“The Powers That Be”

We had an interesting sermon on Sunday morning; it seemed so appropriate for these troubled times, so I thought I’d share a bit of it with you. The initial thoughts were about our current pandemic and the rules and regulations that have sprung up in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The caution we need to exercise, the masks, the social distancing.

So what position should we take as Christians with regard to these new rules and regulations? Pastor Con B quoted from Romans Chapter 13, which starts out with “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…” and went on to explain that these new requirements are not violating any principles of our faith, so we should submit to the law without fussing, as we’re instructed in different places in the New Testament.

For interest sake I’m going to do a little paraphrase, trying to catch the spirit of verses 1-10 and our Sunday morning sermon. Please take time to read these verses for yourselves, but here’s my version:

Verse one encourages us to submit to the government of the land, because these “powers that be” are ordained of God. No, He doesn’t elect them or choose every law the government enacts, but God is behind the whole principle of law and order. Yes, even if our Leader’s a Nero. We may not be able to support every law, but nowhere does the New Testament give Christians an okay to get involved in sedition. This is the example Jesus left us. He could have called ten thousand angels to deal with this injustice, but He submitted to the Roman authority, even to accepting a death sentence.

Verse 2-3: Whoever resists the power (government of the land) resists the ordinance of God. And any of those who resist (engage in sedition, verbal or literal) will receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not to be feared if you are doing good works, but those who do evil have good cause to fear the laws of the land. If you do that which is right and good, the rulers will rather respect you and be thankful for you as citizens. “Thou shalt have praise of the same.”

Verse 4: The rulers are God’s means of administering law and order; by and large God does use the laws of the land and a stable government to protect you from criminals. But if you do that which is evil, commit crimes and defy authority, you need to be afraid of the law. It’s there for a reason and God will use the laws of the land to punish you. Every sin will receive a just punishment – in this world or the next.

Verse 5: So you should be subject to the law, not only because you fear the punishment for breaking the law but to keep your conscience free. You want to do God’s will in this life and it’s God’s will that you submit to authority. If you fuss about the laws, you’re ultimately fussing about God’s plan.

Verse 6: Pay your taxes – they exist for a reason, for the good of the country – and follow all the laws as much as possible. God is using the people who carry out these duties to fulfill his plan for your land, and ultimately for your own benefit.

Verse 7-8: So pay what you need to pay to your country and give everyone the respect due to their position. It is God’s will that you treat all people, and every authority, with proper respect. Those you should fear, fear them; those you should show honour to, honour them properly. Don’t be debtors in this regard, but you need to demonstrate love and respect one for another, for all of you who show love toward others is fulfilling the law of God.

Verse 9: Remember his commandments, “Thou shall not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet.” And if there be any other commandments given, they can be summed up (in the words of our Lord Jesus): “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Verse 10: Love is kind and patient; love doesn’t envy or speak evil of others; love works no ill to his neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law of God. (See I Corinthians Ch 13)

The teachings of Jesus and the writings of the apostles contain many similar instructions to Christians: Honor the laws of the land and give due respect to your rulers. What they require of you, do it – unless you’re asked to do something that truly violates your Christian beliefs. And don’t try to stretch “violates my beliefs” until it covers “I don’t want to.”

Moreover, with all the elections this fall, it’s vital to realize that “I don’t like the party in power now,” is no excuse, either. Sneering at those in authority grieves our heavenly Father.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”
— II Peter 2: 9-10

Yes, We Can!

I just came across this quote and found it quite thought-provoking:

“Progress,’ wrote C.S. Lewis, ‘means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.’ This is a phenomenally good way of looking at it, I think. Forward momentum, on an individual or social level, is not automatically good simply because it is forward momentum. Sometimes we push our lives in the wrong direction. If we feel it is making ourselves unhappy, progress might mean doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.
But we must never feel – personally or as a culture — that only one version of the future is inevitable. The future is ours to shape.

― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
Image: jplenio — Pixabay

Word Prompts Whirl

Good morning everyone!

I woke up and looked at the clock, which read 7:01. After a moment’s pondering, I rolled out of bed, got to my feet, and enjoyed a moment of gratitude because I CAN get up and stand on my feet. I CAN move around. When you’ve worked in a nursing home as I have, and seen people who lie in bed for months and even years, you do appreciate the ability to move around.

