Originally posted in January 2010 on Xanga: When Is A Door Not A Door? | lnxwalt on Xanga
I have been watching this health care bill with both anticipation and some dread. I have to say that the dread now tops the anticipation.
It all starts about sixteen years ago. William J. Clinton was President, and a commission led by his wife Hillary R. Clinton was working on a proposal to bring health coverage to nearly all Americans. There was a loud roar, "let the market solve the problem, private industry will do a better job for a lower price". Clinton's health bill collapsed, and we got the medical insurance industry of today.
Did this solve anything? Not really. You see, health care insurance is generally too expensive for those who are not covered under an employer-sponsored plan. Those who are covered find that their insurer's cost-control processes are illogical. There are a number of Americans who are no longer with us whose demise should be blamed on insurance company "death panels".
The health bill, as covered in the press, has these characteristics:
(1)No "government option". This means that only the same companies whose incompetence and greed keeps 1/3 of Californians away from medical care are going to be the sole beneficiaries of this policy. Unlike the right-wing, who think this is "socialized medicine", I recognize this as 1940s-style fascism. Requiring people to patronized a favored group of privately-owned businesses is not only wrong, it is scary. What industry will be next? Will we soon be required to buy automobiles, even in places like DC, where it makes no sense to drive? Will the dairy industry require us to buy milk products?
(2) Mandatory insurance. One would think that our experience with mandatory auto insurance would show people that this is a bad idea. Lower-income employees, including younger workers, will face the choice of whether to pay their rent and buy food or pay their insurance. Unless they are already in poor health, most of them will make the (wise) choice to pay their rent and buy food. Using the IRS to punish the young and the lower-income worker is not an acceptable answer when coverage for some level of "BasiCare" should be be available without any direct reference to the patient's wallet.
(3) Insufficient attention to preventive care. Sixteen years ago, insurance companies promised that "health maintenance organizations" would focus on preventing illnesses, that this would be the way they would ration care... by making much of our medical care unnecessary. I ask you, where is the emphasis on diet, exercise programs, addiction-management (including smoking, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, and so on), management of chronic illnesses (e.g., diabetes, obesity, hypertension), psychological counseling (which can help avoid domestic violence and other violent crime)?
(4) Leaves up the dividing line between on-the-job medical coverage (worker's compensation, disability insurance) and off-the-job coverage. As long as that line is there, people on both sides will continue to try and cheat the other side's coverage. It is said that people come to work concealing an injury in order to "get hurt at work" and get treatment. It is also common for someone who really has been hurt at work to use their personal medical coverage because they fear retaliation by their employers. What is needed is a single, overall coverage.
(5) No workplace / classroom ergonomics requirement. Have you seen the little seat-desks that have a little area for a right-handed student to write upon? How often have you seen a lefty dealing with a seat that isn't designed for him / her? What about office chairs and desks whose height cannot be adjusted properly for the employee assigned to them? When this kind of design violation affects workplace machinery, it can cause killing or maiming accidents. Even when such accidents don't occur, human-centered design can reduce the number and severity of repetitive strain injuries.
(6) Exemptions galore. There are exemptions from the national plan for members of Congress, for those covered under government employee plans, for those covered under Medicare and Medicaid. There needs to be a single plan that provides "BasiCare" to everyone. Extended coverage (beyond what is contained in BasiCare) can be handled by today's dizzying array of medical payment solutions (e.g., privately-owned or government sponsored health insurers or even Visa / MasterCard) separately from BasiCare, but some basic level of care, including preventive and chronic illness care, should be handled through a central BasiCare system.
(7) Constitutional violation. No, I'm not a lawyer. But I can read, which is more than can be said for most judges, congress-members, or presidents. Continuing to overload the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution can subject us to easy takeover by a "Roman emperor"-style tyrant. Instead, this should be something where Congress approves of a "joint operating agreement" by the states, territories, DC, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, but without any direct federal involvement.
In this, I see echoes of Massachusetts' failed plan. Their plan was based on persuading "I'm invincible" young and healthy workers to pay premiums, so that older and sicker workers' costs would be lower. The problem was that younger workers don't avoid joining health insurance plans because they don't believe they'll be hurt. They avoid joining health insurance plans because they find it difficult enough to pay for all the things they need (food, clothing, housing, transportation, tuition), plus all the things they don't need but are required to pay for anyway (auto insurance). Adding another "you hafta pay me" to their overstretched budgets didn't work for MA, and it won't work for USA.
