Legislator expresses feelings for season
As Thanksgiving time approaches, our conscience thought is directed towards increasing our awareness of the blessings we enjoy and thereby stimulating an increased measure of gratitude in each of our hearts. But to be truly grateful for what we have, we must first be content. The Chinese have a proverb which states: "To the contented, even poverty is joy. To the discontented, even wealth is a vexation." So what is contentment?
The 1828 Webster's Dictionary defines it as: satisfaction without examination; quiet, easy in mind; not complaining, opposing or demanding more; satisfaction of mind with any condition or event." What a marvelous state of being contentment is! So how do we obtain it? I believe the answer lies in the definition itself.
To be content we must learn to be satisfied without examination, without demanding more. In our society today, we are constantly being bombarded with information designed to increase our expectations, to feel we deserve more, and consequently we are easily tempted to become discontent with what we have. It is increasingly more difficult to distinguish between what we actually need and what we have a desire for. A simple illustration may help us see this picture more clearly.
Let's say a recipe calls for a cup of water. If you put that cup into a pint container, the container looks like it has quite a bit of fluid, even though it is not full. But if you take that same cup of water and put it into a gallon container, the container looks almost empty. Both containers hold precisely what the recipe calls for. The needed water is present in both of them. But the appearance of how that need is meant is much different because of the varying sizes of the container. This is true in our lives. As we allow ourselves to believe we need increasingly more things to have our needs meant, our expectations increase and the blessings of God, which adequately fulfill our needs, no longer appear sufficient. We have begun examining, comparing and demanding more. Contentment cannot exist in such an environment. Where there is no contentment, true thanksgiving and gratefulness cannot occur.
So as the pressures of the holiday season begin, and desires are once more sold to us as needs, let us establish clearly defined boundaries which allow us to be content and live within our means with joy and delight for the blessings which God has bestowed upon us. I trust you have a contented thanksgiving.
Rep. Charlie Smith
'Messiah'' sing-along participation urged
As president of Fortnightly Musicale, I was so pleased to see the Local Lines column by Danny McKenzie in the Daily Journal. The members of Fortnightly Musicale and I hope that Mr. McKenzie will bring his tenor voice to the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in Tupelo at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, and join with the voices of everyone else in Northeast Mississippi who find Handel's "Messiah" as awe-inspiring as he and his neighbors.
Now in its 11th year, the sing-along "Messiah" is a joint effort of Fortnightly Musicale and Reed's Department Store. We hope the sanctuary will be filled and the experience will be as spiritual from ground level as it was from the scaffolding. And we won't even ask anyone to pick up a paint brush.
Conduct demands honest comment
We have seen two ideas from both Christians and non-Christians for how to handle the presidential integrity crisis. The condemnation of immoral and illegal actions is denounced by those quoting scripture to "just forgive" because we all have sinned. In fact, the most often quoted verse today is Mt. 7:1: "Judge not, that ye not be judged." Where is the truth? Scripture does command righteous living, which itself condemns immoral behavior. It also warns against unjust condemnation. Does this mean that no one can justly point out indiscretions because not one of us is perfect?
The Bible is God's standard. Sharing in love what the Bible says about sin, with the intent of bringing someone to repentance, is not wrong. The condemnation is already in the Bible, not created by the one sharing it for instruction and righteous influence on society.
John 3:18-20 says, " ... but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God. And this is the condemnation, ... men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
A USA Today article blames the "divisiveness" of the Republicans for their losses, Fob James for pushing his brand of Christianity and prayer in schools, and another candidate for his pro-life stance. Those who were "inclusive" supposedly fared better. Apparently this means those who are "tolerant."
Tolerance is the new virtue in our society, but today's tolerance is actually the opposite of love. It is allowing, condoning, even celebrating anything anyone wants to do, without criticism, certainly without comparison to what the Bible calls sin. To point out sin in today's society is perceived as the most intolerant of actions. If we truly love our children, we will not allow them to do anything they please, but will discipline them in love to teach them acceptable and proper behavior. Is this tolerance or loving discipline?
Jesus was the most tolerant of all people, by today's definition. He forgave the adulterous woman (John Chapter 8), but he instructed her to go and "sin no more." Her repentance was implied, but we are taught that repentance is necessary for forgiveness. Wasn't this a condemnation of her lifestyle as sin? Wasn't it forbidden as future behavior? Her accusers were more interested in trapping Jesus than in her repentance and forgiveness; their motives were wrong. Jesus also said that he is the only way to heaven. Is this tolerant by today's standards? Many today would follow Jesus, but feel that they must redefine the Bible's moral standard to fit their lifestyle, claiming universal forgiveness without repentance.
We must run our nation by law. We cannot see into a man's heart as God does or exercise justice except as we see violations and administer the consequences, even if we feel that an offender has repented. If the law allows us to be swayed by perceived remorse, we would have prisoners lined up to "repent" and gain freedom. Without laws and punishment for violations, order is lost.
Only God can forgive sin, through our repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord. Forgiveness is not accepting bad behavior, it is a pardon granted to a repentant heart. We forgive others more for our own benefit than for theirs, to erase malice and bitterness that can eat away at us from inside.
Bad behavior must be corrected. Galatians 6:1 says, "... if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." The term restore is used in the Bible specifically when an illness or deformity is healed, to make it whole again. Restoring is not overlooking or excusing the fault and is often painful (setting a broken arm).
What can we do? Our primary goal should be to spread the gospel of Jesus. Eternal life will last far longer than America and is more important than politics.