Saturday, February 18, 2017

Redeeming My Life From Destruction


For most of my life I have been trying to kill myself. As the saying goes, I've been digging my grave with a spoon.

There have been contributing factors, accessories to my murder, so to speak: a family culture involving both gluttony and laziness, church leaders who made light of those sins, and the diversity and accessibility of food in our country. But, I have to own up to it: if anyone is going to ruin my life, it's me. I take full responsibility.

I have tried and failed many, many diets, some which did more harm than good. I saw some success with Overeaters Anonymous during my college years and with Weight Watchers a few years ago. However, it didn't take much for me to turn back to the old habits and lusts which have kept me in bondage most of my life. Though I have worked through many thoughts and heart issues concerning this pattern of sin, the key to release always eluded me.

After failing miserably once again on yet another diet, I was alarmed by the weight gain I was seeing once again. It really scared me.

I cried out, "Lord! I don't want to die this way!" And I asked Him to guide me in His will concerning which diet I should seek to follow in order to lose the weight and be healthy. I needed Him to redeem my life from destruction.


Bless the LORD, O my soul: 
   and all that is within me, 
bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, 
   and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; 
   who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; 
   who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; 
   so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

~ Psalm 103:1-5

We just so happen to be memorizing this passage in our church. That phrase, "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction," really stood out to me this morning. Then I had to back up to the previous verses to understand fully what that means. I forget all the benefits of my salvation, one of them being His redemption of my life from destruction. Being a child of God includes the ability to keep from killing myself!

However, part of that redemption process involves remembering some things. I have to remember, also, that he forgives my iniquities. Wallowing in the guilt and shame of yet another downfall into gluttonous eating never moves me forward, never redeems my life. It leads me to destruction every time.

So, yesterday, when I failed miserably, I felt myself sliding back into the old habits. I messed up so badly. I was a willing accomplice with my lusts in eating in a way which is destructively unhealthy. And I indulged myself all the way up until I went to bed.

As soon as I was woke up this morning, there He was. I'm so glad He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). But, instead of running away from Him in guilt and fear, I immediately confessed my sin and guilt and asked for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to set my feet on a right path (Proverbs 4:26, 27). I was then able to get out of bed with freedom and hope and begin afresh. I am confident that today He will satisfy my mouth with good things and renew my health and vigor. I know this from what He has promised, and God can't lie.

I praise God for His guidance in leading me back to Weight Watchers. I need the structure, accountability, and encouragement of the plan and the weekly meetings. It is simply what works for me. However, no diet will work without the continual knowledge that God loves and forgives me because of Christ. I am also learning the importance of asking for the enabling grace of God through His Spirit.

Another important factor in my success is the loving prayers of God's people, and I covet your prayers for me when I come to mind. God bless you every one!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

And You Wonder Why They Can't Read


Someone asked on Facebook the other day at what age one should get a cell phone for their child. That got me thinking how different parenting is today than when we were rearing our children. Back then the big questions were how much time kids should be allowed to watch television or play computer games. Today, with a smart phone and the right cellular package, a child can not only watch videos and play games, they can also potentially access all manner of both helpful and unhelpful data, some of which could be deadly. Thus, it is wise to consider at what age a child should have his own phone.

However, I don't think the problem is at what age to let them have one, but rather whether or not they need one at all. We could sit here all day debating the good, the bad, and the ugly of 24/7, handheld Internet access, but that isn't really the issue. If given full reign, it would have been possible for children of past generations to also obsess around the clock on the screen distractions of their day. The real problem is the distraction of the Internet and its dumbing down effect on the brain.

Before home computers came along, television was the big distraction. Consequently, for the first few years of our children's lives, we decided not to have one at all. We got news from listening to the radio and from interaction with others outside our home. School and play times were rich in inspiration and imagination. Without screen distractions, books were a big draw, both for cuddle time and individual exploration. I believe that is one reason our children are such prolific readers today. Their foundation for learning wasn't hijacked by someone thinking for them through moving pictures and sound.

