Renew Your Effort to Think Beyond the Material World

Even Christians get caught up in aspects of the desire for things; it is easy to do.

Mor More More – images from pixabay.com

Once we have our daily needs fulfilled and begin to find we have a little  extra money for an extra thing or two; then three; then four . . . etc. we are in danger of filling our lives with unnecessary “things”.   Or, we find we can afford a bigger house or a better car and so it goes.  It may come to pass we discover we are flirting with becoming greedy. What then could make it worse, we may compare our behavior to others who may have become obsessed with “things”, “wealth” and “luxuries” way beyond our level of materialism. So we might smuggly think, “I may be a little materialistic but NOT LIKE them . . . “.  

Put you money in the plate please – images from pixabay.com

You get the picture.  Perhaps it is a good time to review what the Word of GOD teaches and compare how we behave with GOD’s standard:

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 John 2:16 ESV

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 Timothy 6:9-10ESV

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Rolls Royce – images from pixabay.com

This temptation and its negative effects are nothing new:

Easy to Ask for Money – images from pixabay.com

Proverbs 22:7 ESV

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.

The symbols for wealth may change but the internal desire and attitude is the same.

Worship of Money – images from pixabay.com

 

Food

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Cornucopia – images from pixabay.com

Food: necessary for life, social consumption is important; Food is: an industry, an asset, abused, hoarded and a temptation for gluttony.

What is gluttony? It seems to me it can be as simple as over eating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluttony

GOD provides people what they need to survive: water, air and food.  When we are blessed with abundance we often fall to the temptation to overeat; perhaps overeat again, again, again and again.  There may be less privileged people near yet, we may consume much more than we need and not share with widows or orphans and others without proper food supplies. Worse? We may justify our behavior by blaming them for their predicament: “they are lazy”; “they are wasteful”; “they are sinners”.

All – – images from pixabay.com EXCEPT Luxury Liner Illustration: Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “DINNER [held by] HAMBURG-AMERICA
Fine Dining: Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Jose Limon with Mary Wigman” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 25, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/0c6c63a0-bde3-0131-3767-58d385a7bbd0

If the world was populated by people without sin then the existence of the poor, orphans and widows would not be so precarious. Perhaps wars, famines and plagues would not decimate groups of people. Since it is not so, even if all Christians living right now behaved as the first ones just after Our Lord’s Crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension there would still be great need in the world. We are saved for eternity but still sinners and, still the many unsaved people insure that there will be a need.

Migrant-mother – images from pixabay.com

Do not despair; their need gives we Christians an opportunity to express our gratitude for Jesus redeeming us and an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that GOD cares for us all.

 

GOD Spells Out what we Should Do: express GOD’s Love by caring enough for others by sharing what we have and helping them.

Luke 14:13 ESV 

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

Proverbs 23:20 ESV 

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,

Leviticus 19:9-10 ESV 

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

Isaiah 1:17 ESV 

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

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Is Honesty the Best Policy

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Honesty – image from pixabay.com

Is it possible to be honest all the time?

As I grew from childhood into adulthood I took the instruction from my family and church seriously concerning telling the truth (even though I saw a wink from a family member now and again). Movies and television programs (especially for young people) proclaimed the merits of being honest as a way to a better life.

My Father Explained What a White Lie Was

Truth or Lie – image from pixabay.com

My mom smacked his shoulder and they both laughed when my dad began to explain to me what a “Little White Lie” was. In school, in church and on Kid’s TV I did not get an explanation so I remained puzzled.  This conundrum followed me into my teens when my idealism peaked and matters such as misused truth, deception, hypocrisy, politics and human to human manipulation troubled me a great deal. Mostly I just struggled to navigate daily life always weighing these issues trying to reconcile the ideal with the reality I found. During my time serving in the U. S. Army the contrast between the touted ideal and reality was at its greatest contrast – I will not go into details save soldiers have a history of decadent behavior when off duty for one thing.

Deception – image from pixabay.com

In College I was Immersed in Postmodernity . . .

