Monday, May 13, 2019

Book Review: Dark Agenda

Have you ever wondered how our nation got to be so polarized? In this book David Horowitz, a Jew, traces the origins of what has become a campaign to silence the voices of faith that in centuries past shaped America.

Author Horowitz describes himself as agnostic, one who doesn’t know whether there is a God or not. So you know he’s not promoting a religious agenda. He’s simply noting what he observes. He compares the drift of our society away from free will for the individual toward totalitarian control by the government to the teachings of Communism, Marxism and socialism.

The book opens with a look at the New Atheists, those who condemned jihadists as religious fanatics but then lumped all people of faith together saying belief in God is irrational and unnecessary. He offers examples such as the 1997 Amnesty Lecture at Harvard where Nicolas Humphrey argued in favor of censorship so that children are not exposed to religion.

I was unaware of many of the examples Horowitz gave of anti-religious forces at work. For instance, in 2008 a U. S. Capitol Visitor Center opened, purporting to represent the history of our country. One panel gave the national motto of the U. S. as E Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One.” But our national motto established by Congress in 1956 is “In God We Trust.” References to God were stripped from the center. Even an image of the Constitution was photoshopped to remove “in the Year of our Lord” above signatures.

I was also unaware that in 2013 the Pentagon decreed that soldiers could be court martialed if they talked openly about their faith.

Horowitz describes the intent behind the development of such terms as “people of color,” a description developed to promote the idea that people of color (all nonwhites) are oppressed by the only people not of color, whites.

Those who wish to change society have turned the wall of separation of church and state, which was created to keep the state from interfering with religious expression, into a wall that suppresses religious expression.

Horowitz traces the current movement back to origins and lists people and court cases to show how Supreme Court justices have loosely interpreted the constitution to impose an anti-Christian agenda.

The book includes extensive end notes and an index. It also includes an “About the Author” page, which explains Horowitz grew up in a Communist household and was one of the founders of the new Left before he was transformed into one of the nation’s most important conservative intellectuals.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Five Ways to be a Game-Changing Momma (or Poppa)!

Dear Friends,

Have you noticed? Actions have consequences. I learned that growing up on a farm. If you don’t pull weeds, they choke vegetables. If you don’t water the garden, plants die. If you don’t feed the animals, you hear wailing from the barn. Actually, I don’t think that EVER happened because farmers know: Actions. Have. Consequences. And failing to act when you should, also carries consequences.

Society seems to have forgotten that lesson. We’ve fed a generation on violence through video games, movies and television shows. Is it really surprising some turn to violence to solve problems? In a society raised on violence, some become violent and the rest live in fear of violence. Actions have consequences.

I read of parents who are raising their children free from religious constraints. They expect the children to make their own choices when they are adults. But will children have any interest in spirituality if they’ve never been exposed to spiritual matters? Just asking.

So what positive actions can we take to offset the world’s negative messages? We can take seriously Romans 12:1:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Here are some “Be’s” to consider:

Be sure to get into God’s Word daily and respect it as an authority so that you know how God feels about current issues and events. That will transform the way you think. Don’t settle for the interpretation of a verse pulled out of context. Read whole passages, whole books. Discern the principles behind the passages.

Be sure your children and grandchildren know right from wrong, naughty from nice. Share your values. Be honest at the checkout counter and on tax returns. Talk about sexual purity, the sanctity of marriage and the importance of commitment. Demonstrate loyalty in friendship and family. Be generous.

Be sure to be a public witness for God and His principles. Offer your take on controversial subjects around the water cooler and among friends and extended family. Let others know you stand for God, life and morality. You may not win a popularity contest, but when the going gets rough, you’re the one they’ll turn to for advice and prayer.

Be sure to pray. Pray with those having problems and pray for those who may not feel connected with God. Invite them to church or a small group fellowship. Help them to find the connection they may not realize they’re missing.

Be sure to be gracious to others no matter their race, creed or lifestyle. After all, they are made in the image of God. And God is gracious to us, far more gracious than we deserve.

We can be game-changing mommas (and poppas) if we draw closer to God and take seriously the roles God assigned to us. Never forget: Actions have consequences. And failing to act when we should also carries consequences.

May you be like the Proverbs 31 gal, whose children rise up and call her blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Book Review: Opening Up: The Healing Power of Confiding in Others

According to author James W. Pennebaker, holding back our thoughts and feelings can make us sick. When people speak or even write about traumas, healing begins.

A college professor, Pennebaker has conducted experiments with students and others that illustrate his points. Surprisingly to him, most people have experiences in their past that they’ve buried in their minds. Yet even childhood traumas can seriously affect the health of adults.

A study he conducted on the deaths of spouses, either by accident or suicide, indicated that the more people talked to others about the death, the fewer health problems they experienced. Thus, grief recovery programs can be extremely helpful as people learn from each other that the emotions they feel are real and normal and that it’s all right to feel such pain.

Any expression of inner turmoil is helpful to our health. Pennebaker found that people who confided through prayer following the loss of a loved one experienced better health. The less people confided in one way or another, the more health problems they experienced.

