Slavery Dead? Not by a Long Shot!

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As the fight for equality rages over a person’s chosen sexual orientation, a much larger war is taking place that receives far less media attention. In a very real sense it is a struggle for equality and justice on a scale that this world has not seen sense nations began to throw of the chains off oppression and slavery. This is a global war yet one that is happening right in our back yard. Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is perhaps the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Despite the fact that international law and more than 134 countries around the world criminalize sex trafficking, the problem is getting worse. According to the International Labor Organization, there are nearly 21 million adults and children who are bought for bonded labor and sexual servitude. To put that in perspective, that would be roughly three New York Cities or nearly the entire population of Texas. UNICEF released data revealing that 2 million children are used for sexual exploitation EACH YEAR! At least 100,000 of those are right here in the U.S. It’s happening all over the United States but there are some states doing less than others to be a part of the solution. These seven states are lagging behind the rest: North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire (for more information on this go to Take Part). Women and children are being taken, sold, and recruited (obviously under different pretenses). How is it this is happening and most are completely unaware of the seriousness of the problem or don’t want to be “depressed by it, in their news feed?” I would say because so many people are part of the problem. Here’s a number: 3 billion. That is how much is made by the adult films industries online alone (about 1/3 of that comes from the U.S.) around the world. This obviously doesn’t account for material not considered pornography and that which is sold on the black market. Why do I bring this up? Because it shows how saturated our world is with lust and perversion, and it’s only getting worse. Even as we speak groups here in this country are trying to lower the age of sexual consent (which is decided by each state, most ranging between 16 and 18). This is becoming more of a world that seeks to satisfy its cravings, and other’s cravings to make a profit. God said that as we approach Christ’s return people will increasingly become lovers of self and pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3). There’s no doubt that this is happening on a grand scale as some people skew the truth to fit their desires or completely ignore it all together.  The result is that other people become a means to an end. They become objects rather than people. What has resulted is more slaves than at ANY other point in human history and its happening right under our nose. Trafficking is not limited to the adult industry or the streets, and dark alleyways. Guess what the largest venue is for trafficking…the Superbowl. Not too far behind are other major sporting events here in the US like the Major League Baseball All-Star game. Stats are powerful but stories are heartbreaking. Rebecca was abused from age six and forced into prostitution starting at age 14. She was finally able to break free after 13 years of exploitation. Rebecca recounts, I was prostituted from 14 till I was 27. I got out because I chose to live. The guy I was with was very violent and I ended up in hospital. I remember the nurse yelled at me for being a prostitute. She sewed me up without anesthesia and I left the hospital. I was paralyzed for 3 days.” You can read more of her story here. In Bangladesh, a young girl falls in love. Women in her country are not viewed as being much more useful than for housework and raising kids so any prospect of love and a meaningful relationship is like gold. Ayesha was lured away from her family with great promises of a future together, but instead she found herself trapped in a nightmare.  When people tell me that women choose this life, I can’t help but laugh. Do they know how many women like me have tried to escape, but have been beaten black and blue when they are caught? To the men who buy us, we are like meat. To everybody else in society, we simply do not exist.” You can read more of her story and several other heart-wrenching stories here. Even now hope exists. Groups such as Equality Now, Polaris Project, and  A21 are giving people practical ways to join the struggle against this global phenomenon. These groups work on prevention, rescuing, and rehabilitating women and children who have fallen subject to the atrocity of human trafficking. Actress Angelina Jolie, a long time advocate for children, took advantage of a special platform before the United Nations, recalling stories of survivors she met and calling the UN to action. You can watch a short clip of her address here. The United States Government has also taken part over the last decade and half. The U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted about 400 cases of trafficking since 2000 (which is when the first federal law to address sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the United States). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assists victims of trafficking in the United States by funding service programs and through public information campaigns. The U.S. Department of Labor funds anti-trafficking programs overseas and monitors places of employment in the U.S. to identify abusive labor practices. The U.S. Department of State, through its Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, assesses and reports on the global trafficking situation in its annual Trafficking in Person Report. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued over 1500 visas to identified victims of trafficking. However, these numbers are small in light of the growing threat. Human trafficking is no small issue and can easily overwhelm a person with a sense of hopelessness and inadequacy of doing something about it. Please don’t be among those who ignore this problem or downplay it. Everyone can start somewhere and play a role in fighting back. Please join those who have gone before us to become more informed, spread awareness, place safeguards on your loved ones, and perhaps even join up with one of the groups mentioned earlier. We have to fight for justice! I end with this: One day this will no longer be a problem. One day all slavery will be demolished and every sinful desire will be cleansed from this world. One day justice will be fulfilled. One day Jesus Christ will return to set this world right and how glorious that day will be. So as we fight oppression and evil in the days and years to come let us keep our eyes on what will be and set that as our lasting hope.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

(Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)

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Distracted: Who Doesn’t Have ADD These Days?

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Ever watched the movie ‘Up’? If you have you’ll probably remember the part where the Golden Retriever is talking with the man and the boy on their way to Paradise Falls and in the middle of a sentence his attention is stolen away and says, ‘squirrel!’ If you’ve ever had a Golden, they’re just like that and so are a lot of people I know (myself included). There’s a lot to learn from that. In today’s society the ‘skill’ of multitasking is nearly viewed as a virtue. Since I am a high school teacher I’ve witnessed students playing the part more and more over the last 10 years. What’s to blame for this phenomenon? Well I believe it’s more than any one thing and it’s having tragic consequences on people and society as a whole. Allow me to explain.

Technology has given us so many fantastic advancements in medicine, travel, and communications. Such advancements have improved our lives and I would include myself among people who wouldn’t want to live without most of them. But technology is stripping us of our focus. This may not be as true with older generations but people my age (30’s), and definitely younger, rarely do one thing at a time. Even as I type this I am also doing something else, and thinking about countless other things. Why is this possible? Because I have a smart phone that I can use to type a blog and do research at the same time while being involved in other tasks too. On top of that, technology in phones and internet have made it possible to do this quickly so that I can hurry and move on to the next thing on my list. If someone were here with me I am certain I could have a conversation with them while not stopping any of the things I’m currently doing. I say I’m certain but really I’m just deceiving myself, and so is anyone else who thinks they can text, drive, and carry on a meaningful conversation with someone, or any other combination of tasks.

There use to be a time when it was considered extremely rude to not give someone your full attention when talking with them. I’m not too young to have been taught that but I’m also in limbo between the era of manners and the technology revolution. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s young people still today that honor others by giving them their undivided attention and still have the virtue of focus to a task. But those people are a minority today and I find myself slipping further away from that.

What’s it like to drive in a car with someone, with no music or phone, and carry on a conversation with them…just be with them. I think for far too many in the grand ole US of A that situation doesn’t look familiar, rather the silence would be deafening. How many families sit at home with no tv, movies, or phones, and just talk? How about studying, reading (like a book), cooking, sitting in a meeting, working, hanging with friends and family, etc…? You can continue the list. I find myself doing fewer and fewer things one at a time. I’m living distracted and I sincerely doubt that I’m the only one (more like 90% of Americans). Don’t you love it when someone makes up a stat like that?

We live in a very fast paced society, and that puts pressure on us to keep up or fall behind. Kids are brought up with that engrained in their minds, not necessarily because someone told them that but because they’ve observed those who have gone before them. Older generations are being assimilated into this fast paced technology society as well. What’s the result? Cultural ADD (attention deficit disorder).

Being in a high school I see so many cases of diagnosed ADD and ADHD and many undiagnosed cases as well (me being one). Fewer and fewer people are able to sit for long periods of time or focus on just one thing for a considerable length of time. True, technology has made it possible to accomplish things so much quicker and has even made new achievements possible so there are numerous benefits. However, I would argue we are a people who struggle with balance and because of this, there are tragic consequences.

You’d think multitasking would be exhausting…but wait…we have caffeine for that. I would argue that people’s emotional stability suffers as well. I know there’s a fix for that too; but let’s get real for a minute. Technology keeps a lot of people from being content. I doubt that would come up in a counseling session but think about it. Technology has made it so that we need to be doing something (and mostly doing multiple somethings) to be content. Watch a teenager get his or her phone taken away or observe the modern family at dinner all plugged in and you’ll see what I’m saying. It’s getting harder for our society to be happy and content with less or waiting for anything. Ever get anxious if someone doesn’t text you back right away? The conversation we’re having with the person right in front of us isn’t good enough so we need to be texting others too. Ever get frustrated when the web page doesn’t load instantly? Take technology out of our lives and we become discontent because it’s becoming more than advancement, it’s becoming a crutch.

