Inclinations

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Whatever you do in this life is because of inclinations. An inclination is “a disposition or bent, especially of the mind or will; a liking or preference.”* It is something for which all of us struggle. We want to do this thing but instead we do this other thing. In other words, we don’t do what we want to do but do those things that we don’t want to do! Paul says this so clearly in Romans 7 because as great as an apostle that he was, he, too, struggled.

Now we will do whatever we are inclined to do. If we choose to do this or we choose to do that then it is because we were inclined to choose what we are doing. This is not by necessity a bad thing, but it is a thing which causes us to struggle because sometimes we know that we are doing the wrong thing or the sinful thing, but we still do it without regard to consequences–whether they are good or bad consequences. It is our natural bent to choose to do what we do.

There are those that believe that because we get to choose that we are free from any outside source or force. It is our choice as to whether or not we do whatever is inside of us and we are not biased by anything else. However, the reality is that the Bible teaches us that we are naturally inclined toward sin. Whatever we do it’s because we are inclined to do that thing. Our choices are not without bias. It is something that is innate because we are all with sin. Prior to salvation in Jesus Christ we have no problem with sin because it is something that comes naturally to us; it is innate. The Bible also describes us as being “slaves to sin” prior to salvation in Jesus Christ. This means that our inclination is going to be to do whatever we do because of the master whom we serve, namely sin.

Herein lies the problem with our inclination: once we come to salvation in Jesus Christ we still struggle because now we have a conflict between our sinful nature and our new nature in Jesus Christ. Our bent is still toward sin but now we also have a new bent toward Jesus Christ. However, whatever is going to bring us pleasure at a given moment is to what we will be inclined. In other words, that which brings us pleasure will be the choice that we choose to exercise because we do not want to be in pain nor do we want to do that which will cause us not to feel the pleasure.

So we still struggle with the sin that so easily ensnares us. It is common among all Christians even though the world expects for us to be completely perfect. As the old bumpersticker says, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven!” As cliche as that may be, it is absolutely true. We will always have struggles between the flesh and the spirit. Again, Paul the apostle understood this. We will always struggle with our inclinations for pleasure over pain. We will always do that which is easier than that which is difficult. And what is so difficult? To crucify the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. That’s what’s so difficult for us to do. When Jesus said that we are supposed to take up our cross daily none of us want the pain of that. No one wants to have to work hard in this life. No one wants to fight the temptation but to give into it because it is the easiest road that we can take, that is, to just give into the inclination of the flesh. He was telling us that this battle between the flesh and the spirit is a constant battle and we need to stand firm in Him to win this battle. After all, He did win the battle: even though being tempted as we are He was and is without sin!

What do we do then? How shall we then live? We need to understand that through Jesus Christ we do have forgiveness of sin–all sin! We need to live our lives not beating ourselves up over our sin, but certainly confessing our sin and having a change of mind about our sin; this is called repentance. We need to then grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and see that we truly can do all things through Him because He strengthens us. We need to take up our cross daily and crucify the desires of the flesh and live according to the Spirit of God. Is it difficult? Absolutely! This is why we see so many fall away from the faith because they stop fighting the temptations and just give into them. Will it forever be this hard? No, not forever. When we finally finish our race here then we will be completely free when we see Jesus Christ face to face. My only prayer is that He will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

So we have inclination to do that which is easiest, that which brings us pleasure over pain. What will you do today? Will you give into the flesh or will fight the good fight and live by the Spirit? My prayer for you and for myself is that we will keep the fight going and that we will stand firm in Jesus Christ who strengthens us.

* DICTIONARY.COM UNABRIDGED BASED ON THE RANDOM HOUSE UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, © RANDOM HOUSE, INC. 2019

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In Praise of Manners

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With intrigue I was watching a major news station this morning and they showed two young men, junior high football players, helping an elderly lady who was wheelchair-bound. Apparently, she had crossed the street and could not move herself on the grass. This is when these two young men began to help her by pushing her through the grass to her final destination.

What was so intriguing about this is that it made headline news. Since when have good manners been made headline news? Could it be because good manners have seemed to go out the window? Is this such a rare occasion that we have forgotten how to help others, how to be kind to others, and how to think about others?

In many respects, good manners have gone out the window. I have to admit, sometimes my manners are not healthy either. I cannot sit here and act as if I am perfectly good mannered good natured all of the time. There are times that I am in a bad mood and am frustrated or irritated about this or that. And this is my conviction this morning: how have I not shown good manners to others? How have I contributed to the breakdown of our society–our community–because of a lack of good manners? It seems as if good manners have ceased to exist in different areas.

