Monday, October 10, 2011

For Kings and Peace...

"I urge, them, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

This was the point verse used in a message I heard at church this weekend. The fact that I was there to hear it in the first place is great reason for thanks. Greater thanks is given because it was a message delivered by a youth pastor to my son, and his peers, the generation that will be tasked with fortifying the moral foundation of this nation.

As followers of a conservative faith, they are under attack. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They are the offspring of a generation that was brought up to believe that the freedom of religion, amongst other freedoms, was an inalienable right promised not only by our forefathers, but purchased with the blood of countless fighters for that freedom.Unfortunately, like the premise that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, that belief just isn't true in the reality of the world we live in. Because just as soon as those children step out of their home, and onto the property of our public schools, they are under precise attack to undermine any belief in God, or His ability to interact in our lives.

Not only has the Christian faith been extricated from our school system curriculum entirely, but a sustained counterattack against it's very existence is launched from the day a child enters the system. For not only has any semblance of the bibles teachings been removed, it's anti-thesis, evolution and atheism, are pounded into their young minds at every opportunity. The moral boundaries that offered stability in our lives a generation ago are rendered soft, and in-effective by 'metro-sexual concepts', big bang theories, and relativity. University students who lived a life of conservatism for the first eighteen years or so, are suddenly subject to concerted, vile attacks on the belief system they were taught to cherish.They are taught that everything should be luke warm. Racial, sexual, and spiritual integrity are disdained. Everybody looks the same, male or female. Everybody thinks the same, educated or not. Everybody makes the same wage, whether they work or not. And lastly, that everybody believes the same, that we are nothing more than random happenstance, destined to live a mediocre life of sameness with everybody else, and to die and be forgotten forever.

But here's the rub, the irony of it all. Christians are called to pray for "everybody"! Remember, "prayers made for all people." In particular "kings and all those in authority". And why? So "that we may all live peaceful and quiet lives."

The charge here is to pray for those who have authority over us so that, hopefully, they make sound decisions about the rules we are obligated to live by. That the laws that govern us are made with equality for all in mind. That the safeties that are imposed on us don't restrict us to the point of being counterproductive, and causing us harm.

I just can't grasp the logic of a world view that counters the effectiveness of a concept, that if left alone, would only strengthen everybody involved, whether they believe in God or not. Because the reality of it all is, if the true believing Christian where left alone to practice their belief that if they pray for those they love, for those they believe to be lost, and for those that have 'authority' over them, they have the right to exist peacefully with everyone. Content to live out their lives, along side of those that believe, or disbelieve, without prejudice or rancor. They would therefore be more prosperous, because the more effective in application of skills, the more effective in their personal, and professional lives through less time and energy spent fighting for their rights, the more benefit they are to everyone in general.

That isn't to say that Christians are perfect. Far from it. But by, and large, while all have come from the position of a fallen nature, most are striving for some semblance of the perfection they ultimately hope to achieve. Because of this, they know they exist in a 'state of grace', where to forgive, and live peaceably, is a divine attribute.

So why is it that those who don't believe in an all knowing, all caring, benevolent and peaceful God, are so bent on restricting the teaching, and belief structure, of those that do?

How is their way of life threatened by such a passive view?

Well, here's a thought.

One of the reasons I was so thankful for being able to attend church this last weekend was because, over the last year, those opportunities have been few, and far between. A challenging year, career wise, had left me wanting in the free time area. A recent promotion, however, lead to weekends off, and a Monday through Friday routine with some normal working hours, rather than the spastic, late shift routine I haven't enjoyed for the last year.

Through cause and effect, another thankful benefit was this last Saturday off. One I spent cruising the North Carolina foothills on my motorcycle. Where I passed a small country church that boasted a sign out front that read, "A questionable attitude equals a questionable motive."

Better said, "a bad attitude just about guarantees a bad motive."

So if my faith says that all I want to do is love on someone, even if they don't love on me back, why do they feel so threatened, if they in fact possess a peaceful intent?

