Category Archives: Of Interest

The Christian and Debt

Debt is all around us, and most of us have some type of debt currently.  I just read a statistic yesterday that less than 50% of all Americans have any net worth at all, meaning that less than 50% of us have monetary value (including assets) over the amount of monetary debt we owe.  Financially, then, most Americans are worth less than zero. Think about that.  Our country has changed over time and we are a nation of debtors living in a nation of debt.  Yes, debt has always, and will always be around, but we are now going into debt for things people in the past would never have considered signing away their future earnings for.

So, what does God teach us about debt, money, and how we can faithfully handle our finances? Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to cover every scripture or every situation.  There are many good resources out in the market today that do a better job covering all of that than I ever could.  But, I did want to cover a specific aspect of debt that people tend to wink at; Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Really think that over; you are a slave to anyone you have borrowed money from.  Do you owe a  bank, credit company, hospital, the government, etc…?

Whoever you owe money to, you are their slave.  You work for them.  Your money is theirs, and that is a Biblical concept.  In an age where we borrow money from all of these places, we have so many masters we can’t count them.  Remember where it says that we can’t serve two masters? Wow.  We just don’t think of these things, and what we want, we want it now.  If we need an automobile, why of course we take out a loan because the masters make it easy to make monthly payments.  We demand a college education, so we take out a loan because the masters act as though we’ll be able to easily pay it back.  Our very nation is sinking in debt, and whoever holds our debt is our master.  Scarey, hunh?

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another… If we owe someone money, we give them power over us, and it limits what we can do with our work.  Everything that we have comes from God, and our best position is to be free to use what God blesses us with how He sees fit.  If we owe money, our money is yoked to the lender.  Now, if someone is in need, the answer can be giving, not borrowing.

Giving someone money (or things) freely, with no strings is different than lending.  It by-passes usury, and hard feelings.  The other answers come in how we view the world and our needs.  When I taught logic and philosophy at college, I urged my students to sit and write out their actual needs; what do you need to live?  It’s a short list.  We live in a world that tells us we NEED all of these various things, but it is a lie.  Don’t believe the lie, live below your means, surround yourself with wise people, read wise words, control you money, don’t let it control you, etc…

We should strive to be aware, strive after Godly wisdom and Godly ways.  We should also chafe a little bit when contemplating who are master, or masters are, and finally ask ourselves if our money is serving us (and God), or are we serving it?

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Filed under Christianity, Musings, Of Interest, Philosophy, Sacred Secular, Uncategorized

A New Mitford Book!

Happy Easter to me and all Mitford fans!  I just discovered that Jan Karon is taking us back to Mitford in her new book, “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.”  It’s set to be published on Sept. 2, 2014! For those of you who have never had the pleasure of traveling to Mitford, here is my review of the series; The Mitford Series…  Please feel free to join several fans that comment on that particular article, esp. if you have any questions about theses lovely books.

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Book Reviews; The Duggar Collection

I am going to review all 3 major titles in what I call “The Duggar Collection.”  They include; The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, A Love That Multiplies, and Growing Up Duggar. The first two in the list were both written by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the last was written by Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Jana Duggar.  If you’ve ever read my review of Do Hard Things, this review will be similar.

First, some background.  I do watch the television series about this family on TLC; 19 Kids and Counting so I was already familiar with the Duggars and there were no earth-shattering revelations for long-time watchers of the show contained in the books.  If you like the show, you’ll like the books, if you like to mock the show (or the family) you’ll mock the books.  While the Duggars’ particular brand of Christianity isn’t my brand, I still respect their morals, commitment to family, financial position, etc… so I did enjoy all three books.

Second, if you want to cut the list down, I can help do that for you.  If you want a book about the parenting principles and the life stories of Jim Bob and Michelle, read A Love that Multiplies.  It covers very similar ground as the first book, but it is more recent and contains the story of Josie.  If you want a book about relationships and courting from the perspective of 4 young ladies, along with stories of the Duggar clan, then read Growing Up Duggar.

The good; the Duggars are a breath of fresh air in this modern world when it comes to parenting.  They care about their kids (yes, all of them), and have committed their time and energy to making sure their family is taken care of and brought up within a caring and loving environment.  The books give the reader a window into their philosophies, which they obviously ground in scripture the way they interpret it. They include their perspectives on debt, modesty, parenting, homeschooling, morals, business, courting, etc…  If you are interested in these topics presented with Christianity mixed in to all of them, then you’d probably enjoy the books even if you disagree.

