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What Is Wrong People and Society?

Lately I’ve been chasing a thought around to answer a question. What is wrong with people?

I have an answer. Ready?

We don’t value life anymore.

3754423716_5e94050eb0_zWe use each other for our own benefits, objectifying others, using and dehumanizing them. People steal, lie, and kill each other. From one-on-one to country-against-country.

We step on people, using them as a way to rise to the top, treating them as stepping stones rather than people.

That clerk behind the counter, you could care less about the name on their tag. Only that they don’t take to long too check you out, or else you’ll vent your rage. Less than human, easily replaced by a self-checkout.

The person whose kindness you take advantage of, getting all you can from them. A benefits machine, an object, not someone with their own struggles and issues.

What about the person you’re attracted to. The one you laughingly tell your friends that, “you’re going to get some of that.”

“Some?” Note the word use.

Not all. Just some. Just what you want for your jollies. They’re not a person to you, just a piece of meat for your pleasure.

Look at how you view anyone who disagrees with you. Do you see them as your equal, or lesser?

It’s called ‘othering’. It makes it easier to attack someone or something different from you. They’re not human after all, but something sub-human.

Look at the crimes on the news. What are people using each other for in those cases?

Robbery? A human ATM. Rape? Sex and control. Abuse? More dehumanization. Prostitution? Just another service, no need for life story, I don’t care.

There’s more. It’s simple as looking and asking, is that person being valued for who they are, or what someone can get from them?

Why Is It This Way?

It’s part of our fallen world. It’s about what you can get rather than what can you do. Think about this over the next few days, how would the world look if we loved each other rather than used each other?

That’s part of the beauty of Christ saying to love your neighbor as yourself and to do for others as you would have them do for you. He’s probably onto something.

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Dealing With Friction in Relationships

1916094_890007631119243_3174764637114703083_nRelationships are both beautiful and messy. Especially in a marriage. Then there are two people coming together to start something new from different backgrounds of tradition and culture. Add to that the different personalities, motivational drives, and routines coming together 24/7, sharing life together. Friction is going to happen.

The Oil for Relationships

“Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization. It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact create friction. This is as true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects.” Peter Drucker

“Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives [be affectionate and sympathetic with them] and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.” Colossians 3:18-19 AMP

It’s More Than Being Civil

During premarital counseling, Pastor Jaime told us to put our heads together to decide what was worth fighting about. What are the priorities and areas in your relationship worth defending?

Then only fight if something threatens that.

My wife doesn’t watch a clock, would always be late. I am always early, and get annoyed if I even think we’ll be late. Rather than argue every time, we sat down and discussed it.

She has to be ready to go on time for work, church, and appointments. The rest of the time, I have to chill out. She’s consistent, too, and on the rare occasion we’ll be late. I don’t say anything, it happens. The world still spins.

Keep in mind the long-term perspective as well. How important are the little recurring arguments? Do they actually threaten the relationship or is it over something that annoys you?

Keep your eyes on the future of the relationship. It can end sooner than you imagine. Do you want your last words to your spouse to be angry?

Prioritize. Set your new family’s core values into place together. Defend those. All else is tradition, preference, and opinion. Get a marriage check-up with a counselor or pastor. We still do, kick the tires and all that, every year. We have survived things that have ripped other marriages apart by being committed to the marriage.

It’s much better than the pain of regret, a broken relationship, and the cost of a divorce lawyer.

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How To Find The Hidden Motives Within A Person

12006093_808015239318483_5681376735823132168_nI was exploring the Gospel of John during my daily study when John 7:18 leapt from the page at me. Quickly, I pinned it down with a highlighter, its relevance apparent to me personally and today. It’s easy to try to be the next ‘reality’ TV star or self-promote on Facebook in particular and the internet in general.

Memes and stories pop up like flies in such great numbers they’re hard to fact check. How can you test the motives of those posting? Closer to home, who are you presenting and why?

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” John 7:18 NIV

The context of the passage is the religious leaders questioning Jesus’ educational background. They were in awe of the depth of his teaching. Jesus explained where it came from, God the Father.

The Breakdown: Part One

Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory…

This verse stuck out to me because of the fine line I try to walk as a writer and teacher. It applies to all followers of Jesus, though, as a means to test themselves and others.

The first half is about those striving to gain fame or honor solely for themselves. We’ll be doing some self-examination first. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount to ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’ (Matthew 7:3-5) so we have to make sure our hearts are right before we deal with others.

Ask Yourself…
  • Do I do things to gain honor and fame for myself?
  • What are my motives?
  • Are my motives self-serving?

Here’s the tricky part, if you answered, ‘to help other people,’ then it leads to this question:

  • What do I gain in helping others?

