Halloween

Now that it is almost over I suppose I can admit it, after all it’s hardly a secret.

I am one of those pastor’s that hates Halloween. I view it as a celebration of everything evil. I don’t think this opinion is old fashioned nor do I think it moralistic to discourage association with or celebration of evil. I realize that many of the evils represented in popular references to Halloween are fictional, but evil itself is not fictional.

That is the bottom line as far as I can see. Good and evil do exist. We should not expect to represent good or to speak on behalf of God, while enjoying an annual celebration of evil

White-Crowned Sparrow

Running late on posting today. Never the less I hope you enjoy the white-crowned sparrow.

White Crowned Sparrow 2

 

White crowned sparrows appear across the majority of the United States every winter. There are a few places where they stay year round, but most of them migrate. However, even when they migrate, they always travel on the exact same patterns and places.

This causes the birds to be around the same regions all the time. They learn their calls from the conglomeration of other birds in that region. The end result is, just like humans, they tend to create dialects specific to regions. In essence different populations have created different languages.

This by itself is not unusual, but what is unusual is that birds which live on the border of two different populations are often bilingual. They can blend in and speak the language of either group.

For people it’s really cool to be bilingual. For birds it’s downright amazing. For believers though, being spiritually bilingual is a bad thing. Unfortunately, I think it might be much more common than we want to admit.

How many believers do you know that look, act, walk, and talk in different ways on Sunday morning in church than they do the rest of the week? Perhaps they are cutthroat businessmen Monday through Friday, perhaps they cuss like a rapper, or maybe they drink like a fish six days a week—and then they sit in church cleaned up, speaking in King James English, and singing praises to Jesus.

This hypocrisy is one of the things Jesus took the strongest stance on in His teachings. Yet, I know that many believers go through at least one phase of this in their Christian growth. So we need to respond to it firmly but also with grace. We must help Christians stop living this way rather than speaking judgment on them. Living this double life does great harm to the kingdom.

Consider James 3:10 (HCSB) Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way.

False Confidence

Politicians and the media tie consumer confidence to the economic health of the nation. Not that I blame them, the stock market moves up and down based on consumer confidence. I do remember that the great depression was an event centered on a fall in the stock market. But the economy is much more multifaceted. Including

I also know that increasingly, America has become dependent upon the stock market. Private retirement accounts and the heavy involvement of public funds guarantee we are all affected by the rises and falls in the market. Day traders and penny stocks are examples of how fascinated we can be with the potential of the market.

The problem, at least as I see it, is that we are watching the rises and falls in the stock market like they are an indicator of the health of the economy, rather than only an indicator of consumer confidence. People buy when they are confident and sell when they are worried.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, when people lose employment they look for other forms of income. Some file false claims for disability, others gamble in the market—buying at times when more savvy investors would be pulling back. These investors will push the market up even when there is no confidence.

People treat the market like it is a gauge, like an oil gauge on a car. When things are beginning to go south, the gauge slowly drops. If it drops all the way to zero, say goodbye to that car. Smart money fixes the problem before it gets there. But the market is more like an oil light. An oil light comes on when the pressure has gone already.  It doesn’t give you time to avoid something expensive before it happens, it only confirms for you that something expensive already happened.

Pieces

Pieces

copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Pieces

 

A motherboard, a power supply, and a piano keyboard; inspect it all piece by piece. Put it all back together, and it still doesn’t work.

Katie spoke. “We don’t have the rent money.”

Jason felt like a failure. He couldn’t fix it.

“I’ll talk to the landlord, maybe wear my waitress uniform.”

Again the pieces are separated. Each one worked apart, but failed when put together.

“I love you. But I am just so sick of this.”

He wanted it to work, but wishes hadn’t fixed anything. What could he say?

Katie went to the bedroom. He heard her sobbing.

 

Friday Fictioneers is a website and weekly writing challenge that allows people to write short pieces based on some kind of a prompt. This weeks prompt is the picture above. These pieces are linked together and all the writers get to know each other and offer positive feedback. This particular one is not a contest, it’s more like a community. If interested follow the link and read the details.

The Family Business

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, and Into the Darkness

The man commanding the small group stepped up to Jamison and put his irritated face inches from Jamison. “Whoever you are, I am going to make you suffer. I will not tolerate anyone coming into my territory and killing my men!”

“They’re not dead.” The man visibly startled. He studied Jamison, and Jamison studied him back. The man turned around and ordered the two lackies to check on the downed men, but as they turned to look the one across the street was trying to get up. It took several minutes for the other man to rouse, but then again he had been a lot closer to the gun.

