Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Your Marriage a "Trial Marriage"? How to Make It Last

There’s a trend toward considering your first marriage as a “trial marriage,” and you’ll do better the second time around. I even attended a wedding recently where the bride and groom vowed to love each other “for as long as possible.” About 51% of all American marriages end in divorce.

Want your first marriage to be the only one, and a lasting one? Take some advice from someone who turned an upside down marriage into 25 years of happiness:

Love God first. This is the first commandment in both the Old and New Testament: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Mark 12:30). You may be thinking, but some marriages among churchgoers end in divorce, too…so how does this work?

Going to church has nothing to do with really having faith in God. This famous commandment is just not being considered these days, because it’s not “PC” to believe in God. If more people - within and outside the church - would put God first, we'd follow more of His advice and our marriages would be healthier.

Compromise and Sacrifice. The “Me Generation” and Generations X and Y have been taught to just look out for “Number One.” In marriage, we have another person to care about. Don’t expect the other person to make you ecstatically happy every day. Try doing some of that yourself, for them. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). But remember, no human can make another person happy all the time.

Listen. BeyoncĂ© sings a heart-wrenching song in the movie version of “Dreamgirls” called “Listen.” She lets all her frustrations out about how her husband doesn’t take her feelings and desires into consideration. Listen to each other and discuss things openly. Try being best friends (Mark 10:8 – “And the two shall become one flesh; no longer two, but one”).

Submit to each other. Submission – what an awful, politically incorrect word. Many people take one Bible verse, Ephesians 5:22 – “Wives, submit to your husbands” – and make it sound horrible. But from 5:21-33, there is actually more about the husband serving his wife. “Love your wife as yourself,” it says. Did you ever know a man who loved himself who beat himself up?

Be honest. One little white lie can turn into another, and another. The truth won’t change the more you lie. Honesty pays in the end.

This post is taken from a longer piece at Associated Content. Click here to see the whole version.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

What if God and the Devil Are Real?

Many people say God and the Devil don't exist. But what if they're real, making everything else biblically possible? The vision for this poem is based on various verses in the Bible. But it's just my 20-20 faith sight.

The devil, one day, gathered all of his crew,
And said: “I’m so bored I need something to do.
I’ve so far convinced that creature called man
That I don’t exist, and that was my plan…
It’s easy for me to just walk through the door,
Since they don’t believe in God anymore.

Apartheid and slavery I did for a while,
And Holocaust, genocide, those make me smile.
Now enough people think that a baby’s just tissue;
I’m tired of that being an ongoing issue.
So put on your thinking caps, demons, think long.
We need a new twist on what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Then Legion stood up and said, “They’ll take the bait
If we make them believe disagreeing is hate.
We’ll start so many rumors of discrimination
That good common sense will just take a vacation.

We’ll say that the Bible is all ancient news,
And tell them it’s used as a tool to abuse.
To top it all off, we’ll tell kids not to listen;
When their parents speak, too much fun they’ll be missin’!

Then we’ll make them elect some leaders who say
We must treat the terrorists nice every day.
While innocent blood turns their streets into sludge,
We’ll convince them there’s no good or bad to be judged.
Their egos are fragile, their consciences numb.
They won’t know what hit them – from all sides we’ll come.”

“That’s good, Legion,” Satan remarked with a grin.
With demons like you, I think I can win.”
But Satan, he knows in the back of his mind
That his fun can last just a limited time.
For one day, the sky will be splitting in two,
And judgment will come; some believe it – will you?

c. 2009, Sheryl Young
This poem was first published at Associated as the Conclusion of my series, "Today's Christianity." It can be seen here along with my other features at that website:
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Should America Have More Gun Control? Ask Great Britain

If America goes the way of Great Britain for tougher gun control laws, what will it accomplish?

The following post contains excerpts and statistics from the article, “The UK Gun Ban” published July 16, 2009 at Associated Content by writer Tony Vega, and used with his permission. Original sources are given at that site.

Not to insult the UK and its lawmakers’ decisions, these statistics should instead encourage Americans to assess by fact and not by fad. The trail blazing UK’s 1997 handgun ban became the "gold standard" of gun control - the toughest firearm restrictions of any democracy.

