Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ballots not Bullets--Going Forward

Let’s see what the future holds for this Grand Experiment called the USA.  If the main objective of the Democratic majority in the newly elected house is to overturn a legal presidential election by impeachment or to focus all of their efforts on yet more investigations into the most investigated president ever, expect that we will have a fruitless two years.

However, if these newly elected representatives come with attitudes of making America better, addressing issues that the legislatures of decades past have ignored, and a sense of statesmanship over just staying in the office which they have been elected; good things could happen.

A Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and a president more businessman than politician have a chance at synergy.  Does anyone have the backbone to make this work for the good of the nation?
I suggest that now, even more than before the election, we communicate with all of our representatives and tell them to seek the common good.  Tell them to work together and make this nation better.

To move forward, we must put cynicism aside and look forward, preserving that which has sustained us for two- and one-half centuries and embracing that which is needed to solve today’s problems.  It’s tough work for sure and has no room for continued divisiveness.  I would sure like to see my grandchildren have the chance to preserve the blessings of liberty for the next few generations.

We can become entrenched or engaged.  Only the latter will offer anything of value to the American people. Keep this Grand Experiment alive by choosing to work for the people.  To all who have been elected, get to work for us.

I offer this prayer for all who will serve us in the years to come.

Lord,

We thank you for the blessings of liberty that we in this nation know.
We thank you that ballots not bullets change the face of government in this blessed land.
We thank you than many have been called to serve and pray that it was you who called them.
We confess that for too long, we have been complacent as an electorate.
We confess that for too long we have left you out of the affairs of our nation.
We confess that for too long we have chosen discord over cooperation.
We petition you for a season of civility among our elected officials.
We petition you for wisdom in the halls of our Congress and with our Chief Executive.
We petition you that all in this land will seek you and your kingdom and righteousness above all worldly goals.

In the name of our Lord, Christ Jesus,


Amen.

Happy Veterans Day



Memorial Day is for those who have fallen,
Today is for all who have stood in the ranks.
Some may have given the last measure of devotion,
And some came home without any thanks.

Some have ribbons, and medals and badges,
Others just glad to have all of their limbs.
Some have commanded and been commanded,
Of those who have served, most would do it again.

A century ago today came an end to the war to end all wars,
It was a hopeful time short-lived and seen so seldom since.
We stand tall before our flag and pray for peace in a troubled world,
But today is for those who served while we lived at their expense.


Happy Veterans Day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What are we teaching our kids?

What are we teaching our kids?

Humpty Dumpty falls to his death and even before the advent of Obamacare, there is no helping him.

Jack and Jill go up a hill, yet disaster awaits them.  Tumbles and a broken skull and who knows how many unreported injuries—that’s the storyline of this classic.

The other Jack, aka Jack Be Nimble, fairs well in this short rhyme except he suffers a burned toe in the end.  Again, our nursery rhymes are filled with death or injury, though I think a little Silvadene would do the trick here.  I’ve had some bad burns.  This is good stuff.

Little Miss Muffet isn’t injured but flees the scene of her story in fear of a spider.  I guess if you can’t mix in some death and broken bones, fear will suffice.

Three mice who were already handicapped by blindness end up losing their tails.  Their main appendage is not only severed but cut off with a carving knife.  Was that the same knife used to carve the Thanksgiving turkey or ham?  Be careful where you go eat if you are ever invited over for a nursery rhyme meal.

I don’t know what to think of the rhyme about the piper’s kid.  He stole a pig, ate it, and got beaten for it.  The tale ends with Tom crying.  I guess this teaches justice, but today somebody would have called child services when the kid was beaten for stealing a pig. 

OK, the pig might have been slang for a pastry so it’s not like he ate a whole hog.  There is more to this story in some cases.  Tom becomes a musician, plays so well that pigs and cows even dance, but in the end,  milk is spilled and equipment was broken.

