*Note: this is my one chance to give props to my favorite sport and the hardest position in this sport: Cornerbacks... I loved playing this position over my extensive football career, both intramural, high school and backyard fun!
Alone on an island, wide green oceans to patrol....the cornerback stands guard. Names often unknown and great deeds unheralded. You don't want to be noticed, you play stealth. Soldiers denying entrance, silent, strong.
Quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs crave the attention, play in bright lights, demand the camera. Cornerbacks are shadow walkers, stalking in the dark, carrying out orders when no one is looking.
When you are bad, the world laughs, action always comes your way, the bullies will attack; when you are good, they leave you alone.
Over the years of my grid-iron obsession, the outstanding corners and safeties who have become house-hold names are few and far between: Jack Tatum, Kenny Easley, Ronnie Lott, Neon Deion to name a few.The procession of greats is small, popularity is scant.
This year it will be different, the dark warriors take front and center: Sherman, Revis, Thomas and Browner on the attack. These are men to fear, owners of their end-zone, keepers of the goal. Or lest we forget, Kam Chancellor, damager of souls, stay out, run away!
I for one will watch and cheer, not for Brady and the limp wristed throws with his baby soft footballs, or for Wilson and his tini-tiny scampering feet -- oh no, I will be watching those who lurk in the shadows. Cheering the true Dare-Devils on turf.
Cheers to the cornerbacks, the men alone, silent, strong...Here, here!
(*it should be a fun game)
I can hardly wait!
This Sunday we are starting a new teaching series on the book of Revelation. The theme of this series is "Revelation Responsibly." I have decided to call it this for a very strategic reason: By nature I am a prophecy junkie; and I don't want this fascination of mine to get out of hand - - so I am determined to approach Revelation in a responsible, reasonable way. (Just ask Ken Vanderwest about this, he will confirm my penchant for the extreme).
As I have been preparing for this study, I have found that there are many prophesy junkies walking among us. After I first announced this teaching series in church, the junkies have been coming out of the woodwork. So far I have been handed 10 books to read, 20 videos to watch, and a few people even have been suggesting to me the possible date for the return of Christ.
This is a hot topic....but why? Well first let me define what I mean by a prophecy junkie.
In the Webster dictionary a junkie is, "a person who gets an unusual amount of pleasure from or has an unusual amount of interest in something." And the "something" in this case is prophesy, which includes anything about the return of Christ, the identity of the Anti-Christ, the specifics of the rapture, blood moons and 911 bombings, the rising tide of Islamic jihad, Gog & Magog emergence, and ultimately the timing of the end of the world. And the deeper you go with prophecy clue chasing, the more consuming and intriguing of a passion it can become.
If you think we are the only generation who is unusually obsessed with it, the truth is there always has been an immense interest in the great beyond. Death is a dark curtain that hides the eternal and mysterious from humanity, and prophesy gives us a little peak into this mystery. As a kid, there always was a bit of a thrill for me to look into creepy and dark rooms; and this same thrill for many of us accompanies the study of the prophetic. Even the stoic Jonathan Edwards, the famous theologian of the 1700's, was obsessed with trying to link the current events of his day with end time fulfillment.
But as we prepare for this journey I need to warn you: If this obsession is not watched closely, it can become quite dangerous. Let me explain why:
(1) Junkies seek immediate pleasure in order to escape normal life. Prophesy is not meant to be an end unto itself; but as a way to show the sovereign rule of God over history. But a junkie often sees in prophesy an escape, a forever puzzle to solve, an ongoing thrill of discovery that gives greater meaning to their rather boring existence. The problem with this is that God has revealed only so much of end things; and sooner or later the prophecy junkie will be let down because they will never fully get the answers that they want. Scripture is given to us primarily to live for the "now" of loving God and your neighbor, not for the "later" of ruling and reigning as masters of the universe. Be careful of trying to squeeze more out of prophesy than God has intended you to.
