there are leaders who will speak these words to a hurting people and tell them that responsibility for brotherhood lies on both sides of the fence.

Prayer equips God’s people, so let’s pray and then let us be the ones to start the fire.

Money, what’s not to love?

It is said that Love makes the world go round.  I would like to point out though that without money it’s going to be a hungry, uncomfortable trip.   In order to live in relative comfort one must have money.  Money provides us those things that we need to survive and the extras that make our days a little brighter.    In order to have a place to live, food to eat and clothing to wear, we have to have some money.   We like to have more money to have what we call ‘creature comforts’ also.   Appliances to help us cook our food, clean our home and clean our clothing.    A little something to entertain us, a television, a computer, a grill, books, toys for the kids etc.     Maybe even a little more for a vacation, a boat, or a second car.

Ok, so maybe you want a lot of money.   You want to live in a big house, wear fancy clothes and own your own plane.  Nothing wrong with that.

Greed, envy, lust…………   Such ugly words.   Do you hear the murmuring when it’s announced how much some CEO or executives of a company make,   the complaints when shareholders make a profit when a company does good?    We live in America where people can succeed to the tune of great wealth.   It’s not reserved for those who come from wealthy families or who have some special connections somewhere.     The opportunity is there for anyone.   With perseverance, hard work and good decisions, money can be made.

The Bible says ….for the love of money is the root of all evil…..   It doesn’t say money is the root of all evil, but ‘the LOVE OF money’.

In this world some form of currency is a necessity.  Regardless of whether you use a barter system, or shells or pesos, dollars, francs etc, some form of currency is necessary to survive.   Having money and desiring to have more money in and of itself isn’t wrong.

We all like to have the things money can provide.    But what does your love of money cause you to think or do?

Do you love money or do you LOVE money?

The LOVE OF money is a heart issue.

When you read or hear about someone else who has earned a lot of money, or even inherited a lot of money what goes through your mind.   Do you take to Facebook or Twitter to voice your dissatisfaction to the world, maybe even stir some people up?

What would you do to get or keep more money

  • Have it taken away from someone who earned it
  • Lie on your taxes
  • Lie on a welfare/food stamp application
  • Keep a wallet you found instead of turning it in

Most of us think we don’t have a problem with our thoughts about money.    But, stop just a minute and look at the first item on that list.     How often have you thought it’s just not right that some CEO or shareholder or company executive makes the amount of money they make?  Have you gone as far as thinking that maybe the government should draft some regulations to stop that?   How about determining that because it’s a ‘publicly traded’ company that you should have some say?

If someone points out that these are free enterprises and can pay as little or as much as they want to their executives, to continue to make the decisions that make the company profitable, or that publicly traded simply means that anyone can purchase stock, do you quickly try to drown them out with your comments on how it’s not fair and not right?    Do you start name calling or worse cursing that person?

Do you look at things like taxes and applications for welfare/food stamps and think that it won’t hurt anyone to lie and besides, ‘I pay taxes’ so I’m just keeping my own money?    Have you ever found a wallet or a large sum of money with no identification and kept it because ‘no one’s going to be able to find who it belongs to anyway’?

Do you let dissatisfaction creep into your life because someone has more money than you?   Is your ability to live, work, find enjoyment in life diminished because of how you feel towards those who do have more money than you?

Money by itself is not good, it’s not bad, it just is.  Loving money becomes ‘the LOVE OF  money’ when we allow it to alter our thoughts and actions in ways that consume us to get more and more even at the expense of others.

What is in your heart?

 

DISCLAIMER:   When I reference Corporate executives, I am NOT referring to those whose companies had to be bailed out by the taxpayers and still received enormous sums of money.   That is a different issue altogether.

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