Religious

Articles of and about the Bible and faith.

Abortion

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Another Way To Look at It

Organized churches usually pick an interpretation of the scripture and it is taught one way. This section takes some of these scriptures and examine them from a different view. Your author confesses to viewing them from a libertatians point of view and you may see the main principles under Libertarianism. Much of this discussion was originated at http://politico-cat.com/node/7 and suggest you review this page.

Employer-Employee Relationship

Matthew 20:1-16, Parable of the Vinyard Owner. I can remember being taught that this illustrates God's love for us. However remove the first phrase and verse 16. Granted one shouldn't take scripture out of context, but one should consider all of the words in the parable, not just the first phrase and the last verse. By telling this story, Jesus was apparently drawing on the practice of the day. The telling question is verse 15 where the owner asks "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? or is thine eye evil, because I am good? " (Matt 20:15 ASV) Sent from CadreBible

In order to understand the full meaning of the parable, we must honor this part and respect the vineyard owners right to do what he wishes with his property. Otherwise the answer to verse 15 is yes and the parable is meaningless. Do note that this applies to minimum wage laws and other benefits the employer grants. Also note that the employee has the right to decline employment but not the right to use collective force to require compliance from the vineyard owner.

Now to complete the parable, verse 16 and the first phrase are added. But do not disregard the rest of the parable which was used as a standard for the lesson.

Profit

How much profit should a company make. gives the answer if you are using a libertarian view.

Lessons From Life

The following articles are published with the permission of  Bunny Murphree  writing the column for neighborhood newspapers.  The articles are copyrighted and all rights are reserved.

Bunny is a wife, mother, grandmother, retired teacher, writer, and professional storyteller. For ministry needs, storytelling events, or for information on becoming a subscriber to the “Lessons From Life Column” for your newspaper or magazine, please contact Bunny by e-mail: bunny@otelco.net or call (205) 274-8719. Bunny is the author of “Job - A Book of Faith and Hope”.



Attila the Hun


My grandmother raised game chickens; she called them Easter Egg Chickens. These hens laid not only white and beige eggs but also pale olive green, blue, turquoise, and pinkish brown eggs. Grandmother always saved the colored eggs for us, kids. We had Easter eggs year round.

Grandmother`s coop housed a strange variety of these chickens. They all had beautiful plumes: some had lustrous coal black plumage with a greenish sheen, while others had reddish-bay feathers that were tipped in white, and the white ones with a little touch of various colors blended into their wings and tail feathers. To a little girl these chickens were a wonder to behold. Grandmother allowed us, kids to help name her hens. We named them for their colorful plumage or for the fluffy feathers that grew on their cheeks, chin, and the tops of their heads. Each one was different and distinct and had a name to prove it. I don't remember all their names but I do remember two very special hens. One was Miss Pantaloons because her feet and legs were covered in white downy feathers. I thought she was beautiful and so did she. The other special hen was a funny looking hen called, Miss No Fannie. Yep, that's right! She had no fanny. She was completely devoid of a sitter! No tail feathers or a tail of any kind.

But even with all the beautiful multihued plumes in the chicken yard there was one dark cloud: one villain, Attila the Hun. That Rooster strutted around the yard like a king. Even though he was small, he was powerful and frightening. He was always in a foul mood. All of us kids gave him respect and room. The spurs on his legs had gotten each of us more than once. The only thing Attila was afraid of was Grandmother. Grandmother said he was just doing his job, keeping his hens safe from intruders and the chicken coop under control. But to me, he was just an angry old rooster. What did he have to be angry about? He had a nice fenced in yard, plenty of corn, a clean dry coop, and a harem of beautiful hens. Yet, he was one nasty piece of work. He was the meanest critter, I have ever known.

We become incensed when a friend or family member betrays us. Even when strangers don't react in expected ways we become aggravated. We become rattled when our meticulously planned schedules go awry. We become frustrated when an unexpected expense destroys our budget. Convinced that we have some kind of control over our lives, we become irritated when faced with the stark reality that we are not really in charge at all.

If we are not in charge of our lives, then who is?

God is!

As soon as we began to understand and accept that God is in control, our perspective changes and a lot of stress and anger will be eliminated from our lives. If we truly believe that God is in control then what does it matter if someone disappoints us, if we miss our plane, or we have to replace the washing machine? All of these nuisances are just that - nuisances. They can not destroy or even change God's plans for us. The end results are in His hands. This knowledge will enable us to conquer our anger, deal with the unexpected, and adjust easily from our expectations to the designs of the Master Planner.

“Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails” Proverbs 19:21 NIV



Daddy's Sweet Potatoes


I was a daddy's girl. He was always there for me with love, direction, and encouragement. So of course, I always tried to do things to please him. He loved sweet potatoes. Mom usually baked them a couple of times a week when they were in season. Dad would cut his yam open and fill it with good sweet butter. Next he would cover it with brown sugar and top it off with a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon.

