As a nation, we pride ourselves as being an advanced culture with highly intelligent people and as having the best of everything — pound for pound — the world has to offer. Sadly, I struggle to find anything we do as signficant to mankind.
Now this is not a bash America blog! I used to say I love America but like many I could not tell you why. It was my only frame of reference so I loved what I knew. I assumed that people in government were looking out for the little man — looking out as defined as making laws and provisions for the little man to grow and develop into something more, not throw him a bone and keep him dumb.
There was a study done in the 90s with 21k people across 7 nations to test there literacy. The study covered more than 30 tasks over a 45 minute span. The test takers were between the ages of 16 to 25 and the specific items on the test dealt with reading comprehension, following directions, reading maps, completing job applications etc. — things you would need to function and thrive in every day life. The results were astonishing (see table below). There were level grades from 1 to 5 where a 4 or 5 was pretty high functioning and of course a 1 was struggling. Sweden’s population of that age group were the brightest with more than 40 percent functioning at the highest levels. Only 18 percent of Americans at that age range preformed as well as the Swedes.
What does that mean you ask? Well other than the obvious, it seems that the study has also proven that higher functioning was related to higher wages. When France talks about job creation and the US talks about it, those are two totally different conversations. France is only talking about a living wage where you can take care of a family with a modest living. In the US, we say a job is a job — better than not having one.
Today we are in a literacy crisis. No one should be surprised about this but I don’t think we understand the effects.
More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or complete basic math above a third-grade level. — Proliteracy
Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health
Our problem: Politics. We constantly elect people who can not relate to the problems of the average American and they could care less about those problems. It doesn’t even matter what political party you belong to — both parties have failed the little man.
It seems that we have disfellowshipped the word demand because we don’t demand anything — nothing of ourselves and nothing from those who rule the world. So we sit and take it — you live your life paycheck to paycheck and die in a sea of debt. In our country they tell you that you have the right to pursue happiness, they just forgot to tell you it was nearly impossible to catch.
You know the old saying that if you let something go and if it comes back to you, then it truly belongs to you? I just wonder how practical the application of this saying would be today. I mean, I think that some of us may have taken for granted the people in our lives. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the importance of people under our jursidiction and we really need a wake up call.
So imagine if you are the boss over a company or you are managing several employees, do you think that if they were released and given another job making the same money, they would stay with you? In the business world we believe sometimes that people get trapped and they don’t have choices. Are we taking advantage of them and treating them horribly because we can? As a leader are you making the environment your employees work in beneficial to them so that they can do the best job possible? Or have you made the place so in your favor that your colleagues hate the company and you? It should not take an episode of “Undercover Bosses” to make you do the right thing. The highest boss is watching and you will have to answer to him.
Let’s take this a step further and look at the family because I wonder how many children would stay with their same parents. For those of you with children, do you believe that your offspring would gladly stay with you if they had another opportunity. I’m not talking about riches or a bigger house, I’m speaking pound for pound, comparing apples to apples, given a choice would your children stay with you? That’s a hard question for some and not meant to ruin anyone’s week, but we need to take a step back sometimes and see if what we think we are accomplishing is good and for the betterment of the people God has placed us over.
Now for the finale, when you look at your marriage do you believe your spouse would come back to you if he or she had the option to leave with no strings attached? Think before you answer. Do you make your spouse feel that he or she is the perfect match for you? Do they feel God’s full blessing being with you or would they rather be single? Is this even something you can talk about? Has chasing after success in life or bitterness or past failures turned you into an asshole? Don’t look at me, I didn’t say it your spouse may have! I just want you to take an honest look at your situation.
Life is too short to spend the rest of it with someone who repels you. So before they sneak and talk to an attorney about their options, wouldn’t it be more cost effective for you to have that “come to Jesus talk” with them and say you’re sorry and you want to be better? If you really and truly love the person you are with, you owe it too yourself and your spouse a true confession and a heartfelt apology. Then you would spend your life prioritizing things in order of importance and you would begin with your relationship.
Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says this task is too much. It is just what your relationship needs. Be the leader you claim you are and lead in this effort to make your life better.
It seems as though God should get praise and glory for the things he has given us and done for us. No one would argue that we serve an awesome God who can do everything and has everything.
Well, he has definitely blessed his people, but sometimes his people will not tell the tale about what he has done in their lives. It’s like some of us are ashamed to be blessed.
We want to help out in secret. We want to keep quiet the excitement in our hearts when God has shown up and showed out.
Nicodemus was not without reason when he had Jesus over in the evening. You see he was a Pharisee and they refused to believe who he was. Nicodemus saw Jesus do enough things that he wanted to get to know him, but not at the expense of his relationship with the religious sect.
Today we don’t have such a dilemma because it is actually fashionable to claim Jesus.
The other issue that I have is that some of us are living a struggle every day of our Christian lives. We are living that struggle so much that it now seems like the norm. If we followed the scriptures, particular the psalms and proverbs we would live better than most people. There is advice in there about finances, folly and females. There is info for personal growth and development, but we must not be reading. So then, to pray to God for something he already granted is vain.
Not to sound like a complainer, but my only point is that God deserves credit for the things he has done in our life. When you have overcome, it needs to be shared with others who are struggling in the faith. This is something that our fellowship demands and our posterity depends on.
So don’t hold back, share God’s blessing, give your testemony and honor our Father in heaven for he is more than worthy! Amen!
So we know that the church is the body of Christ and Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
He reigns supreme in this gathering of believers. Some might call it cultish due to the unfeigned faith each member has for the king.
