Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So This is Christmas - 2009

It's hard to believe it's Christmas already and that not only is it the end of another year, but that the end of another decade is upon us. It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating (and some panicking that all our computers would shut down) the new millennium and now we're already a decade into that new millennium. But the year's not over yet and Christmas is upon us in just a few days. Normally by this time, I'm very much in the Christmas spirit, but for some reason I'm having a hard time getting in the mood this year. Perhaps it's the stress of all I have going on at work and trying to get things wrapped up before the end of the year, or maybe it's the stress of the busyness of the season, or perhaps it's just my growing frustration with the rampant consumerism we all seem to get so obsessed with this time of year. I'm not pointing fingers on that last one. As hard as I try, I get just as caught up in it as everyone else. I miss the innocent days of Christmas as a child when there was no stress and it was just pure joy.

But it's not just at Christmas, it's throughout the year. In our obsession to always get more stuff we seem to have lost sight of what is truly important, our relationship with God and one another. Most of us relegate our relationship with our Creator to Sunday mornings, if we acknowledge Him at all, instead of living each day in communion with Him. As a result we've become self absorbed. We've lost our sense of community and what it means to really look out and care for one another. How many of us really know our neighbors? Instead of caring for the poor and needy, we're more concerned with buying the next big thing. Again, I'm as guilty as anyone and as hard as I've tried I continue to struggle with it. We've allowed our lust for more stuff to cloud the true meaning of Christmas.

However, the more I've thought about it, I've realized that this is why God sent is son, Jesus, into the world in the first place. Because when things are left up to us, we tend to screw it up pretty badly. Heck, we can't even celebrate the birth of our savior without letting sin enter into the picture. No matter what I do or how hard I try, I cannot break free from my own selfishness. I cannot do anything to make myself right with God and be the person He has called me to be. For that very reason Jesus gave up his place in Heaven to become a man in order to live among us, teach us a better way to live, and ultimately die a brutal death on a cross in order to provide a path to God that we could never walk on our own. His birth and death provide for us the hope of eternal life. And not only life after death, but our lives here and now as well. This is the beauty of Christmas that Christ, the Messiah, enters into the darkness and shatters it with light so that I am no longer a slave to my own selfishness and sin. This reality frees me to experience Christmas with the same joy I did as a child.

So while it's good to enjoy the gifts, time with family, Santa Claus, the pretty lights, parties, and Christmas trees as these are all good things God has blessed us with, Christmas is ultimately about a baby born in a stable over 2000 years ago. But not just any baby, the God of the universe lowering Himself to become a man and do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Knowing He would be despised, tortured, and killed, He came anyway, in fact for that very purpose. I admit that I can't fully grasp why God went about it the way He did, but I'm grateful that He loved me so much that He did.

Now I'm starting to get into the Christmas spirit again.

Merry Christmas and may God bless you and your family.

Dave

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 - Joy in the Journey

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since the last Thanksgiving and that Christmas is only a month away. Time seems to pass faster and faster each year. The kids seem to grow faster and faster every year as well. As I reflect back on the last year with my mind already looking forward to celebrating Christmas I'm overwhelmed with how much I have to be thankful for. God has blessed me beyond measure. It's a shame that I don't take more time throughout the year to stop and thank Him. Instead it seems I too often spend much of the time asking for more.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it causes me to stop, take a breath, and realize how much I already have. It also gives me the opportunity to look back with a little hindsight and thank God for not always giving me what I thought I so desperately needed at the time, but as it turns out would not have been the best thing. God's sovereign grace is always amazing.

With that in mind here are just a few of the things that I am thankful for in 2009:

God's mercy, forgiveness and constant presence in my life.
My beautiful wife and children who are a constant source of joy.
My family's good health and comfort in times of health problems.
The teachers, coaches, pastors, etc. that have had such a positive influence on my children.
My extended family for the support and guidance they have given over the years.
My friends for their love and support.
My church for teaching the Word of God and loving me and my family.
My job and the amazing people I work with who make going to work each day bearable.
The struggles which God has allowed me to go through that have helped me to grow as a man, husband, and father.
Finding joy in the journey.

I pray that everyone would take time this Thanksgiving to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. Even in the midst of trials and difficult situations, God is working. The journey can be difficult at times, but God is always good and if we will put our focus on Him, we will realize that we are truly blessed regardless of our circumstances.

God Bless,
Dave

Friday, October 30, 2009

Music for the Journey

As I was driving in to work today, on yet another rainy day, I was listening to a Mewithoutyou CD and a line from one of the songs really stuck with me and caused me to think a little deeper about what the artist was saying. This got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) about some of the artists whose music has influenced or impacted me in some way over the years either to think more deeply about my own beliefs, challenge me to look at things from a different perspective, or just inspired me in some way. With that in mind I thought I'd put a list together of some of those artists. You may have never heard of some of these, but I would encourage you to seek them out. I think you will find it worth the effort.

Bill Mallonee: Bill, as a part of his band, Vigilantes of Love, and as a solo artist is one of the greatest songwriters of the last 25 years in my opinion. Most of you have probably never heard of him, but his willingness to speak honestly about the dark side of the human journey while still offering the hope of God's grace has always been a great comfort in my own personal journey. Most of his songs deal with the struggles of everyday life while making much larger statements about the fallen world we live in. Favorite songs: Drunk on the Tears, Parting Shot, Numb, Welcome to Struggleville.

Bruce Cockburn: Another great songwriter and musician, Bruce never fails to challenge my thinking, especially from a political perspective. While we often come down on different sides of the political fence, he always causes me to think about issues from the other side's point of view. In some cases he has even caused me to change my perspective. Bruce's songwriting has an amazing way of describing a scene where you feel like you are there seeing things through his eyes. His music, while certainly not overtly so, has an underlying theme of faith and grace and often provides some very insightful spiritual musings. Most consider him a Christian Mystic and I would probably agree with that description. Favorite songs: Strange Waters, Lord of the Starfields, Pacing the Cage, Let the Bad Air Out, Wondering Where the Lions Are, Mango.

Over The Rhine: OTR write some of the most beautifully poetic lyrics I've ever heard, and Karen Berquist's voice is simply angelic. The sheer beauty of the music and lyrics is inspiring and I often write with their music playing in the background. Their music is full of deep insights and always leaves me thinking. Favorite songs: Latter Days, Born, Changes Come, The Trumpet Child, Ohio, Drunkards Prayer, My Love is a Fever.

