For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Give the GOP What They Want...Leave!

How much longer will it take?  How much longer will godly, conservative voters in this nation fail to realize that the GOP is not your party?  They do not represent your values.  They do not represent your goals for this nation.  They have long ago abandoned you and have become more and more bold about thumbing their noses at you.  When will you wake up and see this??

My eyes were opened in the last presidential cycle when John McCain was virtually shoved down our throats.  The GOP machine did all it could to make McCain the nominee when true conservatives were available and doing well early on in the process.  But no, the GOP string pullers worked over time, telling us the we needed a more moderate candidate who would be more “electable.”  So, how’d that work out for ya? 

Now, four years later, it’s the same thing all over again.  The GOP puts up Mitt Romney, barely any different that the current president in so many ways, and again goes into overdrive to make sure he’s “the guy.”  It’s become so ugly, that this time they even changed the rules to be sure no dissenting voice was heard at the GOP convention.

Meanwhile, here in Missouri, a decent man and genuine small government conservative named Todd Akin makes one mistake (which he has sincerely apologized for) and of course the liberals start dragging him through the dirt.  We expect that.  But then, the national GOP shot callers again step in and begin meddling in our state’s business, calling for Akin to step down even though the majority of people in this state want him to be the nominee.  

Why did they do that?  Not because Rep. Akin is a horrible person.  Not even because he made a serious mistake (which it was; but who hasn’t made one of their own?).  No, it’s because he’s a genuine conservative with Christian values; one of those folks who are no longer welcome in the GOP camp.

Folks, when will you wake up and realize what’s going on?  I have said it over and over in conversations, in blog posts…if all good Christian conservatives would stop buying into the two-party only “electability” lie and would support a candidate and a party that truly represents our values, we could win in a landslide.  

I’m so sick and tired of true conservatives supporting people like Romney and McCain and others who don’t really represent us; just because they aren’t the Democrats.  Is that really reason enough to support someone?  Because they aren’t someone else?  Please!  Why not vote for someone for a change.  

Go to the Constitution Party website and read the party platform.  Compare what the CP candidates stand for to what Romney and the GOP have shoved at us.  Then go to the polls and stop voting against the other guy, and vote your conscience.  Face it, the GOP doesn’t want you, so why not give them what they want?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Insignificance/Irrelevance: A Vacation Reflection

I haven’t posted anything here for over a week. At the risk of sounding like Eeyore, I don’t think anyone even noticed.  You see, our family went on vacation last week.  We don’t get to do that too often, and we didn’t go far.  But thanks to my folks' generosity we had a wonderful little break.  

During that time, I posted nothing on this blog, checked email and facebook only once or twice…and the world went on.  Makes me wonder about the significance and relevance of all this stuff, as well as my own significance and relevance.

Of course, it’s not just the internet.  Quite frankly, while some of our friends and folks at church missed us, their lives weren’t really affected in a dramatic way by our absence during the week.  Hopefully, were the absence to become permanent, a few folks might notice a bit more, but…

I’ve been doing this blog thing for about four years now.  I’m not as prolific in posting as many, but once or twice a week I come up with something.  Over the course of those four years it’s added up to over 400 posts.  And yet, I wonder if any of those have really added to the issue of my significance and relevance in this life.  In addition I usually find time to post something on facebook at least once a day, but again, no one’s life was altered by the absence of those posts.

Now don’t misunderstand.   I’m not having a pity party for myself.  I’m just appreciating the reminder that none of us are nearly as important as we think we are.  To be quite honest, without sounding cruel, I’m not sure my own life is any less enriched because I didn’t read all those other blogs I usually read, or the facebook updates of others that I missed out on.  

Again, I’m not trying to be cruel.  I enjoy many blogs, and have learned much from so many.  I really do enjoy hearing many of the things going on in the lives of my “friends”, and I think facebook and things like it are helpful tools to some degree.

I’m just wondering, if your life wasn’t altered by my absence from this blog, and my life wasn't radically changed by missing out on my regular internet reading, then just how significant and relevant can all this be?

Once again, don’t misunderstand.  I’m not trying to disparage the work of others.  I know that there are some wonderful things being written out there, things I enjoy, things I learn from.  And I’d like to think that one or more of my own posts has offered some encouragement, prompted some thought in others.

But I’m thankful for the reminder that while we each have value, and God has a plan and a purpose for each of us; in the overall scheme of things, I’m just not that important.  At least not here.

My real significance and relevance is as a husband and father.  My real impact is felt in that small circle.  Hopefully, some impact is also felt in the larger circle of our church family.  And again, maybe once in awhile God has used my meandering thoughts to some benefit elsewhere.  But outside my own family, my significance and relevance dwindles mightily.