(2) Prophesy does not save, the gospel does. Many people think they can scare people into heaven by threatening them with very vivid and frightening end times scenarios and then linking modern day news as proof that they are right. What happens when blood moons come and go with no sight of WW3, or if President Obama leaves office before he sets up the One World Order in Washington D.C.? The people you are witnessing to will think you are nuts if you present the bible only as an escape plan and survival preparation manual for when the stars start falling from the sky. The gospel is the love of God expressed in the person of Christ. And the cross is the central location where this love is on display. If you start threatening non-believers with end time events, often the person you are witnessing to will sadly only see Christianity as the rantings of an angry God bent on destruction.
(3) Prophesy is usually a self-obsessive endeavor instead of leading to other centered living. We like to be the person in the know, and often end time buffs like to think they have things figured out before anyone else does. God rarely gives insider information, and the prophesy he gives us in the bible is meant to be handled with honesty, credibility and humility. Not as an arrogant bible code that only you and your decoder ring have figured out.
(4) Prophesy obsession can have me believing that I probably am the last man. I know this point sounds strange, but lets be honest, there is nothing more exciting than outlasting the rest of humanity in the fight for survival. As the old 1970's commercial says, "I am the sole survivor!" And in our weird twisted minds, we think the history of the world is my history, not his. Honestly, I love studying prophesy because fantasizing that I will be the only one left is great fun. I have always loved thinking like this. Let me show you how my mind works, and I have a sneaky suspicion yours does too. Tell me, have you ever had these thoughts?
TWILIGHT ZONE: The Last Man
In this episode the last man was the only one left with nothing but books and canned goods. Wouldn't that be cool to live without other humans around? I would love to read forever with no other pressing demands.
MAD MAX: Apocalyptic Dreams
Wouldn't it be fun to have an unlimited supply of guns, large vehicles, wearing a rough leather jacket under brown skies? Nothing better than not having to go to work and fighting nuclear mutated humans!
I AM LEGEND: A Man & His Dog
Just think, in this movie a man gets to hit golf balls off of an air-craft carrier over New York with no one around. He gets his choice of vehicles to drive, and all he has to do is stay alive while possessed vampires try to eat him. How fun is that?
WALKING DEAD: Zombies...big deal?
America loves walking dead...why? Because it is fun to be able to go from house to house, living off of canned food, picking off zombies like flies and not having to go to school. Isn't it it fun to try to figure out how you would survive? It would be like living at summer camp all year long!
I know what you are thinking: Chris, you are weird! I am, I will admit it, but so are people who are obsessed with only talking about the end of the world when you have people to serve and lost people to save right now all around you. Stop trying to be the sole survivor, and live for the glory of one person, Jesus Christ!
In my ever and ongoing research of child & parent relationships I have come to some curios theories in recent days. Truly understanding behavior, motivation and obedience of your children is like trying to untie a Gordian knot. The more you think you have it figured out the more tangled it often becomes.
But every once in awhile the light goes on and patterns emerge. This can happen over time or it can hit you quickly like a flash of lightning. This past Saturday as I was ironing my dress shirt for a wedding, I got into conversation with my oldest daughter. As she was explaining to me her opinions and observations about the world of parenting, my mind flashed. Crystallization and categorization occurred in a moment, and I believe this instant of insight has to potential to revolutionize the parenting industry. Just you watch, I will call my new theory:
THE THREE ANIMALS of PARENTING
The seed idea is that every parent takes on the persona of one of three animals, and overtime the animal inside of you can positively or adversely affect the soul of your child. In this theory two constants are applied: (1) Conditioning of a child occurs overtime. Parenting is more about the consistent long-term habits that are expressed on a daily basis than the short momentary interventions and quick fixes. (2) Your words matter more than you think they do. God chose to relate to human beings primarily through words, it is the same in the home. Never forget that sarcasm, belittling and cutting-down will pierce the heart of every child and cause it to emotionally bleed. Don't buy the lie that "That is just the way we communicate in our home."
O.K., so let's go to the parenting zoo. I think you are going to love this...
