Tag Archives: Morality

A Thought on . . . .

     So what is tonight’s subject?  It’s on the most profound, least understood, most controversial, most misinterpreted, most ill-used, most beautiful and thought-provoking issue of all time.  It has spurred more disgust, more argument, more disdain, more discussion, more thought, more hate, and more love than any other know entity.  Nations have risen, fallen, transformed, and died because of it.  It has led some to great prosperity, and led others to great poverty.  It’s influence has been world-wide, and none of us have escaped its influence.  Throughout history it’s been burned, banned, shunned, denied, and still it persists and it’s voice echos through the corridors of history as strongly as ever it first did when man first embraced it, and from that first man, it has always been embraced by someone who has loved it and cherished it.  Never has it not been loved, never has it not been sought, never has it been ignored, and I can say with full confidence that it shall never not be relevant. 

     It’s has united, divided and separated more people, spurred and spurned both the great and the small, the weak and the strong, the wise and the ignorant, the humble and the arrogant.  Nothing, since its inception, not one thing, not one person, has not in some way been touched and influenced by it.  If you live today, in this country (America), or any modern country, you have been touched by it – though it’s touch may have been as light as down – you have felt it’s influence though you may not have recognized it for what it was.

     So what do you think it is?  As you answer this question, I ask you to hesitate for just a second, and ask this question of yourself first: why has it been what it is.  Why has it endured when everything else, everything else, is subject to decay, destruction, and ultimate death, this one thing has prevailed; has continued to thrive in spite of the war against it, that continues to quietly stand in the face of the warriors against it and laugh; that continues to stand in front of those who have embraced it, and shields them from every dark and evil flight of arrow that tries to penetrate the armor of those who wear it.

     The greatest of all men, both the common and the uncommon, the educated and the illiterate, have been held sway by its beauty, have been captivated and captured by it, and have been held the most loving prisoner because of it.  No man, nor woman, nor child, apart from it has ever known their true worth, their role, and their duty; nor their destination without it.  No guru, college professor, politician, media mogul, or religious leader can compare, compete, or conquer the one it embraces –  for you see – the one who holds it most dearly in his or her heart is held by it in return.

     You must be careful in its handling, and in your approach to it, for it above all other things can condemn you as nothing else can, and yet for those who approach it with the right heart, who seek its revelation as the most precious of all jewels, and accept its value as beyond price nothing will ever hold more importance for you.

     What is it?  It’s the Word of God; The Holy Bible

A Thought on Criticism and Trust

     Have you ever wondered as you listen to people how they got their views?  How their worldview developed, what kinds of things must they have experienced that would cause them to think, act, and say the things they do?  Sometimes, I can’t help it, I wonder do they have any sense of how they’re coming across; any idea of the kind of impression they’re making as they go about their lives. 

     I can’t speak for them, but I can speak for myself.  When I look at myself and my relationships with other people, I often wonder what kind of impression I’m making; what other people might be thinking of me.  How do I come across?  Do I come across as being someone who’s judgmental, arrogant, and know-it-all? 

     I like to think I know myself, who I am, but I know that I have blind spots, and sometimes I fail to see what others see when they look at me.  I’d be less than honest, if I said I didn’t care, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t care nearly as much about what people think of me as I used to.  I’ve learned over the years that trying to please everyone, trying to change to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be, just doesn’t work.  The only thing trying to please everyone, and changing to be what someone else wants you to be, gets you is a lot of disappointment, anger, and heartache.  It’s the surest way I know to be miserable.

     Now, I’m not saying that we should just tell everybody to drop dead, and go to you know where if they don’t agree with us, or think there might be room for us to improve, but rather than just dismissing them out of hand, that we at least give a differing viewpoint an opportunity for examination and contemplation.  I have a rule-of-thumb that I use when listening to criticism – especially when it’s directed at me – that I always (as much as I can) look at the person giving it.  Opinions matter when they come from people who matter, and I mean people who matter to you.  Now maybe that doesn’t sound very nice, but when it comes to our lives, our souls, our minds, and our hearts I don’t think just anybody’s imput should be taken as 100% fact.

     Remember that motive matters, so before you take something someone says into your heart, mind, body, and soul, I believe it’s okay to ask the questions: why are they saying this, and what are they hoping to get out of it?  We have to remember that not everyone we meet, not even those closest to us, always have the best intentions.  It never hurts to look at who benefits from what is being said to you.  Is the fact that someone loves us a good test of criticism?  Not always.  Just because someone loves you doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t lie to you, or mislead you; that they won’t use you to get what they want.  It should, but sadly, it doesn’t always.  Still, it’s a good place to start. 