One day as I was helping mom put supper on the table, I decided that I was going to fix Dad's sweet potato. I cut it open, put on the rich, creamy butter, piled on the dark brown sugar and finished it off with lots and lots of cinnamon. Dad said it was the best sweet potato he had ever eaten. My ten year old chest swelled out with pride and pleasure.

After I was grown and married, Mom asked me if I remembered the first time that I fixed Dad's sweet potato. Of course I did. It had been one of the proudest moments of my life. What Mom told me next also makes it one of the sweetest memories of my life.

You see, in my excitement and haste, I had mistakenly gotten the jar of celery seed instead of the cinnamon. I guess all that I saw was the big “C” on the jar. My daddy had eaten that sweet potato covered in celery seeds without so much as a flinch in order to make a little girl proud.

How like our Heavenly Father, God takes our mistaken efforts and receives them as acts of love. God judges our motives and the love in our hearts. We must remember that our Heavenly Father sees the motive of our hearts even when we mess up.

It really used to bother me when I heard people say that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

I knew that I had a lot of good ideas, plans, and intentions that just never came to pass. Would God really hold me accountable for those ideas, plans, and intentions that had not been fulfilled?

Then I found the story of David in II Samuel 7 and Chronicles 22. David wanted to build a temple for God. God did not allow him to build the temple. But God still honored David's desire and intent to honor Him with a house. Praise His Holy Name, God honors our heart felt intentions even if we do not get to fulfill them.

Just as God looks past our failed intentions and mistakes, we must look past the failed intentions and mistakes of our fellow Christians. We must ask God to show us the motives of their heart. Surely they meant to sprinkle on the cinnamon instead of the celery seed!

“For the word of God is quick and powerful, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12



Three Men -- Three Loves


How could I choose--three men, three loves? Each special, each different, each unique, each mine to have and to hold. How could I choose? Surely, I have enough love for all three. Surely, I can keep them all happy and content. My life would be incomplete if I should lose any one of them, my three men--my three loves.

My first love stands tall, tan, and slim. His clear blue eyes look into the very depth of my soul. His gentle voice dispels fear and dread. His hands, rough from hard work, tenderly brush away a tear from my cheek. His wide toothy grin of approval causes my spirit to soar. Always watching, guiding, and counseling, he molds and directs my every path. Even when physically absent, his words of direction and counsel still linger in my ears, helping me choose the correct path. This knowing, world-wise man reveals to me the truth, the beauty, and the pitfalls of life. My teacher, the overseer of my youth, laughs and cries with me--a teacher who never takes advantage of my wide-eyed innocence.

To this man, I give my heart, my mind, my character. I have faith in him. I trust him. My love for him is true and everlasting.

I call him - Daddy.

Walking beside me down the long center aisle, Daddy supports me with his love. Reluctantly, he places my hand--my life--into the hand of my second love. My new love welcomes me into his life with gentleness and passion. His sparkling brown eyes reflect his love and commitment to me. His silky raven-black hair adds dignity to his otherwise boyish charm. His thin, perfectly shaped lips turn up at the corners warming me with joy. He introduces me to a new world of adventure and responsibility. His flexible nature supports and encourages me through all my trials and errors. His kind, patient love steadfastly stands beside me in a turbulent world. His good humor and optimism never give in to despair. Together we are students of life; together we are one; together we grow old; together we endure and overcome; together we laugh and cry; together we live and build. To this gentle, strong man, I give my heart, my body, my life. I have faith in him. I trust him. My love for him is true and everlasting.

I call him husband, friend, lover.

Husband, friend, lover--places in my arms my third love. I look on the soft pink face. Brownish-green eyes twinkle under a cap of black curly locks. Pure unadulterated love bubbles forth from my innermost being. His demanding, impatient cries bring contentment not resentment to my busy life. I become his teacher, maid, nurse, and love slave. No matter what time of day or night, if he needs me, I am there. I feel his pain when he hurts; I feel his joy when he laughs. He brings into my life both intense gladness and intense sorrow. To this little man, I give my heart, my protection, my life. I have faith in him. I trust him. My love for him is true and everlasting.

I call him - Baby son.

Daddy, Husband, Son, three--three loves, choose between them, never! Each of them willingly share my life and love. Each of them growing and changing yet each still firmly rooted in my heart. Their every victory and defeat strengthen my faith in them. Their daily lives prove my trust in them. My love is true and everlasting for my three men--my three loves.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. . . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” I Corinthians 13:4 NIV



And I Love You

This is column is a little shorter and more personal than usual. But for Mother’s Day I want to remember my Mom, Ethelyn Jane Machen. I must tell you that I had the World’s Greatest Mom. Oh, yeah she made mistakes. But there was never a time in my whole life that I didn’t know that she loved me and wanted what was best for me. She passed away May 30, 2007.

