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If you are still here after the first two posts, you are either seriously interested or very bored. I’ll choose the first. It strokes my ego, but not my logic.

I am writing this on my Android tablet this evening since I started a very long task on my laptop. It won’t let me use it currently. So, we’ll see how this works out. Fortunately, my Sweetie has a very good bluetooth keyboard. Your luck is running out.

This evening, I’ll take the basics I laid out in Part 1 and Part 2 as I tell you why I think like I do about social issues. This will take several posts because I consider social issues to consist of things like wealth and status, immigration/inclusion/exclusion/racism, universal basic income, government intrusion/control/lack of same (you pick), and privacy and freedom. Please be warned that I might even add in some others as they pop up in the news.

But, for tonight, let’s just stick with why I think like I do about the social issues surrounding wealth and status.

I grew up and didn’t consider myself poor. My dad worked in an aerospace factory, laid off, called back, laid off again, ad infinitum. My mom worked in food service mostly, diners, fast food, and was even the manager of a Sanger-Harris cafeteria (Google that). I didn’t go hungry, but I also knew we weren’t rich.

I graduated high school and went right to work as an electrician’s helper. I was jaded on school, though I made good grades. It was expected. However, I wanted to do things and I had a family to support.

Long story made short, I am a craftsman, but also now a college graduate. I make good money, but I’m still not rich. I don’t count my value in what I own, but in family and character. We live modestly after learning the problems with credit. We are older now and have a few health concerns.

This is my background. Money has uses. Money is not a status symbol. I pay taxes and consider it worthy to do so. This is where I return to when I need to determine where I stand on any social issue concerning wealth and status.

Now, I want to list some assertions I hear concerning how some think about wealth and status then I’ll address each one.

  • If you can’t afford anything, stop spending frivolously (or making poor financial choices.
  • If you worked hard enough, you would be wealthy.
  • All these people want is free stuff from the government.
  • It’s not right to take money from those that are working to pay for those that aren’t.

I’m certain I’ve not exhausted the possible statements I’ve heard concerning wealth and status. Please remember these are general statements, not someone’s actual words (well, nearly not). I will apply the basics of why I think like I do to each of these (faith, logic, pragmatism).

If you can’t afford anything, stop spending frivolously. I know there are times I’ve spent money on things I didn’t need. Sometimes on credit. I’ve learned lessons from that (logic). Yet, even being frugal in this time period, it doesn’t help much. Yet, to insist that someone’s financial problems are just the result of poor choices is blindness and possibly arrogance.

There are so many reasons these days that financial situations are difficult. Wages aren’t rising at the same level as prices. Just in the past six months, I’ve seen gasoline prices in my area go from $1.99 per gallon to $2.75. A 75 cent increase in fuel can eat into one’s paycheck. There are also layoffs, companies merging, deaths, major illness, and other situations that create financial hardships.

If you worked hard enough, you would be wealthy.  This one is not made up.  I’ve heard it bandied about by many sources.  I could be the poster child for having worked hard “enough” all my life and still not be wealthy.  I will say that I’ve seen how “hard enough” people are expected to work in order to “make it” (please fill in success term of your choice).

There is nothing demeaning about an eight hour day.  There is nothing slacker about planning your day out (if you get to do that) so that you can finish at the proper time.  There is also nothing worthy about 60 to 80 hour weeks.  There is nothing worthy about skipping dinner with your family, four days out of five. The logic that longer hours means a harder worker and one worthy of success is bogus.

If an employee gets paid a salary, it still has an hourly wage.  Your salary in a pay period divided by the hours you’ve worked determines your hourly wage.  If you were paid weekly (yes, it’s rare these days, but I need simple math), then your weekly salary should be divisible by 40 hours.  If you have to divide a weekly salary by 60, then the hourly wage dips significantly.

Hourly wage earners, like myself, know that our hourly wage is a measure of how much we are worth on the job market (not in real life, just jobs).  If we work more than 40 hours, overtime and sometimes shift differential is also earned.  The hourly wage is not diminished.  If a salaried worker’s hourly wage is diminished by working more hours, then he or she is giving money to their employer.  That is a logical way to look at it.