Rich Mullins: Rich simply wrote some of the most amazing worship music of the last century. His songs describing the vast beauty of God's creation always pop into my head when I see the mountains or the ocean or a glorious sunset. He really had a way of putting words to my feelings and turning my eyes heavenward. Favorite Songs: The Color Green, Creed, Land of My Sojourn.

Bob Dylan: I can't make a list of songrwriters and not mention the master of them all. I know many can't stand his voice, including my wife, but his lyrics are always interesting and challenging. You may not know what he's talking about sometimes, but he always makes you want to dig deeper into the lyrics to try and understand. Maybe it's just my proclivity for unique voices (i.e. Victoria Willams, John Prine, Neil Young, Bjork, etc.) but I actually think his voice lends authenticity to his music. Listening to him as a kid is where I developed my love for folk music and good songwriting. His songs still make me think to this day and I often discover new things even in songs I've heard a hundred times. Favorite Songs: Every Grain of Sand, I Believe in You, My Back Pages, Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar, God on our Side, I Shall Be Released, Tangled Up In Blue.

Keith Green: If you're a Christian and Keith's music doesn't challenge you in your walk with God and cause you to look in the mirror, then I don't know what will. He was certainly not afraid to challenge the church and it's often lazy approach to the Christian walk. He always told it like it was without worrying about who he offended. Oh that we could all be this honest and courageous in standing up for our beliefs. Favorite songs: Asleep in the Light. ("Jesus rose from the dead, and you can't even get out of bed" - ouch!), So You Want to Go Back to Egypt, The Sheep and the Goats.

The Choir: Their music is difficult to explain, kind of a spacey, moody, alternative sound heavy on the reverb. But lyrically, they are always interesting and always make me want to dig a little deeper. I started to listen to them in college in the early 90's as I was expanding my musical horizon beyond hard rock and heavy metal and getting into more esoteric music. Sometimes the meaning of their songs is not always apparent on the first few listens. It takes a little more time for the meaning to soak in, which in my opinion is what makes them so interesting. Favorite Songs: Circle Slide, Chase the Kangaroo, About Love, Weather Girl, Wilderness, Sad Face, Yellow Skies.

Mewithoutyou: This may be one of the most unique bands I've ever listed to. I couldn't describe their music if I tried, but lyrically they are amazing. I find them to be a real divider of people, i.e. you either love them or hate them. As with The Choir, the meaning of their songs is not only seldom apparent on first listen, it's typically not apparent after multiple listens either, which is what really makes them intriguing to me. Most songs are based on ancient writings and parables from different traditions, some Christian, some not, and are always full of rich imagery and symbolism. Favorite songs: A Sweater Poorly Knit, The Angel of Death Came to David's Room, In a Market Dimly Lit, Timothy Hay, A Glass Can Only Spill What it Contains, Bullet to Binary, A Stick a Carrot and a String.

So, who are some of the artists that have influenced you or moved you in some way?

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the line that I've been dwelling on all day is, "a glass can only spill what it contains." I'll let you all mull that over on your own.

God Bless,
Dave

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not Quite 40, But Getting Closer

Well another birthday has come and gone. I turned 38 on Saturday and took another step closer to 40. As I typically do around my birthday, I like to take a little time to reflect on the last year and on my life in general and contemplate just exactly how I got to this point in the journey. This year I am again reminded of how blessed I truly am. God has given me a wonderful wife, who constantly stands by me and supports me. He has given me 3 wonderful children who are growing into outstanding young men and women. He has placed us in a growing and vibrant church that constantly challenges me in my walk with God. He has given me great friends to walk this journey with. He has blessed me with a great job that is challenging and also allows me the flexibility I desire in my schedule to be involved in my children's various activities. I could go on, but you get the point.

It's interesting the path that our lives end up taking. It's seldom the way we picture it when we're young. If you had told me in high school or even college that I would end up being an insurance broker, I would have told you that you were crazy. In fact over the last year I've been wrestling with what God has called me to do from a career standpoint and have considered other career options that are more in line with the things that I'm passionate about. One thing I've always desired is to serve God on a more "full time" basis. However, as I've prayed and thought about it, I've realized that I already serve God on a full time basis if everything I do is for His glory. Whether that's being a husband, father, insurance broker, friend, etc. I've also come to realize that pursuing those options at this point in my life would take me away from what God has truly called me to do, being an involved and loving husband and father. This realization has brought me to a place of real peace and contentment in my life and made me more aware that I really do have a great job and work with great people, something not everyone has.

I don't know what God has in store for me in the future and, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago about pursuing your dreams, I'm not abandoning the pursuit of those dreams as I believe God placed them there for a reason. I'm just allowing God to take the lead and open the doors in His time. In the end, what He has planned for us is far greater than anything we could dream up. It's so easy to become restless, but in doing so we miss what God has for us now. Instead of always worrying and thinking about what's next, I'm learning to enjoy living in each moment. I'm slowing learning to enjoy today's blessings instead of always wanting more.

To quote one of my favorite Bruce Cockburn songs: "So many miles, so many doors. Some need patience, some need force. All fall open in their own due course."

God Bless,
Dave

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama, the Great Peacemaker! Are You Kidding Me?

I hadn't intended to write a political blog this weekend, but when I woke up this morning and read that President Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I just couldn't help myself. In fact, I had been preparing my thoughts for my annual birthday blog, which I plan to write in the next day or so as I have a chance to reflect on the last year. But in the meantime, I had to comment on this news. As most of you who read this blog on a regular basis know, I'm fairly conservative in most of my viewpoints, but I don't consider myself a republican. There's just too much baggage with that label. That being said, it's probably fairly obvious that I don't agree with the majority of the President's policy positions. In fact, I strongly oppose many of them. But let me ask you to put aside your party affiliation and whether or not you like the president when answering the following question:

What in the world has President Obama accomplished in his career, either as president or prior to the election, that would earn him a Nobel Peace Prize?

The answer is very simple, NOTHING!

He was a "community organizer" before being a senator, whatever that is. He authored no significant legislation as a senator, in fact he spent most of his time campaigning. As president, his healthcare plan has met with significantly more opposition that he expected and has been a complete disaster, of which I am grateful and hope it never does pass. He was elected on the premise of getting our troops out of Iraq. We're still there and not leaving anytime soon. He promised to close Gitmo, releasing dozens of terrorists into the US prison system and granting them the same rights as US citizens. Gitmo is still open so he hasn't even come through on a bad promise. He promised to turn the economy around, however, unemployment is higher that it's been since the early 80's after President Carter ran the economy into the ground. And by the way he's won one too. He's promised to redistribute wealth, taking from the rich giving to the poor. How has that worked out so far? President Johnson promised the same thing in the 60's and guess what, we still have poverty in this country.

