Life’s consequences & harm reduction!

Growing up my parents emphasized the principal of cause and effect.  In essence, this was all about reaping what you sowed.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Where I have sown hard work and integrity I have reaped the benefit of a great 34 year marriage, a home, transportation, respectful and loving kids/grandkids and the peace of mind that only can only come from a clear conscience and a deep relationship with Jesus.  When I have tried to make shortcuts in life I have found the gain to be less than beneficial and short lived.

Take my shed for example.  Maybe I have had a trade show or a project in which I took my display or several tools out and when the show or project was over I didn’t take the time to put everything up in its place.  Sure it may have saved me some time on the front end, but in the last couple of weeks I have spent probably 15 – 20 hours picking up, organizing, cleaning and working on my shed as it had gotten to the place where I couldn’t even get around or find stuff.  I just wish I would learn my lesson because this is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have had to repeat this scenario.  But in the big scheme of things I haven’t really caused any long term harm or eternal profit from either my shed laziness or cleanliness.  There are other things of a similar nature to the shed story like taking aspirin for a headache because someone forgot to drink their morning coffee or drank too many Margaritas the night before.

Then there are things which seem like a good idea at the time but which can leave significant problems or devastation in the end.  Take the free distribution of clean needles to drug addicts or condoms to prostitutes or high school students.  Lots of good arguments can be made for trying to mitigate the negative effects of these challenges.  But truth be told, this kind of help serves simply as a crutch to enable bad behavior and which can even be viewed as tacit approval of the harmful activity.  Probably the most glaring example of this kind of “harm reduction” is abortion.  Someone is pregnant, they were raped, they have no money or husband and having a baby right now is simply not convenient to their current stage in life.

These examples are just a sampling of hundreds of tough life challenges which if practiced or handled in short cut fashion yield long term devastating consequences.  That is life without hope.  That is life without REAL help. That is life without God.  And life like that really sucks and most often ends in despair, desperation or worse.

God’s laws of conduct were not written to keep us from having “fun”.  The Father knows how harmful certain activities are and He was gracious enough to warn us and direct us away from danger by providing us with an operating manual for humans – the Bible.  Maybe you are one of those who thinks you should be able to huff paint fumes and not loose brain cells or share drug needles and be immune from hepatitis.  What about being able to have free sex or gay sex and not get a sexually transmitted disease or eat only junk food and not get sick.  But then you would be one who thinks he know better than God as He is the one who designed those consequences in order to direct, scare and keep us away from activity which hurts us.  A fair amount of our medical research and practices are harm reduction based as they are geared in the direction of trying to eliminate naturally occurring problems resulting from not obeying Gods laws.

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For Christians, there is a double whammy for not honoring God’s directions for life.  To start with you damage yourself (and often those around you) and secondly you damage the reputation of Christ.  I am amazed at how many young people who go to church and profess Christ have chosen to rebel against their loving heavenly Father as if they know better.  One of the most common indications of their rebellion is fornicating with their girlfriend/boyfriend and more recently delving into the same sex arena.

On some level the church only has itself to blame for this.  In many cases our churches and society have effectively removed many visible consequences and barriers relating to sin.  Whether sexual sin, gossip, divorce, gluttony or greed, we rarely correct, confront, rebuke or remove the offending brother, sister or couple.  Instead we offer marginally effective and short sighted, harm reduction (read sin consequence) alternatives.  You can get surgery to counter act your over eating and under moving, bankruptcy for over spending or under working, divorce for under committing or for over lusting, escaping to our private homes or changing churches for over talking (gossip) and adoption or abortion for being overly intimate.

Side Note:  On the gossip subject I think many people will just arrogantly stand there and do it anyway.

Actually I am in the harm reduction business as I manufacture and sell high security locks to prevent trailer thefts.  The tag line for my Ft. Knox Locks business is “Setting the gold standard in protecting your assets”.  You have to wonder how protected the “assets” of all those Ashley Madison customers feel about now knowing their names have been made public as having an account on the “Life is Short, Have an Affair” website.  Here was a secular company trying to eliminate or reduce any consequences for having an affair.  How did that work for millions?