When the leader of the group came back he was smiling, and much to Jamison’s surprise he handed him back his weapon. “So why didn’t you just identify yourself instead of playing cat and mouse with my men?”

“When I was here last, you didn’t need anyone’s permission to walk the street.”

This remark opened the door for the man to ask details of where Jamison had been since the great unveiling. Jamison also had a few questions. But all he learned was that the man was named Reilly and he commanded the streets for several blocks in each direction. Reilly didn’t understand the new order of life, but he refused to hide inside.

After the conversation hit a dead end, Reilly told Jamison he was welcome in his district anytime. But his father’s shop was a ways out. It was in an area fiercely controlled by the Dibolocos. With this news, Jamison headed off in the direction of trouble.

When he left Reilly’s district the streets became noticeably worse. Every building had a hole or two in it, at least half were gutted, burned out or maybe just missing. But no one or no thing tried to stop him in the streets.  As he got closer he found more and more of the shady businesses he had seen from the train.

As he approached his father’s old shop he was anxious. When he realized he had one more corner to go he stopped to steady his thoughts. He waited for his nerves to calm. They didn’t. So finally he just went ahead and looked.

The store had windows all along the front. They were covered with plywood. A nonsensical fact because they were about the only part of the building that appeared to be standing from this angle. He approached the building, walked right up to the front doors and found them standing wide.

The front wall was standing, one side wall, and the back wall. The other side, and everything from the second floor up was missing. He looked around the sales floor he had been so determined to avoid and waves of emotion threatened his composure. This visit might not have been a good idea.

There was evidence of explosions here and there, bullet holes in walls, but an awful lot of the damage was done with more primitive weapons. As he walked back he found the room which had been his father’s office was mostly intact.

As he entered the room the first thing to draw his attention was the little desk his mother had used. It was basically broken in half, splintered into two pieces and each half laid neatly over on its side. He could imagine his mother sitting there when an energy weapon did that damage. He could imagine her dying in the little wooden chair that use to be there. He tried to stop imagining it, but the image was hard to turn off.

He turned to his father’s desk. It was turned all the way upside down a few feet forward of where it had always stood. His father’s chair was sitting right where it belonged. It was a big dark red leather executive model. The back of the chair was sliced downward at an angle. It started to right of center and moved down toward the left and on the floor was the slice which had been taken off the chair.

He pictured the Dibolocos from the ship slicing its axe through his father. He closed his eyes trying to make the image stop. He grabbed his head and squeezed hard. Nothing stopped the image playing out in his mind. Tears fell to the carpet debris.

He was taking a few minutes to regain his composure when behind him a door opened but he did not notice in time. When he did, he tried to draw his weapon. Strong hands secured him before he could accomplish it. They half walked, half carried him to a wall. When they got there the wall opened up and they pulled him into a hidden elevator.

Doctrine of Life (and Death)

Theological Anthropology is the study of what we believe about man. A big portion of this branch of theology is our viewpoint of life—its purpose, its limits, and its locales.

Where I live there is a proving ground about fifty miles out in the desert. This proving ground is used by an automobile manufacturer to test cars to their limits and beyond. They find out if the vehicles will measure up to designers expectations by putting them through their paces. Often times, they improve them by breaking them.

I believe this world is a proving ground. We spend our lives on this earth for the express purpose of making a choice as to where we will spend eternity. Rejecting or accepting Jesus is the most important decision not just of our life.

But this life spent on the proving ground is a limited time offer. We will all leave this earth. God knew the day of our birth and death before creations first word. The brevity of time on earth is easy to look at as a great tragedy, but that is not exactly correct. Death is simply a person passing into whatever they chose for themselves—eternal life or eternal torment. Their death is simply the time when God planned to move them into their choice of eternities.

Death does involve tragedy but dying itself is not tragic. The two sorrows associated with death are our separation from our loved ones, and that so many people choose eternal torment. If we and the person who passes into eternity both know Jesus then this separation is temporary, but for them it’s a promotion from a painful earth to a blissful heaven. So we grieve the distance between us, but we celebrate for them, and long all the more for our own promotion day.

Sexualized America

How does media affect you and your family? Below is a quote from my book, The Storeroom of the Heart, discussing the flow from entertainment to real life. The Storeroom of the Heart is available anywhere books are sold, such as the publishers site, CrossBooks. Feel free to comment me below and I will arrange for you to get a signed copy for about the same cost as ordering online. (If you include a request for a book include some contact information and I will make sure that never makes it to public view.)