All these people want is free stuff from the government. It’s not right to take money from those that are working to pay for those that aren’t. I’m going to take these two together.  It is a fallacy to believe that people supporting social programs, such as universal healthcare are just looking for free stuff.  Why?  Because I am one of those people (logic).  I’ll stick to universal healthcare since it’s important to me.  I don’t want “free stuff”.  I want to not worry about my current and future healthcare, which is currently operated in a completely broken system.  I also doubt the assertions of those saying other social programs just supply folks with “free stuff”.  In addition, we all pay taxes in order to provide for the common welfare (Constitution, preamble).  By my logic, if providing for those in need through our taxes, or fixing a problem that has grown out of proportion through our taxes, then we all come out better. Pragmatically, I know there are difficulties to overcome.  Not saying solutions are easy.

Let me introduce you to a tenet I will use as I address how I think about these kinds of issues: My faith says it is critical that we do what we can to provide for others. Logic says that the best method to help is through a large group combining resources. Pragmatism says that some will take advantage of a situation, since some even took advantage of Jesus’ generosity.  Pragmatism also says that some solutions might be too expensive for right now or that major changes in how we approach the issue need to be addressed.

I deduce that as a people group, we do not have the combined will to solve many of these issues.  We don’t want to tear down the structures we have now.  We are possibly afraid of losing comfort we have in things as they are now.  We do not want someone else to get something dishonestly or without putting out effort.

To these things, I’ll use a good old Texas word: bullshit.  We are at a crossroads in our history.  We are going to have to change the things we have in order to preserve our future.  My faith and logic tells me we all survive together or we all fail together.  Leaving someone out because of fear, however the fear is defined, is wrong.  Please hang on.  You will likely hear these things from me quite a bit.

However, I believe we can change.  I believe that the resources are there.  I serve the God of the Universe.  Do you really think He can’t provide what we need to be successful?  I know He can, but as my grandfather would tell me, “We have to want to.”

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I guess it is appropriate that I write down why I think like I do about religion on a Sunday. No, religion didn’t come up first in my list, but since it influences how I think on the others, then I should put it first.

Before we begin, I need to make a disclaimer and a warning. The way I look at my faith and religion is my own journey. It may not look like yours and it probably shouldn’t. It probably doesn’t match with many of my family or my peers. It probably doesn’t match with any denomination in particular (more on that part in a minute). I’m sharing something that is deeply personal. I don’t like to do so because many will judge. Yes, they will. You might not, but many will. Therefore, be warned and be careful. I will probably make the most enemies or bother the most people with this discussion.

There are those that say religion is made by man and (insert opposite comparison here). I have trouble ending that statement because it makes no sense.

So, I generally reject that notion, and I don’t reject it. Religion, or theology, is how humans see their relationship to the divine. How we see that relationship is also influenced by people. Even a good reading of the Bible shows that while those that followed God tried to do so honestly, some did it in a dishonest manner. When humans get something in religion wrong to the point of injuring other humans, please don’t blame that on God. Blame that on humans because all of humanity is fallen and able to miss the mark (sin) even in following God.

I will start by saying that I follow Christ as the only way to redemption and inclusion in God’s kingdom. That being said, I respect other religions and their right to exist. It goes along with my citizenship in the United States that also holds the Constitution in high regard. While I might compare my path and journey in following God with another religion, I don’t belittle or demean another religion. That would be unfair. I will, though, hold out my reservations on the motivation or values of another religion based on what I do know and understand of said religion.

However, today, I am not here to discuss how I think about all other religions. That would take more bits and bytes (and hours of typing) than I care to spend. Primarily, I’m going to look at how I think about my theology of following Christ.

There are many methods to examine how one thinks about their walk with God. I think that is part of why we have so many denominations in Christianity. By observation, I do think that denominations (Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, Restorationist, Reformed, etc.) are the product of humans. But, and this is a big ‘but’, I don’t think that is a bad thing. If one examines the development of the early church from Jesus, through the Acts of the Apostles and the apostolic writings, Christians aren’t given a great deal of commandments in how to organize and become community. In some respects, I think that is a good thing. Yet, declaring that my stream of Christianity (denomination) is superior to yours would be wrong. So, I am going to use a concept I learned in systematic theology to allow you to see how I think about my walk and you can compare it with yours.

Before I begin, please allow me to state one thing about my faith that is highly important. There is one centrality to being a Christ-follower: through faith, we believe in the life, teachings, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as our Savior. Everything else is what Paul called ‘disputable matters’. I won’t be debating or comparing what I think to any one denomination.

In systematic theology, we try to look at several different theologies and then we can have a ‘system’ that facilitates comparison to other religions, denominations, or just to other people’s faith walk (but only if they are willing). This system is not to be construed as the only way or even the right way. It’s just a tool to use and I think it helps reduce things to something understandable (logic).