I had spent the day with her that day and she was in good spirits and feeling well. As I was leaving to go home, I gave her a hug and told her that I loved her. She replied, “And I love you.”

It took the usual hour and fifteen minutes to drive home. We had been home about 10 minutes when the phone rang telling me that my Mom had passed away – a massive heart attack.

I never really thought about it until after my Mother passed away. But you see, whenever I told Mom that I loved her she never said I love you, too. She always said “AND I LOVE, YOU.”

It so easy for us to say, “I love you too, me too, or ditto. “ But Mom wanted to make sure that I knew that she loved me. She never replied with an also or an afterthought. But she took the time to make it special with “AND I love you.”

It is so easy for us to just give the also or pat answer without putting any thought into it. But each of us should let those we love know that our love is more than a ditto. Tell someone you love today how much they mean to you and make it special.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beliveth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16



Papa

As a young child, I had the privilege of living up the hill from my great-grand parents, Momma and Poppa. Poppa was retired and could always be found at home, church or the city library. His four passions in life were his God, his family, his books, and his flowers. I often found him behind his house working in his flower garden. I loved to watch him work with his flowers, especially the roses. His short little body was either bent low over a bush or stretching up high to tie the climbers to the trellis. The very top of his bald head shining in the sun, with the soft white fluff surrounding his head just above and around his ears made me think of a little old monk. All he needed to complete this image was a long black robe, rope belt, and a silver cross. But instead he always had on dark slacks, a white shirt, and black suspenders. In colder weather, an old wool jacket with leather patches on the sleeves was added to his wardrobe. Even with a shovel or rake in his dirty hands he looked more like a banker than a gardener. In the spring there were golden daffodils, red, yellow, and purple tulips, and iris of purple. In the summer there were fragrant roses, bright orange day lilies, delicate white daisies, multi-hued snapdragons, vivid Sweet Williams, huge hollyhocks, and colorful but stinky marigolds. In the late summer and early fall there were huge sunflowers, and flashy chrysanthemums. Even in the winter there were vibrant pansies among the evergreens. Besides the flowers the grounds were also filled with rock gardens, gold fish ponds, bee hives, and birdhouses - everything to make it a wonderland for a little girl. Poppa loved all his flowers but the roses were his favorite. His garden was filled with fragrant pink, red, yellow, and white roses. Most of them were imported Old Garden Roses from England, Europe, and the Mediterranean. He used these beautiful old style rose bushes as alternatives to fences and walls, the sharp thorns deterring unwelcome visitors. Poppa was always working, planting, mulching, staking, pruning, weeding, and cutting bouquets to share with family and friends.

Fifty some odd years ago there were no meteorologists to warn of bad weather. But somehow Poppa’s old joints always seemed to know when a storm was coming. Often in the early spring his whole garden would be covered with Momma’s colorful quilts and wool blankets. Frequently, Poppa hurried out, cutting as many fresh flowers as he could before they were bruised by the storm. As soon as the storm passed, Poppa was back in the garden, back bent low, gently staking up the broken plants so that they could regain their strength, straighten up, and bloom again. God, the Master Gardener, knows when to cover His precious blossoms. He knows which tender young buds and mature flowers must be removed from the garden of life to keep them from being crushed by the storm. Even the ones that are left to weather the wind, rain, and hail are not forgotten.

For as soon as the clouds are blown away God comes with his gentle loving hands, bends over the broken and bruised ones and stakes them up so that His garden will once again grow, bloom, and reach for the sun.

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; . . . .” Isaiah 49:16 “For the Lord thy God is a merciful God; he will not forsake thee. . . “ Deuteronomy 4:31



The Ten percent

My grandmother was short and plump but not fat. Her cotton house dress was always cinched in at the waist by an ever present apron. As a child I thought she looked like a pillow with a brightly colored ribbon tied tightly around its center – soft and comfy. Her snow white hair was twisted into a bun with soft wisps flying around her wrinkled face. Her strong hands were rough and callused. Her greenish brown eyes sparkled with a love of life, never revealing the hardships she had experienced. She was raised in a well- to-do city family in the late 1800’s. Everything she needed was provided except time to be a child. She was the oldest daughter of a sickly mother. At age ten she became her mother’s nurse, nanny for her five siblings, and in charge of the kitchen. Between school and her house hold responsibilities she had little time for a social life. Subsequently she fell in love with the first man who paid her any attention, a rural backwoods farmer, who delivered fresh produce to her kitchen door. She left a large white house with electric lights, running water, Persian rugs, indoor plumbing and endless chores to live in a log cabin with kerosene lamps, a bucket in the well, dirt floors, an out house, and endless chores. For years this log cabin was furnished with little more than love, children, and heartaches. She had five children. She witnessed the deaths of three of them: one as toddler, one as a teenager and one as an adult. Long before there were social services or educational resources she struggled to raise a special needs child. When most folks her age were retired she still worked as a substitute teacher. She also supplemented her meager income by raising and selling game chicken, rabbits, goats, and sheep. She gardened and canned all summer. She managed to do all this while caring for her husband who had been injured in an accident, losing an eye and the partial use of one leg. Yet even with all the heartache and hardships, I never once heard her complain. Whenever anyone asked her how she was she would always say, “Well, if I was any better I would have to be twins.”

