Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Motivation To Miss Hell

You Can Quote Me on That
“I have heard it said that two heads are better than one. Whoever said that
obviously took ‘personality’ out of the equation”

What a beautiful morning after such a dreary week...rain, rain, rain. Not the hard stuff. Although, we did occasionally get the “hard stuff”. We mostly got the gentle down pour. And when it wasn’t raining, it was still cloudy.
But this morning…wow!
I realized something about myself this week. (Self-Actualization – Abraham Maslow would be so proud of me). I was teaching my bible class, “Life of Christ”, and sharing with the class my soul shaking fear of not wanting to die. I told them that I want to “…live forever…” I also told them that I am afraid of hell and that I don’t want to go there. I also told them that hell isn’t physical torture on an earthly body, but rather unquenchable misery.
As I was sipping my fine cup of java this morning, I realized the origin of this fear.
As a youngster, my dad gave me a lot of latitude. He would let me do things on my own as long as I followed the rules. Specifically, if we went to a store, I could wonder away to section that appealed to me just as long as I “didn’t touch”, and when he was ready to leave, I was to be ready to leave.
I wasn’t too bad about it. Every once-in-awhile I would get the message “I’m gonna’ leave you!” I would very quickly put down what I was doing and make a dash for my dad. You see my dad meant what he said.
One day I was with my dad at a K-Mart® more than 4 miles from home. I must have been about 9 or 10 years old. He went there to get parts for his truck so he could tune it up and change the oil and filters. That was boring to me. So, I headed of a few isles over to the toy section. Not a problem. I saw my dad make a move for the front of the store. I was right behind him. He then got in line behind 5 or 6 people that had a lot of stuff. It was the only cash register open. I stood there for what seemed like a whole hour bored out of my mind. It was probably 10 seconds. That’s when I noticed my second favorite place in the store…the comic book section. So while dad was waiting in line, I thought I would catch up on Spiderman (my favorite) and batman.
It was a great spot! From where I was, I could see my dad and the front doors. I was right at a good spot with Spidey and Doc Oc when I heard my dad’s voice say “I’m Leaving”. I know I responded verbally but I didn’t even look up. I had to finish this! I figured I was a couple a seconds behind my dad. It was probably more like 10 minutes. I have a terrible reality of time. I darted for the door. I went to where my dad parked…he was gone. I got left behind.
I cannot begin to tell you about the anguish I felt. I can’t describe it. I lost my security. I lost my dad’s favor. I would eventually have to deal with his wrath and judgment.
I began to walk home. I watched at every turn, every corner to see if he would be there. He wasn’t. This wasn’t an idle threat. This was for real!
I began to think of what he was going to say, what my punishment was going to be when I got home. That was as bad as being left behind. I cried…a lot.
I thank God for this experience.
The anguish I felt as a child felt like an eternity. It took me an hour and a half to walk home. Friend, that was just a little taste of what hell will be like. With hell, there is no second chance. There is no tomorrow. Hell is an eternity of anguish with no chance for change.
I never want to experience that emotion again. I am motivated to make heave my home at all cost.Heaven – Don’t Miss It!

