Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Will Miss You Sometimes, Exactly Like the Plague

Hurricane Sandy will soon disappear, but the aftermath of her devastation will linger for a considerable time. We will never fully recover; there will always be remnants of her affects. Hurricane Obama―a category 5 super storm―was far more costly and will have much more lasting ramifications for our world. The administration and her minions will only be missed in the same morose way that a nation misses the plague. Connie Webb’s poem, “Good Riddance” seem apropos.

Good Riddance
I have not forgotten
That you are quite rotten
Your unconcerned ways
No longer wreck my days.

When I disengage
I lose my rage
So without you it’s sunny
And something quite funny
Is the longer you are away
I have a much better day.

With you not around
I am no longer down
I am glad I let you go
Because now calmness I know. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Some Closing Thoughts on the Upcoming Election

Political discourse is often tense, especially among friends. There’s a good reason for this: religion and politics always engender passion because they’re the two most important subjects we can discuss. The solution is not to bar the topics but to remember to show respect for one another as we wrestle with them. We all have much to learn and we won’t all be at the same place at the same time. My own political (and religious) views have evolved over time and I recognize that God is at work in all His people as we move along. I’m sure I still have things to learn.

The most important thing I’ve learned to date is to never pin my hopes on a politician or the political process. They’re both imperfect and messy and they both tend to disappoint. [Note: I’m genuinely thankful for our country and for the many faithful leaders that we have now and have had in the past.] What ultimately keeps me going is the fact that I’ve never been disappointed in the King of kings. Regardless of the outcome of this election, He still reigns and will accomplish all of His purposes.

Many before us have thought the future was hopeless and have been tempted to despair. For example, The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 describes Europe as depressed. Published in one of medieval Germany’s most important centers of learning and innovation, the Chronicle epitomizes its era. On the one hand, pioneering with the new, innovative hardware of movable type, it faithfully reproduced engraved portraits of the major cities of Europe and the Holy Land. On the other hand, it described a civilization with little vision or hope. Referring to what they called “the calamity of our time,” the publishers actually left several pages blank so that readers could record “the rest of the events until the end of the world.”1 Five hundred years later, here we are. God loves to surprise us.

I do hope you will vote to remove our current administration. I do hope you will vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan because I think this is the shortest and most likely route to accomplish this. If this occurs I’m convinced that many (not all) innocent lives will be saved, true marriage will be defended, better judges will be appointed, more (not enough) fiscal responsibility will be exercised, and more peaceful conditions and influence will be gained for the Church. There is more I could add to this list, but you can see where I’m going.

If your conscience will not allow you to vote the way I would like, you’re still my friend and I hope I’m yours as well. No matter who wins, we will share many disappointments in the days ahead but we will not despair. Real hope and change are in the hands of our God and He shall preserve His people as He always has.

1 Edwin Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, p. 29.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Christin's Quote Book

  • Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.  ~Jim Fiebig
  • Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.  ~Sam Ewing 
  • Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.  ~Author Unknown 
  • How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?  ~Satchel Paige
  • Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.  ~Muriel Spark
  • Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.  ~Victor Hugo 
  • There is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take the time to look. For example, I'm sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.  ~Author Unknown
  • We are young only once, after that we need some other excuse.  ~Author Unknown
  • Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • You can't hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life.  ~Author Unknown
  • I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth's gravitational pull has become since 1990.  ~Dave Barry
  • Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.  ~Quoted by Francis Bacon, Apothegm 
  • First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down.  ~Leo Rosenberg 
  • The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest.  You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down.  ~T.S. Eliot, quoted in Time, 23 October 1950
  • Life is one long process of getting tired.  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks 
  • Everything slows down with age, except the time it takes cake and ice cream to reach your hips.  ~Attributed to John Wagner
  • A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.  ~Oliver W. Holmes, Sr.
  • I don't do alcohol anymore - I get the same effect just standing up fast.  ~Author Unknown 
  • Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.  ~Author Unknown
  • Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age.  Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.  ~Tom Wilson
  • Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.  ~Author Unknown 
  • Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.  ~Jennifer Yane
  • Middle age is when we can do just as much as ever - but would rather not.  ~Author Unknown
  • In dog years, I'm dead.  ~Author Unknown
  • Middle age:  The time when you'll do anything to feel better, except give up what is hurting you.  ~Robert Quillen
  • Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work.  ~Author Unknown
  • Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.  ~Bill Vaughn
  • True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.  ~Kurt Vonnegut
  • At sixteen I was stupid, confused and indecisive.  At twenty-five I was wise, self-confident, prepossessing and assertive.  At forty-five I am stupid, confused, insecure and indecisive.  Who would have supposed that maturity is only a short break in adolescence?  ~Jules Feiffer

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Deals with the Devil

The finish line is in sight―November 6th―it’ll all be over but the cryin’. No matter who’s elected―Obama or Romney―a new round of complaints and “I told-you-sos” can begin on November 7th. Principled critics will assume their lofty positions while they wait for the next round in four years, in which case they will, no doubt, point out the we’re left with nothing but a choice between two evils and an obscure third-party good guy. But we’ll sleep well, knowing that we didn't make a deal with the devil, and sleep we will. We won’t bother with all those boring local races or off-year elections. (What is a “Railroad Commissioner” anyway?). We want the gold metal or nothing. We’re too big for the little stuff. If we can’t close the Federal Reserve now, then let the presses roll. If we can’t save all the babies then we won’t save any of them. It doesn't matter who appoints the judges. They’re all just alike…eeevil politicians! It’s a matter of principle. We'll all sleep much better in a few more days.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Memory of Zach Ramsey