One day I asked her why she never complained. This was her reply: “Honey, I don’t complain because I have discovered that ninety per cent of the people really don’t care about my problems and the other ten percent are actually glad I’m the one with the problem.” Now I know this sounds cynical but is it based in truth? We often greet people with a cheerful, "How are you!" -- but the last thing we want is for them to actually tell us! Are we really concerned with another person’s problems? Do we have compassion? Have our hearts been hardened by the chronic whiners? Causing us to assume that everyone with a problem is just a “poor me” complainer. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about compassion. We will begin with the Wikipedia definition of Compassion. “Compassion is an emotion that is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another; to show special kindness to those who suffer. Compassion essentially arises through empathy, and is often characterized through actions, wherein a person acting with compassion will seek to aid those they feel compassionate for.” Wikipedia tells us that compassion begins with empathy. So what is empathy? Empathy is the ability to feel the suffering of others, along with the desire to free them from their pain. In our busy, hectic lives, it is easy for us to become so focused on self that empathy dries up. We must rebuild compassion and empathy in our lives. Instead of running from those in pain we should tenderly move toward them. Compassion should be the rule of our lives.

Like Grandmother, we need to keep whining out of our lives and say “If I was any better I would be twins.” But unlike Grandmother, we must never assume that no one cares. We should reach out to our family and our friends in time of need – be it theirs or ours. We must never forget that we have a tender Heavenly Father who cares for and loves us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“A new commandment I give unto you, That you ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. John13: 34-35

Sermon Topics I Haven’t Seen and Other Stories about my Mother.

By Felix Bearden (Abuelo)

When I thought I was an adult, my mother and dad were having a discussion about the politics of the day. I, at the time, thought I was a Republican and was extolling the virtues of the presidential candidate, whoever he was, and dad was telling me that he was voting Democratic because his dad had been a Democrat, and his granddad was a democrat and after all Lincoln was a Republican and responsible for the poverty that existed in the South. Even though he did not live during reconstruction, he was well indoctrinated by his father whose fathers were in the “Northern Invasion of the South” as some call the Civil War.

 My mother revealed in the discussion that she always went with my dad so she could “cancel out his vote”. Mother would be considered fundamentalist by most. As I get older I realize that she lived her life and all of her decisions were based on scripture. Abuelo just discovered Ecclesiastes 10:2, "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left". You don’t suppose that this scripture influenced my mother’s voting habits.

During the Cuban missile crisis I was working at a site that was the precursor to the installation in Cheyene mountain that was part of our defence to a nuclear attack. My young and beautiful wife and beautiful daughter would be in danger should an attack be launched because of the information that was fed into that site. Personnel on duty had ways of notifying our families should a launch be launched. The safest place to be was in the mountains west of our installation and many families had contingency plans should it be necessary to evacuate. My mother, after learning of our plans, approved. Her scriptural basis was Micah 4:1 NIV "In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.", or in mothers words, “In the last days, head for the hills”.

 As a result of my mother’s, sometime rigid, interpretation of the scripture, but yet unending faith that they contained truth and applicable advice in today’s world, I was inspired to study the scriptures and try to apply them to today’s problems. I have come to question some of the beliefs of the existing Christian institutions. I felt It may be interesting to challenge and defend some of our traditional beliefs in today’s environment. This article concerns the disuse and misuse of our Bible and our Judeo-Christian heritage. It provides a different look, mine, at scriptures that have been used to promote philosophies, and particularly secular justification of activities, usually with government tax dollars, that may not been intended, and some scriptures that tend to be ignored for reasons of which I am unclear but think contain advice that our institutions have decided to ignore.
Issues discussed will include the following topics (I will try to keep this list up to date):

Note that the opinions stated herein are those of the author. For full disclosure — Abuelo is more of a liberal (using the dictionary definition of the word):

Not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great freedom in the constitution or administration of government; having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic, forms; as, liberal thinkers; liberal Christians; the Liberal party.


than a conservative.


Freedom

Psalms 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.” We tend to forget that freedom has played an important part in the development of our tradition and faith. Today many are willing to exchange that freedom (their income, their control, …) for a (possibly false) guarantee of security provided by an institution (the government, church, …). The holidays Chanukah, the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 — celebrates a victory over the Seleucids. where a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d. Many forget the numerous old testament stories of battles for freedom. Not to mention the Christians leaving Europe for the promise of freedom from oppression in the new world. The only promise at the time was the freedom to work and reap the benefits of the new world.