I plan to continue writing here.  It’s more for my own catharsis than anything.  It helps me to organize my thoughts, vent a bit now and then, and so on.  I’ll still continue to check up on folks through facebook, read my favorite blogs, etc. 

But I think my attitude about these things has greatly changed.  No longer will I feel any need to keep up some schedule because I think someone out there might hang on my words.  No longer will I feel I have to read every blog out there about every subject.  No longer will I feel I have to keep up with everyone else’s business, nor share my own on social media.  

It’s all in good fun, but in the overall scheme of life it’s rather insignificant and irrelevant; just like me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Have A Laugh - You Deserve It

Apparently today is National Tell a Joke Day.  (yes, this week I'm so lazy that I can do nothing but pick up these lame holidays.  Sorry)   I think every deserves a good laugh now and then. Scripture even tells us that a joyful heart is good medicine.

I stopped telling jokes in sermons years ago because I felt convicted about my job being to preach the Word, not entertain the masses.  Or at least that's what I tell myself.  The truth is, I have a strange sense of humor and no one gets my jokes.  Or maybe it's just my delivery.  Anyways, I want to honor the day, but not risk showing again how bad my own jokes are, so I hope you enjoy these from some of my favorite joke tellers. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

In Honor of "Left-Handers Day"

According to my sources, today is National Left-Hander’s Day.  Now, I’m not personally a left-handed person.  Early in life I had a little bit of ambidextrous-ness that my folks showed off like a party trick, but I eventually settled into the life of a right-handed person.

Still, I have a lot of respect for left-handers, have several friends who are left-handed, and I want to celebrate with them today.  So, in honor of the day, let me just share with you one of my favorite all time Bible stories, which just happens to feature a left-handed hero. 

This isn’t one of the more well known stories to many, but as my kids will tell you, with my often questionable sense of humor, I’ve always liked this one.  So without further ado, I give you the story of Ehud, the left-handed Benjaminite:

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, and the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. And Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his clothes. And he presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab.

Now Eglon was a very fat man. And when Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who carried the tribute. But he himself turned back at the idols near Gilgal and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." And he commanded, "Silence." And all his attendants went out from his presence.

And Ehud came to him as he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, "I have a message from God for you." And he arose from his seat. And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out. Then Ehud went out into the porch and closed the doors of the roof chamber behind him and locked them.

When he had gone, the servants came, and when they saw that the doors of the roof chamber were locked, they thought, "Surely he is relieving himself in the closet of the cool chamber." And they waited till they were embarrassed. But when he still did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them, and there lay their lord dead on the floor.

Ehud escaped while they delayed, and he passed beyond the idols and escaped to Seirah. When he arrived, he sounded the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim. Then the people of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was their leader. And he said to them, "Follow after me, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand."

So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites and did not allow anyone to pass over. And they killed at that time about 10,000 of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; not a man escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.
(Judges 3:12-30, ESV)

I hope I haven’t broken any copyright laws by quoting all 19 verses, but there you have it.  True story.  Happy Left-handers Day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Can’t Teach Me Anything

We all know many pro athletes are ego-maniacs.  They’re always running around telling us how great they are, the best of all time.  Even the Olympic athletes have joined in, with some of the track intros looking more like pro-wrestling with all the posturing going on.  

Kobe Bryant, Olympic basketball player and Los Angels Laker star, finally went ahead and stated what so many of these athletes believe.  Since they are the best, there’s nothing left to learn.  According to one report, “ Bryant says he is in a place in his career that everyone else on the team wants to get to. He also says there is no player on the Team USA roster that can teach him anything.”

He has nothing to learn from any of these guys?  Really?  Nothing?  Granted they may be younger, less experienced, etc.  But nothing to learn from them?  Pride and arrogance at its clearest and best (or worse).

Sadly, many in the church have this very same attitude.  We may shake our heads and “tsk” at the arrogance of Kobe Bryant, but then we turn around and act in the very same way.   We think that because we’ve been in the church for “x” number of years, memorized all these Bible verses, heard all these sermons, taught all these classes, or whatever, that we have nothing to learn.

I can’t count how many times people have looked out on a Sunday morning as I’m trying to preach and teach God’s Word, and there sits someone with that smug look on their face: “Can’t teach me anything.”  I’ve actually had someone tell me that they don’t have to study their Bible a great deal anymore since they’ve already studied it so much.  Really??

I’ve been preaching for over 23 years, but I still know that I’ve got a lot to learn.  In fact, even if God allows me to continue preaching for the next 23 years, I know I still will have things to learn about God, about His goodness, greatness, grace and glory.

