Spiritual Warfare

Our pastor has been preaching through Ephesians. He’s into the sixth chapter where Paul talks about spiritual warfare. This morning the question from the Heidelberg Catechism that went along with the sermon was Question 127, “What is the sixth petition?” The answer is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. That is: we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand even a single moment in our own strength, and our enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, are so strong and never cease from assaulting us, we therefore ask God to preserve and strengthen us by the power of His Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare but always offer strong resistance, till at last we obtain the complete victory.”

When this was read we were told to glance at what comes against us – the devil, the world and our own sin nature – and to gaze at Christ for strength, courage and grace. When we look at Ephesians, we are told that we are in a spiritual battle and we are told to “stand strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” We gaze at Christ and His finished work on the cross where He overcame sin, and His resurrection where He overcame death.

We want to know what we are ‘to do’ to fight this battle and sometimes we don’t want to hear something that sounds like we do nothing but think. We want to go after those things that only deserve to be acknowledged with a glance. They are stronger than we are but God owns them.  As we consider how Christ became sin for us, how He chose to do this in order to redeem a people for Himself, how can we not then consider the love that motivated such action? As we think on these things, we are changed and made more like Him. This is an important part of how we win – by recognizing what He has done for us and by resting in His work.

The Next Few Days

For the next few days I’ll be adding some things I wrote back in 2007 to the archives. I noticed when I was looking back at these things, that starting in September, I began to write about how my political views were changing. As this change came about I was also exploring the place of a Christian in all this. How does a citizen of an Eternal Kingdom which has no physical address, fit into the natural system that has laws and expectations of its own? If you choose to follow along, start with September, 2007, then start at the bottom of the page for October, 2007. I have enjoyed (and still do) keeping up with what is going on in the world and considering how my response and actions ought to reflect my citizenship in the Eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I always have more to learn.

Sunday Morning at the Bird Feeders

Last week I was wondering where some of the birds have gone. We’ve had plenty of sparrows, grackles, doves (mourning and white-winged), cardinals and hummingbirds, but no wrens, titmice, chickadees or finches. It’s possible that Hurricane Ike is the reason for this. I’ve been hoping to see some of our missing species soon.

Yesterday morning I heard a blue jay (oh, yeah, I have those guys!) hollering to announce his arrival to pick up a peanut. I opened the blinds to see him and found out there were lots of birds out for breakfast. And guess who was among them? A finch! I had to get the book to try and identify whether he was a purple finch or a house finch. I reckon he’s a young fella’ whose red feathers must not have all come in yet, because he was only red on his breast. Whichever kind he is, he will be getting red feathers on his head and near his tail as well.  Since he was kind of small and had no sign of a pouf (topknot) on his head, my identification as a house finch is my best guess.

Confusion comes with youth (well, with older age too, but never mind that) and this little guy was confused. He flew over to the hummingbird feeder and tried to drink nectar from the ports. How on earth did this bird know there was anything in there that any bird would want? Why did he think he ought to have nectar? His beak wouldn’t fit in the hole, of course, which seemed to frustrate him a bit. He turned around on the perch with his back to the ports and bent over and looked through the clear bottom of the feeder. This poor bird went through this several times. He could see the nectar but he couldn’t get it. I guess he hasn’t noticed he has a seed-eater’s beak and not a nectar-sipper’s beak?

While I was watching this bird with book and binoculars in hand trying to identify him, it seems he was having an identity crisis of his own. And I’m not sure if maybe when I record what I’ve spent our money on, if I should put bird feeding in it’s own category, or move it into entertainment?

Moral Evolution?

I read something that I thought was kinda’ odd. It makes sense in an Ivory Tower kind of way but I just don’t see this when I look at history or society or anything else.

This fellow who studies ants said there is a theory within evolution that says morality or values has a genetic component. At first, I was right there with him.  We can all look at families and see this; one person is generous like another or one has a temper like another. She’s just like her mom or, he’s just like his grandpa. We say they are cut from the same cloth and so there’s no surprise.

