Monday, August 14, 2017

The Battle is Over

I’ve spent the last two weeks writing about the feud between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson; today I want to write about the battle that propelled General Jackson into the national political spotlight: The Battle of New Orleans.

During the War of 1812 the British invaded America and used the Native Americans to fight against their former colonists. While constantly being outnumbered and underfunded, Jackson’s heroics at war rallied his ragtag troops, allowing him to win several key victories. The final, and most popular, of these victories came in New Orleans, where Jackson’s men won a shocking campaign. In the end, 13 Americans were killed and another 39 were wounded; the British casualties were more severe, with 291 killed, 1,262 wounded, and 484 missing or captured. Every one of those lives was lost in vain, for unbeknownst to anyone on the battlefield, the Treaty of Ghent had already been signed, and the war was technically over.

It’s a shame when people fight after the battle has already been won. There is no more victory left to fight for. It is like beating the proverbial dead horse.

That story reminds me of the chorus of a song by MercyMe:

What if I were the one to tell you that the fights already been won?
I think your day is about to get better.
What if I were the one to tell you that the works already been done?
That’s not good news, it’s the best news ever.

Jesus won the ultimate victory at Calvary; He defeated the power of sin and death, and signed Satan’s death warrant. Yet many people today feel like they need to keep fighting to earn their place in heaven, even though the battle is over. Jackson’s troops didn’t hear the “good news” that the battle was over, so they kept fighting. We have the good news, and if we will accept it and trust in the finished work of Jesus, we will be saved.

That really isn’t good news. It’s the best news ever.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Old Grudges

Last week I wrote about President John Quincy Adams and the dismal perception he had of himself. That poor image was nothing compared to the disdain he held for his political rival, the man who cost him a second term in the White House, Andrew Jackson.

Upon hearing that his alma mater was going to confer an honorary degree upon Jackson in 1833, Adams wrote a scathing letter to the president of Harvard. In it he explained why he would not attend the ceremony: “As myself an affectionate child of our Alma Mater, I would not be present to witness her disgrace in conferring her highest literary honor upon a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and hardly could spell his own name.”

Indeed, Jackson was an uneducated, orphaned Southern farmer; in his letters he would not only misspell a large number of his words, but he would frequently misspell the same word different ways in the same piece of correspondence. Be that as it may, Jackson proved to be a successful man, passing the bar exam and making good money as a lawyer in North Carolina, serving as Tennessee’s first member in the House of Representatives and later a senator, and was the first governor of Florida (prior to statehood); he was also a war hero, revered throughout the country for his successes as a general.

Adam’s criticism of Jackson shows that he was still holding a grudge three years after the election. Jackson may have been a “barbarian,” but he was a successful barbarian, and one that had defeated the educated Adams. Holding on to old grudges is not healthy, and it brings out the worst in us. It distorts our view and gives us a wrong perception of reality.

Beyond that, holding on to grudges is wrong because the Bible says it is. Paul told the Ephesian Christians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).”

Being tenderhearted might not seem like a desired trait between two alpha males who just squared off in their second heated campaign in four years, but it is what God wants from us, and Jesus is our example. If you are holding on to a grudge, don’t be like President Adams; instead, take the advice from Queen Elsa and just let it go. It’s the best way to live.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Disappointing Life

“[My] whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success in anything I ever undertook.”

That quote was from John Quincy Adams near the end of his life. He had previously written, “I have done nothing to distinguish [my life] by usefulness to my country and to mankind.”

Many would be shocked to hear a former US President refer to his life as a succession of disappointments, or that he didn’t contribute anything useful to his country. But Adams was more than just the sixth United States President; he boasts the longest political resume of any of our nation’s chief executives. In addition to being a professor at Harvard, Adams served as a state senator and US senator from Massachusetts, as well as Emissary to England, Minister to the Hague, Minister to Prussia, Minister to Russia, Secretary of State, President, and finally, a member of the House of Representatives. Adams played roles in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the lead up to the Civil War.

How would anyone consider that life to have been a failure? Adams’ time in Congress was marked by divisiveness and inability to accomplish his goals. Worse, his presidency was delegitimized. In a four-way race, Adams lost both the popular and electoral votes, and was decided the winner by the states due to a backroom deal he made with the man who would become his Secretary of State; four years later, he lost a bitter reelection battle against General Andrew Jackson, who actually bested him four year earlier.

John Quincy Adams is proof that success is about what you do, not just who you are. He was the son of a President and held every position he desired, but looking back on it all, he concluded that it was all a disappointment. He sounds like King Solomon who concluded that life was ultimately vanity.

