Archive | January, 2013

Taking Care of Things!

26 Jan

Yesterday, Kelly and I tried to make a field trip for Emily at Sea World into a fun day for the entire family. So, while Kelly went with Emily during the day; Jacob, Julia, and I came after our daily commitments were fulfilled. We also got to meet Daryn, whom we haven’t seen in a while, at Sea World. So, it was shaping up to be a fun day. When walking into the park, Jacob dropped our new “cheese-monkey” tablet on the asphalt of the parking lot.

At this point, some back story may be required. Almost a year and a half ago, I took a flight that had WiFi and I was delighted to use my laptop on the trip. It was an awesome experience for me, as I recounted in this blog post. However, as I was on three more flights with similar capabilities in the next few months, I realized that having a whole row to yourself is not the norm when flying, and due to the crowded seating, my fatness, and the bulkiness of the laptop (especially when I cannot use the non-working built-in MOUS), I became fascinated with this new invention—the tablet. Since I don’t have enough opportunity to use it often, I decided getting an off brand would be the better way to go.

My wife then, being a much better spouse than I am, decided to make it her mission to get me one. So, shortly after the new year, I had this new-fangled invention in my hands. I should also mention that I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love it when they make my life easier; I hate it when someone does something to make it different than I want it. For example, I still bemoan the elimination of PaintBrush in 1995 (Paint still lacks some of the awesomeness PaintBrush had); I still have not taken off the protective plastic from my three-year-old laptop screen; I had a record of 1264-0 in Freecell and complain when anyone plays the game on my machine.

So, when the tablet got cracked in its first month in my hands, my natural reaction was to complain and take my frustration out on my son. Yet, after the initial reaction, I was prompted by the Spirit to remember that my nature is to not take care of the things with which I am entrusted as well as God would have me do them. I tried to change my tact at that point. I pointed out to Jacob his need to be more cautious and caring about the things with which God has entrusted us.

We need to take care of those things we have. God has called us to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. We need to protect the earth and that little portion over which we have been set in charge. I don’t want to come across as a whacko who believes we should really let the earth rule us, as we have dominion. Nevertheless, with that dominion comes responsibility. We need to be wise in what we do, we need to take care of it and preserve it. Mostly because that brings honor to our God!

And when we fail, as I often do, I like it when God gently nudges me with love to correct me. And being one who bears the image of God, I attempted to do my best to do the same. Whether I succeeded or not (you can ask Jacob next time you see him), I would challenge us all to take better care of that with which we’ve been entrusted and to being loving in our correction of those who don’t. Hopefully the favor of temperament will be returned the next time we neglect to show the care we should over something with which we’ve been trusted.

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Protection

22 Jan

Roe vs. Wade. Since this decision, we have had Supreme Court protected (notice, I do not say legalized, because it still isn’t legal, just Supreme Court protected—is that too attorney-ish of me) abortion on demand. This decision is one of the worst decisions (I think we can throw Dred Scott and probably one or two others in with it) ever made by a court, because they took away a group’s humanity. Humanity bears the image of God and to take it away is to destroy the pinnacle of God’s creation.

Today marks the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. The 40th, as a matter of fact. Someone once told me that 40 years was the length of a biblical generation, and while I’m not sure we can be so precise with our definition of generation, I think it is safe to say that the current generation has been diminished in this great country of ours more so than any other generation.

This is certainly a time to talk about protecting life. The victims in this mass genocide had no choice and are defenseless, so it is important to do so. However, as I am considering the reality and soberness of this situation, I am inundated with similar arguments from the President and others stumping for gun control.

I think if you look at it, you will find how remarkably similar the arguments sound between these two issues. With gun control, you have people arguing that they want to save lives, and the other side will say that passing laws will have no such effect. For abortion, you have people arguing that they want to save lives, while the other side will often retort that people would have abortions, even if it is illegal.

The ironic thing is you often have the very opposite people touting that people break laws. The fact is that as humans we have a tendency to thumb our nose at authority. This is true whether it is referring to laws about guns, protecting ourselves, speeding, or any other potential impediment to the control of our own life. That doesn’t change no matter from which side of the political aisle you are arguing.

