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Reality in an Unreal Election

by on Nov.05, 2016, under Faith in the Public Square, Musings

Some days reality is harder to face than others. Tuesday will be such a day. For the reality is that we must choose between two horribly-flawed candidates. Neither has demonstrated the honor or character that should be required of a President. But the reality is that one of them will be, like it or not. To vote for either should be an extremely difficult thing to do but a vote must be cast nonetheless.
Yet here is another reality – our vote will also decide who is sworn in as Vice President; who will fill the Cabinet Secretary positions; who will have a hand in deciding and implementing crucial policies throughout our government. Our vote will move the Supreme Court in one direction or another, and lower federal courts as well. That reality brings greater clarity and, for me, makes the choice easier to make.
A vote for she who pledges to continue the present course means more of what we now have. The names and personalities of Cabinet officials and their deputies may change, but the ideological bent of the newcomers will not. And I judge the ideologies of the current government to be a grave threat.
A vote for he who seems unable to get over himself at least comes with this promise: he picked a good and decent man to run with him. That gives me hope that others selected to fill important roles in the executive and judicial branches will be women and men of equal integrity and character.
So the reality is that my vote is not a choice to fill one position, but thousands. And that is why and how I will cast my ballot. And I will pray this sad chapter of American politics is not soon repeated.

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July 4th

by on Jul.05, 2015, under Faith in the Public Square

Perhaps today would be a good time for us to collectively remember that among other freedoms sought by those alive in 1776 was the freedom to worship and express their faith freely. Protestants of all persuasions, Catholics and Jews, Deists and those with no belief at all in the Divine fought side-by-side. Years later, in the Bill of Rights that was necessary to secure adoption of the Constitution, the First Freedom enumerated was the right to freely speak and exercise one’s religious faith. Diversity wasn’t born in our generation but theirs. And it doesn’t speak well for those today who proclaim themselves the tolerant ones to seek the annihilation of all beliefs except their own and the silencing of divergent voices in the public square.

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Healing Tears

by on Feb.15, 2015, under Musings

This nation needs to come together with tears. Our leaders – and we – must see our lack of answers and even our inability to ask the right questions. We are prisoners of our arrogance and if we don’t discover genuine humility, soon, we are lost. Healing will come in tears.

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Scott Walker, Democrats, Media & Evolution

by on Feb.14, 2015, under Musings

Part of this week’s “news cycle” was the “gotcha” question to Scott Walker about whether he believes in evolution. Citing the irrelevance of the question Gov. Walker passed. Here’s a suggested answer: Evolution is a belief system that seems to be more comfortable for the democrat party. It presupposes a closed system, dismisses God at the outset, ignores evidence of intelligent design, makes no room for plan or purpose, and disregards the scientific reality that things tend to get worse not better when left on their own. That pretty much forms much of their platform and explains why I’m a republican.

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Looking Forward to Looking Back

by on Dec.06, 2014, under Life Poems

It’s time to write.
Write about hospitals and hopelessness.
Of pride, arrogance, and judgment.
About pain. And how it changes things forever.
About humiliation. And standing in its harsh glare.
Of prayers that fall unanswered.
And some never offered.
Is Anyone listening? Is Anyone there?
The panic of helplessness.
The fear of being discovered.
Roller coaster emotions.
The absence of feeling.
A hardened spirit.
Lord, soften him.
Financial freefall.
Losing a job.
A house
And almost a marriage.
Of surgery failed. I had to try.
Of healing services that didn’t. And wondering, why?

Yes, it’s time to write.
Write about God’s faithfulness.
His kindness.
Daily mercies.
Forgiveness.
About His power not just to change, but make new.
Of His promise to complete what He starts.
Even when we don’t see His hand.
He is there.
Always.

And write about friends.
Who were there also.
Listening.
Sharing.
Praying.
Caring.
Demonstrating that they know Him.
By their love.

Our story.
Its telling is not easy.
Because it was not easy.
But it is told with great joy.
Because it brought great joy.
Lord, bless its telling.