Not only is our emotional wellness at risk but so are our relationships. But I have 398 Facebook friends and many more following my Twitter feed, I’m relating just fine. Actually I don’t have either one. I’m talking about the people we invest time and energy in doing life together. We’re all faced with the same question each day. We have 100% of our time in our hands…how many people and things are we going to parcel that out to? The greatest relationship that struggles because of technology is our relationship with God. Because of our fast paced culture we ‘don’t have time for God’ and more and more are saying that ‘we don’t need God’ because of this false sense of security in ‘our advancements’. When that relationship suffers everything falls apart and that’s when nations implode and relationships become unhealthy. Jesus Christ said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew‬ ‭22:37-39‬) I would say we can’t do either one effectively while we’re plugged in and with divided attention. No one can do more than one thing at a time 100% well.

I still believe there’s hope for myself and everyone else who relates to what I’m talking about. That hope lies in setting our priorities on God and people, slowing down and being present, and finding that balance with technology so that we’re running it and it’s not running us. We can and should use technology to advance and reach out to a hurting world but not at the expense of what matters most…the One who created us and the the one’s He has blessed us with. Alright my daughter is awake from her nap, time to unplug and hang with my princess.

God Bless!

Planned Parenthood’s True Colors

24 week old baby...
24 week old baby…

It has taken me over a couple of days to really process what I saw the morning of July 14, 2015. It was a shocking new video that’s has flooded the Internet. The video shows the undercover meeting with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, a head executive of Planned Parenthood, admitting to selling body parts of aborted babies. I say new but really the video is a year old (July 2014) as I write this and unfortunately the information presented in the video is nowhere near new nor surprising. If you haven’t seen the video here is a direct link to the shortened version http://youtu.be/0lOePZC4jco. The video was made by the Center for Medical Progress as part of a three year project.

To give you a taste of what is contained in the video Dr. Nucatola nonchalantly discusses how she intentionally goes through her ‘cases’ for the day and decides how to kill the baby based on what her clients want to purchase (meaning body parts). Legs, lungs, skulls…it’s all for sale as far as she is concerned. If you want to know how they do this, just research partial birth abortions. If you have a heart, you may not be able to watch it without wanting to lose your lunch and bawl your eyes out. I would describe it for you but I can’t bring myself to type out the words.

Eric Ferrero, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, claims that they are not selling body parts but it’s part of a lifesaving donation program that they don’t make a profit off of. So catch that. He doesn’t deny distributing aborted baby’s body parts but twists it to say they ‘donate it for science.’ He also claimed that the video was edited to make it say something different by a group bent on ruining Planned Parenthood. If you give that any bit of believability then here is the full video and you can see how he is lying once again: http://youtu.be/H4UjIM9B9KQ. The Center for Medical Progress later produced ads from major purchasers of aborted tissue that had been posted in affiliate clinics using words like “financially profitable for your clinic.” Still think it’s not for a profit?

Federal law (42 U.S. Code 274e) outlaws the selling of human tissue but why would that stop Planned Parenthood who obviously doesn’t recognize pre-born babies as humans? It’s not stopping them because they know their way around the law. Ironically the law was written by a pro abortion Congressman, Henry Waxman, probably with the intention to give some false sense of security to pro life people while giving his abortion pals the lea way to carry on their business (my assessment anyways). Just look at the wording of the law. It allows reasonable payments be made associated with transportation, processing, and preserving of human tissue. That doesn’t sound like it outlaws what it claims to. In fact, it’s doubtful that Planned Parenthood could be prosecuted under this law at all. Dr. Nucatola states that the law is up to interpretation and I’m sure it’s because they are operating well under this pro abortion law. So we are definitely in need of a new law.

We should be shocked that Planned Parenthood is selling baby body parts, but not surprised because they are after all killing the babies in the first place. If that isn’t enough to outrage the people of this country than who knows if the profiteering from aborted babies will. Much of Europe was willing to turn a blind eye while Hitler’s Third Reich targeted ‘undesirables’ and along with murdering them they used their body parts for ‘research’ during the holocaust. Some would say that’s different…I fail to see how.

