You’re Fired

Recently a headline of our everyday, every minute news broadcasting the latest providing us citizens information on what’s going on somewhere else, by someone else. One headline in bold type stated: “You’re Fired.” The inside story was about a previous administration politically appointed individual who spoke against President Trump and his fascist discriminative ways being dismissed from his position. This brought back memories of the TV series: “The Apprentice.”

Hmm? Everything has a beginning, a history. Yes, even commonly used phrases have a starting point, a beginning somewhere in past history. So, I wondered where and when did that phrase have its beginning. You may already perceive where I’m going with this, but anyway here goes. I entered the phrase into the computer search box and up popped many bold typed headlines with answers, one of which was that TV series when Trump is facing the contestants announcing which of them is being terminated from the next segment saying: “You’re fired.” The camera focused on the look on that person’s face revealing the disappointment, the dismay of not meeting his standards of performance.

Another explanation referred back to times of clans and tribes when a person committed a serious offense and they burned down his home.

Another explanation went back to 1885 indicating that it was a play on the word ‘discharged’ which has two meanings: dismissal of an employee, or to fire a projectile or weapon.

On this earth of ours we see the effects of fire in Volcanoes, forest fires destroying neighborhoods, wild fires burning brush, lightning strikes causing fires and the casual burning cigarette being throw out the car window. We enjoy sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows. We enjoy the warmth of a fireplace and in olden days the light provided by a wick burning within a glass.

Interesting, but still not conclusive for me as I seek to retrieve older historical records of the first beginnings from the most read, most publicized book ever, the one translated into every language: The Bible. First: the story of the old cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when burning sulfur destroyed the area because of the wickedness.

How about this one from Isaiah: “then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me for their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched: And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

From the book of Revelation: “He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” 14:10

This also from Revelation: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” 20:14-15

“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, for it is better for you to enter life crippled than having your two hands to go into hell; into the unquenched fire. Mark 9:43

Is that enough? We sure don’t hear many, if any sermons on this topic anymore, do we? Why is that? Do we disbelieve, dismiss these verses as being uncharacteristic of the merciful, gracious all caring creator Almighty God, who wouldn’t or couldn’t do such a thing as it goes against His goodness.

Sorry, but “You’re Fired.”

Born Again? How is that possible?

It’s been told to us that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Huh, Jesus what are you talking about? I’m a grown man. I’m too big, and I just can’t put my mother through all that pain again, and she’s not around anymore anyway. Even if she was how would I get back into her womb anyway? Gads, that’s not only impractical, but it’s impossible. So how will I or anyone else be saved and enter into that kingdom of heaven. No way Jesus, there’s got to be a mistake here, a misunderstanding of some sort.

So, Jesus re-stated the declaration: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” [1]

Okay, clarify that some more. Like I stated before: I’m a grown man weighing in at 175 pounds, nearly 6-feet tall with arms and legs and two-feet which sometimes struggle just to get around.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ]2]

“Oh, so watch the wind, eh?” I asked.  “All I know about the wind is that today it’s blowing in from the north heading south and yesterday it was coming from the west swirling around a bit heading toward the northeast. And that dag gone wind disturbs my golf shot. It causes hurricanes and tornadoes too disturbing all the homes we’ve built. Yeah, that’s all I know about the wind. It’s not predictable. This is really getting mysterious. Jesus, why don’t you make it easier for us simpletons to understand. Yeah, for sure, I would rather go to that peaceful place you call heaven when this body of mine wears out rather than into that fearful tortuous hell-fire, but requiring me to be born again?

“Alright, Listen closely.” Jesus tells me again. “You were once born of the flesh as your dad and mother enjoyed that wedding night when he planted a seed within your mother. You were once a seed and now after all these years you’ve grown into manhood with intelligence and the ability to make choices and yes, to impregnate your wife for her to provide you with sons and daughters. You’ve watched how a tiny seed grows into that beautiful flower, how that seed sends out roots to absorb nutrients and water sending the vine upwards into the air to receive heat and light from the sun and thus it grows mightily big, the vine expanding into branches and leaves that shed a shadow for you to sit under protecting your sensitive skin from sun-burn. Do you not understand how this all came about?”

