Archive for September, 2011

A Spirit Controlled Temperament

Jesus Christ spoke of us being “born again.” Natural birth determines or nature. Being born again determines our new nature.

ROMANS 7: 18-20

The “I” in the text is the person’s soul, will, and mind.

The “sin” that dwells in us is our natural weaknesses that we, like every member of the fallen race, inherit from our parents. We all inherit such a basic temperament.

This inherent nature contains both strengths and weaknesses. It is called several things in the Bible: “the natural man,” “the flesh,” “the old man,” and “corruptible flesh.”

It is a basic impulse that seeks to satisfy our basic desires.

To understand this on going challenge an understanding of the difference in our temperament, character, and our personality is essential.

TEMPERAMENT is a combination of our inborn traits that subconsciously affects our behavior. Some factors are our nationality, race, sex, and other heredity factors. These are passed on by our genes. It is thought we inherit more of these traits for our grandparents than our parents. That is why some children look more like their grandparents than their parents.

The influence of nationality is seen by the way certain nationalities are perceived. Some nationalities are industrious, like the Jews; some thrifty, like the Scotts. Some are known to be more passionate than others, some more aggressive, and some more reserved.

One’s sex is influential. In general females are more intuitive and feeling than men.

CHARACTER is the real you. The Bible refers to it as “the hidden man of the heart.” It is sometime called “the soul” which consists of the mind, the emotions, and the will. It is the sum total of your childhood training, education, and basic attitude, beliefs, and motivations.

PERSONALITY is the outward expression of ourselves. It may or may not be the same as our character, depending on how honest we are.

Many people act a part they think people want them to play. When it is contrary to their true nature this results in emotional and mental pressure.

The Bible says, “man looks upon the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart,” and also, “out of the heart proceeds the issues of life.”

SUMMARY:

Temperament is the combination of traits with which we are born.

Character is our “civilized” temperament.

Personality is the “face” we show others.

Here is good news. Regardless of your temperament you can have a Spirit controlled temperament.

Dr. Henry Brandt, a leading Christian psychologists, once said, “You can use your background as an excuse for present behavior only until you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. After that you have a new power within you that is able to change your conduct.” That is good news.

Many Christians never mature in Christ and benefit from develop this Spirit transformed temperament. It is what he Bible speaks of when it speaks of “being transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The reason is they do not remain in an “abiding” relationship with Christ.

When a person receives Jesus as Savior they are given a “new nature” The Holy Spirit when allowed can enable this transformed new nature to become a persons true character.

Most people recognize two basic temperaments: introverts and extroverts. Actually there are four more definitive.

400 years before Christ a Greek philosopher, Hippocrates, concluded there are four types. His permeative understanding thought the types were a result of various body fluids:

“Blood”; “choler” or “yellow bile”; “melancholy” or “black bile”; and “phlegm.”

Hippocrates gave names to each type based on the body fluid which really has nothing to do with it. They are SANGUINE, CHOLERIC, MELANCHOLY, AND PHLEGMATIC.

These are basic temperaments. No person is just one of them. There is usually one predominant type but no person is a single-temperament type.

There are four grandparents and all four contribute to a grandchild’s temperament.. As the four types are considered evaluate which is your predominant type to understand your basic temperament and know your basic strengths and weaknesses. Consider some of the basic strengths and weaknesses of each of the four temperaments.

SANGUINE:

STRENGTHS: This person is enthusiastic and optimistic with the ability to forget the past and live in the present not frustrated by past disappointments and failures. A genuine love for people results in an outgoing cheerful temperament. Such a person has a tender and compassionate heart.

WEAKNESSES: This person is restless and thrives on activity . Being easily excited they often don’t tend to analyze the entire picture and don’t plan thoroughly. They find it difficult to concentrate even on the Scripture.

A person with this type temperament is often undisciplined and weak-willed, lacking in self-discipline.

This type temperament gets discouraged easily and tends to make excuses for conduct.

CHOLERIC:

STRENGTHS: These persons are usually self-disciplined with a tendency toward self-determination. They are confident in their ability and aggressive. Like Sanguine types they are perpetual motion only they tend to plan better. They doggedly stick with projects. They readily accept leadership roles and are aggressive.