Is this the best we could do? A massive giveaway of your income and mine to the insurance companies? This could have been such a boon to our economy. Think about your co-workers who are coming to work sick and in pain, and how much more productive they could be if they received medical / dental / vision / hearing care.
Here are some things that a national health care plan should have included:
(1) All other insurers off the hook. Anything covered under BasiCare should be only covered by BasiCare. Other insurers shouldn't collect premiums for anything within that area. This would both reduce premiums and reduce insurance company costs.
(2) Medical price parity. Right now, if you walk in and pay for your treatment with your credit card, you pay the most of any patients. In effect, you are subsidizing the discounted rates received by insurers. Medical care providers should have one rate for everyone who pays for a particular treatment.
(3) Direct and speedy patient recourse against medical payment organizations (that is, insurers and other payment intermediaries). This would help avoid situations such as a transplant recipient whose insurer refuses to pay for regular liver enzyme tests or the person whose insurance is canceled once she is diagnosed with cancer.
(4) Treatment incentives: A person's need for care will be influenced by his / her lifestyle choices. I'd rather pay for someone to get a free slow-cooker and healthy menu choices / healthy cooking classes now than pay for treatment later. I'd rather see someone joining an exercise program now than having to be carried on a flatbed truck to the hospital. We have to ensure that cost is not an obstacle to healthy living, and that someone who chooses to live unhealthily despite the availability of assistance doesn't use up all our treatment resources.
(5) Centralize payments. There should be one third-party payer for all BasiCare treatment. This doesn't mean that direct patient payment will be prohibited, although they should get the same prices and payment terms as BasiCare does and that payment should be accepted as full payment, just as with BasiCare. (That is, no double-billing. Fraud should subject a treatment provider to permanent ineligibility for payment, including ineligibility to directly bill individual patients.)
(6) Universal coverage. Every individual in the country, whether young or old, male or female, citizen or not, should be covered for BasiCare. No exceptions or exemptions. This includes congress-members, military, state / federal employees, and even certain employees of religious organizations who are (for some curious reason) exempt from Social Security.
(7) Non-federal organization. It is time to start following the Constitution. States are closer to the voters, and present a more dispersed target for those who would corrupt the process (such as the major health care insurance providers).
(8) Premiums paid through state taxes, not federal taxes, and not directly by the covered patients.
(9) Co-payments encouraged. If it costs you nothing to go see the doctor, you'll be there when you get a scratch or when your toenail is about to come off.
(10) Personal responsibility. When you refuse to care for your new piercing, you should have to reimburse BasiCare for the treatment of your infection, or even better, be made to pay some portion of it up front and to repay whatever you didn't prepay. Personal choices have consequences, and you should pay for those, not everyone else.
Somehow, I doubt that the imperial Congress will hear my voice. They are too busy listening to big insurers and centralized government advocates. But they should be listening to me and millions of others like me, because we're the ones who will get stuck paying for their mistakes if they fail to hear our voices.
When is a door not a door? When the government shuts it and keeps you from using it.
Forgive the mess. I'm closing several blogs. Most of the remaining blogs will go on a short hiatus while I do some infrastructure switching. I hope to archive and restore the content of the Christians in Business, Owner-Managed Business, and Free & Open Technologies blogs. The WCC LinkBlog, La Voz de la Revoluccion, my Writings blog, and Slingshot will not return.
I also have two blogs hosted on Google's Blogger site: OpenTech and Open Source REXX Blog, and two blogs hosted on Wordpress.com: Opportunity Knocks, and LAMPJR. I believe I want to merge Open Source REXX Blog and LAMPJR, at LAMPJR's address (at least, for now). I am not sure whether OpenTech will stay on its own, whether I'll merge it with Opportunity Knocks, or whether I'll merge it with Free and Open Technologies.
I few years ago, I was reading a Messianic Jewish blogger's blog. They were discussing whether the Old Testament law should apply to New Testament Gentile believers. A phrase in one of the comments caught my eye. The commenter asked, did Jesus die to give us Midwest Protestantism? I consider that a profound turning point for me.
