An Encouraging Article – In a Newspaper

If you’re like me a little encouragement is always in order, especially when the world is going crazy and seems bent on self annihilation.  Well, a little godly encouragement came my way on Monday via, of all things, a newspaper article.  It was a commentary by Rebecca Hagelin and appeared in the Washington Times as:  Millennial ‘invaders’ find unity, strength in message of Christ.  I’ve appreciated Ms. Hagelin’s writing for several years and decided I needed to get hot and share an example with you.  I hope you’re encouraged as I am by this example of unity.  RMF

Millennial ‘invaders’ find unity, strength in message of Christ
By Rebecca Hagelin

In this picture taken Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, an exterior view shows the facade of the former St. George church, physical reminder of the Little Syria neighborhood, that now serves as bar in Lower Manhattan, New York. Little Syria was a neighborhood that existed between the 1880s and 1940s in Lower Manhattan and was composed of Arab-Americans, both Christians and Muslims, who arrived from what is now Syria and surrounding countries. Little Syria was a paradise and a poor slum, a way station and long-term destination. Its merchants introduced Middle Eastern food to many in the West. Its authors, poets and journalists told stories that bridged the cultures. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

This past week, our Florida barrier island home was invaded by 10 “twentysomethings.”
I say “invaded” because their laughter, energy and noise gloriously shattered my solitude. But they were actually invited, mostly because of the joyful noise they make.
These amazing young people defy the stereotype of their generation. They are accomplished, hard-working and thoughtful. Their speech is respectful and wise.
No drugs, no cursing, no drunkenness. They are polite and helpful.
They are of multiple races; they are male and female. One is originally from Nigeria. Some grew up in the South, some the North. One just got her Ph.D. from Emory. Another is a nurse. One has his MBA, and another is a certified marriage and family counselor. Two others are educators and still more are engineers.
Despite their differences, they are the best of friends. Their love for each other springs from the love of Christ. Although the world may call them diverse, they see themselves as united.
How did they find each other? Through a sound, biblical church. Would that more Americans return to strong churches these days.
These fine young people belie the headlines of discontentment with America that the media attempts to hang on all people of their age. Yes, they are deeply disturbed by the hatred of white supremacists and the angry verbiage they hear from nearly every corner of the nation.
But they are not bitter at the world. They just want better for our country, and they know it’s partly up to them to lead the way in their own community and spheres of influence.
I joined them under the beach canopy during my lunch break, and discovered them either reading or in small groups discussing life’s big questions in whispered tones so as not to disturb their friends. Fresh from swimming in the crystal blue Gulf waters, a few were napping.
Across the towel from where I sat, an unusual sliver of metal that serves as a bookmark caught my eye. I reached over to pick it up and discovered a transcendent truth engraved along the edge: “Never let the voice of society be louder than the voice of Christ.
“Where did this come from?” I asked Carly.
“It’s Perron’s. He said it while we were here last year, and made this as a reminder for all of us,” she replied.
In a culture of venomous speech, this simple admonishment can be transformative. The phrase explodes with grace, offering sound advice in how to express outrage at injustice, and the manner in which we should engage those who disagree.
Far from calling for a feeble wallflower or “flower power” existence, the voice of Christ is both “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.” He spoke truth boldly, He loved unconditionally, and He was not afraid to call out injustice.
Although Christ wielded a whip against the greedy money changers in the temple, he never brandished a torch to incite fear or spew hate at people who were different than He; Jesus never carried clubs to confront his enemies.
In these days of civil unrest, may Americans across this great land gather, as these young people do, for Bible study, worship and prayer. And above all else, may we follow the example of Christ.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at: Rebecca@rebeccahagelin.com.

 

 

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What is the fruit of the Spirit?

Here is a brief article on the fruit of the Spirit. It would be well for each of us to be more aware of God’s spiritual fruit in our lives and more anxious to fully ripen it. RMF

Wisdomforlife

20100423_what-is-the-fruit-of-the-spirit_poster_imgNine virtues make up the fruit of the Spirit revealed in Galatians 5:22-23.