“Well, sort of, but really it is a mystery to us earthlings how it could be done in just 6 days.”

“Yes”, Jesus answered and started to explain it a bit more. “It was done so we’d have friends on this earth of yours to fellowship with and to love. Really it was not that hard, my Father spoke it to be and it was done. He provided water and the wind. You can see water, and you feel the wind. You only see the wind bristling the branches of the tree tops and sending your golf ball into the creek, but you don’t really see the wind, do you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“But you do see the water, don’t you? You feel the coolness of the water when you go for a dip in the lake or pool, but you do not see the wind which represents the spirit. When you put your hand in the moving waters of a steam that water passes your fingers once and that water is gone downstream as different waters now pass over your hand. You feel the wind whipping your head of hair as it comes and goes. When you stand in your shower the water from above passes over your head, down your cheeks, over your shoulders, your backside, your belly and, yes those parts your ancestors covered in shame, over your legs and down through your toes and out the drain cleansing your body sending the fleshly accumulated dirt into the pits never to be seen again, washed clean. That dirt is gone.”

“Come now and be baptized just as John poured the water over my head baptizing me and then the spirit came upon me.” [3]

“The second part is being born of the spirit which I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, [4] another helper, another guide, yes that spirit of truth that will abide with you working within you as it blows away the fears, the doubts, the ways of the world, the dark clouds hiding the truth, the wind swirling around exposing myths built upon sand. Your inner soul gets cleansed setting you free blowing away the shifting sands, so you can build your dwelling on solid rock, on solid ground becoming one of my branches reaching out to others.”

“A new commandment I give to you: to love one another as I have loved you. [5]  You did not choose me, but I have come into this world to choose you as my friend, not as a servant, but as a beloved friend being trusted with these truths for you to share with those that come near your path, and that’s why all this is being revealed to you.”

“Come now and enter into the Kingdom of My Father prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [6]

 

[1] John 3:6   That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
[2] John 3:8   The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
[3] Matthew 3:13-17
[4] John 14:16
[5] John 13:34-35   A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
[6] Matthew 25:34

Alone with un-familar faces.

The other day as I sat having breakfast in the assembly hall of a large church in Houston, TX, I was  looking over the crowd, hundreds from all over the country in small groups enjoying the chatter over the eggs, a slice of sausage, a biscuit with gravy, I caught myself scanning from one to another wanting to know if there was anyone present I would or could recognize. Looking at their facial composition, skin tones from light to pitch dark, looking at the eyes and the raised brows above, ripples, the shapes of the nose, mouth and chin, the cheek bones and crevices flowing out from the eyes, from the sides of the nose down to edges of their lips, by their head of hair hiding or circling the ears, mustaches and beards, whether they were wearing glasses or still had good eyesight. All those unique features within an average ovalish area of 8 to 9” by 5 or 6”. There were many older folks close to or in retirement, many in the 50’s pushing the golden years, those still young enough that their hair was without grey streaks, 20’s to 30’s, teens and elementary children too were eating away before the morning devotional.

Nope, I did not recognize anyone. Hundreds of un-familiar faces.

My mind then wondered, how is this, why is this? Hundreds of people, each with totally different facial features contained within such a small oval shape.  Look at the features of a group of horses or herds of cows, a few monkeys and their head features are so similar, it is hard to distinguish one monkey from another, one cow from another. Would one monkey be able to recognize his cousin from a dozen of others perched in a nearby tree?

Humans are unique. Our DNA is unique. Our designer has made us this way. A photo of a face is used to identify a criminal walking the streets. Our finger prints are used as an identifying tool. The one and only designer must have wanted to be able to recognize each and everyone of us as an individual, as a unique person so very different from all the rest.  The designer, the grand architect wanted to recognize each one of us distinguished from the millions. Surely the maker could have formed us a bit more like monkeys with the addition of free will,  intelligence and enough curiosity to invent technology.

