Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Political Endorsement

By the time you read this you may have already voted, but at the time of my writing this, election day is not quite here. I do my best to stay away from voicing political opinions. I don't mind giving my opinion on many of the issues, but endorsing candidates is something that I've never done. But the political scene in our day and time has led me to feel a very strong need to endorse someone. The rest of this bulletin article contains some of the promises and part of the platform I hear from this individual.

The Promises:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

The Platform:
"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth."

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep."

Before we get too worked up about which candidates were elected to office, let's remember that God elected to love us long before we were old enough to vote. Life as I know it is best when we live worthily of that calling.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Saturday night I couldn't help but wonder what one of the farmer's who first broke the ground on the South Plains would have thought if someone would have told them that one day people would pay money and then stand in line for thirty minutes for the chance to walk through a corn field. On Saturday night alone hundreds of people showed up at the Corn Maze outside of Lubbock to pay money and navigate their way through a maze cut into a corn field. Why would people pay money to walk through a corn field? Why would anyone knowingly enter a maze? The only reason I can figure out is the allure and excitement of being lost.

Now my personal opinion is that there is no possible way to actually get lost at the corn maze. Everyone who goes through knows that they will not actually be lost in the corn maze. But that knowledge does not prevent the inevitable from happening…practically everyone finds themselves muttering, "we're lost," at some point along the way. They have a map. They have a sheet of clues. There are other travelers on the path. There are workers watching over the maze. But everyone makes a wrong turn and gets lost at some point along the path. At some point everyone will come to a point when they don't know which way to turn.

In the corn maze that's fine – in fact, it is fun. But the sad reality is that many of the people you meet today are lost. They don't know which way to go. They don't know where to turn. And even though they have access to a map, clues, fellow travelers, and even workers along the path, they still find themselves hopelessly lost.

Maybe they are still having too much fun being lost to seriously consider needing to know how to navigate the maze of life successfully. Perhaps they continue to believe they can make it on their own without any help. Or maybe they can't understand how to read the map or have learned to not trust the people who try to point them in the right direction. Whatever the case, we, like all the generations prior to ours, live in a lost world.

I realized one thing while I was walking through the maze – if someone had been yelling at me that I was lost, it would not have helped me. The same is true in life's maze. Here's what will help: Help them understand the map. Walk with them to show them the path. Point them in the right direction and away from danger. Direct their attention to the one who knows the way out of the maze. Above all, patiently love them like Christ loved you. Oh, and don't forget to have fun along the way – a smile never hurts!

Life as I know it is about helping others successfully navigate their way through the maze to find the one who gives life...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bad Fathering from a Good Source

I'm sure that after I post this I will have visits from child welfare experts. You see, I did a bit of bad fathering Saturday...I got my kids to work. The strange thing is, they enjoyed it. They kept asking if they could go work a little bit more. And the only hint of an argument arose because one was getting to work more than the others were.
By now you are probably thinking that this is just another story and that the "work" really wasn't work. So here's what happened on Saturday. It was a normal Saturday morning. The kids were being lazy watching cartoons or Hannah Montana (not ESPN as I've tried to train them to watch). And for some reason that I honestly cannot remember, I thought about the big pile of rocks behind the house. So I called for a huddle on the back porch. I told the kids that I would pay them a nickel for every bucket of rocks they hauled off. I found four smaller buckets and after each large bucket of rocks they hauled off they placed one rock into their small bucket so that we could have an accounting of the work that they did.
For most of the rest of the morning, they took turns filling a bucket and hauling it off. During that time they laughed and played and worked really hard. I was impressed. In fact, I was so impressed that I wanted to reward them for their behavior and their attitude toward working that day.
That afternoon (before happy hour at Sonic had ended) I asked if they were through working. When they assured me that they were through working for the day, I had them put up the shovels and count their rocks. I paid out the money that they earned. Then I told them how proud I was of the way they had worked and as a result I was going to give them more than they earned. Then I took them to Sonic and bought them their favorite drink.
As we were about to pull out of Sonic I told them the spiritual lesson that I had learned from God during my short time on this earth: when I am joyfully obedient to do the things he has asked me to do, He rewards me with more than I have earned. It is because of the love that God has shown to me that I know how to love my children. So my fathering may be bad, but some of the lessons I've learned come from a really good source.
Life as I know it is best when we cheerfully follow God's commands.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Silence of Forgiveness

Deserted streets. Closed doors behind which families gather around a simple meal. The smoke from hundreds of cooking fires slowly lifts its hazy grasp. Jerusalem is virtually silent.

Silence is sometimes peaceful. At other times, though, silence is eerie and heavy. The silence in Jerusalem on the evening of Passover must have been an eerie, heavy silence. During the day Jerusalem bustled with activity. The walls of the city could barely contain all of the pilgrims who had come bringing their sacrifice to the temple. Each sacrifice bleated out its own music during that long and fateful day. Then, as hour after hour slowly crept by, the sounds of the sacrifices diminished. Family after family returned from the temple carrying their Passover meal which had been sacrificed on an altar.

