Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

Put Your Money Where Your Beliefs Are

posted by Carolyn Henderson

While we live in one world, it is a world of infinite variety — both in its people and its landscape. Indian Hill, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed open edition print at Light in the Box.

Lately, the Norwegian Artist and I have been researching various Christian associations and noted speakers and leaders, specifically to find out if any of them have links to organizations that propound a political agenda that is repellant to us. “Globalism” is on our minds, and while this sounds so inclusive and fuzzy and sweet, what does this term, which some have boldly referred to as a New World Order, really mean?

The knee jerk reaction of many, including Christians, is that New World Order is a conspiracy theory term, and as we are all regularly told, conspiracy theorists are nuts.

But as a Christian, I’m used to be called nuts, and I can’t help but think of the book of Revelation, which goes into significant detail about a single globalized system under the rule of one beast, or Anti-Christ. Things don’t bode well for the saints in this book.

As an individual and a Christian, I serve one Master, and He’s not a banker, financier, businessmen, political leader, or globalist. So I am not particularly interested in sending my hard-earned money to any person or group whose ultimate goal is not Christ-like at all. And building one world, under one master who isn’t Christ, definitely isn’t Christ-like.

Wolves in Three-Piece Wool Suits

Because wolves have been wearing wool coats — or three-piece suits — for a long time now, it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t matter how fervently the person calls himself a Christian (and by the way, this is a good time to point out that the words “Christian” and “Republican” are not synonymous), when actions belie words, then words lie. Years ago, when a highly notable person talked about one world, one people, one unity, I was surprised at the absolute silence from the Christian community.

Peace is a beautiful word that doesn’t mean the same thing to all people. Peace, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Some of the groups and individuals the Norwegian Artist and I rejected after our research we did so based upon their extreme superficiality, New World Order or not: think, television evangelists promoting a doctrine of wealth and prosperity. Their continued success, one generation supplanting another, leaves me agape.

Mega corporations that run like any other secular business are a little harder to spot, but when you feel as if you are dealing with ShoppyMart, you stop and think. We dropped an organization years ago when it began using Negative Optioning, a popular method of deception that ensures regular revenue.

You might have encountered Negative Optioning in a mail-order merchandise club: the goods or services are provided automatically, and unless you make a point of declining in advance of billing, you’re on the hook.

Of course, this being a Christian organization, we were able to get out of the unwanted “contract,” but not without being made to feel like grubby little wriggling worms.

Big, Efficient, Impersonal 

Another organization we said goodbye to has a calling center where you can order their products, but are unable to reach people who make decisions. As a writer, I wanted to show them my book, Live Happily on Less, which I felt would be of real interest to real Christians who frequently struggle financially because they don’t play the games of the world, but was told that the organization only dealt with valid publishers, and not little people like me. Jesus, fortunately, still cares about little people like me. Or you.

As I said, we dropped these Christo-corporations easily based upon business practices that looked like anybody else’s, which in itself is enough. Why are companies or people who purportedly believe in God’s power using so many of man’s methods?

Digging Deeper

Now, however, we are going deeper, trying to discover which entities are going beyond employing contemporaneously accepted marketing ploys to embracing a belief system that is antithetical to Christianity. With this in mind, we type in names of leaders, administrators, and board members along with terms you may or may not recognize —   like Bilderberg Group, New World Order, One World Government, Mason, Illuminati, Fourth Reich and others. These terms, long associated with conspiracy theory, are increasingly coming out of the shadows, and it behooves us to recognize their existence and make a decision about them.

It is no longer enough to simply snort, “Conspiracy theorists. What a bunch of weirdos.”

Snorting aside, we have been intrigued by whose names, or what companies, come up where, and it is influencing the financial decisions that we make.

Sadly, many organizations do what look to be good works, but as your mom always told you, you are judged by the company you keep. When an individual name or corporation is associated with groups whose goals do not align with Biblical principles, then I no longer sign the check.

 

 

Surviving the Holidays

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Tradition is a fusion and blending of old with new, because time, on this earth, never stops. These Gifts Are Better Than Toys by Steve Henderson. See the video of this at the Steve Henderson Fine Art YouTube channel.

Tradition is both a good thing and a bad.

In a world, and a life, in which so much is out of our control, holiday traditions offer a secure, steady foundation of things that never change. Our employment situation may be precarious — or nonexistent — our finances shaky, our health compromised and going downhill, but during the holiday season, we can look forward to a lack of surprises:

Aunt Josephine and Aunt Eleanor will both bring mashed potatoes to the Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone will be obligated to take the same amount of each, even though Aunt Eleanor’s potatoes are far, far better. Aunt Josephine’s, of course, are healthier, lacking cream and butter in place of potato water and mashed garlic, but you can’t possibly explain to Aunt Josephine why most people prefer Eleanor’s mashed potatoes. Throughout the years, even the youngest child has instinctively known that it’s not wise to even try.