This type person is optimistic, adventurous, and has a pioneering spirit.

WEAKNESSES: Persons with this temperament are not emotional and tends to lack compassion; unsympathetic. They prone to anger and are often revengeful. There is a tendency to run over people. Unless they are given strong moral standards they do not hesitate to break the law. Many of the world’s most depraved criminals and dictators has been Chloric.

MELANCHOLY:

STRENGTHS: A high percentage of genius-prone people are melancholy. There is a tendency to excel in arts and has appreciation for life’s true values. A standard of excellence exceeds that of others. They are inventive and creative. They have few friends but are faithful to those they do have. Such a person tends to know his limits.

WEAKNESSES: This is the most self-centered of the temperaments. Because of their perfectionism and self-analysis they are prone to be pessimistic. This makes them indecisive and fearful of making decisions. They are intolerant of others who fail to live up to their expectations of them. No one is prone to greater mood swings than the melancholy person.

This temperament type tends to have the greatest strengths and potentials but are also inclined to the greatest weaknesses.

PHLEGMATIC:

STRENGTHS: These individuals have a wonderful sense of humor. They have an inborn capacity to see the light side of life.

They are the embodiment of dependability. They fulfill their obligations of time and schedule. They are practical and efficient. They tend to find a practical way to accomplish objectives with the least effort.

WEAKNESSES: They are so easy going they are prone to be slow and lazy. They tend to do as little as necessary. They tend to be selfish and stubbornly resist change. All four temperaments tend to be selfish but those possessing this trait are the most selfish. They are indecisive because they don’t want to get involved.

Every weakness in each can be overcome by a transformed temperament. The negative traits can be overcome by a Spirit controlled temperament. The fruit of such a temperament is identified in Galatians 5: 22, 23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control….”

The Holy Spirit controlled temperament does not have weaknesses.

All these traits are traits of a Spirit controlled temperament, character, and personality.

Persons can fast, pray, and even give their bodies to be burned a the stake, but if they don’t evidence the fruit of the Spirit there’s is not a Spirit controlled temperament.

Upon committing our life to Christ as Savior we are spoken of in the Bible in several ways.

We are born again. Old things are passed away. We are new creatures in Christ. We are transformed.

It is easier to reach a goal if it is well defined and kept in mind. Make your goal is the manifesting of the nine facets known as the fruit of the Spirit. Note, “fruit” is single and the object plural. In 1610 when the King James was translated from Greek to English the time of harvest was call the time of fruiting. Thus, the text might better be read “the harvest of the Spirit.” We are not to cherry pick which of the nine we want to cultivate. All nine are to be manifest in our lives. Fix them in your mind by any means.

The mother of Coach Derick Dooley, Barbara, has one written individually on nine tile lining her kitchen counter. Do something to keep them before you. Memorize them. Repeat them to yourself when you awake during the night and in the morning. Use a can of spray paint and write them on the wall in your house.

Though we are to manifest all nine to start with start with the first one, “love” and concentrate on consciously showing it all day in your life.

The next day and so on concentrate on including another as your conscious effort of the day.

Consider Romans 12: 1, 2. “I beseech you….” “Beseech” PARAKALO (pa-ra-ka-layo) primarily means to come along side of. It is a positive offer of encouragement. It means to speak tenderly.

This appeal is made on the basis of the highest motivation, “the mercy of God.”

“Be not conformed,” means “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” It is present passive imperative plus a negative meaning “Stop being molded to the realm of worldliness.”

If you are a Christian and you fellowship with the world and act like the world you are wearing camouflage to deceive the world.

A few brief short ventures into enemy territory, that is the world, and soon you are acting like the world.

To avoid conforming to the world it is essential to exercise one of the fruit of the Spirit. It is “self-control.”

The process is described in I Corinthians 9:27: “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (a castaway).”

To do this make your body a “living sacrifice.” There were basically two types of sacrifices. One led to reconciliation. That is the one Jesus made. The other sacrifice was one of celebration for reconciliation.

Christ made the first sacrifice. Out of gratitude we make one to Him.

This is a process of transformation. Romans 12: 2 instructs us to “be transformed.” A transformer changes things such as electric current. It makes electricity useful.