As this scene unfolded in my mind, I couldn't help but think about the silence of forgiveness. I couldn't help but think about what it must have been like to witness the thousands of sacrifices which attested to the sinfulness of so many souls and the extravagant grace of the Almighty God to forgive. And I couldn't help but think about my own sinfulness and how trivially I treat God's grace and forgiveness. There is no bleating of sheep speaking out my sins. There is no long walk up the hill to present my sacrifice before God. Rarely is there any point in my life where I am confronted with the reality of my sins.

But tonight I hear the silence. And the silence is deafening in my ears as I think of the Lamb. The Lamb I think of in this thick silence is not a cute and cuddly pet that must be given at too young an age, but the all-powerful Son of God who willingly walked that road and laid down his life for sinners.

Too often I fail to think about the price for my sins. I ignore the reality of Paul's words that the wages of sin is death. I trivialize sin and think that it is no big deal for God to forgive me yet again. I ignore the fact that the sin in my life actually destroys the life that Christ came to give me. And so tonight I am reminded by the silence of forgiveness.

Life as I know it came at the cost of God's Son.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Are You Thinking?

"Finally, brothers, 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." Philippians 4:8

Let's start a list of true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy things to think about. Just add a comment (if you are on facebook - please click on the link and go to my blog and add a comment there) about something that you are thinking about that fits the Philippians 4:8 criteria.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Your Nose is Like the Tower of Lebanon

Today's reading in The Daily Bible (May 26th for those of you who will want to follow along) is Song of Solomon. If you haven't read Song of Solomon and are unfamiliar with it, its a... ummm... its about... Song of Solomon is a conversation between a lover and a beloved (and some friends who keep chiming in at seemingly inappropriate times). As with much poetry, it is difficult for me to follow exactly what the writer is trying to accomplish in this short book. And the difficulty is compounded by the fact that it is just hard to understand the sultry language that lover and beloved use to woo one another.
The plain cold fact is, if I told my wife, "your nose is like the tower of Lebanon," I would have the honor of sleeping for a couple of days...and when I finally awoke in the hospital room, my vision would be blurry for a few more days. But apparently, for Solomon, the tower of Lebanon is a pretty sexy compliment for a nose back in the day. (Personally, I didn't think there was a really good compliment for a nose - I know its nice to have one, but never found myself really admiring any one's nose.) I also never knew that temples that resemble pomegranates are a turn on. I thought the temple was supposed to be a gentle depression, not a prominent lump on either side of the head. (Turns out Frankenstein's monster is actually devilishly handsome in Solomon's eyes.)
Here's the deal - the language you use isn't really that important when you are conveying your love to someone as long as you communicate. Others may think your words are corny or stupid or funny or outright distasteful, but if your spouse understands you and the love that you are conveying it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. The real tragedy is in failing to communicate. To have a lovely bride and not tell her how beautiful she is in your eye is a good way to lose the intimacy of your marriage. To know the words to say to make your handsome husband feel like a king and never speak them is a good way to prevent your marriage from being the powerful union it could be.
If you haven't yet read "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, read it. Learn how to speak to your husband or wife in a way that will cement your relationship together. Practice writing a note to her about how beautiful she is. Whisper in his ear how handsome he is to you. Read Song of Solomon together and take turns complimenting each other's features. ("Your waist is a mound of wheat" is another of my favorites.)
Life as I know it is best when I practice telling my wife how beautiful she is. I confess that I don't do it enough. How about you? When is the last time you told your husband or wife how beautiful they are?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Celebrating the Not-Lasts

Its the end of the school year and everyone is looking forward to the last day of school. There will be many "lasts" this week. The last Monday of school. The last Tuesday of school...Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We have already had the last programs. Coupled with the fact that we will be moving in a few weeks, the "lasts" at the end of this school year have seemed to been more poignant than in earlier years. So the actual last day of school will be the last day of this school for our kids...
All of the lasts that have been occurring over the past few weeks have started me thinking about the things before the last. We tend to celebrate the first and the last of everything. The first day of school and the last day of school are days of excitement, but the countless days in between are rarely celebrated. Opening day of baseball season is filled with anticipation and the final game of the world series is remembered, but during the middle of the season the games kind of run together.
If we aren't careful, our life becomes a monotonous drudgery of hanging on until we get to the end of something. Rarely is that type of life fulfilling. The people that inspire you don't meander through days hoping for something else - they take each day and make something good of it. Cal Ripken, Jr. didn't become one of the best known players by taking a day off because he wasn't in the mood to play that day. Brett Favre is respected by his youthful enthusiasm during each game, not just the big ones.
So instead of focusing on the last, focus on the not-lasts. Celebrate each activity, each day and make something of it. And if we do that, then when we have played our last game, we will be proud of our accomplishments.
Life as I know it is lived best when we don't wait until the end to try to live it. Make today count!