Archive | May, 2014

My Advice To Today’s Students

22 May

To some of the greatest bunch of students I have ever had the privilege of being associated with:

 

I truly mean that. You guys are awesome.  Before I became a Pastor, I was a youth minister for 14 years. I have seen all types of teenagers in all types of situations.  I have been, for the last two years, thoroughly impressed with the majority of you. You are polite, well-mannered, disciplined, and respectful. It’s an awesome thing to observe.

 

We are coming to the end of another school year.  And I am excited to have a chance to stand before you on your last official Bible class. Here is the thing: I never know how many of you are going to return and I always know that whether or not I return depends on God… and enrollment. 

So this is my last “shot” at some, if not all, of you. My last chance to pass on brilliant pearls of wisdom. Brilliant nuggets of truth from my ever active brain.  One last chance to have you drink from the wellspring that is my point of view on life in general.

And of course, one last chance to display my humility.

 

I sat and thought about what I would share with you today.

And I think I want to go to I Corinthians 10:31.

Paul says whatever you do, do it to the glory of God.

You see, the older you get, the more others feel compelled to tell you what to do with your life after you leave school.

At graduations across the country this month, there are tons of commencement addresses being given. They are different in their delivery, in their ideology, in their environment. But usually, they all have one recurring theme.

They are all basically telling the graduates to “do good”

That’s what they told us when I graduated high school. That’s’ what they told us when I graduated college.

But since that time, abortion rates rose.  Couples quit recognizing the sanctity of marriage and sexual immorality is running rampant. Gay marriage is on the rise.

So, as much as it hurts to say, my generation did not “do good”.

So, and I am not addressing this just to seniors (I am addressing it to all of you), I am not going to tell you to “do good”.

I AM going to tell you to “do better”.

And the only way to do better is to follow the principles of I Corinthians 10:31…do all to the glory of God.

In your life, do all to the glory of God.

You were created for a purpose. You are not just some random byproduct of some chemicals and you were not made on an assembly line.  According to Psalms 139, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made you unique and so that means, He created you or something. Most of all, He created you to have a relationship with Him.  It is a relationship that you cannot obtain on your own merit. Because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23… we have all many times dishonored God with our words, thought, attitude, or actions), we cannot really enjoy a friendship with a good, perfect, and Holy God.  That’s why Jesus died on the Cross. He took the penalty for our sinful, selfish attitudes and paved the way for us to be close to the Heavenly Father.

You cannot live a life that brings glory to God, unless you know the Savior.

In your life, bring glory to God by trusting Jesus.

In your attitude, bring glory to God.

Not everything is going to go your way. Many times, you will run into disappointments. Family will disappoint you. Role models will let you down. Friends will turn their back on you.

But each time, you are knocked down, get back up and forge ahead.

You do not honor God by becoming a victim and quitting. People may kick you but it is your choice of whether or not you stay down.

Your decisions are yours and whether or not you are a success or failure will be determined by the decisions you make. It doesn’t matter what part of town you are from, where you went to school, that your parents stayed together or divorced, that you were a middle or only child, or that you never got to watch Barney growing up. You have the ability to make decisions that glorify God and enable you to rise above any circumstance.

Bring glory to God by pressing on with a holy attitude.

Bring glory to God in your relationships.

Very few people make an impact on the lives of others because of how good they looked in certain clothing or what part of them wiggled as they walked down a hallway. Don’t choose your husband or wife based on shallow things such as looks. Look for that relationship with Jesus and watch to see if it is priority. Look for character. Look for ideals.  Beauty will fade.

When I was in school, there was a gorgeous girl. Every boy wanted to be with her. Three years after high school, I saw her again. She wasn’t cute anymore but she had grown…and I don’t mean taller.   Beauty will fade. Character that is grounded in Jesus Christ will not.

