Monday, July 27, 2015

There Are Two Cultures. Laws Apply To Only One.


This story is approximately 10 years old but, for political reasons, I could not write it then.  However, now I am retired, our non-profit corporation is dissolved, and no one can be damaged by irritated bureaucrats, so here it is.


Our organization was a Christian home for the elderly; we provided low-cost semi-independent and assisted living facilities for up to 145 residents.

For several years, we benefitted from the kindness of an organized group of retired Christians who donated about one month of labor each year.  They are called RVICS which is an acronym for Retired Volunteers In Christ’s Service (There are other similar national organizations).   Here’s how it works:  These retired people usually work in teams of 6-8 couples.  They travel in recreational vehicles to churches, Christian camps, and other non-profit Christian ministries where they set up temporary camp accommodations that are pre-arranged by the hosts.  The men work about 30 hours per week and the women work about 20.  They paint, clean, build, remodel, landscape, type, file, or do whatever projects need to be done FOR FREE because it is their MINISTRY.  They will not accept any pay, gifts, or food because they are determined to have no fiscal impact on the ministries they serve.  All we were required was to provide the parking spaces for their RVs, power and water hookups, and pumping or waste disposal as needed. 

We had a great relationship with these groups and they provided about 300 hours of free, skilled labor every year until it was abruptly ended by CODE ENFORCEMENT.

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED – Because we did not have sufficient space, our teams parked in a large, undeveloped parcel adjacent to our property.   They were neatly lined up, side by side, outside our fence and out of view of the street.  We had the permission of the property owner, who was friendly to our ministry (in fact he was a resident for a while and one of his son’s served on our board of directors).  This, we did for about 5 years.

The last year, code enforcement showed up and ordered them off the property for violating a city ordinance.  The violation was camping on a vacant lot in the city limits (remember this because this story gets really good).  We tried, in vain, to make a defensive argument but, in the end, we complied with the order and dismissed our guests.

Two weeks after they broke camp and left the property, we found a breach in our fence near the back of our property.  Outside the fence, we discovered a new homeless camp under the shade of one of our trees.  The weeds on the property were high so the camp was not visible from the streets or neighboring parking lots.  There were a couple mattresses, several bags of clothing and blankets, a stolen shopping cart and some other items.  The reason the missing fence boards was that the campers, who were sleeping approximately ten feet from the private doors of our elderly residents) were coming onto our property to use our water spigots for washing themselves.

I called the police department.  I called code enforcement.  I got no satisfaction about the public nuisance.  They said there was nothing they could do about it.  I reminded them that, only two weeks prior, they ordered my team of volunteers off the same property.  That didn’t matter.  I eventually took matters into my own hands.  We removed the rubbish to our dumpster, returned the cart to the grocery store, and we repaired the breached fence.

The point of the story is this:  There are two distinct cultures in most communities.  Laws and codes apply to only one of them. 

There are responsible, law-abiding working people who own property and pay taxes.  Those are the ones who pay fines and penalties for code infractions (which are part of the city’s revenue stream) so they are the ones who are targeted by code enforcement.  If violators don’t pay, the city has the ability to seize their assets with interest.  And that is the incentive for good citizenship.

Then there is the sub-culture, the street people, and the homeless.  Almost everything they do is a code violation, a quality of life crime, or a property crime and they know it.  But they also know that code enforcement and law enforcement will generally do nothing.  They won’t or can’t pay fines or penalties and they know there are no real consequences.  Therefore, there is no incentive for the city to write citations and there is no incentive for violators to be respectful of private property or laws.  


This particular incident may be old news but the violations of the subculture, are rapidly escalating, current events that are a blight on our once clean, quiet, and pleasant community.    

I say this all in love,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Singing About The Wrath Of God


The doctrines of sin, judgment, and the cross have become unpopular and rejected in much of our contemporary theology.  But there is nothing that irritates liberal Christians more than the idea of divine wrath.

In 1934, Richard Niebuhr wrote a book titled, The Kingdom of God in America.  In it, he described liberal Protestant theology, which was called “modernism,” in one famous, concise sentence;  “A God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

The text for our pastor’s sermon, last Sunday morning, was Romans 1:24-32.  The subject was “understanding Our Sin-Sick Culture.  As is my custom, I attempted to select songs for our worship, that support the sermon.  There are very few Christian songs on the subject of God’s judgment or wrath.

