As we approach the end of this first month of the new year, I thought it very appropriate to look at Proverbs chapter one. I can think of no other chapter to better lay out the basic outline for all of 2008 than this chapter. My heart cries out for God’s people to stop and listen to what God in His everlasting wisdom has to say about life and living it His way.
The very purpose of the proverbs is laid out in the opening verses. Reading from the NIV, let’s look at verses 1-7 of chapter one:
“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;
For acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
For giving prudence to the simple (those who lack judgment and are immature), knowledge and discretion to the young—
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
For understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
More than anything else, the book of Proverbs is in the Bible to give knowledge and discretion to the young. Older people get stuck in their ways of thinking and living and have a difficult time changing. But, younger people are more capable of learning and changing quicker and with less difficulty.
The book of Proverbs is for wisdom, discipline, understanding words of insight, for acquiring a disciplined life and for doing what is right, just and fair. Think about this for a moment; do we not all want these things? Is it not the innermost heart’s desire in all of us to want not only wisdom and understanding, but discipline to do what is right, just and fair in this life? If so, then the wise person must listen and receive their guidance from the wisdom of Proverbs.
Many times in Proverbs, Solomon presents things using a grand analogy. He compares instruction and wisdom to a father and mother giving guidance to their son who is coming of age and getting ready to head out on his own into life. If Proverbs is looked upon from the perspective of imparting parental wisdom, it makes the book much easier to understand.
Verses 10 through 19 present the first of many warnings in Proverbs against various things. Here, the warning is against “enticement” which in today’s world would be very similar to “peer pressure”. It is very difficult to break away from the crowd and not give into the pressure to conform. Strength of character demands standing alone at times. Wisdom dictates doing what is right not what is popular.
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul;
Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
We will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder;
Throw in your lot with us, and will share a common purse—
My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths;
For their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood.
How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!
These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves!
Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.”
Those who use physical force to steal from others are committing spiritual suicide. The gang mentality that runs rampant in our cities and even suburbs is perfectly described in these verses. As unbelievably difficult as it is, a wise person HAS to SAY NO and NEVER yields to the pressure to conform.
The remaining verses in this chapter all reflect a general warning against rejecting wisdom. If 13 verses could be placed on television screens today instead of 13 hours of football; Proverbs 1:20-33 would be the verses I would choose out of the entire Bible to lay before people on this day. They are that important and essential to our future well-being, safety and freedom from fear:
“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
Since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
When calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
I have studied and worked these verses inside out and upside down for a couple of years now. They are extremely important verses when dealing with “disaster relief”. When people through either their pride or arrogance disregard wisdom’s call in any matter, they are going to suffer the consequences. People who build a beautiful mansion directly on the beach are going to someday face the consequences of their foolishness when a hurricane shows mere mortals who is boss! If have no pity for fools who reject wisdom and defy nature. In my humble opinion; they deserve all the horrible consequences that sweep in with the next calamity.
Wisdom, indeed, does “laugh” at people’s disaster and mocks them when a calamity overtakes them through their foolishness and stubborn refusal to listen to wisdom’s advice. Verse 27 bears repeating for I fear this verse will become the mantra of millions of people very soon. Reading from the Amplified Bible verse 27 again says:
“When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.”
A whirlwind is a tornado. I have heard the horror stories of people who lived through hurricane Katrina. Huddled in a corner of a house being blown apart defines panic, distress and anguish. I have personally lived through tornadoes passing directly overhead and felt the change in pressure in my ears, and heard the nails being pulled out of boards and sheets of plywood being ripped off the roof and discarded like cardboard. There is nothing that better describes “panic, distress and anguish” than living through a category 4 hurricane or tornado.
The rejection of wisdom is a very big deal to God. So big, in fact, that He chooses to equate the consequences of rejecting it to the panic and anguish one feels when living through a gigantic storm. Unfortunately, those who have arrogantly refused to listen to God’s warnings dealing with what is coming to this world, will have to endure the consequences of having to live through a time too terrible to describe.
The day of God’s wrath is quickly approaching. God has issued “Wrath Warnings” since the days of the Old Testament prophets. The last thing God wanted in His written Word was the “Wrath Warning” in the book of Revelation. Those who take heed to the warnings and repent will be “saved from the wrath which is to come”. Those who reject the warnings and continue living in sin will certainly be sorry they did.
Well before a severe storm, the National Weather Service issues a “watch”. The purpose of a “watch” is to allow people enough time to prepare for a coming calamity. “Watches” are issued in advance of blizzards, ice storms, dry winds that fan fires, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes and even tsunamis. Wisdom dictates taking precautionary measures before an approaching storm. Wise people prepare for a coming weather event and usually survive. Fools disregard the “watches” and usually end up the victims in a disaster.
When a storm is guaranteed to be a reality a “WARNING” is issued. Warnings are not given unless the situation has reached a crisis point. Warnings of all kinds are there for a reason. Only fools disregard warnings out of their arrogance and pride. It is truly amazing to look back on a situation such as Katrina and realize there was ample time for evacuations if people had heeded the “Watch” which was posted well in advance of the event. There was even time to escape once the “WARNING” was issued. For whatever the reason, those who deliberately decided to “ride out the storm” were the causalities of it. Those who properly prepared were the ones who endured the storm and had to deal with only physical damage instead of physical death.
The message of Proverbs chapter one is very sobering. Remember it says that when the horrible calamity strikes THEN those who arrogantly defied wisdom’s call will cry for help. The Bible says that wisdom will not answer. It can’t answer for it is too late. Wisdom cannot help AFTER THE FACT. Wisdom can only provide answers BEFORE hand. When it is rejected and arrogantly discarded when it could have helped; it is of no use after the calamity strikes.