That string of scriptures I quoted earlier goes on to say..."This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Maybe it's a 'knowledge of the truth' they want so vehemently to keep us from. Remember from your history, it wasn't until the invention of the printing press, and mass publication of the bible, that man realized that all men were created equal. Take that truth away from us, and we're back to a two class system. The 'haves...and the have not's'.

Given that, here's another ironic rub for you...

As Christians we know what true freedom really is. So, while we can certainly be taxed to poverty, restricted under law to ineffectiveness, and forced to endure the effects of a bad attitude, with bad motive, on our lives, we can't be forced to give up on our God who says "The Truth will always set you free". Because ultimately we know that while we might have to endure sorrows for a time, eventually we win.

Here's the last irony I'll throw at the disbeliever who tries to force his will on me. It is this faith that ultimately the Son will shine that gives me the confidence to be able to "turn the other cheek" to the open handed slap of contempt a disbelieving world view has for my faith. And yet, close that hand into a fist, or wrap it around a weapon, meant to do me or mine harm, and you'll see the side of that same confidence that has kept the Christian faith alive and well for over two thousand years.

For kings and peace we pray. For God, Family and Country we fight.

I am proud to witness some of our young battling, against almost overwhelming odds, to do the same. Of that number girding up, my youngest son. You Rock!

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". (Joshua 24:15)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Bears Tale.....

The roll model of my life in my earlier years, my step-father, was a hard man not known for his tender kindness. I learned a lot from him, in spite of his obvious 'dislike' for me. A venture into earlier pieces would explain that a bit, here I'll move forward. Suffice it to say, he was a large part of my 'tactical defense training' as a young man. It wasn't so much that he taught me to fight, rather, he taught me to duck. I learned to bob and weave, to avoid conflicts I saw coming. I learned to keep my eyes open, and my head low.

After 'becoming a man', and being shown the door, I rekindled my relationship with my born father. From a bit different perspective, he taught me some additional 'tactical offensive training'. As a martial artist, his take on engaging the enemy was the frontal assault. In real life there is no such thing as a 'fair fight'. As soon as the engagement is eminent, you attack. He once told me, "son, don't wait for someone to bloody your nose before your engage. Because from there you fight from a point of disadvantage. You can't see clearly, you are in pain, so therefore you can't think clearly, and lastly, your opponent enjoys all these as advantages of the first punch. When you see it's bound to come, strike. And when you do strike, strike to disable."

As a Marine, I learned concepts like peace through superior fire-power, advance and attack, adapt, improvise, and overcome, and shoot to kill. Granted, not a passive perspective on life, but then again, not everyone is cut out to be a warrior.

In my humble opinion, people fall into three basic categories. Those that produce (nurturers), those that defend (warriors), and those that depend (as benefactors of the first two).

Let me take some shots at these three sects of life. The first, those that nurture.

These are really the backbone of a society. They are the ones that tend the fields, build the huts, teach the children, and see to the sick or the wounded of body or soul. In general, they see to the day to day needs of the society's survival from a provider perspective. All those aspects of life that make it possible to subsist.

The second of those three groups, the warriors, are a necessary evil, if one wanted to put it that way. 'Thou shalt not kill', of the famed Ten Commandments, for all it being a basic law of God for His people, more often than not gets occluded by the nasty side of human nature, those that want to break it. As long as there are 'fields white with harvest', there are going to be low-life's that want to take them from us. We need the barn, and we need to protect it. This group is going to be comprised of all those involved with protection. Those that build the quivers, and arrows, and those that fire them. Those that tend the steeds and chariots, and those that bind the beasts. Necessity being the mother of all invention, if we didn't have bad-guys, we wouldn't need police.

These first two groups are easy enough to understand and account for. It's the third group that tends to blur if focused on too hard. Those that depend on others for survival.

A baby depends. In it's innocence, it has no concept, beyond the basic instinct of crying, on how to provide for or protect itself. If it's hungry, it cries, someone that nurtures will feed it. If it's hurt, again it cries, and a warrior will protect it. To take nothing away from motherhood, this often comes in the form of the same person. I've never met a mother who wouldn't feed her child with one arm, and defend it with the other.

