Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Opus 2013-145: Studies: Blessed

Paul begins his letters with a formula that is consistent with letters of his culture.  In Romans culture you started with your name and a greeting, gave a prayer and some kind of thanksgiving.  In the third verse of II Corinthians Paul gets to the thanksgiving.
(2 Corinthians 1:3 KJV)  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
I have always wondered how we, as mere humans, can “bless” God.  After all, isn’t He the one who blesses us? 

But we can bless Him if we understand what the word means.  “Blessed” in the Greek is the root word for our English “eulogy”.  The eulogy is the part of a funeral where we say all the nice things about the departed.  It is a compound word.  The first part means “good.”  The second means “speak” or “words.” 

The ultimate eulogy is “He is Risen!  He is risen, indeed.”  By such simple acts of praise and worship we call to mind the essential truth of the gospel, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

So speak well of God.  You can do that by praising who He is.  You can do that by proclaiming what He has done.

I guess you can do it by living in such a way that you bring honor to His name.

homo unius libri

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Opus 2013-144: Immortal Quotes: Never Forget?

I was walking around the room checking on students’ progress.  As I walked by one young lady I noticed that she had written “Never Forget” on her hand.  Since the kids would rather study the Holocaust than the Constitution I assumed that she had been reading the Diary of Anne Frank in her English class and was expressing a response.  I said something to her and got a blank look in return.

She had no idea that what she wrote on her hand was the motto of people who were aware of the evil of the Holocaust.  I guess she thought it was some romantic idea she had come up with about a boy in her life. 

It appears we are already forgetting.  What we are forgetting, or denying, is that during the Third Reich, Hitler and his Nazi minions murdered six million Jews and millions of others that they did not feel should be a part of society:  Gypsies, homosexuals, Christians, the mentally retarded and handicapped.  People ignored it.  People refused to believe it was happening.  In the end it was so ugly that a war that claimed added millions was fought to end the evil.

We are already forgetting.  It makes us uncomfortable.  We don’t want to be bothered.  Recently the date set aside to remember the Armenian Holocaust also passed. 

My fear is that we will remember too late.

Never forget.

homo unius libri

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Opus 2013-143: On the Street: Pretty Ignorant

We had just finished a session of the state testing and we were all feeling foolish.  For some reason that history does not record I started singing as I walked down the hall, “I feel pretty, oh, so pretty...”  One of the girls squealed, “Oh, that is from a movie.”  I was impressed until she opened her mouth again, “The movie ‘Anger Management’.”

I tried to explain that it was from a musical called “West Side Story.”  She was having none of it.  For the rest of her life she will think that “I Feel Pretty” is from a video she saw at school.  I keep trying to tell these kids that someday their ignorance will keep them from getting a job or a promotion.  They don’t believe me.  I hope she can manage her anger when things are not pretty.

Ignorance grows exponentially. 

homo unius libri

Friday, April 26, 2013

Opus 2013-142: Headline: Homosexuality and the Scouts, Bias in the Media

One of the complaints that you often hear from people of traditional views is that the media is biased.  To us this is a statement of fact, not an opinion.  We see it every day.  Those immersed in it can’t see it.  It is like the smoker that things a breath mint is going to fool people because they can’t smell the tobacco impregnating their clothes.  It is like me after I have been to Mongolian Barbeque and my wife knows it as soon as I walk in the door.  Just because I can’t smell it, doesn’t mean it isn’t obvious.

In this story about homosexuals and the  Boy Scouts of America we have a good example of the kind of thing we are talking about.  Consider the following sentence. 
“The scouts' decision is a focal point of a heated gay rights debate in the United States, where polls show public opinion is fast moving toward greater acceptance and a core of social conservatives stridently oppose such change.”
Notice it is debate about the rights of “gays.”  Not homosexuals, gays.  This is the word of choice to try to remove the historical judgment of society.  Not a big deal but it is part of the influencing of public opinion.  It is part of the bias.  It is language manipulation which is part of the post modern philosophy that says everyone has their own values and they are equally right.  If they are gay does that mean that we are sad?

They do not give conservatives the same courtesy.

“Public opinion is fast moving toward greater acceptance,” they say.  When the polls were the other way it probably was not parsed that way.  Keep in mind that the writers are the ones who are trying to mold public opinion.  And is the information correct?  Who did the polling?  How were the questions asked? 

Notice how they label the conservatives.  We are “stridently” opposing the change.  This is a loaded word.  What other choices would there have been?  “Vigorously?”  “Staunchly?”  “Consistently?” 

And notice it is only the “core” that is concerned.  Only the extremes need apply because we know that only extremes would be concerned about a standard that goes back to the earliest civilizations.

The battle continues.  What is sad is that people ignore it thinking that it will pass them by and they can continue as they always were.  It is similar to the world that ignored what Hitler was doing to the Jews because it was not rocking their world.  Sixty million death later they found out that they were wrong.

What will it take to get society back on track?  Don’t count on the talking heads to tell you.

homo unius libri

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Opus 2013-141: Studies: The Called Out Ones

As I begin a study in II Corinthians we come across some of the standard terms used by Paul in his letters.  One of them is the word “church.” 