One of them “In Christ Alone,” is probably the best-loved and most often used contemporary song among Christian churches in the past several years.  And most of you are familiar with it.   

Recently, that song became a major point of controversy among Presbyterians.  A PCUSA denominational committee voted to exclude the contemporary worship song from their new hymnal.

Although most Presbyterians wanted to include it because of its popularity, they just couldn’t allow it for one short line in the second stanza.  

The committee wanted to change the song’s lyrics from “Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied" to 'the love of God was magnified.“

Well, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, the authors of the hymn, insisted on the original wording so the committee vote to discard the song.

Interestingly though, Presbyterians were not the only, nor the first denomination to find the line problematic; It seems that some of us Baptists balk at the subject too.  Unbeknownst to the songwriters, the alternate lyric had already been published by the American Baptists in a 2010 hymnal.

So what about it?  Is God angry?   Well, consider these verses:

Psalm 7:11 - "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day."

Nahum 1:6 - "Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger?  His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him."

Romans 1:18 - "For the wrath of god is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."

Revelation 14:18-20  "And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs."

You might argue that "God hates the sin but loves the sinner," but that is a false and unbiblical statement that is found nowhere in Scripture.  In fact, the Bible makes it very clear that God is angry at, not only sin but also sinners.


And He has revealed His anger at the sin of mankind many times; He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He wiped out the entire world, except for Noah, his family, and a few animals, in a universal flood.  He poured out His wrath on His Only Son who bore our sins on the cross of Calvary.   The book of the Revelation foretells a time when God will bring terrible judgments during the Tribulation.   And finally, at the end of the age, God will display His wrath against all the unrighteous at the great white throne judgment.

But now, one of the main points of our sermon indicates that we may be observing God’s judgment and wrath on our own nation as He abandons us to the consequences of our own reprobate minds.   

Words mean things and the words of our Christian music are especially important.  The practice of debating doctrine in the lines of hymns is not a new thing and it is not always a bad thing.  But, in this case, if we fail to recognize God’s capacity for wrath, we, in effect, trivialize His sovereign power.  It’s true that God is Love.  That’s one of His attributes.  Wrath is not one of His attributes, but it is a function of His holiness and justice; without His wrath, there is no need or appreciation for His mercy.

It is good to sing songs about the judgment and wrath of God.  They are direct reminders of His mercy toward us.  And this song is one of the great ones;

“…Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ, I live.”





Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Tyranny of Political Correctness

I made a decision, several years ago, to NOT succumb to PC speech.  I deliberately use politically incorrect words because political correctness is stealing or revising our language.  Perfectly good words have been redefined and in some cases (like the word “Niggardly”) have been banned.  And what the PC police say is correct today, is certain to be changed tomorrow.

For example, just look at the evolution of PC terms for a dark-skinned person. 

The word, Nigger, is a noun in the English language.  It originated as a neutral term referring to black people.  The word derived as a variation of the Spanish /Portuguese noun, negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger which referred to the color black.   

Throughout most of the world, it was not considered to be disparaging until the middle of the 20th century.   Then its usage had become unambiguously pejorative and directed at black people, particularly in the United States. 

Instead, the term colored became the mainstream American English alternative to negro (and all its variant terms).   The opprobrious character of the word “nigger,” was chosen in the South precisely because it was more offensive than "colored."  The term, colored, served us well until it, too, was deemed to be offensive.

That was all before institutional political correctness affected our speech.  Nevertheless, we changed and it was for the good.  I was around when the change occurred; most people, I knew, were uncomfortable with the old pejoratives and were sympathetic to the feelings of black people.  I remember how they sensitively and cautiously uttered the new noun, “negro” (which was, really, the same old word before it became slang).  And everyone was happy -- until they weren’t.  

Negro was derived from negroid just as caucasian was derived from Caucasoid.  But negroes didn't like that so we were forced to change to "black" (in Spanish the word for black is negro).  Okay, I get it – White people are called “white” people so it follows that black people should want to be called “black” people.  That lasted just long enough to get everyone retrained and then, BAM! --black was out.   What was wrong with black?   I don't know; I don't get offended when someone calls me white.

Now it's African-American.  I refuse to use hyphenated designators.  Not all dark-skinned people derive from Africa and not all of them are Americans.  And a lot of Africans are white but, when they emigrate to the U.S., we don’t call them African-Americans.  

