Equality

I have been pondering the whole idea of equality. I have heard students that believe that all students deserve to have their college paid for. People who have positioned themselves well in life, whether by their own hard work or through inheritance, should be forced to sacrifice what they have to pay for those who have not. So the question is, are we all equal? Should we all be treated equally by default?

I have a child, now an adult, that doesn’t believe in repaying debts. I no longer loan that child money, because I will never see it again. It doesn’t matter whether or not I can afford to lose the money. Handing more money in that direction will never teach responsibility. I have other children that always pay back what is borrowed and one child that never needs to borrow. I love them all equally, but I do not treat them all equally.

Adam was created by God, in His image. Eve was created by God as a soul mate for Adam. They were not equal, each was different. But God loved them the same. Probably the best example of equal creation came in the form of their sons, Cain and Abel. Both born male, to the same parents who just happened to be the first people. These two people, born equal, made decisions that changed things. One became the first murderer and the other became the first murder victim. Equality went away with that decision.

One of my closest friends owns his own business and is doing very well financially. We have many of the same interests, many of the same friends. We serve side by side on staff in the same church. When he graduated high school, he went to college and learned business management skills. I dropped out of high school and went to prison. We both learned very different lessons. He has used what he learned to make him successful. Much of what I learned was used to keep me alive. God shared His grace to us each equally. While we share many things in life, including a close friendship, we are not equal. He owns a cottage on the lake. I do not. He earned it. I did not. He does invite me over. While I can most assuredly swim off his dock or use his boat any time I ask, it would be absolutely ludicrous for me to declare that, since we were equal in so many ways, he should give me equal ownership in his cottage.

So, the next time you hear this nonsense about equality… about the sharing of hard earned, well deserved wealth equally between the workers and the loafers, stop to consider the choices that were made that took all of the players to their current status.

I would rather celebrate my individuality and stand on the choices I have made, than cling to the various butt cheeks of those who made better choices.

 

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Life Lessons

There are so many lessons to learn in life. Sometimes we recognize them and let them spin us in a new direction. Sometimes they pass us by without us even getting a glimpse of them. Some are simple and subtle, yet others are life changing and earth shaking.

I have long known that my wife was chosen for me by God. She has been the absolutely perfect fit for the things that God has placed in my path. She has supported every ministry that I have been called to, embraced and loved the people that God has placed in our path as I have. She hasn’t always understood it, but she has always known that she was meant to be a part of it.

With that said, I have struggled to make sure that I could be as much of a mate to her as she was to me. I am sure that I have fallen short. I don’t embrace things as gracefully as she does. And it is difficult for me to see outside of my bubble so that I can take as much interest in her bubble. Maybe it’s a “guy” thing…

Yet with all of this understanding and recognition, there are still so many things that I have taken for granted. I never realized…

So here is the thing… There really is a silver lining in our storm clouds. It’s a shame that it takes hardships for me to see the things that I shouldn’t have been ignorant to. As important as my wife has been in my life, it takes going through the scariest of times together for me to be really aware of how much God has woven her into my very soul. And while part of me is saddened by this revelation, there is a larger part of me that finds joy and comfort in the fact that my Creator cared so much for me that he paired me with the perfect answer for who I am! I really hope that she can say the same thing, but I have always said that she got the short end of the stick in this deal.

I hope that hardships do not come your way, but the chances are that they will, in some way. I hope that you can seek out the silver lining in your storm clouds. That you can find peace in revelations that are revealed in the darkness. That you can see God’s goodness even when everything else looks bad.

Peace

Today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders…

I remember the old Scooby Doo cartoons, where the gang becomes a group of amateur detectives in each episode. At the end, they have solved the crime, and the criminal is led away in handcuffs. The guilty one always proclaims, “I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those pesky kids!”. Ah yes, those pesky kids. We have all had to deal with them.

There are certainly challenging young people in the world. While many are convinced that they are the most important thing in the world and everything needs to stop until they get what they want, there are also so many that are the complete opposite. I have never kept my passion for young people a secret. Years ago, it was my main focus in ministry, and now, God still brings young folk into my life and forms great relationships. Relationships that I hope will never end.

There is such a relationship displayed in the Bible. The books of 1st and 2nd Timothy are letters from the Apostle Paul to his young friend Timothy. He had sent Timothy to lead a congregation. A young man tasked with the daunting responsibility of leading a church, one that had been led astray by false prophets, back to the path of the one true God. Among his advice to Timothy is this tidbit that has been a staple of youth ministries through the ages: 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

This Sunday, our youth lead us in worship. We will hear their faith, see their conduct, watch them set examples for us. I encourage as many of you as possible to attend. Embrace and love these young people. They are our future. Our future church, our future nation, our future world.

One more thought… As Paul encouraged Timothy to set an example for the believers, God encouraged Paul to set an example for Timothy. Might you hear God encouraging you? Set an example for these young people. Embrace them, love them, pray for them, mentor them. The older generation is disappearing. That is how it happens. The circle of life. So many of your traditions, so many of your passions are worth preserving. Worth handing down. Won’t you share them?

I hope to see you Sunday!

