Friday, May 29, 2009

How Do You Know Who Someone “Really” Is?

Irrespective of geographical location and historical sequencing, people have, and always will remain, people. There are certain qualities which we possess, that transcend culture. The foremost quality is the fact that we are all made in the image of God. Another universal quality, is that every human being is sinful. Both major qualities combine to create interesting characteristics. As human beings, we desire to interact with other humans, understanding where they come from, how their minds work, and how they physically interact. It is a pursuit of meaning as much as it is a pursuit of knowledge. We better understand who we are through our relationship with them. We also tend to want to know how we can be of service, accomplishing inherent purposes placed in us by our Creator. God himself desires a relationship with human beings (even though he thoroughly knows our every instinct and motive). I believe, our pursuit of relationship is a mirror-image of His desire. However, we are not God, and therefore have limited knowledge of other humans. We fear giving of ourselves to unknown persons (especially when it comes to romantic partners, or parental figures) who may turn out to be different than our original impressions. In addition to wanting a relationship due to our being made in the image of God, we possess caution of such relationships because of our realization that every man has the potential to deceive due to his sin nature. We attempt to figure out ways in which to determine someone’s true character. Methods not based in God’s Word however will fail us, leaving us hurt, wronged, and even more cautious than we previously were. My aim is to formulate a mechanism based in God’s word, by which we can wisely apply principles that give us clues as to the true character of a human being. Proverbs 23:6-8 says:

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, "Eat and drink!"
But his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.

Here we have a man who acts hospitable for the wrong reason because his character is selfish. He wants something in return from his friend (correction: victim). This poor soul who is offered the cordial reception does not take into account the host's overall egoistical quality and thus succumbs to the tempting prospect pronounced by his supposed friend. He (the victim) wants to believe, I'm sure, that this kind invitation flows from the best of intentions, but in actuality, it is merely the bait carefully placed in a well-orchestrated trap of self-serving dimensions. The dupe gratefully cherishes the morsels of his "kind-neighbor" only to vomit them up upon the realization that his enjoyable time, precious gifts, and caring companion, were all a temporary ploy to serve the interests of another. Thus, the "hospitable" individual's actions were not consistent with his true motives. It is rightly said that a man can do the right things for the wrong reasons. In
Philippians 1:15-18, Paul noted that many in Rome were preaching the Gospel from wrong motives. However, I do believe that actions, over the long term, do reveal the intentions of the heart. Prov. 16:2-3 bears this out.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Commit your works to the Lord,
And your plans will be established.

An individual who continually grows in sanctification, not falling into the same old sins, but rooting all of them out with ultimate dedication; someone who continually strives (victoriously) to do everything for the Lord rather than for any man, will render established plans. An important thing to note in this passage is the first line "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight." This directly answers an aspect of our human question.

“Do you judge someone based on what they do, or what they say?”

The answer is neither, if their motives are misplaced (anything apart from God is misplaced), because man is self deceived according to Prov. 16, and man is cunning with his actions according to Prov. 23.

The apostles themselves were flabbergasted (a highly technical term :)) when it was revealed that Judas of all people was betraying Christ. However, had they examined his motives revealed by the fact that his plans weren't committed to the Lord (i.e. his pilfering of ministerial moneys), and/or had they simply believed what Christ himself said about Judas in front of them (His action of dipping the morsel in his cup), they would have known. Of course, they didn't want to believe that it was Judas (emotions clouded vision), and thus they ignored the indications granted them (a true example of "blind faith").

The same is true today. The Holy Spirit resides in the heart of every believer. We may not have Christ dipping a morsel in the cup of an untrustworthy individual, but we do have an entity living inside us illuminating the Scriptures to reveal true wisdom. We can choose to ignore His illumination, or embrace it. There is also an additional mechanism set up in Scripture. I.E. "in the council of many wisdom is found." Motives have an interesting way of being revealed to folks around us, when we ourselves cannot tell who an individual really is.

Christ Himself gave a basic pattern by which motives can be found in Matthew 15:15-20.

And Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain the parable to us." And He said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also? "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. "These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."

It is the combination of what a person say and do over the long term that can clue someone in as to their true intentions. What is said reveals the heart, but one must listen carefully for those things said in moment of indiscretion as well as those stated publicly. It is rightly said that a hypocrite says one thing, but does another. What is said then must be matched to what they do. Actions and reactions reveal what the person believes much better than what they say - since man has a propensity to lie to others (and himself). Jesus tied speech and action together in telling us that motives comes out of the mouth and are revealed in the specific actions listed which include sins of speech and sins of doing.