The word in Greek is ekleisia, spelled many different ways, which is the root for our English term ecclesiastical.  It is a compound word, a combination of “out” and “call.”  Thus the church is literally “the called out ones.” 

If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ you might wonder why Christians sometimes seem different and weird.  It is because we are, or at least we are if we are genuine.  We are called out of the pagan world to serve a new Master.  We are called out of a way of living and told to be salt and light.

That does not mean we do not care.  It means that we are to care more than before.  Salt brings savor.  Salt preserves.  In some people salt brings high blood pressure.

Light illuminates.  It lets people see the warts.  It shows people the things they might trip over.

So if you are part of the called out ones, don’t be arrogant.  Be salt and light.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Opus 2013-140: Headline: Homosexuality and the Scouts, the Power of Nag

The gay lobby and the forces that are out to destroy the foundations of this country will not give up on destroying the Boy Scouts as we know them.  Look again at the statement I looked at last time from the Reuter's article.
“If the resolution is approved, ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,’ Deron Smith, the organization's spokesman, told Reuters.

But the policy is not changed for adults, the group said, and an internal document obtained by Reuters says that when youth members become adults, they ‘must meet the requirements of our adult standards’ to remain in the group.”
The long term plan is being laid out.  If they can get the children accepted now, they know that the children will grow up.  When the eagle scout decides that the next step is to become a scout master, how can you deny him, after all he has been a good scout.  This is really pretty basic.  You destroy from infiltration, from the inside.  After all, if he was good enough to be an eagle scout, why isn’t he good enough to be a scoutmaster.

It is logic.  It is the next step.  The problem is that the first step was wrong.  If a train gets on the wrong track there is little chance that it will arrive at the proper destination.

The left knows this.  The conservative voices make the mistake of assuming that there are no hidden motives or long term goals.

Nagging works because people get tired of it, not because it is right.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Opus 2013-139: Headline: Homosexuality and the Scouts, the Camel’s Nose

I followed a link on Drudge to an article in Reuters about the current attempt to break down the long standing position of the Boy Scouts of America to not allow homosexuals into the organization.  The focus of conflict has been homosexual scoutmasters.  Since the gay lobby has not been making any progress there they decided to attack on another front.  Evidently homosexual scouts have also been banned.  Who knew?

And how would you know?  I doubt if there was a box to check off on the application to join the scouts that said, “Are you homosexual?”  It is the kind of thing that would not be asked.  The only time it would come up is when there was behavior that crossed the line of acceptable such as making a pass at another scout.

What we are seeing is the traditional attack of the left against the values of our culture.  You chip away a little at a time, move forward, let the cog clicks and you start chipping again.  Since they could not get the big bite of total acceptance they are now going to try to do it “for the children.”

Read this quote from the Reuters article on the subject.
“If the resolution is approved, ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,’ Deron Smith, the organization's spokesman, told Reuters.

But the policy is not changed for adults, the group said, and an internal document obtained by Reuters says that when youth members become adults, they ‘must meet the requirements of our adult standards’ to remain in the group.”
To be honest, most people are not worried about a few homosexual boys mixed in with a scout troop.  I am sure it has been happening since the beginning of scouting and as long as the adults are alert and heterosexual it was not anything more than isolated, individual indiscretion.  In other words, it was not a problem.  It was not a problem unless you are trying to manufacture one.

In conflict, momentum is king.  If you can get the other side to take a step back, your victory is just a matter of time.  The key is to get the camel's nose under the edge of the tent.

If the Boy Scouts back up on this, it will be just a matter of time until they are caving on the issue of homosexual scoutmasters.  This will not automatically cause evil.  It will abandon common sense and put men in charge of little boys who have a tendency toward sexual interest in little boys.  It will be the beginning of the end for the Boy Scouts.

homo unius libri

Monday, April 22, 2013

Opus 2013-138: Headlines: Flight Delays

The Obama administration continues to play politics with the lives of American citizens.   The Drudge headline took me to a report on massive delays that were expected at the airports.

The FAA has furloughed a number of air-traffic-controllers.  This is causing delays that lasted three hours at some places.  Note it does not say, “were expected to delay.”  It says they were delayed.  The article clearly states that the delays are because of the sequester. 
“The furloughs are part of the federal government’s sequester. The FAA was told to slash $600 million from their budget.”
It isn’t just the delays that should worry us.  Fewer controllers mean more chance for mistakes and accidents.  Accidents mean lives.  This is politics of the worst sort but it is what we have come to expect of our president and his minions. 

I would assume that the air-traffic-controllers are paid for out of taxes and fees received from the airlines and passengers.  It seems like a simple in/out process.  How would the sequester effect something like this? 

While this is going on the parties at the White House continue.  The presidential vacations continue.  The flow of pork continues. 

If you voted for these people all I can say is that I hope you have a trip planned and you get the full three hour treatment.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-137: Headlines: New Meaning for the Boob Tube

At church yesterday someone shared that the FCC is considering a change in their decency standards.  They are considering allowing the use of vulgarity, such as the “F” word, and something that is called “non-sexual” nudity.  They are in theory asking for comments.  I believe we have until the end of this month to send in how we feel about such a change.

