Saturday, April 15, 2017

Christian Love is Agape Love

The Greatest Commandment - Back porch Musings of Prattzilla

Let me just start by saying I know next to nothing about Greek and I do not pretend to have any actual unique take on any Biblical concept nor do I have specific scripture backing up my many claims.  I simply want to have a post over recent world events during Christ's resurrection celebration.  I also want to make the caveat that I have no particular person in mind when I write this with the exception of Christians in general.  I also want you to know that this piece is particularly brutal to the "traditional" "Sean Hannity" Christian.  If that isn't something you are interested in, I encourage you to not read this piece.  

This past week, our pastor Blake Jennings at Grace Bible Church Southwood in College Station, Texas discussed the so-called "Greatest Commandment." I fully enjoyed this discussion as Blake gave me something new to consider on this traditional text.  I posted all of the important information for you to consider at the bottom of this blog and a reminder of what the Greatest Commandment passage is all about.  

I have always taken this Commandment from our Messiah as a pretty normal response to the Pharisees, but it was so much more than that.  Jesus used Agape love in this.  That's serious folks.  

Basically, Christ is pointing out that it's actually impossible to complete the Greatest Commandment. We've failed, and we will always fail.  Thankfully we have the Gospel, but that's not what I want to talk about here.  I have something more that has pulled at my heart over the past few years, months and days when it comes to this Greatest Commandment.  

The poor - Somewhere along the line, Christians all became Conservative Capitalists.  Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a Conservative Capitalist too, but the Blood of Christ compels me to consider things outside of this world.  I've posted this before, but I encourage everyone to have a listen to this Phil Vischer podcast and consider the key points Skye Jethani brings to light.  Discussing the poor, Skye's daily devotional is now free.  He cancelled my credit card paying for the service as he did everyone.  

The sermon on the mount was devastating for the Pharisees who placed an extreme emphasis on the law.  It's so very clear that the Lord commands us to take care of the poor, but it seems over and over again that the Church relies on the things of this world (Capitalism) to help the needy.  Perhaps Capitalism will help the most, but as a historian I can't imagine Christians not supporting the New Deal or the Great Society when the intent was targeted at helping the poor.  I understand that in many ways these programs failed miserably, but we as Christians have taken an intellectual approach to the poor and politics as opposed to a love approach to politics.  Again, we have been commanded Agape in this sense. Yes...I'm saying that being a "Bleeding Heart" really might be what Christ commands. Why are we so fast to hold onto our money when we have been shown that we will give our money to whatever we love the most which is inevitably ourselves.  I'm worried that I have done too little for the poor in the eyes of God.  (of course I's impossible without the Blood of Christ)  The Greatest Commandment - Agape

Immigrants - What would Jesus do about so called "illegal immigration?"  Welcome them.  All of them.  All authority is put in place by God without a doubt and law is put in place for us to follow, but just as we sin constantly we often break the law constantly.  Often times purposely.  Speeding, perfectly paying taxes, always following environmental concerns.....I think I've made my point.  We choose which laws to follow and yet when it comes to bringing in more people to the United States in which we can be witnesses, we are adamant that the law be followed to the letter.  I say we have no business interfering with law enforcement, but we should welcome all immigrants whether legal or non-legal into our churches and rejoice when they arrive safely.  

For that matter, I'm confused why American Christians don't fight for immigration reform.  It's become increasingly difficult to come to the United States legally.  It matters zero what immigration policies are of other countries.  Zero.  We live in the most Christian friendly environment in the World.  Why would we limit any access to this path to the Cross?  Historically speaking, how many current American citizens came to this great country under repressive immigration policies?  Unless you are Chinese or Eastern European, I would bet the answer is zero.  Most people became citizens by getting off of the boat and giving your name as an immigrant to the United States and that...led America to become great.  Great.  The United States became great due to its limited government in regard to immigration.  I believe it's our duty as Christians to constantly push for immigration reform to make it easier to come legally and safely.  The Greatest Commandment - Agape (I plan on writing another blog post on needed immigration reform and how to properly go about it)  

Refugees - As a good Conservative, this one is easy.  We should in no way bring in refugees, but also as a good Conservative we should in no way bomb other countries unless they attack us.  Where exactly in the Constitution does it allow us to bomb Syria?  If you believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, there is no legal recourse to even being involved in Southwest Asia.  9-11?  They were all from Saudi Arabia.  Unless we are bombing Saudi Arabia, I have no idea what on Earth we are doing there.........