Finally, and I have to say this as a government teacher, take your responsibilities seriously. Vote.  Vote in a way that reflects the God you have a relationship with. Don’t vote on what is convenient or base your vote on your needs. Vote in a way that glorifies God. It will not always match up with your desires. Vote in a way that brings glory to God. We are in a mess right now because people voted image and not ideals.  Shallowness over substance.  Help turn that around by voting in a way that brings glory to God.

Remember the ending of “Saving Private Ryan?”  The whole movie centers around a squad of soldiers with the sole mission of picking up a soldier who was the last living child in his family (his other brothers had also been killed). They finally find him but he tells them that he will not leave until he finishes fighting a battle with his fellow soldiers. They stay and help him fight that battle. Ryan survives but the entire squad sent to rescue him dies.  The last living member of the squad, before he dies, looks at Ryan and says “Earn this!”

Many people have invested in you. They have given up time to teach you, to mold you, to love you; to watch you grow so that you can excel in life and experience all that it has to offer.

Don’t let their efforts be in vain.

Earn this!

Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God!

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My Latest Rant

14 May

Please quit telling me you want equal rights. Clearly you do not. If that were true, you would get a job based on your abilities and not the color of your skin. You would be allowed into a school because of your academic achievements and not because of your gender or race. You would be glorified for making the pros because of your athletic prowess and not because you are a homosexual.

Yes, I am talking about Michael Sam. I am not much of a sports person but I do applaud his athletic ability. I am excited that he has made the pros. But my excitement has nothing to do with his choice to be a homosexual. It is because he went up against many others and against all odds, won the day. That deserves accolades from anyone.

Yet Tim Tebow is dogged by the media because of his spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. The long and the short of most of the complaints comes down to the idea that religion has no place in football. If he wants to be a Christian, his detractors say that he should keep that to himself.

But apparently, your sexuality is not a sacred. Apparently, it could be brought out for the whole world to see and worn like a banner. Be loud! Be proud! Just not about your faith. Not about your conservative lifestyle. You do not dare talk about that.

On second thought, maybe there should be more screaming for equal rights! I should be able to stand firm in the fact that I am a heterosexual and even be applauded for it. There should be media outlets scrambling to talk about the fact that I have been faithful to one woman for a number of years.

Newscasters and TV comedians should be blackballed because they joke about right wing Christians. Do they not realize that we are people too? Is it fair that we get called out because we feel we had no choice but to follow our Savior and our belief system?

Of course, none of that is happening. Comedians make fun of Christians on a daily basis. Newscaster’s take little barbs at people who are standing in their faith. Beauty pageant contestants are made fun of because of the stance they take for heterosexual marriage.

But we are not allowed to scream “foul!” We are not allowed to protest what we feel is an injustice toward us.

Because equal treatment is not what is really desired. It is time to quit denying it. Ultimately, there is a war going against the Christian right. They worry that we will eventually win. It will just take some time.

Monica? Really?

6 May

Monica Lewinsky has a story to tell. But now might not be the time to do it.

Monica Lewinsky is now 40 years old.  It has been 17 years since her affair with Bill Clinton, who at that time was President of the United States.

Surely, anyone who was at least a teenager during that time remembers that scandal.  Monica was a White House intern who dropped some not-so-subtle sexual  flirtations the President’s way.  He was already rumored to be a womanizer and  he did nothing to squelch those rumors by having his little tryst with Ms. Lewinsky.   It led to an impeachment and to a erosion of trust in our country’s leadership.

But it’s over. Clinton is no longer in office.  The scandal is scarcely mentioned.  Monica has been out of the limelight for some time.  And it appears she misses being a household name.That’s the only conclusion to which one can arrive when most recent news outlets are informing the public that Monica is publishing an article in the upcoming  issue of “Vanity Fair” magazine.

Monica’s article is all about the events of that time from her side of the scandal.   According to some news accounts,  the article will recall the humiliation she suffered during that time. It will also accuse the Clinton administration of making her the fall guy in the whole situation.   It could be very uncomfortable for Hillary Clinton, who is said to be gearing up for a 2016 Presidential run.

