Monday, May 31, 2010
Amid the family gatherings and barbecues today, be sure to remember those that have died for our freedom.
My generation is really the first post-draft generation--the first generation of which military service was not required. Two of my siblings serve in the military. Nobody in my family has given their life in the line of duty. Too many people are unable to say that.
Today is not a day that we honor those that serve (we'll do that in November), it is the day that we honor those that were called on to die for their country--for our country--the United States of America.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Ever wonder how you can be busy and yet seem to live a boring, ordinary life. That's pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately.
It's not that I hate my life or anything. As a matter of fact, I think that I have a pretty good thing going. It's just that it's also a pretty ordinary thing. I haven't done much in the way of magic or preaching lately, although I have a couple of camps coming up. Work is ... well, work and that's about all I'll say about that. Family life is evolving as the kids are growing up. Aaron will not be coming home this summer as he works in Chicago and moves into the apartment that he and Jenny will be living in after their August wedding. Hannah is working, saving money, getting ready for college in the fall and doing things that don't involve hanging around with mom and dad.
I really don't think that this is mid-life crisis kind of stuff, but it does have me wondering about what's ahead and why we value the things in life that we do. Here are a few random thoughts on the things that seem to matter in our society today and what I think about them:
Several people have blogged, posted Facebook status/comments or just generally complained about the President not attending the Memorial Day service at Arlington National Cemetery this Holiday weekend. He will be at a service near his home in Illinois, where he will spend some time with family and friends (the first in over a year). I think that that's fair since that is what most of the rest of us will be doing (unless,of course, you have to work). I don't think that it has any great impact on life if the President is at a cemetery in Illinois or DC on Monday. Maybe it's just something to complain about. I'm trying to do a little less of that (complain) and trying to keep a more positive attitude about little things in general and life as a whole. Maybe for some, this issue is important enough to get upset about--not for me.
How about the Arizona immigration law? That seems to be a big issue. I've read of Arizona residents that have been treated rudely when travelling, as though they are personally beating up Mexicans where ever they find them. There is no question that something has to be done but perhaps we could make a simple start--secure the border. Before we tackle the big issue of what to do with all of the illegals that are already here, doesn't it make just a little bit of sense to stop the flow--NOW. I guess I don't see the harm in moving forward one step at a time. I know we need long term plans. But while we're fighting over just what those plans will be, can't we agree that the border needs to be secured. We can use the military, national guard units; we could build a barrier (fence/wall); anything to force people to legitimate entry/exit points.
By the way, that will cost money--so get ready to hear it from all of the "want less government" folks about...wait a minute...this is one of the areas that they're screaming that the government isn't doing enough, isn't it? Never mind. But it will cost money and that has to come from taxes (or drug money seized at the border).
I've noticed a that many are concerned about Arizona's law violating the rights of the illegals. Actually, it's the rights of the legitimate residents that would be violated unless everybody, regardless of race, is made to show proper identification/papers for what ever services are being sought. Maybe it's a sacrifice that we will all have to make until the situation is brought under control. Although I don't have any Mexican heritage, I have been mistaken as a native when we've been vacationing in Mexico. I could be a victim of racial profiling in Arizona. I guess we're going to have to decide if it's worth it or not.
It used to really tick me off that I had show my driver's license and sign for a box of sudafed. But if it hinders the manufacturing and distribution of meth, well...I can deal with it--especially in our part of the country. Missouri is a big producer of meth. "417" is the street name for meth in some parts of the country--it's also the area code for Southwest Missouri.
Lost, Idol, Celebrity Apprentice have all completed their seasons and I really couldn't care less. I haven't watched a single episode of any of them.
Are the NBA playoff over yet? Probably not. They seem to go on forever.
Hockey is also wrapping up it's season.
World Cup Soccer is getting ready to start. I like international sporting competitions. I like that while governments are at war or issuing sanctions against each other, ordinary citizens that are extraordinary athletes can play games and compete on the sports fields of the world. Fans can cheer on their teams and appreciate good plays made from either side. Too bad the world has to be so much bigger than a soccer field.