Oh, that's right, he did sign an executive order to allow for the release of federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries. That's a real humanitarian thing to do, fund the killing of unborn babies.

So apparently all you have to do to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is make a lot of promises, but not really accomplish anything. Since that seems to be the case...

I promise to end world hunger.
I promise to bring world peace.
I promise to make everyone wealthy.
I promise to you will always be healthy.
I promise whatever you'd like to hear so you'll elect me.

Do you suppose I'll win it next year? Oh, yeah, I forgot, I'm not the "messiah", just a lowly blogger here in the Midwest. This used to be a prestigious award, now it's just become a joke. We used to award excellence and achievement, now as long as we say the right thing we're rewarded, it doesn't really matter what we actually do. God help us.

God Bless,
Dave

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dream on...Dream until your dreams come true

Well...I've sat down to write several times lately on several different topics and have just been unable to put my thoughts together for some reason. My mind has just been too preoccupied to really focus on any one thing. I suppose it's primarily due to my busy schedule, mostly revolving around my kid's sports schedules and work related items. I really enjoy the busyness with the sports. As I've said before, one of my greatest pleasures in life is to watch my children compete in their various sports and activities. Watching them pursue their passions using the gifts God gave them (whether it be sports, dance, or anything else) puts a big ol' smile on my face. It's that pesky work thing that just keeps rearing its ugly head and getting in the way, but I digress.

Sunday night my wife and I had one of those amazing conversations with our teenager about pursing your dreams and fulfilling God's calling on your life. As with most great conversations, we didn't start out to talk about this, the conversation just sort of evolved. You see, my son (13 and in 8th grade) has a dream of playing football for the University of Missouri, or at the least a division 1 college. Most of us at his age, probably had similar aspirations. Is this a realistic dream? I have no idea. He's an excellent athlete with a great work ethic, so who knows what God has in store for him. But that's not really the point. As we were talking and discussing all the possible options he could have for college and sports, I noticed a hint of disappointment in his face as he said, " but it probably won't happen." It's that moment when you see the innocence and hopefulness of youth replaced with the realization that life doesn't always turn out the way we would like.

We both, of course, encouraged him to pursue his dreams no matter what obstacles appear in his path and to never give up on a dream. I believe that God has given him this desire for a purpose. We may not know what that purpose is yet or exactly how things will turn out, but God has placed that desire there for a reason and it could take him in many different directions. In addition, I firmly believe that the plans God has for us are far greater than anything we could imagine ourselves. It's a shame that as we grow into adulthood, we too often give up on those dreams much to easily and settle for the easier path instead of trusting God and experiencing all He has for us. If we would just trust Him and not give up, I think we would be surprised at what God will do in our lives. Now that doesn't mean that we shouldn't prepare our son for the possibility that his dream may not happen in the way he has imagined it, that would be irresponsible as parents. But at the same time, it doesn't mean that he should give up on his pursuit of that dream. It just means that he should be open to wherever God takes him along that path. As we align ourselves with God and are in communion with Him, our desires align with His and we are able to do and achieve much more than we ever imagined in the first place. It's at that point that we truly fulfill God's calling on our lives.

I think we too often as Christians get focused on just surviving this life in anticipation of heaven, when instead we should realize that this part of the journey is meant to be full of joy as well. Yes, there are struggles here that we won't have in heaven and I'm not saying we shouldn't look forward to heaven, but we should view our earthly struggles as part of the process of growing closer to God. I'm always amazed when I talk with people that have visited third world countries and they come back talking about how the Christians there have this indescribable joy in spite of their dire circumstances. These people have nothing and yet have not given up hope. I believe it's because their hope is not in themselves and their own abilities or circumstances, but in the God of the universe. My prayer for my children and for everyone is that each of us would pursue the dreams God placed in our hearts, not relying on our own strength, but on God's and in doing so discover the joy of living in communion with Him. Eternity doesn't begin when we die, it began when we were born.

God Bless.
Dave

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Thoughts From a Busy July and August

Ahh, it feels good to write again. Sorry for neglecting my blog for the last few weeks. July turned out to be busier than expected. Every time I planned to sit down and write, something else came up or I was too tired. But that's life, I suppose. Not that my schedule is going to get any lighter with school starting next week, football in full swing for my son, Fall softball starting up for my oldest daughter, and dance class starting for my youngest daughter. College and Pro football are also starting and that always occupies much of my time, much to my wife's dismay. Between my son's obsession with football, both playing and watching, and my obsession with it, she is definitely a "football widow" from August to January. Not to mention that I do actually have work responsibilities as well. I wouldn't trade the busyness for anything though. I realize that someday all my children will be grown and there won't be any more games or dance recitals. Unless, of course, they all go pro and I can retire early and just spend my time traveling around to watch them. Now that would be sweet. Probably not likely, but a dad can dream can't he?

A lot has happened since I last blogged:

My wife and I just celebrated our 16th anniversary on August 7th (Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!!). It's amazing how quickly the last 16 years have gone. As we celebrated and reflected on our lives together, I was again reminded that there truly is no-one else I would want to spend my life with. The last 16 years have been wonderful. Sure there have been the usual good times and hard times, but we've always had each other, and most importantly God, through it all. I look forward to the next 60 or so. (I know that would make me 98, but you never know, people are living longer these days and I've had many relatives that lived into their 90's.)

To switch gears a little, this whole health care issue is really starting to concern me. (You knew I couldn't stay away from politics for a whole blog). I will probably write more about this in a separate blog in the near future, but this country is about to explode and this issue seems to be the spark lighting the fuse. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, the division in this country has gone beyond debate and disagreement. There is real hatred on both sides. This is something we've not seen since the late sixties. A lot of it is probably the media blowing it out of proportion, but they do seem to be fanning the flames of the discontent that is already there. My two cents on healthcare: The system is obviously broken and in need of repair. However, I'm afraid the president's plan to fix it will only make matters worse and start us on a course from which we will not be able to reverse.

