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Labor Day and Work

Labor Day:  In America, this week-end is Labor Day, a special day for the American worker, so my thoughts revolve around labor.  How do we view labor or work?  Do we view it as something that we have to do and are eager to get it over with so we can do the things we really like to do - like fishing?  Is work something that we would like less of?  For example, is the French 35-hour work week the better model?  Is work something we do just to earn money for our hobbies?
    The Biblical perspective of work is something radically different than the modern concept.   In Genesis 1:26 God placed man over creation to rule it and in vs 28 Adam was to subdue the earth.  To rule and subdue the earth requires work.  In Exodus 20 we are told “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant nor maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”  So there should be a pattern of work and rest. 
    Those who don’t work five or six days a week get into trouble.  There is a proverb that idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  When we lived in Belgium we led a Bible study and two Flemish attended as did two Africans.  One was from Zaire and he was attending a fisherman’s school.  He was always busy - learning navigation, learning how to work nets, learning about engines.  One was a refugee from Ghana, and because he did not have work, he got into trouble although he was a Christian.
    When you work, you are subduing the earth - you are organizing things.  If you are a trash collector, you are making the world a better place by cleaning up.  If you have ever seen the streets when the trash collectors go on strike, think NYC or Naples (Napoli), then you know what I mean.  Trash collecting may not be the most exciting job (neither is changing diapers), but imagine the world if it was not done.  Think also of those who are unemployed.  They would much rather be working than not working. 
    I was talking with our car mechanic this past Friday, and he was saying that he is seeing an unwillingness for the younger generation to work hard.  The garage is supposed to open at 0730, and the manager (younger than he) some times does not arrive until 0735.  He has a nephew who is 28, lives with his parents, and still has not found work, even though the unemployment rate in Norfolk is one of the lowest in the nation.
    So we should celebrate work.  Work is a real blessing.  Thank God that you have the ability and capability to work.  And pray for those who can not work that they will be able to find work.

The Evil of the Lottery

Evil abounds today.  One evil that is sanctioned by the government is the lottery.  Lotteries are evil for several reasons:
1.)  As my good Roman Catholic friend, Jim Dunn, calls them, they are the cruelest tax as they  are a tax on hope.  And he is right on the money.  Lotteries tax hope, and thus as the economy has faltered, lottery sales actually have increased in many states.  While New Jersey lottery sales were up a little less than one percent, Illinois and Georgia lotteries were up 3%.  Innumerable studies have proven that the poor, those least able to afford it, buy the most lottery tickets.  So the state authorizes stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.  The state acts like Prince John, instead of Robin Hood.
2.)  The money is not productive.  Instead of investing in the house or buying Chevrolets, the money is flushed down the toilet.  How much is spent on the lottery?  The amount is mind-boggling.  In New Jersey in one year, $2.53 billion was spent.  Thus, instead of buying all those lottery tickets, they could have bought over 84,300 $30,000 Impalas.  You ask yourself, which is better for the economy?  Georgia, with 3/4 of the median wage and about ½ the population of NJ, spent a mind-boggling $3.5 billion dollars.  They could have bought over 116,600 $30,000 Impalas.  To put this in perspective: GM sold 197,000 Impalas in 2006.  Thus, if all the people in just two states, NJ and Georgia, had spent the money on the Impalas instead of lottery tickets, Impala sales would have doubled.  In 2006 over fifty-six billion dollars were spent on lotteries in the United States alone.  Just imagine how much better we would have lived in if we had spent it correctly.  Thus, the lottery is wrong because it is not good stewardship of what God has given to us.
3.)   The lottery is wrong because it says that work is wrong.  If only we could win, then we would not have to work.  Although work is a gift of God, it is not seen as such, and the lottery holds out a promise that if you win, you won’t have to work again. 
4.)  Finally, the lottery is wrong because it is based on covetousness, greed.  It is sin-based.  Not being satisfied with what we have, we look for a way to get more, on the cheap. 

    This reminds me of a story of the lottery.  A guy was working at the factory and was getting paid $1,000/week.  However, suddenly he started living much better.  The reason?  He started selling $2 lottery tickets for his $1,000 paycheck.  He always sold at least 700 tickets, sometimes more.  So suddenly, he was earning $1,400 or even $2,000 per week, although he was being paid the same $1,000/week.  The lottery was just a transfer of wealth.  No new wealth was made, but it was transferred.
    So the challenge is think of how much money you have spent on the lottery or gambling?  Why not do something productive with that money?

God's Greatness: The Joy of Life

    Have you ever marveled at the wonderful creation God has made for us?  Do you really enjoy life?  I do.  I love God and His creation for us.  I love to eat.  The Lord could have made everything taste exactly the same, but He is good and He is creative.  Thus, a steak does not taste the same as a baked potato, which is totally different from a hot fudge sundae.  He could have made it so that all we needed was a little pill to eat that would have all the vitamins and proteins and energy that we needed.  But He made it wonderfully different.  God created everything well. 
   Not only is there a wide variety of taste, but there is also an amazing variety of textures.  Think for a moment of the different textures between ice cream and a baked potato, or between something crispy like bacon and a chewy texture of calamari (squid).  There is so much variety.
   And then think of how the smells increase the taste of the food.  When we come back from church and open the front door and the whole house smells of roast pork, or when my wife cooks bacon in the morning, the aroma fills the house and makes it even more fun to eat.  Or how about the smell of hamburgers cooking on the grill?
   The Lord, in His great love, created for us a world to enjoy.  Not only is there a wide variety of tastes and textures and smells, but they all complement each other.
Praise God for His goodness to us.