To What Do You Pledge Allegiance?

I try to stay away from political posts because my goal for this blog was to encourage, and maybe make someone smile.

However, our current political scene is so chaotic, and our politicians are contributing, not to unity, but division. What makes me sad is to see the church trading its beliefs to gain political power. So when I read this today in my study, I must share it.

These are not my words. The following is taken from the book “The New Testament in Its World” by N.T. Wright.

When Paul says that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) he is emphasizing that the Messiah, who reigns in heaven, and who will one day return from heaven, is the object of our hope and loyalty. There was nothing wrong with being a citizen of Rome, just as there is nothing wrong with being a British or an American citizen. But when the gospel of Jesus is unveiled it reveals the true empire, the true citizenship, the true lord and in that light all the pretensions of empire, not least the arrogant and blasphemous claims of the emperor himself, or the propaganda of power-hungry presidents, are exposed as folly. The church’s vocation is not to bless the power, policies, and pantheon of civic leaders, but to measure them by the standard of Christ, to pursue the things that make for peace and justice, and to proclaim that all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. The church was never intended to be the religious department of any empire, but always to be building for the true kingdom, setting up an embassy for the one true lord, living lives according to his symbols, his teaching, his story and no other. If that means suffering, that will mean following the pattern of the Messiah, and confidently expecting his rescue and reward. The church’s loyalty cannot be auctioned off to those who promise it political influence; not can its core convictions be pummeled into submission to fit the reigning zeitgeist. For citizens of heaven, the gospel should be declared, not domesticated.

Friday’s List of Quotes – from our Founding Fathers

As election time draws near, I often wonder what the founders of our nation would think about the people we have become.

  1. The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God….Thomas Jefferson (This from a man who went through his Bible and cut out all the things he did not agree with. )
  2. We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalianable rights; that among these are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness….Thomas Jefferson (All men – not women. And while saying all men, he continued to hold black men and women as slaves.)
  3. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased as the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!….Patrick Henry (How ironic. Give me liberty or give me death and talk of slavery while he owned slaves and would deny them the right to declare – give me liberty or give me death.)
  4. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever….Thomas Jefferson
  5. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society…..George Washington
  6. And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together. …James Madison
  7. We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States…..George Washington
  8. No sooner has one party discovered or invented an amelioration of the condition of man or the order of society, than the opposite party belies it, misrepresents it, ridicules it, insults it and persecutes it….John Adams
  9. Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths … A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking….James Madison, Federalist Papers No. 10.
  10. Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos….John Marshall

Righteous Laws Do Not Make a Nation Righteous

I posted this a couple of years ago – but as we head into another election season and as the rhetoric again heats up as to our need to be a “Christian” nation, I thought I would share it again.

Grandma's Ramblings

For many weeks this post has been on my mind.  I have hesitated in writing it because the last thing I want is to offend anyone or cause more divisiveness than we already have in our nation.

But as the past few days have become so bad with clashes between different factions in our nation, I feel I must share what is in my heart.

First, a disclaimer here:  I am not pro-Trump or never-Trump.  I am not here to promote any political party.  I am also not here to even promote the Christian faith.  If you are Muslim, Jewish or atheist I am not speaking to you.  My words are to those who, like me, call themselves Christian.

When Trump ran for president he was strongly embraced by many in the evangelical world.  One of the main reasons for their support was that Trump promised to promote Christian principles…

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I Have My Rights!

Probably no country in the world has been more adamant about the rights of its citizens and the role of government in maintaining those rights. When the U.S. Constitution was written, three delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not sign it because it lacked a bill of rights.

Created in 1787 the Constitution became the official foundation of the USA in 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state out of the 13 to ratify it. Many states agreed to ratify it with the understanding that a bill of rights would be quickly added.

In 1789, 19 amendments were submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. James Madison is given credit for writing them although it is believed others, including George Mason, who had refused to sign the Constitution without a bill of rights, had given input. Seventeen of the 19 amendments were approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The Senate approved 12 of them and in December 1791 the states had ratified ten of them.

Throughout the history of our country these amendments and the rights they gave have been debated and challenged in our courts. Today it is the Second Amendment that has produced so much disagreement and arguing.

