What difference does it make?

What difference does what make?   That is the question of the day.

Daily, sometimes multiple times a day, we are presented with posts or emails asking us to share information (mis-information most of the time).   This information runs the gamut from being the ‘Let’s do something nice’ to posts about what someone supposedly said or did.     Why is this an issue you may ask and what difference does it make if you share it without verifying?

How often do we stop to ask ourselves if what we are about to share is really true and what the possible effects of sharing it might be?   Up until recently I only really thought about it if it was a claim that was either too good to be true, something I wanted to get involved in or something that didn’t quite measure up.

When we do stop to think about it do we check it out and see if it’s really true or do we just blindly share and not spare another thought?

Here is something for you to think about.   Words and pictures once shared can never be taken back.   They spread like wildfire, going out of control so fast your head won’t have time to spin.    So what’s the big deal you may ask.

Let’s start by looking at some relatively minor effects.  Everything that is shared takes up space.  It resides on a server somewhere for posterity.   Space is not free, someone somewhere (Advertising anyone?) is paying for that space.  It clutters up inboxes and newsfeeds, sometimes to the point you can’t read the stuff you are really interested in.  Ok, I can see where that might be a problem, but is that a really big deal?

That might not be a ‘really’ big deal, but other things are.   First and foremost, how is it going to affect the person, organization or group that is the subject of the email or post?   The effects on these range from the positive to the absolutely horrible.  Sometimes it gets a business or group noticed which can be a good thing.   However this is typically not the most common outcome.  In cases of ‘Let’s do something Good’, here is an example.   There is a post going around about sending cards to ‘Any Wounded Soldier’ at Walter Reed hospital.   This program was discontinued in 2006 for administrative and security concerns.   These cards and gifts are returned to the sender and of course Walter Reed has to pay for the shipping.   Plus the costs to pay someone to deal with all of this.   At a time when the medical care our soldiers are receiving is suspect, we can’t afford for hospitals to have to spend precious dollars on paying staff and postage to handle this.

What about posts about individuals?   Recognition can be great but in appropriate doses.   Just ask celebrities what happens when they become ‘famous’.   Think stalkers, over agressive fans, etc.   It can take people living a normal life and put them into a spotlight they don’t want and that can jeopardize them and their family.

And what about those posts that say negative things about an organization, group or individual?   The backlash is horrendous and many times goes way beyond what is appropriate for the ‘crime’.  But what if it’s not true?   People lose their jobs, family and sometimes their lives.

Are you willing to contribute to this?   Think about it and put yourself in their shoes?

I ask all of my readers, verify before you share,  you very well could be saving someones job, family or life.

What about

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Christianity, what’s in it for me?

I see so many posts and hear so many people asking the question why should anyone become a Christian.   They aren’t asking because they don’t understand the message of what Jesus did for them, they aren’t asking because they don’t understand what it might  mean for them.

They are asking if it’s worthwhile because what they see in other Christians does not give them any hope for anything better.   If we as Christians do not live like we are Christians, if we don’t live like we have the eternal promise of Salvation, if we don’t live like we believe that Jesus is our Rock, our comforter and our provider, why would anyone want to live like us.

If our lives do not reflect the joy and promise of eternal salvation, why would anyone give up what they perceive as the only pleasure they can attain to become a Christian?

We are called to be in the world, but not OF the world.   You cannot behave like everyone else, have the same standards as everyone else, not be discerning in the type of music and entertainment you watch or listen to, not be modest in your dress and still claim that you have Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your heart and soul guiding you.   It’s not that you are forced to give up what you have, it’s that with Jesus and the Holy Spirit acting in your life, your desires change,  you want different things.

You MUST live with an external, visible difference from the rest of the world.

Does this mean we won’t go through suffering and difficulty?   Not at all, Christians are not promised an easy road, as a matter of fact the road to heaven is narrow and hard.   We will have suffering the same as any man.   The difference is we have a comforter, a rock to cling to, a tower of strength outside of ourselves that support us as we navigate troubled waters.

We have a Heavenly Father who listens to us.   Whether his answer to our prayer is to heal, or ease our circumstances or allow us to go through the deep waters and bring us out on the other side stronger and with wisdom, he hears our prayers.   He never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

Brothers and Sisters, let us live with the promise of tomorrow shining in our attitudes and behaviors.   Let us be a light to a darkened world.

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.

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?

 

 

 

 

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