Make the New Year Count

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Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right
Oprah Winfrey

It’s that time again when people make their New Year resolutions.  The most common that I hear are to eat better, exercise more, or quit smoking or drinking.  All of them seem to be about self and not about others.  I think that when we look ahead to this year we should look at making decisions that will have an impact on someone else and if it helps us to then that is a double bonus.

I have a few suggestions that might help us all.

1) Cut down the arguments on Facebook, Twitter and your other social media sites.  Everyone has a right to their opinion don’t be mean to them because it is not yours.  And before you post a meme, check out the facts behind it.  I’ve often found them false and do let people know when a meme is deceiving or an outright lie.  Sometimes that starts a fight.  “Learn to walk away” I tell myself, “Learn to walk away.”  No one is going to change their mind unless they want to, fighting only makes them more defensive and less willing to listen to you.  So learn to walk away.

2) Help someone.  We all know people who are in need.  Do something for them.  Don’t just tell them that you are praying for them. Sure that may lift their spirits, but put your words into action.  Help them with their needs.  If you can’t fill those needs, find someone who can.  But I am betting that you can do it.  You can send a card, you can clean a yard, wash some dishes or baby sit their kids.  Make a difference in their life.  It will be more rewarding than anything you can think of.

3) Don’t look down on people.  To many times I hear people talking bad about that bum on the corner asking for money or the single mom who is struggling to control her kids, or that person that doesn’t keep their house perfectly clean etc.. etc.. I could go on about what people complain about.  It does not help them or you.  You don’t know what a hard life or day that they have had. Instead, try to be sympathetic to them or whatever they are going through.  Each of us reacts different to situations and just because you think would handle it better doesn’t mean that all people do.

4) Volunteer somewhere.  This could be at your local place of worship if it is involved in community outreach that does not involve evangelism, the food bank, homeless shelter, pet shelter, etc… There are lots of good places you can help out instead of spending time on yourself.  Spend it on and for others.

5) Give that $1.  Often a store will ask if you want to donate to a cause when you are buying what you have come to purchase.  Give a $1, it won’t break you and it will help so many people or animals.

6) Make a friend.  Recently I read a story about President Lincoln who received a letter asking for a pardon from someone without the normal letters from influential people.  Mr. Lincoln asked if this person had any friends.  “No sir, not one.” came the reply.  “Then I shall be his friend.” Said Mr. Lincoln.  Be that friend to those who have none.

7) No road rage this year, in fact control your anger wherever you are.  Instead pray for that persons safety that just cut you off and for the safety of those in their path.  Maybe they are rushing to the hospital because their mom just had a heart attack.  Maybe they are rushing to pick up their child who is sick.  We don’t know.  Maybe they are a jerk, but treating them the same does not make your day or their day any better.

8) I’ll leave this one up to you.  There are many other ways you can make this a better year.  Feel welcome to drop an idea here to help someone who may read this page.  Have a Great and Happy New Year!

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To Mom

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October 22, is my mother’s seventy hmmm blah blah birthday. Not supposed to tell a woman’s age right? I and my family owe her a lot. Here are some wonderful things my mom has done for us.

  • Love of children. Mom just loves to play with kids. I do too. I think we are and will always be kids at heart. Maybe that’s why as a pastor I spent most of my time as a youth and children’s minister and now as a teacher I get to play with kids all day.
  • My mom stayed home with all of us kids. I think many kids today miss out on this. Instead of growing up with a parent they grow up with the people at the day care center. I’m glad that my mom stayed home with us even though I know we didn’t have all the latest things. We often got hand me down clothes etc… but to be home with mom is more than worth it. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  • Mom loved to cook. I love to eat so we make a good pair. When I went to college, she would fill me up with all the junk food a college boy could want and from time to time would send a resupply box just in case. When I moved away and visited home she would always send an ice chest or two back home with me, the poor bachelor that needed something to eat. I see that she does that for lots of the grandkids now. Just one way to show her love.
  • Prayer: Mom was always up early praying and reading the Bible. She never stops praying for her kids, nor grandkids or great grand kids. Nothing is more important than knowing that your parent prays for you. Again that is yet another way that mom shows her love for each and every one of her kids.
  • Family: For many years my mom snuck around to see her sister who had been banished from the family by my grandmother. Even in the face of banishment if caught, my mom knew that family was important and that doing what was right mattered more than the possible consequence. Maybe that’s why I don’t believe in cutting out people from my life. Because people are important.
  • Mom has no sense of direction, but she gets places. Yes, sometimes dad has to draw a map or take her there first, but she still tries. I married that same person. I have to do the same for my wife as well. Some people would hole up and not go anywhere, but not mom.
  • Mom loves. She dearly loves her family, more than anything in the world and would do anything for any one of us. The Bible says that “these three things remain, Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love” I think mom has all of these things but the greatest thing she has is love.

