Monday, January 21, 2008

Is It Just Me?

I had to read it twice to be sure I read it correctly. Unfortunately I read it correctly. From tonight's news I learned that there is a law before our state legislature that would require anyone under 18 years of age to get parental permission to use the services of a tanning salon - because of the risks and dangers encountered in the tanning process. Additionally, every customer, regardless of age, would need to sign a paper stating they were aware of such risks and dangers. Hmm... I couldn't help but think of how hard it is to pass legislation requiring parents to be notified when a teen wants or gets an abortion, or requiring doctors performing abortions to first show the patient accurate, truthful pictures and information. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Living Legacies

PRINCIPLE: “It is more important to leave a legacy than to be a legend.”

Babe Ruth. Dean Martin. Milton Berle. Samson. Judas.

All legends – remembered for what they did, recognized for their unique deeds and contributions. But remembrance implies the past, not the present. Legends leave a mark on their time but not a legacy for future generations. The goal of the Christian life is to build legacies, not legends. It is our task to invest ourselves in others so Christianity carries on from generation to generation. Be sure to model for and train others.

To put it another way, plant yourself in the garden of others. Psalm 1 talks about digging our roots deeply into the soil of God so we can grow strong. While it’s primary reference is to our own spiritual growth, the image applies to this legacy principle as well. But we cannot invest ourselves into everyone – in fact we can invest ourselves in only a few. Howard Hendricks has aptly written, “Beautiful blooms always grow out of fertile soil.” Be sensitive to your co-workers, family, and leaders; look for gifts, potential, and willingness to learn; be discerning of fertile soil. Then plant yourself in that soil. Call it mentoring, teaching, investing, modeling, or equipping – the term doesn’t matter; but the results do. Planting produces blooms and blooms live on. Don’t worry about being a legend – let your Christianity live through the legacy you leave.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Presidential Insight

I promised more on President Harry S. Truman. While he may not have the greatest reputation as far as character goes, it seems as though his heart was right. The following prayer was said by Truman from his high school days through his presidency. "O, almighty and everlasting God, creator of heaven and earth and inverse: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right. Make me truthful, honest, and honorable in all things. Make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor, and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving, and patient with my fellow men. Help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings - even as Thou understandest mine. Amen." He also said that "The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest of all things in the Bible, a way of life, and maybe someday men will get to understand it as the real way of life." Great prayer and insight for us all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Epoch Making

I recently read the book "God and the Oval Office" - subtitled "The Religious Faith of Our 43 Presidents." It was an easy and fascinating read. I learned a lot and was surprised a lot. Some of the surprises were things I read about President Harry S. Truman. More on that another time. For today I just want to share one of his statements. It grabbed me again yesterday as Michigan had their primary elections. After observing the candidates and their particular emphases while campaigning here, I thought of it again. In reference to public opinion, Truman said, "I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he'd taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he'd taken a poll in Israel? Where would the Reformation had gone if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It isn't polls or public opinion at the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership - men with fortitude, honesty, and a belief in the right that makes epochs in the history of the world." Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dismayed - but not Surprised

So now, on some campuses, college room/dormitory options include "gender neutral" . What this means is a student can say that have no gender preference in the selection of a roommate - or they can select someone of the opposite sex. And these campuses accommodate them. Now don't get me started on this one! What is most disturbing to me is that a couple of the colleges that reportedly allow such arrangements are, historically, church related. Don't get me started on that either! Sure, some say that mature students can handle it (who's to determine the 'mature' ones?), but I say - with Biblical support - that boys will be boys and girls will be girls. (OK - stop searching - you won't find those words in the Bible per se - but its passages about human nature and sin make it pretty clear: "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing." (Rom. 7:19) And whatever happened to obedience to the verse "Abstain from all appearance of evil?" ( 1 Thess. 5:22 KJV) But I said I wasn't going to get started! When I read the news report, I was dismayed - but not surprised. Ever since our society has decided that morality is an individual choice, we've been headed down a slippery slope. Perhaps we need to read again the times of the Kings and Judges in the Old Testament - it is there we see the cycle of history: that when everyone does what is right in his own eyes, there is chaos. I can't say it any better.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Irony

I seldom comment on the really hot political issues in my blog. But I am making an exception. I admit that the capital punishment issue is complex - and I am not here claiming to be for or against it. But Gary Bauer, in his 'End of the Day' email, wrote something with which I resonate. With all due credit to him, here is a portion of it:

"The U.S. Supreme Court indicated this week that it is deeply divided over a challenge to the way most states execute prisoners by lethal injection. It seems some of the justices are distressed by the procedure in which three drugs are administered in succession to knock out, paralyze and kill prisoners sentenced to death. “I’m terribly troubled by the fact that the second drug seems to cause all risk of excruciating pain,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who thinks this method of execution may violate the
Constitution’s 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
I couldn’t help notice the rich irony here. Why is it that those judges most concerned with whether or not prisoners convicted of horrible crimes like murder and serial rape feel pain during an execution always tend to be
the same judges who most adamantly defend the perceived right for abortionists to perform their ghastly deed? Science has established that babies inside the womb feel excruciating pain during an abortion after 24 weeks of gestation. That pain, moreover, can be even more intense than if it were performed on a child outside the womb, because pain inhibitory mechanisms (fibers which dampen and modulate the experience of pain) do not
begin to develop until 32-34 weeks of gestation. All this would be comical if it weren’t so serious." I can't say it any better.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Who's Kidding Who?

It was in the news last week. A 7 year old girl won free tickets to a Hanna Montana concert. She had written an 'essay' about her dad being killed in Iraq. Then it was discovered she had lied so the tickets were awarded to someone else. I find it hard to blame her. First, how could the handlers of the contest expect someone as young as 7 to 'write an essay'? Give me a break! Second, let's not let parents of young girls get off either. When Hanna was recently in Grand Rapids - about an hour from where I live - parents paid sums in the 4 figure range because "they didn't want their daughters deprived of such an opportunity.' (Note to my sons - sorry you were deprived of so many important things in your young lives!) Give me a break! But let's also point to the adults in this young girls life - surely they knew what was going on - perhaps even to the point of helping her write the lie? I can't say for sure but...well you think about it. Who's kidding who? The desire for entertainment - and a resulting hero worship - hold strong power in America. And what's so bad about that? More than I can write here - but let's not forget the entertainment hunger was one of the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. That should be warning enough.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Segregation

It's often been said that the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning. There is some truth to that, in that many congregations are not multi-racial or cross cultural. While I''m not trying to downplay the situation, I do believe that part of the reason has more to do with preferred worship and preferred cultural styles than with intentionally blocking out persons of other cultures and races. That's why, in addition to worship segregation between cultures there is segregation within cultures as well. In fact, I'd like to add another twist. I believe the current trend of 'marketing' to certain age or cultural segments does hold a danger. While it may help bring people into, or back to the church, the jury is still out on its long-term effectiveness. My concern is that it tends to segregate the Body of Christ. Rather than all worship together and learn how to appreciate and be patient with our differences, how to be tolerant of differences, and how to be open to change, we promote fracturing the body any time someone, or a group, doesn't 'like' or 'prefer' a worship style. So we are raising and fostering a generation of worshipers who who may never experience the fullness of the body from cradle to the grave. How many churches lack the wisdom, experience, and faith-stories of our senior generation? They are the poorer for it. How many lack the vitality and necessary challenges of our searching youth? They are the poorer for it. Let's never stop working towards racial and cultural diversity within the Body, but let's also be very careful not to fall victim to segregation by preferences either. Let's strive, as difficult as it may be, for congregations that are free of age segregation as well.