I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (John 10: 11-12) Continue reading
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, HCSB)
Just as I have learned that a large percentage of my time as a sheepherder, is spent watching and looking for sheep that have gone astray, I suggest to the reader that most of American’s present problems revolve around the lies we have believed, the entertainment we have embraced, and the time and place where we spent gaining our formal schooling. Furthermore, all of these harmful things have been LEARNED. I’ll also insert this observation, prosperity is usually a poor teacher. (prosperity – remember what I said in Part 1 about sheep with a full belly? – they don’t listen to my voice) A good example today is the seemingly large number of college students who are often referred to as “snowflakes.” These people have never attended the college of hard knocks. This can explain why they are so easily “triggered” by events or comments by another person that makes them look for a “safe place,” a place where they cannot be frightened by their own shadow, and where they can weep and recover from their tormented position. College education today is very expensive, and for many who attend, it is little more than training to extend adolescence! About 50 years ago Americans bought the lie that “everyone needs to get a college education.” Then educators dumbed down standards, and together with politicians went to work establishing scholarship funds that would raise college teacher salaries, gain votes for the politicians, and pile up more debt for Mr. and Mrs Taxpayer.
Sowing and Reaping
Let me paint a word picture. You have a garden where vegetables are growing. Metaphorically, the growing vegetables represent the young people in your family. One of the frustrations I have is hearing prominent Christians get all fired up with rhetoric every time Christians are insulted by the actions of some secular person or group has made decisions to, for example, remove references to Christmas, or open the same restrooms to males, females, or transgenders. They complain that school officials, mayors, governors and others make wrong decisions, but these same Christian complainers seldom do anything to promote Christian schooling, the only way to provide an extensive biblical-based education. They want to treat the symptoms rather than take measures to prevent the disease. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9) can help us understand the importance of having the correct standards that we and our family follow. When you complain to the school board, write a letter to a someone in the U.S. Congress, or gather somewhere to protest, these type actions would be like the gardener who steps on a weed while tending his garden. Gardeners know that stepping on a weed will hardly slow its growth, much less kill it, and registering a complaint to officials will likely produce similar results. Here is a novel idea; go protest to local pastors telling them you want a Christian school in your community. Frankly, complaining about public schools, is not an answer; not even a first step. Send your children to a Christian school, or better yet, begin teaching your children at home. If your children are grown, then do what you can to encourage young families to provide Christian schooling.
America’s Heart Problem
Here is another word picture. A professional athlete suddenly dies due to a heart condition that had gone undetected. This strong man played sports in high school and college before becoming a paid professional. Then one day he collapsed and died. This could very well describe America; she looks strong, but has a heart problem.
America has gone through some turbulent situations in recent times. She appears to be strong in many ways, but one single measure should give us pause. The U.S. Federal debt has nearly doubled since Obama began occupying the White House, and is projected to reach 20 trillion dollars by February 2017. As someone has said, “Anything that can’t go on for ever, won’t.” A single statistic like this does not tell the whole story in regard to our problems, but it is an important bellwether type factor. For example, our prosperity is inflated, and our prosperity would vanish if we had to pay that all debt at once. In fact, it can’t be done.
Since Donald Trump won the presidential election November 8, 2016, several indicators have suggested our country is turning a corner on the many disasters that have piled upon on us during the past four to six decades. I am optimistic that Trump can turn the corner, just as Obama turned the corner eight years ago, but he went in the WRONG DIRECTION. I truly believe God has given us a reprieve, but the work of Christians is now enormous.
How is the work of Christians enormous? We have more than 300 million people in America, and the majority, most likely, need attention to their spiritual condition. Much of our learned attitudes come from actions that began more than 150 years ago. I am specifically thinking about our public schools, more than any other group. I will say, our church congregations chould also use an overhaul. Man is a creature of habit, and migrates toward those things that make him comfortable. It took about 150 years for the humanists to worm their way into our culture and nudge Christians to the side. In retrospect, I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s when the culture was Christian, but I saw few hard core, Bible-believing Christians. The radicals of the 1960s made a hard push to rid the culture of all things Christian… we’ve lost our footing, what was left of it. The main point is that we took more than 150 years to get here, so we cannot gain what we lost in one generation. We need to wake up and realize we have been following the wrong crowd for way too long. One to three trips a week to participate in a church congregational meeting WILL NOT TURN THIS COUNTRY AROUND. If you want your children to truly follow Jesus, then, at the very least, as a first step, remove them from the clutches of government schools.
Seriously, whether you have school children or not, talk to local pastors about helping young families with finances to school their children in a way that will honor God. If you are told, “No,” then I ask you, “What will you do next?” Will you and the pastors just return to the old habits, and places of comfort?