Friday, September 28, 2007

The True Teacher

I participated in a Thanksgiving Ecumenical service once. What an eye opener. It was held at one of the two local Lutheran Churches in Port Clinton, Ohio. As I recalled both United Methodist pastors were present. A Presbyterian, Episcopal, Assembly of God, Nazarene, and a Wesleyan (that was me) pastor was also present. It was my job to disburse the element of the “bread” for Holy Communion. As I was taught by my mentoring pastor, I gave the “Word” while giving the bread.
So, if you can imagine, I had a flat disc about the size of a dessert saucer in my hands. People would pass by my station and tear off a piece of unleavened bread for themselves and then move on to the “wine” station. As each person would tear off their portion of the bread from the disc, I would quote scripture from “The Passion” referring to the bread or some other New Testament bread reference.
I could begin to tell who was from what denomination by the way they responded to me. The Catholics and Episcopalians in the crowd would tear off the bread and hold it carefully in two hands. As I would begin to quote scripture, they would bow their heads and wait until I had finished before placing the sacrament in their mouth and moving to the next station.
The Lutherans and the Presbyterians would tear off the bread, carefully hold it in two hands, gaze at me while I quoted the Word, partake, and then move to the next station.
The United Methodists would tear off the bread, place it in two hands and while I would be speaking reverently bow their heads and partake of the sacrament and continue on to the next station.
All the other “Protestants” would tear of their bread with one hand place it in their mouth and continue on as if I wasn’t speaking at all.
Now just so that you understand me, I don’t think their behavior rude, or sacrilegious. I had just never seen different denominations practice Holy Communion side by side before, and I learned something.
Each group “performed” as they had been taught. So, what I saw like it or not, was a reflection of what denominations taught their people. Some of my own parishioners were there. They behaved as the rest of the “Protestants” behaved.
Now, if you think
this is about Holy Communion and the way people handle the sacraments, you are thinking way to small! This is about ministers and their teaching. If we teach the “sacredness” of the Holy Communion elements, people will understand the sacredness of the elements. If we teach the value of prayer, people will pray. If we teach the blessedness of giving, people will give. I believe that if we teach the necessity of Holy Living, people will seek to live a Holy Life.
Therefore, I believe that people are kept in the bondage of sin because ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ are not unified in declaring the requirement of a holy, sanctified life.

Am I wrong?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our Nature vs. Our Sin

Welcome to the porch! What a beautiful morning here on the edge of the Great North Woods. As I stepped out on the porch I was greeted with some rather chilly air, 38 degrees according to the thermometer… WOW!
I have discovered that my sons are very quickly becoming coffee bums. This is troubling to me. I have some very nice beans that have come my way via God’s blessings and they (son # 1, 2, & 3) are being wasteful with them. This is an atrocity! You must understand…me and coffee go way back.
I made a whole pot (12 cups) for them. It was an exotic Arabic bean, Irish Cream mixed with fresh ground, roasted, imported Costa Rica blend. It was nice. I had a cup and left the rest to the 3 amigos.
I went to my office and put on 6 cups of Folgers® lite. Vigorously I worked. When I stopped to get me some brain juice, I discovered that they hadn’t finished what I had made for them and the little locust flew over to my office and consumed all my coffee!

Ain’t nothin’ sacred no more...Coffee Bums!

I realize this is just human nature. I will teach them and they will come to be true coffee aficionados. It’s that human nature that bothers me.
I have stumbled upon another characteristic in human nature that really bothers me. It seems to be prevalent here in my location. So, maybe you don’t see this where you are. It is the personality that seeks the information that they want to hear. This can appear in all kinds personal issues such as marriage, parenting, legal, and financial advice etc.
The one in particular that breaks my heart is “living in sin”.
In my area, (probably not yours) I constantly deal with people who practice sin, live in sin, confess the sin, but won’t remove themselves from the sin. They will tell you that they are believers, followers of Jesus Christ. And since they are believers their salvation is secure. Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect and knows that we sin everyday in word thought and deed.
At this point, I could branch off into a doctrinal dissertation in an attempt to disprove such a statement. But I would rather look at the origin from which the thought originates. I don’t think you can deny that it comes from the heart… a heart that is influenced by a human nature…a nature that seeks an easy way and rejects personal responsibility. This kind of nature would rather believe a lie than deal with their personal sin.
So, because of their heart nature, I know people who will jump from church to church until they find a minister or priest that will tell them what they want to hear, a minister or priest that will affirm their belief that they will sin everyday in word thought and deed.
So, I have two questions that I hope to hear some discussion:

(1) Why does human nature cause people ( I believe the “majority”) to chase after ideologies that keep them in sin instead of truth that will set them free?

(2) Negating false teachers, why would men, who seek the truth, teach such things that keep people in the bondage of sin?

Please take time to respond. I would to hear your thoughts and share your comments.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lazy Parents

There was a beautiful sunrise in Central Wisconsin this morning. Last night was absolutely beautiful too! We (my wife and I) had a campfire under the stars. You should have been there. Build a fire pit in your backyard and burn a little wood. It’s great therapy!

