Friday, March 14, 2014

RPG Character Quiz

The What D&D Character Am I? Quiz

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Wizard (6th Level)


Ability Scores:

Strength-8

Dexterity-9

Constitution-9

Intelligence-16

Wisdom-16

Charisma-13


Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.


Race:
Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.


Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.


Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Rant - What You Do to the Least/Poorest of Christ's Brethren, You've Done to Jesus

A lovely Christian lady shared a link that encouraged people to not be satisfied with just living their faith in the comfort of their church, but to be actively serving those outside services, as Christ calls us all to do. 

Great quote from it here:
"Church isn’t the place where we draw the line at the door and say to those inside the walls ”We are good. We are right. We are done.” Because when we do that we are saying to those outside, “You are bad. You are wrong. You don’t matter.” "

That attitude is earthly, carnal, 'natural' - fleshly. Its how tribes treat insiders and outsiders / exiles. The blogger was right to rebuke it. The poor do feel marginalized in many churches. In fact poor people soon get the message that they are expected to hide their poverty as much as possible or else be quietly shunned. Its subtle, but in a lot of churches admitting to poverty tends to discourage members from issuing invitations or visiting very much. People don't want friends they fear will bring drama into their lives or be a drain on their resources. (Discernment is called for, of course, but plenty of people aren't praying about when they should and shouldn't get involved. They are just avoiding - as a personal policy - anyone and anything that isn't materially advantageous.) Obviously poor people can attend church services for quite awhile, participating when they can, and find out they are not even considered 'real' members, but external 'mission' cases who show up now and then (and that is if this is an active helpful type of church! ) Add in the retreats, get-together brunches at restaurants, group youth dates, pressures to contribute to big gifts for the leadership, and supplies for studies and so on that poor people just can't do, and its not hard to see how they can end up feeling marginalized every kind of way. Not all churches mean to do this, but many don't really care about it either. After all, poor people are not great customers   tithers. 

One Dear Christian Lady tells me that in a number of churches, those who have been poor once themselves are likely to help quietly with expenses like these. Cool, but why is the church's default policy making poverty - and those helping with it - something that the wise have to keep secret?  How does this honor the instructions we have not to discriminate between rich and poor? I realize that the Church today isn't holding all things in common, but perhaps a stronger look at the implicit attitude of poverty = lower status in the church as a problem would be helpful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's not entirely related, but, unfortunately, this post triggered my desire to rant about how BAD 'churches' treat poor people since I just had another show of how UNChristlike the local church is when our Jeep broke down again this weekend. It happened while we were out buying the few groceries we could afford at the end of the month with another winter storm on the way. I was already feeling strapped - still having medical and financial trials - and then the car wouldn't start. DH's  health wasn't up to fixing it this time. We had to get a tow home. Exactly one person helped us move the car. Meantime one of the 'church ladies' goes by sniggering and smirking, obviously enjoying our problems (God says He hates that attitude btw) and congratulating herself on being better off financially, clearly believing it's proof she's morally/spiritually superior too.



Help us? Care? Hardly!

I still love Jesus and the Bride, but this kind of stuff angers me so much that it may not sound like it sometimes. I still see good words and actions from Christians online. I know I am not the last real believer in the world. I honor the missionaries and everyday brave souls who may read this who would have stood against such garbage if it happened around them. Don't think I am lumping you in with clowns like that. I'm not. May God bless you always!


 Its just that I am currently still mostly isolated here by the deliberate actions of evil people - some of whom pretend to be Christians when it suits them.

 Yes, I am *still* facing trials (financial and medical,) and I get no help at all from the neighborhood 'church' - in fact they have run their mouths a lot, threatened even, but never done any GOOD at all. 

They have never offered to help - not so much as a helping hand or old part to help with repairing our old equipment, a warm casserole, or even a sympathy card. They have actively discouraged others from treating us kindly - knowing that Jesus calls us to treat everyone, even enemies with kindness. 

They DID try to insist I come to their Bible study so they could tell me how to be a better Christian.:P  Frankly, I see nothing from them any wise believer would emulate, nor do I expect anything like real fellowship from this self-justifying clique who have done us only harm for decades.

You know what, despite what they think, God WILL rescue us again from our current trials whether they participate or not. (It's be a miracle if they did.) When God is for us, it doesn't matter who is against us!
 