Life Never Stays the Same

And then, one day, Aunt Josephine isn’t able to make it to the holiday dinner. It could be a small reason, like a minor schedule glitch, or it could be a big reason, like illness or death. But a subtle change has been introduced into what we thought was a permanently unalterable, fixed situation. No matter what happened throughout the year, we always knew that we could depend upon the Thanksgiving potato wars.

That year, Aunt Eleanor makes the potatoes. Unexpectedly, however, a nephew, Edmundo, steps in with a sweet potato casserole that he has long wished to contribute, but never felt that there was room to do so. It is an instant hit with half the family. The wars continue on, subtly altered.

And so it is with tradition: it is fixed, yet flexible, a connection to the past that transcends into the future. While the big things continue to happen — death, birth, a new job, the loss of an old job, a new house, relocation to a different city, a marriage, a divorce — the little things that make up holiday traditions keep us going. Aunt Josephine and Aunt Eleanor will not be with us forever, but their memories live on in the upcoming generation that blends the old with the new, seeking out and celebrating the rich gifts of life.

Holidays Are Happy, yet Sad

Life consists of seasons, and every season has beginnings and endings. Homeland 2, original oil painting by Steve Henderson sold; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Holidays are a happy time tinged with sadness, because once you get old enough, you have memories of holidays that used to be — when you were a child, when your children were little, when things were noisy and chaotic and people who meant so much to you were there, draining potatoes and slicing turkey and pouring wine and surreptitiously snatching fudge. Even if your holidays are noisy and chaotic this year, somebody is missing, because all the people we love and depend upon aren’t in the same room, or even living, at the same time.

Such is life, and holidays are a condensation of this experience, squeezed into a few-week period in which we are aware of the many good things we have, as well as the many good things, and people, that we have lost. There is a reason why holidays are difficult for many people.

Someday, There Will Be No More Sadness

Someday, however, there will be no more sadness, and the happiness will erupt forth without interruption or check:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them, They will be his people, and God himself will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'” (Revelation 21:3-4)

This is our hope, our gift, and our treasure, my friends, and it is the reason we celebrate this season. Whether our holidays are rambunctious and tumultuous, or quieter than we would like, we have hope in a God who loves His children, and invites us all to an eternal celebration with Him, and one another.

Take time, this holiday season, to think about the future to come, and rest in the arms of the One who prepares it.

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. If you like what you read, please consider subscribing to me, at the top right of the menu bar.

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Make a Difference, Every Day, as a Christian

posted by Carolyn Henderson

As Christians, we can be the light on the hill, shining into the darkness. Autumn Moon, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Theoretically there are millions of Christians in my home country, the United States, but for some reason, we are always looking for a major revival before we expect to see any significant changes made in our collective lifestyle.

Things used to be better, we are told, back when Beaver was a young boy and there was prayer in schools. Or further back, when Laura Ingalls Wilder was eating tough chicken on the prairie and rap music consisted of what teachers did with rulers to children’s knuckles. Or further back than that, when our Founding Fathers — which Christians insist were Christians although most of them look like today’s politicians in that they talked about being religious and looked like they were being religious but didn’t particularly live as if they really believed Jesus were true — set up what we insist upon calling “a Christian Nation.”

A Nation of Christians, or a Christian Nation?

We’ve had slavery, genocidal war on the Original Peoples, robber barons and railroad kings setting up the financial family scions that still rule today, serious social engineering, covert experimentation with eugenics, rampant dishonesty in our business and political realms, wars we don’t call wars — when we get to the “Christian Nation” part, please let me know.

Ah, but the solution is to get more Christians into politics, a movement that was heavily pressed in the 1990s when households like ours received regular requests from large, corporate, Christian organizations insisting that it was up to ordinary people like us to turn this nation around — one $50 donation check to their organization at a time. Presumably, they had a modicum of success and some Christians made it into the political arena; if you believe the newspapers, a huge chunk of the Republican Party is run by, and run over by, the “conservative Christian Right.”

Let’s Make a Positive Impact

So why do we not feel the impact of these millions and millions of Christians? By impact, let me clarify, I do not mean forced church attendance, or mandatory prayer in school (really guys, you don’t want that — government regulations setting up federally sanctioned conversations with God?), or fines for swearing, or civic “peace keeping” forces taking valuable time away from setting up speed traps to focus, instead, on measuring the length of a woman’s skirt: this is the world of Christendom propounded by Hollywood’s Deadheads.