I do not envy what those who hate the true knowledge of God and choose to NOT fear the Lord have to look forward to in 2008 and beyond. Those who will not accept God’s advice written in His Word and those who spurn and flat out reject His rebuke; WILL eat of their own fruit and that fruit will not be good. The waywardness (turning away, backsliding) of the simple (the fools) will kill them. The complacency of fools will destroy them.
In Isaiah 32:6-8 it says:
“For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil; He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the Lord: the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water.
The scoundrel’s methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.
But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.”
In due time everyone will eat the fruit of their decisions in this life, whether good or bad. The fools and scoundrels will eventually receive the reward they are due for their wickedness, folly and selfishness. In due time, he who is noble and listens to the voice of wisdom and does what is right in the sight of the Lord will receive the reward due to them.
Allow me to close with repeating verse 33 from Proverbs chapter One from the Amplified Bible:
“But whoso hearkens to me [wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil.”
No matter what the rest of this year brings, it is available to dwell securely and peacefully with no fear or dread of evil. PLEASE allow wisdom to guide and direct you to safety in this upcoming year of potential upheaval especially in the financial realm. God Bless You.
Archive for January, 2008
As we approach the end of this first month of the new year, I thought it very appropriate to look at Proverbs chapter one. I can think of no other chapter to better lay out the basic outline for all of 2008 than this chapter. My heart cries out for God’s people to stop and listen to what God in His everlasting wisdom has to say about life and living it His way.
Having witnessed the devastating effects of numerous kinds of natural disasters, I can say that regardless of the way in which nature vents her fury, man’s edifices don’t fare well. In a matter of a few weeks last spring, I surveyed the damage done by tornadoes in three separate places. The only thing different with each situation was the location. In each case, the physical damage and mental anguish was identical regardless of the community.
A tornado, more than any other meteorological event, is unique in its compact yet incredibly destructive character. Even the largest tornadoes on record rarely are greater than one mile in width. From that perspective, a tornado is an exceedingly small force. Although a tornado is compact, it is ferocious and tenacious. A tornado doesn’t come close to impacting as many people as a hurricane; but those it does impact suffer more violent damage than most people who endure hurricanes ever have to deal with.
It is interesting to note that next to sustained winds over 100 mph and the storm surge; the thing most to be feared with a hurricane coming ashore are the tornadoes that many times erupt near the eye wall of major hurricanes. No one can definitively say for sure, but it was estimated that there could have been 50 or more tornadoes accompanying both hurricanes Katrina and Rita ashore back in 2005. Local people who lived through both of those hurricanes claim there were hundreds of tornadoes but the weather experts deny that is possible.
Regardless of how many actual tornadoes happened; the damage on the ground would indicate there were multiple tornadoes touching down for short periods of time in multiple locations. Even after a hurricane hits, the damage caused by a tornado will still be unique. Talking to people who were huddled in their homes or in shelters while those storms roared by, many of them described sounds and sensations tornado victims always speak about. Personally, I believe there is much not understood in the realm of tornadoes associated with land falling hurricanes.
This past week as I was driving up I-44 toward St. Louis from Springfield, I happened to look out the window and saw where a small tornado had hit a two weeks ago. There were the always present blue tarps hiding roof damage on numerous homes. There were piles of rubble where barns stood previously. Somewhere in the path of damage was a family suffering with the unexpected loss of a loved one who was killed by the tornado.
Just a couple of weeks ago we basked in 70 degree warmth for a few days here in Missouri. Sure enough, when a strong cold front came roaring through, the first tornado watches of 2008 were posted and Missouri had the distinction of having watch number one for the year. January tornadoes are very rare anywhere in the United States, but extremely rare in Missouri. Even so, when the watches and warnings started flying, I knew we would be in for a long evening.
A wise person can decide not to build a home near the Gulf or Atlantic coastlines; thus eliminating the possibility of a hurricane destroying the home. A wise person can decide not to live on top of a fault line and thus avoid earthquake damage. A wise person can decide not to live on the side of a mountain thus avoiding forest fires and mudslides. A wise person can decide not to live on the banks of a river or stream, so as to avoid the inevitable flooding all moving bodies of water experience.
Yes, a wise person can decide to live in a location immune from many natural disasters, but not tornadoes. Just about anywhere is a prime location for a tornado to hit. Certainly “tornado alley” in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are more prone to twisters than say Idaho; but other than living on top of Pike’s Peak, nowhere is immune from the possibility of a tornado happening. Where exactly is one supposed to live if they are sincerely desirous of escaping nature’s wrath? About the only place might be Vermont, but even that state has its share of wild winter weather events.
Far too many times, the attitude shown toward those whose lives were uprooted by a tornado is that they did something wrong by living where they chose to live. Nowhere is this ridiculous attitude more prevalent than towards those living in the middle of the country. “Who wants to live in Kansas” was the refrain I heard for years when people heard I grew up in the state. All Kansas used to be known for was tornadoes, Indians, Dorothy and Toto, wheat and endless treeless flat land. Now at least it is also known for basketball and football teams.
When the unprecedented tornado wiped the town of Greensburg, Kansas off the map last spring, there was an outpouring of concern in this country that was unique and inspiring. For the first time, people wanted to help after a Kansas tornado tragedy instead of criticizing the victims for living in the wrong state. For the first time, the United States of America really got behind the cause of rebuilding a tornado devastated city in Kansas. For the first time, America proved what it could do when it sets its preconceived prejudices aside and rallies to help a city in Kansas.
Unfortunately, what happened in Greensburg was not duplicated in numerous other areas severely impacted by last spring’s disastrous tornado season. Many more populated places than normal were devastated by major tornadoes or tornado outbreaks last year. Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, Indiana and Kentucky are just some of the states which suffered catastrophic tornado damage last year. Americans have extremely short memories. Most have long forgotten the horrible tornadoes that plowed through Alabama and Georgia last March, including the one that killed numerous high school students in Enterprise, Alabama.