For years on Cincinnati radio I heard a man do commentary. Today, I would like to borrow his format.
You know what makes me sick! You know what makes me so angry that I could sew somebody’s seat to a padded pew and preach a bad sermon…perpetually! I’ll tell ya’! It’s these mambee pambee, wimpy, lazy parents that have kids but won’t be a parent. You know the ones I’m talking about. People who send their kids away to school for 8 hours a day and then when their kid comes home, they still totally ignore them, people who dread the weekends because there’s no school to send their kid away to. If you’re feeling like this, then I’m talking to YOU.
I could talk hours about parents not being parents just by sending your kid to a public school. But I’ll leave that alone for the time being. When I look at my little town, there are only a handful of parents that know where their kid is when they get off the bus. By dark, the children start disappearing into their homes. I know that this phenomenon happens only because the kids are hungry. I bet if I fed them they wouldn’t go home until they needed a place to sleep. I’m talking about elementary level kids. The teens are worse. I see them jumping in and out of cars, speeding through town, guys and gals doing vulgar suggestive things that I wouldn’t do with my wife in public. The funny thing is they aren’t old enough to know why they do it. They just saw someone else have the same actions on TV. With cigarettes in hand and profanities rolling off the tongue, these kids believe they are all grown up. Why, because there ain’t a parent in sight.
Kids are taught young to learn from what they see. So, as a baby sitter, they are put in front of the TV with a bottle and 150 channels. Thousands of hours later parents think it’s a sign of intelligence that their 4 year old knows how to use the remote and can play a video tape or DVD. Parents laugh when their 5 year old repeats a profane word. After they start school, parents have no idea kids are comparing what each can get by with, and thus starts the game. Within a couple of years, parents start taking the attitude “…I can hardly wait ‘til school starts…” so they can get rid of their kid for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. By the time the kid is a teenager (13) the parents really don’t care where they are or what they are doing because the parents are to busy while making money to buy a boat, to short-sighted while rediscovering their marriage, or to self-centered to think of anyone else while their going through their divorce. Here me loud and clear: THE PROBLEM IS PARENTS AREN’T BEING PARENTS!

Just because you can make a baby doesn’t make you a parent. Do you realize how better off our country would be if parenting skills improved? So, if you think babies are cute, then go and visit the nursery of your local hospital. Have vasectomies, tubaligations or use proper birth control. Don’t make babies. That way you don’t suck up the resources that are needed by the people who really parent their children, and the children themselves.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Vow

As I sit here typing this morning, the fragrance of fresh brewed coffee is wafting through my nostrils. I’ve wrapped my hands around the cup several times and sipped. It’s a foggy morning as I stare off the front porch and out into the mist. I suppose the wolf man might be out there somewhere. But on a more serious note, I am here. It is a quiet morning after a very busy week. It is refreshing, and soothing to just sit here with cup in hand. I really don’t want to pen anything down… just take in the serenity. Nevertheless, I made a vow to myself. I vowed that I would take this time (and it has been a fight) and faithfully write once a week. There are weeks I absolutely can’t. Just take a look in the “Archives” and you’ll know that’s true. Even in the weeks I do write it is a fight. The fight comes in many different forms. Sometimes, I am tired. Sometimes, I am lazy. Sometimes, I have other work that has to take priority. Sometimes, my heart isn’t in it. Sometimes, I just don’t feel good. Sometimes, my motivation is gone. Who wants to get up at 6 a.m. on Friday and/or Saturday to write an article that you don’t get paid for?
But, I made a vow to myself. I vowed that I would write. I vowed that I would write in a forum that would cause me to publish quality. I vowed that I would do it faithfully. I have no one else to hold my feet to the fire about this vow but myself. There is no one looking over my shoulder to see if I am writing. There is no one to watch and see if I am doing my homework, researching my thoughts, or just reading to expand horizons. It is I… myself… and me to see that this writing gets done and thus fulfill my vow.
Now, you may ask, “What’s the point?” I am surrounded by people who make vows, and have no intention of honoring them, or at the very least have not considered the cost of honoring them. I discovered this phenomenon when I started my ministry. People would “vow” to be in church on Sunday when I would ask them to come. They wouldn’t show up. I finally quit asking because I realized that I was setting them up to lie. I don’t think the modern era understands the vow “…’til death do us part.” I believe they comprehend the words. I don’t believe they intend to keep the vow. I mean isn’t it a little crazy to suggest that no matter what…you stay married. C’mon that’s what divorce is for…right!?
Then, I think of who the vow is made to. People are counting on me to keep my vow to them…aren’t they? People want the assurance of my vow… don’t they? When I don’t keep a vow what does that say about me? I guess that’s why we have contracts. We now put our agreements in writing so that when one party breaks the agreement the other party can collect damages. Contracts are in every part of our society. Now, I’m not saying contracts are a bad thing. But, instead of the integrity of a vow, when you enter a relationship, make out a contract. That way, a person doesn’t have to have the personal integrity, stamina, or character required to honor a vow. One party can choose to “buy out” the other’s contract and end the relationship. If one party doesn’t hold up their end of a contract the other party has the right to end the relationship and seek to collect for damages. Finally, both parties can just simply agree that the relationship is mutually bad and dissolve the contract. The possibilities are provided for in the contract because it is anticipated that someone somewhere will not keep the terms agreed upon. That’s what a contract is for.
To quote Webster, a vow means, “…a grave, important and serious promise.”
A good teaching of this comes from the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears A Who. I read this years ago, and I have never forgotten this little ditty to this day.
“I meant what I said
And I said what I meant.
An elephant’s faithfulness
One hundred percent.”
Here in lies the nature of a vow. No one can make a vow for you. You have to make it yourself. No one can make you keep a vow. You have to keep it yourself. It says a lot about a person who can keep their vows.
How ya’ doin’ in that department?
On the lighter side, I’ll ask you about your vows… but I won’t ask about your diet