& as for the being poor thing -  Jesus lived as a homeless person for much of his ministry on Earth, and this elitist attitude is specifically rebuked several times in the NT. Some people teach that true followers of Jesus won't be poor because of the blessings of the New Covenant. I see that God can bless His followers however He wants, and promises to cover our desperate needs, but the scriptures make it really clear that there will be Faithful Followers of Jesus Who Are Broke - Yea, even unto the Last Days (now)

Here's the Holy Spirit speaking to an impoverished group of believers in Smyrna in The Last Days (now)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander[a] of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’


Here's the mention of a 'rich church' in the same era (now) Revelation 3:14-22

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 1For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 2Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
 
So, anyway, I wrote this growl about these rotten fruit bearers locally .... and I still feel like posting it. You can ignore the rest if you like. I won't blame you. 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Church isn’t the place where we draw the line at the door and say to those inside the walls  ”We are good. We are right. We are done.” Because when we do that we are saying to those outside, “You are bad. You are wrong. You don’t matter.”


You want to know how bad it can get?

That negative prideful message of 'we inside are good' (regardless) and you outside are bad (regardless) is EXACTLY what the "church" nearest us gives out as their most consistent 'witness.' As long as they can call themselves a church they hide behind a mantle of respectability they have no real claim to, because I do not believe they care about living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I rather doubt they believe very much in His existence. These are the sorts of 'Christians' who feel that being chosen to represent their social club to a conference is proof of how 'holy' they are, never mind how they act or talk outside service.

As a matter of fact these local 'church-goers' are among the most evil acting people I have ever had the displeasure to encounter anywhere. We have good reason to suppose that they are behind the hostile gossip pogrom my husband's family received starting 40 years ago, after his Dad stopped an attempted heist of silver batteries going off base  (several people from the neighborhood may have been involved and were leaders in this 'church') I lost count of the times we saw them spreading malicious, prideful rubbish to each other in the parking lot, and shouting insults to us (and others) who went by. My husband's family is still convinced that all Christians are total hypocrites who just pretend to be better than others - SPECIFICALLY because of these bozos. 

(For years, even my husband thought I was a good person *in spite* of my strong Christian beliefs. Now that he knows Jesus himself, he knows better. It is Jesus who makes it possible for us to express goodness and patience well beyond personal limits.)

This 'neighborhood church' has made a habit of saying, thinking, and doing evil to those who literally are neighbors to them, in defiance of Christ's instructions. Several of them threatened our children's lives (at a yell) when they were small. The worst was when prominent members threatened kidnapping and dismemberment to our then toddler daughter 'as a joke' - in town. A number of times a group of them made loud comments after services about how easily our house could burn down,  while others of them chortled. (Gave my kids recurring nightmares.) Several encouraged their children to mock ours from their playground over the years, when they weren't trying to make them feel bad they weren't playing with them. People attending there have blatantly encouraged others to vandalize our property and stop drainage ditches (which ended up damaging their buildings, but not ours.) They know we've had medical and financial trials but they just giggle when they see signs of it (like when the car went out again the other night) and treat it as proof that we deserve the dish of satanic attitudes what they've consistently dished out. When hubby was a teen he knew of several times when the local kids framed him for their crimes, knowing the neighborhood would be good with that, as he was basically their Jew. They got used to everyone being okay with lying about and picking on him, beating on him, and then it ramped up. Whenever anything went wrong in the area, they tried to put hubby's name up for it, and at least one goofball group used us as a target because of it, not knowing us personally at all. A number of them actually went to whatever church we sought to attend and witnessed a bunch of lies at whoever started to befriend us. Yes, really.

[Sadly a number believers don't understand that you can't trust the words of those who regularly slander others, even though it says so in the Bible. Some of the real Christians elsewhere told us, and that they wouldn't believe it, but the damage was still done. The REAL message was that anyone who wanted to befriend or help us in the name of the Lord - could pay a price for it, and there are not that many brave souls out there. Churches rarely respond to such situations as a group. In fact they usually pretend this kind of stuff doesn't happen and/or that it isn't their problem. A few people have stood by us anyway, but not many.  There might have been more, but I knew that several of the good hearted, intelligent, brave few were in vulnerable situations themselves, and let the relationships lapse for their sake. I wouldn't be much of a friend if I had wished them to endure what we have. A Word was spoken over me as a kid, that I would be an "Elijah" - a voice for God, often without outside support. Now I know why I was warned about the walk ahead. I was going to need to stay close enough to God that we could be good company with each other, and to keep our little family church encouraged.]