I think that large families, as long as they are self-supporting, are awesome.  I’m amazed that some people hate the Duggars simply because there are so many of them.  They don’t take government support, they all seem bright and healthy, intelligent, interesting, etc… Whether a couple has no children, or 19, it is their choice and they can be a strong and happy family.

The girls’ book particularly was interesting to me, because I’m always curious of what the “next generation” thinks about all this.  They tackle the area of relationships, and do so in a generally thorough (yet sometimes detail-lacking) manner.  Their discussion on courting, parental relationships, and sibling relationships was informative, and again, refreshing.

The not-so-good; although the Duggars deny that they are a part of “The Quiverfull Movement” in Christianity, it is hard not to see the connection.  Why such a large family?  Because they believe that it is God and God alone Who determines the number of kids that a couple are blessed with, and this means no contraception allowed.  So, what’s wrong with that?  This particular movement tends to draw Legalists in by the boatload, and to judge others who don’t follow the same philosophy.  Happily, I can say that I don’t pick up a lot of judgmentalism from the Duggars, who overtly say that they teach that their way is not the way for everyone when it comes to having kids.  They simply stand by their own convictions and cite scriptures that they feel back up their POV.

Another not-so-good aspect to the family is that they “follow” or “read” materials and philosophies of some individuals in Christendom that are questionable in their theology, and perhaps even in their private lives.  Bill Gothard is one such example.  Anytime there is a strong teaching of different gender roles, one must be extraordinarily careful and be on the look out for sexual misconduct.  I’m one that believes in different roles for the genders in certain areas, and I’m also one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to a philosophy that uses words like “sweet;” think sweet, be sweet, keep sweet, as applied to females. Ugh. FLDS anyone?  Sex abuse anyone?  Bill Gothard has had sexual misconduct allegations following him around for awhile now, and we have to be sure we look on someone as being innocent until proven guilty.  However when talking of certain philosophies there is a great chance in some of them for women and girls to be abused.

Thankfully, I see no sign of that from the Duggar clan.  I don’t believe in condemning someone because of the people they read, but I include this type of information in my review because I want to make it clear that it is is a red flag for my readers if they decide to delve into the Duggars’ books.  Know that many of the ways they interpret certain scriptures are not the way that I, or even a majority, of Christians interpret them, and many of their resources listed are impacted heavily by those like Gothard and those in the Quiverfull movement.

In short, I liked all 3 books, though there was repeating information in each.  I have learned a lot about large families and also how certain scripture are interpreted by those from this perspective.  I truly appreciate the information they presented on raising kids, morality, and their faith. While everything seems to be going well right now for this family and the kids, there is always a chance that things could change, such as if we see one or more of the kids joining more mainstream Christian churches and “rebelling,” then we could see a different side to all of this. In fact, statistically, we’d expect to see some Duggar descendent choose their own path, as God guides the individual.

The danger in some of the teachings they push are just that, which is the danger of demanding everyone be a foot, or all be an arm in the Body of Christ; “Cookie-cutter Chrisitians” in other words.  We also must be sure that we are not relying on good works or conformity to save us, but rather on Christ for it by grace we are saved through faith.  It is a good thing to rely on God to guide us and convict us, and at the same time to make sure we are truly understanding scripture as it is meant to be understood.  So, just make sure you are firmly grounded in scripture and in faith when reading books on other beliefs within Christianity (such as the Duggars have); test all things and hold to that which is good and true.

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“There is no straw.”

We see it.  I know we see it.  What’s more, we feel it.  Something is incredibly wrong in this country of ours.  The U.S. of A. has taken a turn.  This turn is a culmination of poor decisions on the part of… well, almost everyone.  Our borders are not secure.  Our currency is suffering.  We are a nation of debtors living in a debtor nation.  Our morality has become laughable.  Common sense is gone.  Our “representatives” in government; whether in the House, Senate, or White House no longer represent us.  People who work hard, and/or work smart, and accumulate wealth are scorned and ridiculed, while those on welfare are strangely pitied and praised at the same time, being held up as political pundits that we should listen to, or be amused by.