The point of this post is not to argue for or against exactly what that amendment meant in regards to our right to possess guns.

But what distrurbs me is the role many evangelical leaders are taking in pushing an agenda of the “rights” of Christians. Many have been very hostile in speaking against those who do not agree with the “Christian” point of view. Sadly they seem to feel that their viewpoint is the “Christian” viewpoint and anyone who opposes that is clearly not a Christian.

The contrast between this militant voice of many evangelicals and the voice of Jesus shows that the Christian “right” has lost its Biblical connection.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus said we need to become a servant. To be a follower of Jesus does not mean you have no rights. It means you give up your rights freely in order to bless and help someone else.

Hear how Jesus was described:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”

Although Jesus had a “right” to be treated like royalty he gave up that right and make himself “like a slave.” In doing so He modeled exactly what He meant when He said “If any man desires to be first, let him be last and servant of all.”

Jesus ministered in a country that was under the rule of another nation, the Roman Empire. There was much that was unjust in that time. But Jesus said nothing about trying to change the political scene. He said his kingdom was not of this world. He had a plan that was much bigger and greater than any government, any nation, any political party.

The issues we as Christians face in our country today do need to be faced and legislated and thank God because we have rights, we have the right to express ourselves. But we must not invest so much of our time and energy in trying to make our nation Christian by trying to force our beliefs on others that we fail to introduce them to a different kind of kingdom, one based on the love of God. (Laws may change behavior, but they will never change hearts.)

“Passing laws to enforce morality serves a necessary function, to dam up evil, but it never solves human problems. If a century from now all that historians can say about evangelicals of the 1990’s is that they stood for family values, then we will have failed the mission Jesus gave us to accomplish; to communicate God’s reconciling love to sinners….Jesus did not say ‘All men will know you are my disciples…if you just pass laws, suppress immorality and restore decency to family and government,’ but rather ‘if you love one another.’ “

He made that statement the night before His death, a night when human power, represented by the might of Rome and the full force of Jewish religious authorities, collided head-on with God’s power. All his life, Jesus had been involved in a form of “culture wars” against a rigid religious establishment and a pagan empire, yet he responded by giving his life for those who opposed him. On the cross, he forgave them. He had come, above all, to demonstrate love: “for God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son…”

Philip Yancey in his book “the jesus I never knew.” i highly recommend this book

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Who’s Your Authority?

Heard a great sermon today on the principle of authority and respect. Pastor mentioned three sources of authority we can choose.

  • Our own authority. We can say “No one is going to tell me what to do. I am going to do what I want. I have my rights”
  • Other’s authority. We can decide to do what everyone else is doing, what is popular, what our crowd believes.
  • God’s authority. We can choose to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Hmm. You mean things like “pray for those who persecute you” or how about “But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, ‘Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell.”

Or, how about A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as they had their last meal together just before He went to the cross. He said it was a new commandment. Yet He had told them before that they should love others. He had said that all the Law and the Prophets could be summed up in two commandments: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

What was new about this commandment?

It appears to me that Jesus was giving us a standard by which we could judge how we love our neighbor. It was more than just how we love our self. It was as He has loved us.

As we listen to the social and political world right now, we see little of love and kindness. But what disturbs me is that many of our evangelical Christian leaders are as guilty as non-believers in this battle of words.

Following the authority of Jesus is not easy. I am afraid I have failed a lot on that one. My prayer today is that God will help me put a watch on my tongue.

And I pray that those who claim to speak for the church will also return to following Jesus rather than following the example of the rest of society.

First Woman in Congress

Hard to believe that it has been less than 100 years since women were granted the right to vote. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920, granting women the full rights of citizenship.

What is ironic is that four years before women were granted the right to vote, a woman had already been elected to the United States Congress. Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress. While most of the USA did not allow women to vote until this amendment was ratified, some states had permitted voting by women.

Montana granted women the right to vote in 1914 and they soon elected Rankin to represent them in Congress. Rankin declared “I may be the first woman in Congress, but I won’t be the last.

She was right. Today there are 24 women in the Senate (24%) and 121 (27.8) in the House of Representatives.

