Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “children”

Have We Failed?

This morning I received a link to “Losing Our Religion

This past week on U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion. Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.

As I listened to the broadcast, the following Bible verse kept coming to mind.

II Thess 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

The verse depicts a departure from faith in Christ! I am struggling with this because the falling away described in the broadcast is not a falling from Christ but a rejection of religion, not just of the Christian faith but of all religion. Perhaps it is a good thing in that the hypocritical nature and apostasy of the established religions is not being ingrained into the youth of our nation. Then there is still time and a way to reach them with the true Gospel message.

This I know to be true, if our sons and daughters are not coming to faith in Christ, we, the Church, have failed them.

I believe that one who has been born again by the Spirit of God would be so led by God to bring his children into the Faith in God. That be the case then, there must be many who are members of the church, baptized by water only and hold a false profession of faith. Their children turn from the truth through false prophets who come in Christ’s name, but are preaching a false gospel.

Matthew 24:10-13 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

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Moments of Change

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

There are always moments that remain with you throughout your life. At the time they may not seem as God given but, the lesson learned becomes impressed into more than just your mind, they become indwelling. That critical event or word that changes your life and your lifestyle.

My father and mother were God fearing people, most people would call them religious. There were practices that needed to be adhered to. Go to Church, read the Bible, tithe, say grace before meals, dress appropriate, don’t shop on Sunday. Looking back, I see now it was more than only the ritual.

I was raised in Church, baptized, confirmed, the whole 9 yards ritual. At the time, it didn’t seem to stick. Basically I was the typical young man. I rebelled, dropped out. I still believed there was a God and could ‘argue’ religion with the best of atheists.
2 Timothy 3:15 – “and that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures….”

Dove

Holy Spirit shall come upon you as like a dove

Moving ahead several years. My 12 year old daughter one day asked, “Why don’t we go to church?”. Click, “a moment”. The following Sunday, we were off to church and although there were two other churches closer, we were led to one particular Church. I know now that it was God’s doing. The whole family were able to fit in perfectly. We were more than welcomed, they made us feel we belonged.

It was Pentecost Sunday 1984, that the infilling of the Holy Spirit came upon me. When the preacher laid his hands on me, I knew, the preacher knew, the whole congregation seemed to know – for me, this was “a moment”. A couple whom, I realize now, had taken me and my family on as their prayer mission, at the very moment, jumped up, praised the Lord with a loud “Hallelujah”, and scrambled over to hug us all. Prayer and praise took on a whole different meaning, -became a reality.
John 3:6-8 – “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

My life changed, my family’s lives changed. Except for one thing – my conduct outside of Church and family.

Early one morning, at Granny’s house for a family reunion, before everyone rose, just myself and my older sister’s husband who was a ‘self confirmed’ athiest, objected to something I had said the night before with, “You’re not in church now.”
My only comeback was, “I am always in Church”.
Upon those words coming out of my mouth, I knew. Another Holy Spirit “moment”. Every thing I do reflects my relationship with Christ. Everything I say is a testament to Christ in my life. I am Christian – I am Christ’s. I am no longer my own. I am an agent of God’s love and a vessel of His peace. I am in “Church” always.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 – So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”

Love and the Single Mom

Her husband lost his job as construction foreman after the building downturn 5 years prior and in the following year accepted a lower pay job with a private contractor in a small town just outside a military base. They were happy there, got to know their neighbors, attended a local church, along with their two children, they just wanted to fit in. Then the unthinkable happened when one day at work he was killed in a machinery accident. The contractor he worked for did not provide insurance coverage and after the accident, mom and children were left nearly destitute. With only social services to rely on, she was forced to leave the family home and move to a small apartment.

Social services provision not being sufficient to live on, she was forced to work part time at a local diner. Having to leave her children unattended for several hours each day while she worked, the authorities threatened to remove her children from her care. Sometime in her despair  she was offered a drug to hide the pain, she was hooked. Now in deepened desperation and in dire need for money, the woman felt the only way she could manage, was to resort to prostitution. The army base nearby provided ample customers for her illicit services. Her self worth crumbled, she became ashamed to be seen in public.

