Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What's up with all these selfies?

As we head into this season of Thanksgiving, which should be a nonsense term as every day should be a day of thanksgiving and praise:  We were dead in our sin.  Now we are alive in Christ.  Thank you Jesus!  Praise the Lord!

As we enter into what the western world considers Thanksgiving, let us reflect on our reflection, well on our image.  We are made in the image of God.  That should get a few amen’s and hallelujah’s, or at least a cool beans

The problem is that we seem so self-absorbed with our own image.  I enjoy Facebook. I find that it is not the place for any considered discussion beyond the sophomoric banter than results at best in a waste of time and at the worst, the bitterest of vitriol and condemnation.  Rarely, you might find that intellectual companion who sharpens your mind, but most don’t.

But it is a great place for pictures of kids and grandkids and what people are doing and occasionally somebody’s new car or car accident or unusual cargo (that you happen to be stuck behind).  But what is it with all these selfies?

Are we that self-absorbed with our own image?  It seems that we are obsessed with self-flirtation.  When you are out with a group and want a memory, hey, the selfie does the trick (maybe that would be a groupie); but so many people post new pictures of themselves daily.

Are we that fixated on ourselves?  Are we afraid that people won’t recognize us if we don’t update daily?

Picking up your cross and denying yourself is totally counter-culture in this age.  Putting off the old self seems to be a daily post as the new selfie must prevail.

I love that we are made in the image of God and being transformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus.  I just think that we don’t need the daily visuals.  I don’t think that selfies are really transformation metrics. 

Just a thought here…

Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (not ourselves).  He is, after all, the Author and Finisher of our faith.


Skip the selfie.  Focus on following the Lord!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Choosing your sovereign



It seems the range of discourse for taking a knee has no end.  I have made my contributions along the way.  Some agree and some don’t.  I don’t lose any sleep either way.  I enjoy the free and open grapple from which the truth should emerge should John Milton’s premise bear validity.  I do hope that we can discuss issues of controversy with a civil tongue or even more civil keyboard. 

Consider that with respect to nations and their leaders, the knee is bent only to the sovereign—generally the king.  Salutes are rendered as a sign of mutual respect among those in the service of the their country.

So, during the National Anthem, those who kneel are rendering respect to their king—in our case the president, and those who salute recognize that we as the people are sovereign. 

I thought that we didn’t like kings in this country.  After fighting the British for our independence, George Washington had to refuse kingship.  I am glad that he did.  Our founders brought forth a wonderful constitution.  Every member of the armed forces and all officers of the United States promise by oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I will not bend my knee to any person claiming sovereignty in this nation; yet, those you take a knee during the National Anthem seem to be rendering fealty to their King, Donald Trump.  I would guess that most of those taking a knee would find this offensive.

Saluting the National Ensign during the National Anthem is a sign that the people are sovereign and brings back words from Abraham Lincoln—that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth

I much prefer the sovereignty of the people, though we trust the work to our representatives, than bending a knee to a king or queen.  This is a country where people have incredible freedom, so if they choose to bend a knee to President Trump during the National Anthem, it’s their right.  If they want to make a statement about fixing problems in this nation, embracing the sovereignty of the people with respect during our anthem is more appropriate and effective.

Just to put a larger perspective on this, I do not hesitate to bend my knee to the King of kings and the Lord of lords that we know as Christ Jesus.  If there were a lot more of that happening, many of the problems that we have in this nation would be resolved in short order.  Worldly government would become less relevant.

Yes, I know that nobody is kneeling before Donald Trump as their king; but my point is that what they are doing in protest is counterproductive.  Consider the Westboro Baptists protest at the funerals of servicemen killed in action.  They said they were protesting gays in the military.  Were they effective?

On the contrary, they just looked like a bunch of jerks.  There were neither effective nor Christlike.  They were very much in the hate business and their targets were the grieving families of those who had given the full measure of devotion to this great nation. 

Likewise, taking a knee during the National Anthem is not effective and has only served to increase hatred.  There are better ways to bring attention to problems.  Divisiveness is not the answer. 

We have the right to express ourselves in many ways.  We sometimes forget that exercising our rights can help or hinder the general good.  We have the freedom to do almost anything as far as expression goes, but not all exercises of freedom are beneficial.

I know of no better place on the planet where the people have a chance to live abundant, productive, and purposeful lives.  We have problems.  I pray we have the courage to work on the problems instead of dividing ourselves into fiefdoms of self-interest.

Let’s put God first, work together, and understand that our blessings of liberty are so very fragile that they only exist in this moment.  Preserving them requires patriotism and unselfishness. 

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Facebook Messenger and the like…

Facebook Messenger and the like…

I am connected to many in an online mode.  I accept many friend requests, many from some that I only have a slight connection.  I do this so that I can affirm the things that are good, share the gospel, and have some connection with so many searching for truth and love and purpose.

Many may be disappointed because I don’t do chat.  I put what God has given me to use to produce a return for him and online chat is not in the budget.