. . . and was unaware of it for many years.  I am a lifelong learner so eventually I acquired philosophical knowledge and a keen sense of comprehensive thinking (I am a product of a liberal education in that I do question everything and attempt to make sense of what I discover). Mankind experienced great failures in science and morality and this was perplexing so a philosophical upheaval set humanity on a strange course (see the following):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism

In a logic class I learned about faulty reasoning and fallacies: this gave me a great deal of understanding but did not solve the dilemma concerning “absolute honesty”.  One variable is how one defines honesty and whether it is in an ideal or in a practical sense in which we refer.  Words (languages) are powerful and can be used to a person’s advantage without too much trouble especially to the unsuspecting.  I could introduce situations where lying saved a life or lives but that may be an exception and it will do little or nothing in the quest to solve of the core issue at hand: how do we really define honesty and can we be honest all the time?.

Excuses – image from pixabay.com

Midway in my life – 35 years old – I became a Christian: “My dilemma is solved I thought”

Not so fast.  Rather than offer my analysis let us inspect what GOD has to say in The Holy Bible and thus allow you to ponder the questions about honesty for yourself. I already expect the comments will reflect whether or not, you are a follower of Jesus Christ (have The Holy Spirit as a helper), you believe in GOD at all or are a secular humanist:

Exodus 20:16 ESV 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Proverbs 12:22 ESV 

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Matthew 5:37 ESV 

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Colossians 3:9 ESV 

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

 

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What Mosaics Teach Us

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Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Mosaics create an image that becomes clearer with distance.

History can give us a clearer picture when we examine the past objectively and in detail as its polarization diminishes and our objectivity begins to dominate.  More important? We can gain a better understanding of ourselves by doing the same thing: self examin, consider different choices or seek new information for ourselves. If we learn from this we may even chart a new course expecting a better outcome. If you desire to acquire a good foundation for living well, doing good and opposing evil examine The Book of Proverbs in The Old Testament.

Proverbs 24:1-34 ESV

Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, …

 

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Galatians 6:3-5 ES

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

 This analysis works on many levels: sports, relationships, diplomatic endeavors . . . etc.

By the examination of a society or a culture we can learn a great deal about success and failure; hopefully what we learn may provide an opportunity to avoid mistakes made by our ancestors.

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

1 John 1:9 ESV

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 Sounds so easy but the historical record would indicate something different: Doing the right thing is hard.

Yes sadly it appears to be more difficult to make significant improvements than logic may infer. Perhaps freewill, ego, personal interests and persistence to maintain ignorance conspire to foil even the most logical and obvious alterations for “the good”. Something as simple as “Trusting GOD” does not appear to ever last long or become a universal concept. There are always recalcitrant individuals and backsliders it seems.

Part of Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Matthew 5:10-12 ESV 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 The cycles between good and bad times of the Hebrews written in the Biblical Book of Judges exhibits this human tendency oh so well.

The pattern goes something like this: When the people stray from GOD’s plan and drift away and even worship of false gods calamity is the result. When things get so bad that the people cry out to GOD for help a leader emerges (called by GOD) who restores the right relationship with GOD. The people prosper once more for a time but, the next generation that only knew good times is susceptible to falling into sin and disrespect for GOD once again . . . . and so the cycle continues.

Genesis Mosaic- image from pixabay.com

Judges 8:33-34 ESV

33 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side,


But that sort of thing cannot happen today; to Christians, here in the United States can it?

 

Of course it can and often does; it is even playing out this very moment. However GOD is slow to lose patience, slow to anger and willing to allow you  (all of us) to repent.  Why not do so right now before it is too late and let Jesus into your heart..

Psalm 103:8 ESV 

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

 

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Icebergs Help a Great Deal

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Iceberg – image from pixabay.com

The Structure of an Iceberg is often used to illustrate statistical date, natural distribution or even Human Behavior

Most of us know how it goes: we are in a ship traveling in northern waters and there off the starboard side (right side for you land lovers) and there in the distance towering above the sea is an iceberg.  The captain and crew know how to avoid the danger it threatens because they know most of the iceberg (about 90%) is below the surface of the water.  If you were not aware of that you would not get the whole picture.

Hiding – image from pixabay.com

Elijah ran and hid in a cave fearing Jezebel will kill him as she had done to the other prophets but the Lord came to him and questioned him.

1 Kings 19:14 ESV

14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Yet Elijah was incorrect The Lord revealed there were many who were faithful.

1 Kings 19:18 ESV

18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

So many perceptions about the things we encounter in life is like the iceberg metaphor.