At the church she attended, she was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. The greeters at the door, although polite, did not seem welcoming anymore. She began to notice people stare in her direction. No one asked her to help out at any of the festivities in which she had participated previously when her husband was alive. No one even comes over to talk with her any more.

Her son has quit soccer and is now a victim of bullying at school. Her daughter is skipping classes and the police have picked her up twice for shop lifting. She has become exceedingly depressed.

I know this woman. I believe you know her too. She arrives just as the service starts, sits near the back of the church and leaves before the service ends. She is a single mom, one of possibly the most ostracized group in the country. To clarify; Not all single moms give in to drugs nor will many resort to prostitution but, well over half are left close to defined poverty. Almost all need help in some way. Most single moms will leave the church. Institutional counselling cannot provide the the care and attention mom and family require.

Consider:

  • The single mom is one of the fastest-growing identified groups of our population, why has the church ignored them for so long?
  • By “appearances” the perceived make-up of most churches is run by and for married couples with adequate incomes.
  • It is difficult for many single moms to ‘Break the Ice’. They feel they will be a burden and their meager contributions just cannot measure up to the standards.
  • There is a stigma attached to being a single mom. “How dare she get pregnant.” or “How dare she get a divorce.”
  • There is often a shield put up by married women to protect husbands and family from the single mom.
  • How has the condemnation of abortion without guidance and support led to the huge numbers of pregnancies ending in abortion?
  • How has the lack of adequate counsel (for both girls and boys) led to so many young girls becoming single moms.
  • How has inadequate marriage and family counselling from the church led to so many divorces?
  • How has the condemnation of divorce without concrete support led to so many single moms leaving the church?
  • Apart from seasonal support at Christmas, often through secular agencies, single moms are very much forgotten.
  • The emotional state and spiritual condition of single moms is as important, if not more so, than the food and clothing.
  • The most precious gift the church can offer a single mom and family is to be welcomed as Christ welcomes.
  • Will single moms place a burden on the church? No!
  • Will single moms use much of the resources of the church? Yes, Be glad in it!

For more information for what the church can do for single moms, type in or copy, ‘single moms and the church‘ to your search engine.

In my peruse of the internet I came across this blog entry:

Illegal Immigrants

Richard Rohr
December 18, 2011

This morning after celebrating the 8AM Mass here at Holy Family parish in Albuquerque, I had finished talking to folks in the vestibule and aisles, when I noticed one middle aged woman standing to the side weeping. I approached her and realized she could not speak English, so I invited another lady to translate her Spanish. She was holding a baby, but said she had three more under 13 at home.
Read more…

9:00 AM Christmas Morning

It is 9:00 AM Christmas morning, been up for 2 hours, fed the dog and let him out for a run, made a pot of coffee, have a short prayer time, not that much different than any other morning. Other than exchange gifts with the wife (a new pair of slippers). I suppose that is what Christmas day comes to when your retired and the children and grandchildren live an hour or so away.

We have always been a boxing day get-to-gether family ever since our children were very young. It always seemed easier to let the kids have Christmas at home and ware off some of the new toy excitement before venturing out for an hours drive to visit Granny, whos house was always full with the children of my brother and sister and their spouses. Some traditions stick. Tomorrow the house will see some activity.

I feel compelled to write something witty or thought provoking but, alas, this Christmas morning in our house is just another day. I am wondering what Christmas day is for other people. I recall the busyness of this day. After attending midnight mass and losing two hours of sleep because the kids woke up early. The excitement of children as they discovered new treasure. The constant pickup of strewn wrappings and ribbons. The phone calls to relatives, each child in turn telling granny their Christmas story. The preparation of continuous snacks and then the preparation of the feast. It definitely was a full day, punctuated with happiness, excitement and at the end, a feeling of relief it was over. Oh, no, we have to do it all over again at grannies house tomorrow.

Was it all worth the effort? An absolute and positive – YES!! Now its time to make breakfast.

Why the Violence?

This is a time when a lot of the cooler conversation will be about violence and how to combat violence. It has been pointed out that most or all of the perpetrators of mass shootings have been on medication to control their behaviors. Probably is true, I have no way of knowing so with a grain of salt, I’ll take this as fact. Many people want to point the finger at the drugs or the misuse of the drugs as being the cause that made these shooters commit their violent acts. That I have trouble with.