Throughout the New Testament one can find many examples of how the body of Christ functions and relates to head of the body. And from here its even easier to see how the relationship with the head effects the horizontal relationships throughout the membership.
So, things like service, forgiveness, unconditional love, faithfulness, compassion, truth and longsuffering should abound in such places. There is a definite togetherness and sense of having all things in common among the believers. Judgement has no place here, only encouragement to be the best you can be and assistance when you stumble.
A placebo is a measure designed merely to calm, please or pacify another. It is more for a psychological benefit than for any spiritual effect. A placebo church only exists as a method to control. It is only a form of godliness, but it denies the power there of.
The largest problem with this type of church is there is no spiritual growth, there is no support, there is no fellowship and there is no forgiveness. When trouble comes you are on your own. When Satan attacks you are judged instead of helped.
You stay in this system because it looks right, but it is far from righteousness. So I ask you this day: Is your church a placebo and more importantly why are you still there?
This past week saw the taking down of the confederate flag in South Carolina and it was not without its controversies. Highlighted in that week was congressional sparring about the event and a much choosing of sides by political pundits.
There was also a huge buzz on social media where some felt South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a decision that would make or break her political career. There was talk about this event thrusting her into the national political scene and perhaps even a vice president bid. Others felt that she had ruined her career and she even received cowardly death threats.
I was not that vested into whether the flag stayed up or came down and I did not even watch it. What turned me off was this: Our country has an acceptance problem. Many of our troubles and struggles come from our inability to accept one another.
So, in our initial relationship with our heavenly Father, we were separated from the commonwealth of God by our sins. It is impossible for us to be accepted by God on our own. Despite many failed attempts over thousands of years, we only proved that we are sinners and lost forever in darkness.
Then, Jesus comes and dies for the sins of the world so that we have the opportunity to be “accepted in the Beloved.” Now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we who believe live to bring this joyous occasion to others. Acceptance not only says that you belong, but it also says that you belong just the way you are. Acceptance is the bridge that allows the sinner in darkness to fellowship with the light. Without acceptance a connection cannot be made. And it’s in that fellowship that the magic happens. The apostle John wrote that if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin — that’s a pretty powerful fellowship! But if I am not accepting, it’s all for naught!
Have you ever felt like you did not belong? Have you ever been in a situation where others have made you to feel that way? It’s a horrible feeling, but do you know we do that whenever we decide that another person does not matter. I don’t have to conform to the way you think to accept you. You don’t have to look like me, live like me or eat the same things I do for me to accept you. I accept you because I have been accepted. And the thought of me cheapening my acceptance or taking it for granted because I don’t accept you, is not an option for me. My acceptance of you is my judgment of you and as for me and my house, we choose to accept.
One of the heroes from Marvel comics Xmen series is a character called the Wolverine. This character has the ability to heal himself at an accelerated rate, making it nearly impossible to destroy him.
Imagine that. With every hurt comes almost instantaneous healing. No scratches. No scars. No fuss. You cut him one minute and in less than 30 seconds he’s healed.
This is not a point where art imitates life. It’s the contrary.
Sometimes we say things to each other that really hurt. The whole “sticks and stones” saying is a lie: Words cut! And the problem is that we are not the Wolverine. We take time to heal and depending on how deep the cut, it could take years.
Now imagine being in a relationship with someone who constantly cuts you with their words and you do not have a chance to heal before the next cut. And this person does not give you any assistance in the healing. They just cut away at their leisure.
And then you tell them it hurts and to please stop. You become vulnerable with them and because of the close relationship you thought you had established, you pointed out the areas that would hurt the most. And instead of honoring and protecting those areas, they come at you like Freddy Krueger and continue to stab.
To subject yourself to years of that is sick. To think that it will get better is psychotic. And to allow it to continue exposes just how much you love yourself. You enter into a relationship with another person to make each other better, not worse. There are people who bring out the worst in us and there are people, praise God, who bring out the best.
Life is too short and you are not the Wolverine. You have been taking cuts for far too long. It’s time for you to make some cuts and empty your life of all those carrying knives. This will be the best Independence Day of all!
If God only gave us 10 times during our life to lose our cool and then we would die, I wonder how many of us would still be here?
God, wanting us to do the right thing, knew that by giving us intellect that we would figure out what the right thing to do would be. He also, in his infinite wisdom, knew that we would need something to fuel our bodies to action for the right thing. We not only need to understand the right thing to do but he gave us something to energize that effort. He gave us anger.
Anger belongs to us. It is supposed to be the fuel that makes us move NOW. Consider this: We know the bible teaches us to be angry, but sin not. And to not allow the sun to go down on our wrath. Then the Apostle Paul gives the example of when Peter was to be blamed he withstood him to his face and he didn’t let an hour go by before doing it. We were never taught to allow wrongdoing, but to challenge it with truth.
Now, in our society we love to waste time talking about things and saying what we’re going to do without doing a thing. We love to share our stories with others to gain support and we love to make empty promises about what we’re going to do in retaliation — and it’s all talk for the most part.
This foolish effort runs on anger. God expects us to own our anger and let it be the fuel for resolution. Anger was supposed to compel us to do the right thing immediately. To respond to things that make us uncomfortable we need a little anger. Anger is not bad. Doing the wrong thing with anger is bad.
So the lesson here is easy: When something angers you, speak to it immediately. You owe your brothers and sisters that right in Christ. So don’t punk out! Own your anger and speak the truth in love.