But this theory says that those who are more “upstanding” are better organized socially and therefore they reproduce more and pass their good traits on. Looking at this from a purely natural standpoint, you would think that was so. It would seem like it ought to make sense. Then I thought of Crime Families. Aren’t they organized?

Of course, if man was evolving socially, following evolution’s reasoning that things move from disorder to order,  how on earth would he have progressed if he started out with destructive tendencies? Wouldn’t we have self-destructed? If we started out “upstanding”, again, looking at this from a purely natural point of view, what happened?

Crazy Birds

The birds got really smart out here this spring. We have a feeder station near our den window so we can watch the birds while they eat. They know we’re watching. And they know how to find us.

It started with the blue jays. We put peanuts out for them on the platform and they just love them. They will announce their arrival from a branch in a sweet gum tree near the feeder. I’ll say to the cat, “Incoming!” so he knows to look at the window so he can see the bird. I don’t know if he ‘gets it’ or not but, I think it’s fun to say. Then the blue jay will swoop down, grab a peanut and take off with it. If I’ve run out of peanuts out there, sometimes the blue jays will sit on the roof above the window and ‘yell’ at me to let me know I’ve fallen down on my job.

I guess the doves took notes from the blue jays. They eat on the platform and also on the hanging feeders. The hanging feeders are a last resort. The doves are so big that it’s not very comfortable for them. So, if they’ve cleaned me out on the platform the doves will fly sideways so that their wings flutter against the windows to let me know. This made me think of an old Alfred Hitchock movie.

If I’ve really let it go too long without replenishing the food supply and they have all eaten all the seeds, then the sparrows, who must have learned from the doves, grab onto the window screen and look inside. I was astonished the first few times I saw this behavior. I might have called baby chickens ‘peepers’ but, this gives ‘peepers’ a different meaning entirely.

Well, maybe they aren’t so crazy after all. They sure have me trained.

All This Happened Within 24 Hours

Ever have one of those days where all you can do is go from one crisis to another? This was thankfully interrupted by a good night’s sleep but, here’s the rundown:

Was staying at the hospital with a relative who was recovering from surgery. Phone rang and mom told me another relative was coming to the hospital by ambulance with high blood pressure, blurry vision and a nose bleed. Went down to ER and waited for the ambulance to arrive. (Someone else was in the first one’s room besides me at the time.) The one in ER was resolved so I went back up to the other one’s room where someone else was there to take over for me for the night so I went home.

Next morning, looked out my window and saw the relative who had been to the ER out on her front porch. Made plans to go down after breakfast to see how she was doing. Ate breakfast and was wetting my hair to blow dry it when I looked out the kitchen window and saw her and her mom leaving and she had her hand up to her face. Ran down the street with house shoes on, towel in hand and wet hair. Another nose bleed, going to a different ER.

About 10 minutes or so later, the phone rang and it was an aunt telling me that a cousin of my husband’s had died and that she herself had recently had major surgery and had a big decision to make regarding her health.

Three hours later, I saw the one down the street was home so I went down to see how things were going. Wasn’t out long because all of a sudden there were dark clouds and lightening so I ran back home.

A few minutes later my ride to the hospital showed up. Was dropped off and went to the relative’s room. Just after we got caught up on the family news, the TV station broke in with live coverage of tornado damage.  That’s what the lightening and dark clouds were all about. It was near where my husband works. I called him. He was OK. I tried to see my vehicle on the parking lot as the helicopter flew over showing all the damage but they flew directly over where it was parked so I couldn’t see it. I figured a few more dings and scratches wouldn’t hurt it but, I hoped all the glass was intact. Found out later it was fine.

Also, had trouble getting in touch with a son who was out and about and there were funnel clouds reported in various places. He was OK, too.

This is the kind of day I have in mind when I write in my Gratitude Journal at night, “I’m thankful for a quiet, uneventful day.”