The Greek word for “transformed” is METAMORPHOSIS (MET-MA-FAH-O), meaning changed.

When you commit your life to Christ you are born again and become a new creature with a new nature. Describe water bugs in Louisiana swamp.

I have a friend in Chicago who developed a product that makes your car more comfortable. The engin of a car makes noise. The wheels and other sounds under a car as it travels makes noise. He devised and sold to auto manufacturers a product that reduces the noise by transformation. It is put on the firewall between passengers and the engin. It is also put on the floorboard of the car. Noise hits the surface on one side and when it comes out on the other side it is dissipated and comes out as heat. Sound is transformed into heat.

Christ is our transformer. Your old nature will respond just like that of people of the world unless you allow Christ to transform you.

How do you do it? By the renewing of your mind. Many need a complete make over, a reprogramming of the mind. This renovation of your mind is in large part done by what you read, hear, or see as well as what you will not read, hear, or see.

It is both an act and a process. We begin it with an act of commitment and we maintain it on and ongoing basis. Aretha Franklin sang, “You gotta have a made up mind.”

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to climb Mount Everest speaking of climbing at great heights where the oxygen is rare noted the mind has a tendency to wander. He said therefore, “Before you leave the base camp you must have a made up mind.”

Living in our rarified moral climate we must have a made up mind also.

Commit yourself to this simple philosophy;

I am IN HIS KEEPING.

UNDER HIS TRAINING

FOR HIS TIME.

The objective of the Christian life is to find and do the “perfect will of God.” There are many reasons why. Two are noted: It is “good” and “acceptable.”

A Transformed Life

Heredity, environment, and genes are often escape valves explaining certain characters as though the individual isn’t responsible. Some assume that triumphant dictates character and conduct. They are undeniably influences, but they are not irrefutable influences.

One of the most slovenly persons I know of was the embodiment of an unmotivated, feckless, selfish, base, crude, mendacious, vulgar, and profane person. He didn’t provide for his family and put his young children out to earn money for the family. He was a bottom feeder.

Consider his anthesis. He is industrious, creative, has a marvelous work ethic, loving, giving, an ideal family man, a warm gracious Christian with high morals, and a highly successful business man.

The first of these was the father of the second. That apple fell far from the tree. Unlike father is the son.

Reflect on these two.

One is highly motivated, energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic, warm and personable, cheery, a loving mother and devoted wife, given to helping others, a sweet spirited Christian who is a high achiever.

The other is a biological dad who abandoned his family when his child was five years old. For twenty-five years his daughter sought to find him. When she did she made three appointments to see him. He failed to show up two times and came drunk the third time. He moved a lot in order to avoid paying child support. He was the picture or moral and cultural low life.

The first of these is the daughter of the second.

Every person has a temperament. It consists of their inborn traits that subconsciously affects behavior. Some factors are our nationality, race, sex, and other heredity factors passed on through genes.

Our character is a sum total of our childhood training, education, beliefs, and motivations.

All have a personality. It is our outward expression of ourselves.

In summary our temperament is the combination of traits with which we are born.

Our character is our “civilized” temperament.

Our personality is the “face” we show others.

Character is influenced by our temperament, but is not a slave to it. In this arena our will, intellect, and emotions can trump those negatives that may be embedded in our temperament. Our name isn’t Oedipus Rex. We are free moral agents.

The two persons in the success stories noted resolved to learn from their negative experiences. They typify a sort of moral alchemy. Character prevailed over their temperament.

We do a person a disservice if we imply people can’t overcome inherited challenges.

The Bible speaks of being “transformed.”

Moving cars produce a lot of noise but it isn’t heard in the passengers area. I have an acquaintance in Chicago who developed and sold to car manufacturers a miraculous product that when applied to the firewall between the motor and passenger cabin and to the floorboard it converts sound into heat. The product transforms, that is changes, noise into heat.

The Greek word for “transformed” when anglicized is “metamorphosis,” meaning changed. The process is explained as being achieved by renewing of the mind. It is predicated on there being a loving God who enables change. That change can be as radical as being born again. Where did I hear that?