The only way to look back on life with no eternal regrets is to know that you have trusted in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. You earn multiple degrees, work for great companies, drive fast cars, and live in extravagant houses, yet still look back on life in disappointment. Only a life devoted to the King of Kings will be viewed as successful, for that is the only way to eternal satisfaction. Whatever you are doing today, make sure that Jesus is front and center of your life.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Matthew 16:26

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dinosaur Tracks

Over the Fourth of July weekend we went to the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas. The park is a beautiful 1,500-acre area highlighted by the Paluxy River; visitors can dig for fossils, take a dino hike, and see animatronic dinosaurs inside the museum. There are also multiple fossilized dinosaur tracks preserved, including a few successive left-right patterns.

As expected, the information provided boasts that the footprints formed during the Cretaceous Period, which was approximately 113 million years ago. Over the last million years, the river allegedly eroded away rock layers, leaving the tracks exposed for us to observe. This matter-of-fact information seemingly upholds Darwinian evolution and hurts the biblical claim of a young earth.

But how are these footprints preserved? Secular Geologists believe in a slow and gradual process that would have taken an extremely long time, but common sense says that wind, rain, and other factors would have eliminated these tracks from fossilizing. The biblical solution is that a worldwide Flood caused the dinosaur tracks to be quickly buried by new layers of floodwaters and the minerals brought with them. In fact, an unbiased person would almost certainly conclude that dino tracks could only be preserved by rapid burial, supporting the Genesis account and refuting evolution.

Consider the fact that the vast majority of these dinosaur trackways are in straight lines, compared to the normal meandering pattern of animals. The straight trackways seem to indicate that the dinosaurs were in great distress, running for their lives. If we picture the dinosaurs running towards higher ground to escape the rising floodwaters, we can understand the straight nature of the tracks, and the rapid burial to preserve those tracks. Evolution doesn't have an answer for these fossils, but God’s Word does.

It is easy to believe what we are told by the experts because they are the experts. But while visiting the State Park I noticed a few things. One was in the FAQ section of the museum, under the question, “What color were the dinosaurs?” The answer began, “We don't know. But…” The depictions we see today of green or tan dinosaurs are entirely guess work. And that is fine, so long as we keep in mind that most of what the experts say is entirely guess work. A second thing I found interesting was a re-creation of a dinosaur that basically looked like a giant crocodile. The placard said this was not a crocodile, though, because it did not live near water.

The very last line of the information conceded that only a single one of these creatures has been discovered. How do they know it didn't live near water? How do they know it wasn't just a large crocodile? We cannot let a science based so largely on guesswork lead us away from the Bible. Don't be intimidated by hypothesis packaged as fact.

I form the light, and create darkness…I the Lord do all these things.”

Isaiah 45:7

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I've read many books over the years where the author has written, "I'm writing this chapter from an airplane, and..." I've always wondered why so many books are written on airplanes. Maybe it's all the downtime. I am not writing this column from an airplane, but from an airport. More specifically, from baggage claim in the Charlotte Airport, which has doubled as my home and office for two days now.

I flew out of DFW yesterday and had an unfortunate four-hour layover in Kansas City, Missouri. When I reached my final destination at 10:00 last night, I didn't realize it would really be my final destination. Somehow my bag didn't make it on the plane; that bag, by the way, had my car and house keys contained within. My car is parked in Long Term 2, but it isn't doing me any good without my keys. Even if I got a ride home, there is no one home and I have no key.

After many conversations with people here, it was decided that my bag would be on the next flight to Charlotte, arriving here at 10:30 AM. Of course that didn't happen, and I eventually found out that my bag was right where it had been sitting for 24 hours. Its ok though, because my back was on another flight, due here at 1:30. Except when the bags came, mine still was not here. They tell me the bag will arrive here at 5:15, but the flight number they gave me is headed towards La Guardia. It has occurred to me that I may actually never leave this place again. 

I'm trying to remain calm and not lose my temper (Yes, I should have held on to my keys, but I paid American Airlines a hefty price to have my keys land with me). I've been praying for patience, and that familiar Bible verse came back to my mind, that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength." Patience is a virtue, but waiting patiently on God can be a real challenge. I've been waiting on a bag and my strength is gone, but when we wait on God we find new strength.

Maybe you have been praying for God to do something: bring healing, save a loved one, change your situation. There might be some layovers or lost bags along the way, but when it is all said and done God will not disappoint. Don't give up on Him. Keep praying, keep trusting, keep waiting on the Lord. Sometimes we just have to throw our hands up and accept the fact that we will be waiting a while, so we might as well wait patiently.