I sometimes question the intelligence of people in government.  With the total loss of common courtesy we are seeing in our culture why would they want to throw gasoline on the fire by allowing more vulgarity?  And I am wondering what “non-sexual” nudity is.   I have understood that such a term is an oxymoron since I entered puberty.  I accept the fact that people my age and condition are not real sexy when you stand us naked under a light but I somehow doubt that is the type of picture they want to show.

Now is our chance to speak up.  To be honest, I don’t watch TV.  I thought they had already crossed this line.  I Googled and found a page on the American Family Association that gives the details on how to contact the FCC.

Remember to be courteous and not use the “F” word to express your honest opinion of their opinion. 

Please pardon the title.  I could not resist.

homo unius libri

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Opus 2013-136: Headlines: What Can We Believe about Boston?

I am reluctant to read any more about the terrorism in Boston.  It isn’t because I don’t want to know.  It isn’t because I don’t care.  It isn’t because I am grossed out.  It is because I don’t know how much of what I read I can believe.

Remember the killing of the school children.  Almost everything we read in the first week was fantasy by a sensationalist, gun hating press.  They contradicted or quoted each other.  They did no research and blamed everyone that they did not like.

Do we have the same thing going on in Boston?  Were these two men really guilty or were they just scapegoats of a police department that needed to justify the budget for their swat team?  It would be so easy to believe that two disenchanted refugees from a Muslim country brought their hatred and insanity to our shores.  It would even fit what we know to be the current view of many Muslims.  But is it true?

I would suggest that we do the hard thing.  Wait and seek honest answers.  Don’t demand that the local DA come up with indictments just to make us feel good.  Allow the wheels of justice and investigation to turn.  Some things cannot be rushed.

Don’t believe everything you read just because it fits your desire for quick reassurance.

homo unius libri

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Opus 2013-135: Headlines: Are We the Chosen People?

One of the misconceptions that Christians often have is that the United States of America is God’s chosen nation, that somehow we have replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.  While I would agree that we have been blessed by God, we are not the New Israel.

However....  We may be coming to a day when we get that title in a way we do not want it.  The recent bombing in Boston could be the beginning of a change bigger than 9/11.  If this is an isolated event, life will go on as usual.  We will forget and go back to our pleasures and ignorance. 

But what if this is the first act in a play that began in 630 when Mohammad began to dictate the Koran?  What if the call of Jihad, the rationale for terrorism, is being heard in such a way that no corner of our Republic is safe?  This is what I mean about being the New Israel.  Israel faces the potential for a Boston on a daily basis.  They have done so for decades.  In the face of brutal fanatics and murderers they have done a miraculous job of hanging together as a society and attempting to maintain the rule of law.  They have set an impressive example of how to deal with the forces of evil.

Are we the New Israel?

If Boston was just the first pitch, how will we respond as the attack continues?  Imagine living in a country where terrorists can strike anywhere.  Imagine that tomorrow you turn on the news to find that the monthly assembly at your neighborhood middle school had a bomb go off when the kids were packed in tight.  Imagine the day after Thanksgiving when the crowd at the door of the local Walmart is decimated by a suicide bomber.  Imagine an unclaimed purse under a pew going off at the second service in your church on Easter morning.

Will we respond with courage and determination?  Will we refuse to be cowed and broken.  Will we go on with life knowing that the only answer to terrorism is courage?  Will we refuse to be terrorized or will we cry out for a police state with no freedom of movement and no liberty?

I hope this was a one time event perpetrated by a couple of crazy people.  If not, I hope we are as noble as the current Israel as we join them as targets for hatred.

homo unius libri

Friday, April 19, 2013

Opus 2013-134: Busy, Busy

I am coming into a very busy time.  Every area of my life is loading up.  I should be grateful that I am not going to get bored.

At school we are approaching the end of the year.  That means a lot of pointless paperwork to remind parents that the previous three progress reports that said “F” mean “F.”  We do this because the administrators don’t have the courage to tell parents, “Deal with it.”  In addition I have semester long projects coming due with all the requisite grading. 

At church the pastor is going on an eight week sabbatical.  I have the opportunity to fill in for him so I am going to be studying, writing and preaching.  I look forward to it but to do it right will take a lot of time, prayer and discipline.  I have enough old stuff I could pull out, rework and use but I want more than that. 

In Sunday School I am beginning a series on II Corinthians with the young people I am teaching.  They are always full of questions and I need to keep ahead of them.  It will be a continual challenge. 

In the blog world I am posting on two blogs.  One involves a personal commitment to post each day.  It is my devotional blog, Perpetual Proverbs.  It is part of my discipline to search for something on a daily basis that God is trying to tell me and present it to others.  That I will keep up.  It is important to my spiritual walk and I hope it is helpful to others.