Renew your mind daily by what you read, view, listen to, and meditate on. I commend the reading of the Bible for a higher reason, but if for no reason than it is great literature. Read it daily.

Bernard of Clairvaux on Love (Module 207)

Writing in the Sixteenth Century Bernard of Clairvaux noted four stages of love. Judge yourself and move toward the third and fourth types.

I. FIRST, LOVING SELF FOR SELF’S SAKE — SELFISH LOVE

II. SECOND, LOVING GOD FOR SELF’S SAKE

Because love is natural, it is only right to love the Author of nature first of all. Hence the first and greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God.” [Deut. 6:5; Matt 22:37-39] But nature is so frail and weak that it has to love itself first. This kind of love means loving oneself selfishly. As it is written, “The spiritual does not come first. The natural comes first and is followed by the spiritual.” [1 Corinthians 15.46] This is not what we are commanded, but what nature directs: “No one ever hated his own body.” [Eph. 5.29] But if, as is likely, this self-love becomes excessive and sensuous, then a command holds it back: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Leviticus 19:18; Matt 22:37-39] And this is right: for he who shares our nature should share our love, which is the fruit of nature. So, if you find it a burden serving to your brother’s pleasures, you should mortify those same pleasures in yourself to avoid sin. Cherish y ourself as tenderly as you want, so long as you remember to show the same indulgence to your neighbor

III. THIRD, LOVING GOD FOR GOD’S SAKE

So, we start by loving God, not for His own sake but ours. It is good for us to know how little we can do by ourselves, and how much we can do with God’s help, and therefore to live rightly before God, our trusty support. But when recurring troubles force us to turn to God for help, even a heart as hard as iron, as cold as marble, would be softened by the goodness of such a Savior, so that we love God not altogether selfishly, but also simply because he is God. If frequent troubles drive us to frequent prayer, surely we will taste and see how gracious the Lord is. [Ps. 34.8] Then, realizing how good he is, we find ourselves drawn to love him unselfishly, even more powerfully than we are drawn by our own needs to love him selfishly.

“Now we love God, not because of our own need, but because we have tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is.”

IV. FOURTH, LOVING SELF FOR GOD’S SAKE.

When will this flesh and blood, this clay pot which is my soul’s tabernacle, reach that place? When will my soul, raptured with divine love and utterly self-forgetting, like a broken vessel, long only for God, and, joined to him, be one spirit with him?

Our whole heart should be centered on him, so that we only ever seek to do his will, not to please ourselves. And real happiness will come, not in gratifying our desires or in transient pleasures, but in accomplishing God’s will for us.

As a bar of iron, heated red-hot, becomes like fire itself, forgetting its own nature; or as the air, radiant with sun-beams, seems not so much to be lit as to be light itself; so for those who love God for God’s sake all human affections melt away by some incredible mutation into the will of God. In this life, we can never fully and perfectly obey the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind.” [Luke. 10.27]

But it should be our primary objective in life

How To Identify A Socialists

In the famed novel, The Iliad, Peleus or Thetis, seeking to save Achilles from his fated death, hid him on the Island of Scyros at the court of King Lycomedes dressed as a girl named Pyrrha. Odesseus, also known in Latin as Ulysses, sought him out.

Upon visiting the island Odysseus displayed lavish jewelry for the girls. Among the jewels he placed a dagger. Achilles came dressed as a girl along with all the girls. As the girls fondled the jewelry Achilles showed his true identity by selecting the dagger. In doing so he showed his true nature.

Let the jewels be the counterpart of our republic. First, it should be noted our form of government is a republic, not a democracy, which our Founders feared, not a socialistic state. If the jewels represent our republic the dagger is socialism. Any of the girls, national leaders, who pick up the dagger are revealing themselves to be socialists. Calling them one doesn’t make them one — their conduct and policies reveal their nature.

Who have you seen pick up the dagger recently?

If you check Wikipedia for a definition of socialism you will find eight different types noted. Dictonary.com defines it as a “social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc. in the community as a whole.”

Bottom line, it is a form of government where an autocratic government rules. Government determines the production and distribution of wealth.

Increased government regulations controlling businesses, even taking over businesses, is a symptom of encroaching socialism. Productive businesses, the givers in society, don’t like socialism for that reason.