 

If we are in the habit of watching the most popular television shows, we hear a steady stream of sexual jokes. In the work place, discussion of those shows is almost inevitable. Don’t be surprised if in a light-hearted moment of teasing with coworkers some of the sexual content comes out. Whatever is stored in the heart spills out at some point, even when we consider it inappropriate. Once it’s out there, few people apologize and back off. Most often, it is taken for a laugh, and the comment and the subject matter become a little more socially acceptable.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

This chipping sparrow took off right as I was trying to take his picture. Despite it not being the picture I planned I really like the picture.

This bird is named for his song, and is one of the most commonly heard song birds in North America. But the song, is not very musical at all. It lasts about 3 ½ seconds, and in that short time it repeats the same note about 55 times. This trill is what was being referred to by the name chipping sparrow.

There is a little variation in the sound of chipping sparrows from bird to bird, but every bird repeats its own note over and over again in that short burst of sound.

Do you ever feel like a chipping sparrow? Do you think your communication has been reduced to a broken record of making the same statements over and over? This repetition can be for bad reasons, but it can also be a positive experience.

It might be you feel like no one is listening and your repetition is an expression of your frustration. You repeat yourself hoping they will hear you this time.

But it can also be that you have found something important enough to make it your life message. Jesus will give you a personal testimony. Your testimony is the story of how you can to know Jesus as Savior, but He may also give you other messages to speak forth on His behalf.

Speaking on behalf of the Savior is a very repetitive experience, but if you keep your relationship with Him fresh then He will keep your message on His behalf fresh.

Consider 1 Peter 3:13-15 “And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

Lies

It was a necessary illusion.

No one knew him. No one understood the constant heartbreak, the sorrow or loss he constantly absorbed. He comforted himself with a convenient lie—he lived a life of sacrifice for the good of others.

Yet at times this solace fell unspeakably empty. He was lonely. He had never known a friend. He had never felt loved. Two more convenient lies. He had friends as a child. His parents had loved him. But remembering only made his life now more painful. He would have been better off if he had never known humanity. He had no hope of ever being loved again, no expectation of friendship. That at least was the truth.

He hated when it was time to take the young. He detested himself when his victim was an attractive woman. He hated himself most when he destroyed youth or beauty. But he had to, such was his life of sacrifice. It was his role to strike fear into the heart of civilized society.

Rarely a day went by he did not kill. He studied himself in the mirror. He had been crying again. His ribs were beginning to show from lack of eating. He counted 4 scars across his chest, from times he had foolishly given his victims opportunity to strike back. His injuries were never treated.

He turned away from his own image, loathing it. He hardened his mind. Steeled his thoughts. He pulled on the black shirt. Standing he pulled on the mask. He picked up a large axe. Today he would carry out the king’s edict against a common thief. He turned back to the mirror. Now the image he saw was the dreaded executioner. The image was of a phantom. It bore no resemblance to the man inside.

It was a necessary illusion.

 

This post is in response to today’s Trifecta, Week 100 Challenge. You might like to go over there and take a look. Maybe even add something of your own.

PHANTOM (noun)

1   a :  something apparent to sense but with no substantial existence :  APPARITION
b :  something elusive or visionary
c :  an object of continual dread or abhorrence <the phantom of disease and want>
2 :  something existing in appearance only
3 :  a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal <she was a phantom of delight — William Wordsworth>

Remember:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

 

Whose Fault Is It?

Yesterday a friend brought me a copy of a local paper. The nation and world section was centered on a column from Associated Press titled, Dear voters, This is your fault.

The article then went on to blame the voters for electing a government that reflected the people, especially having a congress that was divided. They actually spoke as if this is a new situation. Can anyone tell me when there hasn’t been a division between Democrats and Republicans in office?

I found a quote from our president to be equally ludicrous. “If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.” Shouldn’t government work on policy in the areas they disagree on too? Haven’t other administrations successfully brought about just such compromise?

Apparently compromise is no longer a virtue in Washington. The president again managed to get a deal worked out which gave him everything he wanted. He gave no ground in return other than to say he might compromise on some future date, and in some way yet to be determined.

But take note I believe the votes are less to blame than the coverage in the press. The amount of relevant information they don’t bother researching and reporting, is appalling. No one has covered how it was decided what would be closed in the shutdown. They didn’t give us any real details of the compromise reached. Nor were details given as to what a default would look like. Nor did they report about different groups heading to Washington to protest these actions. America roared its disapproval, and media had better things to talk about.

Instead they put out a fluff piece telling us it’s all our fault.