I do not believe that the intimate details of the law of Moses, as interpreted by the writers of the Mishna and reinterpreted by rabbis over the years, does or should apply to non-Jewish believers. Yet, I do not believe that most of our present traditions and practices properly reflect New Testament Christianity.
In a time in our society when people argue over whether the proper Christian response to gay marriage is to protest or to celebrate, and when people whose political beliefs are sourced in traditional Christian religious concepts are derided as prehistoric cavemen, I think we who believe need to change what we say, what we do, and how we say and do it. I think these changes have to come out of seeking to re-root ourselves in the Christian faith.
I think our changes will take us out of our associations with the political parties, out of many of our special-interest organizations (political advocacy groups, for example), and out of that formless mass of "consumers" that consumes media, sees and hears advertising, and as a result, continually purchases (advertised) products. You do not need a new car if your old one will get you where you need to go. You do not need a new X if you already have something that does the same (or substantially similar) job. You do not need to support this or that political movement or agree with popular sentiment that this or that is the way to go.
Rerooting is a familiar concept to gardeners, also known as transplanting. When we transplant, we take a plant that we like and wish to keep, and we move it from the place where it has been growing, out of its familiar soil and environment, and we move it to another place, with different soil and a different environment. In the process of moving, some of the old roots will be damaged or severed. Sometimes that is intentional, as when the roots have started wrapping around the perimeter of a pot, and we wish to start them growing outward again. Sometimes, that damage is just a consequence of a move.
What I am trying to express here, and doing a poor job of it, is that rerooting is stressful and sometimes difficult for the plant. Not every plant survives the process. In like manner, Christians that are being rerooted may find themselves losing their faith, losing their morals, and falling into all manner of apostasy or heresy. It is up to you and I to ensure that we as individuals are able to persist through the time of trial.
Rerooting according to James 4 (NCV):
You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong. You want things so you can use them for your own pleasures.
So, you are not loyal to God! You should know that loving the world is the same as hating God. Anyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes God's enemy. Do you think the Scripture means nothing that says, "The Spirit that God made to live in us wants us for himself alone"? But God gives us even more grace, as the Scripture says, "God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." — Proverbs 3:34
What is the message here? Stop focusing on worldly possessions. Stop focusing on being popular with people who (unknowingly) serve a completely different deity. Their minds are blinded by the one they serve, so they cannot understand our message. Instead, ask God for what you need, and devote yourself to his worship and his service, seeking his truth in the scriptures.
Rerooting means we have to shed our preconceptions, our traditions, and our preferences. Remember that one of the key signs that distinguished New Testament Christians was that they loved one another deeply, even when they were not from the same ethnic background, the same political party, the same sex, or even the same religious background. All those things that divided the people of that day were tossed aside by those who had newly experienced life in union with Jesus Christ. And when allegations of ethnically-based discrimination in the feeding of widows and orphans arose within the church, the apostles created the office of deacon to handle this. Congregations that reroot may have to change their organizational structures to deal with the fact that deacons are not supposed to be board members, but a committee of people who assist the church in helping its members who are having hardship.
Rerooting is something new to me. I do not know where it will lead. I do not know what changes it will bring, but I look forward to having a closer and more vital relationship with my supreme master, Jesus.
When you go to work, you are faced with more peer pressure than you ever felt in school. You quickly realize that if you don't fit in, your boss may fire you, leaving you without the means to pay your rent, your car payment, your credit card, or your student loans. How does that affect you when you're surrounded by people whose actions clearly demonstrate a lack of relationship with their maker? Or even worse, when they are openly hostile toward him?
I am no one special. I do not have a magic formula that will make it easier for you. Primarily, I have three things to say:
- Try to live a consistent Christ-focused life. While there are many people currently talking about an NFL player named Tebow, it is not just his practice of bowing the knee in prayer that has gotten him his attention. He appears, based on the articles I have read, to live pretty consistently for Christ, even when there are no cameras around. You would do well to become more consistent about living for Christ on and off the job. Not that you have to pray in public or wear the sacred vest with the urim and the thummim on it.
