Here are the top stories from this week that I think you will want to read:
- The spiritual side of our lives really does matter
- The strongest economy in history...
- Self-government requires self-discipline
- A blank book of pages
1. DAILY BIBLE VERSE
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
John 14:1-2 ESV
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The spiritual side of our lives really does matter
This was originally published on July 7th.
When I was growing up, my bedtime ritual always included a fairy tale that started with “Once upon a time...” and ended with the comforting words we all remember: “And they lived happily ever after.” As a child of the optimistic 1950s, I dreamed that life might be like that: whatever obstacles, dangers or perils might come my way, in the end, I would live happily ever after.
There were certainly plenty of struggles along the way, but I have to say that things did eventually work out even more happily than I could have imagined, from a career that I love to a wonderful family, including the world’s greatest grandkids. But sadly, for many people, “living happily ever after” does seem like an unobtainable fairy tale. Why is that happy ending growing ever more out-of-reach for so many people?
Of course, there are always factors beyond our control, like health problems and accidents. None of us can ever know if our birthday or Christmas celebration was the last we’ll ever enjoy. We have no way of knowing when it will all end, only that someday, it will (that’s why it’s said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes.)
Well, I can’t help you with your taxes, but I do have a bit of advice that I think will make death less frightening and greatly increase your chances of living “happily ever after.”
For decades, our nation has been focused on personal pleasure. The message drummed into everyone by pop culture is, “If it feels good, do it.” It’s fostered a culture of self-centeredness that led to Baby Boomers being nicknamed “The Me Generation.” Today’s young people have been dubbed “iGen” because many are so fixated on self and selfies that even their gadgets’ names all start with “I.” Advertising bombards us with the message that life is all about me and all about now. Such messages of immediate self-gratification may sell products and services, but they cause us to sell our souls if we follow this philosophy to its logical conclusion.
At some point in life, we all experience events that shake up our routine, much like the agitator in a washing machine shakes loose the grime in our clothes. We may not want or enjoy such experiences, but they’re necessary to force us to focus on the frailty of life and the certainty of death. They also force us to begin asking what really matters and why.
If we react to setbacks based solely on what feels good right now, we greatly lower our chances of enjoying a happy future. But if we believe there is even a remote possibility that our actions have lasting implications beyond the immediate, both within and beyond our lifetimes, it should cause us to think differently, live differently, and leave a different kind of legacy.
Without apology, I believe that the spiritual side of our lives really does matter. To believe otherwise is to define humans as little more than animated protoplasm, going through the motions of life for no particular purpose. I prefer to believe there’s more to us than flesh and blood. If we possess a soul capable of living beyond our lifetimes, then the seeds we plant in this life will yield fruit forever. If you believe those things, the ultimate becomes more important than the immediate.
When we decide to live beyond our lifetimes, our responsibilities to the next generation will outweigh our roles in our current jobs. More important than the money we’re paid for our work is what we will become as a result of our work. Our character will become more important than the careers we follow.
For all of us, life began “once upon a time.” Unlike the fairy tales, however, it’s up to us to make the choices that determine whether the last line of our life stories will read, “And they lived happily ever after.”
The strongest economy in history...
This article was originally published on July 9th.
Biden press secretary Karine Jean Pierre is yet again under fire for saying something so ludicrous, reporters had to go to their optometrists to make their eyes stop rolling. Asked about new polls showing 85% of Americans think the nation is going in the wrong direction, she again blamed all the problems on Putin and the pandemic, and insisted that “we are stronger economically than we have been in history.”
You can imagine the reaction to that, or just click the link to read it. However, I will repeat something I said early on in her tenure. She gets a lot of criticism for seeming unprepared, having no answers or just blurting out things that are nonsensical. But I have some sympathy for her. Think about it: if your job was defending the policies of this Administration, what could you possibly say?
Nick Arama at Redstate.com has some amusing thoughts on this latest whopper, as well as her claim that Biden has a secret plan to fight inflation (that I guess hasn’t gone into effect yet), and the observation that polls show Americans were more optimistic during the pandemic, proving that they think a global plague was better than this Administration.
Self-government requires self-discipline
This article was originally published on July 7th.
There are a lot of things people like to believe that are patently absurd if you think about it. Much of the Obama Administration was based on making confident declarations – we can’t just drill our way out of an energy shortage, it would take a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs, 2 percent growth is the “new normal,” etc. – all delivered in a somber, imperious tone that made them sound like unassailable truth, when in fact, all of them were patently false.
One of the most common pieces of false conventional wisdom is that “the government can’t legislate morality!” But of course, they do it all the time. We have millions of laws, just to enforce society’s consensus of what’s morally right or wrong. Liberals used to protest this, and now they’re the chief generators of morality laws, usually bans on everything they find morally offensive, including smoking, using racist words or an unpreferred pronoun, giving someone an unrequested plastic straw, attending a protest for a cause they personally disagree with, etc. etc. etc. Each law comes with loopholes, so government adds more laws to close them. Plus we’ll need police, courts and jails, because some people will always insist on doing the wrong thing anyway. All to legislate morality.