Before going any further, I would like to give a link to a lady with a lot of experience with coping with troubled youth and the use of drugs to control behavior. Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane. She is a saint.

One of the on-going problems facing communities is juvenile delinquency, a form of violence. In schools, the continuing topic teachers and administrators are asked to deal with is bullying, a form of violence. Since I was attending Junior High school some 60 years ago, juvenile delinquency and bullying have been ongoing problems facing society and I am sure they have been topics of discussion for hundreds of years.

Let’s face it, we are a violent society; a society that thrives on and enjoys violence and are fascinated by, intrigued by or even enamored with acts of violence. The majority of movies we watch glorifies violence. Most video games are themed around violence. Even cartoons most often use violence as the source of humor. Violence in the news gains the most viewers even to the point where broadcasters parade before us a litany of past similar events.

Why is violence perpetuated from generation to generation. One answer comes from Proverbs 22:6; “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” There are many adages on the same theme we are all familiar with. “Monkey see, monkey do.” “Children are the best imitators ” The violence continues to persist because as parents we train our children to react to violence in the same manner as we do, tolerating, exampling and demonstrating violence in most of our daily lives.

“What! I don’t teach my children to be violent!” – Oh, Really?
Do you perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus with your children? Or the Easter Bunny? Yes? You lied to them and that could very well be the starting point of violence. Lies they are told will always remain in the recesses of our children’s minds and just may effect their conceptual understanding as they mature.
How many of us have, in frustration, said to our toddler, “Pick up your toys or you can’t have…..” Yes? That is bullying.
How many of us watch violence on TV? So we do accept violence as a way of life.
For the most part our children will live through these parental foopahs and not resort to violence to solve their frustrations but, they will, in turn, perpetuate the same behaviors.

Within our society, over half the parents still resort to spanking as punishment for misbehavior. Even in Christian circles many justify their actions by quoting the non-Biblical adage, “Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child”. The phrase is a twist on Proverbs 13:24; “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The rod is the symbol of authority and the discipline is a command to parents to have diligence to instruct. What the Bible is saying is that it is the duty of the parent to rightly train up the child.

It is this gradual accumulation of knowledge which children pick up from a very young age which has an impact on development which forms their social skills and character.

In the wake of the latest school shootings, a horrified and disgusted society is depending on respective governments to enact legislation which will curb these senseless acts of violence. President Obama hopes to develop new strategies to tighten gun laws and has asked VP Biden to head a task force on the causes of gun violence. As though it is the guns that are the cause. Perhaps some minor improvements will take place. But, until there is a positive change in the culture of society, a positive change in the way society in general nurtures our children, violence and the resulting tragedies will continue.

Culture of Violence

My sincere condolences go out to the parents of the children who were killed and the families of the teachers and the families of the surviving children who were subjected to this traumatizing development at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is impossible to make any sense of this tragedy or or any of the other school shootings that have taken place not only in the US but here in Canada as well.

In response to the Connecticut elementary school shootings, many people in both the USA and Canada will call on the politicians to enact legislation that will hopefully curb this kind of meaningless homicide  The debate will center on gun control and politicians will recite over and over the time worn rhetoric and talking points on both sides of the conversation. The news media will regurgitate all the past mass shootings as though that will in some fashion help in the debate and interview scores of experts giving their own mostly biased opinions. There-in lies the main problem, talk, bias and politics and the underlying motives of greed and self-importance.

The conversation must include the root causes of the culture of violence that permeates within our society.

Violence is the intentional use of force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or against a group or community and can be physical, verbal or neglect and discrimination, or acts of omission, and includes obvious acts of commission by the over-use and misuse of the power of office. Violence does not necessarily need to result in injury or death, but by actions and in-actions that nonetheless pose substantial burdens on individuals, families, communities and public institutions.

We can no longer ignore the fact that violence is ever increasing especially violence against women and children, the underprivileged and impoveraged. We live in a culture of violence. Violence has become by example how problems are solved and it starts at the top with our leaders, those we elected to public office. Demeaning the opposition is violence. Closed door politics is violence. Lying is a form of violence. Deceit is a form of violence. Failure to provide is a form of violence. When our elected officials resort to violence to further their own political agendas it only follows that the public perpetuate the example.