Most translations of v. 22 open with the words, “But the fruit of the Spirit is…” This leaves it to the interpreter to decide how the fruit is “of the Spirit.”

The New Living translation (as it typically does) offers more interpretation by rendering the beginning of v. 22, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…”

Are the nine virtues produced by the Spirit? The one balancing consideration is the fact that each virtue also appears in the New Testament as a command (or with imperatival force). Are we commanded to love? To rejoice? To peace? etc… Yes. And this reminds us that we are not passive recipients of God’s work in our lives. The fruit produced by the Spirit is also required by the commands of Scripture.

Yet, if there is a…

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Too Quick to Judge

It is rediculously easy to jump to conclusions and make judgments before all the facts are in.  I suppose we are all prone to this very human failing.  I know I am guilty and wish it were not so. You undoubtedly read about or saw TV coverage of the horrible tragedy of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and it’s collision at sea with the loss of seven sailor’s lives, June 17, 2017.  (you can read about the USS Fitzgerald and the collision at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Fitzgerald.)  
Having served as a naval officer and Officer of the Deck (OOD), underway, in-company (i.e., not steaming independently, but with other naval ships in formation), I can attest to the difficulties associated with that responsibility.  From my present vantage point I realize that my desire to serve in such a position should have been tempered with much greater caution and far less eagerness.  Pride, I’m embarrassed to say, played a large role in it — wanting, during the period of my four-hour OOD watches, to be in charge of the navigation, maneuvering and overall operation of the ship. (For me that was aboard the USS Richard B Anderson (DD-786, during 1965-1967.

USS Richard B Anderson (DD-786)

I now realize, as stated by the author of the following article, that but for the grace of God, I could have been in a position such as the OOD of the Fitzgerald with my Naval career in severe jeopardy.
What seems initially to be a very simple task, i.e., sail the ship safely from point a to point b, may not turn out to be such a piece of cake.  And the apparent simplicity  may lead those without relevant experience under the same conditions to leap to conclusions regarding culpability when things go terribly wrong.  In the following article Captain Kevin Eyer does an excellent job of describing the difficulties and intricacies which often attach to shipboard operations.  His article appeared at: www.usni.org as: There But for the Grace of God Go I.  RMF

Fitzgerald: There But for the Grace of God Go I
By Captain Kevin Eyer, U.S. Navy (Retired)

The Bridge Watch – Darkened Ship

Captain Kevin Eyer, US Navy (Retired)

Regarding the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), the churn in the national media seems to have resolved to mourning the dead and wondering how things could have gone so terribly wrong. Speculation, including the ridiculous, is rife, and to most, the collision of a warship and a foreign merchant seems to be the greatest of mysteries. But to those who have navigated a crowded seaway at night, it is understood that the truth is likely to be much more prosaic, if also much more gut-wrenchingly familiar.

At this point, no one knows exactly what happened when ACX Crystal collided with the Fitzgerald , save for a few, and they will remain silent as the Navy conducts its remorseless, meticulous, and necessary investigation. Nevertheless, it may be useful for those who have not been at sea at night to consider how extraordinarily complex things can become and how safe navigation often must proceed from science to art.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62)

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A Curmudgeon’s Musings on Muddled Marriages

We spend years studying.  Some subjects we will never use — at least in some practical way.  Others will be of benefit to some phase of our life in significant ways.  But how much study have we devoted to marriage – a really, really important part of the lives of us who commit to this sacred covenant relationship.  Of course we learn a lot about marriage but unfortunately it is primarily by experience and often through very painful experience.  I’m reminded of the old saying that experience is a hard teacher — it gives the test first and the lesson later.  How much better when we have the wisdom to learn from others.  Through the years and through painful experience I’ve come to realize that I should pay close heed to what others can teach me about marriage.  There is much wisdom out there to be mined.  Of course the most important source is the Bible.    But there are other wonderful sources.  The following is a brief article, originally in two parts, which I ran across last week. I really appreciated the author’s writing style and  It made me think about marriage difficulties and muddles in a way that I hadn’t previously.  It will become a part of my thought process in the future when I encounter couples struggling with their marriages.  The articles appeared at: The Curmudgeonly Librarian  as: Smack Dab in the Muddle.  The  author of the articles goes by CSL standing for (I believe) Curmudgeonly Sesquipedalian Librarian.  CSL describes himself as: 