I am a good Conservative, BUT I am a follower of Christ first.  I believe the Bible has called us to specifically care for and protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Consider this photo….

This photo changed my life.  I cannot help but to tear up when I see it.  It is a picture of a Syrian Refugee father with his children. That father loves his children dearly, and yet Americans fight to turn away.  Christ would embrace this man and his children.  They have nothing and we have so much.  If we were so worried about children being killed by chemical weapons, why were we not willing to simply have them here in the first place via a very liberal refugee policy?  Christ is the only one who can give this man and his children rest, but Americans have every ability to take in every single refugee.  Wait, they were rumored to be extremist Muslims.  Guess what?  The Greatest Commandment - Agape.

Ban on Majority Muslim Countries - Let me get this straight.  We are to bring the word of God to the corners of the Earth, but we balk at those people coming to us so that we can share the Gospel in our back yard.  We cannot go to these places to share the Gospel, but they are willing to come to us.  Again.  The Greatest Commandment - Agape.  

Donald Trump - I believe in Character, Morality, Kindness, Peacemaking, and Righteousness. Which of these does this man possess or attempt to possess?  How exactly does this person fit into the Sermon on the Mount?  We were right to reject the presidency of Bill Clinton due to his moral corruption, but what has happened to that conviction we had against Clinton when it comes to Trump?  I'm worried it was just politics as usual.  I'm worried that Christians are just like everyone else.  Politics as usual.  Greatest Commandment - Agape.

We have been called to be fundamentally different than the world.  We have been called to bring the love of Christ to the best of our abilities.  We have been called to be dumbfounding to the world due to our love.  We have been called to sacrifice in the name of Christ.  I have had discussions with Christian students in the high school in which I teach, and their faith is challenged mostly by Christians acting as they are acting now.  Love isn't what dominates their thought process; rather, a list of things outside of what we should care about as Christians:  money, safety, politics.  On this Resurrection Sunday, I hope we as a Christian Nation can be great again by being the Light on the Hill that we were founded on.  

The Greatest Commandment

34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. 35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love theLord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Here is the Greek for your enjoyment with the highlighted word Agape -
34 Οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ἐφίμωσεν τοὺς Σαδδουκαίους συνήχθησαν ἐπὶ τὸαὐτό, 35 καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν [νομικὸς] πειράζων αὐτόν· 36 διδάσκαλε, ποίαἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ; 37 ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐν ὅλῃ |τῇ| καρδίᾳ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου· 38 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ μεγάληκαὶ πρώτη ἐντολή. 39 δευτέρα |δὲ| ὁμοία αὐτῇ· ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.40 ἐν ταύταις ταῖς δυσὶν ἐντολαῖς ὅλος ὁ νόμος κρέμαται καὶ οἱ προφῆται.
Wiki Definition of Agape - Agape is a Greco-Christian term referring to "love: the highest form of love, charity", and "the love of God for man and of man for God".[1] Not to be confused with philiabrotherly love – agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

ADHD and Education

How many attention deficit kids does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  -  Let's ride bikes!  

ADHD is a crazy thing that seemingly has the world always questioning how to deal with it.  I'm pretty sure my feeble young mind was subject to this very thing as a kid, as I'm also pretty sure I'm subject to it now as an adult kid.  Am I an expert?  YES.  Er.  Yes?  Don't care.  I think I know what I'm talking about and you're interested in what I have to say otherwise you wouldn't be here here so here we go.

I was reading through Facebook and a fellow educator shared the following link to an education "info web a post" that discussed the subject.  Give it a glance, or not.  Whatever.

17 WAYS TO HELP ADHD or something....

ADHD is wrongly labeled.  There isn't a deficit of attention.  ADHD means you have hear, see, feel EVERYTHING.  As I'm sitting here typing, I can't help but to hear my dog, my wife, the TV inside the house, the airplane outside, the sound of the lights, my typing hands and I can't stop thinking about playing Fallout 4, Doom and Battlefront.  I'm also thinking about music, Pepsi, and how hot I am currently.  (Hot as in chicks dig  Just temperature hot, but chicks do dig me)  All of that stuff is going through my mind all at the same time, and this is the life of an ADHD person.  When it comes to drugs, they don't take downers, they take uppers.  Caffeine actually slows me down....why?  Most people can simply ignore the things that bother them or are impacting them, but this isn't true for ADHD kids.  Everything is there to pay attention to.  When you take an upper, such as caffeine, you notice the things around you yes, but you can more readily ignore them.  Boom.  ADHD.  Next -

So, the post above from the education thingamagiggy has basically one solution.  Movement.  That's it.  Hey ADHD kids.  Pay attention to movement so you can ignore every sound by every kid in the class as well as every sound in the hallway.  It works.  It really does, but there is so much more that you can do to help an ADHD kid.