Most recently, the African-Americans’ newest descriptor of choice is "people of color." Tell me, why is that acceptable and "colored people" is racist?   A "wealthy person" and a "person of wealth" is the same thing.  A "notorious person" means the same thing as a "person of notoriety" so the distinction is nonsense.  And besides, white is a color.  Why are we not all “people of color?”

Fiddling with the language can be frustrating but forced political correctness can be tyrannical.

For example, now, the whole black community has suddenly decided that their race owns the word, "thug." They say that when a white person uses the word, we imply that only black people are thugs, and, therefore, we are racists.   


White colored American people from Africa are not allowed to say, “thugs" but black colored African-Americans can?  Go figure.


So I still call thugs, thugs. If dark, colored people act like thugs, I call them thugs. If light-skinned people act like thugs, I call them thugs. I am indiscriminate in my use of the word and I refuse to let only dark-skinned thugs (whether clad in dark hoodies or cloaked in the garb of jack-booted  PC Nazis) deprive me of a perfectly good word.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Open Letter To Homosexual Supporters of Same-sex Marriage and the Unlawful Actions Of The SCOTUS

Now that you got your way, I want to get one thing straight right at the outset; SAME SEX MARRIAGE WAS NEVER ABOUT YOUR EQUAL RIGHTS TO THE BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE CONTRACT.

You wanted the right to intimate expressions of love with your partner just like the rights that straight people enjoy.  Well, guess what!  Sodomy laws (as well as laws against adultery and all kinds of other sexual activities) have been largely ignored, unenforced, or even decriminalized for years so you can be equally as perverse as can straight people.  Nobody is policing your bedroom.

You wanted hospital visitation rights, you said.  But restrictions on hospital visitation ended decades ago.  You can go into any hospital and sign in to visit anyone. 

You parroted the lame argument that you should have the same rights, that married couples have, to access medical information and consult with your “partner’s” doctor.  Well, that’s a non-existent argument.  Under current HIPAA laws, I cannot discuss my wife’s medical condition with her physician without her written consent and, by the way, my wife can give consent for her physician to discuss her medical conditions with anyone she chooses and so can you so that’s a bogus argument too.

Was it the right to adopt children?  Is that what you wanted?  Nope.  Not that either.  Unmarried people have been able to legally adopt children for years so pitch that one into the bogus file also. 

So what else is there?  Oh yeah, the old, “we want the right to enjoy the contractual benefits of marriage just like straight couples have” argument.  That’s the worst argument ever.  Without legal same-sex fake marriages, you already have the right to enter into any contractual agreement with anyone you choose.  You can own property jointly; you can borrow money; you can adopt children, and you can do all of that with legally binding civil contracts. In fact, the only conceivable benefit of a marriage contract is that it is the easiest of all contracts to break.  You don’t even need the permission of the other party to divorce.  Divorces are cheap and simple; you can be irresponsible and literally break all your promises without consequences.

Unless you are looking for an easy way to end your relationship, skirt your responsibilities, and break your promises without consequences, a real marriage contract is unnecessary.  Admit it.  We both know that the argument was never about the contract.

So now that we have eliminated all your fake arguments, what is it that you REALLY wanted?  Well I’ll tell you what is but before I do, if you are reading this post, I know that you are going to dislike me; in fact you might even hate me.  If you are homosexual, you are going to hate me because I am a Christian.  You hate my God so, naturally, you will hate me.  And you probably think I hate you.  I really don’t, but frankly that doesn’t matter.  My personal feelings about you are irrelevant.

And if there are any biblically illiterate Christian sypathizers reading this, I already know that they are going to criticize me but that's okay; I’m used to it.  They (and you) will call me unsympathetic, unkind, untactful, unfair, intolerant, unloving, unaccepting, or any other of a myriad of “un” or “in” prefixed adjectives. But I really don’t care. Their feelings about me are also irrelevant.


But let's get back on point; the plain and simple fact of the matter is that you want me (and everyone else who thinks like me) to shut up.  You don’t want my tolerance; you want my approval.  You want to force my engagement and participation in a lifestyle which God calls sin.  You want me to act contrary to the dictates of my conscience, violate the convictions of my faith, and denounce my God.  You will never be satisfied to live in a world where others disagree with you.  You want to criminalize all speech, ideas, thoughts, and doctrines of homosexual marriage that are contrary to yours. In short, you want to destroy the very principles of our constitution and the bill of rights that guarantees every citizen's basic, God-given freedoms. 