Let the children come……

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Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Statue of Liberty

June 22, happy birthday Emma Lazarus. Most of you have no idea who that is, but she wrote the poem above. A poem that so many Americans love and hold on to. How we welcome people from all over and take them in.
Lately many Americans don’t seem to believe that this should be true. There is a growing fight over what to do with the refugees crossing our southern border. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is planning on activating the National Guard to keep the illegal aliens out and America safe. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is working to find a place for 1,000 of the children that are crossing the border daily.
This seems to be our history. Anytime a large group tries to immigrate into America some people get all up in arms and try to ban them. Jon Stewart puts it this way. “Why would you not come to a place that great? In fact, it’s why all of our ancestors came to this country, and were themselves originally unwelcome. Because that’s the story of America. From Ben Franklin’s worry that Germans were ruining Pennsylvania, to our 19th century 60-year ban on the Chinese immigrants who had just finished building our rail system, to our very real and justifiable concerns about the Irish, and their insatiable “applying for jobs”.” (Note the last part is sarcasm. You can watch it at the link below)
Stewart puts it a lot better than I can. These are Children. They are not a threat, nor an invasion. They are running from poverty and danger. They have no parents in a strange land wanting help.
While I do understand that there is a problem with just allowing everyone into the country, I don’t think we can just throw these kids back to where they came from. Setting up camps to immunize them and give them places to live is the most humane thing we can do. Sending them back to where they came from will be death for some of them. Many of them will just try again, hoping that someone will care this time.
As a follower of Jesus I have to ask what we can do for the least of these? If all we can do is throw them back to the wolves then you don’t know what Christ taught. Many of you like to throw out verses from Leviticus so here is one. 19:33-34 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
Love them as yourself. I think Jesus said something about that too. That is one of the two great commands. Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe you might ask, “Who is my neighbor”. When you get down to it, it’s everyone you ever see, hear about, etc… Your neighbor is these kids. Start treating them with love. Take care of them and you will have your reward. “’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
Time to start doing what Jesus asked us to do.

http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/19/6-cities-react-illegal-immigrants-communities/
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865607317/Massachussetts-governor-offers-to-shelter-immigrant-children-Says-the-Bible-inspires-him-to-do-so.html
http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/21/politics/perry-national-guard-border/
http://www.compellingtruth.org/illegal-aliens-immigrants.html
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2014/07/16/daily-shows-jon-stewart-tears-into-protesters-of-migrant-children-shelters

My hand at Bible Translating

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There are so many versions or translations of the Bible out there that it is often hard to really know if one is any better than the next. I once counted mine and I had around 25 different versions in my house.  Each version or translation tries to bring into modern language what the Bible writers were trying to say. So each Bible has bias, good or bad, of the person or people translating it. What they understand and believe will come across in how it is translated. I could not come up with an exact number of translations there are but several sites said there were thousands. So we have thousands of people trying to tell us what they think the Bible writers were trying to tell us when actually they weren’t talking to us at all. They were talking to someone of their day.

What we have to discover is what they said in their time and see if any of it fits into our time. Lately I have been toying with that and have tried to make a few verses more real to people. Some have liked it and some not, but here are a few of what I have tried.

So with the idea of bringing the Bible to modern language, I gave my attempt at a few of the more famous scriptures.

 

When our time began God created the Big Bang. Genesis 1:1

Love mom and dad, so that you may have a good life wherever you live. Exodus 20:12

Jesus told him, “I am the path, the realness, and the full life. No one can come to the Father except doing what I have taught you.” John 14:6

There is neither American nor Russian, neither citizen nor alien, nor is there male and female, nor is there homosexual or straight for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3;28

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and the second is this, Love that dude that cut you off this morning, don’t complain about that bum begging for money, don’t put down that person with different political or religious views, and for Christ sake, don’t be mean on facebook!  Mark 12:30-31

Go and make followers of God, baptize them in the name of God, and teach them to love one another like I loved you and not to follow what church laws you grow up with just because that’s the way you’ve always done it. If you do this, my spirit will be with you always. Matthew 28:19 &20

 For by grace you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, and not by following all the rules of the church or what you think everyone ought to do, so stop telling everyone how righteous you are. Ephesians 2:8 & 9

The price of sin is a horrible and lonely life, but the gift of God is a rich spiritual life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For all have messed up, and remember that includes you and fallen short of what God intended. Romans 3:23

Do not give your opinion about what others are doing, and others won’t go around talking about what you are doing. Do not attack others, and you will not be attacked. Instead forgive and show mercy to those that talk about you and attack you, and you will be forgiven as well. Luke 6:37

Hey everyone, love each other, because love begins from God. Everyone who loves, understands God and truly knows God. Those that say God hates others, or is mean to another in God’s name or is unfair to others using God’s word has no clue, because if God is anything God is LOVE! 1 John 4:7-8

 

So what do you think? Did I miss the mark completely or was I close? Feel free to give it a try for yourself. After all it’s all about trying to understand the authors meaning or meanings the best we can so we can live it today.