Last year, in addition to the outrageous tornado outbreaks, there were abnormally high numbers of both flash floods as well as regular floods reported. Historic flooding took place in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Major flooding took place in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Kentucky and many New England states. The cost to repair flood damage was enormous. Yet, floods never capture the public’s attention because they are not as dramatic as piles of rubble after a huge tornado or hurricane.
While parts of the country were enduring record floods, other parts were suffering through unprecedented drought. The states of Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia all experienced record breaking drought that in many locales still is going on. Last spring, before the summer rains helped, Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida had reached record low levels. Last spring, fires raged in the swamps of southern Georgia sending dense smoke through much of the northern half of Florida.
Last summer, horrific forest fires raced down the dry canyons outside San Diego and Los Angeles, California destroying thousands of homes in the process. Again, in October a second fire almost burned Malibu off the map. Also last summer, huge fires burned unchecked for months in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Although summer fires happen almost every year in the western states; the decade long drought has made them worse than they used to be.
Early this winter a series of storms pounded the coastline of Washington and Oregon with winds normally associated with a category 2 hurricane. The damage was also roughly equivalent to a hurricane. Millions of people were without power for long periods of time between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Within a week, the entire middle part of the country was paralyzed with an ice storm never seen before. Oklahoma was especially devastated by so much ice, it took the power companies weeks to get everyone’s electricity back on.
Although it turned out to be another very quiet hurricane season (as far as the United States coastline), there was still one small hurricane that made land fall in almost the exact same place as Hurricane Rita did in 2005. The area was still recovering from Rita, so the damage was worse than would normally be expected with a category 1 hurricane. Even twenty-four hours before land fall, there were no warnings and no one expected the storm to blow up as it did immediately before hitting land.
2007 was a very active year weather-wise in this country. If the average American were asked if the weather was “wild” the past year, most would shrug their shoulders and say they didn’t know. This is because there was little wild weather in the populated northeast part of the country. Even though there was a tornado that hopped through New York City; most people there would no longer remember it unless their house was damaged. In the absence of a huge hurricane, blizzard, ice storm or terrorist attack; the people in the Northeast cannot relate to the suffering experienced elsewhere in this country.
Images of demolished buildings in Kansas, ice on broken trees in Oklahoma, rivers swallowing up whole cities in Texas, entire towns blown away by a tornado in North Dakota, blackened hills and charred ruins where houses once stood in California and dried up lakes in Florida mean little to millions of people whose only daily concern is fighting traffic and seeing if their sports team won or lost. I hate to say it, but until a major natural disaster strikes the populated areas of the East Coast again; most people there will have little compassion for those suffering elsewhere in this country.
Whatever wonderful things come out of the Greensburg, Kansas tornado tragedy, I hope and pray they do not end there. I pray that anytime a community in this country is devastated by a force of nature, images will emerge quickly and be plastered on the Internet. I pray the major news organizations devote at least some of their precious newscasts to the plight of people whose entire lives were just turned upside down by earthquakes, wind storms and forest fires. I pray the major charitable organizations respond as quickly and in force as they did in Greensburg. I pray the average American is aroused by the images of destruction and suffering and finds within himself the motivation to help those in need either financially or by volunteering to help clean up or rebuild.
It is hard for someone to understand what a person goes through when they lose everything they have worked a lifetime to gain. It is hard for others to grasp the unbelievable suffering that is associated with the loss of one’s home, its contents and especially a loved one. It is hard to comprehend the scope of a disaster that may affect upwards of a million people or more. It is hard to capture the hardships people must endure who have no electricity or water. It is hard to experience all these things unless you have seen, heard and been through it yourself.
This past year more Americans than ever before got a taste of disaster relief, for they found themselves in the middle of one. I sincerely pray that as nature once again starts unleashing her fury in the coming months that we remember to help and pray for those who through no fault of their own, found themselves in a natural disaster’s path. After all, that is what America is supposed to be all about; neighbor helping neighbor and everyone helping anyone who needs it.
Please take a moment and imagine yourself dwelling in the city and land of your birth. You greatly love where you live and have a lot of “national pride”. You are young and extremely inexperienced in worldly matters, but you are full of love for God and want to serve Him with all your heart. Now imagine that you are the only person in the entire country who knows the truth about what is happening and is going to happen.
Imagine God telling you that He has chosen you to be His spokesperson and that you must speak that truth to the most powerful people in the land, regardless of the consequences. Furthermore, you have been warned by God that the people will not listen, and the very things you tell others are coming, you too will have to suffer through. As if all this were not enough, God tells you to forget about praying for the people, for they are beyond the point where prayer does any good. In fact, God says He will not even listen to your or the people’s prayers. You now know a little bit how the prophet Jeremiah felt.
When Jeremiah first came on the scene, the good king Josiah was reining and Judah was going through its last period of peace and prosperity. God knew what was coming and He needed to raise up men to be His prophets. Consider that in the year 587 B.C.; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Obadiah were all probably functioning as prophets. Why so many? Because it was that very year that Jerusalem fell. God was doing everything possible to give His people one last chance to repent and not have to face destruction, captivity or extinction.
Jeremiah did not want the job God gave him. As Moses did many years earlier, Jeremiah told the Lord that he did not know how to speak. He reminded the Lord that he was but a “child”. Certainly God must have someone more qualified to be His spokesman. Certainly there must be someone with all the appropriate degrees available. Certainly there were wise masters in the king’s palace who could carry out this job far better than Jeremiah could. One would certainly think such would be the case; but it wasn’t. Jeremiah was who God wanted and so God called him.
