Monthly Archives: April 2013

Application

I listed to Matthew’s well thought out and just a bit emotional reasons as to why it was incredibly wrong for Greta to leave her nice “church” socks on the front porch. He proceeded to say that if he were the parent that if she continued to ruin her good socks he would have her pay for the next pair of socks.

I simply had one question for Matthew in response – “Just like I make you pay for all of your new pair of jeans because you wear holes in the knees?”

He said he couldn’t help it, he was forced to do it at school. I responded that Greta doesn’t come home with holes in the knees of her pants. Well she’s not in 5th grade! My response, she is in 4th grade as you were last year and you got holes in your knees last year too. There wasn’t much else to say after that.

It seems that Matthew was having trouble with grace and application. Kids are kids. Matthew plays hard and gets holes in the knees of his pants. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle? So we have to iron on some patches, it’s not the end of the world. Greta has a personality of friendliness and giving – so much so that she doesn’t take time to put things away properly before the next act of giving and friendliness. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle?

But to Matthew, he saw the rules in his mind as only applying to Greta. He didn’t see how his judgmental rules would apply to himself as well. I suppose it is the same with adults. We also struggle with grace and application. We only want the rules to apply to others, but we want grace for ourselves. Perhaps Matthew will figure it out eventually. In the meantime, I tell myself that holes in knees and misplaced socks are not the end of the world. At some point in time, Matthew will outgrow wearing out the holes in the knees of his jeans. At some point Greta will “catch on” to the instructions of neatness and tidiness that so far haven’t had the impact we have hoped for. I will keep giving instruction and I will keep giving grace, as God gives it to me.

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Political Courtesy

I am coming clean – I am no fan of “Political Correctness.” There, I’ve said it.

I’m taking it a step further and trying to figure out why it annoys me so much. I’ve finally settled on the reason. Common courtesy is being legislated. At first glance, it would seem that we would all be in favor of common courtesy. If that’s the case, then why do we have to have so many books on manners and classes at places of business? Ask anyone born before 1950 and most likely they will tell you that there is a severe lack of common courtesy.

Now you are scratching your head thinking, but I thought you said political correctness is legislated common courtesy. How can there be no common courtesy anymore if it is being legislated? That’s just it – whose version of common courtesy and exactly what are we legislating? Back in the day, my mom said it wasn’t nice to pick on kids that were different, you were supposed to befriend them. It was called get out of your pathetic comfort zone and learn something about someone else. What is legislated today is if the kid that is different does something mean to you – you have no recourse because you have to be nice to them – it’s the law.

Think about it for a moment. You are an employer that needs tall people for the job because they have to reach tall things (assuming ladders will not work). You can’t discriminate against shorter people because that’s against the law, but you like short people. You just need tall people for this particular job. It’s nothing personal. But thanks to political correctness, everything is personal and everything can be fined now.

Wouldn’t it have been so much easier if we listened to our parents and grandparents when they taught us about common courtesy? You would know not to pick on someone that was different, but if you needed a small person to reach into a small opening, you asked them, without fear of hurting the taller and bigger people. You were nice to everyone, so when it came time for a job to be done, no one took it personal if you didn’t choose them. I believe it is time to get rid of political courtesy and bring it back to common courtesy, taught in the home and spread to the community.

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Stand Up?

A fellow pastor spoke with us about concern he had for our boys. Evidently he heard the appeal at the end of a special week of prayer emphasis at school and didn’t see my boys stand up. Perhaps we should talk to them about it. Hmmm.

First of all, we’ve never encouraged our kids to stand up for an appeal just because it was there. Don’t lie to God. If it’s not in your heart don’t try to look like everyone else so you can pass some sort of people are so judgmental test. Only stand up if you feel God is leading you to do so.

The truth of the matter, I have actually applauded my oldest son for NOT standing up. That’s right. A whole bunch of kids in his class at church, years ago, decided it was time to get baptized. So the pastor called all of them down front, and Michael was the only one who didn’t go, because he hadn’t made that decision yet. So I did what any caring parent should. I told Michael how proud I was of him for not feeling like he had to go down there just because everyone else did. When he did come to that decision, it was amazing. It was in God’s timing and when Michael was ready, not because he felt he had to follow the crowd.

God wants your heart, 100% of the time. An emotional appeal that gets you to make a half hearted commitment – that’s just not what God is looking for. Can He use it? Sure He can, He’s God after all. You can make a somewhat commitment and He can lead you the rest of the way, but it might take longer. Why not just make a full decision for God – when you are ready? Is there any pressure? Well, the way things look, the world can’t put up with too much of the craziness going on, so you might want to think about getting ready a little faster. Just sayin.

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For the Weak

Have you heard this before? “Religion is for the weak.” Or how about this one? “God is for wimps.”

My personal opinion is that people who speak such things do so out of ignorance. Evidently they haven’t taken the time to read the Bible and see whether the God described there is wimpy or weak. A few passages in Revelation talks about Jesus coming back a conquering King with His robe dipped in blood. Sounds like a mighty warrior, not a wimp.

In the Old Testament there are numerous references to God’s mighty right arm. In the book of First Kings, Elijah encounters God in a still small voice. Of course, this was after the mighty wind (think tornado), earthquake and fire that passed by first. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Micah. Chapter 7 verse 8 says, “Do  not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” In other words, you haven’t seen the last of me because God never gives up and neither do I. You have been warned.