These different theologies are:

  • Anthropology – What is man’s place in relation to God and other men (substitute humans if you wish).
  • Biblical theology – What is the Bible’s place in our belief in God? What is it’s role or function?
  • Hamartiology – What is sin? What are its consequences?
  • Cristology – Who is Jesus? What makes Him important in our life and world view?
  • Ecclesiology – What is the role and place of the church? What constitutes church?
  • Soteriology – What is the manner of salvation or redemption? How are we made acceptable to God.
  • Pneumatology – What is the role and place of the Holy Spirit?
  • Eschatology – What will the future be like? What will happen?

Now, if I can do so simply and without rattling on, I will fill in these areas with my own thinking.

  • Anthropology – As described in Genesis, all of humanity is fallen. Our predilection is towards evil and violence, taking advantage of others. As the Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes, “The sum duty of man is to serve God.” Yes, simplistic, but my logic will always move towards fewer words than more to describe something. Humans are created by God, though there are elements of the historical and archaeological record that say we don’t know exactly how it all took place in detail.
  • Biblical theology – The 66 books that make up our Bible are the revelation of God to humans in order that they can know of Him and Jesus, how to be in relation to God and other humans, and how God works through humans to accomplish His ministry. We learn from scripture that God is sovereign and the only way to salvation and eternal life. The bibles we have are all translations of original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. God inspired the original writers (and at least a few editors) to write in their language and culture to their audiences. We must use the same Holy Spirit to interpret what the writers meant in their day to their audience and draw forward principles that can cross the time and cultural gap. We should also pay attention to the genres we read. Poetry doesn’t often command us to do something. Read commands as commands, history as history, and figurative language as figurative.
  • Hamartiology – Sin means to “miss the mark”. The mark is the standard of righteous living in order to be acceptable to God. The Israelites couldn’t do it (read Judges for a start). The first century Jewish nation couldn’t do it (Jesus told them their following of the law would have to surpass even the Pharisees). We can’t do it. Sin’s consequence is eternity separated from God, and often earthly consequences as well.
  • Cristology – Jesus is the Son of the Living God, present since the beginning, and the Word through which all things were made (John 1). Jesus was born of a virgin in fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah). His goal was to sacrifice himself in fulfillment of the Law (the Scapegoat) and He accomplished this by dying on the Roman cross. Death could not hold Him and He rose on the third day and later ascended into heaven to return again.
  • Ecclesiology – The church is the community of God. It includes (on the local level) all those that make the attempt to follow Christ (some have accepted Christ, some may not have, yet), and on the world level, all the redeemed of Christ in community wherever they are. Very long sentence, yes. Sorry. The church’s function is to spread the gospel (message) of Jesus and His wish to save all humanity. The church is also to be ‘salt and light’ in the world. Salt and light means to be a beacon for compassion, inclusion, advocacy, and helping others regardless of belief. While the church is in the world and often part of a given nation or culture, it is called by the Master, Jesus to not conform to the culture or nation if that conflicts with following God. We are not supposed to look or act like the locals. We are not to confuse obligations to the state with service to God, yet, we are at all times called to be good citizens.
  • Soteriology – My salvation is through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and accepting His forgiveness of my sins. I show this through consenting to baptism, regularly reading and studying the Bible, prayer, doing my best to live as He wills, and being in communion with Him and other believers as part of a local church. Yet, none of these practices are acts of salvation, only faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is salvation.
  • Pneumatology – Jesus told His followers that a Counselor would be sent after He went back to the Father. I believe this. Jesus said the Spirit would reside in us and affirm His salvation. I believe this. Jesus said His followers would do much more than He did. Through the actions of the Holy Spirit, I believe this. The Spirit guides me, prays for me, speaks to me (often through scripture and other believers).
  • Eschatology – Parts of the gospels, some of Daniel, a little of Paul’s epistles (letters), and much of John’s revelation speak to us of what will happen in the future and at the end of time. There are several ways to look at this material, each one has its pros and cons. My thinking after reading this material is that the “last days” began when Jesus ascended, continues through today and until He returns. When Jesus returns, evil will be destroyed, the saved in Christ will be transformed (the living) or raised from death to live with Him for eternity. At that time, the new Jerusalem will be brought into being as the centrality of Christ’s eternal reign.

This may have gone a little long, sorry. It is not the total sum of what I think about religion and theology. But, it lays out a way of looking at what I think in a rational manner. Try it yourself and wrestle with each item as to what do you really believe. If I made you think, good. If you’re mad at me now, you’ll probably get over it. These are many of the things I think about my walk with Jesus. For the record, I don’t get it right a lot of the time either. I’m still a work in progress. Until later, blessings.

