Advice, analysis, better together, debbie johnson, election season

THE NEXT 30 DAYS

Debbie Johnson, Author

We need a VISION of how to do the better things so we can practice them. Where is that vision?

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” (Richard Rohr)

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18)

Perish. That’s a pretty strong word.

Debbie Johnson, activist, author of A Pocketful of Seeds

(Note: I sound like an old school politician in this post, but man, we need to reclaim (or re-create) our vision for our country. No time like the present to do so.)

Can you see the American vision right now? Does it exist? Or is it buried under piles of mockery, deception, illness, anger, and fear? We need to be able to see it.

We need to demand it of our candidates, especially in these days leading up to the election. We don’t want to perish. Quite the opposite.

In starting a non-profit, the first task is to create both a vision statement and a mission statement. The vision statement is the “to see” part. The mission statement is the “to do” part. Vision statements are often virtually impossible to achieve, like “to see every American gainfully employed” but still, it’s the vision. The vision informs the mission.

I want to see unity, goodness, recovery, health, creativity, positivity, leadership, unselfishness, strength of character, humility in the face of mistakes, courage, clear goals, trustworthiness, morality, honesty, nobility, self-sacrifice (if that’s what it takes), “unlikely” alliances, optimism, and iron will. I want to see people of all races and creeds and even political parties sitting at the same table to hammer out solutions, listening first, speaking later. I want to see a healthy nation that has the respect of other nations. I want to see reclamation of what our country has done right and repair of what we’ve done wrong. I want to be able to look ahead with great hope.  

That’s quite a laundry list of virtues, but is it impossible? Maybe, but vision gives us guidance and passion. It gives us the reason to get up and march in the right direction.

There’s a song we sing at sporting events. It’s gotten a lot of press lately, but think about the words. “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.” Even through the fog of battle, the flag was still there. Even through OUR fog of battle, let’s find the vision or start creating a new one for a better country.

This blog was originally published as The Next 82 Days, and is used by permission of the author. Debbie Johnson’s decades of mission work include founding DenverWorks and serving in leadership positions at the Dalit Freedom Network and India Transformed.

Click www.debbieljohnson.com to order “The Journey:  A Traveling Companion Through the New Testament” and/or “A Pocketful of Seeds.”

A Pocketful of Seeds is available on Amazon

#electionDebate #electionseason #kingdomEthics #beNice #beforwardthinking #kindness #vision #thrive

Caroling Through the Psalms Book Tour

Advice, analysis, Charmayne Hafen, election season, featured, journey to twilight, op-ed, protecting our children

Keeping a Head Above Election Quicksand

Charmayne Hafen, children’s author

Did you also hear?

The scandalous election season report of an assault carried out on a 12-year-old boy holding a political sign in Boulder, Colorado set me off. The father of the boy, Jesse Rosales, “told officers his son came home from a bike ride early Monday afternoon and told him a woman had assaulted him.”

If I allow myself to watch the news, I hear of a new shooting or beating almost every day. Evil seems to be erupting everywhere.

I find it difficult to know how to respond to evil as I strive to uphold my belief that all people are created in God’s image. I want to live out the truth of the Imago Dei while keeping my head above the sand. Denial helps no one.

Charmayne Hafen, Children’s Author

Maybe it’s partiality to protect the innocents, but I’ve been in a mild rage over the last few days as I see our country imploding. I know intellectually that I cannot control the actions of another person. Emotionally, I want to scream out negativity. The only thing I can control is my reaction to the insanity. How do I respond as a Christian to what I see going on around me?

I love to memorize verses and passages in the Bible. Romans 12:21 has been in the forefront of my mind for at least a month now. I asked God what my response needs to be in the face of evil. He told me very clearly how to handle it. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

The more I focus on the evil so rampant in our country, the more violent I feel inside. How strange a turn! I want to take action and lash out. When I ruminate on all that is wrong, I find myself spiraling downward. In a short time, I’m having thoughts about doing things I so vehemently oppose.

“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” I’ve heard true-life stories of good overcoming evil. It’s late at night and a man standing in a subway station is accosted by a robber. The robber has no jacket and so the man offers him his coat. He offers to buy the criminal something to eat. In a short while, the thief gives his life to Christ.

