The “Right” to Welfare

“Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10‭-‬12 (http://bible.com/116/2th.3.10-12.NLT)

There are two types of welfare in this country today, and it has gone far beyond the original scope. People who truly need help because of physical or mental limitations, people who need a TEMPORARY hand up, and our elderly are the only ones who should receive benefits. Oftentimes, we fall in our journey through life (for a multitude of reasons) and need that helping hand to get back up. Then there is the second type. We have too many people exploiting the system. Anyone who can afford to do their hair and nails, buy cigarettes, or support an alcohol or drug habit, or who use it as an excuse to not work should lose their benefits. We – the people of the U.S. who do work and pay our taxes and scrape by on what we earn – should be insisting on regular and random drug and alcohol checks. Maybe even house checks, to determine if there are freeloaders in the house.

I’m quite aware that any liberals who read this are going to jump all over me, and I really don’t care. These words are truth, and anyone who has to actually go out and work should be in agreement. Most really hardcore liberals have outside incomes, including the wealthy and those I term “Trust-fund babies” – those people who come from wealthy families and have nothing better to do. Harsh words that are, unfortunately, true.

Our churches, Christians everywhere, regardless of denominational affiliation, need to be taking care of those in need, NOT the government. Note that I said, those in NEED, not those in WANT. I have been in positions of need, and many years ago received commodities. No food stamps and certainly not money! I have been in the temporary situation of having the church pay some of my bills, and I have had help over the years from family to get me back where I needed to be. At some point in our lives, I think most people need help. It doesn’t always have to be financial. Sometimes it means teaching a person how to do better with their resources, and sometimes, it means showing what Jesus can do in our lives.

“Work” doesn’t always mean a job that has a monetary value. Some of the work to be done can’t be financially compensated, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable or necessary. This is the most important thing:

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the LORD rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23 (http://bible.com/116/col.3.23.NLT)

Words

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our LORD and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of GOD. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” – James 3:7‭-‬10 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.7-10.NLT)

I can attest to the pain words can cause. There have been times when a physical slap would have been preferable to the deep wounds caused by someone’s words. Both hurt, but my body heals more easily than my heart. We use words to lift up, and we use words to tear down. When one of my bosses would say “well done,” hearing the praise always stimulated my productivity. On the other hand, when all I heard was criticism, my productivity would suffer even more. Even a “hello” or “good morning” goes a long way in cultivating a positive attitude, which in turn goes to better performance. It’s not just for bosses, either. Does your day go a little better whenever you are greeted with a smile or a kind word? What about your spouse, your friends, your children? Can you see the difference in them when they hear good words, positive words, over negative?

“But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.” – James 3:14 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.14.NLT)

Before you jump up and say you aren’t jealous, and you aren’t selfish…. Attitude check! Personally, I work on not being jealous and selfish, and at times, it really is work. It was pointed out to me a couple of days ago that I am selfish. I don’t like it, but it is a correct assessment. I am selfish, and that is difficult to admit. I can certainly make excuses. I’d say I’ve worked hard to get what I have. The reality, the TRUTH, is that what I have isn’t mine. It ALL belongs the God, and I should be more willing to share and to give Him credit instead of me. Oh, I’m grateful that God has seen fit to bless me so abundantly, and I know I am exceptionally blessed with family and friends and partner who love me despite my flaws.

Our tongues are worse than a sword at times. We can tear someone so far down that they may take years to recover. Words hurt, but words can also heal. Consider these words from Paul:

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, …. in defending and confirming the Truth of the Good News.” – Philippians 1:3‭-‬4‭,‬7 (http://bible.com/116/php.1.3-7.NLT)

Give thanks for those around you, whether they lift you up or try to tear you down with their words. Return their words with love and joy, and lift them up in with good words.

Sinful Nature. Truth.

“So now there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the Power of the Life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1‭-‬2 (http://bible.com/116/rom.8.1-2.NLT)

So, WHY do we keep on sinning???

