Courageous: Honor Begins at Home

There is a crisis of manhood–and of true courage–in modern America.  A part of our culture promotes the message that what it means to be a man is to sleep with as many women as you can, make, take, or fake monetary wealth, and dominate others, whether on the sports field or in the public eye.  That isn’t manhood.  Truth be told, doing one or more of the aforementioned things really isn’t difficult.  Immorality seldom is…

What takes true courage and strength is to be a real man.  A man of God.  A family man.  A man of honor.  Few manage to do those things, whether because they’re  more difficult than the others, or because they’ve been deluded and deceived into chasing false idols that never truly fulfill.  Some never make the attempt, because they’ve not been shown what a true man looks like.

That’s why movies like the one promoted below are so valuable.  Catch this one while it’s still in the theaters.

Encouragement…

I know a lot of people that are struggling right now, and I thought I might just post an encouraging song, knowing personally the power such music has to lift spirits…

Weirdness in the News

I’m not altogether sure the story I’m about to relate isn’t a complete fraud, so consider yourselves warned–in fact I’m hoping it is, as a child was reported to have died.  Allegedly, somewhere west of Paris eleven people jumped from their apartment window in an attempt to escape what they believed to be the Devil.  The incident apparently took place in a small town west of Paris, according to the U.K.’s SKY news network.

Of course, it’s not weird enough that eleven people would leap from a second-story window, but they apparently mistook a naked man who lived in the apartment with them for the devil and stabbed him prior to leaping.  To quote directly from the story:

“Thirteen people were in an apartment on the second floor when, at around 3am, one of the occupants heard his child crying,” said Odile Faivre, the deputy prosecutor in Versailles.

The man in question, of African origin, who was completely naked, got up to feed his child, at which point the other occupants took him for the devil.

‘He was seriously wounded in the hand after being stabbed with a knife before he was thrown out of the apartment, via the door.’

The 30-year-old man then tried to force his way back into the room.”

I have a whole slew of questions for the participants that will probably never be answered.  They include, “How much druggage were ya’ll runnin’ up in there?” and “Why were thirteen of you living in an apartment together?”.

Just guess this goes to prove that reality is stranger than fiction.

No Matter What…

Last night Kerrie Roberts performed her first concert in my city.  I heard it was quite something.  Unfortunately, I had to be at a meeting for a charity I work with, as I’m responsible for having secured the venue for an upcoming fundraiser.   I’ve only heard one song by Ms. Roberts (linked below), but she reminds me of Nichole Nordman.  Both women aren’t just gifted vocally, but are talented songwriters whose lyrics have depth and meaning.   I have found them to be sources of encouragement in an often frustrating Christian walk.

When great suffering or tragedy greets some people, it can come to dominate their life and leave wounds that last decades.  I have seen in some of my students how a betrayal by a parent or other loved one can twist and embitter an entire life.  One can become lost in asking “Why?”.

The blessing of being a Christian is that one need not be defined by great tragedy.

Remembering God puts things in their proper perspective.  The real answer to suffering is not to be found in a human understanding, but in an awareness of the presence of God.  If there is suffering, and it is offered to and born for the love of God, that suffering can have a purpose, though it be not known until years later, or even on this side of death.

Pain is not the end of the story.  Not in a universe built by a God of love.

 

Theological Thursdays: Our Needs, His Providence

“Whatsoever we ask which is not for our good, He will keep it back from us.  And surely in this there is no less of love than in granting what we desire as we ought. Will not the same love which prompts you to give a good, prompt you to keep back an evil thing? If, in our blindness, not knowing what we ask, we pray for things which would turn in our hands to sorrow and death, will not our Father, out of His very love, deny us? How awful would be our lot, if our wishes should straightway pass into realities; if we were endowed with a power to bring about all that we desire; if the inclinations of our will were followed by fulfilment of our hasty wishes, and sudden longings were always granted.  One day we shall bless Him, not more for what He has granted than for what He has denied.”

–H.E. Manning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For His great love has compassed

Our nature, and our need

We know not; but he knoweth,

And He will bless indeed.

Therefore, O heavenly Father,

Give what is best to me;

And take the wants unanswered,

As offerings made to Thee.

~Anon

Miraculous Monday: Healing the Paralytic

In the Catholic cycle of readings, today’s Gospel (Luke 5: 17-26) recounted the story known as “The Healing of the Paralytic”.  It’s a misleading and inappropriate name.  Why?  Because it takes the focus from the primary miracle (forgiveness of sins) and puts it on the less extraordinary.

Before the paralytic was told to “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk,” Christ saw the faith of his friends, and this led him to say, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

It’s no coincidence.  The Lord puts first things first.  Yet confession is so available to us today, we’ve lost sight of its truly miraculous nature.  It is a gift more magnificent than the ability to walk!

The first time I read the passage, I thought Christ was forgiving the paralytic’s sins, and not those of the friends.  What an interesting thing to consider, though–that Christ would forgive the sins of one because of the faith his friends have in God.  I think there is a lesson in that slight misinterpretation.