Medley of Worship will continue as I have time.  I may find that I am posting items from I John, where I am preaching and II Corinthians where I am teaching but I will not abandon politics, education and general observations.  If push comes to shove, there will be days I miss.  Of course it might go the other way and I will have so much that transfers you will get tired of what I have to say.

That of course, as I have read others say, applies to both of you that are reading.

Blessings on you as we approach the summer.

homo unius libri

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Opus 2013-133: Tax Dollars at Work: Out of Order

When I checked my e-mail this morning at school I was informed that the simple copier that I usually use was out of order and that a technician was promised to be there to fix it by the end of the day.  That was yesterday.  When I went down to use it the sign still said, “Out of Order.”  We have a bigger, more complex, more expensive machine that also said “Out of Order.”  It isn’t out of order.  The e-mail said we were out of toner and would not have any for the foreseeable future. 

What makes this so frustrating was that in our Monday Faculty meeting we were given a nice folder with a printed label ($$$) and twenty pages of printed material that the administration had made for us in preparation for the coming state testing.  None of the printed material was anything new.  I have been seeing the same forms for years.  They were totally unnecessary.  They were printed on the machines that we use for our class preparation.  Of course we did not run out of toner when the administration needed it, just for teachers.  We were even told that if we needed to make individual copies we could use the copier of the principal’s secretary.  

I think I shared a few days ago about a teacher who could not get paper to prepare her lessons.

Think about this.  We have all the time, money and supplies that we want to prepare for a state wide test that is being discontinued next year.  We have no time, money or supplies to allow teachers to prepare to teach the material that will be tested.

Am I the only one that sees a problem here?  Maybe more money will help?  Tax increase anyone?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Opus 2013-132: On the Street: Who’s Your Idol

As I was driving to work I noticed a page on one of those electronic billboards that are popping up around the country.  It reminded me that I needed to vote tonight to pick the next Idol.  Even I, who rarely watches TV knew that it was referring to American Idol.

My only contact with the TV program is what I read and the occasional You Tube snippet that shows some disillusioned, walking ego who thinks they are the next Caruso and can’t even carry a tune. 

I don’t plan on voting. 

Even if I watched the program, I would not vote.  My guess is that in order to vote the voting site requires some kind of information.  It might just be your phone number.  It might be your e-mail address.  I get enough calls about renewing my mortgage and downloads offering to sell me Viagra cheap. 

I do plan on voting in the next congressional election though.  It also will feature walking egos that think they can carry a tune.  That is enough entertainment for me.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-131: Basic Beliefs: Living by Faith

Do I have confidence in my salvation?  Yes.  I have placed my trust in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  I believe that His death paid the price for sin for those who will believe. 

Do I have confidence in my eternity?  Yes.  I believe that Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death.  Thus the grave has no fear.  Death has no sting.  The separation is a graduation, not a termination.

Do I have confidence in my day?  No.  That thought came to me as I was having a worry moment.  I was looking at my ability to walk successfully through the day.  I was considering the day ahead filled with students who did not want to learn and administrators who did not want to lead.  I was feeling futile. 

Then I realized that my eternity is a continuation of my day.   If I can believe for eternity I should be able to believe for the next 24 hours. 
(Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
It isn’t very consistent to believe in forever and not today. 

Now to apply it as I drive.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Opus 2013-130: On the Street: GPM

I was driving behind a Prius.  That is not an unusual occurrence in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia.  One of the tax-subsidized benefits of driving a Prius has been access to the HOV lane even when you are alone in the car.  I thought that rich-man bennie had been dropped, but I saw it on a bill board again.  As I was sitting in my Jeep, looking at the Green Machine, I realized something.  It was incredibly small.  Jeeps are not noted for being large but I was noticeably larger than this earth saver. 

So, understand that part of the economy of the Prius and other hybrids is not the miracle of a modern technology but the simple application of old physics.  Smaller cars get better mileage.  Lighter cars require less energy to move. 

Lighter cars also tend to become a crumpled mass when they meet another mass at almost any speed.  I might suggest that we have some truth in advertizing.  We talk about MPG and now that is modified to MPGe on the signs.  I don’t know that the “e” stands for.  I would suggest another measure, lets call it GPM or Graves per Mile. 

How much greater chance of dying do you have by driving a hybrid?  I don’t know the answer but my guess is that the odds of an early grave are greater in the small, light vehicle.  Since some of those in these cars might be children, maybe we should go back to older models.  After all it is for the children and if we can save one life it will be worth it, right?

homo unius libri

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Opus 2013-129: Headlines: A New Housing Bubble?

It is Saturday morning.  I finally got a chance to look at my latest Washington Times, National Weekly, dated April 8.  The cover showed a construction worker with a nail gun and the title referred to an article inside about how prices of homes were climbing again.

I don’t need to read the article or related pieces.  I have an answering machine and I have a computer.  What does that have to do with the housing boom?  We are again participating in the unfolding of the same crony capitalism that brought us the last housing boom and bust. 

For a long time I have been getting telemarketing calls to refinance my mortgage because the government has ordered the bank to give me the opportunity.  They come in many approaches from many entrepreneurs.  Behind all of them is federal tax money, stolen from you and me, that is trying to get people who cannot afford it to buy houses.