I’ve been thinking about a few things. I’ve been thinking about how we can believe two things that are contradictory and not realize it. Surely, we all do this at times.

There was an interview on MSNBC where Rachel Maddow spoke with Frank Schaeffer about the people who disagree with Obama’s healthcare plan. Mr. Schaeffer believes this is the right-wing evangelical group that was started by his father, him and Dr. C. Everett Koop. He said they don’t like for women to be appointed to positions in government. However, there are folks who don’t want Obamacare but who support Sarah Palin enthusiastically.  For goodness’ sake, they want her to be president, not just appointed to a court or some other position. I know from reading his blog that Frank Schaeffer is aware of support for Palin among evangelicals. He said in the interview that the right-wing  folks’ “brains broke” and he seems to think they all think alike. Either he’s being inconsistent in his view of the protesters or he really doesn’t understand them. Or, both. How could folks not want a woman to be appointed to a government position but want to elect one for president? (Besides, I’ve got news for Mr. Schaeffer. The right-wingers are not the only people who disagree with the idea that the government should provide healthcare!)

Another inconsistency I’ve noticed is – and I’m sorry I’m about to step on toes here…well, shoot…I step on toes a lot – anyway, I’ve noticed that there are people who don’t want government healthcare but they have Medicare and they want to keep it. What is Medicare? It’s government healthcare. I don’t want government-run healthcare and I’ve never wanted Medicare for myself but there’s no choice. If it’s still solvent in a few years, I’ll have it. I don’t think it should be taken away from people who are depending on it. They’ve been set up to depend on this and it would be cruel to snatch it away. (By the way, I had to deal with Medicare years ago when my husband’s grandma died and it was one hassle after another. I told them if they didn’t get their stuff straight they would owe me for gin and Kleenex. No more problems. You might want to try that sometime.)

The other thing I’ve noticed has to do with people who don’t think it’s wrong for us to use waterboarding and other torture methods on suspected terrorists. Well, aside from the pragmatic reasons that it doesn’t work and only helps terrorists recruit more terrorists and we lose credibility to say to other countries that they shouldn’t do that AND, it’s cruel and the United States is not supposed to be cruel – it IS against the law. These are law-abiding Americans but they would ignore the law under certain circumstances. That’s inconsistent.

Just stuff to think about.

The Martians Aren’t Coming Yet

There is a story online about a job description for Internment Resettlement Specialist. I looked it up on http://www.goarmy.com and found it on the “Careers and Jobs” page.  Some folks are really upset because one of the responsibilities for one who advances in this career is to “Provide command and control, staff planning, administration/logistical services, and custody/control for the operation of an Enemy Prisoner of War/Civilian Internee (EPW/CI) Camp.” I guess you can see the upsetting part is “Civilian Internee”? Given that Obama wants to know if we say anything “fishy” about his healthcare plan and some people are concerned about the flu vaccine being forced on us, among other things,  this has put some folks just about over the top. Keeping in mind that God is in complete control of my life so whatever happens is for a purpose and, that there is a really neat organization of law enforcement and military folks (even firefighters) who will not trample our rights (see http://oathkeepers.org/oath/), I did a bit of digging. Here is what I learned:

The Department of Defense defines a “Civilian Internee” as, “1. A civilian who is interned during armed conflict or occupation for security reasons or for protection or because he has committed an offense against the detaining power. 2. A term used to refer to persons interned and protected in accordance with the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War, 12 August 1949 (Geneva Convention).”

We are doing this overseas right now. And remember we had US citizens of Japanese descent in camps during WWII? I don’t think our government would be able to pull off anything like that again-at least not right now. This is not a statement on any ‘war’ that we have going on right now but, this isn’t a new job and it is a necessary job. And, we could say it only applies during war so it’s not to haul us off if we don’t want to evacuate for a disaster. However-

There is a bill, HR 645 – National Emergency Centers Establishment Act, which calls for emergency centers to be set up on military bases. Here is the section of the bill which tells us how many centers and why:


(a) In general – In accordance with the requirements of the Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations.