In response to Jeremiah’s objection regarding being unable to speak and being a child. This is what God had to say in Jeremiah 1:7-10 from the NIV:
“But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘ I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
What a unique calling Jeremiah had in life. His entire life was basically spent being a prophet of doom. Although he was also a prophet of restoration, this was secondary to his primary purpose of warning and giving the exceedingly unpopular message of impending destruction and captivity. His main purpose was to uproot, which is the opposite of planting. So much of what the prophet Jeremiah had to do consisted of ripping up the systems of unbelief planted in Judah.
The words “tear down”, “destroy” and “overthrow” are all direct opposites of “build”. Jeremiah’s primary purpose was not to be a carpenter prophet, but a demolition man. He constantly had to go to the king and tear down or destroy the lies and idolatry which ran rampant throughout the kingdom. He would consistently have to report to the powerful leaders the bad news that the kingdom was ready to fall. Of course this did not make him a popular fellow around the palace.
During the 40 or so years Jeremiah functioned as the prophet; he dealt with good kings such as Josiah and wicked ones like Jehoiakim. In fact, Jehoiakim detested Jeremiah and was relentlessly hostile toward him. After Josiah’s untimely death, Jeremiah spent far more time in prison than he did enjoying freedom. When not in prison he was constantly persecuted and attacked for his incessant negativism and for being the “prophet of doom”.
On one occasion a pit was dug and filled with dung. Jeremiah was placed in the pit and its unpleasant ingredients came up to his neck. This was done to “persuade” him to change his prophesy from one of doom to one which was more “politically correct”. It is no wonder that Jeremiah spent most of his life weeping. Not for himself, but for the land he loved and for the stubborn and unrepentant people he carried his message to.
As I was reading Jeremiah the other day, I couldn’t help but think that it might have been written last week. So many times when I look at the state of this country and the state of the church; I feel as Jeremiah felt when looking at Jerusalem. As he would see the incredible sin and corruption; he would first get angry and then weep for he knew what was coming. I too get very angry with our secular culture and the hypocrisy among religious people. I also end up weeping for I know that the hour is approaching quickly when this once proud country will be a pile of rubble and the once great Church will be the temple of the anti-Christ.
Nothing much has changed in the 2600 years since Jeremiah lived and boldly proclaimed God’s Word. The world is still corrupt and full of evil men whose only desire is personal power and gain. The religious leaders are as wicked as ever and together with the political leaders they seek only to oppress the poor and get more and more power and wealth for themselves. The country today is as full of idols as Judah was in Jeremiah’s time. The world today is as ready to help destroy this country as it was to destroy Jerusalem when Jeremiah lived.
God is as fed up with the situation today as He was back in 687 b.c. What God had to say in reference to the unbelief, idolatry and wickedness recorded in Jeremiah is as applicable today as it was then. Very little has changed except the characters in the story and the location where it takes place. I pray that we all take to heart the following record from Jeremiah and listen carefully to anything God has to say to us today in relation to it:
“This the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message: “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says; Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.
Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”
If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly,
If you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm
Then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.
But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
“Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known,
And then come and stand before me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things?
Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have watching! Declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 7:1-11 NIV
If the last verse sounds familiar, it is because Jesus quoted it as he overturned the money-changers tables in the temple a few days before he was apprehended. Things had not changed one bit by the time Jesus came and they have not changed since. It is absolutely astounding the potpourri of wicked things people do; and still have the audacity to go to church and say “We are safe here because it’s the Lord’s House”. Safe to do what? All the detestable things mentioned in this section?
The Church is not a “safe house”. It is not a place to run away from sin and hide in. Just as people abused the temple, so people abuse the church today. I am not just talking about physical buildings either. I am talking about the Living Temple, the Church of believers, and the Body of Christ. People cannot expect to live like the devil and then run to the fellowship of believers and pretend they are “holy” without God catching on. Adam and Eve tried doing just that, and it did not work out too well for them.
“While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.
Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers.
I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.”
How truly sad it is to think that people would refuse to answer God’s call, and never consider listening to Him. Even sadder is that God would become so “put out” with His people, their sin and their attitudes that He would destroy His temple and cast the people from His very presence. Perhaps one of the most difficult verses in the Bible is verse 16:
“So do not pray for this people, nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.”
Does anyone really think God enjoyed telling Jeremiah to NOT pray for, offer a plea for or plead with God on behalf of His people? Nothing could have hurt God more than to tell His prophet to not even bother praying for His people. To think that they were so horribly perverted that prayer was not an option is indicative of their state of utter and total spiritual and moral corruption. We know that one of the things a prophet was under obligation to do was to pray for and intercede on behalf of the people. It must have broken Jeremiah’s heart to hear directly from God that his prayers would be a waste of his and God’s time.
God forbid we ever sink to the point where God would tell us that prayer in no longer available. God forbid His people become so wicked in their hearts that it is impossible for them to repent. God forbid that God has to destroy His house to chase out the rats that have defiled and corrupted it. We don’t want to see these things happen, but we know they have already begun, and will only get worse as “The End” draws nearer.
May we all remain faithful and more than willing to listen to and answer God when He calls us. May we never be found guilty of hiding our sins in the “safe house” of the Lord’s temple. None of us want to be told the horrible news; prayers are no longer accepted. God forbid/ Let it not become so.
Priorities literally define what we do in life. Whatever we establish as top priority is that which we give the most time and effort to. Whatever is lowest priority gets only the “leftovers”. For some people, family is their top priority and everything else revolves around it. For others, their profession is their top priority and all other activities must fall in line behind it. For others, “religion” is their highest priority and is the focal point for all life’s activities.
That, which is top priority in a person’s life, is obviously the most important thing to that person. People become very protective of that which is most cherished to them. A person does not attempt to infringe on, try to take from or otherwise “mess with” a person’s top priority without expecting quite a fight. Those things which are low priorities matter little to a person, and if they are lost, stolen or ruined; there is little chance of any negative repercussions. But, if that which is most cherished by someone is tampered with; the cavalry will be called along with Colombo and all three CSI departments.