While in Congress, Rankin proposed the formation of a Committee on Woman Suffrage, of which she was appointed leader. After WWI ended and her committee had issued a report for a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote, she asked the congressmen:

“How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?” 

While serving her first term in Congress, she voted, along with 49 men, to not enter World War I. After serving two years in Congress, she did not run to be elected for another term. Some historians believe her vote against the war led her to realize she could not get reelected. Her brother, Wellington Rankin, who was a prominent Republican in Montana, advised her not to run. He said “I knew she couldn’t be elected again if she did vote against the war. I didn’t want to see her destroy herself.” Many of the suffragists leaders felt she betrayed their cause by her vote.

Although she opposed the war, once we entered the battle, she voted for war-time appropriations to fund the troops and supported the government taking over the mines to gain resources for the war effort.

After leaving Congress, she continued to be active working for pacifism and social welfare issues. She worked for better health care for women and children. She became a speaker for the National Council for the Prevention of War and attended the Women’s International Conference for Peace held in Switzerland. She purchased a small farm in Georgia that had no electricity or plumbing and worked with others in the state to organize a study group on antiwar foreign policy. This group eventually became the Georgia Peace Society.

In 1940, at age 60, she returned to her home state of Montana and ran again for Congress. This time she was not alone – there were six other women in Congress.

After America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. When the House opened debate on the resolution, Rankin tried to speak. Speaker Sam Rayburn declared her out of order and members of the House began calling for her to be silent. Members pressured her to vote for the war or abstain. She refused to do either. She said “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.” She was the only vote against the war.

After the vote she huddled in a phone booth in the Republican cloak room until security could escort her to her office. She did not run for reelection but she said “I have nothing left but my integrity.”

Leaving Congress, Rankin spent time on her ranch in Montana and her cabin in Georgia. She continued her stand against war leading a 5,000 person protest march on Washingtn in 1968 where she offered a peace petition to House Speaker John McCormack.

The House honored her on her 90th birthday with a reception and dinner. In 1972 she was named the “World’s Outstanding Living Feminist” by the National Organization for Women.

When she died in 1974 she was thinking of running again for the House so she could protest the Vietnam War. Today there is a statute of Rankin in the Montana State House.

From Jefferson Davis to Hiram Revels

If you have ever studied American history you have probably heard of Jefferson Davis. He was the president of the Confederate States after they seceded from the United States in 1860 following the election of Abraham Lincoln. Many would have you believe the southern states left the union over the issue of state rights.

However, if you read the statements of Jefferson Davis, it is clear that slavery was the true cause of the conflict.

  • “If slavery be a sin, it is not yours. It does not rest on your action for its origin, on your consent for its existence. It is a common law right to property in the service of man; its origin was Divine decree.”
  • “African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing.”
  • My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses…We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him – our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude…You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.
  • It was one of the compromises of the Constitution that the slave property in the Southern States should be recognized as property throughout the United States.

The whole question was: Can a person be someone’s property? Davis argued that the Constitution recognized the right of protection of someone’s property. To him, the black man/woman were only property and therefore the Constitution’s promise that “every man is created equal” did not apply to them.

Of course, when the Civil War began, Jefferson Davis resigned his position in the United States Congress. Interesting that when the war was over and Mississippi was back in the Union, a black man was seated in Congress.

At that point representatives were not elected by the public, but rather by the state legislature. When the Republican dominated state legislature nominated Hiram Revels to fill one of the two seats, the minority Democrats agreed to the deal hoping this would “seriously damage the Republican party.”

Revels was never a slave. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1827 his father was a free man and his mother was of Scottish ancestry. Although educating black children was illegal in North Carolina, Revels was able to receive an elementary education from a free black woman and later moved north to complete his education. After attending Beech Grove Quaker Seminary in Indiana and the Darke County Seminary in Ohio, he was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was able to attend Knox College in Galesburg Illinois on a scholarship and graduated with a degree in divinity and theology.. Revels preached throughout several states inclulding Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. While preaching in Missouri he was imprisoned for a brief time in 1854 “for preaching to negroes.”

During the Civil War he helped recruit two black regiments and served as a chaplain for a black regiment at both Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi.