Both the old, or the infirm, fall within this group as well. More often than not, they will have come from one of the former two groups, and thereby done their share of providing, or protecting to have paved the way for their dependence.

Our old need to be fed, and they need to be protected. The wisdom they have acquired over a lifetime must be tapped, if we as a society are to grow. We must constantly be learning from the generations behind to better contemplate the future ahead. Whether they were former nurturers, or warriors, their usefulness continues, and we must provide. A society that casts off it's old are a society of fools doomed to fall.

The infirm are our responsibility as well. They may be wounded warriors fallen in the service of protecting. Or, they may be the victims of sickness. If we expect forthcoming generations of warriors, we must have a history of caring for those who fall in battle. If we expect to be taken care of should we succumb to illness, we must reciprocate by tending those who have.

An unfortunate sub-group of this last, those that depend unnecessarily, are the dregs of society.

I don't have a problem with taking care of those who can't care for themselves. If ever I reach that point in my life, I would hope that someone would 'take care' of me. (Personally, I've made a pact with my brother should that event occur. We won't go into any great detail there.) Unfortunately, there is a vast margin between those that 'can't', and those that 'won't'. We have absolutely no control over the lot in life we are born to. But, given a sound mind and body, if we stay, should there be a way out, we become one who 'won't'. These are the people who take comfort in knowing that someone will always take care of them, even if they are fully capable of taking care of themselves. They make no effort to change the circumstances they dwell in, and they make no effort to contribute to the state that provides for them.

Another class of people, those who also dwell within this margin of those who 'won't', are those that propose that they exist outside of the requirements of providing for themselves. Those that adopt a position of privilege. Those that feel that because of something they've done, are doing, or intend to do, this puts them in a place where they don't 'have' to take care of themselves.

Nurturers and warriors can govern, for a reasonable period of time, then go back to nurturing, or protecting. Our constitution provided for leadership from 'within the people'. Farmers, defenders, craftsmen, clergy, doctors, merchants and mothers who take a break from those all so necessary aspects of life, serve to lead, and then go back to being productive.

Then there are those who don't. Those that like a bad rash, just won't go away. Like the rash, they've found a nice warm crack that rubs them just right, and be damned if they're gonna leave.

These are the real criminals of society. For a person who takes without giving, in whatever capacity, is nothing more than a thief.

Our original government officials served with little or no pay, by design. To lead was an obligation if the traits were present. It was an honor to serve for the bottom dollar, as our military still does, not for the dollar itself, but rather the honor. To make a wage that is enough to survive for the duration is acceptable. But to use a position of power to secure a profit outside of a reasonable pay is despicable, as well as criminal. And not to overlook the issue, those nurturers and warriors, who subvert any position of prominence within that field to profit unreasonably, and at the expense of someone else's pain, fall into that last despicable category as well.

As a civilized nation we should've been around long enough to have learned to pick our shots, if not our battles. If we're smart, we use the information of why we've missed to influence our choice of future targets. If not, well....we don't, and the generations to come end up wasting a lot of lead. That cycle keeps repeating itself long enough and one has to question the under lying purpose of why we're hunting in the first place.

Speaking of hunting. There's this hunter in the woods with a rifle. He sees a big ugly bear, takes aim, shoots, and misses. The bear walks over and says "Mister, I don't take kindly to being hunted. I reckon I'm gonna have to teach you a lesson". So he cuffs the guy, roughs him up and has his way with him.

A little later the hunter is still prowling around, sees the bear again and takes another shot. He misses again. The bear comes up and says "Damn boy, you sure are a slow learner. Guess we'll just have to repeat the lesson." And he abuses him a second time.

Well, sure enough, an hour later the hunter sees the bear again. And he tries to shoot him again, and he misses again. This time the bear comes over looking especially grave and sober. And he says, "Mister, I want you to be honest with me. This isn't really about hunting, is it?"

We Americans, as a republic operated by a majority, are like the hunter. Oh, we squawk and go about taking potshots at the unrighteous takers that are out there bleeding us dry as a society. But in the end, there must be more that like it this way than don't. If not, we'd hit more than we missed, and it really would be about the hunt.