I do not believe gun control laws are effective because the crimes that are committed are committed by people who are already breaking the law. Until someone uses the example of someone who bought a weapon without knowledge of how to use it and inadvertently killed someone with it as their argument for gun control, the argument is, on its face, silly. Nevertheless, when compared to the reality of abortion, those issues should take an extreme back seat.

How much of a back seat should they take? I, for one, would be willing to give up all gun rights if those so concerned with lives affected by guns would also be concerned about the lives of the unborn. In fact, I think that should be the rebuttal of anyone in this argument. “I understand that you are concerned with those who are defenseless being killed. In the spirit of that, we need to re-enforce and adopt harder, more stringent laws to protect them. And prosecute those who violate the law to the fullest extent of the law.”

To me, it is sad that the argument has moved away from this. When I was younger, there seemed to be people legitimately debating that the unborn were not actually alive. In a recent discussion, someone pointed out to me that no one makes that argument anymore. Rather, it is one of convenience. Imagine if Adam Lanza lived and said his life was more convenient without those Sandy Hook children and that is why he killed them. The reality is that would probably be close to his excuse.

It is unacceptable. It is likewise unacceptable that we allow “doctors”, would-be mothers, and others to massacre a segment of our society without so much as fear of law. That, to me, is the difference between gun control and abortion. In the one area, we are protecting the murderer, while in the other, we are blaming the instrument.

The reality is that we need to enforce both laws. We need to make it difficult for would-be assassins to feel as if they can accomplish something with weapons. We also need to not allow the Supreme Court to protect those who kill our unborn anymore. This generation has seen far too much genocide to allow ourselves to be callous to the continued destruction of all from within. This is why the work of adoption agencies, of crisis pregnancy centers, and of others, who can provide tangible answers to those who are with an inconvenient child, is vitally important.

I pray that God would raise up some who might be willing to help us, in this terrible day of our nation’s history, to combat the horror that is occurring. Because while health food may save lives and gun laws may promote a safer society, we know that ceasing to protect a killing WILL save lives! Do not be neutral on this important issue.

Prepare for the Day

18 Jan

This morning I woke up and got ready to attend a class on Baptist Confessions. I was somewhat surprised to learn that there are over a hundred historic confessions that have attempted to define what it means to be a Baptist (Orthodox, Evangelical, Confessional, and Baptist ecclesiology). That may be a discussion for another day, but it has been a tremendously exciting ride!

What I am anxious to talk about was the frigidity of the outside temperature at my awakening. The thermometer was telling me it was in the high 30’s, though I have reason to believe it might have been ten degrees warmer. Now while my friends from elsewhere may consider the upper 40’s to be temperate and balmy, it is considered quite chilly here in Florida.

Because of this, it is not at all uncommon to see people wrapped in parkas sprinting from their front door to their car. It is also relatively common to see people bundled under blankets for a trip in a vehicle. Generally speaking, many of these people are then forced to make the reverse trip by taking off all these extra clothes when they arrive at their destination.

That was the situation I addressed when I was asked to wear a jacket on the way out the door. I stated that I don’t want to prepare for the three foot journey to my car, but rather I want to prepare for the 8-hour day in a heated classroom. Now, certainly there are a variety of ways to prep for that. I always remember my mother pushing “layers.” I am uncomfortably under-dressed for the journey to the car. And you may have your own method.

Unfortunately, I believe many of us are equally short-sighted in life. As crazy as you may think my jacket philosophy is, I think it is something we should do in our lives. Often we prepare for the next several minutes, when we have a full day ahead for which we will be ill-prepared.

My caution this week is not to do so. Do not be so concerned with the proverbial two second run to the car when you have the entire proverbial day to worry about. Now let me be as clear as I can be. Don’t abandon planning for the immediate just for the sake of the theoretical future. But also don’t overly concern yourself with the things that are of minimal import.

In our day-to-day lives, there are frequently things that attempt to de-focus us from our mission. Those things seem important, as they cause our proverbial trip to the car to be exceedingly uncomfortable. But if we adjust for these distractions in such a way that our proverbial 8-hour day is uncomfortable, we are being pulled away from our purposed. And nothing would excite our enemy more, than a distraction from those things which are good, true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praise-worthy.

Position Paper on Parenting

16 Jan

Recently, I have been surrounded with questions about parenting. It first began about eight and a half years ago when I became a parent, and then became elevated when I wrote a statement about parents being mean to their kids. It then reached its zenith when I began to talk about how wonderful my parents were.