Old? Check.
Cantankerous? Check.
“Born again”? Check.
All the makings of one holy pain-in-the-, er, neck? Check
Plays well with others?  Not so much, according to wife!

Yeah, but I’ve been there and I’ve paid my dues….
Oh, I forgot – I am also sesquipedalian.  CSL

I believe you’ll appreciate CSL’s article and believe you would enjoy his blog.  So, why not check it out.  Again, it is: The Curmudgeonly Librarian RMF

Smack Dab in the Muddle
by The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  Many of the authors and bloggers I read make it a point to emphasize generosity and good-will. Two of my favorite bloggers are Paul and Lori Byerly, authors of the Generous Husband and Generous Wife blogs (I read them every morning, without fail.) Another example would be Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, who peppers his writings with statements on how most spouses are not evil jerks and witches, but truly do have good-will for their mates (a statement with which I agree, by the way).

Wife and CSL

In the second chapter of L&R, Eggerichs sets up the premise for his book (the problem of gender-based miscommunication) by telling the story of one couple’s disastrous anniversary dinner. He tells us that the couple in this parable are “good-willed”, and then proceeded to explain what this means.

 

 


[What do I mean by “good-willed people”? Simply that both of these people love each other a great deal. They do not mean real harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. They are hurt and angry, but they still care deeply for one another. That is why they spent their anniversary evening in separate rooms, miserable, wondering how this whole stupid thing could have happened. (And the reason neither will never figure it out is that each blames the other for the whole sordid affair.)] 
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Is the Adult in America and Endangered Species?

The following is a neat review of a book by Senator Ben Sasse that you may want to read.  The reviewer is Eric Davis and his review appeared at: thecripplegate.com as: The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review.  Eric Eric is a church planter who pastors Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  RMF

The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review

By Eric Davis

Eric Davis

He has been serving as a US Senator from Nebraska since 2015. He holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, St. John’s, and Yale. He has worked in consulting and was a university president by age 37. Sasse learned to work with his hands, having grown up farming. He is a Christian and has three kids. His conservative persuasion is not motivated by larger tax breaks, but by things like the first amendment, involuntarism, and decentralized decision-making. And, Sasse seems like the type of guy who you could chat with on anything from cars to Christ to culture while watch college football and eating a Coney Island dog.

 

For the most part, the book discusses how parenting and educational philosophies are the majority influencers on kids, and therefore, culture. Sasse laments the current scene of youth. And it’s more than a mere mocking of the 20-something adolescent vegging out on Call of Duty in his parent’s basement.

tfp.org

Even so, Sasse is upfront: we actually do have an unmatched, “coming-of-age crisis” on our hands. The unprecedented number of kids on things like antidepressants is not a good sign. Recent ADHD medication sales topping $13 billion is not encouraging. The average “tween” (8-12 year olds) glued to entertainment media about six hours per day is not the mark of an aspiring generation. Universities full of kids who crumble emotionally under opposing and challenging ideologies is not the mark of a responsible, courageous generation. Sixty-three percent of 18-30 year old males using pornography more than once a week is not a sign of maturity. We could go on. And, though there were some good things about the good ‘ole days, he goes farther than putting a chronological guilt trip on readers. The need for our youth goes deeper than having to walk to school uphill both ways in a snowstorm like granddad.