(I know, today’s liberals want to do away with police and jails, but that’s just for actual criminals. They still want to arrest and jail law-abiding citizens who exercise rights they disapprove of, like reopening their gyms, salons and barber shops.)
Self-government requires self-discipline, self-respect, and respect for others. When people don’t follow an accepted standard moral code, government keeps passing new laws to try to force them to, which creates bigger government and more expense and less freedom for everybody. Maybe the national debt wouldn’t be sky high now if our behavior standards hadn’t sunk so low.
How much do people’s bad personal choices end up costing all the rest of us? You might be surprised at the size of the bill. When I left the governor’s office in Arkansas, we had more than 13,000 inmates in the Department of Corrections. Just keeping them locked up cost taxpayers more than $220 million a year. That’s more than it would have cost to send 13,000 kids to any college in the state, all expenses paid. If every prison inmate had just lived a moral life and stayed out of trouble, the taxpayers could have enjoyed a $220 million tax cut. Or the money might have been used to improve roads and services that benefit everyone.
From the left, I’d always hear that we should spend more money on prisoners or else turn more of them loose. From the right, I’d hear that we should lock up more people and eliminate parole while cutting the prison budget. Both were unrealistic. But hardly anyone wanted to talk about the real problem: the lack of morality that led to all those people being locked up in the first place.
And what about juvenile offenders? Every kid placed into our Division of Youth Services cost taxpayers up to $80,000 a year. If they’d all had stable, nurturing homes and been taught to be obedient, responsible and moral, it would’ve saved the taxpayers of just that one state $80 million a year. Imagine how many parks we could have built for all kids to enjoy, or how many books we could’ve bought for school libraries, if we could’ve freed up $80 million a year in the state budget.
A lot of kids get into trouble because of peer pressure, which social media and Twitter mob shaming have made even more oppressive. They think breaking the rules makes them look cool and that they will never face any consequences for it. So kids, when someone you know starts acting up, instead of rewarding them with your admiration or covering for them with your silence, please have the courage to stand up and say, “That’s not cool! Thanks for costing us our parks and turning our generation into tax slaves, jerk!”
Hey, as long as kids are going to be vulnerable to peer pressure, why not use its power for good?
America The Beautiful
God's creation is all around us. To learn more about Glacier Bay National Park, visit its website here.
A blank book of pages
This article was published on July 7th.
The first school in which we enroll, and the most important in shaping our future, is our home. A casual view of modern TV shows might lead us to believe that parents don’t matter. I contend that nothing matters more.
When Benjamin West was a boy, his mother left him in charge of his younger sister, Sally. Benjamin found bottles of colored ink and painted Sally’s portrait. When his mother arrived home, she discovered spilled ink and ruined paper. But before she had the chance to scold Benjamin, she saw the picture. Then she planted an encouraging kiss on his cheek. He would grow up to become of the greatest painters of historic and religious artworks, a teacher of many other famous artists, and a major force in launching Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts, for which he served as president. Benjamin West would later say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”
Every child’s life is like a book of blank pages waiting to be written on. Something is written each day. A parent who exposes a child of hours of television, video games, unsupervised time on the Internet, and an occasional trip to church is not likely to raise a child whose value system will mirror that of the parent. The child will probably reflect the value system of the entertainment industry.
While researching for a book I co-wrote on juvenile delinquency (“Kids Who Kill”), I became aware that children need parents who are informed, involved and (yes) invasive in their children’s lives. There is no single fact that will explain why a child as young as eleven would commit mass murder, but one thing seems certain: the likelihood of this taking place decreases drastically when children have a stable home, good role models and parents who are clearly more afraid for their children than afraid of their children.
Too many parents fear angering or alienating their children. They convince themselves that love means avoiding asking their children questions about how their time is spent and who their friends are. They fool themselves into thinking they’re being good parents when they don’t hold their children accountable for their schoolwork and other activities. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be “helicopter parents” who are so overprotective that our children turn into a generation of “snowflakes” who cannot learn through their failures or develop a healthy maturity and independence.
The requirement of parents summed up in Ephesians 6:4 is simple yet profound: “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Children should not be driven to exasperation by parents who make demands that are so difficult to achieve that the children are prevented from succeeding. There’s a vast difference between breaking a child’s rebellious will and breaking his or her spirit.
As parents, our goal should be to channel the energy of our children, rather than destroy their creative and curious natures given by God that motivate them to discover their unique purposes. We are further admonished to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” By both example and exhortation, parents are to nourish their children. Most values are caught and then taught. Our children are more likely to imitate what they see us do than what they hear us say.
We live in a world where a meal can be microwaved in seconds, and an Internet message can be transmitted around the world almost instantly (another reason why it would be nice if they were fact-checked before hitting “Send.”) But part of the legacy we must leave is raising children who understand that some things can’t be rushed. Patience is a virtue as well as a pathway to victory. Things of great value take time.
If the thing to which you ascribe the greatest value in your life is your children, then don’t they deserve the greatest amount of time, nurturing and guidance you can possible give?
(Adapted from the book, “Rare, Medium or Done Well: Make the Most of your Life.” )
I Just Wanted to Say:
Thank you for reading the Sunday Standard.