I also have been getting constant little ads on my computer that sneak in behind the page I have open or pop up when I least expect them.  They are all about the same thing.  The politicians have sold their souls again to large investors for some kind of pay off and want to suck us in with more promises of pork. 

They seem to forget to remind us that this has happened before and that we will all be paying for it.

Or how about those little ads in the corner of your favorite web page that tell you the president has done something to make your life better by buying a home.  Political hay for the president paid for with your tax money.

We don’t have a housing boom.  What we have is an attempt to extend welfare to the middle class and make the poor more dependent than ever.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-128: Key Scriptures: The Unprodigal Father, the key to the parable

The parable about the Prodigal Son is really about the Unprodigal Father. 

As I said in a previous post, parables usually have one central teaching.  The key point of this story is not the sons but the father.  The father represents God.  The point is that God is anxious to forgive and restore. 

God relates to us where we are.  He responds to us as we are. 

Some of us are like the younger son.  We are prodigals.  We are wasteful.  We live for ourselves and turn our backs on God.  What is often overlooked by people who focus on the younger son is that he was lost and would have stayed lost if he had not repented.  Twice we see this expressed.
(Luke 15:24 KJV)  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
We see it again in verse 32.  He was lost.  He was dead.  He was not just out of fellowship, he was on his way to hell and no amount of love from the father would restore him until he got on his feet and returned broken and repentant. 

Some of us are like the older son.  This is the one who is in fellowship but has lessons to learn.  He is the one who is acknowledged as heir. 
(Luke 15:31 KJV)  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
He was not lost.  Yes, he did a lot of work.  That is to his credit, not a reason to condemn him for not automatically forgiving his younger brother.

I would rather be the older son with lessons to learn than the younger risking hell.

Thankfully God deals with us where we are.  He is patient.  He is forgiving.  He is holy.

May you meet Him from where you are and move constantly toward where He wants you to be.

homo unius libri

Friday, April 12, 2013

Opus 2013-127: Key Scriptures: The Unprodigal Son, the second part of the parable

I continue with the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15. 

Parables are designed to teach one lesson.  That doesn’t keep us from dissecting them to the point of diminishing return.  Having said that, let me continue to cut.

The father had another son, older, who had a different take on life.  He also knew his older son.  When the father threw the celebration for the returned prodigal he did not send word to the older son.  That boy was out working.  He was being dutiful and obedient.  The father let him return and hear the celebration before he knew anything.
(Luke 15:25 KJV)  Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
He had to know the older boy would not be overjoyed at what was happening.  He was right.  Notice the response.
(Luke 15:28 KJV)  And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
He had reason to be angry.  He explains it in great detail.

(Luke 15:29-30 KJV)  And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:  But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
To tell you the truth, my sentiments are with the older son.  I have no trouble with the father’s forgiveness but that doesn’t mean the older had to like it.

Traditionally the older son gets a lot of bad press.  He is called selfish and hard hearted.  Often people act like he is destined for hell because of his attitude.  Not so.  The father is as forgiving to him as he is to the wastrel.  As usual, people ignore a key verse.
(Luke 15:31 KJV)  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
This son was not rejected by the father.  Notice that his place is acknowledged.  He is just as accepted as the younger son.

Which son are you more like.  One needed to repent or he would be lost.  One needed to be more forgiving, but there is no indication of him being rejected because of it. 

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-126: Key Scriptures: The Prodigal Son, the first part of the parable.

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the prodigal son.  The father had two sons that he loved.  He treated them differently. 

He allowed the younger son to take his inheritance and go off on his own.  He knew the son.  Just the fact that he wanted his share, now, let the father know that he would waste it.  Yet he gave it to him.  And waste it he did.  Finally, starving and destitute he made his way home hoping to be let in the house.  Jesus continues the story,
(Luke 15:20 KJV)  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Why did the father seem to be watching for him to return?  Did the father know the boy would be a failure and expect him to return in defeat?  If he knew that, why did he let him go in the first place. 

As a wise father he knew that the boy had lessons to learn.  He knew, or hoped, the boy would be coming back in repentance.  He couldn’t be sure but felt the risk was necessary.  How overjoyed he must have been when he saw the boy coming.  And when he heard the words from the boys mouth he knew the gamble had been worth it.
(Luke 15:21 KJV)  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
So they had a party and welcomed him back.

homo unius libri

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Opus 2013-125: On the Street: Fire in the Belly

As I vented my frustration with parents and the educational system I asked my friendly philanthropist, “Why do I keep pushing if the parents don’t care?”  He answered, “Because you still have the fire in your belly.”

I guess so.  How long can I keep it burning?

What was I yelling about?  I was relating to him my frustration.  We have a form called a Daily Progress Report.  Students carry it to class and the teacher marks if they were on time, brought their supplies, completed their classwork, did their homework, and how was their behavior.  Each teacher signs it and has a place to write comments.  One side is in English and the other in Spanish.  It is supposed to be taken home, signed by the parent, brought back the next day, checked by the counselors and if it is signed a new one presented to the student.  It can be an effective tool to monitor student progress.

