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Am I my brother’s keeper?

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Many of you will no doubt recognize that question, taken from the Genesis account of Cain and Abel.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Cain was angry with his brother Abel because his brother’s offering was acceptable to God, while his own was rejected. In a jealous rage, this is what happened:

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:8-9

We know that Cain asked this question as a means of deflecting attention away from his guilt for having murdered his own brother. He basically told God “how should I know where he is, it’s not my job to watch him, is it?”

Ever since then, it’s a question that individuals have been asking themselves whenever needs arise, whether man-made or natural. It is a question that probes at the heart, and our answers reveal a lot about how we feel about our fellow man.

In a perfect world, there would be enough of everything to go around. There would be a job for every able-bodied person. The issues of hunger, sickness, and poverty that now plague the world’s society’s would vanish.

It doesn’t take a sociologist(or a theologian)to look around and determine that we are not living in a perfect world. That world existed for a very short time in a place called Eden, a place where the only two humans on the planet existed.

In our modern world however, things are quite a bit different. In this less than perfect world, there are a lot of people that are in dire need of help. The notion of a perfect world to them is the stuff of fairy tales.

It may be the hungry child down the street, or the immigrant family trying to cross the threshold into what they perceive as paradise, or a thousand other desperate situations.

Regardless, the numbers of people who have reached the point of helplessness in their quest for survival is nothing short of staggering. So much so that one could make the case for not even trying to find a viable solution to this seemingly impossible situation.

But how do you tell the desperate, the hungry, and the hopeless that their plight is too big to bother with? How do we look them in the eye and say they are not worth the effort?

Sadly, there are an ever increasing number of people who believe just that, that the problems are too large and complex, and besides, it’s not us but “them”. But is that how loving, civilized society’s are to function?

Poverty in the U.S. alone affects over 40 million people. An additional 95 million are living at ‘near poverty’ levels. How can this be ignored? And what of the rest of the world, all of which is far worse off than the United States? [1]

My contention is that we as a society, particularly a society founded upon Christian principles, do indeed have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

Otherwise, ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘only the strong survive’ become the new laws of the jungle and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.

Is that what any of us really want?

All of us, irregardless of political, religious, or sociological backgrounds are inextricably linked together by a common bond: the need to have enough food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads.

When you really think about it, the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper” is actually more relevant today than it was in the days of Cain and Abel.

In the world that Cain and Abel lived in, there were only four humans upon the earth. Four, as in Adam,Eve,Cain, and Abel. Four souls.

In our world, we have a far greater challenge before us.  At last count, there were over seven billion people living on earth. While some will contend that the numbers are too great for anyone to have any kind of positive impact upon, I say that God is equal to the challenge.

He just needs a few willing vessel’s to step up and say that “yes, I am my brother’s keeper”.

Something to ponder, I trust.

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] For a detailed look into the poverty crisis in America, please go to povertyusa.org.      Here you will find an enormous amount of data, broken down into many different categories that will help you better understand how severe the problem is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When a baby enters the room

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You’ve seen this a thousand times. A beaming couple can’t wait to show off their newborn. Plans are made, family and friends are invited, and the long awaited day finally arrives.

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Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash

As the guests arrive, the beaming parents can hardly contain their excitement as they eagerly walk around the room, proudly showing their guests how perfect their little cherub is.

The point out it’s weight, any special features, how the baby is already showing signs of having his mother’s nose or her fathers eyes. And then you notice it…

For some odd reason, the entire room has taken on a different atmosphere. Grown adults, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, even children all are swept up in the moment.

The moment a newborn enters the room time stands still. Nothing else matters as all eyes are diverted towards the baby. A hush settles over the once noisy room, replaced by the wonder of this new creation.

I have to believe that this was the scene when the wise men, or Magi, who had been following the heavenly star first laid eyes upon the Christ child.

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Photo by Batang Latagaw on Unsplash

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.    Matt. 2:10-11

During this Christmas season, may each of us reflect once more upon the birth of Jesus Christ. May we be in awe, just as the Magi and the shepherds in the fields were. May the wonder of it all astound us as we ponder the magnitude of God’s love for man.