For instance, while driving, how many people continue to tailgate those who are actually doing the speed limit? Just this morning a very large truck was tailgating me while I was on my way to my office. Without any clue as to what I could have done, the driver stayed so close to my bumper for a number of miles even though there was room on either side of me to pass. If I had slammed on my brakes he would have been the one at fault and would have to pay for repairs, hospital bills, etc. And even though it is against the law to tailgate, he was not respecting the law nor was he respecting the idea of good manners when it comes to driving. Rather than tailgating, he could have gone around or he could have decreased his speed and not tailgated.

What about opening doors for others? It is amazing to me to see how you might open a door for someone and the rudeness of entitlement is seen and felt. The person for whom you open the door does not say “thank you” but walks through the door as if they are deserved the favor from you. People used to open doors for others without being asked or suggested. It was just common courtesy. If someone opened the door for someone else you would at least get some kind of acknowledgement. Nowadays, people just walk through without any regard for the one who is holding the door. And it is amazing when a whole group of people just walk through a doorway without acknowledging the one holding the door for their entire group.

What about the respect that we are to show toward those in authority over us? Police officers? Governmental officials? Clergy? Parents? In this “selfie” generation we are finding that there is no moral absolute, therefore, you can live like the hellion that you are without any regard for those in authority and it is all because their truth may not be your truth. Now there are people who are throwing buckets of water on police officers in New York City. ANTIFA is on the prowl seeking to harm anyone wearing a MAGA hat or anyone who does not agree with them. Whether you support the President or you do not, it is the Office of the President! Yes you have freedom of speech but with that freedom comes responsibility, yea, even civility, diplomacy, and good manners as well! But the rudeness of people who are against whatever they are against absolutely lacks good manners. People nowadays will openly say whatever they please to their clergy as well. It does not matter how mean one is because in their minds the minister is supposed to simply accept it, put up with it, and love the person no matter what they say or do. How soon the laymen forget that Jesus even said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And let us not forget the parents. Have you been to a grocery store lately? The children who speak against their parents is in epidemic proportions. But why? I dare say it is because they see that their parents have no manners either.

I have two sons. They are aged thirteen and eight. I have the responsibility of helping to raise them to be gentlemen. It is my responsibility to train them to open doors for their mother so later on when they are married they will open doors for their wives and train their children to have manners. It is my responsibility to teach them to acknowledge adults who are speaking to them with “yes sir” and “no ma’am” or “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” It is my responsibility to help them to understand politics and policies that our governmental agencies place upon us and to respect governing authorities over us. It is my responsibility to help them to honor their father and mother as parents so that when they have their own children, they will be able to train up their children in the way that they should go.

Good manners are necessary for a society to function at its best. Without these manners, we will simply go the way of the barbarians. Respect goes hand in hand with good manners. The respect that we show for others will help us to help society to be a good and decent society. It is with this in mind that we need to show good manners toward each other. A simple “yes ma’am” or “no sir” will suffice. A simple “thank you” when someone does something nice for you will be grand. A simple act of respect for the police officer who sacrificially places himself in harm’s way to protect you will go a long way. A simple debate on policy and not on a person who holds a political office would be nice. Let us show character by not attacking a person but a policy. Perhaps it will help all of us as we seek to better ourselves and our society as a whole.

I am thankful for these two young men pushing this elderly lady in a wheelchair through the grass. It is a helpful reminder that good manners are not dead and maybe it would behoove us all to show some kindness, respect, love, grace, and mercy today. We can do this by having good manners toward each other.

 

Is It Wrong?

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Lately I have heard so many people speaking about how nationalism is wrong. But what I am finding is that when people believe that nationalism is wrong, they are only speaking about the United States of America. Our Country isn’t perfect but we do want to protect what we have within their own borders that we currently hold. Personally speaking, I don’t mind in the least the ideology of nationalism. Nationalism simply means the following: 1) spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation; 2) devotion and loyalty to one’s own country; patriotism; 3) excessive patriotism; chauvinism; 4) the desire for national advancement or political independence; 5) the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations; 6) an idiom or trait peculiar to a nation; and, finally, 7) a movement as in the arts, based upon the folk idioms, history, aspirations, etc., of a nation.* As you can read, there are various definitions for the idea of nationalism, but the median definition is simply a devotion and loyalty to one’s own nation or patriotism. That’s a simple way of looking at nationalism, but it is an accurate way of looking at the subject at hand. And notice something about the definitions: color of skin is not associated with any of the definitions. It’s just simply people who love their nation.