     It really boils down to who do you trust.  Trust is something we give too readily to most people, too willingly, and we do so to our peril.   Your trust is the most precious gift you can give to another.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, you have, will ever have, or give is more precious than trust.  Nothing you ever recive in this world, no amount of money, will equal the wealth you’ll have in this one – this single one- possession you’ll own if you’re lucky enough to have it.

     And this is why, I believe, that our trust is the thing that God cherishes and treasures above all else that we, as human beings, can give. 

Here’s some food for further thought:

 “Duties are ours, events are God’s; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold account upon God’s Providence, and beginneth to say, ‘How wilt Thou do this or that?’ we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither our sin nor our cross.” 

Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham, 1991, Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 106.

One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled “Hey Dad!” I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk. 

When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???”

He responded with remarkable calmness: “Sure…because you’re my Dad.” His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn’t this even more true for a Christian? 

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.

A Thought on Our Country

     So what do you think?  Is our country in trouble?  Do you feel as if the America you grew up in is disappearing?  As if everything that you grew up believing and thinking and living your life by is now under attack?  Are you afraid, fearful, worried about what’s going to happen, and how your chldren are going to fare in the future?  Do you look at the future with a sense of hope, with a belief that the opportunities, dreams and desires you’ve been looking forward to will still be there.

     There’s a lot of people these days who are deeply troubled, and who are really in trouble; trouble that comes in the shape and form of survival, of surviving from day to day.  More than at any time in recent history people are having a hard time getting by; they’re out of work, behind in house payments, worried daily about how they’re going to feed their kids, and have a hard time looking at the future with any sense of hope or well being. 

     People, by and large, are looking for a hand up; not a hand out.  People want opportunity, a chance, an atmosphere in which they can grow, develop, and thrive.  When I look at the heartland of America, the middle-class family, the small-business owner, I see a group of people  who are just yearning for a chance to prove themselves.  They don’t want someone trying to take care of them, or make people share their wealth with them; they just want to live in a country that gives them opportunity, a country where they can feel a sense of security in their lives; where people can feel confident in their government and elected officials that govern them, and most of all a county that treats everyone with dignity and respect without catering and pandering to one  particular group or philosopy.

     When I look at a lot of the young people in our society, I see a group of people, who are scared, who feel a deep sense of hopelessness, who, sadly, have no faith in anyone or anything; who feel like they’re living in an alternate America that has all the trappings of a prosperous country, with all it’s freedom’s and seeming opportunities, and yet when they look around, see themselves as the kid on Christmas morning opening the prettily wrapped package only to find that there’s nothing within. 

     What our young people need is to live in a country that inspires them to be great, who offers them a chance for a great education all the way K-12, and then gives them the chance to go to college without racking up a lifetime of debt to repay and no way to pay it back.  Who need oportunity, and who have the tools, talents, and abilities needed to seize it when it comes.  Who need to see what real success looks like, and not the gilded, glitter-ridden, emptiness that our so-called entertainment industry with it’s fame-starved, greed loving, money gathering junkies and proponents like to throw before them as if any of those things have ever led any of them to real contentment and happiness.

     There’s a whole sub-culture in this country that are almost non-existent, except by those who exploit them at election time, that live in a different America.  Children that go to bed hunry, many of them used and abused in –  terrible, cruel, unspeakable, intolerable – ways, who grow up (knowing in a way that we never can) that they live in a country that shows over and over again that nobody truly cares for them.  People that are trapped in a life that many of them didn’t want, but have no way out, and – who in many ways –  are kept where they are by a government and a people who are willing to give them a food-stamp voucher or a free bowl of soup, but aren’t willing give them a real opportunity by showing them how to help themselves.

     So many of our children and young adults live as lambs among wolves; they  live, play, work and walk among well-dressed, well-mannered, affluent monsters only too ready and too willing to devour the innocent, the unfortunate, and the unprotected.  What’s worse is that they live among a group of people who cry tears, who bewail, and rage against the injustice done to them, but who won’t step up and act on their behalf.  Who prefer reputation, prestige, and wealth over doing the right thing, and thus leave them always vulnerable to the monsters who would hurt them.