How many would be voters are there for a particular candidate; we see the affluent and middle class  people but where are the poor; Where (or with whom) is the most wealth concentrated; how many Christians are actually out there.  I am not merely pointing out that perhaps only 10% of any group is active and productive but, I am drawing you attention to the possibility that some people claim to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior yet lack evidence for their claim.

Deceiver – image from pixabay.com

 

Matthew 7:21,23 ESV / 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. . . . . . .  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Erase a Mistake – image from pixabay.com

We humans are imperfect:

James 4:17 ESV 

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

 We humans often lack courage Remember (ST) Apostle Peter?

Luke 22:34 ESV 

Cock Crows – George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “If you are a hen then lay eggs; if a cock, then crow.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 12, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-2620-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

                     We Humans can rely on GOD

Cosmos – image from pixabay.com

 

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Truth in Business

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Shipping Specie To The Interior : Testing The Bags By Weight." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-cd8f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Shipping Specie To The Interior : Testing The Bags By Weight.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-cd8f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Some people attribute some questionable business practices as just part of reality.

A Christian brother who was the leader of a discipleship group explained how a Christian business person could be easily be distinguished from a “worldly” business person: “The Christian business person set his or her price as fairly as possible openly so a Christian brother or sister should not expect a discount (granted favoritism); the “worldly” business person may offer ‘special’ deals to ‘certain’ customers because of the way he or she sets their prices.  A business is a business and being such it must make a profit in order to stay in business.  The amount charged for goods or services must cover expenses and provide a living for its proprietor. Cost for premises, utilities, goods, shipping and so on must be paid before the business person earns enough for themselves (enough to raise a family as well in most cases).

It is buyer beware in the world - image from pixabay.com
It is buyer beware in the world – image from pixabay.com

I expect a good quality product or service from a Christian business person as well as from a non-Christian business person.

To expect “more for less” just because you and the proprietor are Christians is not fair to them.  The Bible does address a number of issues pertaining to doing business according to GOD’s standards:

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "A Chinese Vegetable Peddler, San Francisco, Calif." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a38c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “A Chinese Vegetable Peddler, San Francisco, Calif.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-a38c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Excerpts from GOD’S Word:

Leviticus 19:11 ESV

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.

Lying image from pixabay.com
Lying image from pixabay.com

Proverbs 11:1 ESV

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.

Scale image from pixabay.com
Scale image from pixabay.com
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "A character portrait. Alexander H. Stephen, M.C. from Georgia, the new chairman of the Committee on Weights and Measures." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c0cf23fd-1b66-fa46-e040-e00a18065ef0
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “A character portrait. Alexander H. Stephen, M.C. from Georgia, the new chairman of the Committee on Weights and Measures.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 9, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c0cf23fd-1b66-fa46-e040-e00a18065ef0

Mark 8:36 ESV

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

 Romans 12:2 ESV 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

AMEN

Use of ESV Bible verses: https://www.crossway.org/support/esv-bible-permissions/

What is Wealth Anyway?

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

Wealth – *abundance of valuable material possessions or resources

*[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wealth]

This post is a little different from most of my previous posts. How is it different you wonder?  It is about the current world order and the distribution of wealth.  Wait: it is not a manifesto of a radical social point of view; not about an ideology; not a litany of complaints. First I shall briefly write about the world condition and then emphasize speculation concerning current events as I perceive them. In conclusion I shall link conditions with wisdom from what I have learned and now believe. Let me begin.

Humans have discovered many things about our world that has contributed to the success of our species.

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

Science, technology, ability to anticipate, plan, test and pass on knowledge and skills have made life better for many of us but, not for all of us. The reality is, we have never conquered that trait of human nature that temps us to indulge in evil for personal reasons especially in order to gain riches and power.  It infiltrates even the best milieu and as our population increased worldwide so does the negative fruit from this self-serving tendency.  Fortunately today our collective memory about the two world wars of the last century has confined this manifestation of evil to a relatively  small-scale and not on the large-scale infestation of the worst kind that history reveals.  Of course if you are living in one of the hot spots where evil rules your world view surely must be very negative; this is understandable.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "View in the Five Points." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-1b4c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “View in the Five Points.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-1b4c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Even from a secular frame of reference people do not expect perfection in this world.

