Responsibility

The Trouble With Christmas

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PeaceonEarth9x16JPG_lgIt’s December once again. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time for listening to Christmas carols, for decorating the tree and putting up the lights, for having your home filled with the fabulous aromas of fresh baked cookies and scented candles. It’s a time for reflection on the year that has passed and for being thankful to the Lord, Jesus Christ for the wonderful blessings of friends, family, good health, and so on.

There was a time, not so long ago really, when Christmas seemed to bring out the best side of our natures. Complete strangers passing each other on the street, who normally might not give one another the time of day, smiled at one another and wished each other a Merry Christmas. Neighbors, who rarely if ever spoke, would exchange gift baskets and cards, showing an abundance of Christmas spirit. The Christmas season had an otherworldly ability to do what no other holiday season during the year could; to remove the barriers of the heart. Christmas allowed us to show compassion and love toward one another without being afraid or judgmental. It was the one time of year when we came closest to what God intended us to be.

Yes, it is that time of year again, and yet something feels very wrong. The Christmas spirit is still there, but it seems overshadowed by something. Its sparkle has faded and been dimmed by another spirit, one of division and hatred. There is heaviness in the air that should not be there. It is as though the Grinch has come down from his mountain peak and stolen the very joy from people’s hearts without them even noticing. All of America seems to be at each others throats over one issue or another. We’ve seen rioting in the streets, protesters marching and shouting abusive and foul language, attacks on those sworn to protect and serve the very people who are attacking them. All of these things while our so-called leaders, instead of trying to calm fears and frustrations, seem to be antagonizing and encouraging more of the same.

 

There cannot be joy and love where there is anger and hatred.

 

The President has done very little to bring peace to these volatile situations. Al Sharpton, a so-called “man of God” has actually spent most of his time promoting anger and racism throughout our nation. The tension and division in our nation is reaching critical mass and all the while people continue to place the blame on the other guy. There is no accountability, no responsibility, and seemingly no stopping it. It’s hard to feel the Christmas spirit when all around us the world seems to be burning with hatred and distrust. Why is this happening? Who is responsible?

I’ve listened to all of the comments and excuses given by the media, from politicians, and from protesters; the police are to blame, white people are to blame, rich people are to blame, one political party or the other is to blame…it’s all wrong! The truth is hard to swallow sometimes, and in order to avoid doing so people will always try to blame someone or something besides themselves. It is not something that is only attributed to our children; adults shy away from accountability too. The truth about why all of this hatred and anger exists in our nation today is because it has been taught. I know some will say, “I didn’t teach my children to hate”, others will say, “It’s the fault of the movies or video games,” but the truth is that the responsibility rests on the doorsteps of our own homes. We, the parents, are who must be held accountable for the actions of our children, whether they are three years old or thirty years old. It is the moral and spiritual lessons that we teach to them that lead them to whatever they come to believe.

What are we teaching our children? What do we permit them to bear witness to in movieschild-1374393113vYe or video games? When we talk to them, are we listening as well, looking for warning signs of rebellious behavior or problems they may be struggling with? Do we spend time with them to teach them the importance of respect and honor, of doing what is right over that which may be popular? When they were young, were there rules and guidelines that they had to follow, and if they did not do what was right were there consequences and punishments? Did we teach them to respect authority and to follow the laws that govern us? These are our responsibilities as parents, regardless of how hard or time consuming they may be. Our children deserve the best possible teaching they can get and we are accountable for what they learn. It is a huge part of being a good and loving parent.

Christmas is upon us once again. Instead of twinkling lights and Christmas displays, at least one city suffers from burned out buildings and charred emotions, all as a result of anger and hatred. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death of a child, it is a very hard thing to endure (I’m speaking from experience), and my heart goes out to those who have suffered that kind of horrific loss no matter the age of that child, but hatred and anger will not help heal the wounds. Attacking others or burning down buildings will not help the pain to pass. Listening to those who have something to gain, by promoting or encouraging that anger and hatred, is not going to make things better. The only way that we can make our world a better and safer place for our children is to teach them things like humility, honesty, respect, and obedience. There is one other very important character trait that we must be certain we instill in our children and that is the ability to forgive. After all, Christmas is about the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, who came to this earth with the gift of forgiveness for the entire human race.

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and an even brighter and far more peaceful New Year. God bless America.

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America’s Growing Impatience

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For the past five years; tumultuous years, our nation has been through economic crisis, war, racial division, terror assaults, and social discourse along with countless other upheavals. We have seen Americans slaughtered by our enemies, Christian’s persecuted for their beliefs, and our allies turn a distrustful and apprehensive eye toward our nation.

Some may say that these things have always existed. That they have, at one time or another, always been a part of our culture and that they ebb and flow much like the tides that wash upon our beaches. This, I do not disagree with. For there has not been, nor will there ever be, complete peace upon our land – at least not until Jesus Christ returns. Some may believe differently than I on this matter, and to you I say that is what freedom is all about – the right to disagree. I do believe that the past five years have been unusually turbulent as compared to years past, and my fear is that this tide of uprising by forces set on the destruction of our great nation and its freedoms will not soon recede, but rather it will crash down upon us like a great wave of calamity. We, as Americans, will do what we have always done at that time – we will fight back, but at what cost then?

To wait; to ignore what is taking place within and without of this nation in regard to the brazen hostility and attacks of our enemies upon our own people and our allies, is to invite destruction upon us that might be averted, yet only if we act with the full measure of our resolve, that we will not be stripped of those things that we hold to be right and true. Do we wait until dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of our fellow Americans fall beneath the blade of extremists who do not hold the same regard for human life as we? I certainly hope that we have not become as complacent as such!