But no one cares.

I sit in meetings with the parents and students.  Tears are being shed.  The students promise to do better.  The parents present a face of concern.  We have a moment of victory. 

The next day I ask for the Progress Report.  “I don’t have one.”  This goes on and on.  I have one class in which seven students are supposed to bring me this form.  I ask them every day.  On a good day I will see one.  And no one seems to care but me.

The counselors don’t check the forms.  They leave piles of them out on the counter.  The parents don’t seem to care.  Nothing happens. 

I find myself asking, “Why should I care if the parents don’t?” 

I guess it is that fire in the belly.  For me it comes back to my sense of duty generated by my walk with God.  He revives me daily and keeps the fire going.  I guarantee it is nothing but an ember when I head home each day but after a time of prayer and worship in the morning the belly is glowing.

But with David in Psalms I ask, “How long, O Lord?”

homo unius libri

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Opus 2013-124: On the Street: In the Sky

I remember a song I learned in elementary school.
“Spring is here,” said the bumble bee.
“How do you know?” said the old oak tree.
“I just saw a daffodil,
Dancing with a fairy on a windy hill.”
When I was back east during Holy Week I saw this in a way that we don’t notice in California.  Snow and four wheel drive when I arrived was trumped by daffodils pushing though the mulch to begin the dance of color. 

But wait.  What did I notice in the sky as I was locked in L.A. rush hour traffic?  Birds.  Flying in a fluid V.  Heading north.

Spring is here.  The cycles continue. 

Take some time to get away from the headlines and smell the roses, or whatever grows in your neighborhood.

I think God planned Easter to be in spring so that we would be reminded of the possibilities. 

He is risen.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-123: Tax Dollars at Work: Paper Trail

Yesterday I received a call from another teacher asking for a favor.  Could I let her have some paper?  Since I have been rationing my paper all year and had just opened my last ream I was doubtful but asked how much she needed.  “A ream,” she said.  I could not help her.  I asked if she had tried the office and supply chain.  She said yes but they were using all their paper to print up sample test questions for the coming state tests.

Understand what is happening here.  We don’t have paper for teaching but we have paper for review to prep for a test that is on its last year and will be ignored by everyone except administrators who are worried about their resumes.  This is a pattern.  Does anyone but me see a problem here?

To add to the insult we had received full color print-outs, prepared individually for each student of last years test results.  We also got a worksheet to give them, on expensive colored paper, to fill out to show how they did and what they can do different to score better this year. 

Yet we don’t have paper for an English teacher to instruct her students.

How about a tax increase.  Maybe more money for education would be the solution.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Opus 2013-122: On the Street: All American

I recently had a conversation with a young man at our middle school.  He has come to me a number of times to back him up in conversations with the other students.  He usually understands the issues from a conservative point of view and I am glad to give him some more firepower.  This time he was frustrated with all this kissing up to the immigration lobby.  I asked him what his family background was and he said both his parents trace their roots to Mexico.  So I asked him did he consider himself a Mexican or an American.  He got a look a disgust on his face and said “I am an American..”

There are people like this out there who need to be recognized and supported.  There are people from all areas who don’t want to be considered Latino or Asian or African-American.  They want to drop the hyphens.  They believe in the American dream.  I would suggest that the Republican Party would do well to seek out these people and talk to them about the important issues of opportunity, a chance to work, family and the moral issues.  They are waiting to hear that we are serious.

They will grow in numbers only if we continue to stand up and proclaim the truth.

The Republicans don’t seem to realize that if we wanted to go the route they are pursuing of compromise and moderation all we need to do is re-register as Democrats.  If they keep it up they will not only lose people like the young man I spoke to but they will force me to re-register as an independent.

homo unius libri

Monday, April 8, 2013

Opus 2013-121: Monday Pulpit: Salt and Pepper

I was shivering through an outdoor sunrise service on the East Coast.  It was in the mid 40's with a nice breeze blowing.  I was trying to pay attention to the homily but it was difficult.  The sermon was focusing on the light that Jesus brought.  My mind started to wander.

There are a couple of figures of speech that are used to refer to the role of the church in the world.  In one image we are called light.  In another we are called salt.  Since he was talking about light my mind wandered down the path of salt.

(Matthew 5:13 KJV)  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

In the strange way that my mind works I asked myself, “Why did Jesus call us salt instead of pepper?” 

Salt has many uses.  It is a seasoning.  It is a preservative.  In sufficient quantities it can kill.  The followers of Jesus have many roles in the world.

Salt is necessary for life.

Salt brings out the flavor.  Pepper tends to cover up the flavor.  Pepper is one of the new products that came from the Middle East during the Crusades.  When the educational videos talk about pepper they don’t talk about it as a fine seasoning but how it was used to cover up the flavor of rotten meat.  Salt keeps things from rotting, pepper covers the rot.  It is possible for the church to wait too long to influence our culture.  When we try to cover up we make things even worse. 

I think it is time for the church to act like salt again instead of trying to go the pepper route. 

