Only in America

I didn’t feel like doing another crossword on my phone. I didn’t feel like writing another poem about the weather. I caved in and scrolled through the news on my phone. Instantly I was reminded of the many reasons why I seldom read, watch, or listen to the news anymore in any form. Even if I do scroll through the news, I only look at the headlines.

Over a dozen of the headlines reported violent deaths and hate crimes here—only in America—not in rest of the world, only here in America.

Americans are no longer free. America is not divided; it is beyond divided. It is imploding from being in bondage to uncontrollable hate and violence. So, the America that was, no longer is. You think it is but it is not.

The good character traits and human values based on God’s Truth that most Americans used to embrace and emulate helped America become one of the most civilized and successful nations on earth. That is no longer true.

No God, no peace. No God, no safety. No God, no truth. No God, no love. No God, no life eternal.

Return to Normal

I was sitting outback thinking about things. One of the things I thought about was the concept or yearning of humankind to have a strong desire to “return to normal.” That is when it hit me and I realized that to return to normal is not possible.

The hope that our lives or the world will return to normal is false hope and misplaced faith.

Ever since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, original sin made it impossible to return to normal—to be holy and walk with God.

Before Adam and Eve fell from grace and sinned, their relationship with Almighty God was the eternal standard for normal. Humankind created in the image of God was holy and walked with God, in other words, Adam and Eve were in constant fellowship with God which can only happen in the absence of sin because God is Holy. Holy is God’s character. Holy is who or what he is. So, that which is holy and sin cannot occupy the same space.

After Satan deceived Eve and her husband in the Garden of Eden, they sinned by not obeying God, but rather by believing Satan’s lie that they too could be like God, meaning they could be God if they ate from the tree of Good and Evil which God prohibited them to do.

From that point in time to the present day all humanity inherits the condition of sin and at birth is not holy and separated from God. The sin condition in humankind prohibits a relationship with God because God is without sin. Remember what I said? Here is an example. Remember Moses and the Burning Bush?

As Moses approached the Burning Bush that was not being consumed by the fire, he heard God’s voice. God told Moses to take of his sandals because he was standing on Holy Ground. The sandals represent all that is not holy, all that is man-made—that which is sin and cannot be one with God.

Ever since the Fall of Man, sin made it impossible for Adam and Eve to return to normal—to be Holy and walk with God—in a full close loving relationship with God.

A relationship with God is deeper and more personal than one can imagine. God (the Father), Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit are described as God in three persons, the Trinity and all three of them were present in the Creation of the World. For all things were created by Him (Jesus) and for Him (Jesus).

You might say we are wired to seek God and a way to return to normal. God made humankind that way. The good news is that God (the Holy, Almighty one) planned to bring humankind back into relationship with himself after Satan (the Bad, the Evil one) deceived Adam and Eve.

The bad news is Satan. He is known as the Prince and Power of the Air and creates havoc on earth against God and against all who believe in God.

While God made a way for humankind to return to Him and be with Him forever (the eternal view), Satan has promoted a “return to normal” (his world view) in every generation to keep humankind in sin and separated from God which ends in death for humankind, not eternal life with God.

You see, with Satan’s world view, a “return to normal” is never a constant. Rather, Satan directs changes constantly, like shifting sand, to move the world and humanity in the direction he wants it to go, e.g., antichrist, to Hell, etc. These things are part of the “spiritual warfare” that the Apostle Paul spoke of late in the first century.

The Apostle Paul also explained simply how one might “return to normal” and walk with God by faith, as follows:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead [after Jesus died on the cross for all sin], you will be saved [receive the gift of eternal life with God]. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew or Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13 ESV; text in brackets here are mine.)

My hope for you, dear reader, and for all of humankind, as we move into the new year (with COVID so it seems) is this:

Do not hope to “return to normal” before COVID. It is impossible. There is true north and there is true normal. Return to normal by returning to God by saying the words of Paul above. Confess in the quiet of your own heart to God and you will return to normal and be with God for all eternity.

For those of us who believe in God, our return to normal is always in front of us not behind us.

God bless and Happy New Year.

Odds and Ends 2.20

I am sitting out back on the patio where I usually sit on a stack of pavers that sits next to the hose reel. I use the other short pile of pavers as a table. Just big enough for a cup of ice water and a pen or some such thing. My phone is small enough to rest on the hose reel.

