Breakfast is over, 3 bellies full and all are happily playing in the playroom.
Grammy begins the kitchen cleanup, so she can get started on the dressing and the hair: ponytails and braids: maybe a bow, maybe not.
Suddenly, there’s crying from the baby in the playroom. Grammy walks in; 3 pairs of eyes turn to her; one has tears streaming – 11-month-old Alexei.
“Why is Alexei crying?”
So I ask again:
“Why is Alexei crying?”
From 3-year-old Lucy: “Cause Therese hit him.”
I turn to 2-year-old Therese.
“Did you hit him?”
“Why did you hit him?”
“Cuz I want to.”
As Grammy walks Therese to time-out, she tries to explain that “cuz I want to” is NOT an acceptable reason for hitting someone.
Therese does not acknowledge the lesson; she’s preparing to sulk in her room.
Grammy walks back to the kitchen. Baby Alexei has moved on to the fake fruit and is busily chomping on it; Lucy is back working her puzzle.
Grammy can finally get the dishes done before the next onslaught.
“Grammy!” comes the stricken cry from the bedroom. Grammy walks back and opens the door. There is Therese, clutching her undies.
With a look of horror, she says, “I peed!”
Thank God for the carpet cleaner – which is kept stocked and ready to go for its daily pee, juice, mud – whatever – clean up. A mother’s best friend.
Although, this time carpet cleanup will have to go to the bottom of the list – we’re still just trying to finish breakfast dishes before it is lunch time…
Screaming breaks out in the playroom – someone is pulling someone else’s hair. Seems there is a dispute over fake food, and who is in charge of pouring the ‘tea’.
Perhaps we’ll get the breakfast dishes done by dinnertime.
But there is still hope for getting them done before lunch – after all, it’s not yet even 8:00 am, and Mommy is due back home after her appointment some time before noon. And so hope springs eternal in Grammy's heart - kind of like sibling fighting in the playroom...
God bless the stay-at-home moms out there: living patience, and teaching life - day after day after day... No parades for them, no trophies, no paycheck, no accolades - just well loved children; and well tended homes.
We noted last week how the Early Christians valued the Unity of the Church under their ‘Fathers’, the Bishops. Yet there was another authority in the early Church, and it was the authority of the Martyrs. The early faithful cherished the words, witness and acts of those who died for the faith.
The word ‘Martyr’ means ‘Witness’ in Greek; so the Martyrs were nothing other than witnesses to the power of faith in Jesus. St. Justin, himself a martyr in the mid-second century, said: “Though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, in chains and fire, and all other tortures; we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more others, in larger numbers, become believers.” Tertullian noted, “The more often you mow us down, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.” And in fact, during the times of the worst persecution, the Church grew by a steady 40% per decade.
Christianity was different. The pagan religions made no exclusive claims to their worshippers, pagans were free to mix and match their gods at will; but the Christian God made a jealous and total claim on His children – a claim they embraced. Since they refused to worship other gods – or the emperor – they were often charged with atheism or treason, which were both capital crimes. Rarely did the Emperors attack the average citizens however; they went after the ones in charge – the Bishops. This failed because for every bishop there were thousands of believers whose faiths were personal, exclusive, and firm.
“Your cruelty is our glory,” wrote Tertullian to the Imperial rulers; and none were crueler than Rome. But it backfired. St. Irenaeus wrote of the shock of pagans who witnessed the willingness of Christians to endure lingering torture and “the games,” rather than renounce the cult of Jesus. Tertullian actually taunted the authorities in that their own philosophies gave them nothing comparable to die for. “The sword, the fire, the cross, the wild beasts, the torture – these surely are but trifling sufferings to obtain a celestial glory and a divine reward.”
One of the earliest accounts of Christian martyrdom comes from the pagan historian Tacitus, an aristocrat of Rome, who reported Nero’s execution of “vast numbers” in AD 64 (about 30 years after Christ’s death). “Ridicule accompanied their end, “ he wrote, “They were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs, or they were fastened on crosses and, when daylight failed, were burned to serve as torches by night.”