And yet we wait.  We wait for the “last straw” we wait for it to break the camel’s back.  “What is it going to be?” we wonder.  Is it going to be a stock market crash so severe we all wake up?  Is it going to be another terrorist attack on our soil?  Will it be a natural disaster of epic proportions? Viral outbreak?  A leader so awful we all rise up?

And then it hits me; there is no straw.  We want a straw… we want something sooo definitive that we finally break into action, rally, come together as Americans and put things right.  So, we wait, and wait, and wait.  This is not a straw situation, rather it is a frog in the pot situation.  Folks, the change has happened so slow we grow accustomed to it.  Yes, we notice it in passing, but we don’t act on it.

It’s time.  We each have an impact on our nation.  It starts with us.  With a firm idea of who we are.  We are made in the very image of God Himself.  We all live in relation with other people; friends, co-workers, parents, kids, spouses, students, teachers, etc… we make a change in our nation by making a change in our lives.  Parents raise up your kids.  YOU. Teach them right from wrong, proper patriotism, not blind group think but true patriotism that shows them what the founding fathers intended for this nation founded explicitly on Judeo-Christian values, teach them the bible, the declaration of independence, and the constitution.

Spouses, love one another, serve one another, become strong in the Lord so that you can stand against the tide of negative changes, and help your spouse stand.  Come to understand that you have to get involved in politics if you currently care about this country.  We cannot sit on the sidelines.  It is our right as citizens of the U.S. to let our minds be heard, to share opinion especially if it is rooted in our religion.  The founders did it, they protected the right of us to do so, with the expectation that we would pay attention and do our moral duty to the nation.  You want to make a an impact to your fellow humans, the time to take action is now.

There is no straw.  Toss the kool-aid out, quit wasting away in front of the TV, get off your butt, see to your own health, the health of your loved ones, of your town, of your state, and of your country.  Do what you can in your own life.  You have the power.  Bow your knee to God, pledge to serve those He wants you to serve, and quit waiting.

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The best video in response to Miley Cyrus…

So, most of us have at least heard of Miley Cyrus’ public display of… well, of herself.  I like this YouTube contributor’s take the performance, and the point she is making.  My fellow women, have a little respect for yourselves.

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When are they going to realize it’s all true?

A new find discussed in an article at Archaeology Archive offers evidence that supports the accuracy of the book of Jeremiah (surprise, surprise)  Read all about it here: Book of Jeremiah Confirmed?

Here’s a snippet:

“Austrian Assyriologist Michael Jursa recently discovered the financial record of a donation made a Babylonian chief official, Nebo-Sarsekim. The find may lend new credibility to the Book of Jeremiah, which cites Nebo-Sarsekim as a participant in the siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

The tablet is dated to 595 B.C., which was during the reign of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II. Coming to the throne in 604 B.C., he marched to Egypt shortly thereafter, and initiated an epoch of fighting between the two nations. During the ongoing struggle, Jerusalem was captured in 597, and again in 587-6 B.C. It was at this second siege that Nebo-Sarsekim made his appearance.

He ordered Nebo-Sarsekim to look after Jeremiah: “Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.” (Jeremiah 39.12)

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Of Interest, The Bible

The Fast and the Furious Series Review

This is going to be the first time for some of you to read one of my more “secular” posts, but as always I believe you can often find the sacred in the secular.  I admit it, I’m a Fast and Furious fan.  I fell in love with the first movie when it came out, and have followed it ever since.

If you find cussing, violence, and scantily clad women offensive, or if you’ve been led away from those things, avoid these movies.  So, why am I writing this review?  Because I believe most people are missing the main point and feature of the movies in this series.  I also believe that Vin Diesel is trying, in his own way, to get people to realize several key themes.

First, that the world is now connected in ways that it never has been in the past.  Culture is bleeding over political borders, and with it the good and the bad.  Crime, and crime bosses can now go global.  They can do so digitally or physically, and this is one lesson that we all need to learn in a very real way.  Two examples spring to mind; the recent reports of Chinese hackers invading US systems, and the violence on our Southern border.  We all now owe it to our society to start thinking more and more globally, and our news organizations will hopefully wake up and begin providing us with global coverage.

Of course, there are good things coming from this blending of cultures as well.  New styles, new food, new friends, new conversations to have.  And I think that this connects to Vin’s other main theme in these movies; faith and family.