Yep, The Almighty creator made us this way so, that when I call upon Him, He can say: “yes Arnold, glad to hear your voice today? How can I help?”

I then entered the auditorium of this church where the morning worship service was about to start.  Ah, what a different atmosphere this was compared to the churches I’m accustomed to in my old age. Lights streaming across the stage, a large TV type screen on each adjacent wall, the lights flashed a large picture of the pastor standing on the center stage. It did not have a pulpit raised up as many of the older cathedral churches have, most having two, one for the pastor to use as he delivered his morning sermon, and one for announcements. In the rear of this thousand plus seat auditorium, there was the sound booth with 3 guys adjusting the controls of the computer driven sound system changing the booming effects to large speakers, adjusting the lighting effects streaking down from the ceiling.

From the street, I would not have recognized the building as a church except for the steeple atop the pointed roof and the name emblazed on the marquee on the street.  It appeared more like an auditorium. In America there is the divide between Catholicism and the numerous protestant denominations and sects, but the basics are the same adhering to the one God, the creator of all things sacrificing part of Himself to remove our transgressions so that we could enjoy that blessed reunion in that heavenly realm along with those we never recognized here on earth.

3 Meals per day? Ha, Ha. Gotch-ya.

How far back in history must you go to find that ancient people (now considered as those of our great grand-parents age) did not regularly eat according to the clock: 6 or 7am breakfast. 12 noon lunch and 6 pm dinner. That’s how it was for me as a kid growing up in the 50’s. You must eat 3 meals a day to maintain optimum health according to the ‘experts’ back then. We had eggs and/or pancakes with a glass of milk and possible orange juice before heading off to school carrying our brown paper sack of a peanut butter sandwich on white bread with a side of chips, possibly an apple and pickle thrown in for added benefit. Then when dad got home, family dinner time at 6 pm of spaghetti and meat balls and slice of bread to swipe the sauce off the plate.  Then homework time and be ready to slide under the covers at 10 after watching the b/w 9-inch TV for local news at 9.  That was life in the 50’s.

And now 60 years later we not only delight in 3 meals per day but snacks in-between. Oh, how I love to snack, to always have a goodie near-by to nibble on while being entertained by others.  Hersey chocolates are my favorite along with jelly beans and an occasional piece of licorice, fig bars or Ritz crackers (a pinch of salt) or a handful of pistachios.  Also, wow, a bowl of potato chips to dip into that sharp cheddar cheese dip between sips of beer while watching a 3-hour ball-game hit it off satisfying the stomach growl.

But, did our great grand-parents eat 3 meals a day when they were growing up? That would have been in the time before the calendars turned to 1900, closer to 1850. Society then was predominately agrarian working the farms, raising cows, goats, chickens, pigs and riding horses to get to the local market. Relaxation was walking to the near-by stream or lake to catch some fish and take a skinny dip. In between the seasons many would head off to the forests hunting a deer, fox, bear, buffalo. Life was not so convenient requiring lots of physical energy. Women were baking bread, feathering a chicken, scrubbing the farm dirt, instructing the kiddies on the realities of life. She was possibly a school mom. Sundays came, time to clean-up, dress up, greet and share news with neighbors at the local church.

The industrial revolution was beginning, and the young workers were moving from farms to the cities to eat lunch in the factories. Go back to 1904 when the first New Year celebration in Times Square and look at the crowd. You will not see any obese folks watching the ball drop. There are many black and white photos of people in the streets of NY in the 20’s to 40’s. No obese. I have hanging in my home office a 1928 photo of my grand-parents congregation of the Auburn Park SW church attending a Sunday School rally day. Lots of slim kids. No overly heavy people.