But what the Romans failed to realize was that Christians looked upon martyrdom as the ultimate imitation of Christ: for they too were accepting a cruel and unjust death. Hence, there was no greater proof of one’s faith than death over apostasy. Some Fathers taught that the martyrs earned a sort of “priesthood” by their endurance, and entered heaven immediately upon death. Since a priest offers sacrifice, and the martyrs offered their lives in union with the sacrifice of Jesus, this was true in a sense. In fact, 2 of the most famous early martyrs, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna, used Eucharistic images to speak of their dying. St. Ignatius wrote, “I am the wheat of God. Let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” And strapped to the wood of his execution, St. Polycarp gave an oration that read like a Eucharistic Prayer. The thousands of witnesses of his death reported that the smoke of the fire gave off an aroma exactly like that of baking bread – and not burning flesh.
And so.... did YOU know some details of the early Church Martyrs?…
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
The Early Christians saw the Unity of the Church as a sign of the unity of Christ’s divine and human natures, along with the unity of the Trinity. This idea was noted in the Didache and St. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, and most famously in St. Cyprian’s On the Unity of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch noted: “As the Lord was united to the Father and did nothing without Him… so neither should you do anything without the bishop and priests… Let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, and nothing is more excellent than He. Come together, then, as into one temple of God, to one altar, to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with one, and has gone to one.”
In the minds of all the Church Fathers, the Eucharist was the sacrament of Christian unity; both as a symbol and as something that creates unity. The ancient liturgy of the Didache mentions this: “As the broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, and gathered together became one, so may Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.”
The Eucharist was a gathering of God’s family, presided over by the bishop and later by his priests whom the faithful called their ‘Fathers’. The Office of Bishop was established in the New Testament, and is spoken of as a type of Fatherhood. St. Ignatius would write: “Be obedient to your bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ in His human nature was subject to the Father and as the Apostles were to Christ and the Father. In this way there will be union of body and spirit.” The bishop, as father, unified the Church.
The Church’s great Father on earth, however, was the bishop of Rome who from the early days was called Papa (today translated “Pope”) who was the successor to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. All ancient traditions note that Peter was martyred in Rome; and nowhere else. One of the oldest surviving Christian texts, aside from the Bible, is St. Clement of Rome’s Letter to the Corinthians where obedience to the Pope’s decision is expected and commanded in a controversy in a Greek church far away.
The early Church Fathers all showed such deference to the Bishop of Rome: Papa. St. Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to martyrdom in Rome in the early 100s sent instructions to all the churches; except when he addressed the Church in Rome; where he showed deference. By the end of the 2nd century, St. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, notes: “that tradition derived from the Apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul… which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority – that is, the faithful everywhere inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by faithful men everywhere.”
And although the early Popes were confident of their authority, they also knew that, like their Master, they were really servants. In fact most of the early Popes followed their Master in death as well as in life. Giving their lives as martyrs for their sheep, they were Good Shepherds to the end.
And so.... did YOU know importance of the Unity of the Church to the Fathers?
Next week we will begin meeting them…
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Among the early Fathers, we have seen that the oral tradition, and their unbroken connection back to the Apostles was essential. In addition, they were equally devoted to Scripture, and felt it absolutely essential to the transmission, and living, of the faith. St. Jerome wrote, “To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.”
With that in mind, how many Christians today can say that they are as familiar with Scripture as they are of the statistics and updates of their favorite sports team or TV show? Yet only one leads us to knowledge of Christ and our eternal destiny!
So how did Scripture come about anyway? The writings credibly attributed to the Apostles, today known as the New Testament, were widely circulated. However, many other writings were also circulated, claiming authorship by the Disciples. Therefore, the question of authenticity was essential, since many of these other writings were downright foolish and/or false. Within 100 years from Christ’s death, followers were already debating which books were authentic and should be part of the Church’s readings. Lists were drawn up which eventually came to be known as ‘canons’ – from the Greek word meaning “measuring stick”. Until the early 5th century, canons varied from region to region.
By the beginning of the 2nd century however, there was agreement on the 4 Gospels, and most of Paul’s letters. But practically everything else was under debate. The oldest surviving list of Christian books is the Muratorian Canon, from about 150. It includes all the books of the New Testament except Hebrews, James, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. It also included 2 books that were eventually excluded: the Apocalypse of Peter & The Shepherd by Hermas.
In 367, St. Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, became the 1st of the Fathers to declare the 27 books of the New Testament as a canon binding on the whole Church. Yet it was not settled until the North African synods of Hippos Regius (393) and Cathage (397, 419) whose conclusions were accepted by the universal Church.