I recall a time when I was twenty-something. I’d just woken up and was pondering rather ungratefully how life wasn’t going well for us. My husband had to give up his job as a grain buyer because of allergies; at that time he was taking odd jobs with farmers to keep us afloat. We could hardly pay bills; we were living upstairs in his parents’ home. No, our life just didn’t look very rosy at that moment with us being so broke. Then I got out of bed and looked out the window, across the houses and tree tops of Moose Jaw, and the thought came to me, “You have something wonderful. You can see.”

Remember that old poem about the person who was feeling envious until she met a lad who was blind. The last line being, “Oh, Lord, forgive me when I whine. I have two eyes; the world is mine.” Not that my gratitude should be based on what others don’t have and can’t do, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to count your physical blessings. Mr Google tells me you can read the poem here.

Anyway, I headed for the kitchen for my morning coffee, my thoughts still flitting around my experiences in the nursing home. Breakfast: I can do it. I can fix myself, and enjoy, cereal, toast an egg. I recall how we’d feed those folks mush because they couldn’t swallow anything solid. Thank you, God for the ability to move, to swallow, to see – even if the season’s changing in a way I don’t appreciate.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: FRUSTRATION. Not at all this morning, thankfully. As I was saying, I’m feeling grateful rather than frustrated at all at the start of this new day – except maybe by the fact that the week has flown by so fast. Being retired, I can’t say like many others are morning, “Thank God it’s Friday!” But I will say a special thanks to you bloggers who supply us with new writing prompts every day. 🙂

Your Daily Word Prompt: PERFIDIOUS. Ah! This weather. This morning I opened the front door, looked out and took note of my coleus plant in a pot on the deck. Yesterday when I watered it, this plant had lush green leaves, swirled with appealing red tones as coleus are. This morning it’s limp and solid purple. Yesterday when the sun was shining brightly and the evening was fairly mild, I didn’t even think about frost. I have been taking in some nights so it wouldn’t freeze, but wasn’t thinking of frost last night. “Haha,” said the perfidious temperature as it dipped down and dealt my coleus a death blow.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: RECONCILE. Yes, I need to reconcile myself to the idea that autumn is here. The leaves are going to fall – in fact the maples have shed a lot already – and my plants are going to freeze. I need to get outside and do some fall clean-up before the snow flies. And the snow will fly, though it’s been so dry we may not get a lot. Back in 1976 we had a really dry fall here on the prairie and got no snow to speak of until February.

Word of the Day: AGASTOPIA. I saw this and wondered, what on earth is that? Neither Lexico nor Merriam-Webster can help me out. According to the prompter, this word means “The visual enjoyment of the appearance of a specific physical aspect of another person.” It can have a sensual context.

When we lived in Montréal I had this friend, a delightful person, with a real weakness for colours and textures. Today we’d call her “bipolar”; back then it was “manic-depressive”; at any rate, she was apt to react more strongly than most of us to visual or textural stimulus. Walking through a mall with her one day I had to be patient, as she’d see some fabric that excited her and she’d have to stop and handle it. A fur vest – she just had to rub it.

She told this story on herself: she was riding home on the subway one day when a man sat in front of her. Well, he had the thickest, darkest, most appealing mop of hair. She was fascinated and tried to restrain herself, but finally she couldn’t anymore. She reached out and buried her fingers in it as she exclaimed, “You have beautiful hair!” I gather he was surprised, but thankfully more flattered than alarmed. He just said – perhaps with a bit of uncertainty, “Thank you.” But she was such a cheery, likeable person that he didn’t take offense.

Lastly, Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day this morning is DELVE. I’ve been delving into Bible prophecy – the different ideas that have been embraced by Christians – and plan to post an article on premillennialism and dispensationalism later today. What huge words, eh? The first word means “before the thousand years” and the second refers to ages or eras.

I want to say a hearty thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read this ramble of mine. But now it’s 10:30 and I’ve journalled enough. I’d better get on with some real work of the day. I hope you all have a great weakened weekend. (English is so much fun! )

Six Words or Wisdom?

