Saturday, December 3, 2016

Indie Authors, Sharing for Change

Bring a writer gives you an awesome ability to read and talk to other writers. This is one such occasion to read a story that is so much more. I'll let the author, Ang King tell you:

About Black Sheep

About Black Sheep

How does one write a foreword to their life story? I guess I’ll give it a try. I’m not even sure why I decided to write my story, but maybe someone needs to read it.
What is Black Sheep about? About me, well part 1 about me.  You’ll read about my abuse history, memories, and recovery. I plan to write more about my Spiritual Journey in part two but am considering combining the two.
I wanted my story out there, I wanted to let other survivors know they are not alone and to give them a voice. Part of my narrative I am really talking to God.
I hope my book lets others believe they are not alone. Thank you.

You can find her book here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let's Talk Education

If you know me then you probably know I consider myself an educator. I am not a public school teacher, but I have spent a lot of time inside the classroom. I have taught (substitute, but I had to prepare lesson plans often) public school, taught one class in a Christian school. It was amazing. I have taught a whole lot in churches from babies to senior adults. I have taught in conferences and in large group settings, down to 1 on 1 classes with people. Teaching is my passion.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the education system of the United States needs some help. I want to address today what I think the issues are, how we begin to fix things and then encourage you to get involved. So let's start with what I see the three biggest issues are in public education as it exists today.

First, teachers are no longer in control of teaching, administrators are losing the ability to administrate, districts have lost control, the state DOE is losing the ability to make decisions because they all have to cater to the Federal Government. What is messed up is that the Federal Government has no real power over state Departments of Education, so instead of saying "you have to do this", they control them by the purse strings. States that play by the rules get Federal funds. If you don't play by the Fed's rules, you don't get the money. The money drives the agenda, not the educational needs of the students. I don't blame the States, the Districts, the Administrators and definitely not the teachers. I blame the legislators at both the state and federal level.

Legislators want to make the best education system possible, but they are not educators and they make bad decisions based on ignorance. Over testing and using material that is not using developmentally accurate methods in teaching and testing. They need to give control back to educators and let them make decisions. They need to be able to make local decisions and not be bullied by budgets. Legislators need to be involved in making the ideal situations for educators to thrive but give the teacher control of the classroom, the principal control of the school, the superintendent control of his district. Give the school board a role of oversight, but let those who know teaching, teach.

Number two is that education is no place to pursue social agenda. The school is not the place to teach kids about homosexuality, transgenderism, religious teachings, Christian or Islamic expect for their place in the history of the nation. Kids in school need not be bogged down in being the social experiment for whichever political party is in the majority. The purpose of education is the create good citizens. We need to teach them to think critically, which means we can't tell them how to think. Moral and ethical issues are to be handled by parents, by religion and by philosophy, not by the public education system. The public school can not be the police force of society by making children of today conform to the idealistic norms of the controlling group. You can't make the kids of Atheists be Christian, you can't make the kids of Christians be Atheists. You shouldn't try to force sexual agendas on kids, and developmentally speaking, you should never try to tell a kid in elementary school what his or her sexual preference is. If a boy plays with barbies, it doesn't mean anything except he likes barbies. He doesn't have to be gay. He can play with the barbie or play house or whatever, let the kid be a kid. It's time to stop making the classroom the place for social experimentation.

Third, the way curriculum and especially textbooks are created. This overlaps some with point two, but let's be honest about textbooks. They are all written for Californa and New York. That is where most of the people are, so they write the textbooks with the largest markets in mind. They don't write textbooks thinking about rural Iowa or Alabama or Nevada. They think about LA and San Fran and New York. Much of what we find has been written to cater to the social agenda of those areas. It is also crazy to think that the student in Nebraska have the same educational needs a those in LA. While we all should be learning the same things, we don't learn them the same way. This is because of an educational principle called scaffolding. It's much like building a tower, you start with a foundation  and build upon that foundation and grow the structure. In math, you learn to count, then add, subtract, multiply then divide. You build on the previous skills. You don't just learn things inside the classroom, but in the community. The things you use in your community and your home impact your education. This is different in farming communities, mining communities, industrialized places, large business centers and travel hubs. Your environment makes a difference, so using textbooks with kids in large cities in mind is not the best for the majority of America.

