Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Brave Little Flower & Reasons for Thanks

      This past week I saw a Thanksgiving greeting from Joni Ericson Tada. As a teenager she became paralyzed from the neck down from a diving accident.  Today she has an international ministry helping encourage others that face physical challenges.  She said that she has recently been fighting a battle with breast cancer.  In this new battle she thanks the Lord that she has a new platform to build God's kingdom. Here I see a woman that fulfills the command "In everything give thanks."

      In this post I'm reprinting an article by Brother Norman.  It made me think of Corrie Ten Boom and the prisoners she knew in the German concentration camps that tried to remember all the good things they knew before their world was tipped upside down.  If this post in some small way helps you recognize God's blessings to us in the beautiful freedoms we know, it will fulfill my purpose in sharing it.

                         Occasions for Thanks by Norman Ward

     It is Thanksgiving week again, therefore I guess an article on the giving of thanks would be appropriate.  This shouldn't be hard to come up with seeing that everything we have, everything we are or everything we hope to be is a gift from God and thanks to Him are always in order.  This thought brings to mind the Scripture that exhorts us, not only for one special day, but for every day: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

     Strangely, it seems that in ordinary practice, often those who have the most for which to be thankful for are the greatest hands to just smugly take everything for granted, while those who seemingly have little to cheer and brighten their life have a more pronounced "habit" of thankfulness.  As a noted preacher from way back in the 1500's once observed, "The greater God's gifts and works, the less they are regarded."

     By way of illustration of this "phenomenon," hear what Viktor Frankl, survivor of the infamous Nazi death camp known as Auschwitz had to say of the experience of himself and other prisoners whose personal property, freedom, dignity and hope had all been stripped away.  They knew they were facing death, either by slow starvation, harsh overwork or the gas chambers.  Frankle wrote, "Prisoners in the camp dreamed at night about such things as bread, cakes, a nice warm bath-- the very things that in our former lives we just took for granted every day."

     Frankl also wrote of an occasion when some prisoners were moved from one concentration camp to another.  He said, weak and despairing as they were, they eagerly peered out the little barred window of their prison railroad car to gratefully take in the beauty of the snow-capped Alps, rivers and farming areas they passed through.  All these were the scenes many of them were very familiar with in their carefree days of freedom, but now they intently drank in their beauty with a new appreciation.

     Gerta Weissman was a prisoner in another Nazi death camp.  She recounted a spring morning when she and hundreds of other fellow inmates stood at roll call for hours on end, nearly collapsing with hunger and fatigue.  But they noticed in one corner of that cold, bleak, depressing gray courtyard that a little flower had poked it's way up through a crack in the concrete.  Although forced to mill around weak and stumbling in such crowded conditions every woman there took great pains to avoid stepping on the brave little flower.  They felt much thankfulness for that one spot of beauty in their ugly and heinous world.

     After the war she was asked how they could find courage to go on in those horrible conditions. She said once while in the camp barracks, staring out a grimy window pane at nothing but barren concrete, the question came to her mind, "If by some miraculous means you could be anywhere in the world right now instead of here, where would you want to be?"  She cherished that thought for awhile and here weary mind considered many possible answers.  "But," she continued, "you know, the scene that kept coming to my mind was mental picture of our living room in my childhood home; a warm fire glowing in the stove, Father reading his newspaper, Mother sewing, my brother and I doing our school homework----in other words, an ordinary "boring" evening at home---- that is precisely where I would most like to have been miraculously transported to!  I realized that the commonplace settings of life were what I was most grateful for."

     The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that if the stars appeared in the heavens only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event that would be! But, because they are there every night, we barely notice them.

      Helen Keller once said, "I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during their early adult life It would make them deeply thankful for sight and the joys of sound."

      To sum up, thanking and praising God is jut a good thing to do.  Moreover, it is Scriptural to thank and praise God.  A good spiritual exercise for this week would be to read Psalms 105, 106 and 107.  All three start out: "O give thanks unto the Lord..."  They recount the numerous miracles and blessings God gave to the children of Israel.  (Some of them might remind you of miracles and blessing He has given you.)  If so, praise Him in your own words.  Four times in Psalm 107, the writer pauses in his recitation of God's blessing to exclaim, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."  So, let's get with it.