Friday, March 16, 2007

Daddy…Love Mommy

Just the other day I had the neatest experience. It was about 7a.m. on a school morning. I was sitting in the dark, in the bathroom having a quiet moment. Now don’t get red in the face. I am not being crude. I was really just sitting in the bathroom in the dark. To be precise, I was sitting on the edge of the bathtub. The rest of the house was waking and stirring and no one knew where I was. That is until my 4 year old woke up. I could hear her meandering around the house. Her sounds dissipated into the kitchen and I knew she was with her mother. My mind was able to drift back off to the place it was before. I’m not sure how long it was before the door slowly swung open and her beaming face poked in to find me. I put her on my lap and we did the traditional “Good Morning” hugs and kisses. Then she promptly slid off my lap, grabbed my fore finger in each hand and began to pull. I thought she was playing with me at first so I kinda’ put her off. She grabbed my fingers and started pulling again.
“C’mon Dad!” she said emphatically.
Getting the message, I let her pull me out of hiding, thru the dining room and into the kitchen where my wife was making breakfast.
My little girl pulled me over next to my wife and demanded, “Daddy…love Mommy!”
I obliged her. I wrapped my arms around my wife, nuzzled her neck and kissed her.
“How’s that”? I asked.
“Do it again!” was the reply
This time my wife wheeled around and gave me a more passionate kiss. My twin boys entered the kitchen hiding their eyes. My 16 year old passed by and muttered something about “…get a room…” With her heart satisfied, my little girl left the room to move on with her day.
My wife and I have always displayed our affection in front of our children. We have also lavished our affection on them. To this day, we hug, embrace, kiss and tell each other “I love you” before we say “…goodnight”. We say “I love you” when we leave each other. I can’t imagine life any other way. And I have always wanted my boys to know that I love their mother. I have tried to show it with my words, actions and affections.
I do this so that it will be common for them to show affection to their wives. I do this so that they can cultivate a relationship with their wives that will be strong and not end in divorce. I do this for my grandchildren who aren’t even born yet. I do this for my wife, so that she will feel loved and know that I am not ashamed of her. I do this to honor her in front of my children. And yes, I do this for me. I love loving her. I am proud that she is my wife.
I don’t know what was going on in my 4 year old’s mind, but it was obvious that her day wasn’t going to start until she saw daddy loving mommy. I have to admit, it is a great way to start the day! As great and as important as all that is….for all the same reasons….I want them to catch me loving God.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cell Phones…