Yes we seem to have done better in many ways than what history reveals about past generations.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "A destitute family, Ozark Mountains area, [Arkansas]" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/629acaf0-fc0c-0132-ee40-58d385a7b928
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “A destitute family, Ozark Mountains area, [Arkansas]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/629acaf0-fc0c-0132-ee40-58d385a7b928
If you do study history you probably have recognized, like many things we observe, the good and bad times are cyclical.  Political, social and even cultural aspects are greatly affected by this cycle of ups and downs good and bad times.  The part of the cycle when good prevails followed by the part of the cycle when evil prevails.  This pattern seems to continue ad infinitum.  One old nemesis of peace and tranquility is a condition that arises whenever the disparity between rich and poor reaches a critical breaking point.  When a population arrives at such a point drastic things usually happen:  mass immigration, civil unrest, revolts and wars.  Does that seem like a familiar theme to you?

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

Today some sources claim that the gap between the wealthy people of the world and the poor people of the world is greater than ever.

Music Division, The New York Public Library. "The Piccadilly Johnny with the little glass eye" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-1630-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Music Division, The New York Public Library. “The Piccadilly Johnny with the little glass eye” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-1630-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

I can believe this.  I see in the news everyday indications of clashes caused by desperate people on the move in search of a better life.  The hopeless people flee anarchy, radical ideology and war.  Unfortunately some stay and turn to more radical measures themselves, by adopting barbaric and brutal behavior believing it is their only choice.  What is worse, people with criminal tendencies see this manifestation of evil masking as religious or political expression as an opportunity to validate their barbaric behavior.

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

Some adopt an ideology inspired by hate and fueled by anger because they are angry and they do hate; even if they have cause, their action only worsen situations that are already horrible.  At the end of this post I will summarize the direction I suspect our

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Destitute Ozark resident, Arkansas" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/5f12b7f0-fc0c-0132-ccb6-58d385a7b928
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Destitute Ozark resident, Arkansas” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 17, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/5f12b7f0-fc0c-0132-ccb6-58d385a7b928

social reality will continue to be moving toward if the current state of human affairs continues unchallenged and unabated, but first I want to write about what may help alter these negative social forces and what may be a possible solution.

Like it on not a redistribution of wealth will always occur and seek a happy medium.

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

In physics we learn that equilibrium will occur when two different things representing opposites, like hot and cold, dense and sparse, or fresh and salty water will eventually arrive at a point when both modify each other and neutralize the disparity.  The second law of thermodynamics.  Wait, are not humans infinitely more complex than a gas or a fluid?  True.  If we examine extreme differences between groups of people with opposing positions we may note some similarities from their solutions resembling the basic examples above in some cases, and less predictable very different results in others : 1) Human behavior is unlikely to end a point of contention with all the individuals agreeing completely, instead there will be a distribution of agreement and disagreement along a familiar pattern  – introducing the famous “bell curve”,

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

2) It only takes a small percent of a population to disrupt a solution, increase costs or foment discontent, 3) A total diffusion of any possessions, freedom, privileges or power may be unnecessary.  Not many individuals desire solutions that guarantee they will be allowed to gain in excess.  This is true especially if the extra benefits place greater demands on them who take possession of them.  In other words, a fair distribution of material gain, freedom, power and privilege spread throughout a population would satisfy the majority of the people involved.  Some would like more power and more wealth but others would not want the added responsibility that would go with it.  Whatever solution is adopted it would require periodic evaluation, mechanisms for adjustment and remedies for failures.  The group as a whole would need safeguards: methods to deal with disrupters, law breakers and abusers.

How is a more equitable world achieved?

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

There are many ways to redistribute wealth: a social mechanism such as taxation, charity, welfare, land reform, monetary policies, confiscations or more drastic measures like warfare, immigration, and lawless behavior on a large-scale.  If people want peace then they must address the problem equitably before evil harnesses the unsettled masses and we all move toward anarchy, barbarism and a return to “The Law of the Jungle.” An immigrant may send money home; a nation may provide aid to a suffering neighbor country; the wealthier societies may invest money and resources where there is a need – a need to cultivate a higher standard of living for a people.  In my opinion a more equitable world can be achieved but whether it will be a peaceful or violent transition remains an open question; an answer to a question that all people alive today have a vested interest in finding a peaceful answer to.

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

What if the gap between rich and poor continues or increases?