Why did I say this isn’t anything new? Because I’ve watched videos and seen documents as old as 2008 showing orders for aborted baby’s body parts. Here’s one such video: http://youtu.be/LiyxFCASdIg. I hadn’t seen them until all this came out and it made me so sad that this is just now becoming a big issue. Why have people turned a blind eye to this for so long? Why hasn’t this gone viral over the last seven years (and probably much longer)? I hope that no one will look the other way now.

Government officials are speaking out so let’s pray that the momentum builds. GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina posted a Facebook message calling the video tragic and outrageous. “This isn’t about ‘choice’,” she wrote. “It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.” Sen. John McCain said, “…We ask God to bless America – a nation that turns a blind eye to the slaughter of unborn children – a nation that provides taxpayers to fund an organization that allegedly sells body parts from dead babies. God bless America? Perhaps we should be asking for His mercy.”

Amen Mr. McCain! But does our nation deserve mercy? A nation that is abandoning Him on an unprecedented level. Let’s not forget that these beautiful little babies are His creation that these doctors and patience are destroying. Psalm 139:14 says that we should praise God because all people (including babies) are fearfully and wonderfully made! And just as God told Jeremiah, He knew us before we were in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). That applies to all people even the ones who never saw the light of day before being killed…excuse me…I think the proper word is terminated.

But that’s the amazing thing about God’s grace, it is extended to everyone through Jesus Christ, no matter what they’ve done as long as they repent and believe in Christ. To those of you who’ve been down that road of abortion, God still loves you and has forgiven you if you’ve asked Him to. If you’re feeling shame over it, God is their to put you back together. Your baby is with Him and there’s no better place for them. And while we hope for God’s awesome mercy we should also be praying that these doctor’s performing abortions have a major heart transplant and these mother’s wanting to end their pregnancies gain an unshakable love for the child growing inside them, whom God has given them as a blessing. What we need is more God-fearing men and women on their knees praying, not for this nation necessarily, but for the individuals involved in abortions…praying that our lawmakers can put an end to this horror of nearly 60 million babies dead since Roe v. Wade (stats can be found with Center for Disease Control CDC). Because God is merciful and loving and compassionate and hearts can still be turned towards life, there is hope.

Please take the time to read this compelling, and miraculous story of a baby born at 23 weeks…

https://seecatecreate.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/a-story-about-a-boy-and-his-mom/

God Bless!

Bible on Trial

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I have always been under the impression that far too many people are sue happy in this nation. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are an abundance of legitimate claims but some people take things to a whole new level. We live in a nation that provides for so many individual freedoms and our nation’s history has been marked by the constant struggle to obtain and uphold those rights. One man believes that he is embarking in a fight for that very reason.

Bradley LaShawn Fowler, and ex-con turned author, is suing two Bible publishers in a US District Court for a combined $70 million (Zondervan for $60 and Nelson for $10). Now if you haven’t heard about this you may be thinking something like ‘he was mistreated by the companies, wrongfully fired or refused a job, or perhaps they wouldn’t publish something of his’. All legitimate ideas. However, Mr. Fowler is suing them for causing him 20 years of emotional distress and instability for publishing this “book” that speaks so harshly of homosexuality, a lifestyle in which Mr. Fowler has chosen for himself. According to him, this violates his constitutional rights. Representatives of the publishing agencies have simply stated at this point that, “they don’t translate bibles they only publish them.” The future of the case is still undetermined.

I love the US Constitution. I teach American Government so I have spent a lot of time studying this document and teaching about it as well. There is no shortage of incredible freedoms and protections contained there. However, there is no such protection against someone verbally or in a written fashion speaking out against choices and lifestyles. If so, millions of books would have to come off the shelfs, blog sites shut down, magazines and newspapers out of business. There are such things as libel and slander which are prohibited but for those to exist there has to be a malicious intent by the author or speaker and it has to be with a disregard to truth. So for starters, Fowler’s case is not with Zondervan and Nelson publishing (which is what their reps were trying to say) but with the authors of the various books contained in the Bible, and as one could also argue, his case is with The Author of the Bible. But I really doubt that Fowler views it that way. Regardless, he is going to have to get very creative in making his case because he is representing himself in the proceedings. But I am not writing this to argue his case…not my job.