And I get that but if you have been reveling and rejoicing recently over the ridiculous and irrational reasonings of five robed, self-righteous, unelected reprobate judges who, without any authority, unilaterally changed language, culture, theology, and law, you are grossly misinformed.  But more importantly, your perceived victory is a myth and you are in serious danger.  You should be very afraid.

Do you not realize that when you vilified the conservative Christians in this country, you declared war against the only real true friends you have?  It’s not that we approve of your lifestyle; we don't.  But we really do love you and whether we agree about same-sex marriage or not, we want to protect your real constitutional rights and your freedoms. 

On the other hand, do you understand that there is a real threat from the left to destroy our entire political and legal systems and then subject us to Sharia Law?  Do you have any idea what that might mean to you?  Under Sharia Law, your chosen lifestyle will come with a huge price tag.  Muslims really do hate queers.  And if you have already altered you Facebook picture with the colors of the rainbow, you have identified yourself to them.  At least Christians aren’t fixated on separating you from your head.

What the Supreme Court did last week was unconstitutional; that means it was illegal.  In our constitutional republic, our laws are written by our representatives in Congress and enforced by the President.  By magically creating new law, the court has recklessly plunged this country into chaos.  The nation is in critical condition.  Stop and think about what that means to you.  An out-of-control, criminal government that can suddenly take away my rights to speak and to believe and to exercise my faith can also, by one simple executive order or illegal decree, take away yours. That’s why I say you should be afraid.  That's why you should be troubled by the action of the Supreme Court.  That’s why I believe that you and I should be allies; not enemies. 
        


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Justin Bieber's "Unexpected Act Of Faith"

So Justin Bieber has apologized for his outrageous behavior, as well he should.  He has acted like the self-indulgent, undisciplined, spoiled rotten little punk that he is.  But I wouldn’t equate his apology to any kind of spiritual awakening.  Why should anyone assume repentance? 

Justin has claimed to be a Christian in the past (before he figuratively flipped God the bird).  What is the evidence of his, so called, unexpected act of faith?  He attended a week-long Hillsong conference.  That doesn’t mean that he is a Christian any more than watching fireworks on the 4th of July makes him a patriot.  What did he say?  Why should we assume a rebirth?  How is anything in these news stories to be interpreted as a life-changing epiphany?

Hillsong senior pastor, Brian Houston, said, "No doubt he’d probably be the first to say he lost his way in a whole lot of ways and, yeah, I think he realizes that it's now-or-never time to try to build better foundations into his life."

Another pastor, Carl Lentz said, “(Bieber) just wants to make his heart right.”

But building a better foundation in one’s life or making your heart right doesn’t equate to real Christian conversion.

I want to see genuine repentance which will be evidenced by a radical change in his behavior.  And I want to know what HE said.  I want to hear HIS OWN TESTIMONY from his own lips.  The testimony of a Christian must be IN HIS OWN WORDS.  In a criminal trial, would you be satisfied to hear testimony of a witness as told by a third party?  Of course not; a witness speaks for himself.  I don’t care to hear about Justin’s “act of faith” from the media, his fans, his pastor, or even his own father.  I want to hear his own testimony. 

The news articles don’t reveal much but they’re all we have.  So what, exactly, did he say?   

"I've turned a lot of people off in the last few years, but I know I can still put out good music and turn everything all around."

"There was really no preparing me for this life. I was thrown into this at 12 years old.  I didn't know what I was getting myself into. There were moments I am proud of. And there are moments I am disappointed with myself for. But the things I have done don't define who I am. I am (a) kind-hearted person who loves people. And through it all, I have lost some of my best qualities. For that, I'm sorry."

Bieber referred to the celebrity roast, just after his 21st birthday, as "a turning point" in his life. "I am looking forward to being someone you can all be proud of."  

"Someone close to me once said, 'It's how you rise from a fall that truly defines you as a man.' I'm excited for that challenge. And I want to say thank you for taking this journey with me."

Justin’s own words seem to be sincere in a humanistic, self-improvement sort of way.  He seems sincere in his determination to change and to try to do better for the sake of his popularity and his career. And I wish him well.

As for any genuine spiritual change in his nature as a result of any act of saving faith, I didn’t hear any of that.  I really hope that he comes to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for his sin.  