THE ROARING LION & ANGRY MOTHER BEAR (this is the only one that I am going to differ for males and females)
What I want you to focus on in these two animals is that they both use "Volume of Words" and "Clearly Defined Superiority of Roles" to define relationships with their children. Lions like to throw their weight around in quick outbursts of power and after they get done roaring they will often go back to their dens to sleep. Translation: This is the father that thinks instruction is all about blowing up at your kids when they disappoint, disrespect or disagree. Mother Bears, like the Lion, also like to forcefully make it known to their children that they are in control. They are "THE MOM", and what they say goes! Decisions for everything in life concerning the children are always made by the Mother Bear. A mother's prerogative does not have to be established by reason and logic, but simply by the dictum, "I am your mother, and as your mother what I say goes." Mother Bears love to own their children, and ownership means that the primary identity of the child is that "they are mine!" This right of the mother is because a Mother Bear really believes they love and know their children in ways only Mother Bears can.
THE SERIOUS AND ALOOF EAGLE
The Eagle is an interesting creature: it is proud, it is accomplished and it is distant. Mothers and fathers like this always see their children as little flaying birds that have much to learn. Eagles are always better and rarely enter the little birds world. Eagles don't blow up like the Lion and Mother Bear, but they do belittle. Eagles don't usually teach, instead they throw the child out of the nest to figure life out on their own. And when the child fails, which they always will, it proves the eagle parent's soaring superiority over each of their kids. Eagle parents like to make snide comments, corrections and rarely if never admit to having faults of their own.
THE HEROIC MOUSE
I know, I know, the idea of a mouse as a parent seems so wrong, so milk toast, so wimpy. But I did some very extensive research as I was considering this theory and in studying the mouse I found this amazing insight:
"Yes, while mice are frequently portrayed in animation as shy and physically frail, bookish, nerdy and glasses-wearing, more often than not writers and story tellers over the years have collectively portrayed them as heroic figures. Mice often must fight enemies bigger than they are. Many of the more beloved cartoons and characters in literature are mice: Mickey Mouse, Reepicheep, Jerry (Tom and Jerry), Speedy Gonzales, Mighty Mouse, Danger Mouse, Stuart Little, the mice in Redwall, and The Lion and the Mouse. So you see, while we may see them merely as vermin, in our collective unconsciousness mice have character qualities that we can all admire." Anonymous
Never thought mice were so heroic, did you? So how does this apply to parenting? A mouse parent knows their limitations, a mouse doesn't push his weight or title around, a mouse is crafty, and above all else a mouse is approachable. What happens when you have a parent like that - - like a warm fuzzy animal, children find their parents humility very engaging.
IMPLICATIONS OF LIVING WITH ANIMALS
Now as children learn to live with each one of these animals, different habits and coping mechanisms will start to form and mold your children. And if you are not careful, your children will over time learn how to tame you and fool you. No parent is ever as smart as they think they are. Let me show you what I mean...
- Children who live with Lions learn that they must never disturb the perfect world of a sleeping Lion. Children who fear the roar, learn to survive in the home by reading the moods of the Lion. They become experts at knowing what areas of their life they can reveal and what they must hide from their dad. If a child can't be honest about their failings, mistakes and even their curiosity about the dark areas of their life, they will learn to lie and hide things. And when a Lion becomes especially dangerous and volatile, they will just plain stay away (locked in their rooms or constantly wanting to go out with their friends). When it is next to impossible to make a Lion happy, children figure, "Why try?" So Mr. Lion, you may win every argument, you may think you are getting your way, but sadly you will probably lose your kid.
- Children who live with Mother Bears, after awhile, feel smothered and they will want out. Children who don't want to upset the Mother Bear simply learn to stuff their feelings and opinions, like a person who is holding their breath under water. But you can only do this for so long until you must get out and express yourself. Moms, can I be honest with you? Children do not like to be owned. They want to be their own person, but if you only see them as your own little girl or boy; they are just biding their time to leave you as soon as possible. As I was talking to my daughter she was explaining to me how some of her friends that lived with Mother Bears have even experimented with bad things behind their mom's backs as a way to be free and own a small part of their own life. So moms, be careful, your children are God's children, not yours.