In Ephesians 1, Paul says that he is praying for the believers, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might .” (Eph 1:17-19, ESV)

He prays that they would continue to have their eyes opened, that they would continue to know Him more, to know our hope more, to know His riches more, to know his power more.  (Now you know part of Sunday’s sermon outline!)  There’s no room for complacency, for pride and arrogance.  We need to know Him more, and in that regard we have much to learn, and we can learn it from almost anyone.

In fact, I regularly learn from my children.  To use some folks’ mentality, the fact that I’m older, more experienced, been a Christian longer, etc. says that I can’t learn anything from them.  But I do. Often.  God uses their faith to challenge me, their insights to enlighten me, their prayers to often shame me.  Not that they are perfect.  I’m just trying to make the point.  We can and should be learning from all those God puts in our lives.

I’m not saying that an 8 year old necessarily has more head knowledge than me, or that I have any more head knowledge, book smarts or Bible smarts than many who are older and wiser than me.  But we can still learn from one another.  God can use the character of others to challenge us, the faith of others to convict us, the obedience of others to correct us, and on and on. If we stop learning, we stop growing; if we stop growing, we dry up and die.

Kobe might think he’s the greatest ever, and he may be.  But only a fool says he has nothing to learn.  It’s true on the court and in the church.  As the old hymn says, our desire should be:

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thoughts on Voting Day

Today was an interesting experience.  When our oldest daughter was old enough to vote, she had already left for college.  We went through the “absentee ballot” process with her, which was interesting, but it was largely by phone so no “hands on” experience.

Today was a little different.  Today, our oldest son was of voting age, and he went with me to the polls for the Missouri Primary.  There are a lot of experiences with our children that are memorable.  Chief among them are being able to witness their births, and for the older three, their re-birth.  Baptizing your children is truly a joyous thing.

With Nathanael, heading out into the woods to hunt the first time, and the first time he got behind the wheel of my truck are certainly things that stand out.  But today was again, a very interesting experience.

I don’t think most of us in this country truly appreciate what it means to have the freedom to vote for our elected officials.  We love to sit around and complain about the government, and we love to throw stones at those who disagree with us.  But too often, we fail to realize what a blessing it is to have the freedom to make those complaints and voice those differences.

Going to the polls with my son for the first time was a good reminder of what a great blessing it is to live in this nation.  It has its issues.  It is certainly not the nation our Founders dreamt of in many ways.  But, for now at least, we can still make that trip to the polls unhindered, unchallenged, and unafraid.  

I felt a sense of pride in going with my son today.  As if in some sense we’re passing this legacy down to the next generation.  And it caused me to think of several things.

1.  Again, simply the great blessing of having this freedom.

2. The supreme need for vigilance in protecting these rights.  The fact that in Missouri we had to vote on an amendment to our state constitution to protect our already guaranteed constitutional right to pray in public is a sign that things are slipping in the wrong direction.  We need to be aware and be involved.  Which leads to…

3. The great sense of responsibility laid on the heads of every citizen in this nation, and the sad reality that so many don’t take advantage. So many are uniformed and frankly, uninterested.  And…

4. The even greater responsibility for parents to be sure that we are sending godly men and women into this world, and into those voting booths.  The direction of our nation will be decided in part by other young men and women like our children.  That we educate them in the Word of God, and in the history of this nation, is vitally important.  

I thank God for voting day.  It’s a temporal blessing, one that fails in comparison to the great spiritual blessings we have in Christ.  But it is a blessing, and we ought to be thankful for it.   And I’m thankful to share this blessing with my oldest children, and continue to pray our younger children will still have the same freedom in the days to come.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sorry, Chik-fil-a

We all know how extreme the views expressed by Chik-fil-a president Dan Cathy are.  He’s so out of touch with the rest of America.  Which is why on this “Chik-fil-a Day" our family couldn’t get anywhere near the store!

You all know the story.  Mike Huckabee and others proclaimed August 1st as Chik-fil-a Day and encouraged folks to eat there to show our support.  (If you’ve been in a cave and don’t know what I’m talking about, see my previous post)

We left early to try and have lunch there, but by the time we got to the exit off Hwy 60, traffic was already backed up down the off ramp.(This is before 11:00am!)

We waited in line on the ramp and through the next three stoplights toward the store, but finally gave up.  The line was too long!
As we passed, we could see the crowd already spilled into the parking lot.   
It’s a real shame that this extreme company is so out of touch with the common folks.  Maybe the millions they’ll make on this one day will teach ‘em a lesson.  (Even though we ended up having lunch somewhere else.  Sorry, Chik-fil-a.  We'll be back another day!)

Eat Mor Chikin!!