If you don’t want to confide in a person, Pennebaker suggests writing about any issues you are experiencing, anything you don’t want to tell others. But don’t just write facts; write about why you feel like you do. Pennebaker encourages continuous writing for at least 15 minutes a day for several days. If you don’t like to write, talk into a tape recorder. And if you don’t want your writing to be read, destroy it.

By writing about events, we better understand them. And participants in his studies found that after writing about something that had been occupying their minds, their minds seemed free to think of other things.

According to Pennebaker “ . . . translating our thoughts into language is psychologically and physically beneficial.” And he goes on to suggest we apply the same practice to education. If we want to remember what we’re taught in a lecture, write about it. He encourages teachers to use essay questions on tests.

Published in 1990, the book includes 26 pages of notes and an index. Although written by a college professor, I liked the readability of the book and the way Pennebaker backed his premises with interesting studies he personally conducted.

So if there’s something in your past that you’ve never talked about but still think about, consider discussing it with a trusted friend or counselor or sit down and write about it. You’ll be healthier for it.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Coming Up: The Trip of a Lifetime

Dear Friends,

Preparing for a trip makes me feel like a kid. To celebrate our 40th wedding anniversaries another couple, my husband and I took a cruise to Nova Scotia. Before the trip we discussed what to wear, what land excursions we might take, what to take to avoid seasickness. We took out insurance in case we had to cancel. As our date of departure for my first cruise approached, I got butterflies. But I focused on the destination and didn’t worry too much about what I left behind.

Perhaps that should be our attitude as we approach our trip to heaven. After all, that’s the trip of a lifetime, better than any cruise or party or vacation. It’s all paid for by our Savior on Good Friday. And our passport is stamped by His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

If we lived in Old Testament times, we would have to slay a lamb and paint its blood over our doors at this time of year in remembrance of that first Passover. During the Egyptian plagues, the Israelites were protected from the death of their first born by the blood of that slain lamb (read Exodus). Until the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D., the Jews practiced animal sacrifices. The blood of animals “covered” their sins but did not eradicate them.

But once Christ died, such sacrifices were no longer required of those who believe in His Name. Our sins are erased by the blood of The Lamb, and we are made righteous. Our way to heaven is paid, so we can prepare for it with all the excitement and butterflies we feel for earthly excursions.

Yes, it’s natural not to want to leave Planet Earth. We lead good lives. We enjoy family, friends, food, nice homes. We say God is good, all the time. And we mean it. Well . . . He is just as good when He calls us home.

Every birthday brings me closer to that trip. Closer to death. But closer to the resurrection as well. Paul says absent from the body is present with the Lord, referring to our spirits. And when Christ returns, Paul tells us, the dead in Christ shall rise first. These crippled, hurting, broken bodies will rise from the grave and be united with Christ in the air. If we’re still alive when He returns, we will be caught up with them.

So what preparation do we need to make? For starters, we want to make sure we feel comfortable about meeting God. If we don’t, we can talk to a pastor or another Christian who can assure us through scripture that in Christ our sins are forgiven. We need only recognize Him as our Savior. That is our insurance. Without Him to plead our case, we will be separated from the Father forever. I don’t know what hell will be like, but I certainly don’t want to find out. I’m sure you don’t either.

Once I’ve settled the spiritual issue, I can quit putting off filling out the booklet given to me by my doctor that states what measures I want others to take to delay my date of departure. Questions ask how I want to be treated (Hmmm . . . I like easy listening music, warm bed buddies . . . and chocolate) and what any final wishes are (Cremation? No, thank you).

And finally, I can assure my family that they need not grieve for me, because I will be on the trip of a lifetime!

Easter means far more than a new spring outfit and going to church, far more than egg hunts and marshmallow chicks. Easter means I will live forever in the Presence of my Savior!

Happy Resurrection Sunday! And BonVoyage!


Upcoming Engagements:

May 4, 5:30 p.m. - Augusta Baptist Church, Sunbury, Ladies' Appreciation Dinner, "At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life."

May 11, 5:30 p.m. - Mountain Presbyterian Church, Sunbury, Mother-Daughter Banquet, "That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?"

Friday, April 5, 2019

Book Review: Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives

Do you need to heal from something in your past? This book offers what its title suggests: To heal from the past, write about it. According to author Louise DeSalvo, we can change the future by revisiting, reviewing and revising our thoughts about the past. Writing helps shift our perspective.

DeSalvo guides writers to delve into their past through stages: Preparation, germination, working, deepening, shaping, completion and going public (if desired). She offers questions to ask as writers work through these stages. And she suggests plenty of supplemental books for further insight into the process. The book includes a 10-page bibliography.

According to DeSalvo, writing a healing narrative repairs psychic wounds. The process links feelings to events, then and now, and writers discover insights into their way of thinking through the process. She offers examples of authors who have written novels or articles that illustrate healing narratives.

From my own experience, I find DeSalvo observations and suggestions to be on target. And you don’t have to be a professional writer to apply her techniques. After all, no one will see what you write unless you want them to. This book, published by Beacon Press, is a practical guide for anyone wishing to learn more about themselves through the process of writing.