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

I have read science fiction literature and watched films that portray a future for humanity that is bleak, in chaos and violent.  Walled or fenced cities where “The Haves” isolate themselves from the “Have-Nots”; within the cities luxury is common and excesses abound; beyond the perimeter where the poor masses struggle to survive it is a “dog eat dog” existence ruled by cruel and violent people.  The status quo one day is totally upset when the security zones are breached and the deprived run amok venting frustration and hatred by attacking all who have “the good life” until an ugly equilibrium is established and a horrible dystopia is the reality for all people.

 

from pixabay.com
from pixabay.com

As a follower of Jesus Christ I believe the Holy Bible provides insight and the wisdom to achieve this goal.

*Excerpts from The Holy Bible:

      1. Genesis 4:8-10 ESV

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

      1. 1 John 3:17-18 ESV

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

      1. Proverbs 14:31 ESV

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

      1. Psalm 82:3-4 ESV

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

      1. Proverbs 29:7 ESV

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

      1. Mark 14:7 ESV

For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. . . .

*Use of ESV Bible verses: https://www.crossway.org/support/esv-bible-permissions/

Speed Limits, Traffic Rules and More

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Each bending or ignoring of the rules does not seem like much when viewed in isolation.

I have read about corrupt governments, terrorist enclaves, lawless no-man’s lands and places of weak law enforcement around the World. Maybe you have too. Maybe you think or even say, “I am sure glad I live in The United States.” You may also wonder how people around the world could tolerate or even support such despicable behavior from their fellow citizens.

Do we have the best country in the world?

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Quadrilles--La Pastorelle an avant, 7th" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Quadrilles–La Pastorelle an avant, 7th” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ea485310-0256-0133-db6b-58d385a7b928

Statistics can be manipulated, politicians can pander or spin things to suit their purposes – which are often linked to special interests – media can try to subtly sway public opinion . . . and I can go on with describing ways in which everyday citizens can be mislead or even completely fooled yet, what is one really big source of influence that can be used on us all? It is the threat of being labeled disloyal – or even treasonous – because of what we believe, say or do. This can be alluded to or even directly hurled our way when we ask too many questions, want to know how money is being used or disagree with a popular movement. In a country populated with at least 320 million people and in as large an area these United States of America exist in, a myriad of differences of opinion, views and expectations suggest life here can become very complicated if we let it. It is unrealistic to expect that all the people will agree about everything all the time. Still, as a Nation we have a remarkable history of sticking together despite our differences ( at least usually).

In The U.S.A. differences have been a source of strength.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Ausstellung Palast in New York." New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ausstellung Palast in New York.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-7d08-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

I can say for a vast land with a large population we have a remarkable ability to remain united (for all practical considerations at least). We do have poor people in depressed areas (and some exist almost everywhere), we do have some people discriminated against and we do have some people living in areas that are below the national standard in terms of what services are there or the quality of those services (i.e. Internet connection speed). Still, we produce plenty of food, have many great roads and even offer some alternative transportation options, provide mostly good quality fresh water for people to use and decent sanitary conditions utilized a very large-scale that is probably is unmatched globally. Still in the interest of fairness and truth, there are a few negatives I should mention.

In this world we know that nothing is perfect; imperfection exists even in the U.S.A.

Injustice does happen, disrespect happens, bullying can threaten some school children, there is hunger and homelessness even in affluent areas; yes some needy people do fall through the cracks of our social safety nets. World comparisons (though often distorted by scale differences) indicate we can do better, in education, in holding the cost of health-care down and in getting more young people into post high school education or job training. We also can do better in correcting the ddiscrepancies in income levels for men versus women, for different races and different regions. We also can do better with managing beneficial government programs especially when they are undermined by special interests and corruption. I have read that each year as much as $50 Billion dollars are lost to corruption in Medicare: if we spent $2 Billion dollars on enforcement of Medicare rules and recovered half of $50 Billion dollars, the enforcement costs would be worth the expenditure. Still, none of these (and a few others not delineated) upset me more than a negative trend I recognize in the everyday experience going about my quintessential daily routines.