Reading is hard work. You have to decipher the words, understand them in context, and imagine what they are portraying. Even books which do not tell a story evoke connecting images and examples in our minds. It's how we develop comprehension. But, you have to concentrate in order to do that. Excess screen time seems to keep the mind constantly wandering off to what has been seen and heard rather than what is immediately being presented in print. Yet, reading content online is not much better.

By its very nature online reading is meant to be quick. Just the volume of the available words necessitates scanning and partial reading. Yet, reading that way too much could end up with us not being able to concentrate on the printed page. Books aren't written like blogs. In good writing, the first sentence is meant to present the concept of the paragraph. The sentences which follow it expand and explain the concept in more detail. Then the last sentence connects that paragraph with the next paragraph. You can tell when a book is well written: it has structure and flow. A well-written blog, on the other hand, presents bits and pieces for you to grab and take with you. You can't read a book like a blog. It won't make sense.

And that is one reason why I believe so many children are having trouble reading. If you want good readers, you must consider more restricted phone/screen use.

Thus, I would have to give counsel to the parent wondering about giving their child a phone to not do so unless it is for emergency use only. Yet, even if a phone really is necessary, one with no data plan would be a good start. Also, having a phone or phones only for temporary use might be a good idea, say, to call and let you know when practice is over.

Or how about walkie talkies? Remember those? We used to use them while shopping as a family and when we split up on walking trails. We even communicated between vehicles when we took separate cars on trips.

(I know; I know. No self-respecting kid is gonna use a walkie talkie these days.)

In any case, for the sake of the literacy of future generations and the health and well-being of well-rounded, successful adult children, I hope parents today will reconsider how often they are allowing their children to have screen time of any kind, but especially their own cell phones.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Unmasking False Compassion In the Political Narrative

As I read through the reactions to the election results on social media yesterday, I came across some which stunned me. There were several young, Christian mothers, who I thought were conservatives, who were expressing anxiety and dismay that more liberal people were not elected to our government. They were especially concerned for how our elected officials might be harsh against minorities and the disadvantaged. And, while I could hear the cry of their compassionate hearts fueled no doubt by the love of Christ, it chilled me to the soul to realize they may have been duped.

I just want to be sure my young friends understand something very important. Some of the solutions for social problems promoted by seemingly more compassionate politicians could potentially derail their own rights as parents and destroy those they claim to want to help. It is time to take the mask of "compassion" off of these politicians and see them for what they really are.

One solution, for instance, to taking care of illegals is tighter control over education. Institutional public education is a great way of controlling the masses, especially undocumented ones. But, universal compulsory public education also rounds up the people who believe their children should be home schooled or educated in religious schools. However, if Mrs. Clinton had her way, many of the basic decisions of parenting, including education, would be taken out of the hands of parents and given over to an international government body.

You see, Mrs. Clinton pushes ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child every chance she gets.[1] It seems good on the surface for protecting children from abuse, but, if ratified by our government, it would become a treaty which binds parents by international law to hand over decisions to the government (and in some cases even to their children) which could be harmful to them, especially for parents with disabled children. You can read about some of those concerns in an article posted on the Home School Legal Defense Association website: http://hslda.org/docs/news/2014/201407180.asp.

Yet, another "solution" for social ills proposed by liberals is abortion. My young Christian friends seemed to set aside, albeit reluctantly, this atrocity as an unfortunate side effect of electing more "compassionate" (?!?) politicians. What if someone suggested that the most compassionate way of dealing with the tragedy of black poverty was to line them all up and shoot them? Or, how about slicing them up with a machete or dissolving them in a saline solution? Or maybe it would be more compassionate to pull them limb from limb with pincers or insert a pair of scissors at the base of their necks and suck their brains out? [2]

Yet, that is exactly what these "compassionate" politicians are saying when they want to make abortion more available to minorities. It is no coincidence abortion clinics are set up primarily in minority neighborhoods. It is another liberal political solution for controlling the masses. The fewer Hispanic and black children who are born, the less of a problem they will be. Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and long-time pro-life advocate, makes this point in an interview on The Jim Bakker Show when she asserts Planned Parenthood operates "abortion mills" in minority neighborhoods for the purpose of targeting black women.[3]