Peace

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Tonight, the numbers change. 2016 becomes 2017. Most of us will forget for a couple of weeks of frustration while we date our documents wrong. I guess that part doesn’t change.

We all faced many changes this year. A lot of celebrities left this life. Some of us lost close friends and family members. We also had family additions. The company that I work for changed substantially this year. Good changes, I hope.

The face of our government and the way politics now work in this country changed this year. Huge! Really huge. <pun intended> We have watched as people have taken to demonstrate and riot because they didn’t like the outcome. That’s different as well.

My wife and I became ’empty nesters’ for the second time in our lives. We now share the home with just our pooch, Harley, and I must say it is nice. Peaceful. Change…

I am sure that you can all reflect on many changes that have taken place in your lives. That is, after all, what life is about. Growing. Becoming. Learning. Reaching. Changing. I am thankful that God has always shown me ways to serve and given me a desire to serve. That service has taken different forms throughout the years. This year, I have watched it change again. I look forward to see how that pans out.

Let’s talk about the one thing that never changes. God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. His promises are true. I am so thankful that He loves someone like me and has placed Hope in my heart. My prayer for 2017 is that, if you do not have that Hope in your heart, you will find it. If I can help you with that, just let me know. I will do my best to show you His love.

Happy New Year!

A Father’s Heart

This is a bittersweet Christmas season for me. 2 days ago I was in a courtroom with 2 of my daughters watching my youngest son receive a 25 – 40 year sentence in prison. I will never forget the look on his face, or how helpless I felt sitting there listening. I keep trying to figure out how he got so far away from us… How did he become someone so unfamiliar to his family? What could I have done to make a difference?

While this father’s heart feels broken, I am led to contemplate my Heavenly Father’s heart. There are so many people that cannot grasp the concept of a Creator. It is even harder for them to conceive a Creator that loves them. The view that I have of my relationship with my son has really helped me understand the relationship of our Heavenly Father with us.

I understand that my son broke the law. What he did doesn’t matter as much as the fact that there were consequences. This is not the life that I ever imagined for my child. It was never in my plan. He strayed from my plan long ago. If he had found his way back earlier, maybe we would be telling a different story today. I wish I could take the pain away, but I cannot.

As a Christian, I believe that God is Love. He had a design for our lives when he created us. We strayed from His plan. As I love my son and long for a different relationship, God loved us and longed for a different relationship. We were created to commune with our Creator.

His answer was to become like us. Walk with us. Feel our pain and emotions. And, ultimately, die for us so that He could live in us.

When you reconcile the power of a parent’s love with the absolute power of your Creator’s Love, it isn’t really so hard to understand.

I hope that anyone reading this can really come to terms with the true meaning of Christmas this year. So many holiday traditions are fun, family oriented things. But let’s remember the real family Patriarch, who came to live in us.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thankfulness…

With all of the turmoil and upset in our country right now, I am not seeing the usual amount of annual ‘thankfulness’ updates on the various social media sites. Has America gotten so dislodged that it is hard to think about the good?

I have things going on in my life right now that can easily lead me away from seeing the good around me. I refuse to let that happen. People that are very close to me are struggling in different ways, either financially or physically or emotionally. I pray for relief for them, knowing that things will improve in God’s time. That really requires a lot of faith.

To believe that God hears you and cares, even when you can’t see evidence of it, requires something that some do not possess. Friends that have a difficult time believing the unseen may see me as naive, or gullible, or weak. But I use my rear-view mirror to find my proof.

In so very many ways, God has left real, viable footprints in the path that I have traveled. It is impossible for me to not see Him there. No matter how dark or lonely things get, I can look back and see His faithfulness in my life. Because He is steadfast and true, I have no reason to believe that He is not still beside me, laying down a new set of footprints.

And so, my dear friends, as I take this time to say that I am thankful for all of you, I also say that I am thankful that God hears my prayers for you. I am thankful that He knows the best solutions to your problems and He knows how those problems and solutions will effect those around you. I am thankful that He sees the BIG picture. I am thankful that He is the Artist and that the picture is still in the making. I am thankful for His love for us, even when we reach out to Him with dirty hands.

This holiday season, love on those God has brought you to.. Keep your family close. Allow the confidence that you’re loved by your Creator to crush the fact that the world may seem dark right now. He will lead you through the chaos.

Be thankful,
Peace

What’s in a life?

From the moment that we take our first breath until the moment we take our last, there is purpose. I can never find it believable that fish grew legs and climbed out on land, evolving until they became the parents who made me. I find it very easy to believe in God, His creation. He has shown His hand many times in my life. By all rights, I should have died long ago. If I am to believe that God saved me, I must believe that there was purpose.

I cannot live my day to day only thinking of me. Life is too big for that. I have learned to see everyone that enters my life as someone that God put there. My goal then is to try to be the friend that I should be, the influence that I should be, the resource that I should be. I imagine that I fail at this far more than I want to. I am not necessarily the most compassionate guy on the planet. That kind of works against the goal.

How about you? Do you see a plan for your life? Do you live to make a difference? The world is full of selfish people. People that take what they want and look out for their own interests. Those of us that are Christ followers need to bring the difference. If you take your last breath and can’t see that the world is better because you were here, then your life was wasted. Be the difference in your world, however large or small your world is.