A “normal” person would never in million years consider harming his family. Whether it be a parent consciously injuring their child, a brother and sister deliberately hurting each other or a child beating their parent; this behavior is UNNATURAL. For the vast majority of people, their family is their top priority, especially for parents. The most outrageous thing most parents could ever imagine doing would be to kill their children. The very thought is repulsive and repugnant.
The recent story of the father dropping his four children to their deaths in Alabama shows exactly how obnoxious our society has become. Granted, it is an isolated case and with drugs involved “reason” gets thrown to the wind. But, the very thought of someone deliberately killing their own children, for whatever the cause, is beyond belief. Try as I may to comprehend how and why a person would do such a thing; I cannot.
This whole story brings back bad memories of the well publicized cases of two separate mothers killing their children. One ran their car into a lake while claiming the children were kidnapped and the other drowned them all in the bathtub in the family home. Any time one of these cases arises, it should cause all of us to stop and consider how the idea of a parent killing their own child is perhaps the very definition of evil.
A child has no way to defend himself. A child trusts the parent with his very life. A child would never believe his parent would hurt him. By nature, children trust their parents to love them, nourish them, care for them and protect them. By nature, a parent only wants to love, nourish, care for and protect their children. Thus, when a parent “snaps” and does the unthinkable and kills the child; perhaps the worst and most heinous crime in the entire universe has been committed.
When parents chose to place something besides their children as the top priority in their lives, the risk of hurting those children rises greatly. The hurt would not be deliberate, but the pain would be the same whether consciously inflicted or inadvertently done. Parents who chose to make their profession top priority relegate the children into modified foster care. They are shipped from one set of surrogate parents to another. First the school or pre-school cares for them, and then coaches and others who handle extra-curricular activities care for them and then relatives or nannies take care of them the rest of the time. All this so the parents are “free” to work 80 hours per week to make money.
Children who grow up with parents who were too busy to be parents usually end up either extremely hard and calloused or brittle and easily broken. Rarely do they end up able to enjoy stable relationships and almost never do they open their hearts to anyone. Children crave the love and attention only a parent can give. By nature, children want to be held, talked to and be in the company of their parents.
“But you don’t understand” I can hear many saying at this very moment. “I must make my job or jobs top priority in order to make enough money to support the family”. This very statement is echoed over and over again in this country. I am painfully aware that most parents who make their profession their top priority did not do it voluntarily. They were forced into the situation by financial obligations, a spouse leaving (or dying) or a multitude of other things that come up.
I understand, but it does not alter the end result. No matter whether through greed or need, if a parent makes a job, a relationship, drugs or their social life a higher priority than their children; they are going to hurt their children. A parent must make extremely difficult choices in life, and where and how they spend their time and money are the biggest of all. A parent has no right to say “what about me” when they have children literally depending on them. A parent has no right to take from what the children need to supply their own greed.
From the time I can remember, I was “raised” first by my sister, then my brother, then my grandmother and finally myself. It was not that my parents didn’t love me nor was it because they were busy making a fortune that I was raised by people other than them. It was because of their work schedules that I hardly had any time with the two people I wanted to spend time with the most. My mom worked from midnight till 8:00 am as a Registered Nurse at the local Veterans Hospital. My dad worked for the Post Office and had revolving shifts that even included riding the trains while sorting mail.
I do not resent them for not having the time to spend with me, for they spent all the time they had available. I didn’t turn out all bad, but I must confess that I have faced “rejection” issues my whole life. It took me many years to understand where those issues originated, but finally I understood they came from the lack of time and closeness in my family while growing up. I survived, and I am not a victim, but I live with the understanding that I have a weakness and if I don’t keep an eye on it, I will slide into a state of feeling like “nobody loves me”.
I thank God my parents were responsible enough to not neglect me or forsake me. I thank God they loved me enough to not throw me off a bridge because of anger or frustration. I thank God they provided food, clothing, a basketball and a dog for me along with anything else I genuinely needed. I thank God I at least had parents for there are millions out there who never got to enjoy a parent at all.
Parents: Always be thankful for the awesome privilege it is to have children. Never allow the pressures and frustrations of life to be taken out on your children. Always remember how vulnerable they are and how much they trust you to take care of them in every category. Never, ever take your children for granted, for in our day and time, one never knows…
Children: Always be thankful for the privilege of having parents, for there are millions around the world who have none. Never allow the pressures and frustrations of growing up to be taken out on your parents; after all, they are not to blame for your hormones changing. Always remember how much your parents love you no matter how things look. Never, ever take your parents for granted, for they could be gone in a literal heartbeat.
Both my parents have passed away and my wife and I have no children. If not for our dogs, the loneliness at times would be overwhelming. I miss my mom for we used to talk for hours almost every day. I miss her wisdom and I miss her “motherly love”. Being a man, I am not ashamed to confess that I dearly loved my mom. I also miss my dad, although he has been gone far longer. I miss our long talks and his profound wisdom on many matters. I miss his gentle voice questioning me as to whether I really want to be doing such and such. I miss his friendship as much as his “fatherly” ways.
If “family” is not top priority in your life, perhaps it should be. Especially if you are a parent or have elderly parents to care for. Little children and elderly parents have one thing in common; they both need to be cared for by someone. If family is not top priority, then they will be taken care of by hired help, the government or volunteers. Ideally they would be taken care of by loving parents or children who see the benefit of putting “family first” on the priority list.
Warning: Do not try to read this if you are not wide awake and sober. The staggering number of statistics will cause mental short circuits. Author is not responsible for “fried brain” or other problems associated with excessive statistics.