Good morning friends. Welcome to another patchwork of Saturday musings from me. A good day to be inside, it’s actually raining here on the prairie, which should suppress the clouds of dust that billow up every time a vehicle passes our place. (We live on a gravel road that turns to powder when it hasn’t rained for a month.)

Because the birds seemed to have disappeared a couple of weeks ago — off to find a drink somewhere, I imagined — I took in the shallow basins of water I’ve had out in the yard for their benefit. But yesterday we saw a small flock of robins in a nearby tree and later one was sitting on the bowl of water I leave out for the cats. Since it was almost empty, poor robin would have barely gotten his beak wet! So I put out the basins again.

We had a hard frost earlier this week; thermometers said -4 C. Squelched my balsam and marigolds, but we’d brought the tubs of tenders inside for the night, so I still have colorful petunias and patience plants blooming outside –and the pansies have withstood the onslaught. Yesterday the temp got up to 30C — a one heat wave that could give us the illusion that summer’s going to stay awhile!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ILLUSION. While the warm weather may be convincing, when we see our maples completely yellow, and the maple leaves lying on the ground, we sigh and know more frosty nights are coming. It appears most grain fields have been combined already, and huge round bales of straw dot the golden stubble. The sandhill cranes will be along shortly to do the final harvest.

Inside our house I have a “Mexican hat plant” that must have been impressed by Jack & his Beanstalk and decided to do likewise. Bryophyllum diagramontianum, a type of kalanoche also known as “mother of thousands,” looks like this and grows STRAIGHT up:

Whole plant of Bryophyllum daigremontianum.
Image: Dave’s Garden.com
SIX-WORD Wisdom

As to the title of this post: Six Words or Wisdom…what brought that on was seeing another Six-Word Story Prompt from Shweta. The word prompt for this week is MOTIVATION. Here’s the link, if you’re interested in checking out this prompt.

I may contribute something yet, but I’m seldom motivated to do such brief story prompts for the simple reason that it’s such a challenge to say anything really meaningful so tersely. It’s not hard to string six words together, like “No motivation for even simple tasks,” but what does that tell anybody? “Even simple tasks exhausted her now,” tells you something happened to her oomph. But what?

Anyway, once my mind started in that direction, I thought of “He wanted to, but he didn’t.” Six words, but again, nothing much revealed. On the other hand, “He who hesitates is lost,” is only five words but contains a whole chapter from the Life’s Lessons book. In other words…

“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight. Indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind.” — Jan McKeithen

Consider the six-word sagacity of “A stitch in time saves nine.” The old adage, “Least said, soonest mended,” is brilliant wisdom in four words.

In the past half-dozen decades the idea was: “Out with the old-timers’ cliches ’cause they’re meaningless to this new generation. Toss out the old anchors; this ship is sailing on to new frontiers!” But the new frontiers are getting scary; so many ships have been battered and broken on new-found rocks. Maybe there’ll be a reaching back to those old anchors again, the wisdom that got Grandma and Grandpa through tough times. Hey, I’ve even seen an article in a psychology magazine promoting self-denial!

Blogger Sue over at Jibber Jabber is wishing for a return to The Golden Rule in a Not-So-Golden World. Longing to see common courtesy in comments. She writes: “After all of this rambling on, I guess what I am really trying to say is that we are overdue to go back to our roots wherein personal integrity meant something, stood for something.

When readers comment on an article they don’t like, especially when they can comment anonymously, courteous disagreement often gives way to nastiness and name-calling. Some of my biggest shocks have been in the language Americans get into when it comes to politics and individual politicians. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but to call any person — no matter who or for what reason — degrading names degrades the critic, too, IMO.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, but I think this is enough random musing. I’ve gotten sidetracked this week; now I want to get back to my articles about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Money’s Important, But…

Money

by Edgar Guest

Money.CharlesThompsonDoes money bring men gladness?
Yes, at times!
It also brings men sadness
and to crimes.

Earned well, it is a pleasure,
none denies;
but in the love of treasure
danger lies.

Who grasps for it in blindness,
foul or fair,
sells out to bleak unkindness
and despair.

By money friends are parted;
hatred sown;
for money, marble-hearted
men have grown.

Money’s important. All require it
til life is o’er
but it destroys men who desire it
and nothing more.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company