When I first heard about this I went through a roller coaster of emotions and I have finally settled on one…sadness. People have already begun to point fingers at our president and Supreme Court for opening the flood gates for things like this but this is nothing new and it is not surprising either. In fact, this book that Mr. Fowler is suing over tells us that a time will come when people will no longer endure sound teaching and God’s truth but because of their own desires will want to alter it and gather teachers to themselves that will tell them what they want to hear. Thats found in 2 Timothy chapter 4 (my paraphrase). This has been happening for decades as generation after generation in this nation have abandoned God and His word as a basis of truth and guide for how we are to live our lives. Mr. Fowler, along with others, want the Bible to be altered to remove the negative remarks about homosexuality. To do that, they would have to take out entire sections, not words, but sections and chapters to make it fit what they want it to say. Here is just a short list of what would have to be taken out (feel free to look these up on your own): Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Timothy 1:10, and Genesis 19:1-38. I don’t want to take readers down a path of pointing out God’s feelings towards homosexuality. The Bible says what it says and there’s no way around it.

I get tired of both Christians and non-Christians putting a spotlight on homosexuality. Sure, God specifically states his views on homosexuality but this is really part of a greater issue. In many other places throughout the Bible, God calls people to not live in any form of sexual immorality (Revelation 21:8, Galatians 5:16-21, Ephesians 5:1-21, Hebrews 13:1-25) among those would certainly be included homosexuality. So this is not a problem between a gay man and the most historically proven, accurate, and fact-containing religious text in history. This is a problem with a society that has long embraced sex outside of marriage, having an affair if your spouse isn’t making you happy, pornography, and teaching safe sex to children rather than telling them to keep themselves pure for a future spouse. It’s a society that promotes all forms of lust and plasters it all over billboards, magazine covers, and television screens. This is a problem with a society that embraces pleasure at pretty much any cost and doesn’t want anyone, even God restricting us. I’m of course using generalizations which usually I don’t like to do.  I know that there is an ample number of people in this country not embracing the afore mentioned things.

So yes, I am sad. I am sad for the state of our nation. I am sad for generation after generation giving into more compromise. I am sad for what the future holds for everyone abandoning hope in the Lord. And I am sad for Mr. Fowler. If I were able to reach him directly I would not criticize him or bash him or tell him my opinion of his case. I would simply tell him that God loves him. That God died for him so that He could spend eternity with him. That God doesn’t want to restrict his life but give him abundant life. I would tell him that I am sorry for any abuse or mistreatment he’s faced by people who have condemned him rather than showed him the truth and walked alongside him in love. And I would share that with anyone else in his shoes.

God is not a withholder of freedom, He is the creator of it. He has given every human being the ability to make choices for themselves and live the life they want but along with those choices comes consequences. God is not a buzzkill of love…God is love. God designed us all for love. But we live in a broken world caused by mankind’s selfishness. The Bible says what is says about sexual immorality and many other immoral practices like lying, cheating, killing, etc because God knows that those things destroy people and societies. We can try to change the Bible all we want to fit the lifestyle we want to live but when our life comes to an end, and we stand before Almighty God, our translation of His Word will not suffice. Be encouraged because we have a God who loves us and wants what’s best for our lives.

God Bless!

Southern Makeover?

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It would appear that the recent controversy has swelled to much more than about a flag. In the wake of the Marion County dispute, the flag is coming down in Charleston South Carolina. The state grounds will no longer hoist the rebel flag but it doesn’t end there. All over the region commonly referred to as the south, lawmakers are busy pushing for a ‘monumental’ makeover. New Orleans, for example, is considering a name change for the Jefferson Davis Parkway. For those who don’t know, he was the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The change wouldn’t stop here. Many want to remove statues that commemorate civil war confederate leaders too.

Washington D.C. is even joining the ranks to rally against the old confederacy. The House and Senate are debating resolutions to make it illegal to fly the rebel flag in national parks. Far over on the west coast in Long Beach, lawmakers are demanding the name change for a local elementary school that bears the name of General Robert E. Lee.

