Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Saturday
May282011

KIDS SHARING: RIGHTER, LEFTER, MIDDLER

Three children -- 9, 7 and 5 – will rig the game so you, as a parent, lose every time.  Example:  You carefully carve ice cream into three identical servings, but they don’t think so –

     “Dad, she has more than I do.  Give me some more.”

     “I want as much as he’s got.”

     “No fair!”

It would make no difference if you weighed the portions on druggist’s scale.  They would still see – and resent – some difference.

If only there were a magic wand to wave that would make them sharing and self-governing.

Our pastor, Bob Hullinger, told us about a semi-magic wand.  Bob and Charlotte Hullinger also had three children, and strife in the back seat pained the parents whenever the family rode in the car.  Three children in the back seat, and each of them wanted to sit by a window.

Most of us deal with this situation from power – “Be quiet.  We’re only going ten blocks” – or by an improvised compromise – "Son, you get a window when we drive home.”

The Hullingers showed genius by inventing a permanent solution:  Righter, Lefter, Middler, with a seating chart that changed each week, so each child had a window two weeks out of three.  The three young Hullingers soon enforced the system among themselves.

Bob realized that they had a good thing going, so he expanded it.  Not only did the righter get the best seat in the car, he or she also had first choice for the week.  The Lefter had second choice.  The Middler had to take the leavings – but with the satisfaction of becoming Righter the next week.

Bob told my wife, Margaret, and me about their discovery.  We immediately saw the advantages and presented it to our three.  Our oldest had questions.  Our son was skeptical.  Our youngest backed out of the brawl.

But, we began, and within three weeks, I was astonished to hear our oldest tell our youngest, “No, you’re Righter.  You choose first.”

Scooping ice cream became fun rather than a fracas.  So did other choices.

Our three had begun to internalize the morality of the system and realized that life was better when they didn’t have to fight about everything – and when they could be sure of getting their fair share.

Did the system work perfectly?  Of course not.  No system does.  But, Righter, Lefter, Middler did reduce petty squabbles by at lest two-thirds.

So, Margaret and I realized we had a good thing going, and expanded it further – to chores.  Righter set the table, Middler cleared the table, and Lefter pre-rinsed the dishes and loaded the dish washer.

Once a week, Righter swept the kitchen, Lefter mopped the kitchen, and Middler carried out the trash.

Did this work perfectly?  Never.  Car windows and choices had obvious benefits, so the three enforced that part of the system.  But chores were done only when Margaret and I were present and persistent.

Growing up on a farm in Kansas in the ‘40s, Margaret had carried adult responsibilities at an early age.  She was puzzled and deeply disappointed that our children did not act like little adults and do their tasks without being told.  I explained that they would work fine if we worked with them, and they did.  But, at home they seldom or never did chores on their own initiative.

Now they’re adults with their own homes, and they astonish me with their sense of responsibility and their bold initiatives.  So, maybe righter, lefter, middler worked better than I remembered.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2011 by Jack Towe

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