Maybe the only sensible rhyme is about the little piggies.  One goes shopping, one stays home (I don’t know if that includes on Black Friday or not), one has roast beef, and yet another goes without.

And yes, one has a bladder control problem.  What?  Wee, wee, wee all the way home. Must we make this an issue to sing about?

I am not sure what we are teaching our kids as they memorize these rhymes.  Only in my grandfather days have I begun to review the words more closely, and there is one rhyme that struck a nerve with me.

It comes from the Farmer in the Dell, a seemingly harmless rhyme, that is until you examine the social impacts of the words.

We should ask, no, we must ask:  Why must the cheese stand alone?

Why must the cheese stand alone?  Why must it be ostracized?  It’s no wonder that the default setting on most online conversations these days is vitriol when we even demean the cheese.

I am amazed that we have survived as a society this long passing these nursery rhymes along to each successive generation.

That’s just nursery rhymes.  What about this lullaby?

Rock-a-Bye Baby

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

How did this one get past Child Protective Services?  Who puts their cradle in the tree?  Why do we still sing this song?

Is it just for the rhyme?  Then give me some Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

Is it for the simple yet catchy tune?  What are we inadvertently teaching our children?

  

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Value Life

The national conversation has been sidetracked as a war between the NRA and kids leading rallies.  The national conversation must focus on what matters—valuing life.  It’s good that these young people want to be involved and are passionate and that this country provides among other liberties, the right to free speech.  It’s also includes freedom for organizations such as the NRA and ACLU to espouse what they believe as an extension of those whom they represent, but there is so much effort being expended by so many without any clear focus on the precipitating issue.  What issue?

Life—human life from the first heartbeat in the womb to the last heartbeat whenever that may be—has value.  It is sacred. 

I listened to some of the speakers at today’s rallies.  I hear politics but not life.  I hear elections but not solutions.  I hear a nation that wants to proceed without God.  I hear calls for fundamental changes without a true moral compass. 

I feel the emotions of many but see the lack of clarity.  Those behind the scenes who deny God and want him to be completely alienated in our land are pushing an agenda that is not about safety or guns or schools or even the welfare of our children.  It’s about power, worldly power, that defies God.
I haven’t heard anything from today’s events that would turn this nation back to God.  May God have mercy on us all for our own godless desires have consumed us.


God is a forgiving God.  Let’s return to him before it’s too late.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I choose respect!

Time and time again I see that people—many of my generation—have chosen to be victims.  The biggest indicator here is respect.  Many feel that they cannot respect our president for a laundry list of reasons.  That’s just a lie.

Respect is something that we own or choose not to own.  Many say, I can’t respect a man or a woman who…  You can fill in the blank.  The truth is that we choose to be people of respect or people of disrespect.  Respect is about us and not the other person.

Respect is not like.  There are a lot of people that I don’t really like.  There are a lot of policies that I don’t like.  There and people and policies that I don’t like when they are paired.  But if the man is the president of this republic, he will receive my respect.  If it is the law of the land, it receives my respect and usually my compliance.

The beauty of our democratically based republic is that both people and laws may be changed.  There is no need to demean those we don’t like.  When we do, we demean ourselves.

I really did not find much to celebrate during the 8 years of the Obama administration.  I thought Obamacare crippled many a working person and many small businesses; nonetheless, I still respected the office of the President of the United States, prayed for him frequently, and abided by the laws of the land.

Today, men and women that I once thought worthy of calling friend have opted for disrespect as a way of life.  They say they can’t do anything else.  It is out of their control.  That’s just not true. 

The truth is that respect is always within our own control.  It is not governed by the actions of another.  I don’t ask anyone to like our president.  If he wanted likes, he would have started Trumpbook and enjoyed the rest of his days without the hate he is bombarded with daily.  He was elected by the longstanding laws of our nation and is our president. 

Our part is to respect the office and our laws.  One day, he won’t be president anymore. Many who broadcast hate and disrespect now can’t wait for that day, but I wonder if anyone will remember what respect was.  I doubt it because it was never about the one whom received your disrespect.  It is always about the one choosing to wield it.  It has always been about who we are.