Have you prayed for your friends and family lately?  So many of us have loved ones that find it hard to believe in God, or have turned away from the faith because of hardship or pain they cannot see beyond.  Could it be that because of your prayers, the Lord might forgive them their sins and heal their soul?

Isn’t that a chance worth taking, and a cause worthy of prayer?

A Few Questions…

It’s interesting how those who oppose the current government plans are being dismissed as “anti-reform”, when that accusation is really the furthest thing from the truth.

I don’t know anyone who is claiming something doesn’t need to be done about healthcare.  Where we truly differ is in the details–whom should be the primary engine of that reform, and how it should be conducted.

Some well-meaning (though ignorant) people believe government is the only organization that can “fix” the problem.  Others believe you will NEVER fix healthcare if government is the sole or primary hope for a solution.  Only by engaging the issues at multiple levels, and most especially at the most basic (that of the individual), will a true solution present itself.

For those who put their faith and hope in an impersonal government system, I have a few simple questions.   Answer them, and you should begin to realize why the informed among us have so little confidence in government-driven “healthcare reform”.

1.  Of the 535 members of Congress, how many actually have a medical degree?

2.  Of the members of Congress, how many have degrees in economics?

3.  How many doctors–trained in different fields of medicine–do you see in a single year?

4.  Do you know how much you’re going to spend on healthcare-related expenses for the next year?   Is there a possibility you could have expenses beyond your “budget”?

Answer #1: There are 14 members of Congress with MDs;  10 Republicans, 4 Democrats.  In other words, only 2.6% of our “saviors”  have real experience or training concerning the system they’re trying to fix.

Answer #2: According to the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, prior to the last election, just 6.7% of Congress specifically had an (undergraduate) economics degree.  Furthermore, according to a Wall Street Journal article from October 1st, 2008, “Such a rubric leaves off Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and ranking member Richard Shelby, as well as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and ranking member Spencer Bachus. They all have law degrees, but don’t have formal education in other economics-related fields.”

When we talk about medical expenses, we’re discussing a system that accounts for 1/6th of the entire U.S. economy.  It might be good to have some very good economists assisting doctors in making decisions.

Answer #3: Individually, every year I see my general practitioner, my dentist, rheumatologist, and a physical therapist.  Every other year I see an opthamologist (contact prescription), and podiatrist (orthotics for my fallen arches).  Human health is awfully complex, even when we’re just talking about a single person in pretty good health.

Even if all 535 Congressmen and women were doctors, they’d never be able to attend to the medical needs of the “36-48 million who are currently uninsured”.  Why do we think these non-specialists can “fix” this problem?  Who is naive here?

Answer #4: I don’t know how much I’m going to spend on healthcare in a given year.  Neither do you.  That’s the whole reason we have insurance, “health savings accounts”, and tax deductions if medical expenses exceed 7% of income.  That’s why Medicare is projected to go bankrupt.  Medical costs are that volatile, which is the real reason insurance premiums increase so rapidly (not because insurers are evil or greedy).  Stuff happens, especially when many aren’t taking proper care of themselves.

Yet government healthcare partisans actually believe Obama and the Congressional Budget Office when they claim this plan will only cost “$1 trillion over the next ten years”, or will be “budget neutral”.   What’s that I smell?  Seems like a steaming pile of BS to me.

So how do we fix this mess?

For one, we emphasize the role of the INDIVIDUAL, not the government.  Healthcare reform must BEGIN at the level of the individual, not the federal government.

Proper diet, exercise, and sleep are the foundation for health, and many of the expensive medical conditions of our society begin with the individual.  According to the CDC, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer, and the most lethal. Although 80-90% of all cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking, millions of individuals continue this irresponsible practice.

Most cases of obesity, Type II Diabetes, and heart disease can be directly linked to the avoidable habits and addictions of individuals.  These are the conditions that account for the lion’s share of American healthcare costs. We will never succeed in curbing healthcare expenses or delivering true health while we fail to address the matter at the level of individual responsibility.

The number of people who allegedly die from lack of insurance every year (45,000), and the number of people driven into bankruptcy by medical costs (700,000) appear to be the two main “reasons” Mr. Obama and others are using as “justification” for government-driven reform.    In a nation of 300 million people, together these groups represent a mere 0.2% of the population.   Why such fear-mongering over such a minuscule segment of the population?  Why constantly raise the specters of bankruptcy and death to every citizen?

Still, those 745,000 are someone’s loved ones, and fortunately represent such a small group, relatively tiny civic organizations can pool charity to deliver medical care and remediate medical expenses.  I know such efforts are feasible because I’ve been part of them.  My graduate school pooled tiny cash contributions to pay for the emergency medical care of two people without insurance.  One recovered from her cancer, and the other retired debt from an expensive and invasive surgery.

As Socrates believed, if you ask the right questions, the complex becomes manageable, and solutions present themselves.  We do not require the crutch of government dependence or inefficiency.