Around the world, there are still people that are recovering from earthquakes, mudslides and other disasters. Those things that aren't in the news aren't so important today--unless you're one of the ones that is still struggling to get your life back together after losing everything and everyone.
The stock market continues to be influenced by bad debt and big banking on a global scale. The housing market in our area hasn't really had much of a rebound. The oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico and threatens the coast of our southern states, as well as the industries that rely on the Gulf waters and beaches.
I know that it sounds dreadful. But in my little corner of the world, things aren't so bad. Maybe it's all in the attitude. Maybe it has to do with weighing out the importance of the issues. Maybe it's just about deciding that I'm content to let God be God, and I'm trusting in Him to take care of my eternal soul. After that, everything else just seems to be small, too small to get excited about.
How are things in your world? Are you getting wrapped up in the worry of the world? Are you hiding in the fake reality of some producer's idea of what life is supposed to be like?
What's important to you? and Why?
While the big stuff goes on and makes the news, I still have to repair my HP mini. I still have to mow my yard. I still have to lose some weight. I still have to ..., you get the idea. I still live out this ordinary, semi-boring life.
And that's okay with me!
Monday, May 17, 2010
I know that I have sworn off of politics and political posts, but this isn't just about politics--it's about people.
When dealing with the subject of immigration, or in most cases--illegal immigration, I think that some compassion is in order. Sure, the curmudgeonly part of me wants to take a hard line stance and deport anybody that is here without a "legal" right to be here. But the humanitarian part (yes, I have a humanitarian buried deep in my personality) doesn't want to send them back to a situation that is worse for them or their families.
The fiscally conservative part doesn't want to spend a nickel of public money for their health, education or well being. While the humanitarian part (their it is again!) doesn't want to withhold necessary things from the innocents (children) that are caught in the situation as a result of adults that can't get things worked out.
I certainly realize that we need to have immigration laws and the right to enforce them. I shake my head in the irony of the strict Mexican immigration laws in regard to their southern border and the Mexican government's blind eye towards people leaving through their northern border and the criticism they have for the US policies.
I don't know if the Arizona law is the answer but I do think that the state has the right to address the issue since the federal government chooses to ignore it.
I'm not a big fan of the writings of Richard Land. I usually don't disagree with his stance, but often find his attitude and demeanor offensive. However, his article on addressing the issue of immigration was well written and deals with the compassion, understanding and grace that we (the citizens of Heaven and of the US) should have towards those that are just seeking a better way of life. Read the article, contemplate the ideas expressed, and let's see if we can't offer some help to our elected officials in addressing the issue facing our border states and effecting us all.
Love God, love your neighbor...
Saturday, May 15, 2010
It's overcast and damp in the Ozarks on this Saturday morning. My high school graduate arrived home from the all-night graduation party at the Ozarks Community Center a short time ago and headed straight to bed. I'm enjoying a cup of coffee (actually starting on my second) and reading my daily blogs before getting started on what will prove to be a busy weekend.
Some time during the coming week, I'm going to have to work on scanning a few pictures into the computer--pics of the kids when they were little. I'm having a bit of difficulty figuring out what happened to the eighteen years from when Hannah was just a baby to the day of her high school graduation or from teaching Aaron to ride a bike to officiating his wedding in a few weeks. It's not a matter of feeling old or anything like that, it's just ... has it really been that many years?
I know that they say that "time flies when you're having fun" and I know that being a dad is a blast, but ... really? Can it be that my babies are now a young man and a young woman? It just boggles my mind.
I'll work on those pics later this week, for now I've got plenty to do--too much to be spending time on the blog.
Have a great weekend!
Monday, May 10, 2010
It's been cold, damp, rainy weather in the Midwest for the past few days. I asked the question on my Facebook status: If the warm weather of late fall is "Indian Summer", what is the cold weather of late spring?