Sharing Wealth

A far back as I can remember, my mother taught me that I should share. Not that we had much in those days. We lived in a two room log cabin with a kitchen that was about five feet wide and maybe 10 feet long. And I barely remember the “Ice Box” which was exactly that, A wooden box that had a compartment on the top that held the ice and the food was kept below. There was a kitchen sink directly across from the ice box where my mother washed the dishes and my brother or sister dried them. There was no drain to leave them on to dry. But I do, barely, remember being told to share my toys with my cousins because I was blessed to have them.

We were always sharing our food with one or more of my uncles because we had it and they didn’t. Looking back, I’m not sure why because one of our most frequent guests was a postman. My mother worked in a school lunch-room to pay for my sister’s and brother’s lunches. From that background, even though I thought I knew what morality was, and what virtue was, I did not have a clear understanding of its application in my own life. Now I think I have it right. Morality is the obedience to God’s natural laws mainly as embodied in the ten commandments. Virtue is when you give of your self with no expectation of a return. An example of virtue is the parable of the “Good Samaritan” and “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”. I believe that the line between the virtue and morality has been blurred.

There was the time, and I remember the tail end of it, when we as Christians bore the responsibility of those who were facing difficulty. We did not depend on city, state and federal agencies to do it. In fact, we did not respect those of our family who took money from the government that was not earned. Now, we expect the government to take care of those problems for us. In the process, we have even invoked what many believe to be a Christian tenant to take from the haves and give to the have-nots. We have institutionalized, and made impersonal, one of our very personal Christian virtues.

One of the philosophies of politicians of all stripes, but particularly from the left, is the idea “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” If you have little, or nothing, this sounds very attractive. For those of us who have plenty, and have been taught that we should share, this is not all that offensive and in keeping with the teaching of our church. Unfortunately, many have seized on this to justify programs to minister to the poor, but with other peoples money. To be clear, this concept did not originate with Karl Marx but rather from our own new testament. From Acts 2: 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Note: I understand the concept was first promulgated with Confusius. (Contribution of a citation would be helpful.) Does the scriptures mean that we should have Christian Communes, and, as during the time of Acts, a government, like, at that time, the apostles, to distribute the wealth? Firstly, if you read the rest of the story about Ananias and Sapphira, you will find that that commune failed. Sorry, I really can’t believe a forgiving God would take the lives of those two Christians. Otherwise we wouldn’t have many of our members who pledged financial support to the church left. And after all, the punishment was because Ananias and Sapphira lied to God, not because they withheld money from the commune. Secondly, assuming that God is distributing the wealth, then, in today’s capitalistic economic system, who is to say that the investors are not getting what they need. The question is now obvious, is it virtuous for us to take money by force in the form of taxes, and give it to others, even though they may need it? In fact, is it even moral? (Exodus 20:15). I know, some will point to Matthew 22:21 ”Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” But read that scripture carefully. Government, Caesar, provides certain services to its citizens. We owe for that and should pay for it. However, what about the so-called services that are contrary to God’s law? What about taking, then, giving one persons wealth to another? Is that not a violation of "Thou shalt not steal"?


Employer’s Responsibility to Employees

We spend a lot of effort lobbying for “more pay and benefits” for our workers. We are very sensitive to “equality in the workplace” and “equal pay for equal work”. Our news media will crucify, at least punish, employers who they see as paying their employees too little or inequitably. One case comes to mind — Cathy Lee — who was criticized, ridiculed, and pretty much driven from the entertainment scene by “fair-minded” media and her associates because she paid employees in another country less than what they would have been paid in the U.S. Never mind that these employees would have had no job at all except for producing the clothing at less than “minimum wages”.  Better they should starve than to accept wages lower than what a number of “fair-minded” critics determined they should be paid.

And now, when we have an economic crisis, we expect our government to “bail out” employers, who have failed to properly manage their resources, including their labour costs. And what do you suppose would happen if a wise employer asked the employees to take a pay-cut to enable them to survive bad economic times? Do you suppose managers, who, after all were responsible for the bad decisions, would offer to lead by volunteering to take the initial cuts in pay. (Note, I am reminded that Clark Howard reported on a toll that said employees would take a 10% cut if they could save the jobs of their co-workers.  And, I worked for a company that asked the professional staff to take a 30% cut to save the company and the staff agreed.)

No, better that the taxpayer gets stuck with the bill or the company goes down un-employeeing large numbers of people than for them to give up their union promised benefits and corporate jets. When was the last time you heard a sermon on Matthew 20:1-16? I remember having attended a study of the scripture that in hindsight only emphasized the 1st and the 16th verses. Granted, verse 16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last”, does tell us what to expect in God’s Kingdom. However, verse 1 points the way to understanding another lesson found in 13-15, especially 15 “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” Another lesson is the sanctity of the contract. Verse 13 “… I’m not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?