Since 1997, how has that UK gun ban been working?
-From 1997 to 2001, the rate of violent crime more than doubled.
-The chances of being mugged in London are now six times greater than in New York.
-England's rates of assault, robbery, and burglary are higher than America's.
-53 percent of English home burglaries occur while the residents are at home, compared with the United States’ 13 percent.
-In a United Nations [2002] study of crime, England and Wales led the Western world's crime among 18 developed nations; nearly 55 crimes per 100 people. [1]
-In a 2001 BBC report, officers stated there had been a 100% increase in firearms-related crime in the capitol. [2]
-2008 UK statistics show a significant rise in gun crimes, the biggest since 2004. [6]

By adopting a radical gun ban, the UK abandoned the principles of their own 1689 Bill of Rights calling for the citizenry to "have arms for their defence."

The Second Amendment in the United States’ Bill of Rights states: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Thomas Jefferson said: "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Criminals will never comply with gun laws. Criminals will remain armed and the gun black market will only flourish. Innocent people will be stripped of their right to self-defense. Recalling prohibition (the American alcohol ban of the 1920’s), a new league of criminals and mobsters was created who got rich off of bootlegging liquor. Organized crime rose considerably.

Facebook recently did a gun control poll of more than 215,000 Americans to see if they want increased gun control. The vote was a resounding 92% against more gun control.

To see more of Mr. Vega’s political insight and other writing, go here.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Conservative Books Lead the Nation's Top Bestseller Lists

Two books which can be categorized as “conservative” are holding the top bestselling slots on the two major Top Bestseller Lists in America. Say what you will about most of “mainstream America” having a liberal mindset and conservatives being the minority—but reader trends contradict that statement.

Radio conservative shock-jock Glenn Beck is sitting comfortably at No. 1 with his latest book “Common Sense,” on the USA TODAY Bestseller List; and on the NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller List in the category of Paperback Nonfiction. The book offers Beck's brand of insight into America's current political, economic and social climate.

Beck’s previous book, “An Inconvenient Book,” did a good job of bashing both sides of the congressional aisle. It held the top Bestseller spot at the NY Times for a while in 2008. Curiously, liberal comedian Stephen Colbert’s book “I Am America (And So Can You)” plus the other three books on the NY Time’s bestseller list during that period all had book reviews on line at the Times; but Beck’s book was neither reviewed by the newspaper staff nor did they allow outsiders to contribute a review…I know because I tried.

Beck’s “An Inconvenient Book” is now still sitting on the Times list at No. 5 in the same category as his "Common Sense." It has performed consistently well all year. Colbert’s book is nowhere in sight.

The NEW YORK TIMES has ex-Democrat Dick Morris’ book, “Catastrophe” as No. 1 in the Hardcover Nonfiction category, while USA TODAY has this book all the way down at No. 17, where it’s followed closely by Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto” at No. 22. Levin is the author of a previous bestseller, “Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America.”

Morris, who was an advisor to Bill Clinton through many of his campaigns including the presidential elections, gets picked on for resigning during a sex scandal, supposedly caught in an adulterous relationship. He then started writing exposés of the Clintons, and has since taken on the workings of the political machine in many books and articles.

See my 2008 Associated Content review of Beck’s “An Inconvenient Book” here.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

American Reflections on the Fourth of July

Americans make big party plans for the Fourth of July and that extra day off of work. Faster than you can say “Fourth of July” some TV talk show host will interview people on the street to see if they know what “Independence Day” means. The answers will be hilarious, yet sad.

Recent surveys of students and their parents born after 1965 reveal that a majority don’t know what the American Revolution was or when and why it was fought. They haven’t a clue what’s in the Declaration of Independence.

The passionate, temporary wave of patriotism and spirituality after 9/11/01 had a backlash. In a valid attempt to show acceptance and understanding for the many innocent people who shared the nationality and religion of the 9/11 suspects, we began an over-the-top movement to “accept everything.” Patriotism has been belittled by activists who say the founding fathers should be ashamed that they didn’t get rid of slavery within the Declaration of Independence; that “freedom for all” turned out to be “freedom for some.”

But in our quest for wanting everything immediately in this fast-paced, Twittering society, Americans forget that freedom came in stages. We can’t have everything now, now, now. We are of little faith to wait for anything, and we don't have a great deal of foresight.

The great William Wilberforce worked to abolish slavery in England throughout his adult life. It happened there in 1833. In America, some of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 worked tirelessly for the rest of their lives to see slavery abolished in America, and handed down the effort to those who came after them. Almost a hundred years later, in 1865, it was achieved.

These men had faith and sight - a vision of freedom. Most Americans lack that faith and sight today. The same lack of insight that condemns how the colonies obtained freedom from Great Britain is the same lack of insight that doesn’t understand why we fight terrorism abroad today. If we don’t fight it elsewhere, it could reach our shores. But the battle can’t be won in a day.

A copy of the Declaration of Independence can be seen here.
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