The president and his supporters want to take the country in a new direction (healthcare is just one component of the plan) and those of us that disagree with his policies are concerned that we won't recognize our country in 4 years. But instead of expressing our ideas in a reasoned manner it's turning into a name calling and shouting match, which will get us nowhere. While I believe his policies are harmful and will eventually bankrupt our country (financially and morally), I don't believe that he thinks they will. In other words, I believe that he really thinks his policies are the best course of action. Too many on the right have given in to conspiracy theories and paranoia, comparing Obama to Hitler and claiming he wants to destroy our country. This is obviously ridiculous and only makes the right look foolish. By the way, many on the left did the same thing to Bush and they looked just as foolish in my opinion. I believe most Americans are fairly moderate and lean to one side or the other. But we are allowing both parties to be hijacked and ruled by the extremists. This is a dangerous situation and the one's that will suffer the most are those of us closer to the middle. I pray that cooler heads would prevail and allow this debate to happen where both sides can be heard and a consensus reached. I know, I'm dreaming again.

Last week, my friends Dan and Rob from Speak Up Productions were in Kenya filming their documentary on world poverty, titled "Give A Damn?", when a small plane they were flying in to take aerial footage of the Kibera Slums crashed. Fortunately, Dan and Rob survived the crash. They had some serious injuries, but nothing life threatening. Unfortunately, the pilot, a local missionary, was killed in the crash. This is one of those difficult things that happen in life that are hard to understand and see the purpose in. But I do believe that God will use this tragedy somehow and in a greater way than their original vision for this project could have imagined. Please pray for them and for the pilot's family. I would also encourage you to visit their website at www.giveadamndoc.com to learn more about the project.

I've refrained from commenting on the death of Michael Jackson until now because there has just been way too much media coverage. But, as expected, all the greedy slimeballs are now coming out of the woodwork trying to claim their stake in his estate. It's really sad to see the lengths some people will to go for money. Especially those that are using his kids as a means to that money. Jackson was definitely a flawed individual with some serious issues, of which I'm sure we will never really know the full extent. And while it doesn't excuse it, let's face it he didn't exactly have a normal and happy childhood. I just hope everyone will leave his kids alone and let them grow up out of the spotlight, like he never had a chance to do. I know, again, I'm dreaming.

But enough of all the crazy stuff going on in the world. It's football season and I for one am ready. Go St. Louis Rams, Go Missouri Tigers, Go Parkway South Junior Patriots (C's team), Go Purple Sox (OK that one is S's softball team), and Go M's dance group.

God Bless.
Dave

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cornerstone Music Festival 2009

I just got back yesterday from Cornerstone. For those that don't know, Cornerstone is one of the largest Christian music and arts festivals in the US. It's a five day festival that caters to all musical styles except for mainstream pop. In other words you won't find Mercy Me or Michael W. Smith there. But you will find folk, hard rock, alternative, hardcore, punk, metal, and a lot of great independent musicians. In addition to the music there are tons of great seminars and visual art. With over 500 bands there are concerts going on all day and well into the early morning hours.

I've been going since 1990 and this year was another great festival. I was especially excited that this is the first time my entire family has gone. I took my older two children last year for the first time and they were instantly hooked, but this year my wife and youngest daughter were able to join us. I think my youngest (7 years old) was a little overwhelmed at first with all the people who look a little different than what she is used to in her suburban life (lots of tattoos, piercings, and hippies). But by the end of the week, she had settled in and hopefully was starting to understand that not all Christians have to look and think alike to be Christians.

To me this is one of the greatest things about Cornerstone. It challenges us to step outside of our usual surroundings and enter what is essentially a different culture. It reminds us that God is a lot bigger and more interesting than the box we so often put Him in. It's a great reminder that we as Christians are part of a larger community of believers that extends around the world and is comprised of people from all different backgrounds and experiences. Cornerstone is a great celebration of the unity we have as believers. It's refreshing to listen to other perspectives on Christianity and the bible. We need to step out of our comfort zone more often and allow ourselves to be challenged by God.

I was especially challenged this year by the phrase, "don't go to church, be the church." Where you see suffering, be the church. Where you see injustice, be the church. Where you see your neighbor in need, be the church. It's so easy to be a cultural Christian, but it's much more difficult to be a biblical Christian. But that is what we are called to be.

So what about the music? Well, it was tremendous. Those that know me know that I have a very eclectic taste in music. I might listen to folk one minute and punk the next. We were able to see some of our favorite bands like Family Force 5, Reliant K, Anberlin, Josh Garrels, Michael Roe, and Los Lonely Boys while also discovering some new artists like Mewithoutyou, Copeland, Photoside Cafe, Shiny Toy Guns, and Flatfoot 56. It was also fun to see the Crucified reunite after 15 years. They are one of the grandfathers of Christian thrash/punk and played a great show.

Flatfoot 56 may have been the most entertaining show. They are a punk band that incorporates a mandolin and bagpipes into their music and actually had the crowd recreate the battle of the Alamo in the mosh pit (hard to really explain, let's just say it was entertaining). And by the way I came very close to reliving my youth and actually entering the mosh pit. Then I remembered that I'm 37 and wanted to be able to walk back to my campsite afterward so I decided not to. I think my 13 year old son was disappointed I didn't, just so he could've made fun of me.

After discovering and being amazed by Josh Garrels last year (a folk singer that incorporates urban and hip-hop into his music), I was truly blown away again this year by Mewithoutyou. Not sure how to describe their music other than to say it is some of the most creative music and songwriting I've heard in a long, long time. A very special band indeed.

Well those are some of the highlights. If you ever get a chance to go, I would highly recommend it. It's a wonderful festival and if you go with an open mind, I believe God will speak to you. Can't wait till next year.

God Bless.

Dave

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Joy of Being a Parent

Being a parent is really a lot of fun sometimes. Don't get me wrong there are certainly challenges and it's definitely not easy, but it is a real joy for me to watch my children grow and learn and mature in every area of their lives. As my children are getting older, it's been exciting to watch them each discover their passions and talents and come alive as they pursue those passions. This is what every parent wishes for their child. I've been fortunate to witness this first hand in the last week with all 3 of my children.

Football camp started last week for my 13 year old son and practices continue throughout June in preparation for a tournament at the end of the month. Then it's a few weeks off before practice starts for the season. For my son, football is his life. It's what he lives for. It was so exciting to watch his face just light up on the first day of practice. Even as tired as he was after a brutally difficult practice last night in the rain, he still had a smile on his face and was ready for more. I'm very proud of his commitment and dedication. He worked very hard in the off season to get bigger, faster, and stronger and now he's seeing that hard work pay off. Good life lessons are being learned and it's opened a lot of opportunities to have conversations with him on how pursuing the passions God gave him honors God and is an act of worship. As proud as I am of his commitment, I'm even more proud of the way he carries himself. He's respectful and listens to his coaches, he's a good teammate, and he keeps his grades up in the classroom.