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It was my intention to begin a series of threads on Universal Basic Income (UBI). However, the recent events in Santa Fe, TX have caused me to go back to my earlier rants about anti-gun philosophies.

I am calling these threads as I intend to publish them on Twitter. Though the platform has begun to allow the use of 280 characters, longer thoughts simply don’t fit. Yes, it would be better to just write a blog post such as this on WordPress.com. However, when I do, and I post the blog on Twitter, no one reads it. But, post a Twitter thread and it gets read immediately.

This past Friday, a deeply troubled young man gained access to his father’s shotgun and .38 revolver, went to his high school in Santa Fe, TX and killed 10 people, mostly students, one teacher, wounded 13 others, including police officers then surrendered.

Note that in this case there was no AR-15, no “assault” weapon, and seemingly, no failures in our law enforcement system. I was not surprised that social media was immediately ablaze with rhetoric about another mass shooter with an AR-15. Yet, when corrected, the ranters were still ablaze.

On the one hand, they should be ablaze. We have a problem in our society, especially concerning our teens in high schools. Santa Fe was not the only school shooting since Parkland; yet, as several of those were foiled by quick thinking officers, we heard little. Wonder why?

Yes, dear readers, it seems that the anti-gun advocates cries of “we don’t want to take ALL your guns, just the bad ones”, wasn’t the real truth. Now, we begin to hear the real agenda, “We want ALL your guns.” Why do you think that gun owners resist these attempts without fail? It’s because we know the real agenda. We have for quite some time now. We don’t believe you any more.

The safety bubble that you live in does not exist. All crime and shootings will not immediately cease to be if the law abiding gun owners turned in their guns. It hasn’t happened in Australia. It didn’t happen in the UK or Europe. It will not happen here. The bad guys will keep their guns and when the rest of us do not have sufficient firepower to stand against the criminal, the criminal will win.

Anti-gun crowd: “But, at least there will be less mass shootings, less murder, less killing!”

I have stated this before, and I will state it again here for you. The standard for us giving up our guns is not LESS. The only standard where we are willing to give up our right to bear arms is ZERO! Zero chance of murder. Zero chance of home invasion. Zero chance of bad guys taking over our government. Zero chance of any need for self defense.

Anti-gun crowd: “But, that will never exist. No one can guarantee that level of safety!”

Bingo! We have a winner! That is absolutely true and agreeable. On this side of heaven and Christ’s return those conditions will not exist; therefore, we will not stop fighting for the right we have to self defense. It is not logical to blame the overwhelming majority of gun owners and carriers that abide by our laws, don’t cause problems, and on the contrary, provide safety as needed. That’s not common sense.

Anti-gun crowd: “Well, what’s your solution then?”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question. Again and again, gun owners give many good solutions for the problems in our schools and in society. Harden our schools against bad guys. Do this by limiting access into the schools. Which means one or more of the following: metal detectors, controlled access doors, funnelling, armed guards or police, armed teachers. Those are all good choices for our schools many of which can be done without excessive cost or without upsetting the anti-gun crowd.

Yes, we have existing gun laws that need strengthening. States and counties need to be required to submit those folks that aren’t permitted to purchase or possess firearms to the NICS database promptly and without fail. Restraining orders and other types of situations involving domestic abuse need to be reported correctly to NICS quickly. Laws for the removal of firearms from someone involved in these situations needs to be written well and enacted, not vaguely, not leaving loopholes, and always with due process in view.

However, when we propose any of these solutions to the anti-gun crowd, the response is always: “So, what’s your solution?” The response is the same because the only response the anti-gun crowd wants to hear is, “Ban all the guns!”

It is horrendous that these types of school shootings continue. However, we allow some things that feed the beast. We allow the shooter to be recognized, splashed across media, and then glorified by others. No we don’t do it intentionally for this purpose, but it happens. It has at least since Columbine. While there is a need to know by the public, we also need a system in our press to minimize the exposure of the shooter so that other disturbed young people cannot latch onto an exemplar. This in no way means we wish First Amendment restrictions. It is something that our national press has to figure out and accomplish on their own. They are bright people. They need to work on it.

I don’t even have time to go into the mental health debate as that would require another lunch and a lantern.

