Friday Funny for February 21st

One day while little Johnny was visiting his grandparents, he opened their cherished family Bible and began to read.

He leafed through it and took particular interest in the first chapters of Genesis.

As he pondered on the meaning of those early chapters, an old oak leaf that his granddad had pressed between the pages many years before fell out.

“Grandma, look what I found!” he shrieked with excitement.

“What’s that?” his granny asked.

With mixed surprise and delight, Johnny answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear!”

I hope you’re blessed this week with wonderful and unexpected surprises.

Brother Ben

When the Dam Breaks

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14 NIV

This verse in Proverbs tells us something we all know. But it’s good to be reminded of how this works, as it’s a truth we don’t often think about.

Now, it’s also true that going to great lengths to avoid confrontations is not always a good strategy.

But it’s also true that for so many of us, we often fall off the other end of the pier, so to speak.

Too often we behave as though quarrels and full-on fights are just a part of life and it’s no big deal.

Like the writer of Proverbs, I’m not of that school of thought. Framing this in that way can definitely set us up for a lot of unnecessary conflict in our friendships, relationships and in any other sphere of life as well.

It’s a good thing if we think twice before we say or do things that could easily lead to an argument or an interpersonal “slugfest”, as it were.

Before the dam breaks.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis

Begin at the Top

No person, family, organization or Nation can thrive while discarding our long-held practices and values. While acting out our darkest, worst behavior and insisting on always getting our own way.

That doesn’t mean that people or businesses or whatever don’t behave badly and carry on their business in wanton disregard of the rights or the welfare of others. We all know that that sort of thing happens all the time.

But the behavior of some of our leaders, elected officials and their appointees these days is really over the top.

Decisions are being made and strings are being pulled to suit the whims of one man whether or not those goings-on are in anyone else’s interest, the interest of our Nation as a whole or are even legal.

This is not merely a matter of simple selfishness, of someone putting themselves first. It is to our Nation’s detriment and is most definitely affecting the way things are done. The way they are done by individuals, in the business sphere and by those whose job it is to run our corporate affairs.

The petty, self-serving behavior in Washington–combined with gross and obvious incompetence–is wreaking havoc among us.

And it won’t stop until we find our way back to sound corporate values, until we begin once more to treat others with respect and reign in those selfish and meddlesome impulses that can harm others and sully our corporate life.

And that must begin at the top.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Friday Funny for January 24th

I once heard of a preacher who found a novel approach to a never-ending task which ministers must master to keep the church alive and moving forward.

Here’s what he had to say to the congregation one Sunday morning:

“Brothers and sisters, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have enough money to meet our goal for this year’s pledge drive”.

“The bad news is”, he continued, “The bad news is that it’s all still in your pockets!”

May you experience God’s abundance in your life today!

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Plastic and our Earth

We here at the FSF understand well the urgency of helping to safeguard our Environment.

And so here’s a post about just one of the many issues we face.

It’s undeniable that the use of plastics for practically everything is terribly convenient.

It’s also undeniable that this convenience has a huge downside; the Planet is becoming a trash heap and it’s having a devastating impact on wildlife everywhere.

It’s imperative that we get serious about this and make some real changes.

Yes, I know this will not be easy.

A tiny bit of good news: the French are getting serious about weaning themselves off of the use of  plastic for everything. And it’s having an impact.

Of course, it would have an even greater impact if we in the U.S. were to follow their lead.

But it’s virtually certain that our resistance to change, coupled with the determination of the Fossil Fuel industry to prioritize its profitability over the welfare of the environment, will mean that we will never actually rise to meet the challenge.

This is regrettable, to say the very least.

And it’s just one more reason–and there are so many–that the outlook for our Planet is very bleak.

We had better wake up.

Not only about our use of plastics, but about a whole range of issues that are contributing to this horrible degradation of the Earth.

Will we ever rise to meet the challenge?

I wouldn’t say there’s no chance.

But the sad truth is that the odds are not good.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

God and David's Distress

It’s recorded in the 25th Psalm, that King David sent heavenward this heart-felt entreaty:

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.

Psalm 25: 16-17

We often see the things we read in the Bible through the lens of the times in which they were written.

We might think, for example, that David had troubles of the heart served up with a side dish of anguish, and–if we take the time to carry the scenario out to its end–chalk it all up to some passing problem he was facing at the time.

And we may not think to take a closer look and put his prayer into a contemporary context, including what we know today about Mental Health issues.

If we put this Psalm into that context, I think we’d draw the conclusion that David suffered from depression. And–no doubt–anxiety as well.

Reading further through the Psalms reinforces that conclusion.

I think one of the reasons many Psalms resonate with me is that I have long traversed a lot of the same territory.

I think we’d all agree that keeping one’s emotional equilibrium, staying calm and serene through life’s inevitable ups-and-downs, is a very big deal.

Going through that kind of thing is quite common. You might say that King David has plenty of company among us modern folk.

And among all people of all times, all of us who’ve ever walked around in human skin.

No doubt David and people living at that time could have benefited from the insights and practices of modern medicine.

And having at their disposal modern meds that can help us keep our emotional balance and cope successfully with our “troubles of the heart” and “anguish”.

They didn’t have those helpful tools in their time, of course.

It’s such a good thing that we do.

Prayers like David’s in this passage may help when those dark clouds begin to gather around us.

Compassionate and effective care from professionals in the Mental Health field can certainly help too.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Burn the Shields with Fire

There are wars raging in every corner of our planet at this moment.

War has been a part of human existence from the very beginning. And in places where conflicts are raging now, people know from their own grim experience that war is a very hellish thing that should be avoided at all cost.

Here in the US, we’ve been involved in hundreds of wars but have not had the fighting come to our shores since Pearl Harbor.

And before that, one must go all the way back to the War of 1812 to find a time when a foreign adversary attacked us right here, where we live.

And so the thought of wars may not evoke much of a response from many Americans.

But those who have lived through–or are living through wars right now–know full well what a horrible, suffocating, life-stealing tragedy war is.

From a Faith perspective, Peace and Peace-making must be our goal.

The Psalmist hoped–as have countless men and women of faith–that The Divine One will, one day, put an end to war and the instruments of war.

9 Come now and look upon the works of the Lord, *
what awesome things he has done on earth.

10 It is he who makes war to cease in all the world; *
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire.

11 “Be still, then, and know that I am God; *
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 47: 9-11

Does this hope in the heart of Humanity that God will one day put an end to war mean that we should simply wait patiently for that coveted day to arrive?

Does it mean that we should not work for Peace nor attempt to be instruments of reconciliation among our fellows and even among Nations?

It cannot mean those things.

Peace must be our goal.

As I write this, the U.S. is closer to an actual shooting war than we have been in a long time.

One of the things that is so frustrating and disquieting is that it’s possible–even likely when one looks at the facts–that our elected leaders are foolishly spoiling for a war.

If that’s the case, those in our country who have the power to set in motion conflicts and wars are certain to get their wish.

If so, it will be yet one more time when those who, like the writer of Psalm 47, will have their desire for Peace thwarted while humanity descends, once more, into the dark and desolate hellscape of war.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.