If it’s for their love and appreciation, it can lead to hero worship. That’s the treacherous path towards becoming an idol yourself.

This verse sears itself into my conscience. I spent years feeding my ego, priding myself in being ‘the smartest one’ in the room. I claimed I didn’t need respect, but I wanted it. Woe to the one that challenged me with a contrary opinion. It’s something I watch for now.

This blog’s tagline is “Seeking first the Kingdom of God.” Not mine, His kingdom. I have to be careful who I’m presenting to the world.

The Breakdown: Part Two

…he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth, there is nothing false about him.”

The person who works for the fame or honor of the person who sent him, to do as he directs, is a person of truth since it’s not about what he can gain. They can also be tested for ulterior motives, but first…

Ask Yourself…
  • Do I speak and work to make God famous?
  • Why was I sent?
  • How do I know it’s true?

To the second question, we are all under the mandate of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) to preserve, add flavor, and do good works for God.

You test the truth of God’s Will by seeing how it lines up with the two greatest commandments; loving God with all that you have and are, and loving others.

What it looks like is flavored by your personality. I’m a writer and do better behind the scenes as an introvert. You may be extroverted and flamboyant, but for both of us, it should be used to point to God, not us.

Testing Others

I wouldn’t have you to be naive. The world is treacherous and Jesus knows it better than any other. In Matthew 10:16, he cautions his disciples to be ‘as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.’ How can you protect yourself or others?

It’s all in the motives. Self-Protection expert Marc MacYoung has a series of six questions he uses to find the intent behind the information people give him.

  1. Why are they telling me this? (internal motivation)
  2. What do they want me to do about it? (desired external results)
  3. What aren’t they telling me?
  4. Is that omission from limited knowledge or intentional?
  5. How much spin is being used? (Watch for word choice and descriptors)
  6. Can it be confirmed?

Print this out, write the questions on a card, and by all means use them. Use them on me if you want, hold me accountable if I slip (Luke 17:1-4).

Overview

It’s amazing what depth is in one of Jesus Christ’s sentences. Breaking it down as simple as I can, anything done to point to yourself rather than God is dangerous ground. When it serves and points to God, then you’re on firm footing.

Use this and let me know how it works out for you, please.

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Question from a Reader on Meaning Apart From God

I don’t usually get questions. It surprised me to see the notification appear on my screen. It was a doozy, too, taking a bit of time to work through. When I finished, I could see how timely and applicable it was for you guys. I asked permission to use it in a post and was given it, so here you go…

The Question

Why can’t we have true meaning apart from God? Why is it that subjective meaning can’t be totally fulfilling?

My Response

You’re welcome.

I put a lot of thought and prayer into your questions and this is what I have for you.
First, we have to define meaning. Dictionary.com’s second definition for it is “the end, purpose, or significance of something. Then we have to ask where meaning comes from. To find the answers to your questions, we have to look at the questions that shape everyone’s worldview, at least two of them:
Where did we come from?
Why are we here?
Starting with where did we come from. Is everything here because of an accident, created, or has it always been here? The Standard Cosmological Model (Big Bang) indicates there is a beginning. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics informs us there is a finite amount of energy present in the universe and it’ll run out as the stars burn out. This rules out ‘always there’, leaving accident or creation.
The fine tuning of the universe and appearance of design implies an intelligent, creative mind at work. That’s on a universal scale, and can be brought to the level of the planet. The same things are apparent here. The world is a wonder.
So if it’s all created, why did it choose to create to start with? A choice was made. If it’s big enough to create a universe as massive as this one, it certainly didn’t need us. It’s the beginning glimmer of significance and meaning.
Why are we here? There are billions of people, countless trees, animals, viruses, bacteria, life in general. What makes us different? Are we special in some way?
If we are the results of random acts of nature, then we have no eternal or significant meaning. At the least it would be to propagate the species with our genetic code. The most would be a legacy, likely forgotten in 100 years, unless it really impacts the world like Galileo, Jesus, or Plato did. Even then, can you ask a random person on the street and get a true answer of what they did or who they were?
I argue otherwise in Walking, Talking Miracles. I included the link and attached a picture of the 11206951_754349918018349_1865627019402821386_n (1)infographic I used showing the odds of any human being born. I think we all are designed for a purpose. Discovering You: Finding Out What Makes You Tick is the short e-book I published going into that. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Consider this, when you are successful, do you feel fulfilled? Or want more, setting the bar higher? If failing that, have you failed at being significant?
Looking at how we are made, designed, which points to a purpose; we can say to ourselves “when I ___________, I feel God’s pleasure.
The problem with subjectivity is that it’s a matter of perspective. Meaning sits on a foundation of shifting sand. Subjective significance has its place, just not above the eternal one.
Made in the image of God, which gives human life its intrinsic value. Made for relationship with Him. If you’re a follower of Christ, then you have that relationship as an adopted child of God. Which cannot be taken from you.
Under that, you can be a good person, great dad, loyal, helping others, etc., all of it significant and affecting lives. It will be your legacy on earth. But without God, it’ll fade away. With Him, during the final judgment, we’ll be rewarded for the good we did (store up treasures in heaven), and it’ll have an eternal significance and meaning as well our place with God as his child.
I hope this answered the question and I didn’t get too wordy. My friends tell me I have that tendency.
The thing about being questioned is it forces you back up your answer. You claim the answer, but have to build reasons to support it or else it falls apart.
The question points towards the value of life as well. I firmly believe that a lot of our problems today come from the cheapened, devaluation of life that sees people as objects for pleasure or gain. Placed there to make you happy rather than having any value in and of themselves.
Chew on this for a few days and look at the world through the lens of this post, see how it fits, and where it doesn’t. Reasonable comments welcome.
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Everyone Calm Down and Love Your Neighbor