In Memory of Zach
October 14, 2012

One year has passed since Zach left this world of shadows. To us that year seems both long and short, but to Zach, a man with a radically new perspective, that year was swallowed up in eternity. This is a perspective that allows for unmitigated joy, largely because he now sees clearly what we can imagine only dimly. He sees the real world. The reason he has no more sorrow nor tears is because it all makes sense now. Isaiah 26:3-4 speaks to this:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

This passage describes Zach’s state of mind; it’s “stayed on the Lord,” and therefore he has “perfect peace.” While I know he’s not sad, yet I suspect he does long (in that positive, hopeful and expectant way) for the presence of his family and friends. As King David said following the death of his son: “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” I am absolutely certain that Zach desires for us to walk now in that perfect peace of those whose minds are stayed on the Lord and to serve Him with gladness. He knows that we’re not far behind him and that we too will soon have that clear and eternal perspective that eases all burdens. And so, we will need to walk by faith, a faith that pleases God, not by sight

I’m confident that Zach is honored by our grief and by the fact that we miss him immensely. Nevertheless, I believe he is even more gratified that because God’s grace was manifested so powerfully through his earthly trial, we’ve been inspired to live lives of gratitude and faithfulness and even joy. He was an inspiration to me, and I know he was to you as well. He found a way to live while he was dying; he found light in the darkness; he found joy in the midst of suffering. We do want to be like him in these ways. So, we also must live while we die, and shine in this world of pain and darkness and rejoice in the midst of heartache and disappointment and grief. In so doing, we take up and extend Zach’s legacy of Christian faithfulness.

If Zach could speak directly to us right now, I’m sure he would exhort us all to get busy about our Father’s work, to believe and live and love and serve more than we ever have before. The last words I spoke at Zach’s funeral last year remain true today:

Finally, as we have paid tribute today to a life well-lived―a life full of meaning and value and blessing―we do shed tears for our loss. And yet, the Apostle Peter tells us that even through our trials, as our faith is being tested and refined, there’s a “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” We look beyond the moment and peer into the future with faith and hope. And when we arrive there with Zach, faith and hope will vanish (being no longer needed), and what will remain is love.

Dear friends, we are full of hope and, therefore, we have real comfort in our real grief. Let us “press on that we may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of us, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Let us, like the Apostle Paul, “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12-14). May the Lord’s blessings be upon you all.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Very Principled Observers

Many honest and principled people are alarmed that there are politicians who are not as principled as they are. These politicians seem to cave in and compromise in an apparent effort to actually get elected. It’s easy to complain about their lack of integrity and sit on the sidelines until we can have a candidate that meets all of our high standards and principles. We will be very principled observers. We want it all or we want nothing. We want ALL abortions ended or else. We’re not interested in saving 9 out of 10, or even 1 out of 10. If we can’t save them all then we will not sacrifice any principle to save one. But there are more principles than just one. In a fallen world our choices are usually not between the ideal and the awful but rather between the less than ideal and the awful. 

I don’t agree with the rape and incest exceptions on abortion for reasons of biblical principle. Nevertheless, I do want to save all the innocent lives I can, and I certainly don’t want to sit by and watch a party or their nominee burn the whole house down without any effort to save anyone.

The DNC Platform reads:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.

The RNC party platform states:

We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage.

We have one party, and its nominee, who, among other things, proclaims and promotes the wicked idea that a person has the right to murder their own child in the name of a “right to privacy,” or a “right to choose.” We have another party, and its nominee, who take positions, in varying degrees, which defend the right to life.

We know what the first party and nominee want to do. We hold out some hope that the second party and nominee will at least slow down the killing, if not put a complete stop to it. I do wish that I could have a choice to elect someone who would go as far as I would like. But right now, I’ve been given a choice to try and save some, and I’ll do anything I can to rescue as many as I can. One candidate will fully fund Planned Parenthood and the other has pledged to remove their funding. One candidate has Robert Bork as the head of his Judicial Advisory Committee and the other has Eric Holder. No difference? Really?

We have the right to vote. We have the right not to vote. We also have the right to be relevant or irrelevant. If we don’t vote, then we will likely come to have the same influence that everyone else who doesn’t vote has. We can retreat into our Christian ghettos, feel sorry for ourselves, and convince ourselves of how right we are and how wrong they are. Or, we can get involved and work and pray to change things. Realizing that things often change slowly and incrementally. There are more ways than one to get involved and to work for change, but simply being a principled, observational critic on the sidelines is not one of them.

One of my favorite political pundits has said it well, and said it far better than I could:

I’ve got to disavow partisan loyalty to any party but Christ, and I won’t find Him, or His proxy, on the ballot in 2012. So, I’ve got to juxtapose those who are on the ballot, and I’m constrained to vote for the candidate who I believe will be least likely to use the ammo of the state against its law-abiding citizens and most likely to leave them alone to rear their children in the admonition of the Lord and to worship freely and peaceably. I will not vest in either of them any real confidence, not just because of who they are but because the root of the problem is the moral rot in the body politic, and specifically the church. But I also will not equate the one man who is, I believe, utterly hostile to the gospel and church of Christ and the other who is, while not a Christian, unwilling, I believe, to, say, sentence Christians to Guantanamo. I don’t at all doubt that El Presidente would, if he could.” ―David Alders