My 10 year old daughter played in a double header on Saturday and really played her heart out. She's played softball for a couple of years, but this is her first year of fast pitch and she absolutely loves to pitch. Watching her face light up as she prepares to take the mound or when she steps up to the plate is just a real delight for me. She goes from being this very polite, mild mannered, sweet girl to a real bulldog of a competitor when she's on the field. She gets this very intense look in her eyes once the game starts. Her skills are really starting to develop in all aspects of the game and she has so much fun playing. I have to admit that I even got a little choked up during the second game on Saturday after she had a particularly good inning on the mound. I'm also very proud of the way she carriers herself as well. She's a very mature 10 year old. Watching her doing what she loves is such a blessing for me as her dad.

We're in the process of getting my 7 year old daughter into a new dance class, which she is so excited about she can hardly stand it. She is constantly dancing around the house and just comes alive when she talks about it. But even more exciting than her passion for dance is the fact that this past Sunday, she professed her faith in Christ and took her first communion. She has been asking for the last few months about taking communion, but my wife and I wanted to have a conversation with her first to make sure she understood what it meant and believed that Christ died for her sins. My wife was able to have that conversation with her and she professed her faith and was able to celebrate communion with us. She was so excited. It's such a blessing that all 3 of my kids have accepted Christ as their savior. Watching them grow in their faith has been very exciting.

But as proud as I am as a parent, just imagine how much God delights in us when we honor Him in everything we do. When we commit every area of our life to Him is when we truly find our joy and our purpose. When we pursue the passions and the calling that God places on each of us is when we truly connect with Him on a deeper level. God gave us each different talents and calls us to use those talents in a way that honors Him, whether it's playing football, softball, dancing, working in our given professions, or being a parent. When we truly understand that our whole life is to be lived in communion with God is when we get a little glimpse of heaven.

God Bless.
Dave

Friday, May 29, 2009

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of Summer

It seems like ages since I've had a chance to update my blog. The last month of school is always extremely busy and I've been traveling quite a bit for work the last few weeks on top of it so as a result my blog has suffered. Since it's been so long since I've written anything I've decided to take inspiration from one of the greatest economists and political commentators around these days, Dr. Thomas Sowell (whose book, "A Conflict of Visions", was extremely influential on me in college), and write a series of random thoughts.

Ah, the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. My wife and I always have visions of time to relax, sit by the pool, and not have as much of a rigid schedule as we do during the school year. Then we take a look at the calendar and suddenly realize that between vacations, softball games, football practice (yes, they start practicing in June), church youth camps, etc. we are actually busier in the summer than any other time of the year. Oh well, at least it's warm and I love going to my kid's games and traveling so it's all fun.

Speaking of sports, my oldest daughter (10) moved up to fast pitch softball this year, she played slow pitch last year, and is really coming along as a pitcher. She's been working very hard on her windmill motion, which is more difficult to learn, and for me to teach, than I thought it would be. It's just not a natural throwing motion. She's such a tough competitor though, it's fun to watch her play.

Speaking of tough competitors, my 13 year old son starts football camp next week. He's been working very hard in the off season, running and lifting, and has really gotten a lot stronger and faster since last season. I can't believe how much he's grown or how much he eats. He plays cornerback and is really excited for the season to start. They start so early because they play in a tournament the last weekend in June with teams from all over the state of Missouri. It's a great trip to the University of Missouri in Columbia to play 3 games in 3 days. The boys have a lot of fun and so do the parents.

On to politics:

Let the posturing begin as we have the first Supreme Court appointment under the Obama administration. While I understand the importance of selecting good judges for the highest court in the land, did the Republicans really expect Obama to nominate a conservative? Especially since the justice that is leaving is a liberal. I believe the constitution should be interpreted strictly and that it is not a living document, but we don't know, at this point, the nominee's view. That will be answered as the process moves forward. But I'm already sick of all the personal attacks and of those calling her a racist. Let's just stick to her record and pray that the judicial committee will ask good, relevant questions to determine what kind of judge she will be.

These North Korean missile tests are really concerning me. I'm not so much afraid of an attack on the US by North Korea, but of the possibility of them selling a nuclear devise to some terrorist organization. I'm not sure of the solution, but somehow I don't think more threats of sanctions from the UN is going to have much effect. It didn't deter them during the Clinton or Bush administrations and I don't think it will work now. What's that old saying about the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

Did anyone else catch the big set up a few weeks ago from Obama? He came out and said in a recent speech that the government cannot afford all the spending programs that we currently have in place. Basically we are broke. Wait a minute, wasn't he the one that put many of those spending programs in place? Hold on to your wallets, I smell a tax increase coming next year. Do the 95% of you out there that were promised a tax cut feel like you've been hoodwinked?

Is anyone else sick of Nancy Pelosi? I mean how ridiculous is it that this women is the Speaker of the House. Even most of her fellow liberal Democrats have backed away from her lately. We all know that most politicians from both parties lie on a regular basis, but to be that blatant and change your story 4 times in a few days. I hope the people living in her district wake up at the next election.

That's enough politics, it's summer, 80 degrees and sunny outside. Let's move on to other things:

Cornerstone Music Festival is only a little over a month away and I cannot wait. It's the best Christian music festival on the planet with all different styles of music and art, catering mostly to harder music and independent artists. I've been going almost every year since 1990 and it's always a great time. Last year I went with my 2 oldest children and we had a blast. In fact my oldest daughter took her first communion there and professed her faith in Christ at a worship service with about 10,000 other hippies (yeah, even though I'm a conservative, I'm still a hippie). This year the whole family is going and the kids are very excited. It's my youngest daughters (7) first time.

I'm still amazed everyday at how God's grace meets me where I am. Even in difficult times, His mercy and grace are evident. Even in my sin or when I doubt, He continues to pursue me.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I think my age is finally catching up with me. Until recently I was still able to play basketball, run, mountain bike, hike, etc. with relatively few injuries and little soreness the next day. However, since January I've broken one finger, sprained 2 others, and sprained the same ankle twice - all playing basketball. Not to mention that it takes me a day or two to recover from 2 hours of basketball or a really intense workout.

Too many good movies out this summer, too little time to go see them all: Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, Angels and Demons, Harry Potter, Up, etc.