However, standing on the sideline is a large cadre of “takers” waiting to be given what someone else has earned. They vote. Presently over 50 percent of the American population pays no taxes. Many of these are recipients of entitlements.

An entitlement is what a person feels they are entitled to and the government owes them. It is their right. They really believe that.

A legitimate side-bar to the thesis of this column is an acknowledgment that there are some people who would work if they could work, but can’t. They deserve help. Our current jobless rating in America means there are many unemployed who desire most earnestly to get back in the work force, but can’t find jobs.

However, there is a large segment of our society that has learned to work the system. There are many ways to buy votes. Redistribution of wealth is one. When the takers outnumber the givers some politicians buy takers’ votes with “gifts” paid for by givers. That is socialism.

That defines the dagger, socialism. Have you noticed anyone in public who has picked up the dagger lately? If so, that one is espousing socialism.

Socialism is antithetical to a republic. America is a republic. Hence, socialism is un-American.

With every person espousing socialism elected America moves closer to socialism and the disestablishment of our republic.

I won’t bias anyone’s answer by suggesting an answer to this question but it deserves asking. What is that in the hand of our President?

Leadership Failure

Hear the parable of the bramble. It is a little known and apparently its lesson less well known.

When the Old Testament character Gideon died, Abimelech, persuaded the people to select him as their leader. He then killed all of the sons of Gideon except the youngest, Jotham.

Jotham went to the summit of Mount Gerizim, the mount of judgement, and told this parable regarding leadership. Incidentally, it is considered to be the oldest known fictional writing. In it trees are given personalities and can talk.

The trees needed a leader. They appealed to the olive tree, the fig, and the grapevine for help. All declined.

The trees then turned to the bramble to be their leader. The bramble (Lycium Europaeum) is a shrub with sharp spines and long runners that form a tangled mass. It has lovely white flowers.

When trees, capable and competent leaders, neglect their civic responsibility or are not put in leadership brambles assert themselves.

When there is good responsible government it is because such citizens have gotten involved. After all, ours is postured as a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

A characteristic of a bramble is it is aggressive and asserts itself. Those are traits of leaders depicted by brambles in Jotham’s parable. They entwine themselves among good trees. In the parable they are represented as devouring even the strongest tree of the region, the cedars of Lebanon. Brambles smother even the tallest trees much like kudzu.

I will not personalize the current counterparts of the brambles but the philosophical equivalents must be identified and uprooted. We are blessed to live in a land where the uprooting can be done with minimal negative impact. It is our electoral process.

With a year before a major election, citizens should study issues and evaluate candidates in order to be able to identify the best trees. Our heritage is replete with them.

A grove of Sequoia tree-like men prevailed in leading America to its independence. They crowded out the brambles with faith in what they entitled “Divine Providence,” and forged the Declaration of Independence.

One of them, the exhausted young John Adams, wrote to his beloved wife Abigail on the eve of the signing expressing his hope the event would be commemorated as “the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of Devotion to Almighty God.”

Adams, a redwood of a man, died July 4, 1826, the fifteenth anniversary of his signing of the Declaration. On his tombstone in the First Parish Church of Quincy, Massachusetts, are these words:

“On the Fourth of July, 1776, he pledged his Life, Fortune, and Sacred Honor to the Independence of his country…

“On the Fourth of July, 1826, he was summoned to the Independence of Immortality and to the Judgment of God.”

He was an accountable towering tree. Are we going to prove to be reluctant olives, figs, or grapes? If not, we will sit in the shade of brambles.

Parables are not designed to be pushed for exactness in every detail, but to illustrate points. Jotham changes metaphors and depicts the bramble as destroying those in its shade with fire. Is there a lesson here? If so, will we learn it and avoid the fire?

Childhood Development

Childhood development is a fascinating study. Unfortunately many of today’s parents have never taken time to engage in even the most elemental inquiry about it.

A child’s brain consisting of approximately 100 billion cells weighs less than three pounds. Each cell is connected to thousands of other electrochemical structures called synaps. A new born baby has about 50 trillion.

If synaps and brain cells aren’t used they wither.

Within the brain there are different areas with various responsibilities.

