Thursday, June 27, 2013

Disagreement Doesn't Have To Be "Hate" Or Hateful

I would just like to state for the record that to have a moral disagreement with or about something is not by definition "hate". If you know me or have read my posts in the past you know that most of the hatred in my life has been directed towards Hughesnet, which is no longer my internet service non-provider (to the glory of God) and Matt, the brutal Wii boxer at around level 1600 skill points (who I have now been able to conquer).

That said, I have a moral code and values based on the bible which I believe to be the Word of God and His plan for human life. IF you know me personally you know I am not a hater. I choose to believe that God created life in a certain way and know best how that life should be lived. I believe God wants the best FOR EVERY human that has ever lived or ever will live. I believe that we as people are His children and that as such we want to have our own way. And I believe that as a "parent", God knows better than we do about what is best for us. That is where I am coming from. I understand, if this is not your value system. I am just letting you know mine. It has also for most of our country's existence been the prevailing value system. I acknowledge that these values have never been adhered to perfectly. I am responsible for MY words and actions alone and ask to be judged by MY words and actions alone.

To the best of my ability, I don't treat anyone poorly. I don't care your race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation or (in the last few years) even your affiliation with the Boston Celtics. If you treat me with respect (even if you don't) I will treat you with respect. That doesn't mean I will agree with everything you say, do or believe.

Regarding the hot topic of the week. I don't believe marriage should be broadened beyond the scope of one man and one woman. (Polygamy when found in the bible proves to be nothing but trouble and is included because that is what people were doing.) I think the one man married to one woman family unit is the way God expressed His intent in the bible. I believe this in the same way that I believe that men in general should not follow our natural inclination to try to get with every woman we find attractive. But I DO NOT BELIEVE that people that are not inclined to live this way deserve abusive treatment or any ill will at all. But I also do not believe that the DEFINITION of marriage should be changed to accommodate other forms of family units. I know there are gay households and families that are healthier and happier than some hetero homes. I just don't believe that justifies officially changing the very fabric of society. I think a civil union that gives the same legal rights to a gay partner should be enough. It is simply not necessary to say that marriage between two men or two women is exactly the same as the marriage between a man and a woman. Men and woman TEND to bring different things to the table of life and those differences ideally create a balance in a home that are unlikely to be created otherwise. It's emotional, it's chemical, it's physiological, it's honest. Men and women are different. And it is neither a put down to or a glorification of either. All this is to say I DO believe that there is an ideal family unit and that it includes one man married to one woman and goes on from there with or without children. This is NOT to say that I wish other families destroyed, abolished, persecuted or whatever. It is only to say is that this should be the recognized ideal. I think when you say someone is a husband or father you should be able to to assume it is a man you are speaking about. And if you are speaking of a wife or mother you are speaking about a woman. I believe it is the most healthy and sustainable family unit for society. And I truly don't believe it makes me a bigoted, homophobic monster to think this way.

I have other beliefs based strictly on what I would consider to be common sense.

For instance: I don't believe that GENERALLY speaking pound for pound women are equally as physically strong as men. Of course, there are exceptions. Hence the word GENERALLY. When it comes to say, emergency services or the military, doesn't it make sense to have a set standard based on can you physically accomplish the task set before you, as opposed to what do you have under your uniform? The standards set for combat or for carrying people out of burning builders should be based on CAN YOU HANDLE THE GEAR? CAN YOU PHYSICALLY DO THIS JOB? That, again is not hatred.  That is a legitimate question. If you are in a combat unit can you carry your own gear and do your job? If you are a firefighter or paramedic, can you carry that person out of that building? I am strictly dealing with the physicality issues here for the moment. I am not saying a woman shouldn't be a combat soldier or a firefighter. I am saying it makes infinitely more sense to me to insist that a woman be held to the same physical standards, because that IS the job. 

PLEASE, if you don't know me, don't get nasty and call me a hater. Let's engage on a higher plane than that. If you know me, you KNOW I am not a hater. Can we agree in advance to disagree agreeably? There IS room for discourse. There HAS to be. THAT IS America. I think I have expressed my views without spewing bile on anybody. And if I have been unsuccessful in my attempt to be respectful please be kind in your rebuke and show me the err of my ways. I WILL LISTEN... All I ask is that you express your challenges to my view with equal respectfulness. 

I love you all! (Even Hughesnet, now that we've broken up.) God bless you all! ESPECIALLY those of you who don't believe in Him!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

So Advanced It's Simple: The Butterfly Effect, Alias and God

I was listening to II Samuel and I Kings this morning and come upon this passage in Samuel that has always been messy...especially in light of the corresponding passage in I Chronicles. I will lead with the significant verse in Chronicles.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 NIV)

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” 

What, wait!? No, we must press on.

