Thursday, May 5, 2016

How I Would Fix America

So the slogan seemed to work, Make America Great Again, and Donald Trump is our republican nominee for President. Love or hate the Donald, it looks like we will be hearing from him a lot. On the other side, it's probably going to be Hillary, which in my opinion is even worse. It's not good news politically, and many on my FB post are sharing their disappointment in many ways. I figure since many won't vote for either candidate, it's time to put in my 2 cents. If you are going to write in a name, how about me? Why you ask? Here is my plan to fix America.

First, I'm going to make a law that a store cannot be larger than 2500 square feet in space unless it sells hunting or fishing gear. That's right, the giant stores have to go. No more big box store, no more giant parking lot, no more row of check out lanes with no one working them. You sell your item, you sell shoes or dresses or watches or jewelry or meat or fruit. We are getting rid of the Super Center and we are bringing back the mom and pop shop. Next, we tax higher the stores that have an out of state cooperate office, so locally owned shops can be more competitive. Tax breaks and tax incentive for the small business owner. We are also going to give them options to own their building and stop flushing so much money away renting commercial property and being priced out.

We get the mom and pop stores back, then we limit the size of school buildings. There has to be a school for a neighborhood, no more of this giant school building business. We stop pumping money into the bureaucracy behind schools, we begin to limit things above the local school level. We ditch the buses and the national staff that puts out mandates that make no sense. We send the federal money to the state level, the state cuts back and then funnels that money to the local level and school get smaller and teachers teach with more play and better resources. We support our kids in our community schools and actually have a community.

The last one is tricky, because you can't get a law to make this one work. We need to convince the mega church to go away and become a church planting church. Better to have 5 community churches of 200 than one giant church of 1,000. I know, you can get cooler stuff with a thousand people, but if you have 5 solid community churches that work together, you can actually make an impact in your community. Let's meet people where they live instead of having a giant church across town. Bring back the church that everyone can get to know everyone, and the church grows by planting a new work in another part of town. You get to be 350 people, you take 100 people who live close together and you start another church. You don't build a bigger building, you don't get a bigger parking lot, you plant a new church.

All of these things have one main thing in common. I believe them to be the foundation of community. We have lost community, and have become so individualistic, so selfish and self entitled that we are tearing this country apart. People don't care about others, they only care about themselves. Marriages break apart because people are selfish. Families are torn apart, communities break down and society as a whole begins to decay because people are selfish. We end up with Donald and Hillary because people are selfish. Not only that, but we have become so self-focused we don't see what we have lost. Community made us better, made us stronger wiser. We did great things together. We built an amazing country that we are now flushing down the toilet. Without a strong a vibrant community, the nation has no cohesion. Bring back the community markets, bring back the community school, bring back the community church. We need that more than a wall, an increased minimum wage, a ban on Muslims or expanded Obamacare. We need each other.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Training the Sacred for the Ordianry

What happens when the sacred becomes common and ordinary? There are things that God has set up and instituted and they are holy and sacred. The church is His body, communion, baptism are things that are sacred and set apart for God. The Word of God and the pieces that God has put in place for His bride, the church.  We need to take these things seriously as we approach God, as we read His word together and pray together in our acts of Worship. We are often in danger of being too casual with the sacred acts and times that we should bring in offering to God.

Marriage is sacred, the family is sacred, life is sacred. Those things have lost meaning in our culture and are set aside, cast aside and destroyed with very little thought or concern. We are on the verge of being a country that profanes what God has said is sacred. We have stopped caring about the things that God has said are sacred. You can buy a divorce on the internet these days for a quick and easy destruction of marriage. Families are split and torn and separated all the time without a thought. We hear people say "kids are resilient, they will be ok". We have simply justified the destruction of those things that God gave us for our benefit and for our good. 

This begins with me. Do I offer worship, or do I just go through the motions? Am I trying giving God my best?  Many of the sacred things in church we ignore and many of the things that are not sacred we elevate. We focus on appearance, worship styles, even want to critique the pastor on his preaching style and method. We often miss worship because we are not satisfied, and it makes me wonder who are we really worshiping? We are worried about the style of music, the people who are singing or playing or leading.

Sometimes I think we worship a God who worships us.

Is our worship ordinary? Are we giving what we have left or are we giving the best. Do we schedule God around our life or our life around God? What priority is God in our lives? Much of what God is proclaiming through the prophet is what we are guilty of. We give God lips service, we can talk a good game with church folks, but what do we look out outside? Where are our hearts? It may look like we are bringing in our gifts and our offerings to the temple, but are they blind and lame?

Jesus says this in Matthew 5:23-24, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

What is in our lives comes out in our gifts. When we sing praise, it is the same mouth we use for cursing others? Do we speak encouragement and condemnation from the same mouth? What is the condition of our hearts, and how does it effect our worship?

Have our attitudes become focused on ourselves? The root of detestable worship is selfishness. We want to keep the best for ourselves, so God gets the leftovers. We want to have the things we want, so we give God what we don't want. We cling to those things which we like, that we want and we think they are going to make us happy and bring us joy. Even they become routine, they become addictions, they begin to ensnare us and we become broken and bitter and resentful and we don't worship God.

It's easy to give up the things we don't really care about. It's easy to drop the sins that have not ensnared us. What about the sins that we hold close, that we cherish? Are they standing in the way of worship? I worry that so often in the church we have created for ourselves that we are simply worshiping ourselves, making an idol of ourselves.