Although the books were settled, as the Pontifical Biblical Commission noted in “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” in 1993, the Fathers believed that “there is nothing in (Scripture) which is to be set aside as out of date or completely lacking meaning. God is constantly speaking to His Christian people a message that is ever relevant for their time.”
The Fathers also looked at how to interpret Scripture; claiming there were at least 2 levels of meaning: the literal sense and the spiritual sense. Hence, each passage told a literal truth describing the historical event, person or precept; but, at the same time, the passage might also tell a moral truth about how Christians should live, an allegorical truth about Jesus and/or a revelation about the Christian’s heavenly destiny.
Lastly, the Fathers’ teachings all depend on the harmony between the Old and New Testaments; claiming that what lay hidden under the Old Testament was the mystery of Christ, and that it prefigured various truths concerning Him. So for example, Noah & the Flood prefigured Baptism; water from the rock prefigured the spiritual gifts of Christ; and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist – ‘the true bread from heaven’. (Catechism, n.1094). All the ‘prefigurements’ of Christ in the Old Testament could be a study itself!
And so.... did YOU know how the Bible came to be?
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Her distress was quickly apparent. Within just a few minutes of speaking, the tears were flowing. Her tale was especially sad – not because of the tragedy of it - but because of the sameness. It is a tragically sad tale that more and more women are now telling. It is a tale that can be laid at the feet of the ‘New Sheriff in Town’.
Because the ‘New Sheriff’ is an idiot.
This young woman began by recounting her ex-husband’s flaws. You know, the ones that caused her to divorce him 6 years ago. “He just was not sensitive to my needs,” she explained, expecting full concurrence from all listening. “He seemed more concerned with his own problems, and not mine. I just didn’t feel adequately loved by him, and so one day I just said, ‘THAT’S IT, I want a divorce!’”
So she divorced him. He wasn’t beating her. He wasn’t cheating on her. He wasn’t even disrespecting her. He just wasn’t ‘there’ for her.
Apparently, in the New Sheriff’s world, that is enough.
Yes, there’s a New Sheriff in town. The Old Sheriff told women and men that they needed to sacrifice their own needs for others. The old sheriff told women that they could find happiness in caring for a husband and child; and in giving out love to them both. The old sheriff noted that it is only in giving love that we get love; and so it was important to do that first. The relationship that grew up around that sacrifice would grow ever more caring, loving and compassionate.
But then a new sheriff came to town. This ‘sheriff’ singled out women and told them that they were – unbeknownst to them – suffering ‘discrimination’. She accused the old sheriff of ‘insensitivity’ to the ‘needs’ of women; and of just wanting to ‘keep them in servitude’.
REAL women should assert themselves, the new sheriff said, ‘REAL women should demand nothing less from their man, and if they didn’t get it – then just BE DONE WITH HIM – and find one that will put you first!”
Countless droves of young women followed this advice; in fact I think practically every young woman of today does. And then they end up in my office – broken, discouraged and oh so very confused.
They were, after all, just doing what they had been told would bring them happiness. And now – for some unknown reason – they are oh-so-very unhappy. What went wrong?
What went wrong is that the new sheriff is an idiot – and no one is telling them that. Except me, the Church, and those who know the secret of Christianity – that it truly IS better to give, than to receive.
This particular woman was in my office seeking healing because of what happened 6 months prior. She was out in town and ran across her ex-husband – the one that just wasn’t attentive enough to her needs. He was doing great. He had a great job, a wonderful relationship with another woman and a bright future. Turns out, after all, that he was suffering from depression – having just gotten out of the military – in those first months of their marriage. He has since determined the source of his problems, addressed them, and moved on.
That’s kind of what happens in marriages (and life); people struggle with things. And under the advice of the old sheriff, couples would work together to help, support and love each other through those hard times. Consequently, they would come out on the other end happy, whole and grateful. In fact, the old advice was something along the lines of “till death do us part” – but hey, that’s not as appealing, I suppose, as “till my unhappiness do us part”. Cause then it’s all about me, and nobody else.
‘And doesn’t insisting on my happiness lead to happiness?!!’
Um, well, no.
‘But the new sheriff told us young people that there should be no sacrifice forthcoming on our end. After all, don’t we deserve the best?’