Many may be disappointed because I am not a vending machine.  Yes, I am an American and am blessed to live in what possibly is the wealthiest nation on the planet.  I give much to many but seldom respond to a personal appeal on Messenger or other modes.  God leads me in my generosity, so your fervent appeal to me should be directed to God. Prayers made fervently to God and not persuasion directed towards me are your most productive avenue.

Many may be disappointed because they ask me for books and resources but I give them a URL.  My teaching with references to biblical sources are posted online for all to read. 

I gladly respond to your messages with affirmations and do pray for those seeking my prayers.
I joyfully celebrate your victories in Christ.
I constantly encourage your work in the Lord.

But at this point in my life, I am running my race for the Lord at full speed.  One day, I may slow down to a jog and have time to chat, but for now I am fixed on the goal of taking good news to the blind and lost people in our world.

If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are blessed.  We can work together in our parts of this planet to share his gospel and God’s love and know that we run this race together.  There is a kinship in that greater than chat.  But for this day, my eyes are fixed on the Author and Finisher of my faith and it’s not quite time to back off on my pace.

Blessings,

Tom

Friday, April 7, 2017

Newest Oxymoron: Mainstream Media

It is 2017 and a new oxymoron has emerged.  It will join the ranks of jumbo shrimp, seriously funny, and act naturally.  What is it?

Mainstream Media


It seems that today’s media has abandon the truth, is not in the mainstream, and has found a home among the other oxymorons.  We can only hope and pray that it does not take up permanent residence there.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Herd of Angels

Herd of Angels

Cast:  2 men
Set:  Can be just about any place for casual conversation or can be set as a Sonic Drive-in commercial spoof with both sitting as in a car at the drive in.  The drive-in set permits cast member to conceal script notes on a makeshift dashboard.

For the drive-in spoof version, use these two additional lines:

Man 1   [Reaching into Man 2’s Sonic bag]:  These buy one get one wings are really great!  Especially the free part.
Man 2  Everything seems to be free for you every day.


You know how you told me that Christmas was not all about presents?
Yes
Understanding Christmas being all about presents was easier than what you church people are selling.
What?
Take that herd of Angels.
What herd of Angels?
Angels, we have a herd on high.  And they are singing sweetly over the plains as well.  A singing herd of angels, yeah right.
That’s not exactly…
Oh if that was all, then I would have thought nothing of it, but you guys promote lying.
We surely do not!
That little town of Bethlehem.  How still we see you lie!  It is 2016 and they are still singing about their lying.
You don’t understand the grammar and syntax of the verse.
Sin Tax!  I knew it.  They are just after your money.  But putting a tariff on transgressions, that takes the cake.
Can we get back to Christmas?
I don’t know why.  Emanuel and Gloria seem to have monopolized the whole business.  I don’t know who Gloria is, but if she doesn’t’ answer after the first 3 or 4 times you sing out her name, she is not going out with you so just give it up and try another girl.
It’s about God with us and giving glory to God.
That’s not what the song says.  It’s got something to do with a day old excel spreadsheet.  It was Greek to me.
Actually it was Latin and it means Glory to God in the highest!  In Excelsis Deo. 
Yeah, that’s it.  That day old excel spreadsheet stuff.
Let me try to explain.
I would rather that you didn’t.
Why?
Because I don’t want to listen to you explain why virgins are round.  Pregnant women, yeah, but…
What!
Round yon virgin, mother and child…
How about we go to church together this Sunday and I will explain things as we go.  Would you give it another try?
Sure.
Really?
You betcha.  Not because I think I will understand it any better, but there is a girl that I’ve got to meet.
Who?
Mary Didjano.  The way everyone was singing about Mary did ja know, I’ve got to meet her.
I’ve got my work cut out for me here.
You have no idea.  I haven’t even gotten to the part where they don’t’ even find out the name of the kid before they write the song.
I have no idea what you are talking about.
Neither did anyone else.  They just kept singing What child is this?  It was like a song about the first day of school.
OK.  I give up.  Christmas is about presents.  You win.
Really?
Sort of.  Christmas is about a really big present that God gave us when he came into the world as a baby named Jesus.  Hang with me next Sunday and I will make sure you understand everything.
Yeah OK, as long as you introduce me to Mary Didjano.
We have to get there early though.
Why?
We don’t’ want that herd of Angels to get all the good parking spots do we?
Exit.

The end.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Psalm of the Disconnected...and those sent to call them home

Another disconnected number,
Another voice mail not set up.
Never see the folks at worship,
Did they really need this stuff?



People took their hard earned money,
And were generous beyond belief,
Just to see the food and presents go unclaimed,
When many prayed they’d bring relief.

But let’s not be too hasty,
Let compassion and mercy reign.
Not everyone can remember,
How to get back to the church again.

Even if they remember
Or just take a gander or a guess,
They still have to go through those doors,
Why can’t they send it UPS?