As a Christian, a trained animal scientist, and farmer who has owned and managed a flock of sheep for nearly 35 years, I often get a better understanding of the behavior of Christians by careful observation of my flock of sheep.
Effects of Genetics and Environment Upon Behavior
Sheep producers are aware that animal performance is affected by two broad categories of influence, (1) genetics, and (2) environment. The challenges are many, and the primary one is that for a given trait, or performance, there is seldom a clear-cut influence from the two categories. For most behaviors, environmental factors far outweigh any genetic influence.
Humans are not much different. Genetics will usually affect color of eyes, skin and hair, the physical height and other physical characteristics. When someone uses dye to color his or her hair, this is obviously an environmental effect. We often hear that homosexuals “are born that way.” Usually, when we say, “born that way,” we mean that genes from the parents caused a permanent genetic result that cannot be changed. We have a problem explaining how two heterosexuals produced a homosexual child. Environmental influences are more likely the cause of this behavioral trait. The genotype, or profile of the genes as they are combined from the father and mother, are set at conception and do not change from that point forward. In contrast, the environment is constantly changing. Food, water, air, the TV programming, movies, music, and those people with whom we associate, are all environmental factors that can influence our behavior.
We All, Like Sheep, Have Gone Astray
One of the interesting revelations I recently received about that Bible verse saying we have all gone astray is that there are two different ways we can go astray. (1) We can leave the group on our own and go the wrong way, or, (2) we can go astray by following the wrong person or group. While, for many years, I had thought going astray, like a sheep, was leaving a group, BUT now I am convinced that most of us go astray by following the WRONG CROWD and/or following and adhering to some WRONG TEACHING. Ruminate on that for a moment. One word of caution: we must NOT look for some crowd to blame for wrong choices we make as individuals. “The Devil made me do it,” is not a substitute for repentance. Far too often, I hear someone excuse their behavior, or that of another person, because of the fact that they had a poor childhood, and could not recover from some bad influence in their life.
Some Basics of Learning, Leading, and Following
The followlng bullet points outline important things I have learned with my sheep.
- My sheep know my voice
- Sheep have to LEARN my voice
- Sheep will not follow me if their bellies are full
- Older sheep follow me more readily
- Young lambs follow their mothers
- Young adult sheep learn by following older “lead” sheep
- I use salt to get the sheep to follow after I call them
- I don’t call the sheep unless I have the salt
- Sheep following the shepherd, or other sheep is a learned behavior
While some people, just like some sheep, seem to naturally be more gregarious than others, for practical purposes, the behavioral trait of “following,” is LEARNED.
Americans Have Bought into Some Really Big Lies
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. (Colossians 2:8 -HCSB)
There are many, but here a few of the big lies that many American’s have embraced.
- It is important to collect stuff, as much or more than your neighbor. I heard the late Paul Harvey say many years ago, “Isn’t it sad that Americans have become so prosperous that they have more clothes than their closets will hold?”
- Women need to work outside the home in order to help with the “stuff collection.” I remember hearing Hillary Clinton in 1992, in defense of her political activism say, “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas,” And I ask, “Which is worse, messing up a batch of cookies, or messing up batch of countries?
- There should be free education for all children in government schools. Firstly, there ain’t no free education in government schools, just as there ain’t no free lunch, and secondly, look who wrote this idea down in 1848.
- Islam is a religion of peace. Wrong, regardless of who says so, and Sharia Law is totally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. Those who follow Islam use stealth techniques to deceive others. I discovered Islam in public school textbooks more that 30 years ago, presented more thoroughly than Christianity.
- Marxist ideology and Communism have been spreading in America for several decades under the guise of progressive ideology, as in control of private property, spreading the wealth around, excessive government regulation of our lives, and most anything else you can read about in George Orwell’s book, 1984.
- The unborn child has no value unless that baby can be butchered, and it’s body parts sold to the highest bidder.
In addition to the lies, Americans have had several decades in which we have become addicted to entertainment, primarily sports and various forms of visual entertainment provided by machines like movie projectors, television sets, computers, and mobile phones. For those of us who even know what a movie projector is, we can get a fairly clear understanding that this addiction has become, in many cases, an unhealthy use of our time. Most of this entertainment is manufactured, meaning unnatural compared to such activity as hiking, hunting, building things with our hands, growing plants and tending to animals. I am well aware that those who have their eyes glued to a hand-held device for most of their waking hours, would not consider these activities as entertainment.
Summary – Part 1
Behavior is learned, and affected very little by genetics. While we often hear about “quality time,” I agree with a man who said, “quantity is quality,” meaning that is what parents need to understand. Our children spend more waking hours at public schools than they do with their own parents. Whether you like him or not, Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next” (Source) Schools, more than anything else, either directly, or indirectly, have done the most to take us down the wrong path for more than 150 years.