 I will just continue to listen for it from his own lips and then I will wait to see the evidence.  
   

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to Celebrate Independence Day In A Socialist Country

Six years ago,  on February 18, 2008. Michelle Obama said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am proud of my country.” 

That was the beginning of my dislike for this country.  As of June 26, 2015, I must say, for the first time in MY adult lifetime, I am ASHAMED of my country.

Don’t misunderstand me – I love my country.  I love its founding principles of Truth and Justice and Liberty.  I love its exceptionalism.  I honor and respect those who sacrificed their lives to provide it for us and to protect our freedoms. 

 
I love the America that I once knew.  I hate the new Amerika that now exists; the socialistic Amerika that Michelle loves. 


Amerika is no longer a free constitutional, representative republic.  It is now controlled by a lawless psychopath who boldly stood before us and promised to “fundamentally change America” if we elected Him. Unfortunately, that is one of the few times He ever told the truth; it is one promise He has kept.

Today, for all practical purposes, we have a banana republic.  We have lost many of our enumerated rights.  Our dithering president is arrogant, inept, and dangerously foolish.  Congress is feckless and self-serving.  And, as of June 26, we now have a handful of unelected and unaccountable judges who have illegitimately usurped authority and who have created and imposed laws on, what, formerly, were free and sovereign states.  And we are in moral chaos; Up is down; black is white; good is bad; right is wrong, and men are women.  

From this story of our National Anthem, we see just how important it was then, for the patriots of the Revolutionary war, to protect the symbol of our freedom and how determined our enemy was to try to destroy it.   America has always been protective and emotional about our flag.


Today, just a few days before July 4, the Stars and Stripes; the symbol that once flew proudly over so much that was good, has been  co-opted and remains to fly over a nation of people that have forgotten their history or don’t even care. 


So most of the brain dead masses don’t get it.  Now our flag flies as a symbol of the country that now is.
 
There is one more “change” that I wish Obama would make; I wish that His new oppressive, totalitarian government would fly a different flag and stop disrespecting and degrading our “Old Glory.”

This year, for me, Independence Day will be a special holiday because I will honor the memory of a great, once free, nation that is now on life support.  I will pledge my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America with this qualifier; my allegiance will never be to the lawless banana republic that now exists; it is to the constitutional "Republic for which it  (the flag) stands."




May God Bless America.





Saturday, June 27, 2015

Who Killed Our Constitutional Republic?

What happened to the United States of America on June 26, 2015?

I am not overly upset with feckless, dishonest career politicians who ignore their constituents to serve themselves.  Neither am I upset about a lawless, dishonest, psychopathic, President who circumvents constitutional law and order to enact illegal laws by executive order.  Nor am I even very concerned about nine unelected old judges who violated their oaths, trashed our constitution, and invented unnatural laws to impose on sovereign states.  None of that surprises me.  That is exactly what men (which is the grammatically correct generic plural noun that includes women) do.  Those are all normal actions of sinful men who reject God and His moral laws.

What upsets me the most is Christians.  That’s right, CHRISTIANS; those who name the Name of Jesus Christ and then disobey His command to be salt and light, who squander our God-given privileges of self-government, and who hold hands with the forces of darkness to their own demise.  And in case you are wondering exactly who those Christians are, let me be perfectly clear; the chances are it is YOU! 

YES, YOU!  You with the Christian bumper stickers; you who post Jesus memes with happy platitudes on Facebook; you who sit beside me in church.  You are responsible for all those reprobates who scheme to rule over us with the very power and authority that was rightfully yours.  You gave it up.  You deliberately forfeited it.

I say YOU because you comprise the majority (60%) of all eligible, nominal Christians and you DON’T VOTE.  You didn’t vote in 2012, you didn’t vote in 2008, and you most likely didn’t vote in elections prior to that.  Furthermore, you probably won’t vote next time even after reading this rebuke.

You are like the unwise servant who buried his talent.  Our constitutional representative republican form of government was a costly gift to YOU.   Good men fought, sacrificed and died for this amazing experiment in self-government so that YOU could enjoy your liberty.  And you buried it. 