Yes, guns are dangerous. They kill. I hope we can at least learn that it is not the type of gun that is the problem, though that is of little solace. I hope that the crowd that is just venting emotion will settle down and get some sense back. But, it is good to know that the anti-gun folks are now telling the truth. It is much easier to deal with any issue when both sides are honest. And, yes, I’ll be honest: the right to self defense existed long before the Constitution and regardless what the anti-gun crowd does, I’ll not back down. I’ll not give in. I’ll keep mine.

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Being a Christian


Being a Christian… Is not about drinking beer, but about whether or not you are drunk. Is not about dancing, but whether that leads you to regretful behaviors. Is not about smoking, but about…

Source: Being a Christian

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Being a Christian


Being a Christian…

Is not about drinking beer, but about whether or not you are drunk.
Is not about dancing, but whether that leads you to regretful behaviors.
Is not about smoking, but about whether you value the body God gave you.
Is not about hunting or fishing on Sunday, but about whether or not you spend time with God’s family on Earth.
Is not about following the rules, but about developing self-discipline.
Is not about quoting chapter and verse, but about knowing God’s story.
Is not about politics, but about knowing right and wrong and doing right anyway.
Is not about divorce, but is about making the marriage you have work.
Is not about the music you listen to, but about whether you also give God the same effort in worship.
Is not about four letter words, but about whether one of those words you use is ‘love’.
Is not about driving over the speed limit, but about respecting the authorities God places over us.
Is not about quibbling over who gets into heaven, but being extremely grateful about how diverse the body of Christ really is.
Is not about whether we sing or play instruments in worship, but it is about lifting up God’s Name in praise.

Just my beliefs folks.

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Well, no actually, you won’t find that information here. I joined LinkedIn about four years ago because of a lost job.  Allegedly, LinkedIn was the supreme way to get noticed and locate …

Source: How to get the right tech job from LinkedIn

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Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting on the couch at my wife’s parent’s house enjoying being around everyone.  Our kids and grandkids will be here later to enjoy food and family.  Yes, this is a cliché Thanksgiving post.

Not everyone is here though.  There has been loss and there is also separation. So, it is not always as easy as it seems, but then for many, holidays are never as Hallmark-y as they make it out to be.

In our bible class at church we are studying John’s gospel.  He’s that “other” guy in the group.  The one that didn’t write like all the rest.  One of John’s repeated motifs is the “I AM” statements from Jesus.  “I AM the Light that has come into the world,” Jesus says.  “I AM the Bread…”, “I AM the Good Shepherd“, and “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, are also statements of Jesus.  I suppose these hearken back to when Moses was at the burning bush asking God what His name was so that the Hebrews would know whom it is that Moses is talking to them about.  God’s only answer was, “I AM THAT I AM“.  He needed nothing more.

I think that at this time of year, it is good that we see that same simple statement in ourselves and the kind of spiritual power those small words have.  I am…

I am…thankful.  That is the biggest thing for this year.  It has not been easy for me or my family.  Since losing my former job in 2012, I was finally hired after five months of searching by a nearby hospital.  I am thankful for being able to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table.  My new situation doesn’t allow for much more than that, but we have still been blessed and cared for every day of this past year.  Regardless of how little we had in our pockets, God provided for us all year.  I am thankful for these blessings because I know that others have even less and are still thankful.

I am…a runner.  Didn’t think I would stick that in here, did you?  No matter what has happened this year in other ways, I am still a runner.  I still get up twice during the week to run before the sun is up, and every Saturday I still go out for my long run.  My only race of the year will be in a week at the Dallas Marathon, where I am running the half.  I was fortunate to register back in the Summer and I am looking forward to the race. Yes, I am still a runner.

I am…a cyclist.  Well, we have to keep it going don’t we?  Cycling  is an expensive sport.  However, it can also be simple.  I managed one organized ride in May, but I have still been riding.  I have friends that have gotten up early on Sundays to ride a few miles and when they aren’t available, I realized I could still get up early and ride for myself.  While I don’t ride as many miles as in past years, I still ride and have made a few good routes around town.

I am…a triathlete.  Well, this one is just on faith.  I stopped swimming about a month ago just because it got very boring.  I did manage to make my distance up to a mile a week for a while this year from mid-Summer until Fall.  However, 1800 yards in a 20 yard pool can get very old.  So, I will just sit out for a while until I just have to go back.

I am…still in ministry.  I thought that when we started over at a new church that I would just be “around”.  That isn’t the plan I see.  There have been opportunities all year for ways that I can serve and I have been glad of the opportunities.

Yep, it’s been quite a good year after all.  And, just think: Christmas is just around the corner and many new adventures await.  Happy running, and happy thanksgiving!

 

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