Contend for your cause with all the passion that you can muster but remember our political and philosophical differences do not make us enemies.  Respect is our choice.


I choose respect!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

About that Jimmy Carter quote...

About once a quarter I see the picture of President Jimmy Carter circulating with a quote attributed to him abut using tax dollars to help the poor if we want to call ourselves a Christian nation.  It has a certain ring to it.  I respect the good works that President Carter has done since he left office.  His grace and service and a wonderful model, but there are a couple of problems with the quote.


First, Jimmy Carter didn’t say this.  It sounds like something that he would have said but he didn’t.  Next, the principle being put forth is from the world not from God.

Hold your holy horses, Tom; how can you say that.  It’s about helping the poor.  C’mon that’s got to be directly from God. 

God’s directions and the teachings of Jesus are given to us.  We are to speak the truth, love our neighbor, help the poor, and bring people into the family of faith so that they know abundance.   Abundant life is for all and the Lord’s directions are to his people.  The problem with this quote is that it delegates loving our neighbor to our government. 

When people are overlooked, we can blame the government.  When people abuse the system, we can blame the government.  We can wash our hands of this whole love your neighbor business and turn it over to the government. 

That sounds like a plan and it is.  It is just not God’s plan.  We have conformed to the patterns of the world long enough.  It’s time to get back to God’s way of helping the poor.

Do you realize that if every Christian tithed, yes tithe means 10% and you don’t have to tithe to receive your salvation, but if everyone Christian tithed, God’s storehouse would be full?  What does that mean?  The church could help the poor as it was designed to do.   

Government programs would be next to irrelevant and God’s people who tithed would be blessed beyond measure.  That’s God’s model.

If we want to be a Christian nation, we must first be a nation of Christians.  A Christian by definition is one belongs to and who follows Jesus.  Jesus is our Lord and Master.  We obey his commands and they are not burdensome to us. 

Christians don’t look to government for how to love our neighbor.  We look to the commands of our Lord.  If we truly follow Jesus, we will give far beyond the tithe and the poor need not be poor anymore.  And let’s not forget, we won’t just give out food and money.  We will bring people into the body of Christ where they will know true abundance that we know through inclusion. 


President Jimmy Carter has been a wonderful model of Christian service over these past three decades.  Let’s not discredit his good works by attaching faulty thinking to his picture.  Let’s be a nation of Christians first.  Being known as a Christian nation will follow.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jesus always met the physical need before the spiritual need?

Here’s one that you hear a lot, even from longtime Christians. 

“Jesus always met the physical need before attending to the spiritual need.” 

It’s just not so.  Read your Bibles.  Jesus always took care of what was most important.  That most often involved the truth or forgiveness or some manner of teaching and instruction.  Where there was seemingly unprompted healing, Jesus noted that it was faith that was first present.   He came to earth on a mission to take care of the most important thing—being the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.

Does that mean that we don’t take care of physical needs?  Of course not.  We are to help people who are hungry, need clothing, and even in prison; but this idea that has permeated the last several decades of church thinking has been destructive.  Why?

Because too often we meet the physical need—food, help with a bill, gas money, etc.—and forget to share the gospel.  We never get around to inviting people to come and know the Lord and enjoy the fellowship of believers.  Sure, we throw in a “God loves you” with every basket of food and a couple of invitations to a church service, but we bury the lead.

We are people who belong to the Lord, share his good news, and are doing our best to have God’s heart and desire—that none perish.  We are being made into love as he is Love.  How can we relegate the good news that we carry to an afterthought?

Why does this matter?  We must conform to the pattern of the world no more.  The Lord, not the world, must define our ministries.  The good news can never be reduced to an afterthought or be of secondary importance.


Let’s reach out with the gospel, connect the disconnected, and bring all of God’s children into the fellowship of believers where they know true abundance.  This is love.