July 13, 2006

They Have Us Over A Barrel

Today, oil prices hit a record high. Closing price: $76.70, and our pain at the pumps is not expected to ease anytime soon. Why does this not surprise me? While the gas gouge is in full force, the oil and gas producers are making record profits.

Obviously, those who are responsible for this gouge are not losing sleep over what they are doing to us. They are laughing all the way to the bank. They know they have us over a barrel (literally) and don't seem to mind.

What is the alternative to buying gasoline? In all honesty, in the days we live in, there is none that I can think of.

Simpler Times

Try to think about how differently we live now than our ancestors did. They scrounged around for what they had to have and bartered for many or most of their daily needs. They lived in more humble abodes and didn't absolutely have to own an automobile. They rode horses, bicycles, or walked wherever they went. They lived off the produce that came from their own gardens, they milked their own cows, they were skilled hunters. Whatever else they may have needed, they foraged for. They didn't have mortgages. And their teens college tuition was not keeping them awake at night.

Their jobs didn't include running a company, flipping burgers, or telemarketing. They spent much of their spare time, if they had any, lending a hand to a neighbor in a jam.

As a result of this laid-back lifestyle, they had less need for anxiety medications or head shrinks. Day after day there was hard physical labor for one and all, yet most went to bed at night without suffering from insomnia. They would never have needed ambien or nytol. I have heard the stories first hand as I am the granddaughter of a sharecropper. In those days I have been told that work was done at one's own home and within the confines of their own property.

There were gardens to grow in the spring and winter. There was wood to chop. There were cows and horses to tend to. There were eggs to gather, cows to milk, and bread to be baked. There was canning that my family had to do if they wanted to get through the winter with meat still on their bones come springtime.

An apple tree or peach tree was a pot of gold to them!

Now we visit our local supermarkets and pick out choice fruit to be scanned and paid for.

People were less lazy in those days because they had to walk everywhere they went! There were no television controllers that they had by their side, they had to get up off the couch to change even one channel. They had 3 channels if they were lucky, now we have 153!

There wasn't time to ponder on what they wanted to "do" with their lives. They didn't have time to "find themselves", they had to make it through today and on through the next.

There was survival on their minds at all times. This was hard wired into them. This one thing stayed constantly at the forefront of their very existence.

They never knew of those things which we now take for granted.

I often think of my grandparents and what they would think of the things we now have at our disposal. Some of these gadgets and luxuries would blow their minds. I can just see my grandmother running a bread machine.

Our current unpleasantness

Why am I writing these things? Because it is evident that we've come a long way baby. We've come so far from those days that it is incredible. And along with this change has come an abundance of technology. Along with our changing times has come a type of slavery. Yes, it's true that I am increasingly feeling like a slave to the oil and gas producers. We are all burdened down with the current unpleasantness of high gas prices. If you want to get back and forth to work, you must have transportation. If you want to buy food, you must jump in your car and drive to the store. Fueling up is a must for us all.

Those who make laws and oversee our Government dealings are remaining mostly silent on this issue with the exception of a few. Senator of North Dakota, Byron Dorgan has raised the issue more than once on behalf of the American people. Will he be able to shake those around him? I hope so. I don't know how much longer we Americans can take this gouging that's going on.

More on the gas gouge in upcoming articles.

July 10, 2006

Family Turmoil - Questions and Answers

None of us are immune to turmoil within the family. In all families, you will usually notice a few peace-makers as well as a few hell-raisers. There are those who get along well with other family members and then there are those who always seem to stay in a foul mood.

In my family, as well as many others, there are those peace lovers who try to encourage everyone to "just get along" and there are those who on the flip side seem to thrive on strife and nitpicking. There are those who prefer to follow and those who prefer to be led. Among the long list of reasons for family disunity, there are envy and greed, mental illness, overall dysfunction, and drug addiction. These are only a few possible causes of chaos within the family.

Mental Illness and Emotional Upheaval

Many families suffer due to the emotional or mental problems of the members within it.