Trend: Increasing willingness to bend the rules even break some laws.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Monkey's Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Monkey’s Sculpture at Nikko: Mizaru Kikazaru Iwazaru (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil)” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-c695-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Income inequality, corruption, over or under regulation and the subterfuges hidden in business practices of large entities (private industry or in government agencies) may be a big part of the root cause of this increasing lawlessness. To me is not a valid excuse for this trend but with bad examples I suppose we must expect it; to me these acts in fact reveal selfishness and greed that is even moving toward a disregard for the sanctity of human life – or at the very least a loss of respect for one another. Phrases like, “Every body does it,” ” it is a stupid law anyway,” “How else am I going to get what is due me or get ahead?” Comments like these indicate that the hearts of the people who try to excuse or defend this trend are being worn down by lax moral teaching or strong influence from bad examples. Before I write about the more serious aspects of the decline in the rule of law and weakened practice of civility, I want to tell you about the seemingly “little things” that for the most part do not require assistance from law enforcement, but, degrade the quality of life for many of us and, may be becoming more than just a nuisance or annoyance. These behaviors if they continue to increase encourage rational for bad behavior or the disregard for our fellow citizens‘ rights.

Little white lies and minor violations.

In 1955 when I was eight years old my father started to tell me about “little white lies” but my mother promptly intervened and with a chuckle tapped my father’s shoulder and said, “Stop, he has plenty of time to learn about that.”  That was true, and later I did learn that sometimes not telling the truth about what appears to be a trivial matter could spare someone’s feelings, avoid a senseless argument or avoid admitting to a seemingly benign “something” I may have done.  In all of these situations and many similar ones the “ideal” of always telling the truth, or emulating the myth that George Washington could not tell a lie, produced an inner conflict within me: my religious training contradicted the concept of “how things really are” and what in reality was the sliding scale used to judge what good and bad actually meant.  And now I have even learned that George Washington a father of our country practiced espionage during the Revolutionary War; though for obvious good reason  but learning of this demystification of a national hero, did and does make me feel like I had been fooled when I studied history as a child.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Evil counsel" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Evil counsel” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c84c4530-56bd-0130-bc4b-58d385a7bbd0

Like most of my friends and family I gradually learned how much disinformation, omissions of truth and denials worked well to hide my guilt so it would be recognized. I deftly learned when to own up to something so I didn’t get deeper into trouble or deceive in order to stay out of trouble altogether.  in fact the whole culture around me as I matured became a delicate balance of truth verses “little white lies.” Then one day “Bam!” I crossed a line and flirted with doing more serious duplicity; from then on my game of “truth and lies” matured into actually breaking rules willfully, consciously bending laws and even violating a couple of the “Ten Commandments.”

I had to admit some, pay the consequences for some, confess sin sometimes and wrestle with an annoying conscience even if I thought I got away with something.  In order to function I developed a keen “streetwise” sense about daily life and, often that spared me the worst of possible consequences that I could have experienced, for whatever breach of a rule or a law I was responsible for.  I vow that this article isn’t going to become an article of true confessions, I’ll save that story for another time.  I will only say this: the norm of the milieu from which I matured within wasn’t perfect but, there were invisible lines that almost everyone knew not to cross, or unspoken limits not to pass. Comparing that to today’s norm however, almost makes the past look like the days of innocence touted in urban mythology.

The problem with saying, “Yes that is the ideal but this is the way it really is,” allows for a gradual process of ever-increasing tolerance to whatever we may consider in our own minds to be just a “little white lie” and therefore “no big deal.”  Later I will comment on the standard I believe in by which human behavior is judged and why we are incapable of achieving “perfect honesty”, but, I want to emphasize this: in the absence of striving for honesty at a high moral standard lessens the quality of life for most people.  A better trend: trying for the highest standard one can achieve thus reducing life’s negative effects that come from one another.

Now what is the trend toward more serious disregard for others?

So, we accept some degree of hypocrisy in our world and even sometimes come to practice it ourselves – even if inadvertently.  After all, “Nobody’s perfect. Right?” One big problem with that: How and where do we draw the line? Who becomes the person (or persons) who draws the line?  Is where the line sits arbitrary?  Is it immovable?  Is the line extant at all?