That's all for now. Hopefully it won't take another month to update again.

God Bless,

Dave

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Me?...A Right Wing Radical?...Who Knew?

It's been awhile since I've written about politics, but I just couldn't hold it in any more after watching the coverage of the Tax Day Tea Parties that were held around the country on Wednesday. I never realized that I was a dangerous, radical, right wing, conservative nut job, but apparently I am. At least if you believe the news media, specifically CNN and MSNBC. You see, according to their coverage of these rallies, if you believe in small government, low taxes, personal responsibility, and are pro life, you are dangerous. They don't just disagree with you, but they actually believe you are dangerous. One CNN reporter, who was supposed to be there simply reporting on the event, which was held to protest the large spending bill recently passed and proposed tax increases, even went so far as to start arguing with one of the participants about his opinions. I'm sorry, but I thought reporters were supposed to report the news, not debate those they are interviewing.

The fact that the media and many pundits lean left is certainly not news to anyone, but the hatred that they seem to have for anyone or anything even approaching the right is just bizarre. I love a good debate with someone who I disagree with, but is it really necessary to hate the other side in order to debate them. I've found that usually means they don't have much of an argument. I consider myself fairly conservative as I strongly believe in a small government, low taxes, personal responsibility, and am fiercely pro life, but I also lean to the left on some issues, i.e. the environment, social justice, gun control, and I certainly would like to see us out of Iraq. So I think I'm fairly balanced in my views, but according to the media, the latter doesn't matter because the former makes me a dangerous radical that should be silenced or at least shouted down. But aren't these the same ideas that our country was founded upon? Wasn't the original Boston Tea Party a protest against high taxes and a large intrusive government forcing its will on the colonists? Is it really that crazy of an idea that the government should leave people alone and let them keep the money they've earned?

And why is it when anyone on the left is out in the street protesting, they are applauded by the media for utilizing their right of free speech, but if you have a dissenting opinion you should be berated and accused of having dangerous ideas? What is it that they are afraid of? I also found it interesting that the president claims he was unaware that these rallies were taking place. He's either even more out of touch with the American people than I thought he was or he is afraid to admit that some people actually don't agree with him. Well Mr. President I have news for you, there are a lot of us that don't appreciate the rather large amount of debt that you just placed on us and our children and we are not going to be silent, even if your cohorts in the media try to paint us as radicals. I suppose to the British the founding fathers ideas were radical as well. If following in their footsteps and holding on to what made this country great makes me a radical, then so be it.

God Bless.
Dave

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thoughts on Easter and Good Friday, that Beautiful Scandalous Night

As I've written before, Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year as I love getting together with family and reflecting on all that God has blessed me with. I also love Christmas and the joy that seems to be in the air as we celebrate Christ's coming as a child and God dwelling among us. But there is something incredibly special about Easter. It is a much more solemn, but no less joyful, holiday for me and a time of year that causes me to meditate on the incredible sacrifice Christ made for me. I like to take time each day on the Monday through Friday before Easter to read the Easter account in each of the gospels. I find it helps me to prepare my heart for a time of reflection at our Good Friday service and then the beautiful celebration of the resurrection on Easter morning.

Adam and Eve rejected God in the Garden and we all bear the burden of that decision. Of course we do a pretty good job of rejecting God ourselves, at least I know that I do and as I look at the world around me, I'm fairly certain that I'm not alone. Without Christ's death and resurrection, we would all be lost and still wandering around in our sins with no hope of salvation because there is nothing we can do to earn it.

But my hope lies in this, that Christ came into the world because He loved me and willingly gave Himself to be brutally beaten and die a gruesome death so that I could spend eternity with Him. He took the punishment that I deserved even knowing that I would continue to sin and fight Him at every turn. Yet He chose me anyway. Certainly not because I deserved it, but simply out of His incredible mercy and truly amazing grace. I'm still blown away that the God and creator of the universe would come and go through all that for me. And not only did He die to pay my debt, but He defeated death by rising from the grave to give me the hope of eternal life in His heaven. So not only did He provide a path for me to Him, but He pursued me even in the depths of my sin, forgave me, and then welcomed me into His house. But not as a guest, as a son.

My prayer for everyone this Easter is that you would realize that God loves you that much as well. We cannot be good enough or do enough right things to get into heaven. But that is the beauty of Easter and the cross. We don't have to earn it. God's grace comes to each of us and pursues us if we are willing to turn to Him and recieve it.

May God truly bless you this Easter.

Dave

Beautiful Scandalous Night by Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong

"Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

CHORUS:
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior's side

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified"

Follow this link to watch a video for this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3HmfiVQeww

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Blessing of Children

We celebrated my youngest daughter’s 7th birthday last weekend and I was again reminded of how much a blessing children are and how much I love being a dad and hanging out with my kids. She is the youngest of 3, ages 13, 9, and 7. When I was younger, before I was married and had kids, I always assumed that someday I would have children, but I never realized how much having children changes your life and your perspective on things until my oldest was born 13 years ago. When they’re babies your entire life revolves around feeding, diapers, and lugging all kinds of baby stuff around everywhere you go (i.e. diaper bag, car seat, etc.). It’s a fun stage, but it is a lot of work. As they get older, your life still revolves around them, but there are bigger issues to deal with and it seems like you are always driving them somewhere.

However, what I’m finding as they get older is something that I guess I never thought about before I had kids or even when they were younger. But, my kids are now at an age that we can sit down and have real, sometimes deep conversations about all sorts of things. Topics like who God is and how do we as fallen and sinful people relate to the creator of the universe, politics, how movies that we’ve seen or books we’ve read affect us and finding deeper meaning in these stories are regular dinner conversation. Of course there is plenty of silliness to go around too and I’m always up for a good fart joke, which all 3 are always ready to deliver. My son had a friend over for dinner the other night and he commented on how much fun we have at the dinner table and he’s right, dinner at our house is often very entertaining.

It’s truly amazing to watch them mature and become their own person with their own very distinct personalities. The 3 of them couldn’t be more different from one another and sometimes it’s hard to imagine that they were all raised in the same house. But it’s neat to hear them express their own ideas and opinions about issues. They often amaze me with their insight.

God has truly blessed my wife and I with 3 amazing children. It’s interesting how He uses them to teach me and mold me into the person He created me to be, just as He uses my wife and I to mold them into the people He created them to be. I guess my point is that having children is more of a two way street than I ever realized. It’s not just about me being the parent (although that is an important aspect), but it’s also about being open to allow God to use them in my life as well.