- Make no excuses for your imperfections, nor look down on others and their particular sins. No matter how hard you try, you will never reach "sinless perfection" while you are here on the earth. That does not mean that you should not strive to live a life that is wholly pleasing to our eternal king. It does mean that you must not give the impression that you are somehow "holier than thou". The people you work with should know that you love Jesus of Nazareth and God the eternal father above all else. They should also know that you care for them almost as Jesus would if he was here.
- Earthly politics are not generally good versus evil. To my knowledge, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a political platform that is God-endorsed. Genuine Christians can have points of view ranging from socialistic to anarchistic to libertarian to nationalistic to ethnocentric to theocratic to secularist. Christians can have different viewpoints in regard to taxation, the division of economic rewards, the role of the state in education, and the imposition of forced medical treatments (down to whether a particular vaccine should be mandatory or not). Please do not wrap your politics in religious robes, as though only your viewpoint is sanctioned by heaven. Realize that there are some general principles implicit in the scriptures, but that some of those principles are emphasized by liberals, while others are emphasized by conservatives, or libertarians, or anarchists, or monarchists, and so on.
Above all, try to genuinely surrender your desires and choices to his authority and control. It will not be easy (we should not expect easy when we are "freedom fighters" seeking to overthrow a dictatorial rebellion against the one true master and ruler of all the universe).
Ten years ago today, a terrorist group based in the Middle East launched multiple coordinated attacks on the United States, in which they hijacked commercial airplanes and used (or attempted to use) them as bombs, attacking the New York financial district's twin-towered World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In reaction to this, the US has turned to militarism, "extreme methods" of iterrogating terrror suspects, and pervasive surveilance of US citizens and residents as a way to attempt to prevent a repeat performance.
Lessons We Should Draw
One of the first things that happened after the attacks was that a lot more people attended religious services for a couple of weeks. But it did not stick. If Americans were sincere about wanting to renew and strengthen their connections with the Almighty, a lot more people would have continued to attend meetings, and begun the process of transforming their lives from their then-current conditions into something that more closely resembled what they believe God would like their lives to be like.
By rejecting the opportunity to build and strengthen connection with God, our nation was left only with the means at its own disposal to try and avert a recurrence. The nation became focused on terrorists. There are certain searches that a police officer cannot legally perform on you before an arrest. But if you're at an airport, we allow TSA officers to perform such searches without requiring probable cause. Our military leaders allowed, encouraged, or ordered (depending on whom you believe) soldiers to perform all kinds of "enhanced interrogation" on enemy combatants captured in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When a man or a nation recognizes that his/their way has led him/them to a place outside of God's blessing and protection, yet rejects the opportunity to pull closer to the one true creator, ruler, and master of the universe, that man/nation's has consciously chosen the road to ruin. We, as believers in Jesus Christ and God the Father, must learn this and as individuals, we must choose to be the U-turn that America and Americans need. We must turn from our own paths and seek guidance from above as to what paths he would have us to choose.
Haven't you wondered about the new health care law? Why a law with such a noble purpose wound up being corporate welfare to the insurance industry? It is because our leaders are so far corrupted that they can no longer recognize the truth. The Republicans continue to tout "free market" solutions, as though it was ever possible for dispensing and paying for medical care to be a free market. The Democrats continue to tout federal-centric solutions, as though the present decade-long recession was anything other than a consequence of federal policies and actions (and sometimes lack of action) and the reactive actions of large, out-of-area corporations (LOOACs) to those policies and actions.
Haven't you wondered why we are at war in three foreign nations, spending millions or even billions of dollars per day? Haven't you wondered why we invaded Iraq, even though their rumored "weapons of mass destruction" were never much of a danger to us, even if they had existed? Haven't you wondered why we have police on our school campuses, strip-searching students to prevent them from using Midol? Haven't you wondered why we tout economic recovery plan after economic recovery plan, each one sending more jobs overseas, but producing higher profits for corporations?
These are all signs of dementia. The nation's leaders, taken as a whole, can no longer make sound choices. They cannot even see that their continual arguing has turned a whole generation away from participating in the political process. They cannot even see that the concentration of money and influence in corporations has disenfranchised and dispossessed the vast majority of America's citizen and non-citizen residents. The "green" lobbies cannot see that the policies they advocate harm the environment. The "pro-business" lobbies cannot see that the policies they advocate harm the economy. And worst of all, no one can recall the past seventy-five years of political and economic crises, nor the precipitating causes of those crises. Everyone seems to be fixed on repeating the same events.