I have a story from my life. I worked with someone who liked to slander and gossip. She eventually got around to calling me a choice name to a mutual friend. Only by God’s grace did I decide to talk to her in private instead of saying something negative about her to the mutual friend. I told her I heard she had called me a choice name and wondered if I had offended her in some way. She apologized, said it was a joke. There was never an issue again.

How do we overcome evil with good? Here are some practical ways to live this out.

  • Be kind to people I encounter daily
  • Get out and meet people
  • Make a priority to give
  • Spend time loving my family
  • Invest time in the gifts God has given me
  • Actively listen to other people

In Return To Twilight, the second book of my Land of Twilight trilogy, Sam must face the challenge of overcoming an evil influence on his best friend, Lorna. Lorna is not acting like herself. She follows the lead of Jenny, the new girl in the neighborhood, and treats Sam poorly. He has to decide how he will react to her bad behavior.

Return to Twilight is the second book in the Land of Twilight trilogy by Charmayne Hafen.

My focus must be on the good God has placed in my life. I have a precious and priceless family and friends. I have the gift of writing which brings me so much joy. I have resources and the ability to influence other people. When I think about these things or ponder “whatever is true… whatever is lovely,” (Philippians 4:8), evil shrivels in the light. I’m still aware of what is going on, but I am not overwhelmed and I do not become part of the hatred.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

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featured, justice, marketplace, op-ed, scales, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Sacred Scales

By Appalachian Novelist, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Has the opinion of someone else unbalanced your properly scaled life? Have you read something untrue or viewed an article or post on the internet that unbalanced your scale?

In my early thirties, I had a part-time clerical job at a science lab in Lakewood, Colorado. During an extremely busy time at the lab, my job position was reassigned to include weighing extremely thin, white, circular filters on a scale.

The filters were about an inch in diameter. They were to be weighed by me, distributed to a specific client, used in some type of filtration system, and then re-weighed to determine pollutants.

After every tenth calculation, the scale was recalibrated to insure accuracy continued. Accuracy was extremely important. The samples and recorded weights were also spot-checked by another employee.

Scales have been used in market trade for ages.

Although scales were documented as useful as early as 500 B.C. in Rome, unjust weight was considered a means of cheating a customer in all countries, and it still is. But an unjust weight can work in the reverse to harm the seller as well if the weight slides out of balance in the other direction. There are numerous references to these types of scales in the biblical book of Proverbs.

Traditionally scales (specifically a two-pan, beam balance) are a symbol of justice. The equipment presents a metaphor about the issues of life being “held in balance.”

IMBALANCED OPINIONS AND FALSE INFORMATION

In an election year, my thoughts and personal opinions, if not submitted to fact checks and used for appropriate purposes, can be an issue as much as any other’s false news. I don’t want to skew the truth. Allowing an imbalance of any kind can have far-reaching effects.

During my devotions recently, I was thinking about how scales become unbalanced. Only God is truly just, and only He can keep our lives in balance. My life scale becomes inaccurate when I allow the opinions of others to overshadow the truth of God. It also loses accuracy when other outside influences are valued by me more than they should be permitted.

It is important to God that scales are balanced. When things are weighed, the standards and scales must be accurate for all.

BALANCING PERSONAL TIME

Personal time is an area of struggle for me. How do I balance time spent in different ways in my life?

How do you spend your time? Have you ever written down the things you do during the day, like a timekeeper must do to invoice clients for personal time clocked on their behalf? Listing your day’s activities for a time is a good way to inventory how you are really spending your minutes and hours. Here is an online timer you can easily use.

Are you being pressured by others, or feel that your life is becoming unfamiliar? Or is it in balance with what the Lord has asked of you personally?

How about your own thoughts? Is there anything that you have embraced or welcomed into your life that has diminished the truth of God? Maybe someone or something is pushing extra weight onto your scale to produce a false reading.

The LORD hates false scales, but he delights in accurate weights.

Proverbs 11:1 ISV

Tonya Jewel Blessing writes about redeeming injustice not only in her Appalachian historical series, Big Creek, but she also writes devotional pieces for groups of leaders who mentor others. Her book, Soothing Rain, is a 52-week devotional resource for women, especially, seeking to offer food for thought and conversation starters for groups. Book Tonya now for your next speaker event.

@Tonya_Jewel
Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers
Conversation starter. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/828380925202409883/
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