The latest F&F installment, Fast and Furious 6 kinds slaps you upside the head with it, but apparently many reviewers are missing the point.  Faith and family.  Each installment in the main series always has a moment or two of Dom’s running rule; when you sit down to eat, whoever eats first (or tries to) has to say grace.  Some do it with more learning and style, and some try their best.  Dom’s cross also becomes a continuing plot device.

This lesson wasn’t something that was full-force in the first movie; Dom cared more for his own feeling of freedom than for his team, but that quickly changed as one-by-one his family was either hurt, or killed.  Over the course of the series we’ve seen Dom’s family grow, and with it, his loyalty.

Family.  This is where the “sacred” comes in.  This string of movies does a very good job of showing how those people that are not directly related to us can become our family.  In fact, each person that is a born again believer in Jesus is our family.  How often do we really truly see that in our church communities?  It’s rare.  If we truly wake up to what Jesus is telling us, we should help and protect our fellow believers, because they ARE our family.  They are not “like” family they are true family.

I believe this series does a superb job showing us this, in a secular sense of course… annnddd, you really do have to sit through a bunch of racing scenes to get there, but I do believe Vin Diesel is purposefully communicating that idea of family across all borders; language, culture, background, etc… And, yes, Vin isn’t technically a writer, but I hear him and Paul Walker have input into the series, especially when it comes to things the fans demand.

What else do I love about the series?  I love the cars.  I love the humor.  I love the way it self-deprecates.  I love the characters, and their interplay.  There is also ideas such as self-control and forgiveness taught throughout.  The series has become a huge blockbuster and the special effects are there to prove it, but at the heart of it, this series is still about family.  Sure, there are now over-the-top explosions, and cheesy physics defying crashes, but the film never takes itself to seriously on that score.

These movies are definitely not for everyone, but I can’t wait til the 7th installment!

Oh, and if you are interested, here’s the watch order if you’d like to see the whole series chronologically and, Han’s first appearance was not in the F&F series, but in a movie called “Better Luck Tomorrow” it would come before Los Bandoleros):

  • The Fast and the Furious
  • Turbo-Charged Prelude {short}
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious
  • Los Bandoleros {short}
  • Fast & Furious
  • Fast Five
  • Fast & Furious 6
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

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Ministry Review; World Vision

Sponsoring a child in need.  Many times that conjures up old commercials from the 80′s begging for funds… that turned out to be lining the pockets of a few of the people in charge, with no money going to the children.  Also, the old model was based upon the idea that Western outsiders knew best how to help a community rather than the community itself knowing what they need.

Gratefully those days are gone for the most part.  If you wish to sponsor a child there are now an array of charitable organizations that have tossed out the old model, in favor of a new sustainable grassroots model.  Also, with watchdog groups constantly checking on these charities it is far less likely that someone is simply pocketing the money.

One such organization is World Vision International.  Each country that is  a part of WV, has their own website; so for example World Vision US is:  www.worldvision.org  This website is a hub that you can use to get news, learn about the organization, sponsor a child, browse their catalog and send gifts such as goats, chickens, microfinance a loan, etc…  World Vision used to catch a bit of flak for advertising as though your money went directly to the sponsored child, but now they have made it much clearer that your money goes to the child’s community, and not just to the child itself.

Each child that is sponsored is assured to be a part of the programs for education, schooling, etc… and you can send extra gifts to the child’s family or community.  This system tends to work better, since the whole community is involved and less jealousy is likely to occur.  Also, the grassroots touch is that each community gives feedback as to what is needed, and what would most help.  Sustainability is one of the main goals of World Vision and they work to make a perpetual change.

Why do I call this a ministry?  Because they are indeed a Christian organization.  This does not mean that they push or proselytize.  Their belief is that they live out part of Jesus’ message by helping those that need a bit of encouragement or a leg up.  There are some areas in the world where Christianity can be taught, they can hand out Bibles, etc… but there are also some areas where Christianity, it active proselytizing, is not allowed.  They still serve those communities, hoping to make an impact for Jesus based on love and action.

The pros of this ministry; it connects you with an individual child, it is a large organization, so can make a big impact.  They have disaster response that is second to none.  They are so well known, so they are also watch to make sure there is no fraud.

Some cons; each country has its own people in charge (which is good too), but this makes it hard to police and constantly insure no one is conning the system, and that funds are being well used.  (However, the organization does indeed run checks, and takes any reports of problems seriously.)  For us more conservative minded Christians, there is a bit of unease when the “social gospel” is focused on, instead of the more salvational message of Jesus, but that is the purpose of this organization.

