Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can the Church Compete With a Gang?


I just finished reading a book about a gang called MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha. It reminded me of when we had a gang living across the street but the gang members we knew were infants compared to the damage done by MS-13.

We were delivered from our gang problem after some of their members were involved in the shooting death of a ten-year-old named Auralia Cisneros. Her dad was a drug dealer and the gang tried to rob him. After that the police cracked down on them very hard. From what I understand, most of the gang is in jail now.

What is really swirling around in my head after reading this book is the group that the gang was recruiting from. It was the kids whose parents were too busy to watch over them. It was the kids who were separated from others by language; many of them from El Salvador. They were the rejects, the displaced, the kids looking for a family. I think you get the ones I am talking about.

These are the kids the Church should be reaching; but how? We can offer these “orphans” a real family but how do we get to them and touch them in a way stronger than the gangs do? I don’t have the answer and I’m not even sure what the questions are. I would recommend that you read this book for many reasons. As scary as it can be, we need to know what we are facing in our communities. The church may able to combat these gangs in a way the police can’t.

Philip

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Plumbers and Sex


My Dad was a plumber. He was a member of Local Union #3 for over sixty years. He was a good man and a hard worker. He dressed appropriate for the job and plumber’s crack wasn’t something you would have associated with him.

As a young boy I worked with my Dad in the summer for many years. I learned a lot but I think the real reason he took me along was so my mom would have a break; I was a very difficult child. I continued to work with him until I was around sixteen.

It was working with my dad that I first learned about sex. There was the thing about male and female threads, nipples, couplings and unions. Things fit together in a certain way and made something else. The male fits inside the female. I understood what it meant in the plumbing way and a little embarrassed as I understood where the male and female language came from.

My guess is there is a movement somewhere trying to rename these types of threads into something more politically correct.

A simple understanding of male and female anatomy shows God’s creative design. Things fit together in a certain way and when they do, something else is made. There is coupling and union and nipples, male and female. It used to be so simple.

Now we have the promotion of homosexuality and something so ridiculous called transgendered. In rejecting God’s created order people have come up with all kinds of foolishness. Learn from the plumber: male and male don’t fit together and neither does female and female.

Philip

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obama Wants You – To Tattle

Here is an interesting story from the White House on their efforts to oppose those who would speak out against ObamaCare.

Here is the link to the page at the White House.

The first video doesn’t play reliably so here is a link to the YouTube page.

I love this line from the video: “One of my jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation out there…”

Here is the section from the middle of the White House page that concerns me:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Does that seem a little weird to you? Sure, there are people who knowingly lie and others who pass along misinformation but I wonder why the White House really wants Americans to tattle on their neighbors.

It would be one thing to have a site where you direct people to get the “truth”, that would be reasonable. However, it seems very suspect for the White House to be going about things in this way. It makes me think of other times in history where neighbors and even children were trained to rat out their friends, neighbors and parents. Can you say “Heil Hitler”?

One thing that is very clear to me is that Obama is a master of rhetoric, at least when the teleprompter is working. He says exactly what he wants the crowd to hear. The listen to him, you would think he is the most prolife president ever. To look at his actions, you see that he is the most proabortion president in history. The lesson is that you can’t go by what he says, you have to watch what he does.

Well, I must to go; I have some people I need to turn in.

Philip

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Riptide


I read a recent column in World Magazine entitled Riptide. I had heard of a riptide in a book I read about survival. I guess if you live in areas around an ocean you would know about them but living in Colorado I was ignorant. In the World article, riptides were used to describe the problem some Christians get into because of the influence of media such as songs, movies and television.

After reading the article I did some reading about riptides so I would understand them better. It was very interesting. A riptide can happen anywhere there are waves. Basically you have the wave coming toward shore and then the returning water forms a riptide. The problem is that if you get caught in a riptide it pulls you out into the ocean. It’s futile to try to swim back to shore as you will quickly become exhausted. Instead, if you swim across the rip you will soon reach the waves that will help you back to shore. By observation you can see the riptide and avoid it.

Well that is my poor lesson on riptides so back to the World article. A point of the article was that we can become deeply influenced by the media we expose ourselves to. An example is the many times where adultery is glorified and we find ourselves cheering when the couple comes together. Very subtly we have been influenced. We may agree with the Bible that adultery is wrong but our actions betray our beliefs.

Because we enjoy entertainment, we like to tell ourselves that we can listen to certain songs, watch certain movies and television and it won’t have a negative effect. In our ignorance we swim into the rip. Before we know it, we are far from shore. Or maybe we know what we are doing and prefer to believe that all the warnings against riptides are a bunch of legalistic nonsense.

I’ve seen the casualties: Christians who “all of a sudden” did something that seemed so out of character; unthinkable things. Maybe the only surprise should be that anyone thought that sowing isn’t followed by reaping. The diet of bad media leads us to actions that contradict beliefs. As the World article pointed out: “…the pictures in our heads sometimes influence us more than the words of the Bible, even when we know the latter to be true.”

Maybe it’s friendships. We start out thinking that we are going to influence the unbeliever by being their friend. It’s a noble aspiration if we are the one who leads in the relationship. What seems to happen so often is that soon the unbeliever is in control and we are fellowshipping on their level. They won’t come with us to church but we go with them to the bar. We don’t want them to think we are too holy so we watch the movies they want to see and we laugh at jokes that would cause Jesus to blush. Soon we find ourselves out to sea and becoming exhausted trying to get back to shore. Tragedy occurs unless we get out of the rip.

So what are those riptides? What is it that keeps pulling us away from Jesus? Is it something we are watching or listening to or the people we hang out with or maybe something completely different? There is a law of sowing and reaping. As Galatians 6:8 says, For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. What seeds are being planted? The crop is on the way.

If you want to learn about riptides, here is a very interesting video.



Philip

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Colorado Casino Crap


On July 2, 2009, rules for Colorado casinos changed. They can now be open 24 hours, the maximum bet went from $5 to $100 and “games” such as roulette and craps were added.

A story in the Denver Post this morning reported that business at Colorado casinos was up about 20%. The story estimated that the casino profits for the month of July would be $78 to $81 million. The same month last year brought in about $65.7 million.

I thought how different the casino business is from a regular business. If people go to the grocery store and spend $80 million they have a lot to show for it. That same money spent at casinos leaves people with nothing. I know some would argue that the value was entertainment. For a few that probably is true. My dad made occasional trips to Central City or Black Hawk and would spend a few bucks. To him it was the same as someone else spending money on a movie ticket.

I wonder how much of the $80 million spent at the casinos left people and families hurting. You can blow your whole paycheck a lot quicker with $100 bets than with $5. I wonder how many people who previously came to their senses at the 2 a.m. closing time now gamble on until some other reality slaps them in the face.

Another thing mentioned in the story is that the casinos are trying to draw in a younger crowd. One uses female dealers in “revealing outfits.” I guess there is no end to their creativity. The casinos in their greed gladly put another vice before the vulnerable.

It may take some time but I’m sure we will see the social fallout from the new casino rules in Colorado.

Philip

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