Um, well, no.
We live in a world that only improves when we focus more on our responsibilities – then our ‘rights’. That is because we can control our responsibilities, and thereby improve our lives. We can only whine about our ‘rights’ – and that gets us nowhere. Well, nowhere good.
Needless to say, this woman had been consumed with her own version of depression since seeing how wonderful her ex-husband was now doing. She felt guilty that she had been so insensitive to his real needs, and angry that in her own selfishness - she had foregone what could have been a great life together. Now she was alone, and he was moving on.
All that talk about her ‘happiness’, and ‘needs’ turned out to lead to actual unhappiness, and neediness.
And so it goes. One by one, woman after woman, man after man – this young generation is learning the time tested truths the hard way. That’s how truths used to be learned before Christ came and turned ‘easy living’ into sacrificial living. It’s hard to imagine that sacrifice produces gain; giving leads to receiving, and death produces life. But the fact is; it’s true. Before the new sheriff, young people accepted the reality that perhaps priests, pastors, and their elders knew a thing or two about how the world really works. Perhaps it is time again for them to wake up and tell the new sheriff to take a hike. Only then will they have the chance to accept the reality that maybe ‘time-tested’ truths are that way for a reason – they work.
“You really need to pick a sport,” he said to me. “You’re the most noncompetitive person I know, and you need to fix that. Pick a sport and team to be passionate about and join everyone else!”
Almost immediately, a response came to me; yet it wasn’t the usual sarcasm I am accustomed to dishing out. It was something I hadn’t thought of until that moment, and suddenly I found myself saying:
“I DO have a sport! I am running THE RACE. And I am running The Race – to WIN!”
As it dawned on me, I explained further; “for over 30 years I have trained my mind, body and soul. I have spent countless hours reading Scripture and Holy books; I have attended unknown numbers of seminars, lectures, and classes. I have gotten up before dawn on thousands of days – to research and study better how to win The Race. I’ve been up late night after night following every last thought, statement and claim – what does the original Greek mean? What was the relevance of this statement in the world of Palestine 2,000 years ago? Who are the Players that have run This Race ever since – what did they do, how have they succeeded, how have they failed? These and other thoughts, I’ve examined, played with, and followed up on. I’ve consulted other experts in the Run; I’ve pondered the things that happen to me while running, and I’ve listened for my Trainer’s Voice - the one that I hear more clearly every day.
I am Running the Race – and I am Running TO WIN.
NFL Players do not compete hard at hopscotch. They do not spend hour upon hour studying it, contemplating it, and trying to figure out how to win. They do not keep stats on the players, its history, and its future. It is simply something that is not really all that important in the long run.
I too have decided that the sports of this world are not really all that important in the long run. Yes, I can watch them. I usually root for the underdog – no matter who it is. My heart breaks when the athlete fails, and I pray for their heart. Yet I also share the happiness when a team makes a great play, when they are victorious.
But I do not put my heart and my soul into it: into any sport, or team, in this world. Because they are not a part of MY Race. I am not invested in that sport. I have no family members on any teams, I do not make a profit if they win or lose. I’m happy for those who win, but also sad for those who lose. It’s not MY team, and so, beyond that; I could really care less. I am just not competitive in that area.
Yet I AM competitive in the Race that I am running. I refuse to let my Enemy gain the upper hand – in either my Race, or the Race of those I care about. I will fight, and train, and study, and learn – all that I can – to defeat Him and His Legions – and to WIN.
Most athletes quit their sport long before they die. They no longer train, they no longer compete. I cannot say the same. My Race will take every effort until I leave this world. That’s because the finish line in my Race is not UNTIL I leave this world.
And I Run to Win.
It’s a finish line that waits for all of us - though some seem not to know that they are running toward it every moment. I know; it seems pretty silly doesn’t it? I mean, what NFL player wouldn’t know that the goal post is where you’re trying to get? What baseball player would avoid Home Plate? What marathon runner would turn off on a side street to have a nice lunch? Pretty silly, we humans are…
Because THIS race, the one that I’M running, is really the only contest that lasts forever. If you win there – you win for all eternity. If you lose…. Well, there’s no other game that will be coming your way in order to try again.
Run to Win – But first make sure the Race you are running – is the one that really counts.
“Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians. 9:24
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” St. Paul’s final letter to Timothy (the man he trained to follow him) from prison – before execution. 2 Timothy 4:7.
He had finished the Race too.
There's been a lot of talk and anguish recently about the fact that a pagan business is not showing CHRISTmas images on its coffee cups.
Really. I'm not making this up.
I just wanted to stop the madness for a minute and ask - Why?
As in... Why is anyone surprised at this? Isn't it a good thing that pagans do not disguise themselves as Christians? I mean, how would we find them otherwise?
If you have spent any time walking through this world - and, at this point, I've spent a LOT - you'll begin to notice a couple things. One is that some people, as they get older, seem to get more loving, more kind, more joyful and more peaceful. They don't seem to be bothered by all the 'stuff' that gets you going more times than not. They seem unconcerned that life has not been 'all they've ever wanted'. This life is not the one they have banked on. Although they've received power for living, and joy throughout - this life is not the 'main deal' for them. They've got an even better one elsewhere.
Slowly you begin to realize that they 'have something'. And you want it.
Because the vast majority of people are nothing like this. Most people tend to get more fearful as they age. They spend more and more time trying to deny the reality of that fact. 'Anti-aging' is the catch word and the byword for those in this group. As the years tick away, fear comes alongside regret, then bitterness, disappointment and often anger. They feel that 'life' has let them down somehow. Regardless of who they were, how important they were, what they had and what they controlled - at some point, what's left? Nothing, but getting older and grayer; less needed and less considered. And then... extinction. Not a very uplifting tale is it?
These two very disparate groups are the way they are because they are residents (or rather children) of two different 'Kingdoms'. There's a kingdom of the children of God - those who don't need to worry about before, now, later or forever. They know where they came from, and where they're going. Most importantly, they have an intimate relationship with their Father - the Creator who assumed human flesh to pay a price they couldn't, and after ransoming them from horror and death - went back home to fluff up the pillows in their rooms at the mansion. They know that their Father has their back. Always has, always will. And since He's kind of a big deal - being the Creator of the universe and all - well, that tends to leave one with a whole lot of peace, and a lot less worry.
And then there's the other Kingdom. This is the pagan kingdom, which is made up of pagans. The definition of a pagan is "an irreligious or hedonistic person". Irreligious means "not religious; not practicing a religion and feeling no religious impulses or emotions", and a hedonist is "a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification". Kind of sounds like the definition of an average American these days, eh? Or at least everyone within the pages of 'People' magazine, and all those who desperately try to emulate them.
Pagans often start out looking good, but as time goes on they begin to get this nagging feeling that something is just not right. That's because they have a different Father than Christians. Their father is known as 'The Father of Lies'. That's probably because, well, he lies.
This Father is the Enemy of the Christian Father, the Creator God. In fact, this is the enemy that has been lying to humans since he first tricked Adam and Eve, the first children of the Creator. Having lured them to his side; he's been at it ever since. His biggest lie is that no such 'Kingdoms' exist. There's just this life - and it's here for the taking!
And since the Enemy is so good at lying, his Kingdom always looks wonderful from the outside. There are no restraints, and that is a good thing right? We can say what we want, do what we want, dress like we want, copulate whenever we want (like the animals), and basically put ourselves first in everything we do.
Sounds great, doesn't it?!!!
But the downside occurs once you get into that Kingdom. For if everyone is loving themselves - then who is there to love you? If it is 'every man for himself' - then doesn't that kind of make every man ... your enemy? And when we hand over our bodies to sin, then sin begins to reign in them. And sin, by the way, never leaves goodness in its wake. We have disease, we have broken hearts, we have broken children, we have broken homes, we have ... broken everything ... but all dressed up with a lot of tinsel trying to look good.
Yep, that Pagan Kingdom sure looks fun and exciting from the outside - but inside it pretty much resembles, oh say, Hell?
And that's why I can't understand anyone wanting Pagans to go around acting like they are Christians. I mean, it's important for people to understand what side they are on. Only then can they examine the Father they are following, and decide whether to stick around - or make a run for it.
And that's when real Christians do what they do best - they help escaping pagans reach safety. In fact, they share a lot of similarities with the WW2 French Resistance, who also had to watch their countrymen slowly fall victim to lies - in their case, the lies of Hitler, who, by the way, was a very close disciple of the original Father of Lies. Same playbook. Ask the Germans who enthusiastically ELECTED Hitler to office based on his wonderful promises! His Nazi government also looked great from the outside. It was just the inside part that came back to bite ya.
