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A Short Series: Making A Difference

In this short series of blog posts we will look at some very simple ways to affirm the dignity of the people we meet…

see credits below

Introduction

We have come to expect that it will take a significant investment of money, time, energy, focus, relationships, and the like if we ever hope to accomplish something significant with our lives.

But just suppose that one worthy goal for our life may not actually be so very costly at all. I’m thinking of something that anyone can do if they so will. I’m thinking of something that can be quite profound, precisely because we can touch so very many people. But what I am thinking about will, almost certainly produce an intriguing ROI (return on investment.) Our investment will be really very small; the potential return enormous.

I must confess, what I’m thinking about won’t earn anyone a Nobel Prize, a worldwide reputation, nor a career position with an over-the-top salary. However, it is something that can make a difference, a little at a time, a person at a time; even though we may never be able to actually see tangible results.

But first, I’d like to think that we can all agree that a significant percentage of the people with whom we  daily come into contact are feeling beat-up, let down, passed over, or trodden under. Life is hard. We are fallen people, living among fallen people, in a fallen world. We see the results everywhere. It is a reality which touches us all. The truth is that we are all both the victims and the victimizer in this tragic state of affairs.

If that is true, then it also means  that  we have many opportunities each and every day to impact a person, or two, or three, in a meaningful way; in a way in which they may be encouraged or lifted up, for just a few moments, for the rest of the day, or maybe, on rare occasion, for the rest of their life.

Imagine then, being a soldier in an army of people who are committed to honoring the God designed and declared dignity of all human beings, all other human beings, wherever we find them. Now then, if that were only true, we could dare to be overtaken by a vision where those seconds, and those days, begin to really add up.

What I’m talking about is blessing people, any people, and doing so just by treating them with respect in the moment. I’m thinking that our every encounter, no matter how brief, as a divinely opportunistic encounter.

In this short series of blog posts we will look at some very simple ways to affirm the dignity of the people we meet, perhaps making a difference for that moment, or maybe for that day, or perhaps even for the duration of that life.

And in my worldview, this is ultimately done for the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Credits for above photos:

  1. little girl: Photo by Singkham from Pexels
  2. young girl: Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
  3. old women: Photo by Pixalbay from Pexels

Next in Series: Topic 1

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Yet Another Blog

Why have I started to blog? There are probably several reasons. But I fear that I’m not self-aware enough to know which of these reasons has primacy for me.

(Apri 29, 2020 – revised for actual blog launch)

A “Johnny Come Lately” – that’s how I see myself.

It takes either a certain kind of arrogance or naivety to start a blog at this relatively late stage in the development of the internet. There are more blogs on virtually every topic or category of human concern than an interested individual can possibly imagine, let alone actually read. So why write a blog that isn’t really needed and probably won’t be widely read.

I can think of several reasons for a person to start a blog:

  1. Financial: wealth – change our financial outlook. Let’s face it; most people who start a blog, just like most people who post a video on YouTube, secretly hope that their blog will catch fire and change their fortunes, either financial or reputational. Most new bloggers probably keep such hopes secret because they know that the vast majority of bloggers make little or no money for their effort. It would be embarrassing to admit the hope of being able to quit one’s full-time job to blog only to fail to do so.
  2. Personal: growth – change our personal self. Perhaps we hope to fulfill some inner need or to effect personal development through the discipline of blogging. Blogging may be a great avenue for such goals for many. Growing as a writer, thinker, or influencer could certainly be enhanced by blogging.
  3. Social: influence – change people; their minds, their lives, their hearts. Most people possess a confidence that they are correct about the important matters of life, be they theological, political, interpersonal, social, etc., and that just about everyone else is wrong. So why not use the internet to bring others to the truth. Never before has the average Joe or Jane, with only a “computerish” device and an internet connection had potential access to a near worldwide audience. After all, this type of soapboxing is so much less risky than standing on the public square with a portable microphone.
  4. Instructional: help – give some real-life, practical advice and instruction. I’m personally grateful for the web sites that have given detailed instruction on things like replacing a toilet, refinishing a desk, or selecting the best flowers and plants for specific geographical environs.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but these are the ones that come to mind.