There were no fast food joints, no drive-ins, restaurants were few and far between, and pushing a cart through the aisles selecting your grocery list was unheard of. McDonalds was not. White castle was not. Nor a Burger King and the rest of the drive-throughs for a what else but a ‘happy meal’.  Yes, the advertisement of a very attractive slim young lady throwing her slim arms high in the air celebrating how happy you’ll be. The trauma of a hard day will end when you down that burger and fries with a diet Coke. We’re open 24/7. Gotch-ya.

Obesity is defined as having your waist size larger than your butt size. Another measurement of obesity is determined by the formula: (Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches x Height in inches)) x 703. That’s your BMI. Anything over 25 is getting close to obesity. A healthy body will be more like the hour glass shape. The US and Mexico supposedly have close to 40% of the population as obese. In the UK two-thirds of men and almost six in 10 women are overweight or obese.

So, here we are in 2018 when farming is done riding a John Deere and trucking the veggies across the country measured in hours for freshness. Chickens are raised by the thousands in large open-air cages. Cows are butchered in factories, and TV’s have 250 selections to choose from, telephones are in hand computers as we drive the free-ways to sit-down office work. Obesity is becoming the majority consuming food 3 times per day and nibbling the rest of the time. There are even voices being heard that smaller meals 4-5 times a day reduces obesity risk by 45 percent. [1] Three-meals per day lowers blood pressure.

So, who do we listen to for sound advice? The advertisers? The government agencies?

Does anyone fast anymore.  For those who may not know what that word (fast) means, I offer this simple definition: Go without food for a self-determined length of time, such as no food at all (water, yes) for a day, three days, 21 or 40 days, or even just a meal or two. Yes, it can be done. It used to be common among Christians to fast during lent before Easter. Oh, to think on that drives me up the wall. I thought that would be considered ‘works of the flesh’, so forget it, I’m saved by faith.

Satan says: “gotch-ya.”

[1] htps://www.alternet.org/story/152486/there_is_no_biological_reason_to_eat_three_meals_a_day_–_so_why_do_we_do_it

Is Sodom here and now?

You know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as written in the book of Genesis. The cries from the citizens of Sodom reached the Lord, who was about to go down and destroy the land. Abraham interceded, pleaded to spare the city if fifty righteous men were found. Abraham must have known the wickedness of the city, so he lessened his plea down to ten righteous men.

Angels as men approached the city meeting Lot in the town square. Lot persuaded the men to come home with him for a good home cooked kosher meal. The men of Sodom wanted the angelic men to satisfy their own lusts, banging on the door to Lots home.  Let us have them, they scream. Bang, bang the door-bell rang. Lot told them they could have his virgin daughters instead. No, no, we want these strangers. The angels blinded them, and told Lot to gather his family together and leave this city as it is about to be destroyed.

Lot and his wife and daughters left Sodom to find a new safe home for his family at a small near-by town as the mountains were far away.  He was told to hurry, don’t look back, just get out of there quickly as the town will be destroyed because of its wickedness. His wife may have been concerned for her friends and neighbors. Her daughters had been pledged to marry soon wondering why they did want to come along. She may have wondering about her home there and all the good memories she had, so she turned around to see if was true that the city was being destroyed by sulfur lightning. She disobeyed the command not to look back, and was turned into salt.

It was too late for Sodom. It had gone too far. They did not listen. They were satisfying the flesh above just and righteous living.

The citizens of Sodom had built the walls as the other areas have. They were living well. More people immigrated to the area desiring the prosperity. As time passed they became infatuated with their success and leisure beginning to look for new ways to satisfy the hunger for adventure as all things were so easy to get. They were given time to reconcile, to make amends, to treat each other as you’d have them treat you. But they’ve insisted on going their own way. As the years passed, they’ve become more and more concerned with satisfying the lusts of their selfish fleshly desires. Women were easy prey. Then men with men. Anything to get that desire satisfied. They demanded others to follow along.  They pushed their desires as their right to do as they please. The magistrates had been silenced. The judges have acquiesced finding words in the constitution that allows this freedom. The demands of the right to personal liberty supersede all other rights. Get with it or we’ll file lawsuit after lawsuit and you and your citizens will be bankrupt. You don’t want that, so go along with this new unifying measure and all will be well between us. Your children must have the right to choose who they wish to be. You shouldn’t demand otherwise. You have no right to impose your ways upon everyone. It’s not right. Come along with us and we’ll all benefit in this cultural unifying diversity. That’s all we want. We just want to be accepted. You have your freedom and that’s all we want too; our freedom to love whom we may. So, let’s get along. What’s so hard about that?