Consider these sobering statistics. In 1960, a new house would cost around $16,500. Ten years later in 1970, a new house would cost around $26,500. The cost of a new house went up $1,000 per year. The national inflation rate ranged from 1.4% in 1960 to 6.5% in 1970. Unemployment ranged from 5.5% in 1960 to 3.5% in 1970. Obviously, the 1960s were a fairly stable decade with little change in most key indicators. The highest level the Dow hit in 1960 was 685 and the highest it hit in 1970 was 842. The average price for a gallon of gas in 1960 was .31 and in 1970 it was .36.
In 1960, the median household income was $5,600. To put these statistics in proper perspective; a new home would cost the average family three times its annual income. By 1970, the median household income had grown to $8,730 or 55.9%. Guess what? It would still cost the average family three times its annual income to get a new home.
In the ten years of the 1960s, the median household income rose 55.9% and the average price of a new house rose 60%. It is very interesting to note that the average price of new house in 1968 was also $26,500 compared to $20,500 in 1964. Thus, most of the increase in housing cost came in the middle four years when inflation was averaging around 3%.
By 1980, the average cost of new house had jumped to $76,400. This was a $50,000 increase in ten years. Remember the increase in the 1960s was only $10,000. The cost of new house increased 188% during the decade of the 1970s. Inflation ranged from around 5% in 1971 to an astounding 13.5% in 1980. Unemployment was fairly stable between 3.5% and 6%. The 1970s were racked with two separate oil crisis and the resulting double digit inflation that came with them. In 1974 and 75, inflation hovered around 14%. Between 1977 and 1980, inflation was between 11% and 13.5%.
Needless to say, the price of just about everything skyrocketed during the 1970s. A gallon of gasoline went from .36 per gallon in 1970 to 1.25 in 1980; a 247% increase. A gallon of milk went from $1.15 to $2.16, a 88% increase in ten years. The highest level the Dow hit in 1970 was 842 and the highest it hit in 1980 was 1000 which represents only a 19% increase. The stock market was not the vehicle to wealth in the 1970s but CDs and other set rate investments provided a huge windfall to those wise enough to invest in them.
In 1970 the median household income was $8730. By 1980 the median household income had grown to $17,700. Although this represents an increase of 103%, when compared with the 188% increase in the average cost of new house and the 247% increase in a gallon of gasoline; it is plain to see the average American family went backwards in the 1970s.
In 1990, the average cost of a new house had increased to $149,800. This was a 96% increase from 1980. To place these figures in proper perspective, a new house cost $123,300 more in 1990 than in 1970. A new house cost a staggering 465% more in 1990 than a mere 20 years earlier in 1970. Unlike the 1970s, inflation was fairly tame in the 1980s after 1983. The incredible 96% increase in housing costs cannot be explained by inflation as they were in the 1970s.
Unemployment ballooned during the recession of 1983 and 1984 to just under 10% but averaged closer to 7% most of the decade. The big thing that changed in the 1980s was the value of the Dow. Remember its highest close was 1000 in 1980. In 1990, the Dow hit 3000. Certainly the 200% increase in the Dow during the 1980s generated a huge new class of wealth in this country. Those who invested in the stock market in 1980 were rewarded with returns on their investments never before seen in history, even with the temporary dip in 1987.
The median household income was up to $29,943 in 1990 which is more than $12,000 more than 1980. The 69% increase in household income basically kept pace with the rate of inflation and was in line with the percentage of increase in the cost of a new house. Again, to keep these figures in better perspective, the median household income increased by $21,213 between 1970 and 1990. This represents a 243% increase. This sounds good until compared to the 465% increase in the cost of new house.
Here is a statistic to chew on. The price for a gallon of gasoline in 1970 was .36 and in 1990 it was only $1.16. The price of a gallon of gas went up 222% in 20 years even with two huge oil crises. By comparison, a gallon of milk in 1970 was $1.15 and by 1990 it was $2.78; an increase of 142% in twenty years. Both the price of gasoline and milk went up less in twenty years than the median household income.
In the year 2000, the average cost of a new house was $207,000 only a 38% increase from 1990. The 1990s were similar to the 1960s in that inflation was very low, averaging around 2.5% and unemployment was moderate in the 6% range. What bore no resemblance to the 1960s was the stock market. If the gains of the 1980s were impressive; the gains of the 1990s were phenomenal. The Dow hit 3000 in 1990. In early 2000, the Dow reached 11,723 an amazing 290% increase over 1990. One must remember that early in the year 2000 the Dow started dropping and didn’t get back to 11,723 until 2006.
The median household income in 2000 was $42,100 which was only a 40% increase from 1990. For the first time since the 1960s, the percentage increase in the cost of new house and the median household income were roughly the same. Of course when comparing actual dollar figures, the comparison takes on a whole new light. The average cost of a new house increased $57,200 while the raise in median household income raised $12,127. This is why actual figures are better for comparing differences than percentages of increase.
Here is your statistical food for thought of the day. A gallon of gasoline cost $1.38 in 1980 and in twenty years it still only cost $1.50. In twenty years, a gallon of gasoline only went up .12 on average. That amounts to 8% increase in TWENTY years. Amazingly, gasoline in 1999 averaged $1.17 or .21 LESS than in 1980. I do not believe we Americans have much to complain about just because the price of gasoline has finally caught up with everything else.
Finally we come to 2006. What has transpired in six years since 2000 is truly incredible yet horribly troubling. The median household income increased to $48,201 which is up all of 14% since 2000. The Dow finally managed to get back to where it was in 2000 and even went over 14000 before falling back to its current levels. Inflation had been pretty much under control until the last year, and unemployment has been very stable. From these perspectives all seems to be going well.