I don’t usually like to talk about charitable acts, but yes, we’ve just started sponsoring 2 World Vision children, and I’d love to share my experiences on here, and can wait to start writing letters and sending small trinkets along to them via mail.  If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them, or point you to a phone number or webpage.  If you have any WV stories to share, I’d love to see them in the “comments” section here.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Conversion, Health, Ministries, Of Interest, Reviews

Helping get the Gosnell mass-murder story out…

The mainstream media refuses to cover this story because it shows abortion for what it is; infanticide, or baby murder.  The story at the following link is indeed graphic.  Swallow it, folks, this is what abortion has wrought.

Philadelphia abortion clinic horror.

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Filed under Catholicism, Christianity, Health, Musings, Of Interest, Religion and Politics

Wake up; take back Feminism…

WARNING: This article talks about mature topics that often are disturbing (and should be).

I’m one of those people that believed Feminism was a foul word, tainted by liberal ideology, and something to be avoided at all costs.  Then I woke up.  The original ideas of Feminism are solid ideas, but the philosophy has been co-opted by the leftwing.  In fact, females do indeed deserve to be treated equally to men, we should indeed have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Life; we have the right to not be murdered and killed simply because we are female.  All over this globe, and down through history, a female’s life is often weighed to be less than a man’s.  I believe this is one reason why feminism in this country took a liberal turn; we won those rights and instead of helping other women in other countries, the feminists in this country turned insular and began to morph feminism into something it was never meant to be.

In countries such as China, male life is held more dear than female life.  That is a current fact.  Babies are killed (often before they leave the womb) or abandoned simply because they are female.  Do China’s policies effect this?  Of course they do.  That’s the point.  In this current age of globalization, isn’t it time that we women in the US start trying to help other women in other countries gain basic rights?  Should that not be the true goal of classical feminism?

Abortion policies under the euphemism “the right to choose”  are anti-feminist.  Abortion is a plague that is scarring women and targeting female babies in particular.  The earliest feminists, were (in the main) against abortion.  Abortion kills scores of females every single day, and leaves the mothers scarred and hurting.  True feminists fight for the lives of the unborn, male and female, and strive to make a world where females who are pregnant have the help and support they need through private charities and support groups.

Liberty; we have the right to not be owned by another human being, or by the government.  We should have the same freedoms afforded to males.  The right to influence government policies for one, which obviously includes the right to vote.  True feminism is pro-democracy.  We should care very deeply that there are women living in countries where things like Sharia law denies liberty and freedom to women.

The pursuit of happiness; we have the right, as much as we are able, to effect our own lives and to make them positive.  Around the globe females, young girls and women, even babies, are being sold into sex slavery.  This is not prostitution, there is no real choice, this is rape on a massive scale done in the name of money.  It takes money to fight the love of money.  Capitalism in a democratic society is one of the main ways to insure women have the right and means to pursue happiness.

On the flip side of sex slavery, in many places, women and their sexuality are seen to be bad just because they are women.  Genital mutilation at the hands of traditionalists (especially in Muslim countries) is torturing and disrupting females every day.  Not only does genital mutilation rob women of their God given capacity to enjoy sex, but also disrupts normal waste elimination, and causes additional hazards to women in childbirth.  Part of being a true feminist should be to put your foot down and decry beliefs and customs that call for the physical mutilation/torture of young girls and women.

If I believe my happiness lies in being a stay-at-home wife or that motherhood is my goal, true feminism supports that.  Somewhere along the way someone started teaching that women must become like men, not equal to them, but literally like men.  Liberal feminists look down upon the women who choose “traditional” paths in life.  It is as though they fear all that is male, and must try to force themselves to become the same as that which they fear.

It is time that we Christians wake up and take another look at what we can do to support females in this world.  Many have the skewed belief that women are seen to be inferior in Christianity, or that we cannot teach, or serve in the church, etc… This is a false view, and one that I hope to tackle in a future article.  Also, read up on this stuff and have your eyes opened.  It can be a painful awakening, but is necessary if we wish to do right by the females in the world.  I recommend the book, and PBS show “Half the Sky.”  Yes, watch out for liberal ideology, but gather and gain the knowledge needed.  Also, if you are looking for a Christian organization helping to make an impact on issues directly related to feminism, check out Wellspring International.

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