In short, what a person reveals about themselves does not effectually tell you who that person truly is. It is what's BEHIND what a person reveals that clues you in. Motives are harder to decipher, but with careful examination of actions and speech, coupled with wise council, and the Holy Spirit, a general framework can be laid for figuring such problems out. It's not always an easy formula, but it is a true one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Manliness for Dummies: How to Grill

This is a new feature to hardtack heaven. I'm deeming it, "Manliness for Dummies." Being a man myself, I find it frustrating when guys I know sport deviant concepts twisting the definition of manliness. My goal in this section, is to touch on various aspects of what being a man is, and what the skills associated with being a man are. One skill for men to have (since they are providers) is grilling. Being in the great outdoors, fire burning, meat sizzling, and females waiting for the prize portion of a tasty meal is as good as it gets (especially if it's something you've shot or caught). If you don't know the basics of grilling, I'll show you! Trust me, your woman-friend is gonna want you to know this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Using Capitalism to fight Capitalism

First written on Sept. 17, 2008

Yesterday Presidential Candidate Obama raised 9 million dollars1 at a Hollywood fund-raiser. The attendees included the likes of Will Ferrell, Jodie Foster, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Lee Curtis and DreamWorks founders Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg. It seems that throughout the last 30 years, liberal causes have been funded in large part by Hollywood stars, elitist foundations such as the Ford foundation (which has more money that some countries), and elitist contributors such as George Soros and his buddies. Certainly, these contributors have not only backed candidates, but they have also been fighting and winning the culture war. They see an advantage in instilling liberal values, while at the same time funding elections. Conservatives, for the most part, seem like they want to fund elections, while remaining on the sidelines when it comes to fighting the culture war. However, I do believe that conservatives are fighting the culture war; but for the wrong side unfortunately. Let me explain; during the cold war, the "red scare" affected politics and business in our country. Anyone suspected of having communist or Soviet ties suffered boycotts that jeopardized carriers. If someone was found to be a true communist, they may of as well have committed political suicide. This was a time in which conservatives were zealous (probably overzealous) to put their money where their mouth was. While the "red scare" was a time of mild hysteria, it did show that Americans cared about the causes to which their money went. The entertainment industry was not automatically worthy of the citizen’s allegiance. Today this is not the case. Let me demonstrate this by asking a personal question to everyone reading this. When was the last time you went to the theater to see Leonardo DiCaprio? Have you bought a Will Ferrell film lately? How about Steven Spielberg? When was the last time you rented a Jamie Lee Curtis flick. Do you own Barbara Streisand or Ludicris CDs? Now, after you've thought about that for a minute, dwell on this: Where did these pop-culture stars get their money? That's right, it's from you, the consumer. Free market economics is still at work. Part of the $31,000 a ticket price tag that was required to enter the Obama fundraiser, came out of your pockets. This feeling of responsibility that you may have now, is absent from most conservatives; and the lack of it does, in part, contributes to the decline of our society. Think about it. These celebrities are supporting a man who is for partial birth abortion (and infanticide), higher taxes, globalism, socialism, and the list goes on. Would you spend your money towards movies in which the capital expended went to a murderer (if you believe abortion is truly murder)? Of course not! Then how come we’ll spend it in theaters and music stores that fill the pockets of those advocating what we deem to be evil at worst, and inferior at best.

The college I graduated from last spring (Dutchess Community College) is a very liberal school. Last semester I attempted to start a conservative republican student organization with a friend of mine. We were blocked by the student government because we mandated that only conservatives and republicans were allowed to be voting members in it (What a novel idea!). We were told that we had to include everyone in our club (postmodern multiculturalism at work). This means that liberals, communists, Neo-Natzies, KKK members, etc., all had to be included in our group if they had a desire to participate. In addition to having student organizations, D.C.C. also had a foundation meant to bring revenue into the school from various organizations. Imagine my surprise and resentment when I found out that a local republican organization was contributing to the school! The school itself is also heralded by our county executive and many other republican officials. How can this be! It's the same reason that conservatives are giving their money to liberal actors and producers. We never look at where our money is going! D.C.C. proudly trains young minds that Karl Marx’s ideas were accurate2, and that homophobia is the worst problem on earth (except for global warming). However, Republican financiers don't look (or don't pay attention) to these facts. They're looking at DCCs impact in the community, which is economically beneficial. Therefore they give up long term results to gain short term rewards. Conservative movie goers and pop music fans, who listen to liberal actors and artists are doing the same thing. They are sacrificing long term results on the alter of short term pleasure. So next time you wonder why Obama is outspending John McCain and Bob Bare put together, remember the last movie you went to see.

2 Prokop, Charlotte. Dutchess Community College: Social Problems Class.1 Sept. 2008. 21 Feb. 2009 .