With my pen in one hand and cigar in the other and steno pad on my lap, I try to put my finger on what is so odd about this day after Election Day. I am not sure there is any difference between today after this election day or the day after a hangover. Neither of them memorable or so it would seem.

Looking around, it is actually a perfect no day. No bees, no hornets, no mosquitos, no flies, no squirrels, no birds, no dogs, no cats, no people, and no election day results. But like it or not, I believe there is anxiety in the air.

So, my God, I must ask. God, I am not asking you for my pick, I am asking You for Your pick. The likes of Lincoln, FDR, Reagan are gone. (I know there are more, but I can’t think of any others who stand out at the moment.) I served twenty years in the Army to support our country. It is our duty and privilege to vote. I didn’t want our country to go down the tubes then and I don’t want our country to go down the tubes now.

It is so quiet I can hear the distant rumble and whistle of the mid-afternoon train slowly making its way through town.

Any day now we will learn who won the election and I will thank you, Lord, for the next president you have allowed to serve your purposes for America and in the world.

Closing thoughts.

For me, someday this election will be a distant memory like all the other presidential elections that preceded it. Election Days come and go. My peace in this annoying, anxious, gut wrenching election process, regardless of the outcome, is You, my God.

The presidents or leaders of countries change. But praise God, Lord, You never change—you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May God bless America.

Odds and Ends 1.20

After a few hurricanes, it was one of those rare truly beautiful days between the heat of summer and the cold of winter. I thought I would sit out back and think about stuff. Maybe even write. The neighbors’ unintelligible voices floated over the fence. The smell of K coffee and cigar smoke floated over mine.

I opted to use a steno pad and one of those cheap pens you buy twenty at a time. It didn’t take me long to realize that after all these years I still can’t read my handwriting seconds after the ink is dry.

How long has it been since I wrote anything in longhand! Makes me think back to when I bought my first typewriter. It wasn’t much different than the Army mills I used for transcription in ASA so long ago. I couldn’t afford typing paper so I bought cheap newsprint. Sometimes off white, sometimes yellow. It was in my Army years that I was introduced to prejudice and hatred firsthand as a Jew. I wasn’t trying hard to be Jewish; I was trying hard to excel as a sergeant. How did they know? Where did all this hate-for-nothing come from?

I am not pursuing the answers to those type of questions here. I just wanted you to know that I know what it is like to be hated just because. I will spare you my hundred and fifty million or so examples of such. Hate may be one reason why I have no desire to read much news today. Most news media in any form seems to be hate based or hate driven these days.

Let me clarify. On my phone almost every morning before my world is up and running I scan the news articles and seldom read anything unless it strikes me as important because I know that I am being tracked when I am on any electronic device. Well, that is the high level reason. The other reason is this. Why would I want to read articles that are filled with hate or so biased I want to throw up? How I miss my early NY Times days and newsprint on my hands! (There is no going back, Alan, focus!)

Take this morning. I saw an article headline from The Hollywood Reporter a few days ago that read: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Trump and Biden Are Irrelevant in This Election. This was the first sentence in the article:

This is the first presidential election in my lifetime in which the candidates are irrelevant. For the first time, an election is not about content of the candidates’ character, it’s about the content of the voters’ character.

It struck a nerve. So, I read the whole article. It made me question my own voting history. It made me think; it made me question a lot of things. It made me revisit a lot of things. Is something changing or is it me? Two questions came immediately to mind. “What have I done?” And, “What will I do?”

I wish I would have known this MLK Jr quote in 1973 when I was stationed in Thailand being totally hated by this Arian sergeant. I thought we both served in the same US Army. Gave me the creeps.

So, I believe it was MLK Jr who said: “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

Then, if it is “about the content of the voters’ character”, please remember that MLK Jr didn’t see the world through black and white glasses. He saw the world and people through eyes of faith. Our God is bigger than that. Our God is faithful and full of grace.

I wonder if MLK Jr would approve of the current state of our civilization and who we have become today regardless of ethnicity, religion, etc.

Thank you, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, it is about the content of our character. Our character formed in the image of God or in the absence of God, we are all still accountable before God—before and after this election.