Let me start by saying that if you want real good parenting advice, go look here or here or potentially many other good teachers in the area. Nevertheless, I think there is a good, basic approach to parenting that is important.

I was reminded by my good friend, Paul Hunt, last night that we often consider the behavior of our children of paramount importance, but that is really not the most important thing. This is the crux of my position on parenting. I know people whose children are amazingly well behaved, but the children act out of fear, don’t feel a real love of their parents, and see authority in a completely improper perspective.

Some may talk about the damaging effects this has long term, and I could certainly assert some, but I want to talk more about the immediate effect. Having children who behave is nice, but it is not the ultimate end. The end is to introduce your children to the living God so that they might become better people, employees or employers, citizens, and even parents themselves.

I believe the best way to do that is to grip their hearts. Because real change is impossible without changing your heart, it is vital that this be the core. All the behavior adjustment done for other reasons will not yield lifelong results and are, therefore, just not as important. While very difficult to place focus here, when craziness is happening all around, anything less will give you at best temporary, ill-purposed results, which are less than ideal.

To allow children to know that you love them and that is your motivation behind everything is important to child rearing. That love will allow them to be more real with you. A child who merely fears his parents will never be able to confess to them in a full way; he’ll never be able disagree with them in a way that causes growth. I’ve been known to say that if you don’t disagree with your parents about something, you probably aren’t convicted of anything yourself. Stifling this growth does not benefit them.

Lastly, I think it is important to get them to obey and follow social rules and norms. While behavior is not the most important thing, it is something that needs to exist. No one likes hanging around the kids who are crazy all the time. If they are behaving well for the proper reasons, then you are on to something. Of course, the knowledge that no child is perfect is all too obvious.

Parenting is the occupation that is lifelong and never completely finished, though it does change greatly over the years. At some point, your role turns into a largely advisory one. It must be nice if you can sit back and realize that the bulk of your work is done and that your kids are pretty great. While I am concentrating on the rearing of my children, I pray that my parents are able to say that about me. Of course, I’m too busy making sure my children are behaving to really find out. 🙂

Parents

1 Jan

49 days! That isn’t the time between the end of college football’s regular season and its championship game, though it is probably close (which is one of the things that ruins college football for me, but let me rant about that another day). That is the distance of time between my parents’ anniversary and my sister’s birthday, during which my entire family growing-up celebrated their birthdays. Christmas (and Thanksgiving) fell in that range also, so in my formative years, thirteen percent of the calendar year was filled with familial celebrations of these sorts of things.

In the midst of this period is my mother’s birthday, which just so happens to be January 1. This was the celebration for which we stayed up late and set off fireworks. It was the one my father always touted as the most important, and it is the date, in my mind, that stands for all celebrations of birthdays.

While my parents were not perfect, it is hard for me to accept that they have flaws. This may be inherent within us as humans, but I have a natural acceptance that anything they taught me or showed to me, must be correct. Believing in Sovereignty the way I do, it is relatively easy for me to say they were the perfect parents for me. I feel so blessed to have had them as my parents.

Since the December 31/January 1 combo is culturally the most introspective and nostalgic dates on the calendar, I frequently find myself considering how blessed I am to have had such wonderful parents. Combining this with the fact that I am considering the celebration of family season on that date also, I spend a lot of time thinking about my parents. This is certainly as good of a time as any.

In my work, I have run into many people who are unquestionably losers. People who are in and out of prison, people who are set up so poorly for life that they have no marketable skills or ability to get a job, or I guess the base definition of people who have never won anything. Being completely incapable of surviving as an adult is so hard for me to associate with, because my parents have done so much to set me up for success.

Never mind the fact that despite all they taught me about managing a career, winning, or providing an income, they seemed to have placed them all in the proper priority. I can remember them telling me that the most important thing was character. Not only did they make sure I received a top-notch education, they assisted me in so many ways since then. As I look at my life, I notice they’ve helped me in every measurable way to be where I am.

I remember talking with Josh Boisselle during soccer games and his philosophy of “Anyone who thinks his father is an idiot is one generation off.” So, if you have parents (that should be most of you) and can do basic things like read this blog post, take a moment to thank God for putting them in your life. You could probably take a moment to thank them for being good parents. If you know my parents, you could probably send them a note about the good things they’ve done.