Perhaps it is time for the rebels and racists to cease to be glorified. But no one can clean the slate of the past besides God. We need memorials alright, but they need to be aimed at showing future generations our mistakes so that history won’t repeat itself. That’s why we have holocaust museums. They don’t glorify those events but help us not to forget what happens when good people allow evil people to rule nations. They help remind us that we need a savior and we need to partner with God to stand up for justice and truth and fight back against hate and oppression. Was the institution of slavery similar to the holocaust? In more ways than one. Groups of people were treated as property, caged, abused, used for forced labor, and murdered. Sounds shockingly similar doesn’t it? Now sure there were slave owners that treated their slaves like family but they were most definitely a minority.

I say all of this for the reason that we shouldn’t try to erase the past but we should remember it in the right context. We should not allow men like Supreme Court Justice Taney, who led the way in the Dred Scott case to declare all slaves property and unable to gain the rights of a citizen whether freed or not, or Ben Tillman who sanctioned for mass extermination of black slaves in the south, to be memorialized in any other fashion than as sins of our past.

I think the American psyche has a hard time looking in the rear view and remembering our major blemishes. Slavery, assimilation and removal of native Americans, abuse of immigrants, antisemitism, racism, gender discrimination, etc. it’s like people only want to see America as great. I would agree that we live in a great country but not one without a long list of mistakes.

So let’s put the statues and names and flags in a museum that tells the accurate story of who they were and what they stand for. Maybe then we can move forward even more towards healing deep-seated wounds. Maybe that could help us break cycles of hatred and distrust coming from all races still today. Maybe then we can join together and fall on our knees before God and pray that He fill us with a love for Him and one another that we can move forward united while not forgetting where we came from. In the Lord there are new beginnings and forgiveness from the most horrible things.

God Bless!

The ‘Good Enough’ in All of Us

imageThe other day I was working out and I arrived at a point where I almost always come to…the crossroads where I decide whether I’ve done enough or if I should complete the full workout that I set out to do. Now for those of you who workout I know you’ve been here. You may not have this internal battle as frequent as me but I’m sure you have none the less. If you have no idea what I’m talking about let me paint the picture and I’m sure you’ll be able to associate it with something more common in your life.

So here we go. Forty five minutes or so into lifting weights my body is starting to fatigue. My mind takes note of this and starts having a dialogue with itself. (I swear I don’t have multiple personalities). Thoughts of all the things I could be doing instead start to flood in. Then what seems like the minority voice in my head says, “you won’t be lifting again for several more days, just finish.” Then here comes the argument, “you’re 33 and you’re not training for anything. Why be so hard on yourself?” I could give you the entire conversation but I think that’s probably adequate.  I am at a place where I have achieved enough but not as much as I could or initially even wanted to. The barrier to moving on lies fully in my mind. My body is no where near its limit yet it’s decision time once again.

I have made up my mind to try and not give in to the part of me that would limit how I live, even in the small stuff like working out. I call this the ‘good enough mentality.’ Now you might be thinking that I’m blowing this out of proportion but bear with me. This scenario is common in so many areas of daily life. Your job, projects around the house, serving others, loving others, giving time and money, taking care of possessions…you name it…it fits.

I want to clear something up before I say any more. I am not promoting perfectionism by any long shot. Perfectionism is a false belief that any of us could be perfect at all short of a relationships with Jesus Christ. I am talking about taking short cuts in life. I would venture to say that whenever one does something of importance in life the ‘good enough monster’ is going to come out to convince you that you don’t need to do something to your greatest ability every time. Thoughts like ‘you loved well enough today,  you did your job well enough or as good as the next person, you’ve given your share, you’ve prayed enough, you’ve eaten well ‘most’ of the week (or more like you had one good meal today in my case) so splurge a little, you’ve spent enough time with your spouse and/or kids…I don’t think I need to go on. These thoughts are poisonous.

Giving in to the good enough leads to compromise that will more than likely affect more than one area of your life. Would cutting my workout short mean I would start neglecting my family or job? Who knows. If you phrased it like that anyone would laugh at the connection. But what if you asked the question more like, “if I settle for good enough in one area of my life, won’t I be far more likely to settle in other places too?”