Here is a list of the translations available if you are interested. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_Bible_translations

To All My Moms, Thanks!

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“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs… since the payment is pure love.”

~ Mildred B. Vermont

 

I have had many mothers in my life. My birth mother of course, but as I grew and moved and married, other mothers had a hand in my life as well.

Mother Patrick was the first of the other mothers. She was my pastor’s wife and she took me under her wing and helped me grow spiritually as well as mentally when I was just a teenager.   I spent so many nights at the Patrick’s house because their son was my age. We were like family. She always believed in me and encouraged me. She told me how proud she was of me. Since we don’t live in the same state, we don’t see each other much anymore but she is always with me.

Mother Hand was another mom who took me under her wing. Only in a different way. Her son and I roomed in college. During some of college they lived nearby so we spent time there and after graduation, I couldn’t always make it home for the holidays, but I always had the Hand home to go to. Even when their son wasn’t there, I was. That love still lives with me.

Mother Van Cise is another mom in my life. She also has kids my age and when I moved to the area, 600 miles from home and an hour away from anyone else I knew, she and her husband showed me the kindness that goes beyond measure. Always encouraging, and sweet, she was the epitome of love.

I came across this quote as I was writing this blog: “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” ~ Spanish Proverb. I thought this was quite ironic since all the women above are pastor’s wives.   But, I think the quote is so true. Theology doesn’t teach you how to behave, but mothers do.   How many sermons do you remember? But I bet you remember the love a mother gives you.

Then I got married and found another mother. My mother-in-law. You know those evil mother-in-law stories and jokes? They don’t apply here. My mother-in-law has been great to us and has always treated me as a son. She has lived with us for about 10 years and we have barely had any problems. She is always been there through whatever good or bad we have gone through in the past. I can truthfully say I have the best mother-in-law in the world!

I have to save the best for last, my birth mom. Obviously I wouldn’t be who I am without her. She is where I get my love for kids from and my kid nature. I’m just a big kid and often would rather play games with kids than do things with adults, except they wear me out. I remember mom coming to my concerts and ball games. I would always look for her and dad, never happy until I saw her smiling face. I remember once I had a trio and I did not tell mom. When the concert was over and she asked why, I lied and told her that I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it or not. Really I did not want any pressure on me because I did not want to disappoint her. I thought that if she knew she’d be all excited and if I’d mess up she’d be disappointed. That was just stupid middle school thinking. She would never be really disappointed in me. She loves me unconditionally.  I know that even if I am not the perfect son that her love for me will never go away. Her love stays with me each moment of my life.

“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein

In my life it has been both.  Happy Mothers day to all of you!

Different

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In the past week I’ve heard a couple stories about kids being different. One student was asked to not bring his My Little Pony things to school because he was being bullied so much. Another student tried to commit suicide because he was bullied for liking My Little Pony. Both situations are sad. No one should be pushed to trying to commit suicide for being themselves. A school should be a safe place and not punish a child for being bullied, but should discipline those who bully.

I work with special needs kids that are often looked at funny because they are not normal. You can see it in the eyes of people around them. Not all, but enough people still don’t get it that they can’t help rocking or making sounds that are different than you and me or what we call the general public.

This week, one of my students painted my fingernails. My left hand red and the right yellow. This is not the first time I’ve had my nails painted and probably not the last. I don’t see a big deal with painted fingernails on a guy, especially when the student gets so much fun out of doing it. Yes, I do get funny looks from some people, mostly guys, but some people think it’s great. They even go on with stories of when they painted another person’s fingernails.

Still it is not accepted as the norm or even OK by some. But why is it looked down on? Is it because it’s not “manly”? Probably that is the reason. Men have to be a certain way and women have to be a certain way. Society puts us all in a box and if you want to be out of the box, you are bullied until you come back to your box.

I’m not one for boxes. I have never been that way. Secretly and quietly I’ve always pushed against the norm. I like to cook and I cry at movies. My wife doesn’t do either. I have worn more make up in my life than my wife has (since the only time she wore it was for our wedding). I wore a dress at my bachelor party. Is it that I have no pride or that I just like being me? It’s the latter.