Well, we have a government that creates laws and various “police” entities that enforce them.  Still with so large a population as in The United States of America there are way too many people to manage easily, way too laws (sometimes elected officials pass laws as to appear like they are doing something I think) and way too many people willing to bend them.  Even way too many people willing to even break them, so as a matter of practicality the degree of enforce is at best a selective process.  Having to decide which laws to enforce happens out of necessity because of the complexity and huge undertaking it has become.  And so, ignoring some laws and definitely ignoring some immoral behavior results in a de facto allowing them to continue (perhaps with a wink and a sigh) with little or no restriction.  Isn’t this the reality of life now?  So why do I have so much trouble accepting it?

In my lifetime I have noticed the gradual increase of the kinds of lawlessness that degrade the quality of life for many people: headlights too bright (or misaligned), increased recreational drug use creating a bad atmosphere (especially for children), the disregard for speed limits (especially in highway work zones), snow allow to fly off the roof of a vehicle and smash the windshield of the vehicle behind, non physically challenged drivers parking in disability reserved parking, using extra-large tires without mud flaps to stop flinging stones, non courteous driving (non use of directional vehicle lights, no vehicle lights in low viability situations), non courteous shopping behavior in stores or sloppy services provided by technicians, and, a sense that cheating is alright as long as you don’t get caught.  In a climate of “I can pick and chose which laws or rules apply to me, a degradation of the quality of life for the people you share space with is easily achieved.  The lax attitude also makes graduating to perpetrating more serious transgressions a lot easier.

A trend like this is not a joke.

Cheating on taxes, insurance fraud (especially with Medicare) passing in no passing lanes, shoplifting, Affluenza type excuses for failures to obey laws, pilfering, theft, larceny, brutality and with the diminished value of life where even murder for absurd reasons is happening.  Murder for a piece of fruit, for shoes, for a belt or even worse, just for fun.  One more thing, I do not believe there is such a thing as a “victim-less” crime in any case.  Someone does experience physical or emotional (psychological) harm even if the negative effect is not immediately recognizable by an act or behavior.

So to those who scoff at religion, especially “The Ten Commandments” and, scoff at the people who try to obey God’s Law, shame on you; I hope your distorted view of freedom in some way teaches you a personal lesson someday and you come to realize you do need God in your life. I hope you learn that lesson before it is too late.  We all need God.

 The Christian culture and tradition is the best for all people.

First, we Christians become Christians, not because we are better than anyone else, less likely to violate a law, never have bent a rule or have always treated everyone we have encountered with perfection. We have not always been guided perfectly by honoring “The Golden Rule,” have done unto to others what we would have them do to us.  We know we are not perfect.  We know because there is nothing we can do to gain favor with God.  Therefore we accept that Jesus paid for our imperfection (our sins) with his life and from the moment we believe in Him, He covers our faulty image and we begin to change because we are grateful for His work and the ability to begin to acquire a new nature.  We are being transformed from the inside out and that increases our sensitivity to sin so we can learn to turn away from doing wrong more and more each day.  But if we stumble, then we confess, ask for forgiveness and continue on with our transformation of becoming more “Christ-Like.”  We study God’s word and apply what we learn concerning good and bad, what is right from wrong and thus live a better life a little at a time as an ongoing process.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Botticelli, Uffizi, 566. [Nativity.]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 4, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6c65-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Yes there are fake Christians who exploit others, mislead others or violate others but those who are sincere, bring good into a world deeply steeped in selfishness, greed and revenge.  I believe God, not because I can be certain of anything.  I accept His truth on faith using my own free will.  For that, I avoid life’s worst pit falls that would be of my own doing; I believe I have eternal life; I strive to do unto others what I would have others do unto me. Yes through Jesus I am assured salvation for eternity and out of gratitude I try to act better everyday.

Conclusion.

In a fallen world we will never experience perfection but with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, we can do better and, at the same time bring a glimpse of heaven to a world that seems oblivious of God’s desire for all people: God wants all people to enter into His Kingdom and experience eternal salvation and become true children of God.  Free Will makes it your choice.

Excerpts from the Bible that promotes “The Greater Good.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future)

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A Or peace

Philippians 2:4 ESV (better attitude)

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2 Timothy 3:2 – 4 ESV (The way it has become today))

2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, Jeremiah 29:11 ESV (Future) swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Proverbs 21:13 ESV ESV (Ears that do not want to hear)

13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.

Isaiah 5:20 ESV (Calling bad good and good bad)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Romans 2:8 ESV (payment for evil)

8 but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

a Or contentious

John 3:16 (Salvation through Jesus)

16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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