Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Virtues (page 1 / 1)

The Futility of Politics

Your Typical Voter

A hypothetical: a friend of yours asks you for relationship advice.

See, he and the gay lover for whom he abandoned his pregnant, live-in girlfriend can't agree on which window treatment they prefer for their new apartment, and despite all the other personal differences they've managed to amicably settle - like your friend's being an Anglican Christian and his lover being a warlock in the First Order of the Antichrist - the issue is threatening to drive a wedge between them, just (this is eerie) as it drove a wedge between your friend's father and his father's own gay lover over thirty years ago.

Now, seeing as how you're a man of God, he says, surely you can give him good advice on how to properly and lovingly resolve the question. Should he (A) compromise on the window treatment issue (even though his lover picked a really icky color) or (B) stand firm, because this is important?

Well? How do you answer?

Believe it or not, the above scenario isn't too dissimilar from some questions I truly have been asked "as a man of God" - although in the worst situation I've ever been presented, the friend asking me for advice was a registered sex offender who quite literally believed himself to be a werewolf and (again, I am not making this up) now found himself blackmailed into a homosexual relationship with a Catholic missionary to Mexico.

In such situations, the base problem is the same: namely, is even bothering to answer at all a good idea? After all, the real problem here obviously isn't your friend's ridiculously petty feelings about household decoration; that's just the smallest symptom of the many, many totally selfish, wrong moves he's been making, each and every one of which dwarfs in importance the issue at hand. He shouldn't be dating someone who doesn't believe in the Christ Jesus. He shouldn't be in any homosexual relationship. He certainly shouldn't abandon the future mother of his child to start one. And he never should have had sexual relations with her in the first place, seeing as how she was not his wife. And - well, let's see here. Anything else?

Oh yeah, wait: and the reason all of this happened in the first place is because despite your friend's declarations to the contrary, he obviously doesn't care what the Christ Jesus thinks of his life.

Well, if you're like me, you tell your friend that the drapes have received way too much attention already and you're not going to give them yours too. Maybe your friend doesn't like this very much, says "If you were really concerned about me, you'd help me", but you answer that if he really wants help, you're perfectly willing to provide it; you'll help him move his furniture out of the apartment, play the part of Best Man at his wedding to the chick, and drive him to church every Sunday. But playing into his delusions won't help him out a bit, so as his friend, you won't do it.

And, if you're like me, you feel pretty much the same way about our country's problems.

Understanding Your Charitable Urges

Why do you donate to charity? Is it because you truly want to help others or do you just want to feel better about yourself? For many people, it's feeling better about themselves.

Many people donate hair to make wigs for children with cancer. It turns out that donating money would be better.

Perhaps they would be less adamant if they could visit Ms. Coffman in the Locks of Love office in Florida. Every day the hanks of hair arrive, filling some 10 postal bins, representing the best intentions of donors, but so much of it destined for the trash.

"A check would be easier for me," Ms. Coffman said. "But would the donors get out of it what they do? No."

I think people going on missions trips to build houses in third world countries suffer from the same problem. Ideally, they'd donate a week's worth of pay rather than a week's worth of time. That money would then be used to hire local workers. The money would stretch further, help more homes to be built, and boost the local economy.

It would be a far more generous and effective way to donate. But people wouldn't feel nearly as good about themselves. And, often, that's what really matters.

This entry was tagged. Charity Virtues

Resolving Conflict

Pastor C. J. Mahaney, on conflict and how to resolve it.

Cravings and Conflicts

I am so glad that when it comes to relational conflict God doesn't provide mere generalities. He gives us so much more information than, "Sin has occurred" and "It's worse than you think." Now that is accurate and even quite valuable, but it doesn't suggest a solution any more than does "Check Engine" or "Error has occurred." No, God provided James 4:1-2 so that we can identify and confess our specific cravings, receive forgiveness, and begin to weaken our cravings and cultivate righteousness.

Douglas Moo, in his commentary on the letter from James, writes the following:

"With penetrating insight ... James provides us with a powerful analysis of human conflict. Verbal argument, private violence or national conflict -- the cause of them all can be traced back to the frustrated desire to want more than we have, to be envious of and covet what others have, whether it be their position or their possessions" (The Letter of James, p. 184).

This passage offers hope. Our lives need not be an endless, inevitable cycle of unresolved quarrels and fights. Instead, God provides insight and discernment so that we can put to death the sinful craving at the root of every relational conflict.

This entry was tagged. Christianity Virtues

Examples of Gratitude

Growing up, I always heard that I should have an "attitude of gratitude". That phrase sounded annoyingly pat back then and still does now. That doesn't make it any less true. Here are two examples of people with a great attitude of gratitude.