5465783902_190f2359bc_zTurn on the TV or open social media. Outrage pours out the screen at you. The problem with almost instant information is people develop ill-formed opinions based on that (first-choice bias) and feel the need to share it.

Emotions spread like wildfire then. When your only source of information is what you get from a screen, it causes a fragmented perspective. Honestly, most of us would be better served if we tossed them out the window.

News of protests crossed the country based on shallow information and were mostly unfounded. Fear rose as I heard people around me saying they would plow through the human road block, claiming to ‘be in fear for my life’. It’s cultivating a sense of Us versus Them.

This Should Not Be!

It’s ignorant foolishness.

Earlier that day, I was with the homeless ministry. We had a large group of people of all ages ready to serve. Multigenerational, kids to seniors. Various cultures and backgrounds were present: Deaf, poor whites and blacks, middle class whites and blacks, along with the well-off; all present to feed, care for, and love on the poor and homeless.

Those we served spanned the color scheme. Asian, Black, Latino, White, didn’t matter to us. We saw people in need, that was what was important, not any culturally given line of division.

There is an inordinate amount of focus on the bad lately. It’s easy to get scared if you’re only seeing it from an edited third-hand source such as the news or opinion. Instead, get involved with a group that crosses boundaries rather than creates them.

What Would Jesus Say?

In Jesus there aren’t any cultural divisions. Christians are adopted as God’s Children, renewed. There isn’t a distinction between nationality, race, culture, or how much someone makes, but Christ is all, and in all (Col 3:11). That’s our identity. The ground at the cross is level, no lines, no segregation. Heaven is multicultural.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9 NIV

Our mission is to bring as many with us to Heaven before we go ourselves. We can’t do this by being brats and refusing to play with others. Love your neighbor isn’t a suggestion. Turn off the vitriol and go be a positive force of light in the darkness.

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The Surprising Depth of People

It’s the 4th of July. People are moving through the stadium gates towards the concessions stands or seats. Over the murmur of happy voices is the crack of a ball meeting bat. The FirstNLR Deaf Church returned to Traveler’s Stadium to just hang out. Opportunities to build relationships, start new ones, and generally have a good time.

People Watching

I love it. Everyone you see is a walking biography to be read. It’s a time to see everyone relaxing, kids running around under the adults’ watchful eyes, life moving forward. New relationships were growing. Curiosity sparked in flurries of questions.

We tend to see people in one environment only. In only one role, presenting themselves in a specific way. One kid stuck out like a sore thumb. A quiet goth who looked bored. That was just the book’s cover.

He opened up, intensely curious about sign language, he spoke to everyone with a multitude of questions. Everyone answered as best we could. He was a nice kid. Remember that old adage about a book and its cover?

I watched a pastor outside her usual church setting. Small talk, watching the game occasionally. When the music started, she danced with one kid, then led the chicken dance for all the kids. When explosions rocked the sky, sitting quietly with her son, and minutes later helping someone.

Others sat quietly through it all. When it was time to go, a few began cleaning up rather than leaving it for the staff. People aren’t two-dimensional, there is depth to everyone. What we see is brief clips in the movies that is their lives.

Origami People

4852762686_6efd38bef6_mIn a post filled with analogies, this is my favorite. People are like origami. Take all that they are: personality, roles, experiences, dreams, history, etc., and write it on a piece of paper.

Now fold it into a swan or something. On every exposed fold, we see only a few words. A lot of it is hidden from view. It’s a good reminder that when it comes to people, the list of what we know is much shorter than what we don’t know about them. Wait before drawing conclusions.

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” John 7:24 NIV

Be informed, especially in these days of panic, fear, and social media comments flying like bullets in a drive-by.