Acceptable Profit Margin

A lot has been made of the record profits Exxon-Mobile realized of late, $22,570 million on $254,926 million revenues during the first half of the 2008. Because this was a record amount for Exxon-Mobile during a time of high gasoline prices, the implication was that the cruel “Oil Companies”, granted special privileges by the administration, was gouging its customers. But let’s put it in perspective. The profit on the $254,925 million was 9%. Considerably less than the 29% that Microsoft realized on $60,429 million in 2008. Looking at the parable of the minas we discover that Jesus may have given us a clue in Luke 19:12-26. Note that the master gave each of 10 servants a mina (a mina was equal to about 100 days pay). The first returned 11, the second 6, and the third 1. The profit - the first had 1000%, the second 500% were acceptable. However the master expected some profit on the money he left to be “put to work” because the servant that returned only the one he was given initially was rewarded with “you wicked servant”. Matthew 25:14-30 is a telling of the parable using talents (which equals about 60 minas). In this telling the profit gained by the servants never exceeded 100%, only 10 times the amount that Exxon-Mobile realized. In a capitalist economy, the profit represents the increase of wealth of the economy.

Applications

How do we apply what we are taught in our churches and synagogues?

I was There!

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, when I went to Martin School, a school on a hill above a baseball diamond whose first base line served as a boundary between where the black community lived and where the poor white community lived.  I walked to school which was about three blocks away in today's measure.  On Saturdays, when there were no other games scheduled on the field, the youth from the black community would come down and play baseball.  More often than my parents knew, I would go to the field and play with them.  Taught by my mother, although I not sure she realized it, I could never quite understand the racial divide that existed there.  The experience taught me that the boys I was playing with were not much different from me, if at all, and were by any Christian measure children of God.  My grandmother finally caught me, and that was the end of that period of my life.

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, when my best friend and I would walk to church down town through what now would be considered rather dangerous neighborhoods, in the evening, and back, in the dark.  My dad gave me a quarter for the evening, which ordinarily would cover the round trip on the bus, $0.14, and $0.11 for collection.  We realized that if we walked, we could spend $0.10 for a soda and save $0.04 for a later treat. But I was never afraid.

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, when I started delivering papers.  The route I had took me through both the black and white poor sections of town.  I usually collected from my customers on Saturday morning and often was met by men who had worked hard during the week, and in some cases celebrated the end of the week by drinking alcoholic beverages.  But they paid for the paper and I was never afraid.

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, where at church we were learning the evils of racial intolerance from our adults and from each other.  I remember discussions in our Methodist Youth Fellowship about situations and how we should react to them if we ever were involved in them.  There was never any question that racial intolerance was wrong, just how do we go about correcting it.  At the time, I didn't know about Martin Luther King or any of the other Civil Rights leaders. 

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, when we had blacks attending the evening service at our church.  Yes, they sat in the balcony, separated from the rest of the congregation.  But this was a start. 

I was there, in Birmingham Alabama, when my friend and I covered every corner of the city on our bicycles. And we were never afraid.

I was there, at Camp Sumatanga, a Methodist Youth camp near Birmingham, when all of the youth boycotted the swimming pool when a small contingent of blacks that were also attending the meeting were refused entry into the pool.

I was there, in Birmingham, when a young black man was accused of raping a white girl.  As a result of a debate I had during lunch with fellow workers where I worked after graduating, I was delivered an ultimatum to shut up or be killed.  The worst of it was that this was delivered by my uncle.  Was I afraid? Yes but only until I realized that I was doing what was right, and what I believed to be God's will.

I wasn't there, in Birmingham, when a group of men attacked a black minister when he tried to register his children in Phillips High School, my alma mater.  I have just learned that that attack is used as a justification for declaring the school a national monument even though none of the staff or the students were even involved in the incident. And the incident certainly doesn't represent the spirit of the school I attended just a few years before.

The previous testimony is not bragging.  For I was only a part of a larger movement.  A group of people that had conscience, and a sense of justice, and responsible for a minimum of violence during a transition that had been ingrained into the American Spirit since the United State Constitution has been written.

But now, are they given credit for what they started?  Are those who followed that lead recognized for their contributions?  Not if you read the NY Times, or listen to the proponents of the Black Liberation Theology (that followed by Rev Wright), or much of the news media. They, for political reasons, still want to tie extremists to valid expressions of dissent, like the Tea Party movement.  That people who attend marches and rallies and pick up their own garbage be accused of having racial underpinnings is like saying that our President and his cabinet do not want to redistribute the wealth and power.

A minister friend of mine in the Palm Sunday service said,

"You’ve probably have heard me say more than once that I’ve never found any truth in that old saying we teach children. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me.” That is nonsense. Just the opposite is true. The wounds from sticks and stones usually heal."

Tell that to the young black man mentioned above who was denuded for his alleged crime.