But then what do I know?  I am old school. 

homo unius libri

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Opus 2013-120: Tax Dollars at Work: Protecting Your Children

We had a faculty meeting on April 1.  It was a very appropriate date for the discussion we had.  We had just returned from “Spring” break (aka Easter Vacation).  The day before the break began we had a fight on campus.  To most people you would just throw the book at the kids involved and get on with life.  Not so in modern, politically correct, anti-bullying, Venus dominated education.  It was a time for soul searching, breast beating and serious contemplation.

One of the tongue lashings we received was about how we as teachers should respond to fights.  The average adult would assume that we were criticized because we did nothing.  Not so.  We were reminded that it is not recommended that we break up fights.  That was bad enough but we were then told we were forbidden from breaking up fights.  Then they said it was district policy for us to do nothing.  Then they really went overboard and said it was state law. 

Can you believe it?  Believe.  In an atmosphere where people are afraid to send their children to school because of the violence, we are being told to do nothing when we see it.  We have serious lack of leadership.  Of course most of these people also believe that Islam is a religion of peace and the real danger to the country are the gun owners who have never broken a law but insist on going to church and marrying people of the opposite sex for life.

Real leadership would approach this in a different way.  They would tell us we would be fired if we did not break up a fight.  They would assure us that they had lawyers on staff who protect us from law suits and cover us if we lost in court.  They would make sure that our backs were covered and tell us to do our job. 

The humor here is in talking about “real leadership.”  The school’s approach is to call the office and if we insist on getting involved to tell the students, “Please stop.”  It was also recommended that we carry whistles.  Brings to mind the statement that when seconds count the police are only minutes away.

homo unius libri

Opus 2013-119: Should-a-Beens: April, Fool’s Month

I check the Drudge Report daily.  I am expecting soon a declaration from congress that, due to popular demand, April Fool’s Day has been extended to be a month long celebration.

Not to be outdone, I expect some organization to declare this the Year of the Fool.  The year of Obama’s reelection would have been a better choice but we are thinking of Decade of the Fool for his term in office.

homo unius libri

Friday, April 5, 2013

Opus 2013-118: America, the ex-Beautiful

I was again listening to Alistair Begg.  He mentioned that the disciples kept responding in a nationalistic tone.  Jesus had come to bring redemption and forgiveness.  He was to be the sacrifice, the Perfect Lamb of God, that would make salvation possible and would be extended to the entire world.  He did not condemn the hated Romans.  He interacted with the despised Samaritans.  He ate with the rejected publicans and sinners.  He was here for the world, and all the disciples could see was they wanted to restore Israel.  It was all about them being special.

Do we as Americans have that same attitude?  I am a believer in American exceptionalism.  I think that the United States has been a tremendous force of good in the world.  I have no problem with that.  At the same time I don’t believe we are the new Chosen People.  We are not God’s anointed just because we are Americans. 

God has blessed us because the Founding Fathers built a society on Biblical principles.  Like all social structures it has had its flaws, but we have been the best yet.  We are now departing from that pathway.  The supreme court is hearing cases about homosexual marriage.  Fifty years ago these people would be laughed out of court.  Now many think they have the high ground.  It did not start here.  It has been a slope that started gradually and gets steeper daily. 

No, we are not God’s chosen, but we have been uniquely blessed.  I think we are going to see that change.  The change will not be because of different political philosophies or economic practices.  The disaster will be because there is not enough salt and light left in our culture to overcome the evil and cause God to bless us as a nation.  Remember, if Sodom had contained a few righteous people it would not have been destroyed.  Can we expect a different standard?

There are times when I am glad to be older.  I may not live to see the worst of it.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Opus 2013-117: Cornerstone Considerations: CUSA, Suspending Habeas Corpus, Part 3 of 3

I am concerned with the thinking of our current leadership.  It almost seems like they are doing everything they can to incite riots and rebellion among those who disagree with them on political issues.  The president has stated that if he cannot get the legislature to do what he wants he will go around them with executive orders and the regulatory agencies.  Think about the fear you might have of the IRS.  Remember how helpless you felt when the TSA confiscated your pocket knife when you forgot to put it in your checked luggage.  How do you feel when you see the state police doing a road block to stop cars to check for pollution?  It becomes more than road rage.

We see them laying the groundwork for labeling people as insurrectionists by picking out behavior that they don’t like.  They equate Fundamentalist Christians who believe in forgiveness and turning the other cheek with Fundamentalist Muslims who believe blowing up women and children gets them a quick trip to heaven.  If you believe in the Second Amendment you are under suspicion.  Look at the list:  patriotic citizens, ex-military, bloggers, letter writers, and anyone else they think might not vote for them are seen as dangerous and needing to be watched by the government. 

If the administration can cause a violent response it will give them the rationale to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and if they follow the logic of Abraham Lincoln, the loss of protection can be extended from the areas in upheaval to areas that need to be protected from it.  Based on the arrogance and elitest thinking of our leadership, I can see this happening.