I had a cell phone once. I eventually got rid of it. Now I know that there are those of you who have a cell phone for good reasons. So did I. I was the owner of a painting/finishing company. I needed to be in touch with my general contractors and suppliers and customers. What a great invention! A phone that went with you every where you went. No matter what I was doing anyone could reach me at anytime. Think how fantastic that it is!
With that in mind, one day I went to work by myself. I was hoisted 60 feet in the air in a lift bucket. My phone was down on the ground so as not to get paint all over it. It was bid day. That means I had submitted bids on contracts and I was waiting to hear from contractors to see if I was awarded any of the bids that could be worth up to $16,000.00 for my business.
So, there I was, 60 feet in the air, painting the side of a building, when I heard that digital tone which informed me that I had a phone call. I put down my painting equipment. I maneuvered the hydraulics as quickly as I could to reach the ground. I jumped out of the bucket and ran over to the phone. As soon as I picked it up, it quit ringing. I checked the answering service, no message. I took the phone with me and got a drink of water. Surely, whoever it was would call back. I took the time to go to the bathroom, and get another drink.... no call back. I must have killed a good 15 minutes. Who was it that called and what did they want?
I set the phone closer. I climbed back in the bucket, hoisted myself 60 feet back into the air and began to work. Within 20 minutes, the digital tone went off again. Again, I diligently placed my painting equipment so it wouldn’t dry out or fall. Again, I maneuvered the bucket (as quickly as I could) to the ground. I jumped out of the bucket and dashed to the phone. This time it quit ringing before I picked it up…no message either. I looked around. Was somebody playing a game with me? If they were, it wasn’t funny!
This time, I found an old rag, wrapped up the cell phone and took it with me 60 feet into the air. I had no more than started painting when the phone rang. I snatched it out of the cloth and answered with a frustrated, almost mean "hello!"
It was my wife calling me to ask if I had heard from any of the bids I submitted. That was the last call that I received that day.

That was a frustrating day that I have never forgotten.

P.S. – I lost a $12,000.00 bid because I didn’t get to the phone.

Monday, February 26, 2007

In My Humble Opinion….

I’m opinionated. There, I admitted it. I’ve taken my first step to recovery. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I am opinionated. I mean what else would make a graying, middle-aged man publish on the Internet? I’m certainly not making any money at this. I would suppose that I am exhibiting a certain amount of arrogance. (Ha! another step to recovery). Arrogance is what makes me think that my opinion is important enough to publish. My opinion is important enough for you to read.
So I write to the masses to get my opinion heard. Can you hear me?


Hopes are dashed. Hearts are crushed. Dreams are shattered. I’ve been at this a little while now. I would have hoped to have an audience larger than my perish. I believe that I will be successful at whatever I put my hands to. I am a good writer. My blogs are thought provoking. I am accomplishing what I have set out to do. So I write to be heard. Can you hear me?


Hopes are dashed. Hearts are crushed. Dreams are shattered. I narrow my audience focus. I advertise to my colleges. I seek their approval and even there help in getting out the word about my blog. More great things hit my mind. I write more frantically. I interview people I know who write and are published. I practice what they tell me. I continue to write to be heard.

[Still silence]

Hopes are dashed. Hearts are crushed. Dreams are shattered. I pick up the pieces one more time. I am told to continue to "hone my craft". I am not sure how to shape my opinion. My opinion is who I am. It is the essence of me. My life, my loves my character, my past and the way I think make up my opinion. I believe I have a good perspective on things (arrogance). I want to get it out there. I want to be a success! I even attend writer’s workshops to improve my writing skills! I write so I can be heard.

[More silence]

Lord…I do this so I can get out what is inside. I want to reach many so that I can be a success for you. I have tried to improve. I have worked hard. I have written what you have put inside of me. I have failed. I dreamed of having hundreds of thousands of people reading what comes from my heart. Then I got realistic and aimed for thousands of people in my audience of readers. For a while I even hoped for a few hundred, but I have failed. It appears that only a few are interested. I am not generating any success, which I am told is a product of quality and blessing. I just wanted to do something great for you. When people of the world enquire about my doings, they laugh at the scale of it. I go to my denominational functions and answer my supervisors’ queries that ask about "how many". I am embarrassed at my answers. I can’t seem to generate an audience.

