World Watch Today

How Do You Know Right From Wrong?

“Jingle Bells”, “Jingle Bells”….Yes, it’s already here…The Christmas Season is upon us. Some radio stations have given themselves over to it entirely. Stores are already loaded up with Christmas decorations, cars pass by with trees on their roofs, and suddenly the color red is showing up everywhere. It’s as though there has been an invasion of Christmas aliens into a nation that barely said good-bye to Thanksgiving. We’ve left our brief nod to “Thank you” behind us; so now it’s on to the season of “I want”.

Did you hear about people lining up in front of stores on the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday—to shop for their Christmas list items. Some actually camped for three days in front of their favorite stores to make sure they could get the item they wanted for family or friends. They obviously had to skip Thanksgiving—which was not so important to them as making sure the gift they wanted landed in their shopping cart. I listened to a radio talk show as one woman caller talked about her Black Friday experience. It was ugly. She described how another woman reached into her cart to nab a toy from her basket. When the caller told the woman to give it back, the toy nabber told her it wasn’t hers until she paid for it. The caller’s husband had to seize it back from the covetous, toy-nabbing Christmas shopper.

I wondered if there is a civil law against stealing items that haven’t been purchased yet.

The caller went on to lament that people don’t have manners anymore.

You could say that—that the toy nabber didn’t have manners; but manners are relative depending on what part of the world you live in, what neighborhood you live in, or even what household you live in. Obviously in the toy snatcher’s household toy nabbing was quite all right—no big deal.

So manners can fluctuate from person to person, culture to culture; and it could be said the world is awash in manners of all sorts, with some popping up in the oddest places demanding the oddest actions. For example, I have been told you can’t go to the Middle East and sit with your legs crossed so that someone can see the bottom of your shoe. To the Arabs, that’s a big offense. So keep your feet on the floor. And in Europe it’s no big deal if a perfect stranger kisses you on the cheek. Huh?

So is it because manners are lacking that toy nabbing, purse snatching, and robberies of all kinds are going on all over the place right now? No. Manners don’t dictate fundamental right behavior. They only define for groups what social behavior should look like to them. So it’s not manners that were lacking in the toy nabber’s mind. Rather it was morality—a fundamental set of rules that defined for her what is right and what is wrong.

When you read the term “morality” what came to mind for you? Did you find you had problems condemning the behavior of the toy nabber using your own moral code? Thankfully, there is a universal code that lays moral behavior out in simple statements that are easy to understand, and the principles work the same way for everyone. You can find it in the Bible in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20. It’s the list of the Ten Commandments. These ten laws define for us what is right and what is wrong, and they apply to everything we do. If the toy nabber had had those principles clearly in mind, would she have snatched up the toy and told the caller the toy didn’t belong to her unless she had paid for it? If you don’t know, just pick up a Bible and read over the short list of do’s and don’ts listed there. It won’t be long before you know what the answer to that question is.

ALWAYS a Proper Order..&#46Managing your time

Work, school, homemaking, balancing a budget, supporting and encouraging my marriage…the list goes on and on! What to do first? Do you tell your husband “hold that thought” so you can tend to the children? Do you tell God you will have to talk to Him later, as soon as you finish talking with your daughter? The essence of smart time management rests on the understanding that there is ALWAYS a proper order when it comes to prioritizing demands on our time.

Corinthians 14:40 “let all things be done decently and in order”. Order helps to establish calm in our lives. It is imperative for our spiritual health and our mental sanity that we put all things in proper order. That proper order is to always place God first, and all else can follow. We are told in Mat 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

During the construction of the tabernacle, God gave specific instructions for the exact order in which things were to be done. He did not give them vague guidance, “just make sure you complete everything”. No, there is always a proper order in which things should be done! Exodus 40:1-5: “ then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying … you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting…you shall bring in the table and arrange the things that are to be set in order on it… you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps.  And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle…

Order does not only mean we pray and study first thing in the morning and then check it off our list. You must not say to yourself, “ I am done, I did it first, now I can move on”. God has to be first in ALL that we do. Throughout the day when having a conversation, make sure that conversation is pleasing to God. When you are asked to complete a task, make sure your attitude is pleasing to God. Mothers, make sure you are leading your children daily with Godly love AND Godly discipline.

Let’s learn from the story of when Christ visited the home of Mary and Martha. Luke 10:41: “And Jesus answered and said to her Martha, Martha you are worried and troubled about many things. But one is needed and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her.” Mary was placing listening to Christ before the serving of the people. That was RIGHT order. God always wants us to have Him, and only Him first in our lives.

A Busy Mom

French Lifestyles, German Money

All debts come due. Ultimately, nations and individuals reap what they sow…this is the law of reality (Galatians 6:7). It applies in our personal financial lives and it applies to entire countries.

The financial union of the Euro zone has just received their “notice of delinquency” letter from reality. The turmoil we see currently playing out at both the political and financial levels is a stark reminder that credit is a tool of growth not a crutch for greed. The bottom line of this turmoil in the Euro zone is a war of competing philosophies. The “Southern” European view of a life consisting of an all inclusive resort of enjoyment, free of the grip of worry or toil versus the “Northern” European view of practicality, frugality and moderation.

Headlines are filled with reports of the financial struggles of countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy yet the true battle lies in the political and philosophical battle between France and Germany for control of Europe. France wants the credit card in the name of Paris with a billing address of Berlin.

Germany yearns for rules to govern the currency of the Euro; France desires rules also but rules without consequences for breaking those rules. I would proffer that there exists absolutely no agreement in Germany of letting decision-making regarding the Euro currency fall into the hands of France and its wayward cousins in Southern Europe. The crux of the question is who will lead Europe? Will France use history to shame Germany (WW I & WW II) or leverage Germany’s export driven economy of which France is the largest buyer of German goods to continue to live beyond its means by way of Germany’s purse strings. Or will Germany accomplish its historical aims without ever firing a shot?