Since real Christians usually know and care about people living in the Pagan kingdom; they see the destruction and pain awaiting pagans along their path - and the horrifying moment at the end when the Father they chose comes to claim them - and pagans realize who they have actually been serving all those years.
And so real Christians tend to continually launch quiet rescue attempts. But like the French people in WW2 - some pagans want to be rescued, while others don't. Being rescued is hard work. It takes accepting the fact that you are living in slavery. But many people have grown accustomed to their slavery; and fighting for freedom means telling yourself the Truth. And like Pilate before them - most people find the Truth a hard thing to swallow. It tends to lead to giving up all this 'me' focus; since, if we want to enter the Christian Kingdom, we need to acknowledge the TRUTH that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is God; and we ... are not. And the even tougher TRUTH that God makes the rules; and we... do not. Not even when we, with our incredibly enormous and powerful human pea brain - disagree with the wisdom of the Creator of the planets, stars, galaxies and universe.
Hard to swallow; I know.
And because acknowledging the truth is so difficult when you have momentum in a lie, most people seem to avoid having to make that move from the pagan kingdom to Christ's kingdom until they are face down in the dirt: having lost everything, and given up all hope. Which is kind of where their father, the Pagan king, likes to see them.
Usually when pagans find themselves like this, they get pretty desperate and often try to escape. They seek out one of those people they met before - the ones who seemed so confident and joyful regardless of circumstances - the ones who talk about 'walking with Christ' and 'sharing his power'. But how can escaping pagans find a real Christian, when other pagans are disguising themselves as CHRISTians?
For when Pagans celebrate our Holy (hol-i-day) Days, speak our language, and mimic our lives - then we get what we have in America today - a nation that no longer knows the difference. An escaping pagan sees someone with a CHRISTmas tree set up in their living room or Easter baskets strewn about their home and simply assumes that person is a Christian. Yet that person doesn't seem to reflect the values or laws of Christ; and in fact, they look and act an awful lot like the enemy of the Christian Father - they resemble the lying Pagan Father. And if that pagan seeking escape runs to a 'Pagan disguised as Christian', then they will be told to go home and continue to celebrate all the 'freedoms' they have. They may even been forced to comply, since their desire to know the Truth can make pagans seeking the comfort of Lies - very uncomfortable.
And so instead of complaining about Pagans acting like pagans, I suggest that real Christians begin encouraging them to do just that. Encourage Pagans to STOP claiming to be a Christian when they neither act like Christ, nor follow His Laws. For after all, hanging out with, sharing the beliefs of, and copying Democrats will NOT make you a Republican. Eating donuts, sitting on your butt 24/7 and never moving will NOT make you an olympic athlete. And living in Spain, speaking Spanish and cheering the Spanish President will NOT make you a British citizen. So why is it so hard for us to understand that when you intentionally, deliberately and defiantly sin; when you deny Christ is God; when your actions loudly proclaim that you matter more than anything else - then you identify yourself as a child of that other god, the Pagan one who says such things are just fine - and definitely preferable to the views of that Kingdom he hates - the Christian one.
So let's begin to insist that our identities be true. Stop deceiving those who are seeking real Christian Resistance fighters to come and save them; and stop deceiving yourself. For after all, Pagan is - as Pagan does. And this is a good thing. Now we Christians know which ones need help.
They say that childbirth is hard.
Listen, I’ve ‘done childbirth’ 4 times – and it ain’t nothing compared to this. Let’s face it, when that baby comes out you get to take her (or him) home. You get to know each other. You get to love on her – and you get to keep her in your heart AND arms.
But then, whether 18, 21 or 27 years later, you’re suddenly told that ‘in your heart’ is enough.
You have to let that baby go. Sometimes that ‘letting go’ is figuratively AND literally. Sometimes that baby moves half a continent away to follow his dreams. And sometimes she marries and moves clear across the continent.
Just like that.
Now for most dad’s, this is sad, but not the end of the world. Most have been eagerly anticipating the day when they get their homes AND their wives back. But moms? Not quite.
You see, when that baby walks away – we don’t get our hearts back. They walk away with them.
It takes time to learn to live without a heart nearby.