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

     Every day we are bombarded with messages to grab our attention.  It's really amazing how much is spent in order to get our attention.  The reason for this is because there is a lot of power in getting a message to the masses.  This was evident during the recent elections with the record amounts of money being poured into "swing" states. 

     The real issue in getting people's attention is the quality of the message because our time is so valuable.  The value of the message can be lost because of the shear quantity of messages we get.  As a small business owner, I want to get people interested in my product. I'm able to share about my product with enthusiasm because I believe in its value.  This is true with the conflict of ideas.  Each side is fully convinced that the idea they have is right.  Just because we might be right or have enthusiasm won't necessarly mean what we have will sell.  We need to get the information to others and convey that what we offer is truly in their interest.

      An illustration of this is the invention of sliced bread. Otto Fredrick Rohwedder was a jeweler that knew he had a good idea and sold his jewelry stores to fund it.  After building a prototype of a bread slicing machine a fire burned down the factory he housed it in and destroyed it and his blueprints.  After taking few years of coming up with the funds to build a machine, he sold one in 1928.  Within five years there was more sliced bread on the store shelves in America than unsliced. Otto's idea was around for years before it really caught on because of the circumstances he found himself in.  After large bread companies bought his bread slicing machines the popularity of it was so great that when the government made sliced bread illegal in 1943 as a conservation effort the ban was short lived.

  I believe the concept of true freedom is desirable, but it is not being transmitted to the degree competing ideas are.  This is not an accident as the goal to transmit the opposite concept was outlined in the Communist Manifesto many years ago.

     There is a beauty in having private property and belongings, to be able to work with the promise of reward, and to not begrudge those that have already gotten there.  Those that oppose freedom would have us to turn against those that have reaped the benefits of freedom.  None of us will enjoy those freedoms, which is sometimes called the American Dream, if we don't have the good sense to be happy for others that are successful from great ideas and hard work.

     The man that came up with sliced bread must have been on to something because I'm hard pressed to find any bread at the store that's not been sliced.  In the past, the desire for freedom has spread like wildfire.  It could happen again. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hymn To The Welfare State & A Visit to the Gods of The Copybook Headings

I miss the old lever and curtains type voting booths!

To commemorate this day in history the following hymn is presented as a reflection of attitudes that have brought us to where we are at:

The Government is my shepherd, therefore I need not work.
It alloweth me to lie down on a good job.
It leadeth me beside still factories; it destroyeth my initiative.
It leadeth me in the path of a parasite for politic’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of laziness and deficit spending, I will fear no evil, for the Government is with me.
It prepareth an economic Utopia for me, by appropriating the earnings of my own grandchildren.
It filleth my head with false security; my inefficiency runneth over.
Surely the government should care for me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in a fool’s paradise forever! — author unknown

America is not following a map to freedom, but of serfdom.  Perhaps most disturbing is that people are feeding on lies.  We are told "the best is yet to come" and yet the ingredients are disastrous.  I think of the promise of peace, yet we see what happened to America's ambassador to Libya. 
I think of the promise of no want because of keeping the barbaric practice of abortion.  Poverty
continues, and the worst poverty is of the soul. I'd like to share some excerpts from a poem by Rudyard Kipling that were written over a hundred years ago.  See if they don't describe the world we live in today.

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller life
(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said the "Wages of Sin is Death."

Yes, they tell us they believe in loving your neighbor, but they don't know how because of depraved human nature.  The generosity they offer is stolen from the pockets of others which in the end will not be sustainable because it destroys initiative to produce.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "If you don't work you die."

My grandpa always said history repeats itself.  Right now we'll watch as people keep burning themselves and are left wondering why things are going the way they are.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man--
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:--
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Destruction comes with the government as our shepherd.  When we have the Lord as our shepherd there comes peace that passes understanding, true productivity that comes from following His principles, and a happy ending.

                                  Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters. Rev. 7.17
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.