(b) Purpose of National Emergency Centers – The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure-

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2) to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

That last part is disturbing. Well, some other parts are as well since this spring Texas thought it was necessary to “clarify” the law so that it plainly says if we refuse to evacuate during a mandatory evacuation order we may be “forcibly removed” from our homes.

Now for some good news. According to GovTrack there are about 10,000 bills and resolutions introduced in congress during each two year session. This is the third go-round for this bill. It has been introduced each time by Rep. Alcee Hastings [D-FL]. He’s never had more than 2 or 3 cosponsors. And the bill, like most bills, has never made it out of committee.

What can we do about this? Keep your eye on this bill and if it gets out of committee let your representative know what you think about it. If you live in his or one of the cosponsors districts and he or she runs for congress again and you don’t like this bill, then shout it from the rooftops. Help his or her opponent (if they are a good choice) to win. Another thing is don’t take FEMA money if you suffer damages from a disaster! If we accept the money we get the strings. There are other sources of help available.

Now, to follow the advice of Ludwig Von Mises, who said, “People must fight for something they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil”, I think we ought to throw our support behind H. R. 450 – The Enumerated Powers Act. This bill calls for congress to show where the constitution grants authority for bills and laws that they pass. It was introduced by Rep. John Shadegg [R-AZ] and has 48 (FORTY-EIGHT!) cosponsors. It was introduced on January 9, 2009, and it is still in committee. There are two committees assigned to this bill: the Judiciary Committee and the House Rules Committee. My congressman is on one of these committees. If yours is, you can contact him or her and ask that they deal with this bill and get it out for a vote. If your congressman is a cosponsor let them know you appreciate it. If H. R. 450 could be passed then things like H. R. 645, along with nearly 9,999 other bills and resolutions would not even be brought up.

Addendum, September 8, 2009: H. R. 450 has a companion bill in the senate, S. 1319. It was introduced by Senator Thomas Coburn [R-OK] and so far has 21 cosponsors. This bill is also in committee.

Addendum, September 16, 2009: H. R. 450 now has 51 cosponsors in the house.

A Bit About Birds

My husband and I enjoy watching birds that come to feeders in our yard. I noticed something about the hummingbirds. They don’t like to share their space with cardinals, doves, sparrows and everybody else who comes for seed. (We have a feeding station we built with PVC pipe that holds several feeders and even has a platform on top.) I moved the hummer feeder a few feet away and that solved the problem.

I’ve learned that a vagrant is a hummingbird that is out of it’s usual territory and it’s been happening a lot the past few years, especially on the east coast. Sure would be neat to see someone new out there!

We have lost a lot of trees in the woods behind us due to hurricanes but it’s not all bad, I guess. This year we were able to see mulberry trees that were previously hidden and in those trees there were orchard orioles. A friend who is very knowledgeable about birds told us if we put a sugar water feeder near the back of the yard we may get some of those orioles to come into the yard next year. That would be really cool!

Well, I hear a blue jay hollering right now. There are no peanuts on the platform and being the well trained human that I am, I better go put some out.

The Change Our Healthcare System Needs

Our government seems to mess up everything they get their fingers into, usually by making a bubble or creating conditions that cause folks to go out of business. Housing bubble, car bubble (it will be a small one because it’s a temporary program), dairy farmers are losing money on milk because the government sets prices which is causing small ones to shut down. They can’t make it up on cheese and ice cream. Washington dictates to the insurance companies and to doctors. They tell insurance companies what they have to cover and the prices go up. The things  they don’t cover such as cosmetic surgery have not gone up as much as the rest. If a doctor takes medicare patients he HAS to charge what the government demands – no cutting prices for certain patients out of the goodness of their hearts. Yes, we need change all right. If they would just leave us ALONE we could fix this mess. That would be change we could live with!