My remedies.....

1.  White Noise - Okay, the post mentioned this too but it is really important.  Please educators, always have a fan going in your classroom, but make sure the noise is constant.  Any clicking of a rotating fan is counter productive.

2.  Strange Noise - Several of the teachers in my department have noise coming from the speakers in their ceiling which doesn't really bother them.......but it's like chalkboard fingernails to me and to every other ADHD kid.  We can't help but to listen to the pattern of what that sound is making.

3.  Resetting the brain - ADHD kids need to constantly reset their brain.  I recommend having them take notes with three different colored pens.  Every time they change pens, they reset.  It might be a hassle for the normal person to always change pens every sentence, but an ADHD kid has no problem doing so.  It actually helps them focus.

4.  Resetting the brain part II - Print outs need to have different colors.  White page, yellow page, white page, yellow page.  Even writing one line on one page, and then another line on another page is beneficial.

5.  Resetting the brain part III - Any learned tic will help.  Do a school activity, and then: snap, eat a sunflower seed, stand up, make a sound, do any of the activities from the education long as it isn't constant.

6.  Music is our friend - Believe it or not, it's easier for me to grade essays listening to metal music in a crowed cafeteria than it is in a quiet place.....because I'm over stimulating.  There is too much to pay attention to, so I don't pay attention to anything.  This works.  I recommend for a struggling kid to listen to music (just not music that they know or has words that they will sing)  Classical or ethnic music is probably best.

7.  Have something to look at - As a test years ago, I used to put on the real estate channel while I gave tests.  ADHD kids would hand in their tests and then totally watch the dumb channel.  A quiet room with no stimulation means an ADHD kid will be stimulated by anything or make something to be stimulated by.  Here is where the movement things work, but that distracts other kids as well.

8.  Sit in the front - No matter what they tell you, an ADHD kid can't help but to pay attention to everything going on in the room.  They must sit in front.  Always.

9.  Give the most challenging questions to ADHD kids - They will spend more time than anybody on something that they have the potential to figure out.

Okay.  I'm officially bored.  Just wanted to get a few of those things off my chest.  Please send along any things that work for you if you are an ADHD kid.  Thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Language Matters

I've been recuperating from ACL / Meniscus surgery thank you very much soccer the sport I don't totally understand and kinda hate but nonetheless played until I tried to prove my athletic prowess to the youthful forward of the other team.  Prowless indeed.  Knee surgery physical therapy gives you plenty of time to waste while sitting on your tookus so indubitably.........long, drawn out movies are in order.

I am quite fond of a movie entitled Master and Commander starring Russel Crowe as Captain Lucky Jack Aubrey.  The film is based on one of 20 fictional books authored by English Author Patrick O'Brian about the escapades of Lucky Jack's illustrious career.  What makes the movie so great is its detail to accuracy and more specifically language accuracy.  He painstakingly attempts to recreate the language of the Royal Navy in the early 19th Century during the Napoleonic War, something I respect exceedingly.  Accuracy and precision matter in so many things in life.  I couldn't care less that this accuracy and precision involves a movie about a country not my own and a war that truthfully has no actual connection to me as a Citizen of the United matters nonetheless.

Vulgarity, or common as its English way would properly imply, has so much gotten out of hand.  My least favorite thing is a WWII film in which they curse constantly. Guess what?  Those films are historically inaccurate; those boys didn't actually speak like that even in time of battle.  Why not?  It simply wasn't a major part of their vernacular, or any part of their vernacular truthfully.  Directors then say they do it to invoke the feeling of war into a modern audience.  So you're telling me that people getting blown up and dying in terrible, horrible ways isn't good enough to invoke the feeling of war?  The only way for a modern audience to get it is through vulgarity?  May God Save the Queen.

