Thursday, May 31, 2012

Land of the Free???

I found myself irritated today. My wife burst through the door proudly sharing about the new car seats she had just purchased for our youngest two children. Normally I don't have a problem with a product to increase my children's safety but this time I was irked. I am irked because both of my two youngest had out grown their car seats....that is until our state passed a new child restraint law that increased the age and size requirements for children to a size that some junior high student would need a car seat.

This irritation was compounded by the fact that this morning I saw on the news that Mayor Bloomberg in New York City is seeking to ban soda cups of more than 16oz due to "obesity" issues. I then learned that San Diego is issuing fines for people who throw frisbees or footballs on the beach.

With all of this I have to ask WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US!!?? When did these ticky tac little issues suddenly become the focus of the people we elect and place into office? I've come to the conclusion that when politicians get elected, they feel a deep need to validate their presence in office. Therefore, they feel compelled to enact some sort of legislation....any sort of legislation. That way, when they run for re-election, they can proudly point to how they made the beaches of San Diego safe from flying footballs or how they cut down on the number of fat people in New York by banning larger cups.

My fellow Americans, we need to be careful! We need to be careful that we don't allow our government to become our parents, telling us that we are too stupid to think for ourselves. The fact is that if I am too irresponsible to be polite, there are already plenty of other laws on the books that can be used to keep me in line. But my foolishness should not be the reason that the majority of people who are smart enough not to throw a football at a sun bather should lose the right to toss a ball around.

Think about a free country people have lost the right to throw a football at the beach. People have lost the right to order a large soda. Our freedoms in this nation are not something that another nation will ever take from us because the citizens of this country would never stand for that. Instead, we will slowly give them away, one silly law at a time, and our free nation will lose the very thing that makes it great from the inside. Slowly being squeezed away by an over zealous government, like a boa constrictor squeezing the life from its prey.

We need to WAKE UP people, cuz this is really happening, every year more and more of these silly laws get passed and every year we grumble a bit but then get used to it and forget and we lose a little more. Perhaps we should start electing officials based on what they promise to un-do rather than all they plan to do.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Would Heaven be Heaven if I was There?

One of the great hopes of all people of various religious beliefs is that one day, after this life is done, we will enter into a utopian state of existence called "Heaven." When I think about heaven, I think about a place where everything is perfect, the weather, my health, my interactions with God, as well as my interactions with others. That's when it occurred to me that part of what will make Heaven, "Heaven" is how I interact with others, or more importantly, how others interact with me. In Heaven people won't annoy me, they won't pester me, they won't be selfish, they will always make me feel welcome.

The problem with this mindset is that all my life, I've looked at Heaven as what will be wonderful for me. I've never looked at the fact that for Heaven to be "Heaven" for others, it will largely depend on how I treat them. For Heaven to exist for others, I'm going to have to be able to treat everyone with true and complete love....unconditional love, the kind that Jesus extends to us. When I think about Heaven, I feel like it will be easy for me to extend this love there. After all, it will be easy to maintain a positive attitude in a world were everyone is kind and nothing bad ever happens. The problem with this thinking is that for Heaven to exist, everything outside of who I am has to change to make life easier for me. In essence, when the external circumstances of my existence change to the point that I'm happy, I can experience "Heaven." So for Heaven to exist for me, the entire universe must contort around me. But what if Heaven doesn't work that way? What if Heaven is not how the world reacts to me but rather how I react to the world?

If that's the case, then Heaven is something for which I'm simply not yet ready. But if part of what makes Heaven a utopian world is how I treat others, why do I have to wait until I die to start practicing? Why can't I begin now? Most of us hold back from treating others with complete love because we are afraid of it not being reciprocated. We are leery around that homeless guy because we are afraid he might hurt us. I don't stop on the side of the road to help that person because I'm afraid I'll be late to where I'm going. I'm afraid if I'm nice to so and so they will just walk all over me. If we carry this fear into the next life, Heaven can never be wonderful because nobody will ever take the chance to love. I suppose if enough people would take the risk in this life, perhaps we wouldn't have to wait until the next life to experience this wonderful realm. The question I find myself asking is even if this world isn't yet Heaven for me, can I begin to make is so for everyone else?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Life Sucks......

That's a phrase I've heard a number of times in my life and unfortunately, have actually uttered a few times over the years. It hasn't been until recently that I've really started to analyze the meaning of that statement. Why do we sometimes feel that our lives "suck?" Typically its because we are going though a difficult time or perceive that our life has been harder than it should have been. When I think back about the times that I've been negative about the circumstances of my life, I have to ask myself, what really made it so bad?

When reflecting back, I've never gone hungry, at least, not because there was no other option. I've had access to family, clothing, shelter, etc. Yes, I've lost loved ones, yes, I've had inconveniences, yes there have been struggles at times. But, if I had actually stepped back and analyzed my situations, normally the reason they "sucked" was more about the expectations of what I wanted my life to look like rather than how bad things really were.

Somehow, I had developed a magical expectation that I deserved better than what I had. Where that came from, I'm not sure. The fact is, life itself is a gift. We've done nothing to be here. When it comes down to the most basic perspective, each of us is a pile of atoms, none of which are alive, that has somehow come together to form a living creature. These atoms have existed since the beginning of the universe and after all that time, a few of them have come together for a few years to form you and me before they fall back apart again and we are gone. The fact that we even have the opportunity to experience life is remarkable, good or bad, it is a gift. I've discovered that to be happy, I must learn to appreciate my life for what it IS, rather than what I wish it was.

If not careful, we can spend these brief moments on Earth miserable simply because we create an illusion of what is required for happiness rather than finding ways to be happy with the gift we already have.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chapter 12 "A Return To Freedom"

This is the final chapter of the book, leading to our final group of questions.

1.  Is God's greatest desire for us freedom?

2.  Has God created a realm that promotes or detracts from freedom?

3.  Does substituting "Jesus" for the words "truth" and "light" in the book of John change the way you read it?

4.  Does sin really in prison people or is that an exaggeration?

5.  Why do you think God chooses to be invisible?

6.  Why would Jesus not come to "condem" the world?

7.  How does the purpose of Jesus not coming to condem the world affect the way we as His followers are to interact with it?

As always, these questions are suggestions and can be added to or detracted from for your particular studies.  Have fun!

Friday, May 4, 2012

To Mate For Life

Over the past few weeks I've noticed a pair of ducks that have started hanging out near the entrance to my community. There is a little lake there and often as I'm leaving for work in the morning I will find these two bumbling around in the grass.  Whenever I see them I chuckle as I'm reminded that ducks mate for life.  

I've gotten to where look forward to them seeing me off to work in the mornings and greeting me upon my return in the evenings.  I can't imagine that ducks have very complex love affairs, but somehow these simple creatures with brains the size of peas, managed to easily master what man struggles with, the ability to commit a lifetime to one another.  They grant each other the comfort of knowing no matter what comes, they won't be alone. 

They are so good at it that this morning as I was leaving for work I saw them again. Only this time something was sadly different. The female lay in the middle of the street, a lifeless pile of feathers, while her mate diligently stood by, waddling in nervous circles around her.  Even when I pulled my car right up to them to survey this sad sight, he refused to leave her fallen side. 

I have to admit I spent most of my commute cursing the jackwad the ran her over as, based on where she lay, this was most likely intentional. In the end though, I was left with only admiration for my noble little friend as he taught me a little lesson in true love.  That love is a commitment and a promise to always be there as much as it is a feeling.  A promise that he kept.