Where, a lot of what he says in the sermon is true, that words are often more hurtful than sticks and stones, and they are often used to incite violence and discredit legitimate opinion, the lesson in the saying is "Don't allow words of others control your actions". And therein lies the power of the "Right of Free Speech".  As long as we can hold to another truth and that is that there are those who do not follow the commandment "Do not bear false witness".

See http://www.politico-cat.com/node/40


Response to Evil

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil" Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


Started a discussion  to which I was unequipped to contribute.  It was so obvious, to me, that this statement was true and that the Protestant Churches allowed a rigged election to put Nazi supported "German Christians" in control, was wrong.  Note that I misstated my original argument as the ministers of the chuches failed to stand against Hitler and the Nazi and this was wrong.  The point is that Hitler and the Nazi were permitted by German citizens and the world to bring on the holocaust with little opposition.

My opponent responded that I should not judge the ministers because I wasn't there and did not know their situation.  As I recall, and, at least what I meant was that their actions were wrong.  There were certainly more to the discussion but I will spare them here. 

On reflection, I would like to make the following points.

As a young man, I faced the decision of keeping quiet, as my family advised, and pointing out that the castration of a young black man accused, not convicted, of raping a white woman, was wrong.  Steeped in biblical training from my mother who took me to prayer meetings, bible study groups, as well as making sure I went to church and  Sunday School, I believed that the right thing for me to do at the moment was to point out the evil of the action even though this was in a racially sensitive city in the south at the time.  I have never regretted that decision even though it made me a virtual outcast from a large part of my family. 

Thinking back on that event, I can't say that I had any specific biblical references in mind to support my position. I just intuitively knew it was wrong.  Even now, I admit  that I have problems with like situations that bring danger to my family by expressing my opinion.

It was later that I discovered a message to Ezekial that fit my conviction. Chapter 3:17-18. God is telling him

"17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20 Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and thou hast delivered thy soul." (Ezek 3:17-21 ASV)
Sent from CadreBible

I believe that God is speaking to me through that scripture. I may be wrong, but God will let me know when we settle up later.

Racial Intolerance

By Angela Markwalter

Being a southern gal, I have been unfairly accused all too often by those who are ignorant, of being racist just because of my geographical location and heritage. This is actually hilarious given the fact that I have often found myself more comfortable in the company of those of a different race or culture. I have grown immensely due to my exposure to the fascinating cultures and customs of those whose skin just happens to differ from the color of my own. And this is thanks to my extremely southern parents who taught me that everyone has value no matter what their skin color, religious preference, or sexual proclivites.

My father, who once marched for civil rights before Martin Luther King began preaching, and my mother, whose best friend in high school was gay, taught me to appreciate the differences and learn from them, in a very subtle way. They taught by example. I cannot remember a time when our home was not open to all races and cultures. My parent’s home is now filled with a lifetime of wonderful mementos of the fabulous relationships shared with people from all over the world. Buried in a drawer somewhere, my mother has a wonderful Lebanese shawl decorated with gold threads, castanets from my sister’s Hispanic Godmother, fabric handwoven in Guatemala….the list goes on and on. More importantly, our lives have been enriched by the many different experiences we have shared just by opening up our hearts.

My parents never had to tell me not to use the ‘n’ word. I did not even know the words existed until I was in middle school and even then did not understand the significance. All because my parents taught me to love.

But, I did grow up and as a result came into contact with those who were not as fortunate as I. I have lived all over the USA and sadly have seen racial hatred everywhere, the worst of which is not in the American South as some would have you believe. And I have come to the conclusion that the basis of this hatred is fear. Fear of the unknown; fear of that which is different; fear of change.

The problem is that of our anthropological heritage. In order to survive the dangers of nature, the fragile early man learned to mistrust that which was different and that which would change his environment. This instinct strengthened over the generations as mankind found himself faced with various marauding neighboring tribes who had not yet learned to be politically correct. To trust the outsider was to allow potential danger into the clan. It was one thing to put one’s self at risk; but, quite another to put your entire family and sometimes even your entire clan at risk. And, nature being nature, she reinforced this fear generation after generation by killing off those who were less fearful of the the stranger. Less fearful of that which was new or different.

Skip ahead thousands of years and now we find ourselves with this ingrained distrust of those who might bring change into our lives. Is it logical for our times? No. But, it is bred into us and is something that must be gradually overcome. Just in my lifetime, I have seen great strides made in cross-cultural relations and I take hope in the fact that at least most people are aware of the problem. Baby steps… That is what we need to take…

Now I am going to say something which will probably blow your mind, if not enrage some of you. Do me a favor though and read the entire blog before sending out the lynch mob. Really.