I got several responses that said it's called "Blackberry Winter" as the cold snap coincides with the blackberry blossoms of early to mid May. Sure enough, we are having a Blackberry Winter. The good news is that it is not expected to last and it really isn't all that cold. The cold air from the north and warm air from the south are making for some severe weather. Tornadoes in Oklahoma claimed several lives and caused a lot of property damage on Monday afternoon. I've written about the Springfield Plateau before. This geographic rise seems to send a lot of weather north and south of us as storm systems seem to break up as they hit the western edge of the plateau.
Oh, we still get our share of severe weather in the spring and summer but it is pretty amazing to watch the weather radar at work as many storms start to break up as they hit Missouri's western boundary. I thought that we were in for some severe weather tonight when I left work but we didn't even get any rain. There was a little thunder and lightning but not much else.
I'm hoping for a good weather day tomorrow as I make the 3 hour drive to Jefferson City, MO to meet with some other evangelists and MBC staff to talk about our ministry to the people of Missouri. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas with these guys, although I'm not really sure why I've been invited. I know that I'm the current president of the Fellowship of Missouri Baptist Evangelists, but that's just because the other guys are too busy and I wasn't quick enough (or smart enough) to say no. In any case, I love hanging out with these guys and secretly hope that some of their smarts, and some of their fire will rub off on me.
Well I need to be on the road in about six hours so I'd better call it a day and grab a little sleep. Meetings and travel tomorrow and back to work the mid-shift tomorrow night.
Try not to fret about the cold--it didn't freeze so we'll still have plenty of blackberries to enjoy this summer!
What happened in the world this past weekend?
As far as world news goes, I don't have a clue...and that's okay. Sometimes I like it when my world stays pretty small. I know that I could bore you with the details of what happened in my world (I won't) but, like I said--it's a pretty small world.
Small as it might be, my little world keeps me pretty busy...and I'm always surprised to find that it touches a larger world than I imagine. The internet is a part of the expanding influence that I might have on those that journey through this life with me. Facebook has re-established some old friendships and introduced me to some new friends. I belong to a small community of bloggers that enjoy reading each others rants and posts. And I am still amazed at the global exposure that my occasional posts have.
Saturday morning (May 8) was our Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers meeting. We had a wonderful young author as our guest speaker. Erin Davis is a local writer that has used her gift for writing to minister to girls and young women. Her first book, Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves was born from the need that teen girls have in finding value in a world that devalues anything that doesn't conform to the model image given by the media. It turns out the Bible has plenty to say about the value that we have in the eyes of our Creator. (There's a big surprise!)
Erin is a wonderful speaker and I would recommend her for your women's conferences, girls youth groups or college women's groups (or writers' clubs). In speaking to our group, Erin focused more on the humility of a Christian writer and keeping a Kingdom mindset than on the things that you might expect from an author. She gave a realistic view of what being a published author is (and is not), and was also inspiring to those of us that know there is a book waiting to be written inside of us.
Once again, maybe I'll get started on putting those thoughts into written form and see where that takes me...
...maybe, it's not like I don't have anything else to do!
Some days the world seems so big--like there is just so much going on that I have no influence over. On other days, the world seems pretty small and I find that people on the other side of the globe are struggling with and rejoicing in the same things that I am in my little corner of the Earth. I'm finding that it's okay if I don't get too worked up about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or what is going to become of Tiger Woods' golf career/marriage/wealth/blah/blah/blah/life.
Sure, they're completely different things and one will impact the environment and the economy and the other is pretty much gossip and only affects those that are a part of Tiger's world. But I've found that putting things into one of two circles helps to keep them in perspective. One circle is things that concern me, the other is things that I have influence over. If things concern me but I have no influence over them, they become non-stress things; information only kind of things (like the Cardinals dismal hitting or Shogun Rua winning the UFC belt). Some things I have some influence over but really don't care about. They are also non-stressors. Some things don't fit into either circle and can be quickly dismissed. It's only the places that the circles overlap that I have to make a decision on how I'm going to handle it--those things that concern me and I can do something that will make a difference. Obviously, I can have a greater impact on somethings than on others, but overall, this system seems to work well for me. If you are a worrier, feel free to try this out for yourself--let me know if it helps.