But you have principles, you say.  You cannot violate your conscience by voting for a candidate who doesn’t quite agree with you on every point so, by default, you have cast your lot for the other side.  And you won't vote for a man whose faith is different from yours.  Well, you're not voting for a pastor, for crying out loud.  Statistically speaking, you make up the largest voting block of all demographics and you were responsible for the election of those who would destroy our representative republic.  If only 5-10 percent of you had actually taken the time to vote right, we would not be witnessing the political death of our nation. 

So enjoy your new tyrannical totalitarian government; you are responsible for it, you deserve it, and you own it.  If you did nothing to stop it, then you have no right to complain about it.  And when your children and grandchildren ask, “What happened to the United States of America on June 26, 2015?” you can tell them, “I DESTROYED IT.”






“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  James 4:17

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ten Reasons Why I Own A Gun (In case anyone needs to know)

Liberals are always asking, “Why does anyone need a gun?”

Well here’s a better question; Why should any free person have to explain why he needs anything?

Here is my list of the top ten reasons why I need a gun.



       1.      So I can start a race.

       2.     So I can make noise on the fourth of July.

       3.     So I have some place to store bullets.

4     4.     So I can have something to keep in my gun safe.

       5.      So I can put my horse out of his misery if he breaks a leg.

6     6.      So I can keep important papers from blowing off my desk.

7     7.      So I can blow up my desk.

8     8.     So I can shoot cans.

9     9.      So I can clear out my congested nose.


      10.    So I can end a severe migraine headache.

A Praise Song For Father's Day



(This was my introductory Commentary for our opening song in church yesterday morning (Father's Day):

A pastor once asked some children in a Sunday school class to draw pictures of God. He intended to use them to illustrate his Father’s Day sermon.  At the end of class, the children were excited to show off their typical pictures of white-robed old men with long white hair, and big, outstretched hands surrounded by rainbows, bluebirds, unicorns, and fluffy clouds.

Finally, one shy little girl hesitantly revealed her picture.  It was a simple drawing of a man dressed in a suit and tie. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."

I don’t remember my father ever telling me that he loved me yet I NEVER doubted his love; he proved his love for us in so many practical ways. 

He was a hard worker.  It was important to him that his children saw him working for a living.  Even when times were hard and we didn’t have everything we wanted, he was our provider and, with great sacrifice, he did whatever was necessary to make sure that we had everything we needed. 

He was faithful to my mom and that gave us a great sense of security. 

He was fair and just; he was swift with appropriate punishment when it was warranted and he was forgiving when we disappointed him. 

And he was honest in his business dealings; he valued his good reputation. 

Someone has said "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."

Much of my understanding about the character and attributes of God, I learned, by experience, from my father who was seldom within our view, but he was always there.


HE KNOWS MY NAME, is a contemporary praise song, written by Tommy Walker, that was very popular for a short time about twenty years ago.  It seemed like every church used it regularly for a few months and then it just sort of disappeared into worship song oblivion.

God knows us, and His knowledge is infinitely more than just a superficial ability to recall our names; it is a personal and intimate knowledge.  And that kind of knowledge is wonderful and terrible at the same time.  The song reminds me of another song, “When He Was On The Cross (I Was On His Mine).   Think about this – “He knew me, YET He loved me.”  The thought that, even though God knew me in all my sorry, sinful state, He still chose to love me and die for my sin is incredible and wonderful. 

That’s the kind of love Tommy Walker was describing in his song.  God calls us “His children” and every phrase in this song emphasizes a different aspect of His knowledge of each one of us.

He made us -- He planned us -- He knows us -- He forgives us – He understands us – He comforts us -- He listens to us -- He fathers us – He wants us -- He’ll never leave us – He’ll never forget us – He’ll never give up on us -- He cheers for us -- And He prepares a place for us.

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

[Chorus]
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call




Friday, June 19, 2015

A Fathers Day Tribute To The Memory Of My Dad

It is hard to believe that it has been over twenty years since my father died.  And memories of him are fading.  Now I am older than he was at his passing and memories of him are swiftly fading.

Dad was a little crusty on the outside; a tough construction worker with leathery skin, rough hands, and a rough demeanor to match.  His direct, no-nonsense, sarcastic style of conversation was often misunderstood but, to those who knew him best, it was endearing. He was not overtly affectionate and I don’t remember him ever telling me he loved me. But I never doubted his love; he demonstrated it in very real and practical ways.

I never had what some people today would describe as “quality time” with my father (or my mother, for that matter). In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing the phrase, “quality time,” used in any context when I was growing up. With seven children, there was always work to do and most of the times I had with my father were spent in hard work.