- Children who live with Eagles feel very alone. While they don't worry about upsetting them, they never feel like they can please them. Eagles who think they do no wrong as parents, fail to realize they are human beings, and every human being fails. Your kids see your failures...and they always see past your facade. If you can't be open and honest with your kids about your failings, or if you always criticize your kids failings, they will grow cynical, sad and insecure. Did God give you children so you can finally be better than someone, or so you can grow them up to reach farther and higher than you? A truly big person learns to be small so the people around them have room and freedom to grow up. Love loses itself for the sake of the other - - Eagles have a hard time understanding this.
- Children who live with Mice thrive. Mice are meek, and so was Jesus. Meekness does not mean you are a push-over, it means you are flexible, humble, and calm. You don't explode over spilled milk. You don't think you are superior. You don't demand obedience and compliance out of your position; you teach and train from your knowledge. Children who are raised in the homes of mice will argue, share opinions and even feel free enough to disagree - - this is a good thing! Lions, Mother Bears, and Eagles are threatened by non-compliance - - but we are not raising well trained seals. Human children must one day live on their own and they need to learn how to harness self-control on their own. They do this by learning from a supportive parent.
I know, I know, all metaphors will fail at some point; and I am sure my parenting zoo is full of holes. But if you understand my over-arching objective, you will see that your character qualities as a parent and your person is more important than applying behaviorist rules. If I have caused you to think, this post has been a success. Be honest with yourself. Do your children like to be around you, or do they hide? Do you need them to see you as superior or are they free to ask questions and challenge your opinions?
Mice it is time to rise up and roar!
(This is a continuation of Wednesday's table talk)
My sister owned a Golden Retriever named George. He died a few years ago, but for me, his memory will always live on.
I first met George 24 years ago when I visited my sister in California for a week. While she went to work during the day, I studied my systematic theology at her place. I also agreed to keep an eye on her 8 month old puppy. George and I quickly became fast friends. He was fuzzy, frisky and had that cute new puppy smell.
However, there was one small problem with George - - he liked to eat poop out of the kitty litter. The first time I was alone with him I caught him sneaking in the cat's box six or seven times to grab a quick snack. Each time he did this my sister instructed me to swat him on the bottom with a rolled up newspaper and say, "No, no...bad dog."
I did not like to discipline him because he was such a cute guy and I am not good at the mean Uncle Chris role. I like being the fun guy that is best of friends with all puppies and children far and wide. But after three days of watching him, I had to enforce my sister's training methods more times than I liked. I began to believe that George really hated me.
Well on the fourth day of this routine, George seemed to be really catching on with his puppy training. In fact, he slept quietly on the floor right next to me for most of the afternoon. As I considered him, I felt horrible as I looked deep in his sad brown eyes. The guilt of playing the mean uncle really caught up to me, and I decided it was time to make amends with poor old George. So I put down my book on the depravity of man, sat on the couch, and then I called George over.
"Come here George, you have been a great little guy today."
So as he slowly waddled over to where I was sitting on the couch, I patted my legs for him to jump up on my lap. His little pea brain couldn't believe it, the mean uncle was smiling and acting nice. So in his joy he took a big leap and jumped up to me with his little pink tongue wagging. As I went to pet him, he licked me right on the face.
And that tongue, oh that tongue!
It was coated with a pungent aroma of warm poop...YUCK! George must have snuck in on the litter while I was reading and secretly ate a pile of dung without me suspecting anything. And now here he was, licking my face..."Get off my lap you rotten dog!" Now I know why he was acting so pleasant - - he was trying to hide his dirty deed.
Hypocrisy is the exact same thing: Smiling Christians acting righteous on the outside while hiding the filth that they are secretly indulging in on the inside. Just like George the dog.