Here is the question of the day, what do we do about it? First, call your local legislators, call your congressmen and senator and talk to them about your concerns. Talk to the teachers, the principals, and the local school board members about what the issues and needs are. Join a PTO/PTA. Volunteer, speak out and be informed. Learn the educational platform of candidates and vote. Lobby, donate, support the AEA (Area Education Association) your state Education Association the NEA. Speak up, make your voice heard. Write a letter to the editor, heck you can even write a blog. Find ways to speak up and share your concerns and we can solve some tough education issues in our country.

Monday, November 28, 2016

How to Understand God

You Can't.

Ok, I'm going to explain more than that, but that's the honest truth. The knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God is so far beyond anything that all humans combined together can even possibly begin to scratch the surface of. The wisdom and understanding of God is unfathomable. The problem is how often we attempt to make God make sense to our little minds. In the scheme of eternity, we think our limited time on earth puts us on par with God.

Our first issue is we assume we know that is best. We have decided that all suffering is wrong, and therefore God shouldn't allow suffering. I have seen it said that "If God is all powerful, He is not all good, and if He is all good, He is not all powerful". This is because we assume we know that it would mean to be all good. No suffering, no hurting, no hunger or disease or poverty. We think we know better than God, so a world with no need would be perfect.

This assumes that we understand what things would be like if there was no suffering or need or pain or death. We believe we can fathom perfection, therefore God should give it to us because it would be better. We assume we know more than God. The reality is that suffering exists for our good. We become who we need to be and who we should be through suffering, through working and striving and making progress. The reality is, unless we are first perfect, the world cannot be perfect. If the world is perfect, then we would screw it up by being in it.

This brings us to the more complex issue, why He allowed us to be imperfect. God could have just eradicated Satan, but He didn't. He didn't have to plant the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, but He did. He could have wiped out Adam and Eve and started over. He didn't. This is more of a conundrum than the first question. The first question is only asked by those seeking to disprove God, because the problem with the world is that people are sinful. The bigger question is why God allows us to be sinful.

In all honesty, every person deserves to be destroyed. We all are much better at evil than good. We do evil without thinking, it takes work to do good. We are not neutral creatures, we are selfish and hurtful and go things just to amuse our selfish and sinful nature. We deserved to be wiped out, but God is patient with us and allows us to continue on.

During our family Bible time the other night, my son asked me why God didn't wipe Satan out. My older boy and my daughter started giving answers they heard in youth group and Sunday School and from other people. I just had to shut it down, because we don't know. Yes, maybe the relationship inside of Salvation will be more intimate that God walking with Adam. Maybe there is merit in the way that judgment and salvation and redemption will bring God the most glory in eternity. I'm sure there are a myriad of answers, but the reality is, we don't know. If God told us, we probably still wouldn't understand. It would be like trying to explain outer space to a goldfish in a bowl.

So, next time you decide you are going to put God on trial and demand that He account for the suffering, just remember, you coudln't understand it. If He did solve the issues, it would require your irradication. Be thankful that suffering exists, God is paticent with us and we can grow and strive in hard time because He is faithful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day One Post Op

Well I paid a guy to cut me open yesterday, worth every penny. Had my back surgery to trim back the bulging disc, called a Lumbar Discectomy. The surgeon said it was a bigger bulge than he originally thought, he wasn't sure how I was functioning. I was in a lot of pain, makes me feel vindicated, that I'm not just a big wimp. I fought through the pain as much as I could, but sometimes it was just more than I could tolerate. Guess there was a reason.