 I know one of them even went online with it. I KNOW this! We found the connections made to put the bad word out. We found the evidence of it. I also know that between his very poor health and the local abuse focused on her, they don't know my son or daughter at all, because they have always been at home, but that hasn't stopped the local jerks from lying their asses off about both of them! That rotten lying thing they did to the father they now do to children/teens/young adults who have never even spoken to them!  The very first time our son went to the local community college, the janitor claimed to know him (they'd never met) and to know he was a thief (never, not even as a little kid) and worse, TO HIS FACE, acting in a threatening manner, and the college refused to do anything about it. They also refused to intervene on the stalking our daughter got when she was there. We attended with her every session to defend her and she STILL got grief... and no justice at all from the authorities there. God has promised to avenge us and I depend on it, because the level of wrong in accusing literal innocents the way they have - --- they got a lot of grief coming from God, that's what!

And it started, and has largely been perpetuated at this so-called 'Church'

And -yes - they definitely tell themselves that they are the good monkeys inside, and those on the other branches deserve whatever poo they feel like flinging.

It outrages me to see so much self-righteousness from such evil-behaving people. We've seen them do a lot of harm with their mouths and actions, but NO GOOD WHATEVER.

GOD IS GOOD

DO YOU REALLY THINK HE IS OKAY WITH YOUR BEING UNRELENTINGLY EVIL??!!

And these idjits have the brass-plated gall to put up signs regularly implying that they are morally superior. That we should come to them to be saved, have fellowship etc.. 

Currently their sign says (on one side) "The sick go to the hospital"

- probably meaning that 'sick' both ways... I know that by now they've heard now I was in the hospital and then filing for help on the bills that the hospital resisted giving me at first, but I now finally been promised relief from it, no thanks to anything they did. Praise God that HE is always there for me!

The other side says "Tomorrow is not a promise"

Put 'em together and it sounds like ill-wishing (which God hates,) and it is likely that this is exactly what is meant.

They've done plenty of 'clever' signs over the years. Mostly we just roll our eyes at the hypocrisy.

They aren't always aimed at us, but we've never been blessed by them except (when they were really egregious) to think that - Hey, maybe God will decide it's time to bless us greatly to show them how little He thinks of their judgmental, hate-filled rubbish. Now, God? Please?

Actually, fewer signs have been as evil-feeling in the last few years, but they are still reinforcing their materialist outlook. The last 'good' sign was "I sing for joy at the work of your hands" & (approximately)  "I am doing a new thing" (notice that God is only implied, not mentioned in either case) - because they are renovating the facade & foyer and like what the workmen are doing. Yes, I saw what you did there. ha ha :P

Probably they are still telling themselves that DH wants to be a wizard and that I can't be any kind of Christian because I don't attend church each week. (Never mind the role they played in this!) So a little threatening-sounding judging stuff might 'bring us to faith?' Well that's how they might put it when pretending it isn't pure evil. I think what they really want is more like us cowering before them, which won't happen...ever...no matter what. People do that to gain mercy anyway, and I don't believe they have ever seen them express any pure good will of any kind, just networking kinda things for each other. They've only ever done even a few public charity type things - and certainly nothing for the downtrodden locally, most especially nothing for those that they down-trod themselves. If we are ever doing really well THEN they would want to prove how 'kind' they are, or cynically try to mend fences while shifting as much blame for their abuse as possible onto other shoulders, especially that of their targets. Any and everything we've said or done in our defense will be used as "proof" that they were "provoked" - even if they finally accept that their behavior concerning us has been consistently Anti-Biblical. 

I sincerely doubt I will ever see them offer any help while we could really use it, let alone in atonement for the evil their group has done to this family over many years.

& That will be my response. You have done this, this, and this - slandered, gossiped, shown pride, contempt, hostility, judgmental arrogance, cursed us with evil words, and more....

 YOU HAVE DONE AND SAID MUCH EVIL -

BUT WHEN DID YOU DO ANYTHING GOOD?

WHEN DID YOU CARE WHAT THE TRUTH ACTUALLY WAS CONCERNING US? 
No you just wanted to justify the garbage you'd said before. 