You and I need to learn from these things.
First of all, you do not put your hand to the plow, then look back to the former life. The Israelites could not return to Egypt, no matter how much they longed for leeks and ornate stone burial chambers. That life was over for them, and the only way forward was (quite literally) forward. The man who wanted to return home and await his father's death before following Jesus could not do so ... not if he wanted to follow the annointed one with full desire.
If you are convinced that you are not where you need to be as far as your relationship with God is concerned, stop playing around and seek him out!
Secondly, you need to be aware that the solution to your problems is not physical. The solution to our nation's problems is not political. The physical and the political will come as a result of settling our spiritual issues. We obsess over money, we who throw away more food each year than most other countries even have available to eat. We wrangle over politics, we who have more corporate control (that includes for-profit corporations such as the banks and automakers, as well as non-profits like Greenpeace and the Chambers of Commerce) over our government than most other nations (possible exceptions for banana republics like Zaire and Angola, where a single foreign export is the primary driver of their economies).
The solution to your problems, my problems, our family members' problems, and our nation's problems is primarily spiritual. Once we are laboring to rebuild our relationships with God, it must change our actions. It must cause us to proclaim and work for justice, although it necessarily will cause our ideas of justice to change.
Just as fondling your testes in the airport has failed to make you any more secure, so your own efforts to fix your problems have failed to help you lose weight, cut down on your alcohol consumption, or continue your education after work, so you can earn a degree and a promotion.
Thirdly, you have to know that it is idolatry and pride that got America here. "We are the most free nation on the earth. We are the shining example for others to follow." Perhaps that should be true, but it is not. We honor our nation's military might and the size of its economy, as though those things are permanent and unchanging. We honor those in politics who believe that life just sprung up by itself (despite centuries of experiments, that failed to show that to be true), while reviling those who are at least humble and intelligent enough to admit that help was needed somewhere (even if the help on admits to is extraterrestrial visitors).
No one imagined that "camel jockeys" could learn to fly planes well enough to take down the twin towers. We're the technologically advanced society, after all. Just as Pharaoh's magicians could not imagine that the God Moses served could take down the powerful deities they served, and yet it happened.
You think you're special because you work for a living? You're not. Many others do the same. In India, in African nations, in South America, and throughout Asia, people work hard to try to take care of their families. You are no different than they.
Do you think that your education makes you superior to others? It doesn't. There are educated people in countries all over the world, many of whom were educated right here in the US of A.
The only thing that your self exaltation does is blind you to the things that God would have you see. It is time now for you to go before Pharoah, just as Moses did. Cry out for your people to be released from their bondages to sin and misconduct, to serving soulless and ungrateful corporations, and to privacy violations by overreacting security forces.
Ten years ago, after a traumatic event, our nation made some bad choices and took a decided turn for the worse. It is now time for all American believers to cry out to God to assist us in rescuing our nation from its self-inflicted punishment.
I was working in the backyard the other day, trying to clear out some of the weeds that sprung up after the rains. The weeds included the mystery weed I call froblemacz. I was using a hoe and a shovel to uproot the weeds when I realized that this work would go a lot faster if I got someone to help me. So I contacted one of my nephews to invite him to earn a little money this weekend. He told me that he already had plans and would not change them.
Now, you and I can apply this to our lives as believers. You see, I finally verbally expressed my desire to live within the rulership of Jesus at an evangelistic meeting led by a man named John Wesley Fletcher. Sometime after that, I'm told, he played a part in the PTL Club scandal. If my life as a Christian depends on pastor so-and-so or evangelist such-and-such, I'm going to be turned away when he or she fails to live up to my expectations.
As believers, we are tasked with clearing out the undesirable infestations that drift in from the world around us. The world is obsessing about things like pretending that homosexual activities are acceptable, and criminalizing parents who spank their children, while ignoring the greater issues of rampant sexual sin and refusal to submit to godly guidance and discipline. We have to clear all that garbage out of our own lives in partnership with Christ Jesus, and we cannot depend on someone else to lead us or help us.