Colossians chapter three in the bible puts it like this, “whatever you say or do, do all things to the best of your ability like your doing it for Christ” (my paraphrase of course). That doesn’t leave room for short cuts or the ‘good enough’ side of us to come out. Plus, who is getting cut short in the process? Rarely just the person giving in to doing good enough. We owe it to the people in our lives to not settle for doing good enough. More importantly, we owe it to our God who didn’t settle when creating us or dying on the cross to save everyone who would believe in Him. So let’s live and love and serve and give greatly, not just good enough.

God Bless!

Let it Fly

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As many already know, a major controversy has been ongoing in Marion County Florida over the issue of a confederate flag. It seems some want it removed. Last week, interim County Administrator Bill Kauffman made the decision to remove it in response to the mass shooting that happened at a South Carolina church. However, a majority vote led to the hoisting of the bars and stars once again.

I have never been a fan of the confederate flag. To me, as with many others, it symbolizes a dark part of US History that should be buried in the past. But it seems to me that so many people want to keep this symbol alive. On one hand people view this flag as a beacon of hatred. That could be because the KKK and other white supremacy groups, mainly in the 20th century, flew it at their rallies and streamed it from their cars as they made the worst expressions of hate, both verbal and physical. So, should a group of racist morons be allowed to tarnish a piece of history that many others hold in high esteem? The answer is no…in the south at least. But perhaps that’s not a non biased party. Several people who were interviewed over the controversy stated that the flag is a cherished part of their heritage. It somehow reminds them of where they came from. It’s a symbol of pride and honor to them. I can’t help but to think to myself, “pride in what? Pride in slavery? I doubt that. Pride in a failed attempt at maintaining independence? Certainly not. Pride over being the hotbed of racism towards and murder of minorities for over a century after the civil war? Probably want to forget that one. What could it be that they are prideful of?” My inner monologue may have been a little sarcastic. So I started to think of other symbols that could be similar. The state flag of Texas, the loan star state, has been a symbol of their hard-fought independence for well over 100 years. Did Texas have slaves? You bet they did. The difference lies in the application of the flag thus the association for on-lookers is altered.

Truth is, the Confederate Flag was a battle flag for people who felt oppressed by, or more accurately feared the oppression of a powerful government. In fact, it wasn’t even the original flag of the Confederacy. It was adopted two years into the war originating in Virginia. So the question could arise, was the south’s struggle different from that of Texas. Not as different as you might think. How about another beloved symbol of rebellion…the American Flag. Did the American colonies have slaves? You bet they did. But the first flag was different from the one today wasn’t it? Only in the number of stars. Do we associate ‘old glory’ with slavery and racism, both of which happened under its banner? Maybe some but I strongly doubt Americans would make that cconnection. The point I’m trying to make is that the confederate flag is a symbol of independence. I believe it to be interwoven into the fabric of life in the Southern culture. It’s a picture for many that represents the common attitude of most Americans that’s says, “don’t tread on me government!”

This might be hard to imagine but had the United States lost to Britian, or Texas lost to Mexico, those flags would be extremely controversial. Side note, the U.S. started as a confederacy just like the seven states that broke away in the 1860’s. But I find it hard to believe that Britain or Mexico would be fine with their colonies flying symbols of rebellion. But the United States of America is neither of them. This is the land of freedom, a land where people may express themselves as long as it isn’t illegal or insight something illegal. Like it or not Marion County has every right to fly that flag whether I’m offended or you are offended by its symbolism. Mr. Kauffman’s response to the shooting by taking the flag down shows that the South is still sensitive to the issue of brutal racial violence, which has been fueled by the deaths of black men by white cops (which is a whole other topic I’m not getting into…now anyways). But the public outcry to put the flag up shows that the flag is about far more than that, and possibly for many, has nothing to do with it.

I close with this. Jesus Christ calls us to not lay a stumbling block before our brothers and sisters and to live at peace with all in so much as it depends on us. Would I wave a symbol that could offend because it is linked to a ruthless past? Not a chance. The mission of the believer is to be gracious towards others, and loving, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. But do I have a right to tell people to not fly a flag that means more to them than what racist bigots made it into? Nope. But believe me, if the south started flying that flag to promote injustice I’d be the among the first in line to dread that flag under foot. For now, I’m going to devote more time to praying for healing and forgiveness, both of which can be found in full measure in Christ. God bless!