It is a sad thing to watch a family member with mental and emotional problems refuse much needed treatment and support from professionals. Much turmoil could be blotted out in a majority of families today if those with mental illness would only seek help. But many who fit this description don't accept or understand the fact that they need help. It is usually always seen by them to be the other family member's problems that keep the pot of strife stirred up within the family. When you find yourself in a situation such as this, you must tread lightly and carry a short stick. You must watch what you say and be on your guard if you have a mentally challenged person in your family.

Those with mood disorders such as depression and the like seem to be fine one day and riled up the next. I have found that if these people decide to forego help by trained professionals, there is little you can do. You must take nothing they say to heart no matter how their moods seem to flip flop. Understand that the problem they are having is all about them and not you! Don't wear your emotions on your sleeve or you will have constant heartache and trouble.

Drug Addiction in the family

With drug addiction comes a boatload of turmoil for any family. When one is addicted to drugs, they neglect their family members and treat them badly. This is because the drug means more to them than even those in the family they are the closest to. Those who have drug addicted family members will be affected in more ways than one. There is the constant dread of finding out that something horrible has happened to them. There is the constant push from them to have you, their family member take care of them by giving them money, shelter, etc. As well as the emotional turmoil you must endure for as long as they use.

Jealousy among family members

Those family members with a jealous or envious streak can wreak havoc upon other family members. They feel they've been given the lowest card in the deck for one reason or another. Who do they blame? Who knows, perhaps their parents, siblings or maybe even God. All they know is they've been given a raw deal in their eyes and because of this, their jealousy/envy has driven them to even hate other family members.

Those who feel they've been treated unfairly can dish out much misery upon other family members. If you've come up against the brick wall of jealousy, the best you can do is to practice avoidance and prayer. Pray that those who are caught up in jealousy would realize the emotions they let control them are not only counter productive for their family, but deadly. Pray that they would want free of them.

Dysfunctional Families

Some dysfunctional family members may attempt to play a twisted game of "divide and conquer" when it comes to dealing with family members. They will pit one member against another. Very unusual to do within one's family whom you are suppose to love and protect from forces outside the family unit. Those who do these things are generally acting out of an intense lack of self esteem and may suffer from personality or mental disorders.

Harmony in ones family is getting harder to come by. It is definitely in short supply. Do you sit down to an evening meal with your family from time to time? Chances are you don't. With more people within the family working and having more demanding schedules than ever before, this is almost a thing of the past.

What is the driving force behind love for our family? Where is our motivation to care for and love them equally and completely? Love of God. Loving him who first loved us is definitely a must. The growing chill in the hearts of many will only get worse as time goes on and does not exclude families.

In your family, be kind to others. Help them when possible, pray for them often. Estranged family members need prayer also. Whether they have treated you well or poorly. We should pray for them as God has instructed us to. Remember, whichever type of turmoil your family is going through, keep the faith. Keep your chin up and lean on God and don't rely upon your own understanding. This alone will bring you more peace than you ever thought possible in the midst of family turmoil.

July 8, 2006

Satan and Self

When we think less about other people and more about what's in our own best interests, we are said to be "self-centered". This was Satan's sin. In the beginning, God created him beautiful. He was the anointed cherub. But Satan eventually switched his concern from God to self.

Satan was cast out of heaven when iniquity was found in him. Here we read of the change that took place in him and how his separation from God and his "self" rule was initiated:

Isaiah 14:13 &14:

"I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High"

Satan didn't care what God would think of his lofty desires. God had ceased being a factor to him. Instead, he now proclaimed what he would accomplish apart from God, his creator. And so, as if by some awesome transformation that God had no part of, Satan now was one with self.

There was no room for God in Satan's habitat of self rule. Those who have felt a slight sympathy for Satan are the ones who give him the most pleasure. Sympathy is the last emotion Satan deserves. He knew the glory and brightness that was and is God, he experienced this firsthand, yet he shunned and scorned it and departed from it for selfish reasons. Satan didn't want the spotlight on the creator. He wanted to be both the spotlight and the one it shone upon.