We should not practice racial tolerance. What did she say? I will repeat it again… We should not practice racial tolerance! “That woman has totally gone off her rocker! Why would she say such a thing? Hasn’t she just spent half a blog arguing against racism?” Yes. And I still am arguing against racism. But, let’s talk a minute about the phrase “racial tolerance” or more specifically the word ‘tolerance’.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word ‘tolerance’ is defined as:

1: capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b: the act of allowing something : toleration
3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4 a (1): the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2): relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor b: the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food

Hmmm… So we are supposed to treat those who are of a different race as though they are something to be put up with? Something which must be endured similar to my chronic pain? I tolerate the income tax; however, I loathe it and would vote to annihilate it in a heartbeat. So, do I tolerate those who happen to possess a different color of skin? NO! And neither should you.

The word ‘tolerance’ predisposes us to believe that we are somehow better than those who are different from us. That those who are different must be in some way inferior just because they do not share our way of life, our spirituality, our skin color. WRONG! If we are going to learn how to love our fellow man, we must first get over the idea that we are the best, the smartest, the most spiritual, the most developed. We must open our hearts and open our minds, learning from those whose ideas differ from ours. The only way to end the hatred is to stop paying homage to the idea of “racial tolerance” and start practicing love. Don’t be afraid.

Antichrists

By Maryann Purgason

Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit of the Lord God as you first read these scriptures from the Holy Bible:  Mark 13, Jude, II Peter, Genesis 3.  Check what I say against God's holy word.  You don't know me.  I could be an antichrist, one who deliberately misleads others about Christ.  Many, if not all, followers of Christ are acquainted with at least one of them.  Jesus himself warned,  ""Watch out that no one misleads you."  Who would want to do something like that?  Who embodies evil; when will he appear; what can we do to recognize and avoid evil; and why do we need to know?  

It has often been said that you can prove anything using the Bible.  You definitely can, if you pick and choose phrases, ignore parts and passages, and quote Shakespeare.  Many popular Bible quotes are actually Shakespeare:  "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is an example.  It's not wrong; it's just not Biblical.  Look up scripture in church, during study, at Sunday School, on your own or with others.  Look at the passages before and after the quoted words to ascertain the Lord's entire meaning.  

Sophisticated though it may be to believe there is no Satan, he is the main Anti-Christ.  He embodies evil, he constantly seeks to mislead us, his goal since before he lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Satan knows scripture.  He quoted scripture to Jesus during the forty days in the desert.  He can use people to mislead us.  He can use us to mislead ourselves.  Block him by praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance.  Some expect the Anti-Christ to be a government figure in whom Satan dwells during the End Times.  There surely are government and media figures who are Satan's henchmen who make evil seem like a good thing.  Evil is overlooked, not because of repentance, but because the evildoer has beauty, charisma, talent, athletic ability, power, money, influence, style, smooth speech.  An early Christian church father, Origen, predicted this, saying

 "...since evil is specially characterized by its diffusion and attains its greatest height when it simulates the appearance of the good, for that reason are signs and marvels and lying miracles found to accompany evil through the cooperation of its father the devil."

  Our time certainly looks like the prophesied End Times.  Those who were old enough to remember said that in Nineteen Fourteen, the world changed completely and thoroughly.  Once people began to discount the power of God in their lives and cheapened humans to the level of animals, it was easier to mechanize war, use poison gas, leave honor behind in the Great War, later called World War I.  Pestilence came in the form of influenza that killed millions after the war.  Economic stability crashed and people starved across the globe.  World War II was the second act when the Nazis and Soviets murdered tens of millions.  Our own new weaponry scared us, the good guys, and still does. with the power to  end life on our planet.  God has held us back, but there's always a war, masses of people starving, arguing over how to approach God.  New virus and bacteria strains threaten our lives.  It certainly looks like the end of the world.

Why do we need to know when the last day of the world will come?  Each of us will have our own last day individually whether we're here for the end of the whole thing.  Do we plan to have a good ol' time until right before it happens and then repent?  Will that work?  What if we miscalculate?  Can we really fool God?  

Peter in his second letter said to 'stay in the light", so where do we find the light?  We find it in prayer, in our study of God's word, listening to the Holy Spirit, living a life of love, not harsh rules.  Jude 17-23 describes the scoffers, then lists how to avoid their mistakes: " build your faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, wait for Jesus Christ's mercy, convince doubters, save some by snatching them out of the fire, hate the sin, love the sinner."  

When I began writing to prove who the government antichrist is, the Holy Spirit led me to scripture which showed my error--not wrong about who it is perhaps, but my wasting time studying evil.  Leave evil alone.  Know what it is, don't study it, stay away from it.  If we know what's right and stay in the light, close to God, we will know all we need to know when we need to know it.  Jesus himself tells us not to worry what we will say, that the Holy Spirit will put the words in our mouths when we need them.  (Mark 13:11)  Jesus said to watch out, so watch out.  Find the light of God and stay in it.  Listen to the Holy Spirit.  Have faith.  We're going to be all right.  He promised