There are naturally occurring bad consequences for sin and those consequences were inherently designed to hurt us and thus turn us away from harmful activity.  But remove or lessen the cost and impact of sin and guess what?  Sin abounds – who knew?  God knew: which is why He made a way to escape eternity’s ultimate judgment and perhaps even some of the consequences while here on earth.  Why don’t we focus on the fact that there are abundant and wonderful benefits for honoring and obeying God’s laws?  But instead people have been trying for millennium to skirt the consequences of breaking God’s laws to no avail.  It may seem that some succeed or that they succeed for a season of time.  But sincere Christians must stop banging their heads against the laws of God.  You will lose in the end.  And you are just as likely to take others with you down that broad and socially accepted road that leads nowhere but self gratification – and then you die.  But for those who choose the narrow, unpopular and less traveled road labeled “servants of the most high God” those good consequences and promises of the Father await.

If you aim at nothing that’s what you’ll get – Nothing!

There is a famous quote from John Lydgate which says “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.  There is a serious problem in trying to please more and more people more of the time.  The value or significance of the pleasing “thing” is continually diminished in substance and scope.  It’s like trying to find a drink that everyone will enjoy.  You might love soda, tea, coffee or a nice glass of wine.  But you will not find a consensus with everybody so you start diluting the offering more and more until you have nothing left but water and you still won’t make everybody happy.

It was announced last week that Target will change the toy and bedding department in their stores to be “gender neutral”.  If they had done this with no fanfare we would probably never be the wiser.  But they didn’t!  They made the point they are no longer going to label toys or isles as being for boys or girls, effectively choosing gender neutrality.  This marketing plan appears to cater to those who, although being only a small fraction of a percentage of the population, are militant, loud and influential and who identify as gender neutral.

What about the other 99+% of the population who still identify as male or female.  Have we become merely “chopped liver” in the presence of right side of history activism and politically correct mantras?  A full 22% of our population identifies as Catholic.  Would Target ever stop selling contraceptives to cater to this less loud or less militantly active group?  Of course not!

I received my annual Consumer Reports survey this week.  It was interesting to find out they too have blurred their aim when addressing gender and social statuses.  At the beginning of the survey I could choose male, female or other.  Later on in the survey when asking who drove the 2nd car, I was only offered “significant other” instead of spouse.  Really, my wife of 34 years was reduced to nothing more than “other” status.

For the record, I don’t plan to boycott Consumer Reports or Target at this point.  The fact is I’m hedging my bets because, in the not too distant future as our entire society goes down this road, our idealism expressed through boycotts will leave us starving and with no place to shop.  We must understand these actions are the result of a mental disease which is at near epidemic levels today.  I call this disease nothingness.  And it produces just that in those infected by it – nothing.  Nothing to stand for, nothing to do with religion, nothing to value, nothing to fight for and most importantly nothing in anyway related to a Creator God.

One of my favorite movie lines come from the Patriot when Mel Gibson and his younger sons are going to rescue his oldest son from an unjust arrest and execution.  They are hiding behind a log above the road where the soldiers are coming and he ask his sons “what did I teach you about shooting”?  His boys reply “aim small, miss small”.  The full clip is below and if you would rather not watch the bloody part you should stop at the 2:00 mark.

Aim small, miss small!  How profound that line.  How effective purposeful targeting like that can be.  They were after something valuable.  Their father and their lives had prepared them to handle this moment.  And because they held their ground, fought hard, took intentional and careful “aim” they succeeded in their goal.

But to look at the US and the world is to watch an increasing percentage of the population headed into the void of nothingness.  Male, female doesn’t matter, husband and wife doesn’t matter, religion is seen as harmful and judgmental and to have strong opinions or convictions is viewed as anti-social and hateful.  But no matter how hard they try and improve the world by diluting humanity down in gender, social and religious identities they will, in the process, loose everything and be left, in the end, with nothing.