My new favorite among this caliber of verses is Amos 3:8. “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” I remember being at the Oklahoma City Zoo as a kid and everyone there freezing for an instant. We knew it was safely enclosed, but when that lion roared, you could hear it through the entire zoo and it made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Is God loving and merciful? Of course! There are countless stories in the Bible of His great love for us and that is an understatement. Does God show mercy? Of course He does or you and I wouldn’t be here today breathing and taking up oxygen. As Christians, we are called to share the love of God with others. If you’re not sure about whether or not God is strong enough for you, read more about Him. You just might be surprised.

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Earth Domination

Every year on April 22nd, our country celebrates “Earth Day.” At first it seemed like it was a day only for fanatical environmentalists who insisted on uprooting hundreds of native species to save one species that “might” be using that area as a habitat.

Thankfully, most people see Earth Day for what it really is, a day to remember that we have a responsibility to take care of this planet that we call home. Yes, I know, every day is Earth Day. If we only take care of things once a year, we are already doomed. But that doesn’t stop us from having Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is only one day out of the year, but I sure hope we all call our parents (if still living) more than once a year!

When it comes to taking care of Planet Earth, we have often gotten hung up on the definitions of dominion and domination, or so it seems to me. Dominion refers to a realm, province or kingdom where the leader(s) of that entity was responsible for all who were within its perimeters. It was a responsibility taken seriously. Then there is the way we often view domination – where we are at the top and we got there by climbing over top of everything else that just didn’t measure up and we will do whatever it takes to stay here because on top you have it all and you can do whatever you want. For some strange reason – a lot of people took God’s command in Genesis that man should have dominion over the Earth – to tend it and care for it – for domination – to get whatever we can out of it because we are at the top!

I hope with each passing Earth Day we lean more toward dominion instead of domination. I hope we learn to take care of what there is and what there could be. Does this mean there could be some hard choices ahead? Yes! Everyone knows just about that you can feed many more people by planting a field with produce than you can be using it as pasture to raise meat for consumption. But we don’t use Earth resources wisely – we are on top and we don’t care how we got there we just care about our preferences and staying on top so if I want to raise meat instead of produce than that’s what I’m going to do. This is just one example. There are many tough choices ahead if we are going to practice responsible dominion instead of greedy domination.

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April 19th

I started off this morning googling today’s date in history and then calling my mom. April 19th has a lot of meaning for us.

I was a radio station news director in college when the Branch Davidian Siege is Waco turned deadly. It was on April 19th. My parents came to visit Karl and I a few years later in Illinois to celebrate our big announcement of a coming baby. They decided to stay longer by a day and rearranged some of their doctor appointments they had for April 19th in Oklahoma City. Instead of being in the middle of it, they heard about it on their drive home from our house. Sources linked some of the motive to retaliation for the Waco incident by the bombing of the Federal Building in OKC, which reportedly held some of the ATF records.

April 19th became a day that for a few years after that 1995 explosion, people took extra precautions.

Nothing could prepare us for April 19th, 2003. Dad was far too young to die of brain cancer, but he had put himself through radiation and other treatments to try to stay alive until I could have my third and final child and come to visit. He got to hold baby Greta in his hospice bed. She never got to know him and what an incredible person he was.

So I called my mom today. Told her I was thinking of her and both of us looking forward to seeing Dad again someday. I don’t think we’ll worry about April 19th anymore.

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Of Spirit and Letter

My personal opinion: unless all of your children have the exact same gender and personality – there is no way you can treat your children the same. You may try, but the children will suffer because you aren’t meeting their specific needs. Is it easy? How many ways can I say NO!

Greta would gladly give everything in her lunch just to have the admiration of her friends. If she eats her lunch, she only eats enough until her desire to play at recess takes over.  She would rather not ride her bike in a bike-a-thon and walk beside a friend with a broken chain than go on without the friend. Greta’s world revolves around friends. The boys don’t have that personality. Greta’s lunch has been an issue that we even had to bring up to the teacher. Please don’t let her give away everything in her lunch. She comes home starved. We had to assure Greta that true friends would still be true friends even if she didn’t give them cool things from her lunch. If they are hungry, by all means share and let the teacher know that there is a child with no lunch.

We came up with a simple guideline to help Greta. Pack at least 5 things in your lunch and try to eat your entire lunch. Leave nothing behind. Don’t give it away. Don’t trade wholesome stuff for junk food. Today, Greta saw Matthew with only 4 things in his lunch. She cried unfair. How come he only has 4 things in his lunch. Isn’t he supposed to have 5 things? That guideline was never given to Matthew, because it wasn’t necessary for him.

Greta got tangled up in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. She focused on checking off her list, do I have 5 things in my lunch, instead of the fact that her parents love her very much and want to make sure that she has a nutritious lunch that will help her finish out the day at school.

This is nothing new. Jesus ran into the same problem. He dealt with a bunch of folks more concerned with checking items off of the list than getting to the heart of the matter. They couldn’t see that God created us to have abundant lives and that’s exactly what He wants for us. He gives guidelines to help us get to that understanding.

Greta is off to school and I will pray that God gives us guidance on how to communicate to this ADEM child that the real issue is we love her and want her to have a nutritious lunch that will benefit her.

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