First, Chef Mojo from Daily Pundit wrote about experiencing life with new hearing aids. Daily Pundit » The Hum and Roar of the World.

At some point when I was a child, it became apparent that I was a bit different from the other kids. Namely, I couldn't hear the things they heard.

This was somewhat expected, my mother being hearing impaired. I stepped into this life with the genetic code that dialed me down a notch or so when it came to sound. A childhood of constant ear infections only increased the damage.


The audiologist took the results of my test and input them into a program on her Dell laptop and dialed up the brands and models of aids that would apply to me. ... The thing was an inch long and little over a quarter inch thick, with a very thin tube encasing a wire that attached to a transmitter in the form of flexible silicone earbud. No more ear molds.

... The Lady gave me a little look and said, Hey sweetie. And she started reading from a poster in the office.

I almost started crying.

I'd never heard her before. Not like this. Not this way. Not to the point of being almost normal. Her voice was pure sparkling clarity and oh so sweet.

I turned to the audiologist who said, the humming is the light fixtures overhead. I looked up and it occurred to me that the world was opening up in waves around me within this tiny office. I could hear the secretary a room away on the phone and the printer printing and a phone ringing behind me, and I knew right were it was.

How often are you thankful for just the simple ability to hear, and to hear well?

Secondly, how about waking up from a coma after 19 years, to find that your entire world has changed? BBC NEWS | Europe | Pole wakes up from 19-year coma.

Railway worker Jan Grzebski, 65, fell into a coma after he was hit by a train in 1988. ... Doctors gave him only two or three years to live after the accident. ... When Mr Grzebski had his accident Poland was still ruled by its last communist leader, Wojciech Jaruzelski. ... The following year's elections ushered in eastern Europe's first post-communist government. Poland joined the Nato alliance in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

"Now I see people on the streets with mobile phones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin," he told Polish television. "When I went into a coma there was only tea and vinegar in the shops, meat was rationed and huge petrol queues were everywhere," Mr Grzebski said. "What amazes me today is all these people who walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning," said Mr Grzebski. "I've got nothing to complain about."

Every so often, I try to stop and remember what life used to be like. I try to talk to people who remember what life was like in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's. Really, we don't have it so bad today.

So, as you go through your day, try to have an attitude of gratitude -- no matter what happens.

This entry was tagged. Good News Virtues

Separation of Church and State

Earlier this month, Dr. Rich Scarborough -- pastor, and founder of Vision America -- sent out an e-mail talking about the role of Christians in American government.

This past week the Republican State Convention met in San Antonio, Texas. I was invited to speak at a Values Voter Rally at 8:30 PM in the Menger Hotel, across from the Convention Center. Once again, to my great delight, hundreds gathered to hear a Gospel artist sing and a Baptist Minister speak. As I spoke about the importance of Christians being salt and light in the moral and civil arena, the crowd erupted in applause several times and at the end, they stood to applaud.

As I left, I bowed my head and thanked God that many Christians are getting it! We are the Church and in America, we are the Government. Tell me, how do you separate the two without removing all Christian influence from the public arena?

I'd like to respond to that question.

"We are the Church and in America, we are the Government." That phrase sends chills up and down my spine -- and not in a good way. True, the Church is made up of God's people. True, most of those people earnestly desire to follow after God and live lives that are pleasing to Him. That does not, however, make them saints on earth. Christians can be just as prone to hubris, arrogance, and greed as non-Christians. The fact that a person is a Christian does not, in and of itself, mean that he or she should receive my vote.

Many Christians go into government with the goal of "Cleaning up Society." The American Family Association, and the Parents Television Council, for instance, strongly dislike much of the content on prime-time television. Their preferred solution is to make it illegal to broadcast certain language, show certain images, or portray certain ideas on broadcast television. Other groups want to criminalize all homosexual behavior, criminalize certain styles of dress, certain behaviors (like smoking and drinking), or criminalize any public vulgarity.

I have a big problem with this. It is an attempt to impose Christian morality by force. It is an attempt to make the entire country live according to Christian values and display Christian behaviors. A large portion of the nation is (or claims to be) Christian. A significant percentage of the country is not. (If 70% of 300 million people are Christian, that means 90 million people are not Christian.) These laws would force everyone to exhibit Christian behavior, regardless of the whether or not they truly love God and want to please Him. I believe this is wrong, that it is nothing more than forced hypocrisy.

Rather than making Christianity appealing to non-Christians, these laws would only reinforce the impression that Christianity is about following rules and living a certain way. Rather than communicating the great Truth -- that true Christianity is a relationship with an awesome Being that wants to know me personally -- these laws would reinforce the belief that Christians are concerned only with rules and controlling people. In short, legislating morality would Christianity odious to many of the unsaved, rather than desirable.