WHAT MADE YOU THINK YOU HAD THE RIGHT TO JUDGE OUR SITUATION?
Here's a shock for you. You were never authorized to judge whether we were 'really that sick' or not - or anything else. You gave the worst witness in the world to my mother-in-law. Living Jesus before her would have been to show grace, forgiveness, restraint, love... a better way, not confirmation that 'everyone' sits in hateful judgment on everyone else. You told so many ugly stories - even about each other. If she and the others in that clan die unsaved, it will be their choice, but Jesus will be talking to you about your witness to her - and to all of that family.

WHEN WILL YOU FACE THAT SPREADING UGLY RUMORS WAS UNGODLY?

WHEN DID YOU SAY ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT US?
As much as you watched us, you must have seen something you could have praised. Admit, at least, that we are brave and love each other.

WHEN DID YOU PRAY FOR OUR NEEDS?
And I mean real prayers that genuinely wished us well, not the <say ugly thing> 'bless their hearts' routine... Yep, I grew up Southern. I know that game. I don't think much of it.


WHEN DID YOU EVER TRY TO HELP ANY OF US WITH ANY NEED?

WHEN DID YOU EVER APOLOGIZE OR REPENT OF YOUR EVIL IN ANY WAY?

NO, DEMANDING THAT WE COME IN TO YOUR "SERVICES" TO PUT UP WITH YOUR ABUSE AT CLOSE QUARTERS DOES NOT COUNT AS BEING "FRIENDLY." I have no intention of entering into any co-dependent abusive relationships with anyone. Just give that idea up for the foolish dream it is. If you have no respect for me, I shall have no respect and no time for you. Its that simple.

You are so proud of yourselves, and I see nothing to be proud of. You've been nothing but ugly the whole time I've known you - which is over 20 years now.  You want to convince me that you are Christians at all - let alone "witness" to anyone - show me how you've repented. Do and Say LOVING things, because GOD is LOVE and LOVE IS NOT ABUSE. 

It just ticks me off when someone claims the 'Christian' high ground while being arrogant, unloving, unhelpful, disrespectful, and otherwise Anti-Jesus-ish. How dare you!

 /RANT



 They seem incapable of repentance - but God still does miracles, so I won't say its impossible. ALL things are possible with God.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Debating Tips for the Holdays


This post is inspired by the Atlantic Article called "If You Must Talk Politics at Thanksgiving, Here's How: 10 Unsatisfying Rules For Disagreeing With Friends and Families Over the Holidays."


Their suggestions are good advice for any time of year,  although I'd recommend avoiding any and all serious discussion during a holiday if you possibly can. It's a time to be welcoming our nearest and dearest, not driving them away.


Still... I am aware that some of us have friends, neighbors, community members, or relations who just cannot be discouraged from venting at our political affiliation, religion, or other differences. Then you have but few (angelic) choices: refuse to discuss it, defend yourself respectfully, leave or ask them to leave (if it is your house.)
photo from Wititudes

If you find yourself tempted into the fray, then may these tips be of some help to you. This is how I try to approach such discussions (though I'll admit I don't always handle it perfectly either.)

The basic strategy here boils down to respecting the person even when you don't agree with them at all. This may mean ignoring what can seem like a personal attack on your status in the group and your personal worth. Even if a personal attack is exactly what is intended, it never helps to point this aspect out.  It's not about who is right or wrong, but surviving until dessert is served. You need a fire extinguisher, not gasoline.


My tips:  It is helpful if you make an effort to acknowledge all valid points from the other side, and accept in advance that the most you are ever going to do is sow some seeds of doubt in the 100% rightness of their position. Never even hope you can change the other person's mind entirely, as that way endless debates and acrimony loom. The other side assumes that nothing will do but their total submission to your incredible wisdom, and that just ain't gonna happen, Hoss.


Stick with demanding a little respect for your differences - and let the rest go. Say what you think is the most important parts of why you believe/live as you do, back it up with what facts you have, and (ideally) look for the earliest moment to end the debate in a way that is respectful to both sides...without retreat...without hard feelings. Grit your teeth if you must, but realize this is the best gift of peace and love you can offer to everyone at the gathering. It is the wise thing to do.

Family fights are memorable but NOT great for cozy holiday memories, which is why debates like this should be avoided whenever possible, and ended quickly when they arise, as long as this doesn't steamroll others' self-worth.

Opinions are like noses, everybody has one and they all drop *ahem* less than delightful offerings from time to time. Yeah...eeeeewwww
 (and a tissue box)

A Gentle Plan for Dietary Improvement During the Holdays

A lot of us are gearing up for the holidays, and dreading the usual resolution to improve our diet afterward that invariably follows.