However, in the economy of our time here in the United States, nationalism is being attacked from what appears to be every side of every argument. And the resulting effects of these attacks is a confusion and an infighting among fellow citizens of the same Country. On the one side you have those who say that we should not have nationalism because it is a “white” thing and on the other side those who say that we should have nationalism for the purpose of securing our nation. I stand on the latter side of things. It’s not anymore a “white” thing as it is a “black” thing or “brown” thing or a “yellow” thing–or any other type of thing! It is a simple love for the Nation where we live and reside, the place that we call “home.” However, the very foundation of our republic has been eroding for generations. In fact, all you have to do is look at the history of this great nation and you will see just how far we have come from its founding: a nationalistic people who wanted their own place to live in freedom for the purpose of having freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from the rule of a tyrant king.

Now I know there will be people who disagree with the simplicity of my statements in this article. That’s fine with me. I can get along with anyone as long as there is no belligerent bloviation from anyone. I get to bloviate because I pay to have this blog as simple as it may be and as partial as it may be. I have a constitutional right to my opinion just as those who disagree with me, and I’m alright with someone agreeing or disagreeing with me. It really doesn’t matter to me when it comes to things like this post. What I find most disingenuous, however, is when someone makes the claim that it is nationalism that is causing the problems in our great nation. It is not the ideology of nationalism that is the problem, but it is the infighting of one group against another without any kind of debate, without any sense of respect for the other person with whom you are discussing ideas or with whom you disagree. In today’s society, if you disagree with anyone, it seems that people think they have the right to shut you down after sharing your opinion. The open market, as it were, has closed! There is only room for one opinion and only one opinion: nationalism is wrong!

Well, I disagree. Nationalism in and of itself is not by necessity a bad thing. It is evident that nationalism is alive and well in all people groups here in the United States along with every other nation around the world. Just go to an international soccer game and you’ll hear people from all walks of life chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” Or you’ll hear people chanting, “Brazil! Brazil! Brazil!” That’s nationalism. Or just go to your local citywide events like concerts or block parties, and you’ll see nationalism being played out in the lives of people as they enjoy the freedom we all have to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s nationalism. Stand at the exit doors of an international airport when our military troops come back home and people are thanking our brave men and women for all that they do to help keep our families and freedoms safe. That’s nationalism. When you thank a cop for protecting you in the restaurant while you’re eating with your family, you’re expressing your nationalism.

I know that not everyone supports this President or that President, but the reality is that they are our Presidents for a time. We may not like what they say or do and we certainly may not agree with their policies, but that doesn’t mean that we ought to be fighting each other over their mistakes or good fortunes. That goes along with our Congress as well. I certainly don’t agree with every policy, every law, every regulation, and every politician, but that doesn’t mean that I am all of a sudden going to stop being patriotic–or as some would say, nationalistic. Rather, I’m going to do my part to bring peace to a hurting Nation to the best of my ability in the area where I live. I am going to be an active part of my community and try my best to bring reconciliation to the racial divide. I’m going to do my part in helping those in need and those who are broken and destitute to the best of my ability. I’m going to do my part to bring true justice reform to our Nation if at all possible. I’m going to do my best to help the unwed mothers and the orphaned children. I’m going to do my best to support those who are dong something about these and other issues in our great Nation. But I will not lose sight of the great nation which affords me the opportunity to do these things. And by the way, I may even say or write things where I express my dislike of a policy or even of a person’s actions, but that doesn’t mean that I am unpatriotic. It simply means that I disagree with their stance or their unethical ways; certainly there’s nothing wrong with this freedom of speech either.

I was born in the United States of America. In the countries which I have been privileged to travel, I can say unequivocally that I would rather live right here than anywhere else in the world. I have freedoms that others in foreign nations do not have. This is why so many are trying to cross our borders. I only wish they would come legally even though I understand that we have a broken system right now. But that doesn’t dismiss the current laws that we have. And from my understanding, if you break a law, you’re liable to have to pay the consequences of breaking those laws which means those who are entering illegally should also be held to account for the same thing!

Do we have a perfect nation? By no means! But we have a free nation for now. And by the way, why do so many people attack those who love this nation? If you go anywhere else in the world there are nationalists just the same. Have you ever met someone from Germany? They love Germany. Anyone from Israel? They love Israel. Anyone from Africa? They love Africa. Anyone from the Philippines? They love the Philippines. Anyone from Bermuda? They love Bermuda. Anyone from Japan? They love Japan. Anyone from France? They love France. Anyone from Italy? They love Italy. In other words, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with nationalism–even if you’re from the United States of America. We ought to love the Country where we live. We ought to support the Country where we live, even if we don’t agree with everything that’s going on within her borders. We ought to seek reconciliation among the racial divide instead of declaring the talking points of any political party. We need to seek to help others to the best of our ability with the resources which we have been entrusted with by God Almighty. But it doesn’t mean that we are in the wrong just because we love our Country.

As with every President that I have ever heard give a speech or the speeches that I have read, I say, “May God bless you! And may God bless the United States of America!”

* From https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nationalism, accessed August 3, 2019.
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