A common currency without a common culture and world view is a temporary papering over of truths in the name of purposeful ignorance in order to live a material lifestyle a people desires yet can ill afford. A mere look at the mottos of each nation is quite instructive as France defines its motto as “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” while Germany lives under the auspice of “Unity, Justice and Freedom”. The timeless idiom of the Golden Rule applies here one would believe, though with a slightly different spin. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Germany possesses “gold,” unity and a cultural desire for justice, France has debt, fraternity, and a cultural nostalgia for equality. A philosophical battle looms.

Germany favours “more Europe, not less”

Until recently there was much reticence amongst European leaders to broach the subject of greater consolidation in Brussels of finances and power. However, at a Christian Democratic Union party meeting on Monday Chancellor Merkel said that Europe presently faced its “toughest hour since the second world war” and that “a radical change in thinking was needed in Europe to overcome the eurozone debt crisis”, according to the Financial Times. The radical change in thinking Chancellor Merkel was proposing is what she described as “more Europe, not less” – greater European integration.

Until recently Chancellor Merkel didn’t have the domestic political capital to make such proposals – more Europe has always been seen by the German populace as Germany bankrolling the “club-Med” states. However, as the reality of the eurozone crisis has hit the German public, it has become clear that there is no longer a choice: Germany must help its struggling European counterparts, knowing that if one fails the whole European project is at risk. So, now we are starting to see the beginnings of Germany’s quid pro quo.

Chancellor’s Merkel’s proposals (and her party) are numerous. Most notable was the proposal to introduce a new financial transactions tax – the so-called Tobin tax – in the 17-member eurozone. This would be a significant step towards providing Europe with a financial independence from its member states that it has not previously enjoyed. As well as this step towards fiscal union, members of the CDU included a radical political union reform proposal – the direct election by EU voters of future presidents of the European Commission. Also proposed was the consolidation of certain fiscal controls in Brussels – amongst other things the power to impose sanctions on countries that fail to meet agreed budget guidelines.

While Chancellor Merkel is reportedly for “more Europe not less”, the same cannot be said for Britain’s Prime-Minister David Cameron. He too views this crisis as an opportunity for reform of Europe and is said to support closer union within the 17-member eurozone that Britain is not a part of. He realizes that he doesn’t have a choice – Britain needs a strong eurozone as much as Germany. But in respect of the 27-member European Union which Britain forms a part of, his reform proposals stress deregulation and repatriation of power from Brussels to member states – apparently contradictory aims.

But while Britain remains a chicane in the road for Germany, it is unlikely to be a roadblock. As Prime Minister Cameron remarked this week at the London Lord Mayor’s banquet, if Britain wants to keep its seat at the EU negotiating table, it will risk becoming further removed from the Brussels power-base if the core eurozone group consolidates leaving it in the second-tier group of EU members. But if it doesn’t agree to German reforms, Germany may not be prepared to loosen the purse strings for its fellow eurozone members. Britain may not have much choice but to agree or leave the EU, and Prime Minister Cameron has made clear for now that leaving the EU is not an option.

Eye on Europe

THANKSGIVING - SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

Recently a relative sent me pictures taken from America’s national archives of life during the depression years of the 1930’s and 40’s. They were pictures from across America of our distressed citizens going about their lives during tough times. Many of the pictures portrayed people in ordinary settings that demonstrated their social activities, their work, and their family life. I noticed it was rare to see someone smiling. The quality of life was in most instances very grim in comparison to what we enjoy today. I could relate to some of what I saw. I was born in 1946 and things weren’t so great when I was a child either. I see similar pictures of my very early life with family around me. No one was smiling much then either. But things soon began to change.

I have read stories about some of my ancestors. They came to America in the early 1600’s, arriving in a boat from Holland. They were not wealthy by any means, and their first home in the new world was most likely in a root cellar, dug into the ground. That sounds so foreign to how we live, but those people were willing to put themselves through great deprivation and hardship to attain the wonderful opportunities they hoped were waiting for them. It is my understanding they found what they were looking for, and they became a reasonably successful family.

America, unlike most nations, was founded by people like my ancestors who were not only looking for opportunity but were also fleeing oppression and religious persecution. The nation was given stability by those wise enough to establish her laws upon Biblical principles, and was given strength by God’s favor. Many of our citizens who have served this country are quick to recognize that today. Though she was not perfect, America excelled because she acknowledged God’s protection – our national motto clearly states, “In God we trust.” And many still proudly proclaim “One nation under God” as they recite their national Pledge of Allegiance. Many proclaim this, but too many are forgetting their humble beginnings as they allow a different spirit of greed, perverseness, and rebellion to sweep over our land.

With Thanksgiving coming along in just a few days, maybe it’s time we give thought to how much living in America has done for us. This is a land designed to have long arms that can embrace the many who are seeking a better life. Aren’t we all living proof of her generosity, no matter how we arrived on her shores? I say that, believing America was planned by our creator to give comfort and blessings to those He knew would be longing for freedom and opportunity and who would be willing to work hard for it. The nation has shed vast quantities of blood in order to secure those privileges for all her citizens.

Thanksgiving is a time set aside by our own people to turn inward and reflect upon the blessings we have received. It’s a pause we need in our busy lives that begs the question – To whom and for what are we thankful? We should all try to answer that, and as we do, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at those pictures I mentioned earlier. They are amazing and also very sobering. You can find them at http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp. I hope you will take a moment to look at them. It just might change your outlook for the coming year.

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