   Our country lives under what, I believe, to be the best system of government this world knows.  It’s not perfect, we all know, but no other system allows as much freedom, as much opportunity, as our does.  What other system can be named where people are allowed to prosper from their own hard work, their own creativity, their own willingness and determination to succeed as this one?  Where even people who rail and protest it can be heard without fear of recrimination?  Where even the lazy, the irresponsible, the unmotivated, and the uncaring can live in a prosperity that much of the rest of the world would envy?

     America as a country and as a people,  has always thrived because its ideals were the greatest that man can aspire to, the chief of which – to serve and worship God freely – were unlike any else in the world.  The things we valued: Our Freedom, Our Families, Our Country, and most of all Our God were on full display and we lived by their tenets.  We were exceptional – thus the term American Exceptionalism was born – for those very ideals, and it’s why every American citizen has an ancestry that originated somewhere else. 

     Our country is in trouble, as our people are, but we are not beyond hope, are not so far distant that we can’t hear the voice of Our Great God calling to us to step foot upon His path once more.

From 2000+ Illustrations (Source Unknown)

     Great wrongs happen by degree. 

Tracing Character to Its Source

During a thunder storm that contained high winds, a giant oak tree was blown down. The tree was thought to be in perfect health; that is, from outward appearance it seemed to be in good health since it was almost perfectly shaped and full of green leaves. However, the massive tree could not withstand the stress of the high wind because of deterioration on the inside. What started as a tiny corruption at the center of the tree had spread until that tremendous tree was so weakened that it was toppled by the wind.

One may reach a point where he forsakes God altogether. It is because he (like the tree) has decayed on the inside. Perhaps the deterioration started with a little lie or one small drink of beer or forsaking the assembly to go fishing or camping. Long before our feet carry us where we ought not go, and our hands do what they ought not do, the desire is in our hearts (Psa_119:9-11). With pure hearts we will be able to stand the stress of temptation and the stress of everyday living.

 

From Illustrations & Poems selected by Wayne Augden (Source Unknown)

     Character is developed not by the things that happen to us, but by what we do with the things that happen to us.  It’s what we take from our circumstances, and how we use what we experience to benefit ourselves and others that reveal our character. 

Building a Noble Character

In a great cathedral in Europe, there is a window made by an apprentice out of the bits of stained glass that were thrown away as worthless refuse when the other windows were made; this is the most beautiful window of all. You can build a noble character for yourself, in spite of all the hurts and injuries done consciously or unconsciously by others, with the fragments of the broken hopes, joys and the lost opportunities that lie strewn about your feet. No matter how badly others have hurt and marred you, they cannot prevent you from building a beautiful character for yourself; conversely, others by their best work cannot cause you to build a beautiful character. The fine character of your father or mother is not yours; you’ve got to build your own.

Excerpt from “What Really Ails America” By William J. Bennett

     There are things we need to realize as citizens of what has always been called the greatest country on earth.  The freedoms we enjoy have been fought for, and others have paid a price for them.  With freedom comes responsibility.  We have a responsibility to use our freedom to build, to make better, to improve, and to help and love people around us.  Our country is great because our people are great, but if our great people do not stand up for what they believe in; if they’re not willing to fight for what’s right, then our great people have ceased to be great, and our country will cease to be great.  You have a question to answer.  Will you be great?  Will you stand for what you believe in?  Will you fight for what’s right? 
     We can no longer afford to be a people who leave it to others to do what we should do ourselves.  You can make a difference.  You have the ability to touch someone with your life.  You can teach, You can inform, You can help, You can love.  You have no excuse.  Will you make the choice to be great?
     We must give voice, hands, and feet to our faith, to our beliefs, to our values every day that we live.  God does not call His people to stand aside, to lay down, to give way to evil without so much as a by your leave, and if you think He does then you had better ask yourself whether you truly know Him or not. 
     The following is an excerpt from a speech that really shows where our country is at.  A line in the sand is being drawn, and our country (Our Great Country) hangs in the balance.  Which side of that line are you going to be on?

Last year I compiled the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, a statistical portrait of American behavioral trends of the past three decades. Among the findings: Since 1960, while the gross domestic product has nearly tripled, violent crime has increased at least 560%. Divorces have more than doubled. The percentage of children in single-parent homes had tripled. And by the end of the decade 40% of all American births and 80% of minority births will occur out of wedlock. These are not good things to get used to.