I hope that things are well in your world. I hope that your influence in the worlds that you touch is positive. Things in my world are grand! Thanks for visiting.
Friday, May 07, 2010
This weekend is Mother's Day here in the USA (Australia, too!). I don't know how many other countries celebrate Mother's Day this weekend (not really important to this post) but I do wish all of you mothers a happy day. Thanks to you, Mom, and thanks to Chris who is a wonderful mom to my two kids.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
Happy Mother's Day, Chris!
Now you might be looking back at the title of this post and rereading what you've already read once and wondering how Mother's Day would make me a lousy pastor.
Well, here's the deal: On Sunday morning, from pulpits across the country, preachers will be delivering messages that have to do with...well, mothers. Some will talk about mothers from the Bible, others about biblical qualities in mothers, and still others will preach messages about Mary, the mother of Jesus. And while I think that our society should certainly set aside a day to honor our moms, our purpose at church is to give honor to God and God alone.
This type of diversion from our worship of God will happen again on Memorial Day weekend, Father's Day, Fourth of July, etc., etc. Do you see what I mean about me being a lousy pastor? Pastor's have to worry about public opinion the same way that politicians do. Pastors have to cater to the congregation members that hold hostage the tithes and offerings that rightfully belong to God (but not until they surrender them). Pastors have to compromise to keep people happy. Pastors are expected to do the things that the church has always done, smile nicely, shake hands, kiss babies...did I mention that they are like politicians?
Am I wrong to think of messages that honor mothers on Mother's Day as idolatry? When preachers preach about God and Country on Memorial Day weekend instead of just God--is that okay on the day that we gather to worship God alone?
It's probably a good thing that pastors want to preach in their home churches on these special days. That means that I don't have to worry about offending any members by treating my time in the pulpit exactly the same as I do on any other Sunday.
To all of the pastors that find themselves reading this--you do what you feel the Holy Spirit is telling you to do and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I've never been where you are and you owe me no explanations. You are only accountable to God (and your membership!).
So be sure to honor your mother this weekend--take her out to dinner or cook for her at home. Send her a card or give her a call. But let's keep our worship of God for God alone and give him thanks for our moms.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
One week later...
After blogging about wasted time, I decided that I would make an attempt at avoiding the television for the week. Other than a few hours of baseball (not considered to be wasting time) I watched two one hour shows--NCIS and Criminal Minds. For the most part, I listened to the games on the radio or worked in some time on the stationary bike during the games.
Additionally, I have been one week without a soda. This is a monumental achievement for a guy that normally drinks several 20 oz. bottles or 12 oz cans per day. I've also gone one whole week without eating out...at all. No breakfast biscuit on the way to work in the morning; no Buffalo Wild Wings or Jimmy Johns for the midshift; nothing. Okay, I did have an oatmeal raisin cookie from Starbucks...does that count?
I'm just considering how much money I spend (waste) on things like soda, fast food and eating out in general. I'm certain that the actual dollar amount would be staggering. I heard that the average family (US) spends around $5000 dollars per year eating out. As far as I can tell, we eat out more than most people that I know, although it's often fast food and seldom a "nice" restaurant. But even at a family restaurant or pizza place the dollars add up. If we kept track of that kind of thing (we don't), I'm sure that it would amaze us.
I do plan on eating at home more often. The down side to that is that I'm probably going to have to cook dinner more often...Chris doesn't necessarily share my let's not eat out so much idea! I know that it will take some time but at least summer is on the way and the grill is calling. As for the time, I'm just guessing that it takes less time to prepare, eat and clean up after a home cooked meal than it does to drive to a restaurant, wait to be waited on, order, eat, and drive home. Even a trip to Applebee's or the nearby (for us) El Charro's is a close call on time. Sure, it's more work--but that becomes a laziness issue, not a time issue. And it can be a time of working together that puts a healthier meal before us and saves the money that we would spend eating out. (By the way, budget experts say the eating out goes under entertainment, not food.)
Here is an article that puts the too busy to cook argument in it's place.