Why should I force someone who doesn't love God, who doesn't understand God, and who doesn't want anything to do with God to live under God's rules? God Himself doesn't require that. God allows billions of people around the world to live in sin each and every day. God allows each person on earth to live their life as they will. God allows each person the freedom to accept Him or reject Him. True, God desires certain behaviors and attitudes from those who love Him. But God doesn't impose His will anyone, even Christians.

If God does not force unbelievers to live according to a certain set of rules, I don't believe I have any authority whatsoever to rule over them. If God has voluntarily relinquished control over people's lives, how dare I pick up that control and attempt to wield it myself? Such behavior is rank arrogance -- an assumption that I know the mind of God and I know exactly what penalties and punishments He wishes to impose on those who disobey Him.

God desires one thing, and one thing only, from non-Christians: that they recognize His control over the universe, submit willingly to His authority, and love Him before all others. Everything else is secondary to this. Once a person's heart is aligned with God's, right behaviors will follow. If a person's heart is not aligned with God's, no amount of laws will improve his character or bring him any closer to purity.

I believe government has a responsibility to protect its citizens against aggression and fraud. Government should be concerned with prosecuting rape, murder, theft and fraud. I do not believe government should be concerned with the behavior of its citizens -- that is rightly the role of priests, pastors, and churches.

How then should Christians behave in government? If I do not believe that they should legislate according to their moral beliefs, how should they legislate? Christians should follow the advice of Micah 6:8

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Over and over and over and over again throughout Scripture, God's prophets and apostles urge His people to act justly -- not to accept bribes, not to treat the rich better than the poor, not to withhold from those in need. Over and over, God exhorts His people to treat everyone equally, to deal honestly, to honor contracts -- in short, to live with integrity. How many of our Congressman and Senators truly live up to these requirements? How many of our supposedly Christian legislators live up to these requirements? This how a Christian should act while in office. Christians in government should stand up for the oppressed, deal justly with everyone, and enforce the law equally on the rich and the poor.

Being a Christian legislator should not associated with enacting Christian morals but with display Christian values while in office. Christian legislators should set the standard for honesty, integrity, and humility in government. A legislator who displayed those moral values would be far more valuable than one who simply voted to fine television stations over vulgarity or who simply voted to require certain minimum standards of dress.

"How do you separate [Church and government] without removing all Christian influence from the public arena?" You separate the two by letting the church reign supreme in matters of morality and letting the government protect people's bodies and property. If Christian government officials focus their energies on ensuring that all people are protected equally and that government conducts its operations with integrity and humility, the Christian influence on the public arena will be huge.

Ultimately Christianity does not need the support of America's government in order to survive. Whether or not the Ten Commandments are displayed in America's courthouses is not nearly as important as whether or not America's people have the Ten Commandments written on their hearts. A Christian government can do nothing to write God's law on people's hearts, but it can ensure that all people are treated as God commands -- equally, with love and honesty.

This entry was tagged. Sin Virtues Voting

Helicopter Parents

Helicopter parents spend their entire lives hovering over the children. Apparently, many parents continue to hover even after their children have graduated from college:

Sue Shellenbarger writes about parents who seek to get deeply involved in the hiring process. One father showed up with his daughter, who was being interviewed for a job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The mother of another recruit at Enterprise joined a phone call and began grilling the recruiter about the benefits package. At other companies, parents are calling hiring managers to protest the offered pay packages and try to renegotiate. At GE, an offer was made to a recruit last fall, and the recruit's mother called the next day trying to negotiate an increase in pay. "It's unbelievable to me that a parent of a 22-year-old is calling on their behalf," say Allison Keaton, director of college relations for St Paul Travelers. She calls this generation "the kamizake parents--the ones that already mowed down the guidance and admissions offices and are now moving into the workplace."

I found this story via David Foster at Chicago Boyz. He continues on with:

But the levels of involvement described in the WSJ article go way beyond such traditional forms of support, and can only serve to undercut the development of confidence and independence. A 5% higher starting salary isn't worth it if the price is the failure to develop one's own negotiating powers. The same parents who focused on credentials rather than knowledge and metaskills in the education process are also failing to comprehend the importance of metaskill development in the workplace.

Americans have always liked to think of themselves as independent and self-reliant. Given the behavior described in these articles, is that view out of date?

I would tend to think that it is. Increasingly, many younger Americans appear to be reliant on either the government or their parents to move them through life. How sadly pathetic.

This entry was tagged. Virtues