When Congress met to certify Revel’s place in Congress, some tried to deny him that position because of the 1857 Dred Scott decision which said no African American could be a citizen. When the 14th Amendment was ratified by the states making anyone born in the USA a citizen, they then tried to deny him by saying he did not meet the nine-year citizenship requirement. However, the 15th Amendment, which passed just days before Revel was sworn in, stated that no one could be denied to vote or hold office on “account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The abolitionist Wendell Phillips called him “The Fifteenth Amendment in flesh and blood.”

Revels served on the Committee of Education and Labor and the District of Columbia Committee. He pushed for integrating the schools iin the District of Columbia and fought against the banning of African-American mechanics from working at the Washington Navy Yard.

Upon leaving Congress, he served as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University). He also served briefly as Mississippi Secretary of State. Teaching theology at Shaw College, he also served on the Board of Trustees. He returned to his roots as pastor and died at a church meeting in Mississippi in 1901 at the age of 73.

I’m Not a Racist – or Am I?

There is so much talk today about being racist. Many are quick to call others by that name while as many as quick to insist they are not racist and that they are tired of people using the “race card.”

While I have never been called a racist (at least as far as I know) and I would say I was not a racist, I still took a look at what the dictionary said a racist is.

According to Webster’s dictionary a racist is someone who holds “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

A more complete definition lists: “Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different ethnicity. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.”

Using that definition I think I can honestly say I am not a racist. I have never believed that one group of people is inherently superior to another.

But using that definition I must say that I was raised by a generation who were clearly racist. Let me say that my parents and my aunts and uncles were good people that I loved and respected. I don’t believe they realized how racist they were. But looking back at that generation I see it is so clear that prejudices have been passed down from generation to generation. Only within the last few years have many been able to recognize this and to work to break that terrible cycle of beliefs.

As a young adult I had many arguments with my father who insisted that black people’s brains were not as big as white people’s brains. He also had other beliefs about physical differences that I will not even mention here.

For years I thought my father was just a country boy who came up with some crazy ideas. It is only as I have begun to research and read the history of black/white relations in our country that I have discovered this was not some crazy ideas of one man. This was what he had been taught along with many of his generation.

And that terrible lie has been a part of our history going back even before our country was established.

As our country was founded and began growing, there were many physicians and scientists who advocated that there was a difference between the “pure” race (white) and Africans and Native Americans.

One was Dr. Charles Caldwell. Dr. Caldwell visited the Musee de Phrenologie in Paris where he studied a collection of skulls taken from people from all the world. After his study, he determined that the skulls of African people show that they had a “tamableness” that not only made them perfect for slaves, but actually required them to have a “master.” This belief which was shared throughout our nation served to contribute to the belief that slavery was an acceptable part of nature. It contributed to the idea that whites were superior.

Another was Samuel George Morton. Morton’s collection of skulls is today part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and is one of the most famous collections of human skulls in the entire world.

Morton published a book in 1839. In “Crania Americana” he described five “separate species.

(Excerpt from “Crania Americana” showing the supposed differences between the skulls of different races. Morton claimed similarities between the skulls of primates and African people.)

They were (in descending order) Caucasian, Mongolian, Malay, Native America and Negro. He wrote that these differences were dictated by God. He concluded that Native American minds were “adverse to cultivation, slow in acquiring knowledge.” His book was very popular in America and many believe this was used to justify removing Native Americans from their homeland and taking the land for white settlers.

His book became popular in Britain, France, Germany, Russia and India. Charles Darwin called him an “authority” on the subject of race. Others applauded his work and many in European countries began to also publish such ideas.

You might think the abolitionist would not have bought into this thinking. But many of the renowned abolitionists also believed this. The apparent “tambleness” of the blacks served two purposes. One, it could reassure that if the slaves were set free, they would not take revenge on their masters. Two, if they were naturally weaker and inferior to whites, society had an obligation to help them, not enslave them.

While I am sure today almost anyone would say these studies were ridiculous, I believe that this thinking has been passed down generation after generation.

My parents did not dislike blacks. I saw them often be kind and friendly with blacks we came into contact with at church services. However, without really stopping to think, they had been indoctrinated with that thought that somehow we as whites were superior to blacks. It was an almost unconscious thing – as natural as breathing in and out.