Yes, I get made fun of sometimes and that’s too bad. People should learn to encourage instead of criticize. What would this world be if we could learn to accept differences instead of bullying those who are different? What if everyone on your favorite football team was six foot 4 and 300 lbs? Not too many wide receivers there. No cornerbacks either. In sports we want everyone to be different so that they can fulfill the different positions. In fact, it is those with extra special “different” skills that we marvel at. The coaches that think out of the box are the hall of fame coaches.

In music and business we love those who are innovators. If we didn’t have people who were and are innovators we’d still be walking everywhere and having our own big farms so we could live. We love it when they can do things for us, but when we don’t think it helps us, we criticize.

The more that we encourage different ways of thinking and being, the more chance we have of creating greater scientists than Einstein or musicians than Beethoven or leaders than Gandhi. But most of all we will create people that love themselves and love others, so that we can create a better world and neighborhoods. Imagine towns where people care about their neighbors no matter what their differences are. We could cut down on a lot of unneeded suicides and bullying and make this world a better place – one encouraging moment at a time.

So if nothing else, I hope that you will allow yourself to be a little different and that you will accept others who are different.

Bearing Arms, A Right

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I don’t know how many people have actually looked up to see what it says.  Most people seem to believe that it says that the average American should be able to own a gun without any regulations.  That anyone should be able to go into a gun shop and walk out with whatever they are able to afford.  No questions asked.   I am a gun owner.  I have owned a gun for most of my life, but I find it odd that good people would not want some kind of regulations on who might be able to buy a lethal weapon.

The following is the entire second amendment.

Amendment II

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

First note is that it states “A well regulated Militia”.  To me “well regulated” means that there are laws controlling it from getting out of hand.  I don’t see how we can have”well regulated” guns without laws to manage them.   The definition of regulate is to “control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly.”  I personally have no problem with regulating guns based on this definition.  I don’t see that the government is doing anything differently than this either.  What I have seen is that it’s OK when a Republican congress or president regulates, but when a democrat does it, it is not OK.

I remember Reagan trying to regulate guns back in the 1980’s but I didn’t hear people yelling back then.  But they did when Clinton tried to pass regulations (that started under Reagan) and now there is complaining as President Obama wants to.  I don’t remember either Bush trying to regulate anything with guns.

Secondly the amendment says it is for the “security of a free state.”  This statement means keeping America free from outside attacks.  I don’t know how someone having a gun without regulations is going to keep America free.  If Russia, China, or whoever attacks we have the military to defend us.  When this amendment was written we did not have a large military.  Local militias were our main defense, so we needed people to own guns in case the British attacked like they did in 1812.

Today only China has more people in the military than the United States. In the late 1700’s when this amendment was put into place we didn’t have much of anything.  By the war of 1812 the British had nearly 1/4 of a million troops compared to 7,000 in the U.S. military so we needed people to have guns.  When Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 he had over half a million troops.  We were tiny and insignificant.  We needed anything and everything we could get to defend ourselves.  We did eventually get up to the mid 40,000 during the war, but there was still a big disparity.

With the invention of planes, rockets, tanks and so much more, the idea of a militia has become obsolete, like maybe this amendment has.  We have no need today for an active militia because we have such a large military.  Militias in the way that the amendment was written no longer exist and haven’t for a century.

Thirdly, what is wrong with background checks on people who want to own guns?  Do you want criminals to go buy guns?  If you take away regulations then they will be able to walk into a store and buy one just like anyone.  No questions asked.  Of course they may go steal one, but it would be less risky to simply buy one without questions so that they can go rob that gas station or shoot their neighbor, spouse, or whomever they are ticked off at at that moment.

Is there something wrong with banning assault weapons?  Who needs one?  You can’t hunt with one.  I can defend my family easier with a handgun than I could an assault weapon, especially at close range.

Another thing the Obama administration would like is to limit ammunition magazines to a 10-round capacity.  I don’t understand why you’d want more rounds than that.  Realistically if you haven’t hit your target in two shots, it’s gone.  So what would you need a gun with so many rounds for?

I have never been given a good reason as to why someone wants these types of weapons or that much fire power.  I have never been given a good reason for why a person should not have patience and wait a couple days to be approved for a gun.  I find the reasons given to be selfish and impatient.  I want it and I want it NOW!  No one should be able to tell me what to do, what I can have or what I can do with it.  That is how those who fight against gun control sound to me.  Maybe they need a good time out.

For me the whole issue is about safety. Safety for you, your kids, your family, your neighborhood.  If you have not done anything wrong then there is no reason to not want regulations.  You will still be able to get your gun.  I don’t think any of us wants a gun in the hands of someone who is unstable or has a history of violence.  Those people will be denied.  The less available guns are to people like that, the better and safer society will be.  Yes, I know that criminals will just go out and steal a gun or buy one illegally, but the harder we make it for them the better and safer we will be.

Hope this helps you better understand the the second amendment.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/guntime1.html