I cannot surrender and allow the world's infestations to remain in my life just because there is no one around to help me right now. As a believer, I must not be slack about attacking the weeds and their roots, even if it means that I only focus on one part of my life at a time. I cannot blame the weeds on someone else's refusal to help me combat them, nor can I blame it on someone else's failures. Sinful desires arise out of our own inner beings, sometimes because we are too close to people of the world system or that system itself. Remember Lot, who "vexed his soul" by living close to (and then among) the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now, as for me, I know that I am predestined to conform to Christ's life. I realize that it will not really occur until after I have departed this earth. But that is not an excuse for lazily permitting known sin to remain in my life. No, I intend to focus on submission to Christ, and through this, to clear out many, if not all, of the weeds that present infest my inner being. I hope you're focusing on the same thing for your life.
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Maybe it seems silly to say so, but believers should not blindly follow politicians. We should follow Christ, and our alliance with any politician should only go as far as that politician's programs, stated intentions, and actions go in the same direction that Christ is going. If we hang our hopes on this politician or that politician, we are guaranteed to be offended, disappointed, or to mislead others into thinking that politician X is doing God's work. Government is important, and the Word tells us that there is no one who is in authority except they received that authority from above. But the truth is, every human government is in diametric opposition and firmly committed to a course of rebellion against the rule of God.
So it is important to keep in mind that if Jesus were to appear today to reclaim this planet for the eternal kingdom, nearly every official (elected, appointed, or merely self-nominated) in every level of government in every nation would seek to preserve their existing reign--they would oppose the imposition and restoration of the heavenly kingdom here on the earth--and would seek to have every possible resource thrown into the fight against Christ's realm.
Our hope as believers cannot be based upon any particular individual. People die. People change. People sin. If you've been deceived into thinking that any politician can be depended on to "do God's work" here on earth, you need to get alone with God and your Bible. If you are willing to hear it, you'll soon change your mind.
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We're so filled with fear these days. Every time you turn on the news, something else has happened to scare us. We've got ourselves in a vortex of scary event, over-reaction, scary event, over-reaction, lather, rinse, repeat. When is it going to stop?
Our focus must not be on this earthly world, on money, things, popularity, or the world's ideas of "peace." (Really? Peace is having enough guns that everyone else is afraid of you? If you think about it, that seems a little off-kilter.) Instead, we should be
the peace that we'd like to see. Jesus said that "peace-makers" should be happy. We need to be peace-makers.
Now, Jesus also told us that he left us his peace
, the peace that is beyond our human intellectual capacity
. It isn't the complete absence of conflict, since we still see and experience conflict. No, Jesus left us a peace that can only be found within ourselves when we are living in union with him.
KJ-52 - Headlines (ft. Braille & Theory Hazit)
Are you rattled by the constant buffeting of non-peace that is going on in the world around us? Turn you focus on the eternal kingdom. Stop obsessing with this (very temporary) world and the things that are attached to it. Turn your attention to the eternal things, the things of God's forever kingdom, and your connection to those things through Jesus the Chosen One.
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Over the past few years, I've been planting a garden in my backyard. At first, my vegetables grew quickly, and it was only late in the season when weed growth began to impact them. But I've noticed from year to year, more and more weeds invade the garden, starting earlier and earlier in the season.
The past three years or so, an unknown weed I've named froblemacz has been at the vanguard of the attack against my vegetables. This year and last, froblemacz was joined by an invasive grass that spreads its stem-like roots underground. For someone trying to be as chemical-free as possible, this is a frustrating turn of events. But it is also instructive.
One of the most important lessons to be drawn from battling froblemacz and friends in the garden is this: The important lessons in life aren't new. They are the same lessons you had before, only repeated. They are the lessons you learned in Sunday school, in church, at your parents' knees, and on that weekend trip to your grandparents' house.
We frequently let the things we once knew slip. We get our attention on other things and before we know it, these thoughts are no longer in the forefront of our minds. But if you examine your life, seeking to distill wisdom from your experiences, you will rapidly reach the point where you're covering the same things over and over.
I remember attending one of the local congregations and hearing the pastors tell us each week that they had something new for us. A new twist, a new revelation, a new way to look at it. I grew disenchanted, simply because they were so marketing-oriented that they could not tell the congregation that the Christian life isn't as much about new revelations as it is about living within the fullness of the old revelations.