I have a different idea. Don't skip your goodies, especially don't skip the turkey, but do try substituting healthier varieties of the goods you adore as you make your holiday meal plans. That way you will be already working toward your healthier body when the New Year begins.

I was inspired to discuss this when I saw this article for changing your diet to an all healthy alternative one week at a time. My family would have found this a lot less workable than the plan we created for ourselves. So then I figured, I'd share what we actually did. Maybe it would help somebody else. Now I am realizing our plan is actually doable during the holidays too, because all I asking of you in step one is to choose between varieties of the same foods you were going to buy anyway.

IMO their plan makes huge changes that are hard to master in a week. Huge dietary changes work better if you cut the worst stuff first, and let everyone agree that it is a livable change before you move on. Also note that it often takes two-three weeks to stabilize any permanent change in diet (or any other habit.) Don't push to the next step until you have adapted to the current one. We initially worked more from this list than theirs http://www.booksforbetterliving.com/jillian-michaels-tips-slim-for-life/

Please note the items on it to specifically avoid when you can. Even processed foods/frozen dinners vary in quality. When these are your only option, pick the ones with the fewest bad ingredients. Even that much change can help quite a bit!


MY suggested list of other changes comes from various warnings from health-concious friends and groups (mostly other Moms and herbal/food therapy fans.)

We've also absorbed the ideas of Gary Taubes, and so far we've combined the lessons about old/modern grains, excessively sugary foods, and chemical toxicity with his findings about stabilizing our endocrine systems to lose weight safely, easily, and naturally. The resulting resolutions has resulted in these steps. Swelling in the liver area is way down. Digestion is much improved. We rarely have heartburn now. Seems to be working for us!




Step 1: Cut out High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and diet sugars but allow as much natural sugar as you want the first week, then cut back on adding sugary snacks as the cravings ease up in the following weeks.

You must allow the sugar cravings to drop naturally before you can get serious about permanently cutting back sugars in your diet (while still enjoying your food.) If you want improvement to last, start by replacing everything in your cabinet to non-HFCS alternatives. Watch out for breading products, cold medicines/cough drops, juices, sodas, and convenience foods with HFCS or fake sugars in them. Especially get rid of condiments, - like ketchup, pancake syrups, sweet relishes, jellies - that have HFCS as the main sweetener. There are sugar alternatives for every one of these. You just have to look carefully. Sometimes it's another brand name, sometimes its the generic that turns out to be safer. The best regular pickle relishes in our area right now are from the dollar store!  What we found was, that once we re-adjusted to the cane sugar, agave nectar, or honey versions, we felt like what we had regularly ingested before was way too much sugar. The explanation we received was that our bodies can 'see' natural sugars better. HFCS and diet sugars confuse the body and leave you hungry. So when you eat/drink only natural sweeteners you end up cutting down on them. Then you can start working in less sugary options as your finances and cravings allow - more unsweetened fruits/juices, more peppery relishes, real maple syrup (you use syrup less once your leptin levels improve) etc.



End goal is to cut down on total sugar usage and therefore improve how your body uses and recognizes the calories you eat, which reduces hunger, which reduces overeating. Take daily steps to get there. Excessive fructose in your diet is believed to strain your liver, which messes up that whole process. Its about 45 minutes in, but this explains. (Fructose is at 57 minutes,  (this explains why concentrated High Fructose Corn Syrup is a bigger problem, even before you get into how it is made) -  but you need to see the comparison for glucose and ethanol.) Fresh-pressed juices and whole fruits don't do this to us. I think there is probably something extra that helps there to help digestion besides the fiber, but I can't prove that one. All I know is that I can eat several oranges, apples, or other fruits and I don't see internal swelling like I do with even a tablespoon of a HFCS filled ketchup. BBQ sauce, relish or pancake syrup. Not kidding.