This whole experience, even though it's not over, has had some positives. I have been able to spend some time with Elaine talking, I think we have grown closer. I have slowed down since I had no option. I have written more and got some things on that side accomplished, and I feel pretty good about that. I've read some good things, watched a few movies and enjoyed some down time. The pain meds made the down time bearable.

Day one of the recovery. I can't sit for more than 15 minutes, I can't drive or lift anything. Just need to heal. Part of me wants to get back to work, but I'm going to listen to my doctor. Spine issues aren't something to mess around with. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Thank you for support for Elaine, for the food and those who have supplied for my sweet tooth with ice cream and donut. I love you all, thanks for the prayers and well wishes.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Reflections on my Upcoming Surgery

Tomorrow I go and finally have my surgery. I have a major bulge in a disc in my L4, L5 vertebrae and they are going to trim it back. The bulge is putting pressure on a couple of nerves and causing my intense pain down my left leg. I struggle with driving and walking and sitting, all those things cause me great pain. I've been off work for a couple of weeks because I've been unable to work. The surgery is something I'm very much looking forward too.

Surgery is not something we are normally excited about. Being cut open and having things removed from our body is not necessarily a pleasant thing. Surgery hurts, being cut open causes pain. The body does not particularly want to be opened up. It hurts when  things are cut out, but I'm not worried about it hurting. The reason is that I'm already hurting and the localized pain will be better than the extensive pain down my back and left leg. The pain that I will experience will make the pain I'm having now a distant memory.

In life, sometimes we need God to be a spiritual surgeon. There are things in your life that need to be cut out. There are people in your life that need to be removed from your life. Perhaps you have a relationship that is not good for you. Many say that love is blind, but also love is foolish, we have emotional connections with people who are bad for us. We have friendships, we have idols, we have things in our lives that control us. Often we like these things, but they are destroying us. The sin that in our lives is like a cancer in our lives. We need spiritual surgery.

Having things cut out of our lives can be painful. There is recovery, there is therapy, there is a process and it can be uncomfortable. Tomorrow, they will cut my back open and go inside to trim back the bulging disc, and my body will experience pain. The pain will bring healing. Are you grieving because something you loved has been removed? It's for your benefit and you will heal. You don't have to like it, but trust God, because He loves you and knows what is best. His love will bring healing and wholeness. Trust God, hold tight to Him and stay connected with other believers. Healing is happening.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I'm Not Sure That Means What You Think It Means!

I'm going to be honest and share one of my biggest pet peeves. Isogesis. Isogesis is when you have an idea or a belief or a thought and then you find a Bible verse or part of a Bible verse to support what you say. That problem with this it ignores context completely. If you take a phrase out of context, you can make it say whatever you want. The media has been doing this for years, politicians are pros at it. Don't do it.

Instead, you need to exegete a passage. I want to teach you today real quickly how to let your theology be Biblical, instead of having to twist scripture to match your theology. Remember, the Bible should shape your theology, not your reasoning, not your feelings, and not some guy on TBN. You must take the Bible as a whole and use context, scripture, and the Holy Spirit to come to a correct understanding.

First, when we study, we read entire passages that complete the thought. Don't worry about the verses or chapters, read the complete thought. Let's look at Romans 8. We all loves verse 28, right, that all things work for the good of those who love God. Then we stop. Sometimes we fight about the idea of "being called according to His purpose", cause that sounds like election. Then we get to 29, and people often gloss over it. We just sort of skip down to verse 31, cause we like that part. This is not the way to read the passage.

First, start at verse 26, read through verse 30. I'm not going to post it, go get your Bible. This is all part of the same paragraph, so how does 26 and 27 relate to 28? The Spirit is praying for us according to the will of God. What is the will of God for you? Skip down to verse 29, for us to be conformed to the image of His son. All things work together for our good in accordance with the will of God, which is for us to be more like Christ. This has been God's will for us all along, this is why we were predestined, called and justified, so we can be secure that God is not leaving us or abandon us in trails. That is the next section, verses 31-36, that God is with us.