Why does all of this matter?  Far too many people have not stayed the path when it comes to looking at the details and speaking properly.  People curse all the time.  It's in their blood like a virus.  The IdunnowhatelsetosaysoIcurse Virus.  Crutch words are what they have become so much so that the new like is like, you know.....F-Bomb! People cannot think of the most precise word to say so they simply say one of the 7 words you can't say.   Figure them out for yourself....or just search the brilliant George Carlin.  Simply put, I am sorry but bovine fecal matter has nothing to do with matronly intercourse my friend.  Inaccuracy abides Dude.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Who's actually right in the Middle East?

Truthfully, this is what I really wanted to say when I started this blog thing.......

Middle East.  Yup.  I want to talk about the Middle East pertaining to The Palestinians and Israel due to the fact that I am an idiot.

Here's the thing.  I see tons of posts about this region from all kinds of people.  I try to read whatever is written carefully so that I can really get the feel for the region. What conclusion did I come up with?  They're all right.  Or all wrong for the pessimists out there and that's the way you swing.

I find it interesting that generally liberally minded people are pro-Palestine, and conservatively minded people are pro-Israel.  Now before you say "blah, blah, blah, I'm a Liberal/Conservative and I'm unique in my thinking, blah, blah, blah."  I know....I get the whole causation / correlation thing....let me write already.
The thing is, nobody is smarter or more open minded about this issue.  Star Wars helps us here.  It all depends on a certain point of view.  The halves vs. the halve-nots.  Conservatives are not always the halves, but they think they are or think they will be and they approach so many things in life with this perspective.  Liberals are not always the halve-nots, but they think they are the champion of these people and they approach so many things in life with this perspective.  Case in point:  The Mexican Border....but that's another post.

Israel are the halves and so it makes sense to most Conservatives that they are in the right.  They currently rule the land, therefore they get to make the rules.  That's life and nothing is going to change that.  Hamas shoots missiles at Israel.  Lots of them.  None of them hit anything due to the fact that these missiles are terrible, but they are still shooting missiles.  Imagine your neighbor who rents the house from you keeps throwing his blind, toothless, mange covered pitbull Nero into your back yard every day despite your protests.  You would throw him out....but you can't due to the fascist H.O.A.  Conservatives commiserate with the halves and they always will.  I get it.

Palestine are the halve-nots and so it makes sense to most Liberals that they are in the right.  They got the shaft years ago by the rich landlords and it blows.  They have no say, and when you have no say, you break things.  I'm pretty sure if I personally had no say in the way I got to live my life, I would break things.  That's just how I'm wired....apparently so are the Palestinians.  Israel left us with some land, and some stores.  Nice stores.  Screw them!!!!  I don't want handouts from them due to the fact that they have already taken so much.  They shoot and they hit pretty much anything they aim at.  Imagine the neighbor next door who owns your house you are renting actually got the land from your family land owned for centuries.  I'm going to throw Nero over into his back yard to take a dump and maybe mess up his shrubbery.  I get it.

The fact of the matter is, people are dying in this area and that's a tragedy.  It breaks my heart every time I see a story of death from the region or anywhere in the world for that matter.   I wish things could get fixed and they just can't.  What is interesting though is who supports who even though they have no actual stake in the conflict.

I can't write, therefore I should write

I truly appreciate well formulated writing.  Writing that brings you in, makes you feel what is being written, and gives you a mental picture of what is going on.  I cannot do this and I know it.  I am not too bothered about this situation though due to the fact that it's actually pretty rare among the regular non-book writing public.

Mike Williams and Chauncey Lindner are two guys who have this gift and I respect fully this attribute about them.  They don't try to show you how good of a writer they are, they just write.  The antithesis of pretentiousness as well which I appreciate.  Too often, English teachers seemingly are the worst "reads" due to the fact that they are trying to wow the reader with their awesomeness.  Awesomeness which apparently is lacking.

It is my contention that good writing is birthed from practice and reading.  It is clear when I see people posting on the inter-web when someone is not a reader due to the evidence of their ineptitude of the written English language.  If you read, you should have some ability to write.  If you write, you care enough about your writing in some capacity therefore there should be some ability within.  I am a big believer in good practice makes better so I have decided to start writing for pleasure as much as possible.

As I said before, I don't pretend to be a good writer but I do like using fun language.  I like interesting words....hopefully I use them correctly.  I am not trying to impress anybody with my writing; rather, I am just interested in honing my skills as a thinker.  I often sit on my back porch and think about how the world should be run, and why things are the way they are.  I have ideas in my head, I am just thinking that perhaps it is time for me to put those ideas down somewhere so that when I am an old man, I may remember what I once thought and laugh at how foolish I was when I was a younger man.