That gallon of gasoline that cost $1.50 in 2000 now ranged between $2.20 and $3.05 in 2006. We have seen pretty much a 100% increase in gasoline prices in the past six years. Keep in mind, we saw a 247% increase in gasoline costs in the 1970s. The average cost of a new home in 2006, just before the sub-prime crisis turned the housing market upside down, was an astounding $305,900. To say the cost of a new home increased 48% between 2000 and 2006 doesn’t do the comparison justice. The only way to really see what has happened is to realize the average cost of a new house jumped $98,900 in less than six years.
Here is the crux of the whole matter. A new house cost 1050% more in 2006 than in 1970. That means a new house in 2006 was 10 ½ times more expensive than one in 1970. By comparison, the median household income increased 452% between 1970 and 2006. The 600% difference between income and housing expense is why there is a crisis of monumental proportions plaguing this country.
In 1970, the ratio between income and new home cost was 33%. In other words, a new home cost about 3 times more than the median household income. By 1980, due to the horrific inflation during the 1970s, that ratio dropped to 23%. The new home was now 4 times more than the median household income. By 1990, the ratio had dropped further to 20% and was still at 20% in the year 2000. By 2006, the ratio had dropped to 15.7%. People can no longer afford new houses. The income is not rising nearly as fast as the cost.
Think about these statistics when you drive down the road and see the signs advertising “new homes starting at $300,000.” Who exactly can afford to move into a new home with that kind of price tag? Yet, every day in America someone signs their life away just to purchase a grossly overpriced piece of the American dream. Every day in America, tens of thousands of construction workers go to work building more and more houses with price tags that only a few short years ago represented the anticipated lifetime earnings of a worker.
America cannot handle what is happening in the housing market. The only way would be to hike wages dramatically. If that were to happen, we would be back to the days of 13% inflation. The only solution is for the housing costs to come back down to a level commensurate with income. This does not sit well with those building the houses and those who have already paid highly inflated prices for them. But, who deserves the break today? The few who through greed and shortsightedness grossly overpaid for their home or the rest of us who are fighting to stay in ours? I vote for us, how about you?
There was a news story today buried deep beneath the multitude of political ones dealing with a bazaar event in southern Mobile County, Alabama. In case you couldn’t find this very important story, here is the link to it:
This story is extremely important not because it takes place in an area I highlighted awhile back on the post: Tri Coastal Community Outreach: A Rare Disaster Relief Group Success Story—but because of the absolute ugliness of what took place. Unless people in this country wake up and begin to take note of what is happening in the obscure places no politician ever visits; they will never know the pulse of the real America.
We have several different issues vying for the top position in this story. We have the whole immigration issue. We have the immense drug, and especially crack problem as a major issue. We have the whole socio-economic fabric of that part of the country that is an issue. And of course far and away, the biggest issues deal with how a father could do such a thing to his children.
There is absolutely no way this case will ever receive the attention similar cases dealing with mothers killing their children receive. Besides the obvious problem with nationality, there are too many things in this story that arouse anger toward the nation, the local authorities and social services to generate the national outpouring of emotion seen when mothers suffering from depression drowned or killed their “babies”. There is no one to victimize here except the same drug addicted minorities people get so tired of hearing about on the evening news.
I have been to this area many times. I have seen this bridge. I have met many of the local Vietnamese community. This story hits close to home for I know what is going on in the area. I know the elephant in the closet is the same as in countless communities, towns and cities across America. The underlying problem is “crack”. If one were to go to this area in Alabama and stay awhile, it wouldn’t take long to see that the underlying reason for the poverty and crime in the area is the overwhelming amount of drugs being used and needed.
Just as in the ghettos of huge cities, there are hundreds and hundreds of predominantly unemployed men addicted to crack. These people are like desperate animals. They will beg, borrow, steal and kill to support their habit. One of the most revealing lines in the Yahoo story was: “The family initially feared he had traded the children to support his drug habit.” Ladies and gentlemen, have we really come to the place in America where fathers would trade their children for crack? Yes we have.
What is the value of four young children? Considering many middle class Americans spend well over $10,000 to adopt one child from China and other countries; how much could four children under the age of four be worth on the black market? If it isn’t happening, why was it the initial fear of the family? It is happening and it’s only going to get worse.
Hard core drunks can live under a bridge in a cardboard box and be content to find cheap bottles of wine because their addiction allows it. Hard core crack addicts do not have it so easy. You never find them living in boxes or in dumpsters. No, they live at home, many times appearing to be normal people. They may be normal until the monster rears its ugly head and demands to be fed. Unless one has been addicted or worked with addicts; there is no way to comprehend what happens when a person HAS TO GET THEIR FIX.
As time goes by, we will eventually learn the details about this tragedy in Alabama. Until then, we must lift our heads out of the sand and honestly take stock of what is going on behind the scenes in economically depressed areas. Much of the oppression and depression is caused by the never ending need for and then the effects of taking crack. There never was much of a war on drugs, and now there is NONE. Authorities have basically given up trying to deal with the problem in many places because there is no way to deal with it.
I leave you with a very numbing possibility. What if someone becomes desperate for their next fix, they steal YOUR kids and trade them for drugs? Would the problem suddenly become more than an obscure nuisance found only in the ghetto? If your children were thrown off a bridge by a drug addict whose mind was fried and whose conscience was seared; do you think this story would suddenly become a bit more important?
“Hello, my name is Dr. So and So and I am here because you know nothing about … and I do. I am the expert, for I went to the University of such and such for 15 years. I am thus your master for I know more than you could ever hope to know on this subject. So, just sit back and listen to me bore you with my grand knowledge and you will know all you need to know.”
The preceding paragraph pretty well sums up the attitude of most so-called experts in any field from medicine to sports to religion. I love the weather but I can’t stand television weather broadcasters who feel they are everyone’s parent when it comes to weather situations. I can’t stand condescending experts in any field and just about everyone on television thinks that because they are there, it entitles them to be bowed down to as a god of whatever they are covering.