We see states going back in time and invoking the Principle of Nullification from the 19th century.  In 1832 the legislature of South Carolina issued an “Ordinance of Nullification” against the tariff.  In 1850 Massachusetts passed a law giving a five year prison term to anyone who tried to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Act.  Now the struggle is in things like education, medical care and environmental regulation.  The tip of the conflict is in gun rights, gay marriage, and marijuana usage.  State legislatures are voting to ignore federal laws.  The same actions that were happening before the Civil War in response to the Fugitive Slave Acts are repeating themselves today. 

Where will it all end up?  Stay tuned as we learn what The Living Constitution is going to mean when the elites get through with it. 

homo unius libri

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Opus 2013-116: Cornerstone Considerations: CUSA, Suspending Habeas Corpus, Part 2 of 3

It makes sense that in a time of extreme emergency, when delay can mean disaster, you have a means of streamlining the process of law enforcement.  The Roman Republic had the provision to appoint an absolute dictator for one year when a crisis threatened.  Power was absolute but the time was limited.  Eventually this was perverted and manipulated.  Julius Caesar was murdered because he wanted to become dictator for life.  They took their laws seriously in those day.

That is why it is listed in Article I of the Constitution.  Emergencies happen.  Even in the Bill of Rights, designed to limit government power, we see this in Amendment V.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous, crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war, or public danger;...”
The specific phrase “suspension of habeas corpus” is only in Article I of the Constitution.  That Article lists the powers of congress, not the president.  Lincoln was aware of this and went through channels.  He had the authorization of Congress
“Whereas a rebellion was existing on the third day of March, 1863, which rebellion is still existing; and: Whereas by a statute which was approved on that day it was enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled that during the present insurrection the President of the United States, whenever in his judgment the public safety may require, is authorized to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any case throughout the United States or any part thereof;...”  Lincoln, Abraham.  The Writings of Abraham Lincoln - Volume 6: 1862-1863, Amazon Free Edition, Loc. 4431-51.
Why would this worry me today?  We live in a nation based on Common Law.  This comes from England.  In this system the law means what the judges say it means, not what it says.  The result is that precedent is king.  When we look at justification to reach beyond what has been understood by the masses we look for old rulings.  As in decisions by our Supreme Court, the application is in the reasoning and precedent rather than the exact action taken.  It is when you read Lincoln’s other writings that you find reason to worry.  In a letter dated June 12, 1863 to Erastus Corning and Others he explains his reasoning.
“By the third resolution the meeting indicate their opinion that military arrests may be constitutional in localities where rebellion actually exists, but that such arrests are unconstitutional in localities where rebellion or insurrection does not actually exist. They insist that such arrests shall not be made ‘outside of the lines of necessary military occupation and the scenes of insurrection.’ Inasmuch, however, as the Constitution itself makes no such distinction, I am unable to believe that there is any such constitutional distinction. I concede that the class of arrests complained of can be constitutional only when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require them; and I insist that in such cases - they are constitutional wherever the public safety does require them, as well in places to which they may prevent the rebellion extending, as in those where it may be already prevailing; as well where they may restrain mischievous interference with the raising and supplying of armies to suppress the rebellion as where the rebellion may actually be;...”  Lincoln, Abraham.  The Writings of Abraham Lincoln - Volume 6: 1862-1863, Amazon Free Edition, Loc. 3529-36.
Common law means that the Judiciary can ignore the words and intent of the law.  This gives the president, not just the judges, the justification to ignore the will of congress and the people.  That means the future is murky indeed. 

To be continued...

homo unius libri

Monday, April 1, 2013

Opus 2013-115: Cornerstone Considerations: CUSA, Suspending Habeas Corpus, Part 1 of 3

Most people will put Abraham Lincoln at or near the top when they make a list of the great presidents of the United States.  If there is anything that makes some hesitate it involves actions like the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.  The writ of habeas corpus is a right that has come down to us in the evolution of democracy in England.

In the battle between the plow and the crown, the rulers had all the cards.  The deck was stacked.  It was hard for a peasant with a pitchfork made of iron to stand up against a knight clad in chain mail, swinging a steel sword and riding a huge horse.  Add to that the jails belonged to the king.  If they did not like you all they had to do was kill you or lock you up until you died.

The response to this began to develop with the writ of habeas corpus.  We know it was part of the Magna Carta of 1215.  I have heard different translations of the phrase but they come out to something like “produce the body.”  In application it meant that the accuser or law enforcer was required to bring the prisoner out on demand and explain why he was being locked up.  If this was not done in a timely manner, the prisoner was to be set free.  If an impartial judge thought the evidence was flaky, the prisoner was to be set free.  It was designed to protect against the flagrant abuses of a culture based on muscles and swords.

The protections and rights of this concept are expanded in our Bill of Rights, Amendments IV, V and VI.  This involves warrants, due process, probable cause, jury of our peers and so forth.   It is the foundation of much of our liberty because it protects us from an aggressive government that wants to lock us up and throw away the key just because they don’t like us.  It is a bulwark against tyranny.

The Constitution gives an exception to this protection.
Article I, Section 9, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety require it.”
This is the only place in the Constitution that we find the term.  It was the source of Lincoln’s action.

To be continued...

homo unius libri