And most of all, may we worship Him who was born in the most meager of circumstances, this son of a carpenter, the Gift that was given to all mankind, destined to become the payment for our sins, who is now seated at the right hand of God.

Merry Christmas,

Ron

There really is an answer

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As we approach this particular Christmas season, I am more thankful than ever that my hope is found in the Lord Jesus instead of man. Today, what should be the happiest, most thankful and appreciative time of the year, sadly has been polluted with an endless stream of negativity from across America.

Instead of messages of hope, encouragement, and gratitude, which the people are desperate to hear, what we are getting instead is commentary and dialogue filled with hate, vengeance, and vitriol of every imaginable type.

Seriously, is there any wonder that so many have given up hope, or are on the brink of throwing in the towel? What we are being inundated with is EXACTLY why the Apostle Paul said this:

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  Colossians 3:2

In other words, Paul is telling us to focus our attention on those things that are eternal, not on those things that will one day pass away. And yes, the day is fast approaching when whatever is not anchored in God will be destroyed.

When I hear the TV commentators’ rail on and on about this or that, I sometimes shake my head in disbelief. How incredibly foolish it is to allow yourself to become so angry, even to the point of violence, over something that has no eternal value!

According to the Bible, there is coming a day when governments will no longer exist. No Democrats, no Republicans, no Independents, nothing. When Jesus comes again, he alone will rule, and he will be a party of One.

If only there was a way for this world to take a step back, take a deep breath, and rejoice for the blessings we do have!

The entire world should be rejoicing today because we are about to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. A birth like none other before or after. A birth that ultimately paved the way to reconciliation between God and man.

If that doesn’t get you fired up for Jesus, I don’t know what will!

I have no reason to succumb to hate today. I have no reason to be overwhelmed by the ills of society. I am not living as one in despair of tomorrow. The things of this earth have zero impact on my eternal destiny!

Because of Jesus Christ I am a new creature in Him. The old man has passed into oblivion, and a new man has risen to take his place. This is the message that the world needs to hear!

Since man’s fall in the Garden, he has lived a life far short of what his Creator intended for him to live. Because of that original sin, the world today bears the burden of rejecting God.

Yet the Good news, no, the Great News is that there really is an answer to the sin that plagues society.

That answer appeared two thousand years ago in a little town called Bethlehem, just six miles south of Jerusalem. That is where God sent the antidote for sin.

May we once again fix our eyes on that brightest of all stars, because just as that star led the wise men to the baby Jesus, it also serves as the answer for all of man’s problems today. There is a reason that the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” is so impactful.

It’s because He and He alone is the answer!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

Tales of a Curmudgeon in the making…

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OK, not really. But after several recent encounters with a wide variety of the species I am beginning to wonder if respect, decency, modesty, kindness, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Bear with me as I take you along on my mini-rant, and please feel free to comment and tell me the problem is with me only and that society isn’t really that bad after all. It will not hurt my feelings to be told that I am 100% wrong, and that yes indeed I am turning into a Curmudgeon.

Let me start with a lady who I will call “Agnes”. I use the name Agnes for a couple of reasons. 1: I can’t use her real name and 2: well, she just reminds of an Agnes.

So, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting with someone in the hospital and it was in one of those rooms that have a curtain dividing the room in half. Except that Agnes had 2/3 of the room, but I digress.

Agnes was one of those people that believe that since she’s in the hospital, she might as well treat the occasion as though she’s in a four-star hotel. That meant that every nurse and doctor was supposed to be at her beck and call. Even the attending physician that was taking care of the person I was sitting with was reminded that she was either hungry or that she needed more meds.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. Agnes had a host of ailments, one or two of them serious. As a diabetic, for example, she was of course limited to the kinds of food she could indulge in. At least that was what was supposed to happen.

Imagine my great surprise when after she had eaten the evening meal, a couple of hours later along comes her husband toting her 2nd dinner. That’s right, Agnes called him to bring her some “real food”. Fried shrimp it was, and boy did it smell good.