So, it's not that God works everything for our good so we will be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. It's so we can look more like Christ. All things happen so we are more like Christ. Does that sound a little different that the interpretation of the TV preachers? You know it does.

Let's tackle one more, one of my favorites. Jeremiah 29:11. We love this verse, it's KLove's encouraging verse of the day. With this, I want to teach you two parts. First, we have the exegesis, which is the same process. We read the whole passage. God is telling the people of Israel, through Jeremiah the prophet, that they need to get cozy. They need to accept the exile for now, but God has a plan for the future. He isn't finished with the nation of Israel yet. Did you get that last part, He is working on the nation of Israel. Who is this verse too? Was it to the people of Babylon? Nope. Assyria? Nope. It's to the Southern tribe of Judah, not even the whole nation, it's to Judah, to the exiles. He has plans for those in exile. Should we take a promise made to a specific people at a specific time and make it a blanket statement for everyone? Hmmm.

Here is the second part. This was a promise to Judah, but it's in the scripture for a reason. This is important, because not only do we need to study and understand the correct meaning of scripture, but then we apply it to our lives. We do this by finding the timeless principle that God is demonstrating. God's nature is revealed in this passage, He is working and He has a plan. We know from Ephesians, chapter 2 verse 10 that there are works that God prepared beforehand for us. God has prepared a path for His people, both for Judah and for us. We see God's character that He has and knows the plan for us. We can't directly apply this verse because God doesn't  have a plan to give us hope, the hope is now given, we have the hope, which is Christ. We have a future, it's our eternal life with Christ. He has given us those things, so now we must walk in the path, the good works which God has laid out for us.

This process of study for the Bible may be a little longer, a little more complex but it's a much more accurate and rewarding that finding a verse that supports your idea and making the Bible conform to your theology. Let the Bible shape what you believe and how you think, this is key to having the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit will teach you if you are a Child of God, and you will find great wisdom. The alternative is folly, and you don't want to speak of God what is not true. Just ask Job's friends.

Monday, November 14, 2016

When We Are Wronged

Have you ever been wronged? Like someone did something to you that was unjust, unfair, hateful, hurtful or just plain mean? You have, we all have, it's happened to everyone and everyone is guilty of doing it to someone else. We all hurt people, we hurt the ones we love and we hurt strangers and friends and allies and people around us. People have become pretty easy to hurt these days, just look at our college campuses. These kids are hurt if you don't have the same political ideology, it's sad.

In recent days, we have seen a trend of how to react when you are hurt. Riots, protest, fights and attacks, and of course the social media posts. People have lashed out in every way they can. People are struggling when they don't get their way and when something hurts their feelings. It's human nature, it's built into us as infants. Take a toy away from a toddler and see what happens (I don't really recommend that).

How should we, who are in Christ, react to being wronged? What does the Bible say about this? Jesus is pretty clear in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus says "do not resist one who is evil, but if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also". (v 39). We are to show kindness to those who wrong us. We are to be patient and humble when we are wronged. If we are wronged by an unbeliever then we pray for their salvation and respond in kindness. If we are wronged by a believer, we need to go to them. We need to tell them how they wronged us, and help them see their error. If what they did was in sin, then we need to help them by showing them they need to repent and seek forgiveness. If what they did is not a sin, but still hurtful, then we find common ground. If they said something that hurt you, but they did not intend to hurt you, simply tell them. Explain you were hurt. If they get angry, then you have a chance to really disciple the person and help them grow in their faith. It's a great opportunity.

Hurt feelings are no fun, but they can be great opportunities for growth. Don't run from the hurt and don't run from and block out those who hurt you. That is not what Jesus commands, but He says to love those who persecute you, to bless them. Pray for those who would hurt you, reach out and build bridges. It's much better than burning them.