Let's take the mask off of this key political issue once and for all for what it really is. I once had a conversation with a young friend of mine who was reared in a conservative, Christian home where abortion was denounced. However, once he got into college, he heard a different narrative. He was beginning to believe that it would be more compassionate to abort black children in the womb than to let them be born into poverty and violence. However, by assuming that all black children born to poor mothers will end up being a burden to society, we become the most racist, bigoted people on planet Earth! Their "black lives" not only don't matter to liberal abortion advocates, they are a burden to society and should be exterminated.

When my young friend shared his thoughts with me, I immediately thought of Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson would have fit that description perfectly being born to a single, black mother living in a poor neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. But, by the grace of God through the power of the Gospel, Dr. Carson worked his way up from the poverty into which he was born into one of the premier neurosurgeons of our time and presidential candidate in the 2016 election. He is a living testimony against the false assumptions of liberal abortion advocates.[4]

This brings me to what the key problem may be in discerning false compassion. Where are these people getting their ideas? Much of what passes as Christian compassion in American politics today is actually nothing more than godless socialist theory. It is no secret that much of Hillary Clinton's political ideology was shaped by the influence of her childhood church youth leader and life mentor Rev. Donald G. Jones, a radical leftist theologian who embraced the teachings of Karl Marx and Paul Tillich and impressed them on the malleable minds of the teens in his youth group.[5]

It is this mixture of religion and socialism which I think confuses young Christians today. It sounds compassionate. It sounds like what Jesus would do. But when you carefully look into the roots of many of these liberal solutions, you will find they have a dark history which leads to death. When evaluating ideas in the public arena, we must be very careful to analyze who is speaking, who informed their narrative, what their motives are, and how their initiatives could actually do more harm than good, especially to our own families.

As a wise man once said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."[6] That is why is it so important to never take anything a politician says at face value. It may sound good and seem like the most effective solution, but how will it affect our lives in the long run?

There may be other issues which liberal politicians advocate as quick fixes for social ills, but what we really need are more boots on the ground. In a blog post called "To All my Post-Traumatic, Post-Election Friends," Scott Sauls makes the point that true social change only comes through the Gospel-driven works of God's Spirit-filled people, not through politicians and government officials. It might take longer and be less effective at first, but it really is the most compassionate, life-giving solution to the social ills of our world. As Scott goes on to say, "...when Christians direct their energy, resources, and imagination toward serving the world as a love-driven minority, the Jesus movement becomes virtually impossible to stop."[7] This, my friends, is true compassion.


[1] "Convention on the Rights of the Child," U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[2] Rebecca Downs, "Abortion Methods and Abortion Procedures Used to Kill Unborn Babies," LifeNews.com, January 2, 2013, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.lifenews.com/2013/01/02/abortion-methods-and-abortion-procedures-used-to-kill-unborn-babies/

[3] "Alveda King: Black Lives Matter Should Fight Abortion," Newsmax, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Alveda-King-Black-Lives-Matter-Fight-Abortion/2016/08/26/id/745345/.

The full video program is found here: https://jimbakkershow.com/video/visit-evangelist-alveda-king-day-1/.

More about Alveda King: http://heavy.com/news/2016/08/alveda-king-donald-trump-niece-praise-endorse-video-watch-martin-luther-jr-a-d-brother-twitter-abortion-black-lives-matter-police-pro-life-ministries/.

[4] Biography of Dr. Ben Carson: http://www.biography.com/people/ben-carson-475422#early-education.
 
[5] Diana Lesperance, "Hillary Clinton's Youth Group Leader," The Narrow Way, October 28, 2016, accessed November 16, 2016, https://narrowwayapologetics.com/2016/10/28/hillary-clintons-youth-group-leader/.

[6] Proverbs 14:12

[7] Scott Sauls blog, "To All My Post-Traumatic, Post-Election Friends," accessed November 10, 2016, http://scottsauls.com/2016/11/08/to-my-post-traumatic-post-election-friends/.