In 1940 teachers identified the top problems in America’s schools as: Talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise and running in the hall. In 1990, teachers listed drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, suicide, rape and assault. These are not good things to get used to, either.

There is a coarseness, a callousness and a cynicism to our era. The worst of it has to do with our children. Our culture seems almost dedicated to the corruption of the young. We have become inured to the cultural rot that is setting in. People are losing their capacity for shock, disgust and outrage…

The ancients called our problem acedia, an aversion to spiritual things and an undue concern for the external and the worldly. Acedia also is the seventh capital sin–sloth–but it does not mean mere laziness. The slothful heart is stepped in the worldly and carnal, hates the spiritual and wants to be free of its demands.

When the novelist Walker Percy was asked what concerned him most about America’s future, he answered, “Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom…gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the communist movement, but from within, from weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed and in the end helplessness before its great problems.”

I realize this is a tough indictment. If my diagnosis is wrong, then why, amid our economic prosperity and military security, do almost 70% of the public say we are off track? I submit that only when we turn to the right things–enduring, noble, spiritual things–will life get better.

Most important, we must return religion to its proper place. Religion provides us with moral bearings, and the solution to our chief problem of spiritual impoverishment depends on spiritual renewal. The surrendering of strong beliefs, in our private and public lives, has demoralized society.

Today, much of society ridicules and mocks those who are serious about their faith. America’s only respectable form of bigotry is bigotry against religious people. And the only reason for hatred of religion is that it forces us to confront matters many would prefer to ignore.

Today we must carry on a new struggle for the country we love. We must push hard against an age that is pushing hard against us. If we have full employment and greater economic growth–if we have cities of gold and alabaster–but our children have not learned how to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then the American experiment, no matter how gilded, will have failed.

Do not surrender. Get mad. Get in the fight.

Excerpts from What Really Ails America, condensed from a speech by William J. Bennett, delivered December 7, 1993 at the Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C., reprinted in Reader’s Digest, April, 1994.

The Benefit of a Good Conscience

     Among the many things all people should possess a good conscience should be paramount.    If you have a good conscience then take time to praise God for it is a witness to the relationship between you and He.

The glory of a good person is the testimony of a good conscience. A good conscience is able to bear very much and is very cheerful in adversities. An evil conscience is always fearful and unquiet. Never rejoice except when you have done well. You shall rest sweetly if your heart does not accuse you. Sinners never have true joy or feel inward peace, because ‘there is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord (Isaiah 57:21). The glory of the good is in their consciences, and not in the tongues of others, The gladness of the just is of God, and in God; and their joy is of the truth.

A person will easily be content and pacified whose conscience is pure. If you consider what you are within, you will not care what others say concerning you. People consider the deeds, but God weighs the intentions. To be always doing well and to esteem little of one’s self is the sign of a humble soul. For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends, ‘says Paul (2 Corinthians 10:18). To walk inwardly with God, and not to be kept abroad by any outward affection, is the state of a spiritual person. Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul which looks out either toward God or toward what it regards as the highest authority. If I am in the habit of steadily facing toward God, my conscience will always introduce God’s perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offense. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God’s Son that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks.  

C.F.H. Henry, Christian Personal Ethics,  Eerdmans, 1957, p. 509ff

 Are You A Good Person

 

Are you a good person?
Bet you’ve got this one figured out.
and you believe it.

 

Easy question you think,
the answer comes no naturally.
I’ve never hurt anyone,
never done anything really wrong.

 

I’ve never killed anyone,
or cheated on my loved one.
Never taken anything
that didn’t belong to me.

 

Be hard for anyone to
really pin anything on me.
Do my job honestly,
sure love my family.

 

Told a lie?
Sure, I have.
Everyone tells lies,
one time or another.

 

Ever looked at someone
with lust in your heart?
A fleeting sexual thought
toward that cute person walking by?

 

Ever wanted what a friend has;
be it house, car, or wife?
Wamted to switch out-
live someone else’s life?

 

Sure, I have;
done all of that,
but just because I think it,
feel it, doesn’t mean I do it.

 

Ever tried to be in control?
Have things your own way?
Worked hard to have things,
made someone or thing go your way?

 

Are you a good person?

 

Ever read God’s holy word?
As a man thinks in his heart
so is he.

 

Know the ten commandments?
Bible teaches break one,
and before Him we’ll stand
guilty of all.

 

Standing before the Holy God,
you’re not good in yourself, not at all.

 

@Wayne Augden