Lewinsky writes in the article that she was “branded” by special prosecutor Ken Starr, politicians from both parties, and the media.  She says the attempt to label her was successful because of the power players behind the effort.

One thing that Lewinsky will not due is dodge responsibility. She writes in the article that the whole liaison between her and Bill Clinton was consensual.  She does say that he took advantage of her in his position as her  employer, but says she will always be firm in maintaining that he affair was by mutual agreement.  The problem, according to Lewinsky, was not in the actual affair but in the aftermath in she felt she was being used as a scapegoat in such a way as to protect the President’s reputation.  She says she feels nothing but regret for what happened between her and Clinton during that time.

Why was she silent all these years?  Many in the world of gossip have claimed that she was paid off by others to keep quiet but Lewinsky says that is a lie.  She says her reasons for coming forward now is in an effort to help victims of online harassment and humiliation. She says she wants to speak out on this issue in public forums.

The reputation that Lewinsky gained as a result of her affair with Clinton has hurt her efforts to get ahead in the employment world.  Too many times, she has either been turned down because of her reputation or was strung along for a period of time from some companies who wanted to gain attention from the media.

Lewinsky also admits to entertaining suicidal thoughts during the peak of the scandal but never actually attempted anything. She says she finally stepped forward to talk about those infamous events that were brought to light during Clinton’s second term because of the fate of a young man named Tyler Clementi.  Clementi, 18, committed suicide recently after a video of him kissing another male was made public online.

One can appreciate the efforts to help others. One can appreciate the idea of using a horrible event that forever altered their life to enrich the lives of others. Nobody should have a problem with that.  But that is not the only issue at stake here. What seems to be more of a motivation is Monica’s desire to get back into the spotlight.  There are other ways to do so.

Consider Donna Rice. She was involved in an affair in 1988 with Gary Hart, a frontrunner for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination.  When news of the affair broke, it knocked Hart out of his winning position and eventually out of the race.

Where is she now?  She is now a 52-year-old stepmother, wife, and advocate for internet safety. After the scandal, Rice says she he returned to her faith and basically stayed away from any media spotlight for about seven years.  She met and married Jack Hughes and began her new life. Eventually, she gained a leadership position for a non-profit organization called “Enough Is Enough”. This organization has the mission of fighting against pornography and exposing such to children in both print and broadcast media.

Donna Rice Hughes could have stepped forward and been the subject of every trashy talk show in the United States. She could have written her own little “tell-all”.   But that was not the path she chose to take.  She has credibility to speak out against sexual exploitation because she herself once took part in it (at one time, she even turned down a chance to pose for “Playboy” magazine).   When she began appearing in the media again, she was recognized as the object of Hart’s affections but at that point, she had credibility.

Lewinsky does not have credibility. She has not stepped up to the plate for anything. One could argue that she is trying to do that now. But there are problems with that argument.  To begin with, she is not a victim of online harassment.  There is reason to feel sorry for Lewinsky.  She will forever be known for the events that happened all those years ago. It will be a label that always sticks. But let’s be honest. She is not a victim. She willingly entered into an affair with a man she knew was married.  She engaged in immoral activity and knew that there was not a chance of it ever turning into a “live happily ever after” situation.

Yes, the same can be said for Donna Rice Hughes. But Hughes chose a different path. She chose to put it behind her and get on with her life. She chose to re-define herself. She chose to let others know that this was part of her past. It was not her present. It would not be her future. Because of that, people are listening to Hughes.

Lewinsky’s stepping up at this time has all the earmarks of a “Hey, don’t forget me” attitude.   Her motives may be pure but her efforts don’t show that.  Stepping up to write an article (that she probably got paid a pretty penny for) just shows a longing for the limelight.  Hughes never stepped forward to talk about that event. She stepped forward to talk about other things and people recognized her.

Monica, meet Donna.  More than likely, one can learn from the other.  Lewinsky has a story to tell. But her timing seems off.