I don’t want to go in that building
It brings on a different sort of pain
The people are ever so friendly,
But keep calling on the Name.

Yes, it’s the name of Jesus
And they call him all the time
I know that I should follow him
But I’m still looking for a sign.

Those people who follow Jesus
They also call him Lord,
Though they preach forgiveness and love,
It seems Jesus brought a sword.

It’s one that severs with both edges
It divides muscle, heart, and soul.
And if I don’t outrun it,
I will soon lose all control.


And be forced to face up to my life,
As I’ve never done before.
But if I can get my stuff and get gone,
I will go flying out that door.

Back to the land of comfort,
Keeping a safe distance from God.
But the people just keep on coming,
Now look where the saints have trod.

They have come even to my door step
Good news and tidings they must bring.
But I just want to be left alone,
Please don’t let them sing.

About a babe born in a manger,
And no crib for this King’s bed.
Please just let them go to the next house.
And I’ll go slip off in to bed.

For Christmas is about Santa,
And not some tale of old.
Christmas brings visions of video games,
They are the new silver and gold.


But these people keep on calling,
They just won’t go away,
They say that are called to bring good news
About this coming Christmas Day.

I am so not ready to talk about God you see,
I must put this elf upon the shelf.
Besides these people will just tell me,
That life is more than living for myself.

If I can just get the food and presents
Without having to listen to their spiel;
Then I will have a holly jolly Christmas,
I mean really, what could their words reveal?

It is the same old story,
That my parents used to tell,
About a God of glory, and
A love they knew so well.

But I’m on my own and doing fine,
Well except for the bills and rent.
But I’m not ready for the story
Of God with us in his first advent.

It is the story of the ages
Told in this modern century.
So many people living without God,
Despite the saints bringing news to set them free.

So where does that leave the commissioned,
Who have heard no time and time before.
Why the same place that they started,
Bringing good news to every door.

So we wish you a Merry Christmas
And the best in the New Year.
Our prayers are always with you,
That God grants you ears to hear.

Merry Christmas!

Believe the Good News!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Short Skits: Thanksgiving Mouse

Thanksgiving Mouse

Cast:  1 person—adult or youth—who does not mind scurrying around on the stage.

Equipment:  Wireless microphone.  Costume optional



Hello,  It’s me again.  Your friendly neighborhood church mouse.  Looks like most of the crowd has wandered out.  You wouldn’t believe what people say in these pews when they don’t know I’m listening.

I don’t know what health insurance is, but I am glad I don’t have any.  I mean, what are they going to do if my leg get’s caught in a trap?  Send for an ambulance?  I think that costs extra any way.  In any case, people sure do complain a lot about it.  I don’t have it.  I don’t complain.  I am glad just to live indoors.

Wow!   [Scurries to a spot on the stage].  O Boy, O boy, O boy.  One of the kids dropped a piece of candy.  [Puts into mouth].  Mmmmm.  Peanut butter cups, my favorite.

And the election.  Boy that was something.  You would think that the end of the world was coming.  Can you believe it?  People get to vote for who they want to lead and they complain about the choices.  I can’t vote and I don’t complain about it. I’m just glad to get out of the cold.

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!  [Moves to another spot on the stage].  Goldfish.  I love Goldfish, especially the colored ones.  Yum, yum, yum.

And the weather, really, these people complain about the weather.  It’s too hot or too cold.  The wind blows too much or too little or out of the wrong direction or the rain comes at the wrong time or the snow drifted in front of the doorway.  Man, I am just glad to be alive to enjoy whatever the weather is.  This is a pretty good life, hot or cold.

OMG!  Can it be?  [Moves carefully to another spot on the stage].  PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW…   Yes, it’s a piece of a cheese cracker.  It’s a little dry but when you are a mouse, any cheese is good cheese—well except when they put it in the middle of a sticky trap.  At least with the old style lever traps it was over in an instant, but not with these new sticky jobs.  It’s rodent crucifixion, that’s what it is.  But you won’t catch me complaining.  I am too wise for that sort of temptation.  I am thankful for what is provided—crackers, crumbs, or candy—I am thankful to have it.

You should have heard the people complaining about property taxes a few minutes ago.  I can’t imagine owning my own house.  I just find places to hide in them.  It seems like paying taxes because you own a whole big house would be something exciting.

Now what is that over there?  Oh, it’s money.  I don’t think I can use this, except to chew it up and insulate my nest for the winter.  I think I will drop it into the offering plate.  I think these people need it more than I do.  I mean, they are always complaining about not having enough of it.

Complain, complain, complain.  I guess that is what human life is all about.

What’s that you ask?

Oh, today’s message, it was about thanksgiving.  Good stuff, you know.  I think it must rank right up there somewhere behind complaining.

I know that I am thankful.  Thanksgiving means big meals and lots of food dropped on the floor.  I am not just a church mouse.  I am a thankful mouse.

[Exit stage singing]

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the holy one, gives thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his Son…


--The End.