God Bless.

Dave

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Wilderness of Life - Tragic Church Shooting in IL

As if I needed a reminder that there is evil in the world, Sunday at a local church a man walked in during the service, went to the front of the church, pulled out a gun, and fatally shot the pastor 4 times. Fortunately, the man was subdued by 2 men in the congregation before he could hurt anyone else. At this point there doesn't appear to be a motive. The man did not attend this church and no one had ever seen him there before. There's no apparent history between him and the pastor; he just simply, and premeditatedly, walked in with the intent to kill him. I admit, I'm having a hard time getting my head around this one. Making it hit even closer to home is the fact that I have family that attend this church. Fortunately, they were not there when it happened, but I'm sure they are devastated. I know I would be.

I fully believe that we are all born sinful and with the propensity to commit evil, all you have to do is watch the news on a regular basis to confirm this. But I also believe in the sovereignty of God, which is why I struggle with what appear to be random acts of violence like this one. I know God is in control and has a purpose for everything, but I'm struggling to find any purpose in this. Oh, I could write all kinds of theological arguments to explain it, and I do believe those arguments are true, but it doesn't really provide much comfort to those that are hurting and mourning the loss of their pastor and to those of us who watch the world continue to deteriorate.

It's interesting that the sermon my pastor preached on Sunday, while this was happening only about 25 miles away, was about how all of us go through times of being in the wilderness of life and how God is always there with us in those times. The sermon was based on the passage in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is baptized and immediately is taken into the desert for 40 days where He was tempted by Satan. As He struggled there in the wilderness, the scripture says He was comforted by angels. If there was ever a wilderness, the congregation of this church and the pastor's family are in the middle of maybe the darkest they will ever experience. What comforts me the most in these times is not the theological arguments, but remembering that God is always with us just as He was with Christ in the desert. God does not promise we will not go through suffering, in fact He clearly states that we will, however, He does promise that He will always be with us when we do. God sent His only son to earth to suffer and die for our sins so He is fully able to understand our grief. In fact, I believe His heart is broken every time He sees the evil mankind commits against our fellow man.

Could God have prevented this terrible tragedy and all the other terrible tragedies that happen every day around the world? I believe He could have, but for reasons beyond our understanding, He chose not to. In the end any explanation of why will be insufficient. The fact is evil exists and in the present time has been allowed to run its course. We are guaranteed to see it rear its ugly head again. However, we are not without hope. God has promised not only to comfort us now, but that someday Christ will return and restore and redeem all things to the way they were intended to be from the beginning. No more violence, pain, and suffering.

I'm sure the people of this congregation will go through all the emotions of anger, fear, and grief in the coming days, months, and years. All of which are appropriate. Please pray for each of them and the members of the family as they work through these emotions. Pray that God would comfort each of them and that He would use this in some way even if we never fully understand. Lord, please come back soon and rescue us from ourselves.

God Bless.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thoughts on Eternity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about eternity and what heaven will be like. I’m not really sure why and it’s not really been so much thinking about my own mortality or anything like that. It’s been more a sense of wonder and curiosity than anything morbid. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and can look back and see where life has been a struggle and realize things are not as they should be and the promise that God will restore all things gives me hope.

But also, I can look back and see glimpses of heaven in this life. Things like the close bond I have with my wife and kids, watching the sunrise over the mountains in the pure silence of nature, listening to beautiful music, etc. These are only small glimpses of what is to come and I can only imagine how much more beautiful those things will be when they are not tainted by the blackness of the fall and sin.

I play basketball with a group of guys from church every Thursday. A couple of weeks ago as I was driving home I was struck with the idea that not only are we friends now, but we will be friends throughout eternity. I realize that our bodies will only allow us to play basketball for so many years and we will eventually have to stop, but that someday we will be able to play again and share our love of sports and competition throughout eternity.

I also thought about my small group bible study at church, where my wife and I have shared so much of our lives and built relationships that have helped us grow and given us a sense of community. We’ve laughed and cried together for a lot of years, sometimes at the same time. We’ve celebrated and mourned together through all that life has thrown at us. It’s exciting to think that those relationships will continue for eternity and only grow stronger and deeper as the shackles of sin fall off.

Lately I've been able to connect with old friends through Facebook that I've not seen in a long time. It's been a lot of fun catching up with those people that have touched my life in one way or another throghout the years. Perhaps another glimpse of heaven.

Finally, I thought about my wife and kids and the joys and trials we've been through together and will continue to go through. It's comforting to know that our relationship as a family will continue into eternity and only grow stronger. I believe God put us together for an eternal purpose.

I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, but the fact that we will be able to experience the fullness of God is truly amazing and is my source of hope when life is a struggle. When I was younger I always pictured heaven as kind of a dreamlike state of mind. But the more I think about it, I think it will be more real that this life could ever be.

God Bless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Train is Bound for Glory

I'm a big movie buff and an even bigger music fan. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become especially interested in Folk/Americana music. That being said, I watched a wonderful movie last night on the early life of Woody Guthrie, called Bound for Glory (released in 1976). For those not familiar with his life, Woody grew up and spent the early part of his adult life in the "dust bowl" in Oklahoma and Texas. I won't go into too much detail, but during the Great Depression in the 30's he left Texas and hopped on a freight train headed to California with other migrant workers looking for work, along the way he found his voice as a songwriter and become an advocate for the poor working class, of which he was a part.

I was really impressed by how, once he began to gain notoriety as a musician, he stuck by his principles and refused to give in to those, including his own wife, who wanted him to tone down his message in order to make him more marketable to the general public. This ultimately cost him a regular, good paying job at a time when jobs were very hard to come by. He could have become a very rich man, but instead stayed true to his convictions and continued to speak out against the oppressive land owners and others that took advantage of the migrant workers by grossly underpaying them. He continually risked his own life to help them unionize and to provide them hope by being their voice when they had none.

As all of us born under the curse, however, he wasn't a perfect man by any means. In addition to numerous affairs, he would often take off for weeks or months at time to "ride the rails" and connect with those he was an advocate for, abandoning his wife and kids without notice and leaving them with no means of financial support.

Still, I understand the tension that he felt between pursuing his passion and being the husband, father, and provider for his family that he should have been. As the movie portrays, this was something he wrestled with as well, ultimately choosing, however, to go his own way. I found myself rooting for him to find a way to strike that balance that we all strive for, but he never could.