From the book, it’s clear that Sasse loves America but he doesn’t worship it. He values our government and constitution, but he does not impose a savior-expectation upon them. Regardless where one falls, I think readers will find the book refreshing as Sasse avoids a partisan blame-game when it comes to addressing cultural issues. He evades rallying a pitchfork-and-torch uprising against a particular political party. Nor does he portray himself as a political messiah with all the answers.

He takes a wiser approach by speaking frankly, humbly, and practically to everyday citizens. He just speaks to the everyday, street-level population. And that’s what I need as I attempt to navigate real cultural crises while trying to change some diapers, fix the car, and work a job.

The Education Situation

In large part, the issue comes down to parenting and education. It’s not only that, though it is at least that. He operates by the presupposition that humanity is born with a self-centered nature, thus needs to be steered in the opposite direction.

A few chapters are devoted to a look at education theory, though it is not only a book about education. We should not throw kids into more education. A broader goal is necessary; forming nascent human beings into wise, strong, and diversified people who contribute in a variety of ways to current society, while working to raise up the next.

Sasse argues that some Americans have placed too much hope in public education. We have placed expectations on it which it simply cannot produce. John Dewey, known as the prophet of progressive education, is largely responsible for some of those expectations. He elevated institutionalized public education to an absolute; a religion. Dewey said, “I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God.” With that approach, schooling simply cannot deliver.

Sasse argues that institutionalized learning does not best develop our kids. The increasing institutionalization of teenage years has made many young Americans less like citizens and more like cogs in a machine. It’s no surprise that many are floundering. “National greatness will not be recovered via a mindless expansion of bureaucratized schooling.” He cites a twelve-year, Kansas City study in which a few billion additional dollars were thrown a the public school district. Despite the claim that this would solve the issue, no demonstrable benefit was observed.

It was only in the past century that schools began grouping students by age instead of learning ability. Sasse suggests that generational segregation of kids and teens may not be the best idea. Perhaps it’s the soil from which the youth culture sprouts. He observes that childhood and adolescence are decreasingly periods of moral development under parental authority and more a time of unchaperoned peers shaping the sensibility of those coming of age.

Sasse takes an approach to education that is more comprehensive. It’s not possible for one teacher and one passive classroom K through 12 to awaken and stimulate the need and hunger for education in a child. Kids could be more developed if exposed to a larger spectrum of trades and peoples in the community (again, less generational segregation). The problem is not simply that kids are under-motivated. It’s also that they are under-exposed to a diversity of trades. Adjusting this could increase motivation. Further, education ought not only involve teaching kids to know. In the development of knowledge, kids needs to know what they don’tknow. That helps till the rocky ground of youthful pride, teaching them that the world is way, way bigger than themselves.

Some parents are observing the problem with institutionalized education. The current home and classical school interest is an indicator. Homeschooling is the fastest growing segment comprising a diverse population of a few million students. The population has doubled in the past fourteen years and is about half as large as that of all private schools in the US.

Parental Involvement

But institutionalized education is not the sole culprit. Sasse proposes, “The schools are less to blame than we are, for we [parents] are the ones who have asked them to deliver more than any mass institution is competent to produce.” In part two of the book, he gives five character-building habits for parents to help kids get traction out of perpetual adolescence. “All five require building scar tissue on purpose; bodybuilding for the mind and soul.”

First, discover the stages of the human life and mortality. Understand birth, the developmental stages, and death. Resist being cut off from older generations and human frailty. Flee age segregation. Kids should not have to wait until a personal, introspective existential crisis before they are truthfully walked through their mortality. Suffering should be embraced.

Second, develop good work ethic. Even if it’s not your primary goal, learn manual labor. Work with your hands. Endeavor in jobs for more than a few minutes which require sweat and pain. Experience a spectrum of trades. Appreciate the innumerable skills out there. And, in the process, find one of your own.

Third, embrace limited consumption. Understand the difference between needs and wants. “Gluttony is a danger we have forgotten to guard against.”