What matters, in Christianity, is not the length of our skirt hem but the breadth of our relationship with Jesus. Girl in a Copper Dress 3, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

No, when Christians make an impact it is one life at a time — the individual Christian’s — working in another life at a time — a friend, family member, stranger, neighbor. Our central focus and central command from Jesus is twofold:

Love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind.

Love our neighbor as ourselves.

An Investment of Time and Spirit, not Money

And to do this, we don’t need study books; pastoral exhortation; discipleship classes; specialized Christian television media; evangelistic outreach and encouragement seminars set up in football stadiums; Christian-themed publishing houses and recording studios pumping out Christian-themed books, comics, movies, and music, or mega Christian corporations “representing” us somehow.

What we need are individual Christians living their lives as committed Christians. Doing this is fairly uncomplicated (not simple, incidentally) and if you’re unsure of where to start, try this:

Begin each day by talking to God (I do this in my head), and say something along these lines: “You are my Master, King, and Father; and I am your willing servant, subject, and child. Tell me what you want me to do today.”

And then, wait for Him to answer. He will, somehow, and it will look different each day, and for each person, but the first step in accessing, nationally, the power of all our purported Christians is for each Christian, individually, to talk to God and strengthen his relationship with Him.

It doesn’t matter if there really are millions of Christians in this nation, or just one — what matters is that the people who call themselves Christians and say that they are Christians and believe that they are Christians take seriously the first part of the word Christians, “Christ,” and connect with Him.

 

Feeling Abandoned?

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Sometimes, it feels as if we are in an isolated place, all by ourselves. Stonework, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold.

Let’s face it. Most of us wandering around on the planet today have not seen Jesus in person, nor have we audibly heard his voice, emanating from the sky or from the back of the laundry room.

The vast majority of Christians throughout history belongs to a blessed group of those “who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29), and while blessings are nice, when you’re in the midst of fumbling your way through life’s daily challenges and pain, it’s hard to fully comprehend that you’re not doing this all by yourself.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Encouragement at 2 o’clock in the Morning

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who has committed that verse to memory, only I’ve shortened it, mentally to, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” which is much easier to repeat, as a mantra, at 2 o’clock in the morning.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you,” Jesus promised his disciples, and, by extension, the rest of us. These are comforting words indeed, but in a visually stimulated society, sometimes words aren’t enough, and the more difficult life gets, the more we ache for something more tangible onto which to hold.

Jesus understands this — that’s one reason He told so many stories, because His listeners understood about sheep, and olive trees, and grapevines, and goats. Nowadays, however,  sheep aren’t a part of many of our lives, and sometimes, as we meditate, it’s helpful to mentally modify the stories a bit, into something that we can comprehend.

Babes on the Beach

As a child of God, you never walk on the beach by yourself. Beachside Diversions, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

I did this last month when we took our four-year-old granddaughter to the beach for the first time. Four of us went in all — Small Person, The Norwegian Artist, our Tired of Being Youngest, and myself — and I was immediately struck by a few things:

1) At no time, EVER, was Small Person left alone — anywhere. In the car, on the road, in the lodging unit, at the beach itself: at least one adult was always there, watching. We had no intention of any sort to leave her or forsake her.

2) We always knew where Small Person was. On the latter part of the visit, she was allowed to walk from the lodging unit to the fence boundary, 25 feet away. Asserting her independence, sometimes she walked briefly out of our immediate sight, but she never actually was.  (“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father . . . So don’t be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29, 31)

3) The only reason Small Person was accorded the independence to walk to the fence boundary, unaccompanied, is because she had proven that she would not do random, stupid things, like run off. In actuality, she did not want to be alone out there — in the yard, by the fence, and most especially on the beach itself. Although as she became more confident she didn’t need to hold the Norwegian Artist’s hand at all times, she wasn’t going anywhere without him.

Learning from Children

There is a reason Christ encourages us to become as little children — “He called a little child and had him stand among them, And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 2-4)

We have trouble with that humble part, because it sounds too much like “humiliate.” But when we humble ourselves, like children, before God, we acknowledge that the beach is a big, scary place, and we are too small, young, vulnerable, and defenseless to be on it by ourselves.

And we never are. You may feel alone and abandoned right now, my friend, but I assure you — you are NEVER on that beach by yourself.

Thank you for reading me, and please consider subscribing to Commonsense Christianity by using the Subscribe to Commonsense button in the top right menu. I post three times a week.

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