The “Occipital Lobe” is assigned the job of identifying what we see.

The “Temporal Lobe” processes sounds including language.

There is also an area where the capacity for social interchange is determined.

A baby starts with 500 trillion synaps and by the age of eight months that number has grown to 1,000 trillion. By the age of twenty the number has decreased to about 500 trillion.

Certain areas of a child’s brain are not developed at birth. They have to develop.

If a child can’t hear at birth that part of the brain does not develop. If the child born deaf is not enabled to hear speech by age 10 it will never be able to hear because the Temporal Lobe of the brain will not have developed properly.

If a child is born blind the neural connections between the eye and brain do not develop. If the child is not enabled to see by age two the Occipital Lobe of the child’s brain does not develop properly and it is highly likely the child will ever see properly.

A young child’s experiences can cause the brain synaps to increase or decrease by up to 25 percent.

Here is where the scenario gets scarey.

The “Parietal Lobe” processes touch. CAT scans show that in children deprived of love as expressed by holding, being read to, and stroked that part of the brain does not develop properly. Children not shown such love are candidates for anti-social conduct.

Most of these children grow into adulthood unfeeling, uncaring, and unresponsive. They feel no sorrow or grief for others. The more advanced of these have absolutely no regard for others; no respect for the property of others. They can engage in mayhem, marauding, and murder and have no remorse. They are impervious to the feelings of others.

Recently Britain displayed for the world a significant segment of their society reared without love. They pillaged stores, destroyed property, took wedding bands off couples, torched buildings, and demanded persons to undress in public and give them their clothes. Newscasts showed their glee in such pandemonium.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the youth as “the so-called feral youth seem oblivious to decency and morality…Let’s bear in mind that many of the youth in our inner cities have never been trained in decent values. All they have ever known is barbarism.” He called theirs a “culture of greed and impunity.”

Is anyone listening? Is anyone trying to understand why terrorists are so unfeeling? They have never known love.

Conditions in Britain were the occasion for the riots, but not the cause. The occasion was political. The cause was (OVER) parental. The cause was rooted in the home. Parents take warning.

Government And Benevolence

Our constitutional form of government was well defined by our founders as a republic. James Madison, considered the father of our Constitution wrote the Federalists Papers to assist subsequent generations better understand this vital document. In Federalists Paper Number 45 he explained the intended limits of the Constitution as: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined….(to) be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.”

Our federal government in recent years has drifted far beyond these bounds and is engaging in conduct not authorized by the Constitution. There is no Constitutional basis for most of our entitlement programs. Yet, approximately two-thirds of our federal budget is spent on “objects of benevolence.”

Charity and benevolence are expedient and highly commendable. Worthy persons and causes are deserving of help.

Madison further stressed the intent of the Constitution when in 1794 it was proposed that Congress appropriate funds for French refugees from what is now Haiti, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grants a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” He who in large part wrote the Constitution said there is no authority therein granted to benevolence. Again, I want to say benevolence is admirable but the government is not empowered to practice it.

At about the same time Representative William Giles of Virginia opposed a bill that would have provided relief for fire victims saying Congress had no right to “attend to what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and their duty require.”

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Pennsylvania Representative Albert Gallatin, stated, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

Congressman Davy Crockett (yes that Davy) opposed a bill that would have provided support for the widow of a naval officer asserting, “I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money.

“I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more that the bill asks.”

At about the time the 13 states adopted their new Constitution, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of gover nment. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

Violation of this Constitutional restraint helps explain our current federal financial dilemma.

Persistance – Walter Payton

Take a break from all the news and engage in a bit of introspection.

Some years ago a major computer company had as their promotion one single word “THINK.” With all that is swirling in our busy worlds the concept of taking time out to think is challenged. This is an encouragement to call a personal time out and evaluate your life and where it is headed. Face reality if it is pleasant or painful. Be realistic as you engage in self-analysis.

“Grow not weary in well doing” is an exhortation which if followed will result in a productive life.

Here is a question for you to get alone and answer: “For what do you want to be remembered?”

Once you have your answer dedicate yourself to becoming the person who embodies that ideal.

You can be assured there will be obstacles to becoming that person. Overcoming those obstacles will help you become that person.