We can argue about the small things: which words are to be considered swear words, how fast can you drive your car over the speed limit without being truly sinful, should you watch an R rated movie, is it wrong to have your kids trick or treat on Halloween? But these questions and others like them are not really the issue when it comes to being a hypocrite. It all boils down to what you secretly are indulging in when no one sees you - - do you really enjoy the life of God or are you just pretending? If you are pretending, the filth that you indulge in when no one is looking will eventually start leaving a bad smell wherever you go. And people will notice!
Often the swearing, the rotten habits, the mocking and the lust-filled eyes are tell-tale signs you have secretly been indulging in depraved things. Hypocrites can try to argue they have done nothing wrong, they can even cry foul at the loud-mouthed legalist to deflect attention from their smelly actions; but the warm pungent aroma of their hypocrisy can not be hidden for long. Poop stinks.
Ephesians 4:1 tells us to "walk worthy of the calling we have received." We have been chosen by the Holy God to reveal his Son in our lives. Do you understand the enormity of this privilege? Do you view it as a high honor to be like Jesus, or is it an inconvenient hassle that cramps your cool style? Personally, I can't believe Jesus want's me to represent him. The great God asked me to run his election campaign in my little part of the world. This is the highest honor I have ever been handed.
Why would I ever want to smell like poop while representing my Savior? I am not a dog, I am not an animal, I am a man, made in his image and his likeness. Nobility, Dignity, Beauty, it is why I have been made in the first place.
Hypocrisy is more than just a few bad actions here or there, it is a lingering stink you can't get rid of.
Last night as our family was eating a tasty evening meal, the question came up from one of my kids: "What do you do if you work with people who claim to be Christian, play Christian music on the radio, but swear just as often and make fun of others just as freely as the non-Christian does?"
How do you answer that?
One of our kids was confused and asked a follow-up question: "Christians wouldn't do that, would they dad? I mean if we claim to be believers in Jesus, why would people swear?"
Another one of my kids responded, "They want to be cool."
Another one said, "I think because they don't believe God is watching."
Another one asked, "Isn't that hypocrisy?"
I think all of the above answers are right. I know there are some of you out there that will argue the symbolic meaning of words, and how words are just sounds that are assigned cultural meaning which really have no particular meaning at all so swearing isn't really swearing it is just tossing insignificant words in the air..blah, blah, blah. I am not going to even acknowledge such silly sophistry...
The truth is scripture wants us to reflect Jesus, and our words do matter. So why are some Christians so nonchalant about not wanting to reflect Jesus in what they say? And this doesn't just include words, but people are ignoring Jesus in their actions as well? Many Christians shun the unlovely. Many Christians cheat the tax man. Many Christians get angry and upset at the drop of a hat. Many Christians pick up porn. Many Christians gossip.
Oh sure, we all are sinners and sinners will sin -- but is that answer valid? Does that kind of reasoning offer us a legitimate escape clause when I want to ignore the will of God? Why did God save us and give us his Spirit? For fun? He really does "expect" us to be like his Son. Excuses and following popular trends are not legit, and I think they actually sour the stomach of God.
Why is the world so dark you ask? Why does it seem like Satan is winning you wonder? Because a large population of Christians no longer think they need to behave like the Salt & Light they were meant to be.
Dinner table discussions may seem trivial; but more practical theology is shared over a good meal of white chicken chili than any seminary or Sunday school class could ever boast. Parents, the question for you is, are you prepared to listen and give a good answer? That is where your kids learn to become the Salt & Light, that is where your kids learn to think, that is where you kids learn to hate hypocrisy.
So, do you swear at work?
Aren't women made of finer clay than men, sweeter, more reasonable?
I thought this would be especially true of beauty pageant ladies, you know the ones who strut around a stage in high heels gently waving their hands high in the sky while muttering their famous mantra, "I want World Peace!"