Especially to the person whom I was sitting with that wasn’t permitted anything to eat, not even ice chips! And yes…Agnes was fully aware of this. Can you say INSENSITIVE?

But wait, there’s more! Through the night Agnes could be heard opening candy bars, and once while on the phone she was heard to tell someone that when she wakes up during the night, she just reaches over and eats a few bites of a cake that hubby had brought her, and then goes back to sleep.

There is plenty more, but I can’t really bear to conjure up any more memories of Agnes. Especially the one where she said, “I’m not a very modest person”.

Oh boy……

After a couple of days of this the person I was visiting was moved to a different room. At first, this was cause for celebration. No more having to listen to Agnes and her incessant whining about needing at least 3 or 4 packets of butter for her toast.

The celebration was short lived however, as roomie # 2, who I will call “Gladys”, turned out to be a younger version of Agnes. She too was on the “everyone here exists to serve my every little whim” plan.

Gladys also complained about not getting enough to eat, so she called her daughter who promptly brought her a chicken dinner from someplace. Oh, and her daughter also brought along a 4-year-old who couldn’t be contained or quieted.

Well, I would have gladly done both, but I’m pretty sure hospital security would not have been pleased with my methods.

As it turned out, the person I was sitting with was allowed to go home just a few hours after being placed in the room with Gladys. Upon hearing this, Gladys promptly told the nursing staff that she wanted that bed because there was a window on that side of the room.

Yep, and it had quite a view. Hospital rooftop and duct work as far as you could see. Now, before we leave Gladys, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about her daughter.

It seems her daughter used to work for this very hospital and knew her way around the computer software that contains all the doctors notes and such. So, while the nurse was supposed to be processing the discharge of the person I was there with, she instead was consumed with looking up the doctor’s notes of her mother’s recent procedures at the request of her daughter.

Yes, that’s right. Can someone say HIPAA?

Since this post is only going to grow larger, I won’t even go into the aggravation of seeing not one, but two carts shoved into the side of my car at Walmart. Both within 20 feet of the cart corral, but hey, it was starting to get cloudy and maybe they thought they might get rained on.

I also won’t launch into a diatribe over why people park their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle and then stand beside it, making it impossible to go around them. Nope, not gonna go there.

And those not so kind folks who man the phones at the doctor’s office and seem absolutely annoyed that you would dare expect them check the calendar to see when the good doctor would be available?

Nah… I’m giving them a pass as well.

After all, with all of these first world problems I’m having to deal with, I’m not sure I can handle any more!

Have a great day everyone and keep smiling!!

Signed,

A Curmudgeon in the making.

 

 

 

America: a very dangerous place to be a child

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What does it say about a nation that abuses its children?

America has a long, sad history of abusing it’s most helpless and defenseless citizens. In the early 1900’s for example, when America was rapidly moving away from being primarily a farm economy to the age of industrialization, it quickly became apparent that there was a shortage of available industrial manpower.

So eager was this new industrial manufacturing economy for workers, that very soon the nation’s children began supplying a lot of the labor necessary to drive the engines of progress. With virtually no child labor laws to protect them, these children worked long hours in very dangerous occupations.

Children could be found working in coal mines, textile mills, tobacco farms, even selling newspapers on the streets. Deprived of sleep and proper nutrition, many children were pulled into machinery and mutilated, all in the name of ‘progress’.

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Children working in a Georgia textile mill. Photographed by Lewis Hine (Library of Congress)

It wasn’t until 1938 that The Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that would prohibit most employment of minors, was passed. Even then many employers were reluctant to give up this lucrative source of cheap labor, often hiding from regulators any incriminating documentation.

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The “breaker boys” at a Pennsylvania coal mine, photographed by Lewis Hine in 1911. (Library of Congress)

Thankfully, for the most part, those days are gone and have been relegated to a place in the history of our nation. Children today benefit from the many labor laws that have been enacted to protect them, for which we should all be grateful.

Tragically, however, our children are now being subjected to many new kinds of abuse.