And it ain’t easy for a mother – for we are almost all heart. We don’t handle things that break them very well; very well at all.
Don't believe me? Well, let me tell you of someone I know. She suffered some injuries and, before we knew it, she was a full-blown prescription drug addict. In fact, she was such an addict that she broke the law in trying to get drugs. One day, she was arrested and taken away to jail.
Her mother – literally, and not just figuratively – went into a coma.
It was several weeks before she came out of the coma, several months before she was remotely herself again. She has never really totally recovered.
I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of anyone going into a coma due to the agony of childbirth.
Because - after childbirth – you still get to keep your heart.
The first time I saw it happen, I found it shocking. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th time – I found it fascinating. But by now I just find it pathetic.
What is the ‘it’? A new thing in family life - I call it ‘Powerless Parenting’. The thing that is so strange about it – is that it appears to be rising as the newest “boastable” item. Let me demonstrate.
I was in the dentist office last week and there was a mother with a teenage son. As he sat there with a smug look on his face, she loudly complained to the receptionist about how little control she had over him. She proceeded to whine over the fact that he “refused” to allow her access to his computer or to even see what he does on it! The receptionist commiserated, and began bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t control her children either. Sordid details of the disrespectful, obnoxious things their children did were laundered for all to see. And it soon became obvious that they were actually competing as to who the winner was; as in - the parent who was most powerless. Though I call it most “pathetic”.
Prior generations never really considered this something to strive for. Guess they were just not as ‘hip’ or ‘loving’ as we. In fact, my mother would have known exactly how to deal with that smug look on the dentist office teenager’s face. Her solution was not too technical; and involved no outside help at all. It was called “Mother’s palm” delivered quickly and unhesitatingly to “child’s face”. A remedy that caused very little pain, but a great deal of needed humility – to a disrespectful individual.
Amazingly, my little 4'11" mom had no trouble with “power” over her 5 children. In fact, she probably would have used her ‘smug solution’ on those ‘powerless’ mother’s faces too, had she been in the room. For she, like most other sane people, recognize the truth. And it is that children, who believe they have ‘power’ to do whatever they want in life, do not come to good ends. That’s why they have parents in the first place – to teach them that essential life lesson.
Scientists a while back did studies on “self esteem”. You know what demographic group has the HIGHEST self-esteem in America?
No, no and no again………..
Murderers sitting on death row.
Yes, that is the demographic group that has the highest self-esteem rates in America. In fact, their self-esteem is so high; that they do not even think another person’s life is worth getting in the way of their wants.
Surely something to aim for in a child, eh?
But that’s the end result of ‘Powerless Parenting’ – children who believe themselves to be the center of the universe. The downside is that they are being raised alongside millions of other ‘centers of the universe’. And the pesky thing about ‘centers’ is that… there’s only one.
So they are all in for a huge wake up call. And every one of them has been given absolutely zero tools by their parents with which to deal with that phone ringing.
Recently, at an airline safety meeting, it was reported that the number of people from this younger generation who are making it through flight training is less than 20%. It’s a real problem for the industry. But it seems that when young people today are put in a simulator and faced with problems in the cockpit – engine failure, wind sheer, hydraulics leak, and so forth – they get to the point where things get so stressful that …… they…… quit.
Raising their hands, they cry out – “I give up!!” And then with a smile, they immediately follow with: “I’ll just try it again.”
The instructors look at them in amazement, and say –
“You don’t get to give up – YOU ARE THE PILOT!”
And then those instructors immediately follow with, “And you don’t get to TRY IT AGAIN – when you’re dead!”
Most young people are shocked, SHOCKED!, when they are told they have failed. This is just not something they have been raised to hear. In fact, they are plainly insulted and angered at the concept of being told that unacceptable word – “No”.
Sadly; shocked, insulted or just plain confused with what that “No” word means, these young people nonetheless find themselves back out on the street - having discovered that they really weren’t the center of the universe. With more ‘shock’ than ‘awe’, they finally realize that they are not able to do whatever they want - when it matters most of all – in their adult career.
In hindsight, they would have surely benefited greatly from my mother’s ‘palm to face’ method when they were young enough that the “no” word simply meant time in their room; and not time on unemployment. Because if their parents had not been so Powerless – perhaps their adult lives would not be fraught with so much failure.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to hope in Love.