This is a question that really bothers me. I know the answer, and it continues to bug me. We sin because we are human. We are created in God’s image, and we were created to be companions; to worship and fellowship with Him. Our fatal flaw, AND our saving grace, is the free will God gave us. He didn’t create robots to follow Him without question or thought. He made us with the ability and the desire to know Him and to Love Him because we choose to. He gave us bodies so that we can can see the beauty, hear the music, taste the bounty, and feel the creation. He gave us hands to create, and minds to comprehend. We can build incredible buildings and carve things from solid rock that defy imagination. Hearing nature’s music and the music we make with instruments from our hands and our breath can transport us into beautiful places in our minds. And even with all of this incredible talent and ability our God imbued us with, with all of the intellectual ability He created in us, we continue to turn our backs on Him???

We are selfish. We want what we want when we want it. We are snobs to those who don’t meet our standards. We are petty and hold grudges instead of forgiving. We take advantage of the weak and we have little compassion for the hurting. We are cruel when it suits our purpose, and we despise those who threaten us. WE choose the ugly over the beauty, time after time after time. WHY does God allow this to go on? The answer, though simple, is not pretty. He allows it, because we choose it. Free will.

Yep. We CHOOSE the ugliness and the hatred and the despair. We choose the things of the world over God. There’s no one else to blame; it lands squarely on my shoulders and on yours. (Told you it wasn’t pretty.)

“He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand.” #CSLewis | #ScrewtapeLetters

It is up to us…. no, it is up to ME, to choose to walk (stumble, crawl) with God. No one else can choose for me, and no one but you can choose for yourself. We all know how, too:

“For this is how God Loved the world: He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16.NLT)

Not believe that Jesus is real, but believe IN Him. Even Satan and his demons acknowledge that He is real! Believe IN Jesus Christ as your Savior. Make the RIGHT choice.

Amen.

Beautiful

Beautiful rain. Life giving, the element (water) second most vital to our lives – air being the first. Life giving, and life taking. Floods, flash floods, undertow in the ocean and dangerous currents in rivers and lakes can claim a life in an instant. When we rely on Jesus Christ, we can rest assured that He will not let us drown in the eddys and whirlpools and dangerous undertow in life.

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely Your Goodness and Unfailing Love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the House of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 (http://bible.com/116/psa.23.1-6.NLT)

Like this shepherd, Jesus protects us, His sheep, against the enemy. He takes us to good water where can drink our fill without fear. When we follow Him, He makes sure that we don’t get caught up in the thorns and the dangerous waters. He protects us, sometimes from ourselves, by using His staff to move us away from the danger; danger we either can’t see, or that we go towards anyway. Did you know that a shepherd uses his staff to break the leg of a lamb that continues to stray? Then he will carry the lamb until it’s leg is healed so that the lamb knows who it’s shepherd is, and will follow the shepherd willingly after that. That is, MOST lambs learn…. while others (guilty!!!) require multiple lessons. Trust me when I tell you that learning the lesson the FIRST time is by far preferable to having to go through it again and again….. and again. Some of us are very slow learners!

Are you the lamb who learns quickly, or the slow learner? Either way, the answer that is ALWAYS right there is Jesus. Just JESUS. I’m thankful He never gave up on me!!

Sing to the LORD

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:2‭-‬3 (http://bible.com/111/eph.1.2-3.NIV)

Grace and peace; praise and blessings. We should be shouting and singing and dancing over our salvation for the eternity we get to spend with our LORD! Instead of rejoicing, we let the mundane creep in and take over. Anger and frustration are what fuels us, and depression slides into our minds because we don’t have the earthly goods or status we decide we “deserve.” Let me assure you, my brothers and my sisters, if God were to allow us to have what we DESERVE, we would most likely want to be in hell instead as a reprieve from what we deserve….

“Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:4‭-‬5 (http://bible.com/111/psa.51.4-5.NIV)

“There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done.” Ezekiel 20:43 (http://bible.com/111/ezk.20.43.NIV)

I am among the most guilty of men and women, thinking I deserve better than what I have received in my life. Someone asked me recently what I would do if I were handed a check, tax-free, for $500,000.00. I replied that I would pay off all of my debt and then help my family. He seemed startled by my response, and said that the first thing he would do is take his family on a long cruise. My reasoning is nothing noble. I believe that God created the family unit so that we would have a built-in support system. We have bastardized the family so much that it is barely recognizable any longer, and it is a rare family (in my experience) who reaches out to each other to help in need. I thank God that for the most part, my birth family is one of the rare ones. We have our issues, and we have been (are!) extremely dysfunctional, but we know that in a pinch we can count on each other. For that alone, knowing that my family loves me in spite of my past, should be enough to be singing God’s praise!

It is through Christ alone that we can love each other. If you don’t have a family – blood or otherwise – that you can rely on, oh, my heart goes out to you. Did you know, once you have been adopted into God’s eternal family, you’ll never, NEVER, have to go through the rest of your life alone?

“In Christ alone

my Hope is found

He is my Light, my Strength, my Song

This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of Love, what depths of Peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the Love of Christ I stand!”

My Shelter in the Storm…. What AMAZING Grace!!

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

“Hear us, SHEPHERD of ISRAEL, You who lead Joseph like a flock. You Who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken Your might; come and save us.

Restore us, O GOD; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; You have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it.

Return to us, GOD ALMIGHTY! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root Your Right Hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at Your rebuke Your people perish. Let Your Hand rest on the man at Your Right Hand, the son of man You have raised up for Yourself. Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your Name.

Restore us, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:1‭-‬19 (http://bible.com/111/psa.80.1-19.NIV)

Burn Out

I think I’m burnt out from a lifetime of stress and worry and poor – no, let’s be REAL, here – BAD decisions. My brain is tired, and my body is, too. Sound familiar? I’ve been on an R&R, of sorts, for the past year and a half, since I involuntarily left my last job. I say “of sorts,” because I am blessed to have a partner who is able to supply us financially, although it causes strain to be dependent solely on him, and bills have to wait to be paid sometimes (and that stresses me out). Even with the strain, we’ve been able to make a few trips to visit family, and for me, that is the best R&R there is. I am grateful to be in the relationship I’m in; I’m incredibly thankful that he is so generous and that he loves me.

God loves me, too. His Love puts any earthly love to shame, simply because there is no way that we can possibly match it. I’ve said before that I believe that animals, especially dogs, are made to give us a glimpse of that indefinable, expressive, and limitless love God has for us. Remember, “dog” is “god” spelled backwards! Before you get all crazy, please note: I do not believe that dogs (or any other animal) is equivalent to or somehow worthy of worship. I DO believe that God put them all here for a reason, and that there is a lot to be learned from animals about love. Think about it. Dogs simply adore humans. Take a look at rescue dog who was taken from an abusive situation, and, with few exceptions, they will grovel at your feet, looking for just a little bit of caring on your part….

I think that describes us humans pretty well, too. We absolutely CRAVE a relationship with someone human who will love us as we are, and that is, unfortunately, rare. True abiding love isn’t something that comes easily for us. We are so distracted by “shiny things” (i.e. the temptations of earthly living) in our search for something and/or someone to fill that God-shaped hole in our hearts, we often forget to look up; to acknowledge the One Who stands with us. I believe burn out happens because we forget Who is really Number 1. It isn’t me, or you, or your spouse/significant other. It isn’t your family or your job, and it isn’t our animals. All of these things are important to help define who we are, but without the LORD of the Universe, the General over Heaven’s Armies, the REAL “Boss” of our bodies and souls…. we are nothing. Ooh, did that statement offend you? It did me! I want to be the boss of my body! The reality, however, is that we are NEVER the boss of our bodies or our souls. We aren’t the boss and never have been. The only thing that we are “boss” of is our free will. Every day, every minute, every second, we are free to choice our “boss,” and there are only two to choose from. One of the choices is NOT ourselves.

Just as Adam and Eve chose, we are free to choose, and so much of the time we choose poorly…… leading to more burn out. Choose wisely!

“The Lord will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His Name the ONLY Name.” Zechariah 14:9 (http://bible.com/111/zec.14.9.NIV)