Well, I may have been wrong all along? In the recent Miss Universe pageant a major bru-ha-ha between Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel occurred. The scuttlebutt from my sources is that "Miss Lebanon Saly Greige is under fire back in her home nation." The problem? She was seen next to Miss Israel in a photo bomb! (no pun intended).
Apparently, from Saly's own words, "Since the first day of my arrival to participate in Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me). I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself; suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media." The nerve of Miss Israel, doesn't she realize this could begin World War 3?!?!
Apparently the war between the Arabs and Jews consists of more than violent border skirmishes and car bombings. This hatred also lives in the minds of beautiful women as they put on their make-up in the dressing rooms of beauty pageants.
Next thing you know bombs and guns will be replaced with poisoned lipstick and exploding cameras. Where does this anger and hatred toward others come from? I thought women were immune from such discord; this was only supposed to be a man's problem? I was taught it was all the fault of letting little boys play with G.I. Joe and Army men? Now Barbie dolls are to be suspect too!
Or...maybe the Bible is right after all:
"For we all were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another." (Titus 3:4)
The Bible says peace will only occur if something changes in our hearts. Pretty ladies walking runways and men toting guns will never be the answer to stopping hatred and violence if the heart is still broken by sin. There is only one solution:
"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." (Titus 3:5-6)
Oh well, so much for my hopes of the Miss Universe changing the world. Maybe it was only meant to be a simple beauty pageant after all?
I can't believe it - - Bill Clinton and I see eye to eye.
Did you hear his comments on Late Night with Seth Meyers? They were gutsy, straight forward and not politically correct. I was shocked. Here is what he said:
"...the world’s greatest double standard -- if you come to our country, we won’t let you worship the way you want, we won’t let you say what you want to say, we won’t let you do what you want to do. However, we have come to your country, therefore we have the right to do whatever we want to do, including kill you if you make us mad,"
Wow, he is calling out Islamic fundamentalists. And it is true, as a group, they demand that we accept this double standard without question. If you go to Saudi Arabia, Iran or Pakistan, Christianity is not welcomed. Instead those who choose to leave Islam or are interested in exploring other faiths are either killed or persecuted. But when these same groups come to America, Britain, Canada or France they demand to live by their own repressive Sharia codes. Have you ever watched the movie "Not Without My Daughter"? Go watch it if you want to see just how real the double standard is that actually exists.
Political progressives in our country often don't see the contradiction; and that is why Bill Clinton's comments are so refreshing. He gets it!
For the sake of being seen as nice and accepting, most of the sophisticated cultural moderates that live in our elite universities and run much of the popular media will not call a spade a spade - - they are scared to declare that Muslim extremism is dangerous and vile. Political correctness, which has been brought about from the rise of secularism, has left people of good-will unprotected from the evil we now know as worldwide terrorism.
But when people are killed in cold blood on the streets in Europe and Australia, it has a way of waking even moderate liberals up. Evil is real, and if it is not confronted with stiff resolve, it will continue to push the world around like a bully pushes nerds around in the hall-way of junior high.
So I just wanted to take the opportunity to say, "Thanks Bill, it is great to hear you call a spade a spade." I often don't get the opportunity to show the other political side of the isle that I am a reasonable guy. But lets not get too crazy...this does not mean I will ever consider voting for his wife...I am not that reasonable!
They actually won.
My two sons and I sat there dumbfounded. The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Mighty Oregon Ducks. It wasn't a fluke, nor was it a dream, they actually won...quite handily I might add.
For a serious college football fan, this game was a very big deal. Maybe the biggest?
And with our mouths hanging wide open in disbelief, my boys and I sat there simply enjoying the moment. You need to realize I have rooted for the Buckeyes ever since I could put on my own scarlet and gray onesy pajamas. I am no fair-weathered fan-- in fact I suffered much abuse living in Michigan Wolverine country for the last 19 years. The John Cooper years were especially brutal. One traumatic memory of those days was when Jon Potes made me wear a rotten stuffed wolverine in front of church after I lost a friendly wager.
So you can imagine my excitement as I watched "my team" cruise to victory last night in arguably the most important college football game of the present era!