I am not a racist and in tracing my ancestry as far back as I have been able, I find no record of anyone owning slaves. But if I remain silent when I hear or see others making comments that are racist because I am afraid of losing friends, then what does that make me?

Examples of things I have heard from others:

One pastor friend said “We did blacks a favor by taking them from the jungles of Africa.”

One family member moved from one mobile home park to another because a black family moved in across from them and asked me “Would you like living next to a black family?” My response was that I did have black neighbors and they were some of the best in our community.

One family member, when hearing that my husband had found that one of his ancestors was a slave from Ghana said, “Well, that explains a lot of things.” Was she just trying to be funny? Maybe – but still – that is not funny.

Finally, while I do not agree with most of the items on the BLM agenda and I am not in favor of rioting and destroying, I have found it interesting to see the anger of many of my white friends over the restrictions or loss of rights they have experienced with this Covid crisis.

For over a year now we have been told we cannot gather in large groups, many of our sports, our schools, even our churches have been shut down. We have been denied entry to most retail stores unless we wear a mask. And the anger is real. And the anger is right.

But – I have to ask:

If we get so angry for some loss of freedom for almost two years, how can we not see that the history of not only loss of freedom, but loss of life, not for two years but for hundred of years might lead to anger.

And, if you really want to know the history that our black friends know (passed down from grandparents) I recommend the following books:

  • Red Summer, the Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America by Cameron McWhirter
  • Forever Free, the Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction by Eric Foner
  • Wilmington’s Lie, the Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino
  • Life of a Klansman, A Family History of White Supremacy by Edward Ball

We can say we are not racists and we never owned slaves or we can begin to read and research our nation’s history and try to understand where our black friends and neighbors are coming from.

Are You Watching Television or is Television Watching You?

This past year has been so crazy! And the TV news channels I think have only added to the confusion and division.

Depending on whether you watch CNN or FOX News you usually get a different take on the same story. One evening I just flipped back and forth between the two and I could not believe as I listened to their coverage that they were talking about the same event.

Reporting both sides of an issue and then letting the listener decide what to believe seems to be a thing of the past.

Reflecting on this I recently was given a book to read called “How to Watch TV News.” Written by Neil Postman and Steve Powers several years ago (published in 1992) it was amazing how much the book speaks to our situation in 2021.

The authors share that America is suffering from an information glut. They ask a good question: “Are you watching television or is television watching you?” They point out that the news channel make their money by selling time for commercials. Their purpose is to make money – not report news. Accordingly, they spend a fortune determining what the public likes and does not like.

The book asks a great question: What is news? What makes an event worthy of prime time coverage? Recently Tiger Woods was in a automobile accident. For several days the accident was discussed at great length. What was the cause? How long would he be in the hospital? Would he be able to play golf again? Over and over pictures of his vehicle were shown.

Now I’m not saying that it was not a terrible thing that he was injured. But how many other people were in accidents that day? How many other lives were changed or made more difficult? What made Tiger Woods’ accidents “news?”

The journalist reporting the news will naturally view what is important and what is not important through their own viewpoint. Also, what they can and must report will be determined most of the time, not by them, but by the executives running the network. They will want to report the things they believe their audience wants to hear so that they will keep watching and the network can keep making profits from the revenue received from commercials.

According to Kelly Main of Fit Small Business:

  • The average TV ad costs $115,000 for a 30-second commercial on a national network.
  • TV advertising spending in North America amounted to 62.9 billion in 2020.
  • AMC’s “The Walking Dead” averaged $400,00 per 30 second spot.

Ask yourself: Why is the news mainly about “bad” things? Murders, fires, rapes, riots, unemployment figures, arguments in Congress. Why are there few news stories about the latest novel that has been written, a new symphony recently composed, research being done to cure cancer or other diseases?

The authors of this book suggest one reason is these events make poor television news because there is little to show about them. People watch television. They want to see active, exciting, intriguing pictures.