Dad was a straight shooter; he always meant what he said. You could count on it. Disobedience often brought fearful and painful consequences by his own large, rugged hand. He understood the Proverbs…” evil is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction drives it far from him” and “he that spares the rod hates his son.” He never automatically sided with me against my teachers or others in authority. He taught me that, although they are not always right, it is always right to submit to their proper authority.

But he was also fair and, believe it or not, he was kind. Our family never had much, but we always shared what we had with others. And he was always forgiving. I remember how often I disappointed, failed, and hurt him but still, he loved me because I was his son.

My dad taught me to judge people on the merits of their character, not on their appearance. He understood that true friendship required work and that people must be accepted with and in spite of their shortcomings. He had friends of varied colors, backgrounds, and stature. The only people he could not tolerate were intolerant bigots.

Our family depended on him to provide for our needs. Although he was a skilled craftsman, no job was beneath him. Several times in my life, construction work was hard to find so, over the years, I watched him work as a night-time school janitor, a drive-in theater usher and a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman. He found dignity in honest work and he wanted his children to see him getting up early in the morning and going to work to bring home a paycheck rather than going to the mailbox to bring in a welfare check.

He valued his reputation. He was honest and just in his dealings. Sometimes, as a contractor, he would make costly mistakes. But he always finished the job at the agreed price regardless of the loss. He was a man of his word.

He was faithful to his wife and his children and that provided a great deal of security for us. Home was a good, safe place to be. We didn’t always have everything we wanted, but he always tried to give us everything we needed.

Not only was he our provider, he was also a strong and brave protector. I remember, at the age of nine, one evening when he had sent me out to buy something at a neighborhood market (in those days it was safe for children to be out after dark). On my way home I passed a parked car with four guys who yelled something at me. I was scared and felt threatened and told my dad when I got home. He immediately got up and went out to confront them and warned them to keep their mouths shut and leave his kids alone.  In retrospect, I imagine he was really fearful of confronting four thugs at night but he never let on.

It has been said "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father."

A pastor once asked some children in a Sunday school class to draw pictures of God. He intended to use them to illustrate his sermon. At the end of class, the children were excited to show off their pictures of men with long robes, white hair, and big, outstretched hands amid rainbows, bluebirds, and fluffy white clouds. Finally, one little girl showed her picture of a simple man dressed in a suit and tie. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead."

Much of my early understanding about the character and attributes of God, I learned, by experience, from a father who was seldom in view, but he was always there.


 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Public Urination (and other gross behavior)



To the street people of our community.

I possess a strong desire to apprise you of my contempt for your repugnant predisposition to evacuate the voluminous excrement from the recesses of your entrails upon the cloisters of our sanctuaries and around the colonnades of our cathedrals. 

I would likewise express my abhorrence for your detestable practice of public urination within the passages of our offices and at the portals of our mercantile establishments. 

Furthermore, I would relish the occasion to convey my utter disgust at the discovery of your sullied, odorous prophylactics. In short, I yearn to inform you of the despicable nature of your uncouth deportment.

But, alas, I cannot. My wife won’t let me say it with words that you can understand so never mind. I'll just clean up your crap for you. 

You're welcome.


Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Mother's Day at Church

It was an interesting Mother’s Day yesterday at our church. 

In our Bible study class, we took the time to allow everyone the opportunity to say a few words or share some memories about their mothers.

My wife and I, at the age of 67 years, are among the youngest members in the class.  Most of them are between 70 and 85 so, as you might expect, most of our mothers are deceased.

As everyone took their turns to talk about their mothers, I noted a common theme; most of the class described their childhood family dynamics in terms of extreme hardships, disappointments, dysfunctional relationships, premature deaths, and abandonments; not exactly the kind of fantasy family life most Christians would expect. 

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority praised God for His grace and mercy as they recognized His sovereign and loving work in their lives to bring them to Himself.

It was a good Mother’s Day.

“And we know that,  for those who love God, 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called 
according to his purpose.  
For those whom he foreknew 
he also predestined 
to be conformed to the image of his Son, 
in order that he might be the firstborn 
among many brothers.  
And those whom he predestined 
he also called, 
and those whom he called he also justified, 
and those whom he justified he also glorified.”  
Romans 8:28-30