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.” But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ” So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” (2 Samuel 24:1-4, 8-17 NIV)

The first verses of these to passages seem like a whole of messed up trouble. Did God or Satan incite David to this action? Either way it's a hot mess! If God did, that is messed up because I thought God never tempts us. If Satan why doesn't it say so in both places, right?!? This is where Alias and The Butterfly Effect come in. Here's the dealio. The Butterfly Effect is basically this (as well as a movie). Very small events can have immense far reaching consequences. 

Context is everything, so here's some context. The key issue is that the Lord was angry with Israel again. It doesn't even allude to why other than saying "again". What does it mean when God is angry with Israel? Usually it means that they have been cheating on Him in one way or another.
To get that context I will look at two possible ways. One suggestion from a Bible commentary is that it was because Israel had sided against David (and ultimately against God, who chose him) when his son, Absolom had attempted a hostile take over. 

Another possibility is revealed in Kings. 

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord. Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. (1 Kings 3:1-3 NIV)

Sacrifices were supposed to be offered at a certain place in a certain way. This did not include the high places. Not to go real far down an immense rabbit trail, high places appear a lot and it only seems to be a good thing in God's eyes when they're destroyed.

The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles 20:33 NIV)

So it would seem they had been doing this during David's time as well and God was not pleased. Whatever the reason, they had angered God to the point of saying "I have had enough!" 

Here's the progression: God gives us plenty of rope to allow us to be pulled up to Him. Unfortunately, we tend to instead hang ourselves with the lifeline. God has rules. We break the rules. Satan exploits our nature. God knows this and allows him to do so. Ultimately, God is in charge so it can be said that God incited David. 

The Butterfly Effect: Pride in the heart of one man, albeit a head of state, brings catastrophe on a nation directly. Although ULTIMATELY they brought it about by their own actions of polictical and spiritual rebellion. 

Alias: Even though good will eventually win the battle itself will be VERY MESSY and innocents will suffer at times. 

And through it all ONLY GOD knows how it all fits together in His plan. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8, 9, 11 NIV) 

He knows what is right and He IS RIGHT whether we can comprhend it or not. Lifes a puzzle rcwhich only He has ALL the pieces and the ability to the finished picture. See, it's so advanced it's simple.

Next up: King Solomon vs Del Spooner

Friday, June 7, 2013

And You Thought It Was Tough Taming That Shrew...

It's been said that nothing that is worth doing is easy. Or something to that effect. And it's beyond true that some of the hardest things to do in life are extremely important and beneficial. And very possibly the hardest is taming the tongue. Who hasn't said something and even before it had come completely out of their mouth wished they could take it back?

For those of you that don't believe in God there is a lot of bible scripture in this blog. 
But PLEASE READ ON. I believe you will find that nothing here will be contrary to what you find to be true in your own life experience regardless of what lens, paradigm or belief system you view life through.

James 3:2-10
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 

4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 
5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Whenever you have something negative to say, first ask yourself,  "Will saying this HELP me, anyone else or this situation?" If it doesn't (or can't) maybe it's best flushed from existence, so as to not pollute the atmosphere or anyone's soul including your own. I love you all! Please think safety first and protect that most dangerous of spaces... the space between our ears. And I am not saying we should go all Pollyanna and pretend the world is a perfect place. But please check yourself before you wreck yourself or someone else. We've got to feed and specifically not maim our own or each other's souls.

Words ARE incredibly powerful:

Proverbs 25:15
15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

Proverbs 12:18
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Job 34:3
 3 For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food

Proverbs 18:21 21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit. 
(The power of either life AND death. Serious consequences. Doubt it? Have you ever just heard someone say something and you just feel horrible? Ever walk into a room and feel the tension in the air when someone has been arguing? Not fighting physically but arguing. And you can physically feel it.)
Don't get me wrong. I know that sometimes hard words have to be said.

Proverbs 28:23
 23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

In the words of the Reverend Adrian Monk, "You'll thank me later." (Perhaps MUCH later...)

BUT it's NOT just what you say it's also HOW you say it. And WHEN you say it... I believe it was the Emperor Tai Ming who said "Tai Ming is EVERYTHING!"

Proverbs 15:1
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 11:12 
 12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

This is what I want it to be like  when I speak. 
(And PLEASE forgive me when I fail & I will do the same for you.)

Song Of Solomon 4:11a
 11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue...

We always have a choice of what to say (or not) and how we say it.

Deuteronomy 30:19
19 ... I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life...

Psalm 39:1a
 1 I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth... "


and when we blow it by spewing venom on ourselves and others or situations try to remember this: 

James 3:2
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect

and NONE OF US IS PERFECT but in the words of the Reverend Lyle Lovett 

"Look I understand too little too late. I realize there are things you say and do you can never take back. But what would you be if you didn't even try? You have to try"

Another hard thing. Walking that fine line between crucifying yourself and letting yourself go scot free... ah the tightrope. And you thought it was tough taming that shrew...