Now the world, and specifically here in the US of A is following the same path that led to the destruction of Sodom.  Lusts of the flesh. Against the laws of nature. Adding a “y” to the word Sodom means anal penetration: putting it where it was not originally intended for the purpose of multiplication.

Recently in a small town in the state of Mississippi, an active group petitioned the town of 28,000 to host and pay for a “Gay Pride” parade through the town streets.

The city council voted no: 4 to 3.

The activists threatened. You are distracting progress.

Their lawyers are preparing the suit against the town.

 

 

Are there fifty righteous men within the city?

School Tragedy.

What does the person who has just experienced a tragedy of unimaginable evil such as what happened recently in Florida do immediately after hearing the news? When your son/daughter left that morning with the books and homework in the backpack, you reminded him/her to pay attention, and . . . . “I love you . . . . see you later”.

A friend calls. You tune into breaking news. You drive to the school. You’re holding your breath. You want to see him/her running to you. You couldn’t imagine the horror, but now you see it. Police everywhere. Sirens blazing. Students running. Yellow tapes. Helicopters hovering. Cameras and reporters. Parents wanting to know.

Sorry. Your son/daughter was killed.

Weep. Cry till the eyes dry. Weep some more. Pray. Grab a pillow and weep. Do not disturb me?  I want some answers God. Why? Why? That was a good school. Why here? Peacefully attending school as he/she had done 5 days a week for the last 12 years. Why? Why Mine? Why would someone do such a thing? Why? Oh God I need your help. Weep some more. And now you must make decisions. Arrangements. Casket. Grave site. Funeral Service. Family time. Time alone. Weep again. More decisions. More arrangements. Try to keep a stiff upper lip holding back the tears as friends and relatives come by expressing their sorrow.

When the week passes, the loss returns in the morning as the school bell rings, every evening as expectations of their return from school you weep some more. Every evening sitting at the dinner table trying to keep the conversations on the light side. I should have told him/her I love you more often. I never should have done that. Oh, why did I ever say such and such?  I should have been a better mother/father. I should have bought that for him/her. We should have gone on that vacation.

Why? Oh God, if you’re real, why did you let this happen? Why?

 

An answer came: “I’ve been kicked out of schools.”

Tolerating the intolerant.

Over the past few days as the events within this freedom loving country of ours takes the news by storm evolving and escalating to the point that even those who do not keep-up with the news as our busy life demands upon our time, know once civil society is getting out of hand into the weird.  Most likely, you’ve heard about the student uprisings on college campuses demanding a complete stop to offensive behavior and/or speech. One event recently captivated my attention that sums up all the others. A Wooster college in Ohio sit in, students taking over Galpin Hall on January 24, 2018.

“The students demand that all new students and faculty be required to enroll in a ‘cultural competency training course’ that will begin during orientation week and continue throughout the whole first year. The Center of Diversity and Inclusion will determine the content of this training course, but it must be submitted to the student activists for review at least once a year.” [a]

Hmm? And here I had thought that the American civil behavior toward each other was already an ingrained part of cultural competency was based on the Judeo-Christian admonition that we must treat others the way we would like to be treated. On the most part we were kind, considerate, respectful, easy going, saying ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘is there anything I can do’, opening the door for the elderly and ladies, patiently waiting in line, preferring others the right of way, putting a check on our tongue during family gatherings and the office coffee break, respecting the property of others, politely disagreeing without being disagreeable and on and on we’d act day-in day-out.