Step 2: Warnings about 'grain brain' and 'leaky gut' have encouraged a lot of people to cut out grain products entirely, or at least use only 'gluten free' options. We acted on the warning in "Wheat Belly" about triticum aestivum and found that just cutting down on 'modern' breads/wheat products gave us a large benefit.  Just shift from 'regular wheat' to less modified grains. Eat more barley, oats, kamut, quinoa, spelt, millet, organic potatoes, and/or rice in place of 'regular' noodles, biscuits, or crackers made from the usual triticum aestivum. Durham/semolina noodles are better than noodles that just say 'wheat' but better still are noodles made from beans, rice flour, or at least an older wheat variety than the usual. Use King Arthur Flour or Bob's Red Mill products(or equivalent) for baking, making pie crusts etc If you must buy sliced sandwich bread, try getting those that at least blend in other grains (like oats or millet). Nature's Own is definitely one of the better commercial brands right now because it avoids HFCS and several other bad ingredients, but I don't know if the wheat itself is better. If it becomes necessary because of your particular health requirements to shift to gluten free or away from grains altogether, this will be a gentler transitory step.

Your gut will start feeling so much better once you've made this shift!

Step 3. Commit to eating more local/organic fresh fruit and veg every week. Seriously plan it in - and keep bananas around. They may be a little starchy but they make excellent snacks compared with what you ate before. Those fancy baby spinach salads are surprisingly filling, our favorite baby spinach salad so far also has organic sliced apples, nuts, raisins (or organic grapes)... Plan to make a taco salad rather than using flour or corn tortillas. Bake sweet potatoes at least once a week. You can find reasonable ways to serve fresh veg in ways your family will eat it.
 


Step 4.. everything else... Steadily working in most of the usual recommendations when you can will do good things for you. Eat/drink organic meats, organic dairy, more nuts, fewer foods with nitrates, fewer fried foods, and fewer processed foods/mixes. Avoid hydrogenated oils when you can. Avoid MSG and Sodium Benzoate. Avoid fake sugars, GMO's, and 'lite' foods.

Also try to walk a little more whenever you get the chance. It doesn't make you lose weight, but its good for the functioning of your digestive system. Take extra laps around the grocery store or mall. Whatever works for you. You'll enjoy those cookies and pies much more after a little exercise anyway. ;)

Don't give up on eating healthy when you must eat out. Many restaurant chains do have their menu ingredients online. Choose carefully from the relatively safe choices when eating out. Watch out for their salad dressings and other condiments!

VERY Important Note:: Please don't develop an 'all or nothing' mentality. If you just have to eat hotdogs or bacon tonight, then eat them, but don't give up on the idea that your overall diet is going to stay healthier now.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Real Humility and the Pharisee

Inspired by JMT's video blog

GOSPEL
Lk 18:9-14

The tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home justified

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—
greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”



Some proud people believe that 'humbling' themselves before God is good enough, but are like this Pharisee.  This scene shows the Pharisee bragging on all the works he has done to express his devotion.  Jesus’ statement that the lowly sinner was more justified would have been a shock to at least some of his listeners. How could God like a blatant sinner more than a highly respected religious official? This was pretty close to saying that a convicted conman who was sincerely penitent meant more to God than leader of a super-sized church or cathedral who was prideful to poor sinners – even when he faithfully fulfilled his usual duties and was genial in his dealings with his preferred circle of society.  Even today, such a plain assessment from Heaven would shock people. In general, I would expect them to resist this Word as being the real deal, even if God freshly sent a prophet to them to say exactly that.

After all, not everything the Pharisee did here is wrong. He was reminding God of all the ways he acknowledged the most High and God’s laws.  He made a public confession of his faith and his testimony.  This kind of statement may have played well with the local priesthood, but the government of Israel as a satellite state of Rome was far more pagan/secular. He knew his stance would have limited his upwards progression within the Roman Empire. The Pharisee has sacrificed all higher ambitions to stand for God. That’s praiseworthy.

 So what was messed up?

# 1 Well the testimony itself sounds a bit egotistical doesn’t it?  The Pharisee sounds like he is demanding God recognize how special his service to heaven has been (or else?) Even then, Godlessness was so prevalent in Israel (thanks to the occupying Romans) that the Jews often figured God ought to especially appreciate that they still live in a way that ‘officially’ honored His name.  Many had been persecuted to varying degrees for remaining Jews. That Pharisee could have aimed for a state career if he hadn’t valued serving God more, so choosing to honor the Faith of the Fathers in such a detailed exacting way ought to be worth extra credit. God should be impressed!

Go ahead and laugh, but people still feel that way. 