News executives have found people say they want the latest news presented by people “I can trust and respect.” Accordingly, they spend a lot of money to make their news anchors come across as good-looking, likable people. They work to build up the reputations of their anchors, spend money on makeup and clothing to give them a pleasing appearance. (When was the last time you saw a news anchor who was overweight, and not good-looking?)

My friends on the right side of the political debate love to watch Tucker Carlson. They believe he has the interests of the working class, patriotic Americans. However, he makes $6 million dollars a year from Fox and is believed to be worth $30 million. Of course, if he can share news from a viewpoint that the right wants to hear, he is assured to keep raking in his big salary. How can he impartially share news when his comfortable lifestyle depends on keeping his ratings up?

My friends on the left side of the political debate love to watch Don Lemon. They believe he speaks for the poor and the minorities in our country. However, he makes $4 million a year from CNN and is believed to be worth $12 million. So he too is going to share news that the left want to hear. How can he be impartial when that big salary is at stake?

The authors end by making some suggestions on what you can do when watching television news. One I loved was:

Reduce by at least one-third the amount of TV news you watch….if you are concerned that cutting down your viewing time will cause you to “miss” important news, keep this in mind: each day’s TV news consists, for the most part, of fifteen or so examples of one or the other of the Seven Deadly Sins, with which you are already quie familiar. There may be a couple of stories exemplifying lust, usually four about murder, occasionally one about gluttony, another about envy, and so on. It cannot possibly do you any harm to excuse yourself each week from acquaintance with thirty or forty of these examples. Remember: TV news does not reflect normal, everyday life.

The second one I loved was:

Reduce by one-third the number of opinions you feel obligated to have….Wouldn’t it be liberating to say…..”I have no opinion on this since I know practically nothing about it?”

I have no idea if this book is still in print, but if you can find it, I would highly recommend it. It is so fitting for today’s world.

What Kind of Ambassador Are You?

In one of the Aposle Paul’s writings he said:

We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God.

As I look at our chaotic world today with all the divisions as we try to cope with the problems the coronavirus and the recent election season has caused, I am saddened at the response of the church world.

It has astounded me how many in the church have taken to FB, Twitter accounts and other media to call those who disagree with them names, questioning their Christianity if they did not agree on a particular issue. While the fear, the anger, the questions we all have in this time of uncertainty is understandable, our response as Christians call us to a higher standard than those who are not followers of Christ. When the church begins to call our government leaders unkind names and suggest even violence to them, what does the world think of our message?

Have we not always said that Christ loves the whole world, that He came to save any who would call on Him? How then can we let our own emotions, our own political beliefs, our own understanding of the coronavirus bring us to this point? How can we then ask the world to believe in our message of love if our actions are anything but loving?

So what is an ambassador?

The dictionary tells us that an ambassador is an official representative of his/her government or sovereign appointed for a special and often temporary assignment. That person is chosen to act or speak for another, to represent the interests of another person.

So – as a Christian ambassador, I need to realize I am an official representive of Christ. When I call myself a Christian, I am taking on the role of acting/speaking for the interests, not of myself, but of Christ. My words, my actions will reflect on Christ and His church.

The first step in becoming an ambassador is to set aside one’s personal agenda. It is important to remember that God does not come into our lives to help us achieve our goals. That kind of human-centered teaching may be popular, but it is not biblical We are meant to spend ourselves in seeking God’s glory (not our own – or anther person’s or a particular group of people), achieving His eternal purposes (not our own temporal goals) and bearing witness to His truth (not our opinions.) …Cole Richards

When I look at the Early Church, I find a people who lived under the domination of a foreign power. People who did not have to struggle with being told to wear a mask or not to gather in large groups, but people who were told they would be imprisoned or even killed if they shared the message of Jesus. People who were beaten, thrown in an arena with lions. History tells us that all but one of Jesus’ disciples were martyred. Yet they responded with love and their only task was to continue to share the message of John 3:16 – “God so loved the world….”

If we cannot remain a people of love and whose main focus is to share Jesus in this time and situation, how will we survive if, God forbid, we ever face real persecution as the Early Church did?

Will we remain good ambassadors of Christ – or will we be too concerned for our own freedoms, rights to care about our leader’s whole purpose and goals who, hanging on a cross, said “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”?