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A People at Risk

by on Oct.04, 2014, under Musings

There is Truth and there is Spin. The Truth is always our friend, even when it makes us uncomfortable and we don’t want to face it. Making good life decisions is not possible if they are not based on a foundation of Truth.
Spin is the fabrication of falsehoods, even when it contains tiny threads of things that may be true. Spin sets out to confuse and deceive, often for the purpose of holding on to political power. Decisions formed in the influence of Spin will not produce lasting positive results.
We are a people at risk. The Masters of Spin are working hard to disguise what is True with what they want us to believe. The question is: will we let them? Will we demand Truth or embrace Falsehoods? Our future rests on our answer.

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Profiles in Cowardice

by on Sep.07, 2014, under Musings

Remember John F. Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage? What we are seeing out of Washington now is anything but. When politicians are afraid to go on the record in the days before an election, because they fear the consequences that will be handed down by citizens at the ballot box, it is more like profiles in cowardice. Worse, it is a deliberate attempt to subvert the proper functioning of a representative democracy. Elected officials should not be considered a ruling class; they should function as stewards acting for the will of the people. And when those stewards overrule the people they should be willing to do so on the record and accept the consequences. Delaying executive actions or votes on key legislation until there is no impact on incumbents is not what should occur in a healthy constitutional republic. It is evidence of a fundamental transformation that bodes ill for the future of America.

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Elections Matter

by on Sep.03, 2011, under Musings

America’s greatness doesn’t flow from its government; it flows from its form of government. The 2008 Election promised a fundamental transformation of America. It was one campaign promise that, sadly, has been kept. The continuing economic slide is hastened by ever-increasing, costly, and ideological regulations – and the ominous threat of legislation by Executive Order. The stage is set for a 2012 Election where the battle will be less about candidates and parties than about whether constitutional boundaries will be ignored or respected. It will be a watershed election.

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The Real Joy of Gift-Giving

by on Oct.18, 2009, under A Steward’s Journey

A little book that made a big impression on me was written in 1968 by Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier. In The Meaning of Gifts, Dr. Tournier made several observations, but one still stands out in my mind today. It’s this: The real joy in gift-giving isn’t found when the gift is given. It’s found when the gift is given back. I’m not talking about giving the actual gift back; the real joy of gift-giving is found in something much more significant than that. Here’s what I mean.

Last month our son Brent and his family went with Pam and me to the mountains for a getaway weekend. While we were walking through the resort shops his daughter, Meghan, saw a pair of boots that were made for her. With a birthday just a few weeks away Pam and I got them as our birthday gift for her. We were glad to do it, but when we learned what came next we experienced the real joy of gift-giving.

When it was time for Meghan to go back to school, she wore her boots. And the next day, and the next. Meghan and her boots became inseparable. She absolutely loved her gift, and in that enthusiastic acceptance of what we’d given to her she gave an even more valuable gift back to us – joy. Because the real joy of gift-giving is when our gift finds its mark. The real joy is seeing the gift enthusiastically accepted and used. You see, Meghan’s boots were not just given to be worn, they were given to be worn out.

Look at it from the opposite perspective. Where would our joy be if Meghan had taken her new boots home and put them in the closet? Never to be worn again? Where’s the joy in the un-used gift? There isn’t any. It’s replaced by disappointment. They didn’t like our gift,we think. What a disappointment. What a waste.

We know this instinctively even if we haven’t stopped to think about it. When we make something or buy a gift for someone we do it with the hope and expectation that it will be more than accepted, we desire that it be embraced. Not all gifts hit the mark, though; some fall flat. What was given in the expectation of joy is received in a disappointment that can’t be hidden by a gracious smile and thank you.

God is a gift-giver. Matthew says it this way: If you then … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (7:11). God delights in giving gifts to us. He made us, He gifted us, and He delights when those gifts are given back to him by being embraced, used, and worn out. Maybe there’s something that he’s given to you that’s still in the box tucked away in the corner of your closet. Maybe it’s time to get it out, dust it off, embrace it, and give Him joy. It’s worth considering.

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Life without Pastors

by on Apr.07, 2009, under View from the Pew

Dear Pastor:

How do you put up with us? Sermons on the unity of the body are answered with divisive annual meetings. Counseling sessions uncover evidence that pleas for righteous living have gone unheeded. Biblical answers for life’s problems are regularly shared but too frequently ignored. The cleansing fire of revival seems distant, and doubts about the effectiveness of your ministry linger in your mind.