As Christians, we have something to offer.  But all too often we make the mistake of cramming instead of offering.  I love the quote which is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words when necessary”.  What we have to offer is in no way neutral or nothingness.  It is in fact polarizing, challenging and confrontive.  It doesn’t look like Joel Osteen with his I’m ok, you’re ok and everybody’s ok milquetoast “Koolaid”.  Nor does it look like hateful Westboro’s, “convert or die” congregants.  But somewhere in the middle, guided by the loving and convicting power of the Holy Spirit is the heart of God crying out for holiness, a laying down of one’s life in servanthood and a returning to the rock of our salvation – Jesus, who considered Himself as nothing so we could be, eternally, something.

Did another one bite the dust? We’re not quite sure.

There are some questions when asked and then answered one is left with …. well, an answer.  There are other times when, for whatever reason, answers are given in such a way as to avoid being pinned down as having given …. well, an answer.  Such is the recent dilemma placed on Pastor Houston and Hillsong church in responding to reports that one of the male choir directors of the NYC branch announced his engagement last year to one of the male choir members.

For the purpose of illustration, to make a point about trying to differentiate between sins, and of course to be PC on this very pop culture hot topic, I am going to flip the sin to gossip and insert that sin into the narrative.  HOPEFULLY gossip is still one of those things that, although many engage in this abomination, they would never defend it.  So here goes.

A couple of members of the choir in Hillsong NYC have announced they are unrepentant gossips.  Hillsong indicated they were “asked” to step down from leadership.   In response to questions about this announcement by the gossiping couple the pastor of Hillsong NYC, Pastor Carl Lentz, responded

“Jesus was in the thick of an era where gossiping, just like it is today, was widely prevalent. And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people.  You won’t find it because He never did”. Lentz went on to say   “We have a lot of men and women who gossip in our church and I pray we always do”.

I must interject here for the purpose of TRUTH, whereas I’m sure gossip was prevalent in Israel in that day, some “other” sins were NOT prevalent in Israel as capital punishment was exacted for some of the “other” sins and as such were simply NOT common, as Lentz suggest, and it might actually have seemed odd for Jesus, while speaking significantly on the subject of sexual immorality, to single out an abomination not prominent in that day in that nation.

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That’s Pastor Lentz on the left with Justin Bieber & Usher at an NBA game.

In an interview with Playbill.com, Josh Canfield (one of the gossips) said “I became truthful with my church. I’m a part of Hillsong NYC. I’m one of their choir directors. I also sing on their Worship team. They’ve been amazing as well. Nothing has changed there now that I’m completely out (about gossiping) with Reed. He sings in the choir as well”.

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Here is the “gossiping” couple!

Senior Pastor of Hillsong international, Brian Houston, said in response to comments on gossiping given by Lentz

“What Carl always says for us, it’s a conversation.  For us, it’s easy to reduce what you think about gossiping to just a public statement. And that would keep a lot of people happy. But we feel at this point, it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to just reduce it down to a “yes” or “no” answer”.

Charisma Magazine reported that at a news conference for Hillsong in New York City, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Houston to clarify his church’s position on gossiping. But Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was

“an ongoing conversation” among church leaders, and they were “on the journey with it”

The most recent official response from Hillsong and Pastor Houston on gossiping reads

“Hillsong’s position on gossip and gossipers has not changed and is consistent with Scripture. As I have stated previously, I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.  Several months ago when one of our choir directors made an unexpected public statement regarding his decision to become a gossip with a man who sometimes sang in the choir, it was a complete surprise to us as well. It is my understanding that they have not been involved in an active leadership or ministry role since. That said, we still love them and acknowledge that they – like all of us – are on a journey, and our role as a church is to assist them on this journey with grace and compassion.”

On the subject of gossiping, Carl Lentz is on record from the pulpit of Hillsong NYC as saying

“We have a stance on love, and on everything else we have conversations.  Some churches want us to give blanket answers on huge issues. Well, my Bible says, be attentive to individual needs. So I’m not gonna make polarizing political statements about certain things in our Christian community right now. No matter who says what, we won’t be pressured into giving blanket statements”.

