Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Worth the Effort

There is always more to learn.  I love it when I read a passage and find a new insight, something so obvious that I wonder how I ever missed it before.

Reading Job 28 we find the words of Job himself, a man crushed emotionally and devastated physically, describing the material treasures of the earth and comparing them with the value of wisdom.

He describes the process of mining for silver and gold, digging and tunnelling through the rock to find treasure.  Not much has changed in the 4000 (?) years since these words were written.  We still want the treasures of the earth, and we still dig holes to get to them.

All this effort effort goes into finding treasure, Job says, but we don't work nearly as hard to get the stuff of real value.  "Man does not comprehend [wisdom's] worth," he says in v. 13.

Am I working hard enough to gain wisdom?  I need to use the right tools:  humility, listening, asking, reading, thinking and praying.

I need to do the right kind of mining.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Americans have always been suspicious of those who want control.  Pilgrims came across the Atlantic to get away from those who would control their religious beliefs.  The colonists rejected the control of the British government, which sometimes set policy from across the ocean.

The old West was populated by people who wanted freedom and elbow room.  They rejected the control of those in the East.

But the study of history is a study of which people were governing or controling others.  Sometimes those controling forces were miltary, sometimes religious, sometimes both.  Sometimes those forces were benevolent, but often they were not.

God seeks to control us, but not by force, and not by religion.  He wants to change who we are on the inside, so that we freely choose to do what is right.  That is life and freedom.  And it brings us joy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

American Openness

In the U.S. we value truth.  Truth figures prominently in our Declaration of Independence.  In the first amendment of our Constitution, we provide for the freedom of the press.  While many government actions have been kept quiet, we value the "right to know." 

Our spirit of openness seeks to shine light on even the dark episodes of our own history.  We don't ignore our history of slavery, but but recognize it as an institution of gross immorality.  We can evaluate our leaders of the past, without having to whitewash their images for propaganda purposes.  We can request the publication of documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

And we demand that government business be conducted in the open.  Except for matters of national security, we don't like secrets.  The secrecy of this year's health care debate among our legislators struck a nerve with Americans. 

We value openness.  We want to know how our government is working.  After all, we are governing ourselves.  We are the government.  We do need for our citizens to be informed.  That requires freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  We can ask anything.  I'm naturally curious, so I like asking questions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

American Cooperation

Another thing I like about our country is the spirit of cooperation.  When our mission team went to Jamaica last year, one of the nationals saw us working together, building concrete columns.  He noted that we could cooperate, each man doing a different job for the project.  He did not often find that spirit of cooperation among his own people.

I'm learning that other cultures are not accustomed to such teamwork.  As Americans, we just take it for granted.  We have corporate teams, sports teams, even teams of emergency workers -- each person does his or her job to complete the task.

Our culture of freedom allows us to be creative and inventive -- think about the light bulb, phonograph, airplane, assembly line, etc..  Then our culture of cooperation helps us bring the dreams to reality.

Friday, July 2, 2010

These truths are self-evident

I've been more and more interested in what makes this a great country.  As we celebrate our independence, I want to brag on our country.

It all begins with the truths that we hold to be self-evident:  that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In 1776 we said to the world, "We can all agree on this..."  Certain rights come from God, not government. 

Our country was founded on freedom as a gift from God, not a privilege to be granted by government.  By appealing to God and setting people free, our founders unleashed the power of the human spirit to create the greatest, most prosperous society in history.

It is a Republic, Benjamin Franklin said, if we can keep it.