Perhaps I’ve been wrong and that there’s another side to: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Matt 7:12

Now the student’s demand “safe zones”, a nice quiet place where they can feel safe from unwanted interruptions, conversations, some zones even offering coloring books and crayons to help escape the bigotry of others. Bigotry is defined as: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Hmm? So, as a Christian if I stand by and say anything whatsoever about my faith which you disagree with then I’m guilty and intolerant, I’m silenced and found guilty being punished for “hate speech”, and you’ll go to a safe zone to recuperate.  Just yesterday, a creationist speaker was dis-invited to speak on campus. Evidently his talk would have been offensive. A mayor has issued subpoenas of the sermons of the local pastors in case any kind of “hate speech” was involved.

Is society now facing a new ‘social revival’ of sorts.

Does this current generation look at America as having a long history of bigotry?  Yes, you can say that America has a history of being bigoted toward others not of their own kind.

The US was established as a democratic-republic based on Judeo-Christian morality of right and wrong, but our actual history has been filled with intolerance. Our frontiersmen pushed the natives out as our expansion into the west developed. The Indians were not wanting to be engaged with the ‘white man’ and his ways. The same was true for the millions of Europeans immigrating here: Scandinavians found other Scandinavians to live near. Italians desired to live near other Italians, the Jews with the Jews. The same with the French, the Germans, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. They tolerated others but desired companionship of their own kind. It was part of the American dream: one nation under God, indivisible and with liberty to all. Tolerating the others while desiring fellowship with their own kind rather than forced diversity.

America does have a long history of bigotry toward “blacks, or people of color” being brought here and sold as slaves to the land owners in the south and the rich of the north. The free ones in the north expanding westward sought to live near and with their own kind. The southern states forced total separation, which did not end until Lincoln signed the bill officially ending slavery and ML King gave his famous speech. It was bigotry. It was intolerance. But haven’t we moved on from there?

Both sides of my parents were Swedish immigrants. At first we lived near other Swedes and went to a dominate Swedish church, then moved to a varied neighborhood where the high school in the 50’s of Chicago had been integrated with a few ‘black’ students living in near-by neighborhoods. That was my first encounter with those of dark colored skin and we behaved in school with tolerance; some playing football or basketball and in the band. Back in those days there were a few students who just didn’t fit the boy hormones of flirting with girls. They walked and talked differently without any outwardly shown affections for boys instead of girls. We’d quietly snicker ‘queer’. It was a considered a private matter.

We’ve come a long way since those days. Now it’s common to see integrated marriages, neighborhoods, schools and churches. Europeans with Asians, blacks with whites, browns with blacks, with Asians. Families with mixed children. Mixed together tolerating all. The brotherhood of man, as Christianity says all humankind came from the same heritage going back to the first male and female through the lines of Noah and his family; middle-eastern Arabs. Our differences are only outward appearances in skin tone and facial make-ups, that’s all, simply a fact of mixing biological genes over the centuries.

Yes, America does have a long history of intolerance towards those of a different shade and we’ve come a long way to overcome those prejudices. Now there’s this new side that is being highlighted, that of the intolerances toward the LGBT’s demanding complete open tolerance of their life choices and doing away with what they call as ‘white-privilege’. Elementary Schools are telling the kiddies that having two daddies, or two mommies is normal, that’s it’s natural for a boy to dress like a girl if that is her desire and wanting to use the girl’s locker room is fine, and even competing against girls running track is wonderful.

And, another side to this upheaval is that of those desiring the right to abort the life growing within at any time for any reason. Sexual freedom outside marriage without consequences. It’s also been noted that less and less of the younger generations are attending church on a regular basis as evolutionary atheism gains more ground denying coaches pre-game prayer time with their team, denying students to hold bible studies outside class, denying parents to instill Christian ethics in their children.

So, where are we headed as a society?  How will the future look?