Fourth, learn how to travel and travel light. Know what it’s like to subsist. Experience other, less prominent cultures. Literature is one key way to do so. More preferably is to go yourself. “The traveler finds the larger world, but also his or her own.”

Fifth, learn how to read and how to decide what to read. Books offer literary travel. You can visit ancient Athens and Jerusalem. But learn the difference between reading and reading well. Kids need both an appetite for reading and a list to get them into reading well. Choose books that will stretch their minds and spark curiosity.

Regarding these habits, Sasse writes, “Most of our teens do not need more therapy or more antidepressants. They need direction about how to acquire the habits essential for navigating adulthood and experiences that introduce and instill those habits.”

Conclusion

Probably most encouraging was that a politician wrote this book. I don’t think Senator Sasse would first identify himself as a politician. But perhaps that is what might make him a good one.

I would not look to this as my primary book on parenting. And Sasse doesn’t suggest that it should be. I wish that more Scripture was brought to bear on the parenting discussion, but, again, it is not intended to be a manual of biblical parenting.

He wants to discuss how to effectively raise a culture who does not expect privilege without proven responsibility, affluence without skillful labor, and respect without demonstrated integrity. For that, it’s a needed book for our times. I heartily recommend the book to parents and non-parents; to democrats and republicans, and anyone who wants to think intelligently and tangibly about raising a generation better than ours.

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Look to Jesus for the Standard for Living

Here is the best succinct description I have come across for how we should live. It appeared as: How Do You Determine Right from Wrong? at: bobrussell.org. RMF

How Do You Determine Right from Wrong?
By Pastor Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Several Christian parents have recently expressed concern about the eroding moral values of their millennial children. Children who were raised in the church a decade ago are now ambivalent about right and wrong. What was considered abhorrent a generation ago is now widely accepted. What was considered proper years ago they now often regard as offensive.

Parents moan, “My kids say I have no right to judge the behavior of others.” They protest, “As long as people are happy or fulfilled they shouldn’t be criticized. Who are we to say what is right or wrong for someone else?”

Charles Colson

A few years ago Charles Colson insisted that no society has long endured without a common moral consensus. He decried the myth of moral relativity which produces chaos and confusion. Imagine a football game where there is no common set of rules to abide by. One team puts twenty men on the field. Another conceals knives up their sleeves. The game would quickly be reduced to total chaos.  Continue reading

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Desire Rightly Understood – Genesis 3:16

Genesis Chapter three has always been fascinating to me.  And verse 16 especially so.  I’ve never felt totally comfortable with the interpretations of it that I have heard and read.  The following is an article by Jordan Standridge that greatly expands my understanding of the verse and I hope it will be meaningful to you.  Pastor Standridge is on staff at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, a church which I greatly respect and where some dear friends attend and/or have attended.  His article appeared first at: the http://www.thecripplegate.com  as:  Four Reasons Why Desire in Genesis 3:16 is About Intimacy Not Domination.   RMF

Four Reasons Why Desire in Genesis 3:16 is About Intimacy Not Domination
by Jordan Standridge

The Fall

Genesis 3:16English Standard Version (ESV)

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to[a] your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.”

Footnotes: Genesis 3:16 Or shall be toward (see 4:7)

Pastor Jordan Standridge

I remember the first time I heard someone explain Genesis 3:16.  It was in a marriage seminar. Their view of this passage which is popular in conservative circles was simple, Eve, as a result of God’s curse would have pain in child-bearing and that she would want to usurp her husband’s authority and dominate the relationship. Therefore, the man concluded marriages struggle because of what we see in Genesis 3:16.  While I agreed that marriages struggle because of sin, I didn’t see that as a result of the curse in Genesis 3:16.

While commentators agree that God has cursed women with pain in childbearing, there is trouble and disagreement over the words of explanation that follow the curse. Perhaps the most common view of this verse, in my circles, has been that a wife will have a desire to dominate her husband. Recently, Crossway has decided to add this interpretation to their new update of the ESV, and they have decided to change the text from, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you,” to “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”  Continue reading

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