Walter Payton was an outstanding running back for the Chicago Bears. Trudy and I had breakfast with Walter. Sitting there two thoughts came to mind almost simultaneously: “Here is a man who gained nearly nine miles as a running back in the NFL —- and he did it with someone knocking him down every 4.6 yards.”

On any one of those tackles he could have quit. Getting up and continuing is what made Payton great.

Don’t get hung up on where you are, but on where you want to go. Introspection is the starting point, not the terminal. Envision the potential you and realistically what you can do to become that person.

I love Cajun humor because Cajuns are among the few people who enjoy telling good stories on themselves and can actually laugh at themselves. That is a lost art. Against that background I share that Brossette (isn’t it good to hear a Cajun name other that Boudreaux) and Saucier were sitting at the bus stop when a truck load of rolled up sod went by. Brossette said to Saucier, “Das what I gonna do when I win de loddry.” “What ju gonna do when you win the loddry?, ” ask Saucier. Replied Brossette, “Send the lawn out to have it mowed.”

The moral of that story is don’t dream the unrealistic. In challenging yourself be ambitious but practical. Consider the ultimate you as represented by an epitaph on your tombstone. Then set some incremental goals to reach in order to become that person. Aspire to live up to your optimum. Write it down. Bringing a bit of realty into personal planning is Parker J. Palmer, co-founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal, who wrote, “Each of us is a master at something, a part of becoming fully alive is to discover and develop our birthright competence.”

As you consider your competence there are secular essentials to be considered and materialistic reality to be faced. We live in a real world. However, preoccupation with such issues can cause a person to overlook the fact there is a spiritual component to life. When infused into life it can enhance and enable all other aspects.

Oh, back to not growing weary in well doing. That Bible fact concludes, “in due time you shall reap.” Get ready for the harvest “in due time.”

The Government And Prayer

Texas Governor Rick Perry called for August 6, 2011 to be a Day of Prayer and Fasting for our Nation to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the issues facing our communities, states, and nation. It raised a protest. In part his proclamation said:

“Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting.” He continued, “I urge all Americans of faith to pray on that day for the healing of our country, the rebuilding of our communities, and the restoration of enduring values as our guiding force.”

In an effort to insure no good deed goes unpunished, the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit challenging the governor’s proclamation.
Consider these proclamations by his predecessors.

“WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…..’”

George Washington, First President of the United States in a National Declaration November 3, 1789.

“I have therefore thought it fit to recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next be observed throughout the United States, as a day of Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; That the citizens…offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies….”

John Adams, Second President of the United States in a National Declaration on March 23, 1789.

“Whereas the Congress of the United States, by a joint resolution of the two Houses, have signified a request, that a day may be recommended, to be observed by the People of the Unit ed Sates in a National Day of Humiliation, and Prayer….”

James Madison, Fourth President of the United States in a National Declaration on July 9, 1812.

“It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart the THIRTEENTH day of DECEMBER next, to be religiously observed as a day of THANKSGIVING and PRAYER; that all the people may assemble on that day with grateful hearts to celebrate the praises of our glorious Benefactor, to confess our manifold sins….” Thomas McKean, President of Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence, November 26, 1781.

The Founding Fathers were so emphatic in their belief that prayer was to be an integral part of daily public life and public service that by 1815 they had called the people to prayer 1,400 times! It is interesting to note originally Congress considered it was such a lawful and efficacious use of time they began every session with two continuous hours of prayer.

Could it be that is what is missing in W ashington today?

At a time when our government is allowing Muslims to set aside daily time for prayer in our institutions let’s not try to keep Christians and Jews from praying publicly.

The Economy

Fiscally and otherwise our beloved nation is in a mess. If we ever become resolute enough to try to get out of it there will be a bigger mess.

Financially the only way out is to cut federal spending. In doing so sooner or later entitlements must be cut. That sounds good until it is realized every government program has a constituency. Everyone wants cuts, but not to their area of interest. When all those constituents are combined there is a wall of opposition to cutting. In countries and areas of our country where cuts have been made people have flooded the streets in protest.