[Still silence]

Lord…since this is what I feel you want, I will keep on trying.

[A still small voice says]
Now, that’s success! Well done!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Good Morning! I hope the weather is warm where you are. It is cold here. Somewhere around 5 below zero…I think. I came at 5 a.m. this morning to see if I could accomplish something. Today will be a long day. For the past 4 years I have volunteered my time as a basketball official to referee elementary school games on Saturday. A big tournament will start today. I have 6 games to ref. What is really cool is that my son wants try his hand at it. So, today I am breaking in a new official. I hope the parents and I have the patience for it today. I think he will do all right. It’s all 5th grade today.
As I left the house and came to the "Front Porch" this morning I noticed something beautiful. A make shift path had been made by a snowblower through the yard to the church (where my computer is). With a half moon brilliantly reflecting off the snow, a beam of light shimmered down the path. It seemed to speak, "…come this way."
Then, I thought of the poem by Robert Frost, Road Less Traveled. I have often thought about the road of life that the Lord has led me down. Others have come this way. I see the trail that they have left for me. A few times the Lord has led me off the path and into "uncharted" territories. A few times I got off the path myself and just plain ole’ "got lost".
But the road I have chosen, the one my Savior invited me on, has been good. I have enjoyed the road…for the most part. I am not sure how I got here. I don’t know where it leads. I have not a clue where or when it will end. But this I do know, I have wonderful companions to go with me along the journey and by what I have seen and what I have done along the way, has made me who I am.
Enjoy the poem and reflect on the road you have chosen.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cheer For A Winner!

Before I say anything else…. YEAH COLTS!
Now that I got that out of my system, I think I can move on.
Really, even though it is cold outside, there is internal warmth on the porch because my team won,...well, not my team. I don’t own the Colts. Nevertheless, they were the team that I was pulling for. And when they won, it was like I won, but I didn’t.
I got to thinkin’ about that. "How come I feel so good about an achievement that I didn't have anything to do with?" I didn’t practice with the Colts…that would be painful. I didn’t sponsor them by buying their franchise stuff…that too would be painful. Basically, I have just cheered for them from a long ways away. So far away, that the Colts couldn’t hear me and it wouldn’t make a difference to them anyway.
I think I know where the satisfaction comes from. It may sound strange, but I think it has to do with success…yeah success! Let me speak of myself and if you can identify with me… then great!
I want to be a success. I want to make it to the top. I want to achieve. (I don’t think you’re any different than me.) So, I strive with the resources that I have to be a success. I use the financial resources available to me to be a success. I prioritize my time to be a success. I position myself to be a success.
Now realistically how successful am I going to be in a little town of 400 in the middle of "Nowhere", Wisconsin with the little amount of financial equity I have available to me and an even smaller amount of talent? I am a realist. I will not be successful. That’s just the way it is. Then, when an entity that you cheer for "makes it". When they become champions and win the big one, I get a sense of satisfaction. Satisfied that someone I cheered for became a success. It makes me feel like I became the success.
You know, we need to learn to do this in our Churches. When another Church wins a "big game", and they become a "success". We, …oops, I mean I need to learn how to feel satisfied in their success. Maybe it would help if I started to cheer for them and make them "my team" instead of my opponent.
Unfortunately, we can’t all be "successes". But we can all find satisfaction in cheering for a winner and celebrating them when they win the "big one".
You know, I heard about a brand new Baptist church (east of here) that was started 3 years ago and they already have over 100 people worshiping on Sundays and have a new building…go team!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Priority vs. Passion

