Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

As we enter a new year, let’s make some commitments:
to eat healthy (more fruits and veggies);
lose some weight (fill in the blank) ______lbs;
to spend more time with family (be specific);
to be more patient (especially with _______ and _______);
to be more giving (be specific);
and to save more money for retirement, college, or a rainy day (fill in the blank) $_______per week.

These are all very worthwhile, and I highly recommend these kinds of new year’s resolutions for a better (and maybe even longer) life.

Beneficial though they are, here are two better new year’s resolutions found in the Bible:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV)

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 when he gave these two great commandments. So let me suggest that we commit to treat others as we would want to be treated, using as a guideline what God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4, NRSV)

This, and all the other new year’s resolutions, aren’t going to happen unless we put God first in our lives. We need God’s help to do the right thing, and we need God have a more fulfilled life. So if God isn’t in your life at all, there’s bound to be a significant void in your life, an emptiness that only a relationship with God can fill.

One first step on this new path might be to go to church. No, the building isn’t going to collapse when you enter it. No, people aren’t going to stare at you like you came from outer space. Who knows? You might even like it: the music, the teaching on a Bible passage, the fellowship.

However you start off the new year, make sure God is made an important part of 2014. May you have a blessed new year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Heartless Congress

I don’t know how they live with themselves. Members of Congress accomplish little yet collect large salaries and have generous benefits. Their inability to act has caused a government shutdown, delays in appointments, and other problems. How can they look themselves in the mirror?

Now Congress has proven, once again, that they don’t care about the people they are supposed to be representing. As President Obama was in Hawaii playing golf and members of Congress went home to enjoy their large salaries and perks, many hard-working Americans lost their unemployment benefits. These people, through no fault of their own, have been unemployed for a long time. Because of the actions of the executives of banking and other financial institutions, who make huge salaries and enjoy large bonuses despite their actions, these “regular people” (who could be you or me) are out of work, may soon lose their house, and have drained their savings.

The incredibly lame excuse we hear from Congress is that they have to find the funding for any extension of unemployment benefits. Nobody has to “find funding” for disaster relief and other emergencies. Nobody has to find funding for pork barrel projects like bridges to nowhere. This country gives away billions of dollars in “corporate welfare,” billions to deadbeat people who don’t want to work and never made an effort to learn a skill, and we give billions to countries like Egypt. But we can’t give an extension to these people who did all the right things: got an education, acquired skills, worked most of their lives, paid their taxes, and have been solid citizens. And how does Congress take care of them in a time of need?

This is not a political issue but a moral one. That’s why I’m writing this – to wake people up to the reality of just how morally bankrupt Congress is. Shame on Congress! And shame on us if we continue to vote in these bozos. We’ll continue to get the kind of government we deserve.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

You Never Know...

You never know when you get out of bed what the day holds for you. There could be an unexpected life-changing event, or even a life-ending event. You just don’t know, but you should be prepared.

I was shocked when I heard the news of the derailment of the Metro North Hudson Line train at Spuyten Duyvil in The Bronx. I live along the Hudson Line and take the train when I go into New York City, so I am familiar with the turn where the derailment occurred. Four dead and 60+ people injured at a place that is named “Spitting Devil.” An uneventful train ride early on a Sunday morning turns into a nightmare. You just never know.

You never know when you get on that train, board that airplane, start the engine of your car, step onto a crosswalk, or even send your kid off to school. Life is full of surprises, not all of them pleasant. So what’s my point?

My point is that you should be in relationship with God so that when the unexpected happens, God will give you the strength to deal with it and get through it. Being right with God doesn’t inoculate you from life’s tragedies, but it will help you in and through them. And if one of these tragedies happens to be a life-ending event, having that relationship with God gives you the assurance of being with him when your earthly life is ended.

The world is a dangerous place, with most of that danger resulting from people’s wrongdoing. Texting while driving puts others in jeopardy, as does impaired driving due to alcohol (DUI) and drugs. This callous disregard for others is sin. Punching innocent people on the street is sin. Notice, by the way, that these low-lifes punch old people and women mostly.

The world isn’t going to change very much, but you can change. While the rest of the world is deteriorating, you can rise above it by getting closer to God and living your life according to biblical principles. Just think of how much better the world would be if more people did that.