According to the web site love our children usa, each year, upwards of over 3 million children are reported as victims of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, and death – and those are only the ones that are reported!

Incredibly, violence and neglect against children is reported nearly every 10 seconds. And because so many cases of child violence and neglect are never reported to the authorities, some estimates put the actual number of abused children at 3 times greater than what is actually reported.

If you’re counting along with me, that’s 9 million children a year!

What does it say about a nation that abuses its children?

Well, I know what God’s Word says about children, and it is a far cry from the exploitation and abuse being heaped upon them in this generation.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.    Psalm 127:3

As unbelievable as it may be, there is still one more aspect of child abuse that must be considered. In spite of the child labor laws that were enacted to protect our youngest workers, there is still a class of citizens who have no laws to protect them.

On the contrary, we actually enacted laws to destroy them. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, over 60 million children,the most defenseless of all, have been destroyed while in their mothers womb.

“The fruit of the womb is a reward”?

One could make the case for the womb being the most dangerous place for a child to be in today’s America.

Ron

It’s time for an Attitude Adjustment!

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From where I sit on the front row, it would seem that an Attitude Adjustment within the Body of Christ would be in order.

It is way past time for a respite from the incessant bickering from the various Christian factions over on Twitter and Facebook about our nation’s current political climate.

Yes, that’s right. When people who are supposed to be Spirit filled servants of the Most High God lash out at one another with stinging, hate filled words, it’s gone too far.

The Church needs to put away the vitriol surrounding the ever-widening gap between the warring political camps, a gap that must be acknowledged as being about as far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12, for those of you keeping score). 

Seriously? You don’t think the enemy is using division and strife to drive a wedge between the Body of Christ just as he is doing with this nation? Has the Church forgotten that God rules in the kingdom of men?

the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’   Daniel 4:17

It’s time to give it a rest and refocus our priorities.

Time for an Attitude Adjustment from God’s Word!

Paul the Apostle, speaking to the Philippians, urged them to become unified in love, esteeming others before themselves. 

Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.   Philippians 2:1-4

Can you imagine what Paul might be told today if he were to preach at the National Mall in D.C. or at the largest church in America, and tell the assembled crowds that we should be of ‘one accord, of one mind‘?

Were he to admonish the populace today that it is not in our best interest to be consumed with selfish ambition, I’m certain he would be booed off the platform…or worse.

Esteem others better than ourselves? Look out for the interests of others and not just ourselves? Today the great Apostle would be labeled as insane and hurried away to the nearest psych ward.

Paul was a preacher of righteousness and were he here today, I’m pretty sure that he would not involve himself in the UN-Christlike activities of so many who claim to be Christs representatives.

No, I think Paul would instead boldly proclaim the Word of God, expecting the hearer to put aside the divisive rhetoric and submit to the authority of God’s Word.

I think it’s time for the church to have an Attitude Adjustment, and a good place to start would be to humble ourselves before God.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

What is your church known for?

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I read an interesting article from Thom Rainer about Three Ways Churches Think They Are Known in Their Communities.

The gist of it centered around the question of “What is your church known for in its community?” Thom collected the responses to the question and found three patterns emerged. Below are the results, and I urge you to read the entire article along with the readers comments at the end.

  1. “About one-half of the churches are known for ministries that require the community to come to the church itself. Great preaching. Incredible worship services. A friendly church. Great events at the church. How our members care for one another. You get the picture.
  2. About one-fourth of the churches cited great ministries in and to the community. Partnering with schools in the community. Serving the community with food and clothes. Medical and dental ministries. Ministries to families, parents, and children in the community. The list goes on and on.
  3. About one-fourth of the churches said they were known for negative reasons. Preacher-eater churches. Congregational fights and splits. Legalism. Unfriendliness.”

All of this got me to thinking about my own church, so much so that I’m going to take my own unscientific poll to find out what my fellow congregants think our church is known for in our community.

What would you learn about your church should you ask the question “What is your church known for in its community?”

Do you think you already know their answers, or do you think you might be surprised at what you would learn?

Be blessed!

Ron

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