Puerto Rico is an example of the fact government can be brought under control. The current administration has made cuts and is bringing government spending under restraint. For example there was one department with 250 employees responsible for processing liquor licenses. The program was changed and now one persons handles all applications mostly by the Internet. That is good. However, t here are 249 unemployed who don’t think it was such a good idea.

As example think of discontinuing our Department of Education. That would mean a savings of millions, perhaps billions of dollars. Millions of citizens would celebrate. The employees put out of work would not be among the celebrants.

Cut enough programs that are not constitutionally authorized and the number of offended constituencies would form a vast army capable of a colossal protest.
Nationally we have a bigger challenge coming than we have known in decades.

A way of minimizing the reaction would be to do it like the little boy who cut off his dog’s tail an inch at the time so it wouldn’t hurt as bad.Programs would have to be cut over a period of time to avoid so many constituent groups merging in massive protests.

If we don’t bring our spending binge under control even greater dangers loom. There simply won’t be enough money to fund the unconstitutional entitlement programs and the beneficiaries would potentially demand “their money.” Again massive protests would result. Therefore, just going on like we are going until our economy implodes won’t work.

The situation is so grave even Congressman Charlie Rangel asked: “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD).

Jesus would doubtless subscribe to the basic stated in Deuteronomy 15:6: “…you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow….” That is a starting point. Jesus spoke generally about individual values and not government policies.

Summarily He taught us to live within our means. That would be a good government policy also.

In a difficult time a friend said, “Please pray about th is.” The reply was, “Is it that serious?” Unashamedly I ask you to please pray about this. It is that serious. Eight out of every ten Americans say they sometimes pray. If you are one of the eight please pray for America.

As with individuals so with governments:
WHEN YOUR OUTGO EXCEEDS YOUR INCOME,
YOUR UPKEEP BECOMES YOUR DOWNFALL.

Today’s Athletes

The American Football Association Foundation recently conducted a survey of NCAA football coaches as to what social issues they need help with as coaches. Ohio State, LSU, Miami, and North Carolina are but a few schools indicating help is needed. Four primary areas were identified. In order they are:

How to discipline today’s athletes. Often athletics is the only area of discipline in the life of some athletes. Even that breaks down off the field. Many of today’s athletes lack a father figure in their past. The coach becomes somewhat of a surrogate father.

Athletes need to be taught respect for authority, manners, and inter-personal skill. In general discipline is needed regarding respect in all areas of life not just sports. Often property rights are unknown.

Self-discipline is lacking. This explains why so many athletes playing for coaches who are really trying to teach them more than a sport appear to fail. It is the athlete who fails him or herself and mak es the coach look bad in spite of all of his or her efforts.

An expectation of entitlement is a second factor. Athletes feel entitled to perks, pluses, and praise. Most athletes developed in youth if not juvenile programs where they were rewarded regardless. Kid’s ask, “If I come to practice will I get ice cream,?” or “Do we get a trophy for being on the team?”

In college they feel entitled to special favors, recognition, and rewards. They rather expect boosters to covertly reward them. Just being able to participate isn’t gratification enough. This caries over in all of life for them. It is also a trait of non-athletes.

Our government and society in general trains youth to expect entitlements. A loving parent often gives a child an allowance. Ask the child why he or she gets an allowance. You will get an informed answer such as because I am a member of the family, or other kids get one. Instead of an allowance make a list of things needing to be done and the m onetary reward for each. Let them grow with a sense of earning what they get.

The third area in which help is felt to be needed is how to help athletes deal with drugs. Ten years ago this was the number one need. It is still a major need. The lack of self-discipline complicates this issue. The positive results are thought to be worth the risk. “Positive” results are they develop muscle mass or they make you feel good. They fail to realize the negative consequences of drug use which are many.

The fourth factor is abuse. Parents’ or guardians’ physical and/or verbal abuse is extensive. I worked with a group of college students this summer at a time they felt freedom to be transparent. It was a catharsis for many. The percentage of them having suffered abuse was astounding. Sexual abuse was prevalent. Relatives were often involved. All the victims spoke of feeling dirty, unworthy, devalued, and inferior. We were able to work through some of the issues for some and hel p restore self-esteem.

Coaches deal daily with these issues. If parents dealt with them more constructively coaches would not have to be surrogate parents.