Hebrews 5:11-14 - Passage Lookup - New Living Translation - BibleGateway.com
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don?t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God?s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn?t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong
"Instead you need someone to teach you again the basic things ..." is a stunning rebuke to someone who has been a believer for several years. But the truth is, we often do not hold onto the truths we are given, and so we never progress to be ready for deeper truths.
If you live a contemplative life, if you introspect to try and understand why you made certain decisions, you're going to learn some of the exact same things about yourself that you realized when you were twelve years old. If you read and study God's message to us (the Bible), you will learn many of the same things you were taught much earlier. Certainly, you will learn more, but if you won't listen to the repeated lessons, your growth as a person and as a believer is doomed.
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Lamentations is one of those books that I've read less frequently than most of the rest of the Bible. I'm currently reading it for possibly the third time since 1978. This isn't going to be a deep theological treatise. But hopefully, it will help you, too, to overcome the inertia that contaminates our lives.
Lamentations is unpleasant reading. Well, I always thought so before. Lamentations exposes the raw emotions of someone who loves his country, but sees its people's continued rebellion against the God who established and built up the nation. The author, reputed to be Jeremiah, talks about his tears as he watches the final conquest of the country by a cruel and idolatrous foe. He watches children starving, soldiers being slain, run of the mill citizens being executed or chained up for deportation. All of these impressions are recorded.
One thing I've learned is that you have to read Lamentations, like most of the Bible, in your own native language. I really do not understand why so many pastors teach from the King James Version of the Bible. That translation came out in the early 1600s, four hundred years ago. It is full of words and word-forms that we no longer use, and which confuse people. It features a number of words whose meanings have changed (prime example: "let" is used in the sense of "to hinder" but we now use it to mean "to allow"). Further, the KJV was based on earlier translations, and so it superimposes feudal imagery (which we don't understand in our authority-less society) upon the societal structures of the Middle East (which we already have a hard time understanding).
Lamentations contains the earnest plea and prayer of one who loves his land. It is a book that we in the United States (as well as other nations, such as Canada, the UK, France, Spain, and Germany) really need to look into. At some points, I felt as though I was reading the newspaper. It had the effect similar to watching a movie where something big happens and they use slow motion. Say, a train wreck: you can see it setting up and happening. You want to stop it from happening. But you cannot stop it. Those who are responsible for controlling the engines cannot hear you and would not believe you if they did. And that is exactly what it feels like in modern America: the nation is heading for a major crash, no one seems to see it or if they do see it, they disagree about what to do to prevent it, and our leaders are pressing down on the accelerator, as though they want to make the wreck more severe than it already will be.
Sadly, the train wreck analogy fits both our own society present-day and the society of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) in the time of Jeremiah. Just as many of those who should have known better (e.g., priests and prophets) continued to lead the people astray back then, many of our pastors are doing so now. Do you disagree? Well let me enlighten you.
You believe that God put the current administration in office? Good. Scripture does tell us that God elevates (puts in office) and abases (removes from office) leaders as he chooses. That means, though, that God put each president in office, including in recent years Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, as well as Obama. So, if you believe that, why did you grumble so much about President <insert name here>? No, if you believe that God specially-selected President Obama and anointed him for office, then you are obligated to also believe the same about President Bush II.
And once that happens, you'll realize that it isn't candidate X that will transform this nation and restore its greatness. It can only be the same God who made our nation great. The Jewish nation (Israel / Judah) had direct commitments from God that if he chased them away, he'd bring them back and re-establish them. America has no such commitment to rely upon. We need God's intervening hand to break up the schemes of the powerful and those whose every waking moment is spend planning how to draw the nation farther away from God. We need God's hand to work within our nation, bringing our hearts back to Him.
Lamentations is about a formerly-blessed nation being destroyed because they rejected the God that had raised them up. Yes, it was almost 3,000 years ago that Judah was conquered. But do not make the mistake of consigning its message only to that time period. It is an example for us today.
Reading Lamentations, if you're at all aware of what's going on around you, should make you focus your attention on knowing and serving our God and Father through Jesus Christ and on praying for our nation and its leadership to turn from their stubbornly wicked course and head back into a state of obedience.
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