Despite his flaws, he did provide a voice of hope to many and was an agent of change for the oppressed in his time. It’s amazing how God uses flawed people to accomplish His purposes. (I always think of King David from the Old Testament. Talk about a flawed individual (adultery, murder, etc.) and look how he was used by God.) The movie reminded me of how easy it is to just give in and go with the flow and how difficult it can be to stand up for what you believe in and fight injustice. I pray that God would grant me the strength to do the latter, but also give me the ability to be the husband and father that He has called me to be and that I desire to be.

This journey we’re on is seldom easy. But the struggle is often what makes us better people and what God uses to help us grow. When our focus is outside of ourselves, that’s when we truly find our voice.

God Bless.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does the Freedom of Choice Act Provide a Choice to the Unborn?

So many things to write about, so little time. I wish I had the time to update this blog more often because I seem to have so much on my mind lately, but, unfortunately there just never seems to be enough time to sit down and do it. So I’m finally getting around to commenting on the executive order that President Obama tried to slip in late Friday afternoon when no one was paying attention. As everyone knows, if you want to do something in politics that you don’t really want noticed; announce it on a Friday afternoon when everyone is distracted with wrapping up the work week and preparing for the weekend.

For those that don’t know, the president signed an executive order on Friday that reverses Bush’s order to deny government funding to international organizations that provide abortion services. I believe this is just the first step in Obama’s promise to push through the Freedom of Choice act, which would take away some of the current restrictions on abortion, such as parental consent and waiting periods. For those of us who believe that life begins at conception and that all people are created in the image of God for a purpose, this is truly frightening and will set the pro-life movement back decades.

I know some will argue that it’s not clear when life begins. However, in an age where medical science is so sophisticated that we can see organs forming at just a few weeks and where we have shown that a single cell contains a person’s complete DNA, I believe it is ridiculous to argue that life begins at some later time. But even if we want to put aside the scientific evidence; if we aren’t sure when life begins shouldn’t we take the most conservative view just in case? Do we really want to take the chance that it is a child we are disposing of and not just a mass of cells?

I’m truly saddened by the fact that a society as educated as ours has allowed this to become legal. But I’m really disturbed by the fact that there are some out there that are so dogmatic about it and want to make it even easier to obtain. I truly don’t understand the pro-choice position and the anger and hatred toward those of us who believe life is a precious gift from our Creator.

Obama is not the first pro-choice president, but he is in the driver’s seat right now due to his large majority in congress and will be able to push through his agenda with ease. He made his position very clear in the campaign and his record speaks for itself. I don’t believe he is an evil person, but if he gets his wish and this bill passes, the impact on the unborn in this country may be devastating.

I know this post will piss off a lot of people, but I believe this is one of the defining issues of our time and one on which I just cannot be silent. It is critical that we take a look at where we are headed as a nation and decide if we want to live in a culture that upholds and values life or one that disposes of life in the same way we do our garbage. God help us all if we choose the latter.

God Bless.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Look Out....Government to the Rescue!

Well, for those of you who still think Obama is not a socialist at heart, I challenge you to listen to the “Only Government” speech he made last week and still try to defend that position. For those who didn’t hear it, essentially, Obama stated in a speech on the economy that only the government can fix the economic problems we are currently facing in the US. He emphasized this phrase several times throughout the speech to make his position very clear.

Really, only the government is capable of fixing this problem? So instead of relying on the foundations this country was built upon, private enterprise working in a free market, we are to believe that only our “wise and benevolent” federal government will be able to fix things. We are just mere children that couldn’t possibly understand what to do with such a complex problem. We must be taken care of and told what to do.

Have you ever actually seen how this government fixes things? Their answer is typically to throw more and more money at a problem without really looking at the root causes. I’m reminded of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Keep in mind also that these are the same people that helped get us into this mess in the first place through failed policies. Seriously, what rational person forces banks to loan money to people that cannot afford to pay it back? Then when the bank inevitably ends up in financial trouble, decides to give them money with no strings attached. This is our money mind you, not the government’s. Kind of sounds like hush money to me. “Please don’t tell anyone we strong armed you to do this, oh, and by the way here’s $700 Billion of someone else’s money for your trouble.”

I was initially encouraged when I saw who Obama selected as his economic team. It appeared as though he was moving to the center. However, after hearing this speech, I’m beginning to wonder if he was just throwing a bone to those of us in this country who are more conservative, but really plans to govern from the left. I happen to believe that what he said in this speech is what he really believes based on his record in the Senate and other speeches he has made. I suppose it’s possible that he was only stating it in this manner to appease the Left, but I have my doubts.

Only time will truly tell if he will choose to govern more from the center or to the far left. I’m hoping the team of advisors he has in place will influence him to stay in the center and keep the government out of our lives. If not, we may not recognize this country in four years.

God Bless.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is it really 2009 already? Where is my Jetson's car?

It's really hard to believe that it's the year 2009. I can remember as a kid in the late 70's thinking that the year 2000 seemed so far away, let alone the year 2009. I grew up watching movies like 2001 and TV shows like Space 1999 and the Jetsons and it seemed like that was so far in the future and that we would surely be traveling the stars and have flying cars by then. I've always wanted a flying car. While we have made some incredible technological advancements, we haven't quite made it that far yet.

I do find it interesting that throughout the thousands of years of human history, there was maybe one or two significant advancements a century, but in the last two hundred years there have been sometimes one or more a month or even week. We almost seem to be advancing at an exponential rate. But while we are advancing technologically, are we really advancing from a sociological and spiritual standpoint?

While the beginning of each year brings a new hope, I was reminded first thing this morning that we are still a fallen and sinful people who continually find new ways to hate and harm each other. As I turned the news on this morning (my first mistake) and saw the news of the bombings in Gaza, that hope was almost dashed. Here we go again, the same old story. But at the same time I was reminded that God is sovereign and has provided us a means to salvation and has promised that He would return to restore all things to the way they were intended to be from the beginning.

While God has given the human race the ability to advance technologically through the study of science, He has also given us the ability to grow spiritually by trusting in His Son and the sacrifice He made on the cross. As long as our hope is in God, we need not be discouraged. None of us know when Jesus will return, but we know God keeps His promises and therefore, no matter how bad things get, we know He has a plan and sees things from an eternal perspective rather than our limited view.

In the meantime we should enjoy the world He created and the technology He gave us the ability to create. I pray that we never lose that childhood hopefulness of the good things we dreamt about when we were young as I believe those are from God as well. Who knows, perhaps someday I'll get my flying car. You never know.

God Bless.