But guess what? That was yesterday, it is now over. Today the discussion is about next year. Who is the favored team to win it all? Who is going to be the team to beat next year? Wait a minute, hold on!!! Can't we relish one single win even for a moment? Can't we allow the victory to stay for awhile..."Oh no, don't you understand little fella, time marches on?"
But I have been anticipating this and wanting this to happen for most of my life? And now, what do I get for all the sleepless nights and moments of anguish after watching the Buckeyes lose all those heart-breakers over the years of faithful football devotion? What do I have to show for all my ESPN surfing and Urban Meyer cheering? Sure I can brag, but no one really cares; especially when the new coaches poll for next year has just come out.
I had the same feeling after Christmas was over when the Christmas station my wife had on the radio since Halloween instantly changed over to top ten pop music. For months we listened to Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Mannheim Steamroller and the moment the calendar changed to December 26 it was back to Celine Dion and hearing her telling me how my heart must go on! We never allow life to linger. We work for years to accomplish something grand and yet once it is finished we must move on.
Maybe that is why I long for heaven? I want to finally be able to take a good long eternal rest in joy instead of just taking a quick cat nap down here in fleeting momentary happiness.
This weekend I have three funerals to attend. Three human beings full of dreams, plans and expectations are gone. The laughter and love they shared has faded like paint on an old barn. If this is all we got, and all our effort only goes to procuring fleeting momentary happiness, we are to all be pitied and counted as fools.
For now, I cheer on my team to "Go!" But soon, very soon my cheer will be "Gone." At least I know where I am going...do you?
One British socialist think-tank says this about Marxism:
Individuals are not the focal point of Marxist theories (Marxists are mainly concerned with understanding social structures); "individuals" are only significant when they act together as a class. That is, when people develop a consciousness of themselves as belonging to a particular social class (a "class in itself") and act upon that awareness to produce social change (a "class for itself").
It is this concept that makes Marxism so dangerous and so false. Destroying individual significance is the Marxist's main objective, and it also contributes to the death of the autonomous soul. When you lump a large group of people into one single narrative it destroys. It also gives manipulative leaders a great tool to make a power grab.
You can see it everywhere in politics, leaders of every party confidently assert they are the only voice of the people - - it is how they get votes and pass rotten laws. When Lenin first came to power in Russia he named his political faction the "Bolsheviks." It means majority party, even though at the time of the first major election in 1917 is accounted for less than 10% of the population. But propaganda works and people are easily swayed.
It is works like a charm in America. Tell me, is every African American oppressed in our country? Is every Hispanic a border jumper? Is every woman demanding abortion on demand? Is every evangelical an idiot? Is every poor person a welfare recipient? Does every Asian like Sushi? Is every person from Green Bay a cheese-head? (That last one might be true?)
Lumping people into a herd is the best way to lead them to the slaughter house!
Look closely, every group is made up of individuals who don't fit the norm. Take any given family with the same mom and dad, is every child the same? I have found that each person, even if they are raised in the same home, eat the same food, have the same skin color, is completely unique. If the oldest brother likes Michigan, the youngest will often root for Michigan State. I have found even in my own family people who love to sing hymns on Sunday, and others who want full blast rock-n-roll worship. My sister likes rice cakes...yuck!
If this is true in families, why do we so easily buy into group rhetoric on a national level? Why do we allow politicians and media to pit poor against rich, black vs white, women vs men, and red-necks vs metro-sexuals? Why do we say disagreement is hate speech? Why do we demand everyone to fall in line when a popular politician speaks or cool celebrity sends out a tweet? What ever happened to fair debate, letting each voice be heard? Using logic and reason instead of rhetoric and the good old fashioned Marxist beat down?
The Bolsheviks have the loudest voice in our country, the minority demands to control the debate and they label any dissenter as a hater. Don't let it happen.
Marx is a liar. Start thinking for yourself, and speak up if you disagree. It is still your individual right - - exercise it.