I have met my fair share of media personalities. Of those whom I have met, I can think of ONE I could stand being around for more than a few minutes. I vividly recall just a few years ago seeing a Cardiologist in downtown St. Louis at a brand new clinic. On the way out, I was approached by a guy and asked if I would mind doing a quick interview for the local television channel regarding my experience at the new clinic. Making a big mistake, I said fine.
A few minutes later, the woman who does all the medical related stories for the station arrived with loud “clickity clack” high heels and with such pomp I thought the Queen of England had shown up. She started barking out orders to her legion of drones that scurried about like ants getting everything just right for her 2 minute segment. It took someone 5 minutes just to get her hair perfect.
After all this time waiting and watching, she was finally told that I was the appointed patient to be interviewed. She looked at me and said; “Not him, get me someone who looks good on camera.” That was it, my chance to be a celebrity went down the drain. I didn’t make the cut because the “expert” didn’t like how I looked. It didn’t matter that the reason I didn’t “look good” was because I was sick and thus I was visiting the clinic AS A PATIENT which was being highlighted for the news.
Eight years ago I spent many weeks cooped up in a motel room in Rochester, Minnesota while subjecting myself to the varied “experts” at Mayo Clinic. The end result of my nearly two month stay was a laundry list of wrong diagnosis and no help for what had brought me there. All I had to show for the huge investment of money and time was error. I vowed then and I still vow to never again throw myself at the mercy of a legion of experts in the medical field.
I, like I am sure many of you also, have had the unfortunate experience of taking my vehicle to an “expert” mechanic. Sometimes they really are experts, but usually the job is delegated to some guy with some initials after his name who took a class to become an “expert”. Isn’t it interesting how an “expert” can make the vehicle run WORSE after “fixing it?” My favorites are “tech experts” that handle computer problems over the phone. Some are really good and fix the problem. I have had others who succeeded in so trashing my computer I had to drag it to an electronics store to get what the “tech support” experts did–UNDONE.
Thank you for indulging me as I threw my little tantrum on “experts”. Hey, I am an expert too. I am expert on what NOT to do if you want to do things right. I am an “expert” on failure, for I have failed more often than I have succeeded. I am an expert on who not to believe for I have fallen for the lies of more people than I care to admit. I am an expert on many matters that produce nothing of any merit.
I do take pride in the one diploma I would gladly hang on my wall, and it is NOT a worthless “Associate of Theology” one from a now defunct school. No, the one diploma I take pride in owning is the one indicating I have attended the “School of Hard Knocks”. This school is open for anyone who has had to learn the hard way what life is all about. This school specializes in those who have been hoodwinked, taken for all they had, sweet-talked, abused and deceived. There are no graduates, for the curriculum never ends. But, there is pride in being able to say you have attended.
Initials before or after a name mean little to me. In fact, most of the people who have hurt me the most in this life, in every realm, had plenty of those letters either preceding or following their hallowed name. No, I prefer to look at the humility of the person who claims to have all the answers and see if they are humble enough to consider all the facts before making a decision, diagnosis or judgment on a matter. I would rather entrust certain matters in my life to someone who has failed and LEARNED from their mistakes than someone who projects the aura that they NEVER make a mistake.
I absolutely cannot stand arrogant and condescending people in any field. Those who look down their noses and make no attempt to hide their feelings of superiority can have someone else’s business. I would rather sit with a guy in his “office” out under a tree than sit in a million dollar ornate palace of an office of the foremost “expert” in the world. All I care is that the person is real and treats me as a real person and not a “subject”. Unfortunately, most experts only know how to approach others as someone who needs to be “subjected” to their expertise.
It certainly appears that the more one attends various schools and the more initials one gathers to flaunt all the knowledge one has obtained; the more ignorant one becomes of what is real and genuine in this life. All the degrees in the world do not guarantee truth. All the initials in the alphabet following one’s name do not guarantee the person knows a single thing about what is real and genuine. All the degrees and initials imply is that a person has subjected themselves to a multitude of hours of propaganda on a particular subject. Such propaganda is only as true as the people presenting it. If they are right, then that which they teach is right. If they are wrong, and only passing on error to the next “generation”, then all those degrees and initials stand for is error.
The millions of naïve people in this world who entrust their physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual well being to “experts” with 5 degrees and 15 initials following their name usually end up in no better shape than the wise people who listen to a multitude of counselors, but entrust their life to no one but God. Life is a fragile thing and should not be thrown at the altar of arrogant fools whose only interest is vain-glory or financial gain. Woe unto those who abuse helpless souls to further their own ends and serve their own interests.
If I have learned anything from my experiences in this life, it is to be extremely leery of anyone who hides behind their titles. The vast majority of those who “demand” to be called Dr. or Rev. or Sen. or Professor, or “Most highly esteemed”, or any other prefix are to be consulted, but never entrusted with one’s life or heart. Anyone so arrogant or insecure as to demand their title be publicized and known to all, is someone I can do without in this life. Arrogance and elitism make the skin crawl right off my bones.
I appreciate the sacrifices made by those who attend extra years of college to get a “Masters” degree or the ultimate goal—“Doctorate” of anything. I understand there should be something done to honor the extra effort made to reach such an esteemed level of knowledge. But, to use that title as leverage for wealth or fame is terribly wrong. A title does not make a person any better person than the rest of us. A title does not guarantee a person is right. It only means they have attended school a long time and have received extensive training in a particular field.
If the average person was wrong even half as much as the “experts”, he would have no credibility, no friends and no respect. Somehow the “experts” can be dead wrong most of the time, and they are still considered experts. This makes no sense to me and since I can’t figure it out because I don’t have enough degrees and initials; I will leave be content to be who I am and let others pretend to be who they think they are.