Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joy To The World

Joy to the World, The Lord is come...Those words by Issac Watts reflect the angelic message to shepherds faithfully carrying out their menial tasks.

Joy to the World...It blares from digitally enhanced church steeples even as anxious shoppers within its sound trudge from store to store only to be confronted by short-tempered, ill-mannered, and inconsiderate shoppers and shop keepers.

Where is the “Joy” in Christmas? Everywhere one turns he hears, mumbling, grumbling, groaning, and complaining. The oft heard comment, “I just don’t have enough time,” reflects the consternation the Christmas Season brings.

I think it is time to take stock of what Christmas should be all about. It should be a time of willing self-sacrifice, not grudging dutiful drudgery. It should reflect the willing sacrifice Jesus Christ made when He left the glories of heaven to be born as a vulnerable human being during a time of poverty and political oppression, so that He could offer Himself a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Should we approach the purchase of gifts as an opportunity to express our love and appreciation of those for whom the gifts are intended, we might be less frustrated in our search. Those people with whom we deal are simply obstacles placed there by the enemy to challenge our resolve to act in Christ-like love to those who serve us in our pursuits.

The driver who swerves into the parking place ahead of you, the shopper whose self-centered dash upends your load of packages, the clerk whose aching feet and splitting headache override her normally courteous behavior, and the myriad of others you encounter are simply opportunities to demonstrate that the Angels were not wrong. They did bring good tidings of great joy, and Issac Watts is correct, we can have joy.

Joy which is dependent upon perfect external conditions is not really joy at all. Joy is an expression of an internal condition which naturally flows from an ongoing and growing personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


From "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

© 2009 Mike Rasberry

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gift of Self

As you continue searching for the perfect gift for that special person during this Christmas Season, why don’t you consider the giving a more complete “You.” While such a gift is not monetarily expensive, it is costly. Such a gift means that you choose to forego the personal pleasures to which you’ve become accustomed in order that you might be more available to the one(s) you love.

A great gift for any loved one is when you choose to put aside some habit or indulgence in order to make another’s life more full and meaningful. Several destructive habits and indulgences which steal one’s time and wreck relationships include, but are in no way limited to:
Computer Games

During the Christmas Season, that indulgence most often bringing destruction is the use of alcohol as a beverage. Misery will greet huge numbers of homes this season because of the destructive nature of alcohol and the hold it takes on men when they imbibe.

This season, purpose to give your loved ones the gift of a sober, rational, and whole person by choosing to stay away from the deadly brew.

Johnny Sanders Pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Downsville, La. Copied the following poem off the wall of Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman several years ago. The author is unknown to this writer.

The name of each saloon is bar,
The fittest of its names by far.
A bar to Heaven, a door to hell;
Whoever named it, named it well.
A bar to manliness and wealth,
A door to want and broken health.
A bar to honor, pride, and fame,
A door to grief, sin, and shame.
A bar to hopes, a bar to prayers,
A door to darkness and despair.
A bar to honored, useful life,
A door to brawling, senseless strife.
A bar to all that’s true and brave,
A door to every drunkard’s grave.
A bar to joy that home imparts,
A door to tears and aching hearts.
A bar to Heaven, a door to hell,
Whoever named it named it well.

Taken from "A Word For Living" by Mike Rasberry

© 2009 Mike Rasberry

Friday, December 04, 2009

Criteria for a Just War

A recent article in Associated Baptist Press by Bob Allen reported on a speech by Robert Parham in which he outlined five criteria for a war being “just.” I agree with some, but with some of his listed criteria, I take issue. What are your thoughts on the matter?

The first standard necessary for a “Just War,” he said is a “Just Cause.” I must agree with this standard. The use of force to protect America, her allies, her citizens, and those unable to defend themselves seems a legitimate criteria. Whether of not popular opinion considers it “Just” is not the issue. Those who stand on the side of justice often must swim upstream against the ever increasing tide of those who, when they begin to experience personal hardship abdicate their moral responsibility.

Parham lists the second standard as property authority. Again, I agree with this criteria. However, he includes the UN as such an authority. I do not believe the UN has any kind of moral authority to wage war. I do not believe in a one-world governing entity, which such authority will inevitably bring about.

The third standard which must be met according to Parham, is “last resort.” That is to say that a country should attempt to mediate through peaceful means before turning to war. I agree with this point in a limited way. The United States kept giving Japan chance upon chance to turn back from her treacherous course. Time and again, the Japanese were caught in their web of lies, yet the desire to try one more time eventually left us ill prepared for the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. There must be a firm time table with tangible positive response. In the case of overt attack as in the 9-11 assault, reaction must be swift and comprehensive.

Parham lists the fourth standard as “probability of success.” I think this is a terrible criteria for war. There can be nothing but victory in war. Anything less than the total commitment of the people to the success of the endeavor will spell eventual disaster. One man suggested that Gideon would never have gone forth with his 300 hearty men had probability of success been a criteria. George Washington’s heroic stand against the greatest military power of its day would never have gotten off Long Island if probability of success had been a consideration.

The fifth standard listed by Parham is “proportionality.” This is the most absurd of the criteria listed. Proportionality means that the nation attack with only the amount of force necessary to eke out a victory. It is the concept of “proportionality” which resulted in the loss of Korea and Vietnam. It is proportionality which has kept our troops bogged down in the Middle East for nearly nine years. When a nation goes to war, she should unleash the power necessary to bring a quick end to the conflict. Untold tens of thousands of American lives were spared by the unleashing of the Atom bomb on two Japanese Cities. Do you really believe that the last fifty years of privation suffered by the people of North Korea would have occurred if American leadership had demonstrated the resolve to unleash MacArthur on the Communist giant growing on the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese mainland.

While I regret the loss of so-called non-combatants, I doubt the existence of many such. Those in war torn areas are already involved. The Vietnamese peasants were NOT non-combatants. They either supported the Allies or the Viet Cong. I suspect that is the case in most areas. That folk can live in the midst of war without taking sides is something for the movies, but doesn’t exist in reality.

© 2009 Mike Rasberry