Shoveling, sniffling and scraping: Winter...at times, I hate it too.
But with a little bit of imaginative creativity and emotional surrender, winter can be quite wonderful. There is a regenerative quality to the world when large amounts of white fluffy crystals come pouring out of the sky and leave you barricaded in your home. Winter is meant to be a seasonal Sabbath; an opportunity to turn the switch off on the hamster wheel of life, hunker in with those you love in close quarters, and be present.
Recently, I came across two very interesting words in my reading, one is Danish and the other German. Bet you can't guess which one is German: Hygge and Gemütlichkeit. Both of these words describe the tremendous opportunity winter presents to us - - but we must embrace them:
* Hygge (pronounced "hYOOguh") often translates to "cozy" — though it connotes much more. The loose translation, as one writer puts it, means something like "fireplace warmth with candles and family and friends and food, tucked under blankets on a snowy day, cup-of- coffee conversation, scarf-snuggle, squiggly, warm baby love." A Forbes article defines it as, "being healthy, free from pain, being able to take care of yourself. It's having good times with friends and family."
* Gemütlichkeit means a space or situation that is warm and cozy, that induces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, without a need to hurry or worry, and with a connotation of belonging and social acceptance.
A Danish radio commentator gives some specifics on how to capitalize on those rare moments winter affords us: "Hygge is a deep sense of cozy that can originate from many different sources. Here is a good example from my life : a cloudy winter Sunday morning at the country house, fire in the stove and 20 candles lit to dispel the gloom. My husband, puppy and I curled up on our sheepskins wearing felt slippers, warm snuggly clothes and hands clasped around hot mugs of tea. A full day ahead with long walks on the cold beach, back for pancake lunch, reading, more snuggling, etc. This is a very hyggligt day."
Are you getting it?
My family had many hyggligt moments when I was a kid, and those moments have added greatly to who I am as a person. Somehow the quiet and peaceful seasons in life spent with friends and family add something significant to the fabric of your soul, they establish something solid, they form a richer heart.
One specific memory I have (the Cleveland, Ohio version of Hygge) took place in the blizzard of 1977. It was cold, I mean really cold. I can remember delivering newspapers with my brother up and down the frozen streets of Bay Village which received the full force of the frigid Lake Erie winds. My hands and feet often became numb and my mom would have to put my hands under a warm stream of water from the sink to get feeling back.
Well, one day my dad decided that it would be more cost efficient if we heated our house with coal. No, we didn't have a coal burner, but we did have a fire place! He figured he could buy bags of coal from the local farm outlet and heat piles of it in the hearth while the whole family sat around and got warm. So being his little helper, I joined my dad as we jumped in the station wagon, braved the snowy streets of Bay and purchased four bags of coal.
That night my dad told all of us 6 kids (4 sisters, 1 brother and my mom), to get on some warm pajamas, bring a blanket, and meet around the fireplace. While he heated up a pile of coal, and then popped some popcorn and put it in brown paper grocery bags, we got ready.
There we sat, huddled around the fire, eating popcorn, talking and listening while the fire burned. My dad had all the lights off in the house to save energy, and he also wanted us to simply enjoy the ambiance of being together in the dark. It may sound a little weird, but it was cozy, and I must say, a blast for kids!
After awhile one of my sisters went to the bathroom, and immediately she ran out shouting, "My face and hair is all black, it is loaded with soot!" Instantly my mom turned on the lights, and sure enough my sister was right! The coal my dad bought was cheap and the soot that burned off it was swirling all around the living room. Our couches, our blankets, our carpet, our hair, and our nostrils were coated with flaky black soot! My mom was horrified, but the rest of us were laughing hysterically!
My dad just smiled and said, "Oh Rita, don't worry about it," which made us all break out in laughter all that much more! Oh the memories that are born on cold, snowy, frozen days!
So, instead of dreading the shoveling, complaining about the sniffling and griping about the scraping...join with those you love in a cozy corner and smile! Please, don't waste your winter.