Today Christianity is mocked and marginalized in many places, and rather than realize that this means that whole world really is leaning towards hellish attitudes, people think they are doing God a favor for even considering worshipping Him when His stock has slipped so much in society, TV shows, movies, and the news media. He doesn’t seem as great to a population propagandized against him since their earliest school years.  Some of that dismissive attitude bleeds over into church living. Even though most believers had a sense of their own sinfulness and extreme unworthiness once, probably when they seriously converted and accepted Jesus as their savior, this sense is easily lost.

Every now and then, it hits me hard that the whole Earth is incredibly messed up, hate-filled, ignorant, selfish, and just plain sinful by God’s standards. THAT is when I freshly appreciate how amazing, how strong, how HUGE a deal is God’s Love and Grace. I figure these moments of clarity are a gift of the Holy Spirit, because it doesn’t take long for that awareness of the filth to fade away. I reacclimatize to my current world, and then society doesn’t seem to be so bad. Time goes by and I start to feel pretty good about my ethics and progress compared with others. That’s when God’s judgments and requirements seem a little extreme.  Seriously, everyone is prone to this. As long as we look around us more than we look at God, we will overvalue ourselves and undervalue God’s patience with our flaws and our horrendous situation. We forget how miserable we were. We forget that we needed saved from the very world that says God’s opinion doesn’t matter, and the Hell that the world is headed toward. We even forget how much He loves us.

     That Pharisee wasn’t an idiot. He was just couldn’t imagine how lowly he really was compared with God. The Pharisee didn’t see how loving and gracious God had been in creating the Abrahamic covenant he depended on. God had set terms to show man his own tendency towards lawlessness; God was making a pathway that allowed Him to be officially pleased with a fundamentally flawed lowly creation like him. God didn’t need his tithes or herbs. The Pharisee was more open with that his ‘God had better appreciate my sacrifice or I can find a god I like better’ attitude because he was on the earlier covenant, which didn’t include the inward warning of the Holy Spirit about the inappropriate pride his attitude expressed. The Comforter had not yet come to Earth to abide in the hearts of God’s people. The Holy Spirit makes us aware sometimes of how silly we are, how hard-hearted and prideful we prefer to be, and He does it because He loves us. It’s the abiding comfort, love, and peace that make the remonstrations bearable.  It’s shocking that any Christians could make this mistake, but we do; we just aren’t as blatant about it, because we feel that internal correction.

# 2 -- Today we can see the pride in the Pharisee’s assertions but many still don’t get the whole picture. The Pharisee was trying for higher heavenly status the same way he networked and maneuvered into Earthly status.

In the time this was written, toadying was highly acceptable behavior. It still is, but people are often slightly more discreet with their flattery these days. To gain an influential person’s ear, it helped if presented yourself as a valuable person to the VIP, so working in a certain amount of bragging in between your bouts of flattery and other seductive behaviors is generally a successful tactic.  You want them to see you not only as a loyal supporter, but a valuable one, as close to the leader’s status as you can manage. As part of your claims of fealty you would work in mentions of the many resources you’ve put at their disposal, or otherwise put to work for them. At the very least, you would still sell yourself as an extreme ‘fan’ and remind them of how you supported them publicly. [Celebrities feel entitled to everyone’s adulation, devotion, and affection, so the bit that stands out is your own ‘higher’ status and gifts – which they won’t even recognize as your contribution if you didn’t point it out directly.]  Look again at what the Pharisee is saying. He’s exactly in this format, selling himself as a valuable ‘fan,’ blithely unaware that God already knows all about him. Nor does the Pharisee take in that God doesn’t require a human PR department. God doesn’t really want us to ‘flatter’ Him.** We can’t anyway, because flattery implies that the praise we give is excessive, but no praise is too little for the Almighty, Holy, and True.  If we think we are flattering God, then we are actively failing to recognize how awesome He really is! God will always be the greatest being – beyond our imagining – whether we worship Him or not. God’s main interest in telling us about Himself is so we can development a proper relationship with Our Father, God, the one who made everything we have and who is also the being who has already condescended to meet with us and care for our neediness individually.  Not many worldly celebrities, even really minor ones like a regional boss or a homecoming queen, truly care about their fans. Worldly leaders often see followers as exploitable, expendable resources, and feel little or no loyalty towards those they use and discard. This is probably why God stresses that HIS leaders should consider themselves as shepherds who protect and guide their sheep. God has strong angry words for those leaders who call themselves Christians but view their ‘flocks’ in that heartless carnal way. 