Our nation has been, and still remains a beacon of hope for many. The colors of our flag still stand out, strong and proud, amid the setting of the sun; a symbol of freedom fought for and purchased with the blood of so many brave who have secured that freedom at the ultimate of costs. It is not to be squandered by those eager to attain power or money. Yet, even now many Americans are beginning to see through the seemingly constant barrage of media hype and political melodrama being performed at our expense, while those in positions of power – responsible for taking action – remain steadfastly unwilling to act.

Ours has been a country described as a sleeping giant. For how long will that giant remain at rest when it realizes that those who have sworn allegiance to protect and defend her, to govern her economy with the interests of its citizens at heart rather than their own self interests, not only failed to honor that pledge, but have no intent of ever doing so? Our political leadership has faltered! I dare say, they have not acted in earnest in the positions for which they have vied to achieve and retain, and yet they ask repeatedly that they be trusted.

Congress has failed to secure our nation’s future financially, and continues to waste more and more money each and every year. The Senate refuses to act on bills that might better this nation because they cannot find agreement with Congress. The President flirts with violating the very laws of our nation by taking action on his own to achieve what he believes is right for our nation, while at the same time threatening to veto any bill out of the Congress that reaches his desk to which he does not wholeheartedly agree with. This is all unacceptable in the eyes of the very people they are supposed to be in office to serve, and yet they continue on as though they are on the side of right. Meanwhile, our enemies grow hungrier for our blood each day. They grow more emboldened and more defiant in the face of inconsistency, indecisiveness, and inaction.

Our nation is one without true leadership. Why? I believe that it is because those in power have been permitted to grow without boundaries. They have not forgotten who they serve, but rather no longer care. There is no excuse for the course that our nation’s government has chosen to take – bickering much like children and refusing to do what they have been elected to do! Those in all levels of government have sworn to do their duties according to the articles of the Constitution, and they must act, not only to secure our nation but to defend her as well.

I am not eager for war. I consider the risk of our young men and women in uniform to be something that should never – never be taken lightly. We have lost so much already, and yet I also know that there is never going to be an end to the tyrannical upheaval that the enemies of freedom continue to pummel at us! War was declared long ago by these people, and they will never rest until they are victorious or defeated entirely. To think otherwise is foolhardy and dangerous.

The United States of America must remain a leader in the constant quest to secure freedom and defend what is right and good. Our nation’s leaders must do their jobs, setting aside personal bias and without seeking personal or political-party satisfaction, so that our nation will begin to heal itself of its wounds and will once again be proud and strong. We must be a lion in the face of adversity, not seeking to destroy, but to defend and secure that which we all hold so dear.

Garbage In – Garbage Out

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Have you ever considered the truth behind the phrase, “you are what you eat?”

Granted, this is generally used to reflect the importance of good eating habits so a person can lead a healthier lifestyle, but the significance of the phrase can be applied to other aspects of our lives as well.

During a 2005 triple-murder trial in Alabama, the defendant’s lawyer argued that his client should not be held responsible for the murders of two police officers and a 911 dispatcher because he had suffered psychological influence from a popular video game. According to the defense, the video game played by the defendant, which depicted violence and brutality directed at law enforcement, had hard-wired him into carrying out the heinous acts that he committed; in effect, the game ultimately made the defendant steal a car, made him attempt to escape police custody, and made him gun down the officers.

A video game cannot make a person do something they do not want to do, but studies have proven that they can influence behavior. Much like movies, television shows, books, comics, and even social media, video games can have an impact on the way we think and interact with the real world. What we consume with our minds is just as important – perhaps of even greater importance – as what we ingest with our mouths.

Consider what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees in the 15th chapter of Matthew:

…Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”              – Matthew 15:17-20

Although Jesus was answering a question posed to him about why his disciples did not adhere to the ritualistic act of washing their hands before eating, the scripture serves to show that those things which find their way into our hearts and minds can certainly defile us and have a negative impact on who we are and what we say and do.

Of course, it seems nearly impossible today to think good and pure thoughts when we are constantly bombarded with immoral images, stories, and suggestions. Very little entertainment today is free from the “big three”; profanity, “adult sexual themes,” and violence. In addition, many books, magazines, and newspapers focus on those “big three,” in one way or another. Many people defend violent, obscene, and sexually explicit media on the grounds that they do no harm. They say that watching violent television doesn’t make people violent, just as playing a violent video game does not. But they miss the point. The evil lies in our thinking. Untrue, bad, wrong, impure, ugly, coarse, and contemptible thoughts all corrupt our hearts and minds, and whatever exists within our hearts and minds will always have the potential to escape through our words or actions. Whether or not we become monsters, we all think monstrous thoughts. Even if all the negative thoughts never corrupt our behavior directly, our minds can still become filled with violent, evil images, and that is an evil in itself.

A good friend of mine, who has spent much of her life trying to be a good and Godly influence on children, used to teach them to apply the phrase, “garbage in – garbage out” to all that they said and did. She understood that what they allowed to enter in through their ears and eyes could, and probably would ultimately result in what came out of their mouths as well as through their actions. It is a very good lesson that we should all pay heed to.

The defendant, whose attorney claimed a video game was responsible for his client’s actions, was ultimately found guilty of the crimes he’d committed. He was held responsible for his actions regardless of what may have influenced his decisions and behavior. We are all responsible for our decisions and behavior. What we choose to allow into our lives may have an impact on who we are, what we do and say, and where we end up. We should be careful to avoid allowing garbage into our hearts and minds. I leave you with the words of Paul the Apostle:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”                     – Philippians 4:8-9