Man is beloved and cared for by God. Thus, mankind is Satan's sworn enemy. Man has the ability to accept and give God's love. The ultimate achievement I suppose Satan could hope to accomplish in his short time left on earth is to get man to deprive God the rule over his life and to treat other humans as beasts and not like the men they are, created in God's image. In essence, to treat man "inhumanly". Satan wants man to believe that they can be as "god's", that they are capable of "self" rule. That they don't need a savior to rescue them from death, hell and the grave. That they don't need God to direct their steps.

Adolph Hitler treated men as animals.
From the concentration camps to the gas chambers, he saw the job through until he departed this life. Hitler sometimes touted Christianity and spoke fondly of Jesus. The most blatant evil imaginable comes often cloaked or paraded with light. Hitler was one of Satan's most willing ambassadors to have ever walked the earth. He marched to Satan's drumbeat and bathed himself in the darkness of "self". The hatred for mankind, Satan's key feature, found a home in Hitler's heart and power in his hands. But Hitler is only one man. Even though the atrocities he committed were staggering, there are men and women who will never go that far, yet they treat fellow humans as beasts just the same. Whether Satan influences a Hitler or a next door neighbor, the outcome is still disastrous.

From the Garden of Eden to this present time, Satan has sought to bring man low. His chief way is to set up obstacles and stumbling blocks between man and his God. Jesus said, "apart from me, you can do nothing". He meant what he said and Satan knows this as well. Why do you think he pushes "self" rule as he does? Why did he tell Eve if she would eat of the forbidden fruit she would "be as God"? He tempted her to eat so she would sin against God, but also to promote "self-rule" in her and Adam's life. To deceive her to believe in the biggest lie since that time to the present: "You must direct your own steps - take charge of your own life" apart from the one who made you.

As I see it, our lack of knowledge when it comes to Satan has proven to be the key factor in our downfall and rejection of God since the fall of man. We are given insights into Satan's nature from the bible and we would do well if we were to ponder and study those truths. I don't believe it is enough for us to only "know God" our creator, father and friend. We must go on and know our enemy as well. He is the destroyer of men's lives who will not be satisfied until he has taken a vast unknown number of souls with him to his eternal fiery home that he will in the end inhabit for all eternity. Know your enemy - His name is Satan. Don't make his eternity your own.

July 2, 2006

Removing yourself from those who sow strife

Those who thrive on strife and contention bring untold grief to our lives. These people end up alienating everyone around them. But have you wondered whether it is it right to remove yourself from these characters?

There is no end to the conflict and strife they thrive on. If you've struggled to stay in a relationship with someone whose attitudes and actions repeatedly drain you dry emotionally, it is a given that you must remove yourself from such relationships.

The following are a few scriptures that touch on this important topic:

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

Proverbs 21:9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

They learn by example: Are you a doormat for others?

Beside the fact that it quickly becomes YOUR fault if you come back for more misery from these people, you are showing them that to continue their bad treatment toward you or others is OK. You are showing them that there will be no negative ramifications for their actions.

Essentially, you are letting them know that you are their doormat. You can be called on for them to use, abuse and inflict their own chaos and internal anger upon. The problem with these people is not you, it is what is inside of them.

Sadly, these people will not face the internal inspection that is needed, and so they project their negativity and internal emptiness upon you - their nearest and dearest.

Would God have us to be used, abused and repeatedly harmed or harassed by another? No.

There is nothing uplifting and encouraging that comes from being another's doormat or punching bag. God did not create us for such things. He wants better things for us. There is nothing martyr like in sufferings such as these. Living with continual strife and contention in our lives brings on stress as well as numerous other harmful physical effects. Our very health suffers as a result of dealing with such people.

They alienate you
This takes place after you have been their victim for many years. You have most likely experienced years of repeated emotional, physical and mental abuse at their hand.

If you have been alienated from another in this way, please understand that removing yourself from that person in order to protect yourself is perfectly justifiable. Do not carry around guilt over it.

The only choices you had were to:

1. Stay and suffer indefinitely

2. Remove yourself and gain some peace

Only you know the anguish you've endured up to this point and only you can take the steps necessary to stop it.