I like cold weather. Really, I do. I’m built for it. I have the extra insulation needed… kinda’ like a polar bear. I also produce a lot of internal heat. My wife calls me a furnace. I have a tendency (when outside) to be comfortable in less clothing than the average seems. If there is a lack of snow and ice, I enjoy being outside on a cold crisp winter day.
But I have to confess that I believe ice fishing to be on the brink of insanity. What compels a person to have to go out on a frozen lake, drill and chip through ice, then sit with the patience of Job on top of 20 degrees (or colder) just to catch a fish! You may say, "well, I love to fish." And that’s ok. You go right ahead. I’ll catch up with you in a couple of months when it hits 60 degrees outside.
My son (God love ‘em) got up at the crack of dawn today to go ice fishing. So, like a good Dad, I got up with him to make sure he had something for breakfast. I made him a thermos of his favorite coffee (Irish Cream). I got him all fixed up in the appropriate apparel to go out on the ice by sunrise and sent him out the door with his friends. Of course, I did not go because I needed to be on the "Front Porch" this morning…and I think it totally crazy to fish…on ice…at 7 am!
I was working on something totally different than this for today. But from the time I started (8 am) until now I have had 11 phone calls and 6 visitors to my office. What usually takes me two hours from start to publish has taken me 5 hours just to this point of writing.
I am ambiguous about my interruptions. They are my job. I enjoy my work as a pastor. A couple of the interruptions were my family. I love my wife and kids. I want them to have access to me anytime. But I have this writing I want to accomplish. I have things I want to do musically, but I can’t take time to practice. I have educational goals I want to fulfill, but I can’t take the time to sit in a classroom. I have 3 ideas for novels, but I can’t even begin to start because my commitments won’t allow it.
What do you do when time needed for life’s commitments leaves no time for personal passions?
With all conviction, I am sure that my time given to my 16-year-old son in my office this morning was more important than this blog. I am sure that my time spent with my 12-year-old son in my office this morning was more important than this blog. I am sure that the two students, two parents and other who contacted me this morning are more important than this blog! So, what’s the answer? I am convicted in my heart that that I must perform the duties that God has asked of me. I must be a father. I must be a pastor. But what about the passions that God gave me? If he gave me the passions, wouldn’t he want me to pursue them? As you (the reader of this blog) already know, there is no easy answer to this question.
As I conclude my long moment on the "Front Porch" this week, I admit that I am writing with an ambiguous frustration. I reckon I’ll just have to change the time I start writing, maybe get up earlier.
Man! I hate that idea worse than ice fishing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Human Nature

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of man. For many of you reading this, we are on the same page when I say "human nature". But when it comes to "sin nature", well, that’s a different story.
I understand to talk about man’s sin nature means an acceptance of God Almighty, and that He created Adam and Eve. I also understand that it means an acceptance of the notion that Adam did wrong and that he genetically passed that DNA along to all his descendants… that is you and me.
Now before you tune me out let’s play with this idea for just a minute. You see, to talk about "human nature" from a Christian perspective, means you have to acknowledge a creator who made us with desires. Stay with me here. God created man with the desire to eat and drink. God created man with the desire for sex. It is natural for young men and women to desire sex just like eating and drinking. It is a God given desire!
Now, let’s bring sin into the picture. When human nature becomes polluted with sin, it is awful. It takes the beautiful desires God has given to us, and perverts them. Eating becomes gluttony or anorexia, drinking becomes alcoholism and sexuality becomes… well you name it… from prostitution to wife swapping.
These are just three easy and obvious areas of life that can be pointed out. The area that is troubling me the most these days is the part of "human nature" that wants to hear good news. I hate negative news. You hate negative news. Especially that piece of information that points out my mistakes. Worse yet is that piece of information that makes me wrong.
I hate being wrong. I hate being told that I am doing wrong. I hate being told that what I believe is wrong. I believe it is a God given desire to want to be right. It is a great feeling to be right, to get the right answers, to do right, to believe right, to know your right!
O.K…. now tag that part of human nature with sin. What do you get? You get people who would change the truth to be right. You see, in the quest to be right, truth is a measuring stick by which all are measured. Sin nature says, "If you don’t measure up to truth, then change the truth to measure up to you."
But truth, God’s truth, is a measuring stick that is made of petrified timber. It is an unchanging standard of measurement. No matter what a person does to try and change it, the truth, God’s truth, is still the same. I have seen people try to ignore it, rationalize it, change the way to use it, or people who just plain old don’t believe it.
I want you to know that I am speaking of people who call themselves "believers" of the truth. This is the cause of my distress. How can you call yourself a believer and not accept the truth, God’s truth. The answer to that question is found in a human nature that is tainted with sin.