So what about me? Why have I started to blog? There are probably several reasons. But  I fear that I’m not self-aware enough to know which of these reasons has primacy for me. But here is a list, not in any particular order:

  1. I’ve been encouraged by my family to write a blog. They seem to feel that since I’ve left the pastorate, I’ve needed, even longed for, an outlet for my pastoral and teaching passions and, they would say, gifts.
  2. I would like to write and I’ve been told the best way to learn to write is to write, only slightly ahead of reading.
  3. I’d like to be a part of a conversation, which strictly seeks to avoid the nasty tone of conversation today, be it political, social, or religious. I want to foster conversation between people who see important issues differently, but without the vilification, anger, and disrespect which is rampant on the internet today, as well as in the press, in Washington, and in the public square.
  4. Within the parameters suggested by #3 (above), I would like to influence others to think about the issues of the day from a Judeo-Christian / reformed Christian / Biblical point of view. I honestly believe that the Bible, and the biblical/Christian thinking that it engenders, has answers for today which would be helpful to so many people as well as to our culture.
  5. I want to become well off and well known. I’m pretty sure that this is well below 5% of my motivation, but I can’t deny that the thought has crossed my mind that I could make it a little easier to retire if I made even a little money by blogging. Rest assured, I’m not putting any of my eggs in this basket so far as my retirement planning is concerned, but speaking of self-awareness…

So Why Read My Blog

If someone stumbles upon this blog, they must decide if they’d ever want to come back to read it additional posts. I would suggest that they should do so if:

  • they found some ideas they want to think about and interact with,
  • they want to comment about those ideas in a safe environment; that is where the blogger won’t disrespect the commenter or his comments,
  • they care that the comments will only be managed to make sure that a respectful, civil conversation is maintained.

So I’ve been playing around with this for 3 years. I even accidentally published it in 2016 without even one completed blog post. But now I’ve decided to give it a go.

If you happen to read this, come back in a few days and see if you find any reason to read on. If you have read this post from beginning to end. Thanks. I appreciate it.

This is my second blog post; the first from two days ago in which I wondered out loud about COVID-19 and our national response, or responses.

 

Credit: Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels (a vintage typewritter)

 

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Risks and Benefits: Everyone’s Concern

Now, what keeps sticking in my craw is the idea that our leaders don’t trust us to be able to think in terms of risks/benefits in analyzing what the next steps should be and what first steps should have been.

For my first post to this new blog, I’ve chosen the subject of our national response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been uneasy about the handling of this crisis from the very beginning, but there is so much that is unknown, and so much of what is known that is difficult to understand. And that is complicated by the fact that experts abound who will tell us what is happening and how we should, even must, respond. And who am I to question the experts.

But right-minded skepticism can be healthy in the public arena when so much is at stake; specifically, the lives of so many citizens, especially the elderly and physically vulnerable, the economic wellbeing of an entire nation and world, the liberties our forefathers wrote into the constitution and too many thousands of our brave have died to defend, the retirement incomes, not of the rich, but of the middle class, the jobs of millions, many of whom go paycheck to paycheck even in the good economy that preceded the coronavirus and was stolen by it, and so much more.

To complicate matters even more, as a follower of JesusChrist I am compelled, as much as is possible, to consider even this issue from the perspective of a Christian Worldview, and in light of my commitment to Jesus as Lord. That said, often it is not as easily done as it is said. 

So, my thoughts and concerns regarding the past 6 weeks find partial expression in this post. 

I should say upfront that I have determined that the correct action for me as a Christian at this current moment, given our circumstances and the limited amount of knowledge that I have, is to obey the civil authorities; first, because they are the civil authorities and there is a biblical mandate to do so, and second because I am not sure that another course of action is better. 

But I must admit that I have a lot of concerns and questions about the way it has been handled from the word go; and I’m hoping there is a rigorous discussion, if not now, then after the current threat has passed. My biggest complaint so far is that this discussion is just now getting started; at least in the public’s hearing. I have been relieved to finally begin seeing in print and hearing over the airwaves, some critical thinking about the actions that have been taken.

Additionally, the presumption that the number of lives saved, in this moment, is not only the most important consideration, but the only consideration. I realize that for a Christian to question this presumption seems counter-intuitive and in a later post I would like to address that issue more directly; suffice it to say that i do question that presumption which trumps all other considerations.

I heard Governor Cuomo say, and please know I respect how he has handled the crisis for New Yorkers, that if his restrictions save just one life then they, i.e. his imposed restrictions, are worth it. Now I believe he means that in some sort of way; but I also believe he is smart enough to know that that isn’t strictly true. For if the saving of even one life was the exclusive concern for his role as Governor he would immediately lower the speed limit on all highways to below 40 miles per hour. Doing so would save thousands of lives each year in our country and hundreds in his state. Over the years those lives mount up. I appreciate a cars.com article from a year ago which poses the reality of such things with this article title, “Higher Speed Limits or Fewer Deaths? The Choice Is Yours, Study Shows.” Hmm! The choice is ours; provocative thought.  My son, Andy, knowing my concerns in this regard, referred me to a recent article in the New York Sun, by Edward Lampert, which makes the same point and that much better than I would be able to. 

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