If you - as a influential societal leader/celebrity - figure that you can set your followers to attack a poorer person because you don’t like what he said to you, you are not humble. You are a user and not a shepherd.  If what you didn’t like to hear was a word from God given through a poorer, weaker person (and God LOVES to send brave impecunious believers with a Word) and you tried to ‘get back’ at him or her for it instead of going to God prayerfully to discern what if anything you needed to fix, then you’ve chosen a path that has more in common with the heathen Haman than with Jesus. This you’d-better-kowtow-to-me-or- else attitude was what initiated the crisis in Esther. Mordecai would not worship Haman,  and told Haman what God thought of such practices, so Haman griped to his fans/followers, friends, and family until they came up with a plan to kill Mordecai – and all the Jews with him.

**People still try to manipulate God to gain favor the same way they would an easily flattered foolish fellow human too. Seems crazy to me to try that on with Omniscience, who sees all hearts, but I have seen folks who give it a go!

#3  So far I have talked only about how the Pharisee approached God in pride, holding way too high an opinion of what he was offering God and much too high an opinion of himself generally, but now I think we should talk about the pride the Pharisee displayed toward the other fellow worshiping God in that service.  

The Pharisee’s egotism was obvious, but he was talking mostly to himself/God about how messed up the other guy was, and even thanked God for allowing the Pharisee a higher social status. People still do this, just not out loud.

Here is a simple fact, although the Pharisee acknowledged that God was greater than himself, he still felt he held a much higher slot in the spiritual hierarchy. If he was a dog, you’d say he was an alpha dog, submitting to the Master, but not to other dogs. He is secure in his belief that he holds a much higher place in life. He submits to strength greater than his own, never to dogs weaker than himself. Those who fall to any weakness are beneath him.

That’s very carnal behavior, the inner ape-man bellowing and beating his abs.

The crazy bit is that many believers feel they have been humble enough to satisfy Heaven as long as they acknowledge God – and social equals/superiors- with any kind of deference.  In truth, this isn’t humility at all! That’s just a practical acknowledgement of personal relationships and power bases that can hurt you if you act ugly to them. ANYBODY will do that. Dogs, zebras, and peach-faced lovebirds will do that. The only reason most people don’t defer to God now is because they don’t think He exists!

No, humility means recognizing AS EQUALS OR SUPERIORS people who do not have your advantages in life. Humility is recognizing God in every one of us, to the lowest beggars on the street. It means being willing to love others as God loved your otherwise worthless hide.

The rich and Pharisees ‘believers’ in Jesus’ day had lost any idea of remembering God’s calls to humility in the Old Testament. Some still shared food or clothing with the poor, but very few felt any obligation to spend any time with them.

This is why the Pharisee disrespected the other believer, the repentant taxpayer. The Pharisee saw a worthless lowlife and sneered at the man’s tears before Heaven. He didn’t realize God loved that sinner as much as God loved him. He didn’t see that God was willing to remake both broken lives into something much more beautiful, but this required willingness to change and willingness to take the relationship with God seriously. The Pharisee sure didn’t realize that the taxman was making the right choice and he was not.

Those raised high in Christian hierarchies or in church ministries often feel pretty blessed. Their Moms and Dads often have great standing with God and man. All recognize they have a huge advantage in knowing about Jesus from an early age. All that is actually fine, great even, but they are at risk of developing the idea that their family legacy includes being pretty awesome from birth - compared with the ‘outsiders’ and the ‘little people’ – especially those they see as lower caste sinners.  We have got to watch out for that attitude, as it can lead to the Pharisee’s failing. God can greatly use anyone who truly seeks His Face. Those who have grown up comfortable, in grace, are often not as strong in faith or wisdom as those who have been in the spiritual wars and found Jesus’ support is as faithful as He promised it would be.

Any trial another brother or sister in faith faces could be or could have been our fate. We should see Jesus in their midst. We should identify with and help those we can, as good neighbors, not as Lady Bountiful condescending to drop a few goodies to the starving serfs from our safe proud perch on the high balcony. Fake humility mouths some platitudes, congratulates itself on how much better its own life is, and keeps emotional distance from the losers shoved into its awareness. Real humility looks our fellow humans in the eyes and sees mirror of our own flawed humanity. Real humility loves others as much or more than it loves itself.

God prefers real humility.

We had better be glad of this, because it is in God’s incredible humility that we find His miraculous love, acceptance, interest and concern for us.  God’s not asking us to do anything He isn’t doing Himself for us, every single day.