Unless our politicians of every stripe can place their personal politics aside and join together to solve the the problems facing our country, nothing meaningful will be decided. Both, in the United States of America and in Canada, our governing bodies must divorce themselves of party politics and work in unison to solve, not only these acts of violence, but, the fiscal, economic, environmental, industrial, discrimination and a host of pressing matters facing our nations. It is this political attitude, attitude of violence, of bullying, of combativeness that permeates the legislatures and hence, by their example, the cultures of the people of our nations and that, consequently, helps promote the feelings that lead to unrest, hopelessness, and uncaring behaviors. Behaviors that can lead some to the more heinous forms violence.

I am not saying that these acts of violence are the direct fault of politicians, but they are not helping, they are not acting as leaders. Our leaders need to lead. Our elected members need to show that they actually care about the country and bring an end to the politics of greed and self-importance, self-interest. As long as there is unemployment, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there are working poor, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there are children who are disadvantaged by education, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as people are not receiving the medical assistance they require, politicians are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there is homelessness, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as politicians give more ear to lobby groups over their constituents, they are not doing the job they were elected to do.

And it all stems from greed and self importance. There is only so much resource in this country from which to do what is required. The resource belongs to the Nation as a whole and as a whole the nation must benefit fairly. If corporations must take less profit, so be it. If unions must pull back their wage and benefits  so be it. If the rich need to pay more tax, then pay more tax. If the unemployed need take a less paying job – do so. The only way to security as a nation is to set aside the political bias of greed and egos and work together to reach the truth of being beneficial for all not just cater to a particular voting group. It is not a matter of reaching compromise, it is a matter of arriving at and enacting to the truth.

Minimum Wages

Recently, the Government of Alberta launched a study called; Speak. Share. Thrive. in which they want the public to discuss the guiding principles of the Social Policy Framework, especially at this relates to Early Learning and Child Care.  Alberta has the highest “Cost of Living” across Canada and Alberta enjoys the highest take home pay average in Canada and yet has the lowest minimum wage of all provinces. How does this relate to the Social Policy Framework of Alberta?

We can not look at the social and economic factors surrounding minimum wages without regard to the effect on children in families living at or below the poverty line in any society or province. The economic conditions in which they grow and develope are not of their making and yet they are hindered by economic circumstance in: social and cultural adaptation, education, opportunity, sport, and health. All these factors lead to social problems which they will have to meet and overcome as the reach maturity. Empirical evidence shows that most if not near all remain in the lower spectrum of the economic scale. Economics are only part of the hurdle facing children in low income families but, it is a major part and needs to be addressed. Minimum wage levels do play an important role in the economics of low income families.

Questions pertaining to minimum wage.

  • What is the social responsibility of a government to set minimum wages at a liveable rate?
  • Do families struggling to get by on low paying jobs place a greater burden on social services?
  • Will the burden to social services be eased by raising the minimum wage?
  • Does raising the minimum wage increase inflation?
  • Do companies have an obligation to pay a liveable wage to all their employees?
  • Does raising the minimum wage lower a companies profits?
  • How does raising prices to compensate for higher minimum wages effect the community/province as a whole?
  • Should the minimum wage be set by indexing to the Consumer Price Index?
  • Does providing free child care services or other benefits for minimum wage earners justify a lower minimum wage?
  • Do students require a higher minimum wage in order to help pay for schooling?
  • Should some sectors of the work force be regulated at a lower minimum wage? ie. farm workers? restaurant workers? child care workers? homes for elderly workers? semi-retired workers? students? temporary foreign workers?
  • Do employees who collect gratuities (tips) require the same minimum wage as employees who don’t?
  • Is it discrimination to set a lower minimum wage for servers who receive gratuities?
  • Is it proper for restaurants to include a gratuity as part of the bill?
  • Does an employee working a secondary income to a well paid primary job holder require a sustainable living wage?
  • How could the labor laws differentiate between those on secondary income and those who need a decent wage to provide for the family?
  • Would it be fair to increase taxes for secondary income employees in an effort to make secondary incomes at the lower wage end mostly not worth holding the job and therefore provide greater opportunity for single earner families?
  • If minimum wage is increased, should the requirements for social security and remaining on employment insurance be strengthened?

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