If the discouragements of ministry threaten your continued call, consider what life would be like if there were no pastors to shepherd the flocks. What would the body of Christ be like without your presence? What would the nations of the world be without your collective influence? where would we be if your salt no longer seasoned and preserved us? Here are some thoughts from a layman about the importance of your pastoral role.

Each week I see evidence of what America would be like without pastors. Headlines scream out the verdicts on a nation that looks to politics, not pastors, for lasting answers. Is there any wonder we are experiencing an epidemic of divorce when the original plan for marriage has been casually cast aside? Where, aside from the biblical teaching of the faithful pastor, will men and women learn how to be true husbands and wives? Where, aside from the biblical counseling of the faithful pastor, will those struggling in their marriages hear that the answer is not to abandon each other but to renew their commitment to one another? Who in our society is capable of equipping young men and women for the future challenges of marriage, if not you?

Where will our world learn of justice except from those who know its Author? How will we experience racial harmony and reconciliation without first being reconciled with the one who made us? When will we realize the command to treat every person, rich or poor, impartially because He has commanded it and because it is right? A world without moral standards is incapable of explaining why we should exercise justice and be reconciled to our enemies. Our world does not understand the origin of its problems and the source for its answers. You do. God has entrusted you with His message. Speak and live it forcefully.

Our depth of insight often results from your pastoral care. If every person in your community knew that they are valued by God, valued so highly that they were worth the death of His Son, would we be experiencing the sense of estrangement and isolation so evident in our world? If every man and woman understood the price God paid so they could live in peace, would the problem of domestic violence be skyrocketing? If every child knew the innocence and safety of a home headed by men and women of faith, would sexual abuse be the modern plague that it is? If every son and daughter lived with parents dedicated to their biblical roles, and to each other, would we be facing our current crisis of sexual orientation and rebellion.

The church, alone among all of our institutions, has the answer. Pastors, alone among all vocations, have the ultimate calling to share the answer with people.

Each time I drive to church I pass those who live their lives without a shepherd. How do they survive without your influence? Where do they go when they are discouraged? I benefit from your teaching and encouragement. I learn from your dedication and example. Who are their role models? Rush Limbaugh? The Simpsons? Hardly! Only in your care will they experience the words of life. Only in relationship with people of faith will they find the fulfillment they seek, and God intends.

How do those who have not yet heard God’s message of hope deal with the devastating news of a lost job, a failed marriage, a positive biopsy? What sustains them in the black of night when the message of light is something unknown to them? Who comforts them with a sense of purpose when everything in their existence seems void of meaning? You do. And the people in your pews who carry your message on roads you will never travel and inject your influence in places you will never go.

The demands of life outstrip the ability of service clubs, sports, work, or any human activity to bring lasting and ultimate meaning. Twelve-step programs are not enough. Fame and power vanish. Beauty fades. Physical strength wanes. Dreams disappear. Prodigals don’t return. Expectations are unfulfilled. Spouses die. What then? Without your message- -despair. With your message–hope. Hope that does not disappoint. Hope that has a future.

You must never underestimate the impact of who you are and what you do. You must resist the temptation to dwell on the shortcoming of our work. Yes there are frustrations. But there is also fruit. It is easy to be distracted by the visible impact of the family disintegrating in your midst, without remembering the families that are intact and functioning because of your invisible influence. There are and will be financial crises that would be eased if more of us in the pews were serious about stewardship. Apathy will continue to exist. Those we esteem may fall and disappoint us. Because we still feel the effects of our sinful nature, only that amazing grace, which makes your walk and mine possible, is sufficient for us to try again. God’s mercy is new every morning.

His grace changes our hearts from an orientation of self to an orientation of others. We learn to give and be glad. His constant presence reminds us that there is still time to obey His call. We learn that He patiently waits for us to return to Him. When we fall and disappoint, He raises us up and comforts us. We learn that He does not abandon us to our failures but supplies strength in our weakness. This God who called you into ministry is a great and mighty God. One whose faithfulness never ends.

Don’t quit on us. Don’t quit on yourself. God remains at work in all of us. So take courage from this view from the pew; we are in this work together. These words, written by one person, are views shared by countless thousands. we say to you at the moment of your discouragement: “Persevere.” We pray for you at the moment of your need: “Lord, deliver.” We stand with you when you think you are all alone. God’s presence is enough. He is able. He began a good work in you. He will be faithful to complete it.

God bless you.

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