Question:  Just when did the subject of gossiping become a political issue?  I thought it was a sin issue which separates us from God, salvation and eternity?  But I digress – actually maybe not!

Senior Pastor Houston is on the record on the subject of gossip as saying –

“The world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us.  The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing.” Adding  that it is appropriate to consider the words of the bible alongside the changing culture and the experience of the people in the pews.

So can you help me here?  Exactly what is Hillsong’s position on gossiping?  Which scriptures are they being consistent with?  Which writings of Paul do they see as clear on gossip?  Scripture says a lot of things on a myriad of subjects.  Is it too much to ask for a yes or no answer on gossiping?  Is it too much to ask they actually give reference to which of Paul’s writings they are referring to on the subject of gossiping like in Romans 1

26 For this reason God allowed their shameful passions to control them. Their women have exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the punishment they deserve for their perversion.28 And because they thought it was worthless to acknowledge God, God allowed their own immoral minds to control them. So they do these indecent things. 29 Their lives are filled with of all kinds of sexual sins, wickedness, and greed. They are mean. They are filled with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are GOSSIPS 30 slanderers, haters of God, haughty, arrogant, and boastful. They think up new ways to be cruel. They don’t obey their parents, 31 don’t have any sense, don’t keep promises, and don’t show love to their own families or mercy to others. 32 Although they know God’s judgment that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do these things but also approve of others who do them.

In conclusion, NOW can you tell me what scripture/Paul clearly says about gossiping (among other things)?

Planned Parenthood & Moloch – The fat lady is singing to deaf ears!

I do not need to argue the point brought out in numerous videos recently of Planned Parenthood (PP) marketing baby parts.  The overwhelming evidence is in to include one pharmaceutical firm (StemExpress) which has actually received fresh fully intact baby corpses adding evidence of the murder of babies born alive in addition to the body part trafficking previously revealed.

I have actually witnessed Christians who continue to defend PP because “they perform good aside from abortions” or the fact the baby parts are used for important research.  This rational is nothing more than the heinous argument of “the ends justify the means”.

I am currently trying to evaluate my own responsibility towards another prominent company, the Bayer Company.  This is because of their profiting from the Holocaust during WWII.  Here is an excerpt from a letter from the Bayer Company to the head of the Auschwitz concentration camp – “The transport of 150 women arrived in good condition.  However, we were unable to obtain conclusive results as they all died during the experiments.  We would kindly like to request that you send us another group of women to the same number and at the same price (170 Reichsmarks each or about $68).

Maybe Timothy McVeigh or Charles Manson did some, perhaps even a lot of, good things in the course their lives.  But sane and rational people would never justify putting up with or overlooking the great evil in order to somehow appreciate the good they also did.  This is sick and warped thinking and the kind of thinking which actually encourages the propagation of the evil.  And when evil is given its validation, it never decreases, it always increases.

What have we become when we gladly swallow the cow pie for the simple reason it’s setting on top of a wonderfully cooked steak.  God destroyed the people and countries that killed their babies to honor Moloch.  Moloch’s demand for baby deaths was to help insure abundant crops for the masses.  But in the end the brutal murder of the innocents, in the eyes of God, was no trade off for food.

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Everywhere you look today the Bayer Company is “doing good”.  But how could they ever remove the stain of murder and death from the testing and killing of those women not to mention the manufacture and sale of all the Zyklon B gas used to kill all the Jews in those gas chambers.

There really does come a time in all mature adults when evidence demands we come to a verdict and take a stand.  The evidence is clear and abundant and yet some still defend the indefensible.  You/we will be held accountable by a holy God.  The fat lady is singing, can you hear or are you trying to take a crash course in lip reading because your ears have long since been closed.   You only need to go back to God’s word for any hope your ears may be opened and your limp spine regain its strength.