Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What are they Saying about You?

I heard an old story about a man waiting in line to use a pay phone (remember those?), and he could not help but overhear the one-sided conversation of the man in front of him. The gentleman on the phone began his call this way: “Hello, I have a lot of management experience, and I was calling to see if you are in need of a good, honest manager for your company…oh, I see. You already have a good, honest manager. Sorry to waste your time. Bye.” As he hung up the phone a smile spread across the face of the would-be-manager.

Curious, the man waiting for the phone had to find out why this other gentleman seemed happy by the news. “Excuse me,” he said. “I couldn’t help but hear your conversation. I expected you to be dejected when you found out that company wasn’t hiring. Might I ask why you are happy about it?”

With a grin, the other man answered, “I am the good, honest manager. I was just calling to make sure my job is safe.”

If you were to disguise your voice and call your boss from a different number, what would he say about you? Imagine if the manager heard something like, “As a matter of fact, we are looking for someone. We have someone right now, but he is lazy, he shows up late, leaves early, and takes two hours for lunch. Besides that, we can’t trust a word he says.”

Are you a good, honest employee? Let’s go even further. Are you a good, honest person? What are people saying about you behind your back? As ambassadors for Christ, we need to make sure we practice what we preach, that our lifestyle matches the message we proclaim. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that his goal was to live right in their eyes. One translation says he was, “taking pains” to live right before them. Can you say the same?  

For we aim at what is honorable, not only in the Lord's sight, but also in the sight of man.

2 Corinthians 8:21

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill

I'm a little heartbroken this week. Those who know me know how much I love the Florida Gators; I cheer for the Orange and Blue in every sport. People naturally assume I went to school there, but I didn't (Except in my dreams. And on the PlayStation, where I created myself as a free safety and point guard). I've loved the Gators from my earliest memories, attending football games in The Swamp and watching basketball and volleyball in the O Dome. I even followed the chess team through their rebuilding seasons.

That's why I'm a little heartbroken today. The top ranked softball team went back to the Women's College World Series last week, seeking their 3rd National Championship in four years, but they came up short, including a 17-inning marathon game that cost me a night's sleep. It isn't just that they lost, but that they deserved to win. The Gators were ranked #1 all year, and boasted the top pitching staff in the NCAA. Senior lefty Delanie Gourley, already a two-time champ, was the country's 3rd best pitcher with an earned run average of just .8. That seems high compared to Sophomore Kelly Barnhill, the national Player of the Year, who recently had her ERA down to .1 (that's not a typo). Fortunately this loss was bookended by national championships in women’s tennis and men’s track and field.

Florida led the country with the lowest ERA, the most shutouts, the most run-rule wins, and the best fielding defense. They were clearly the best. But sometimes being the best isn't good enough.

I believe many people here in the Bible Belt tend to evaluate their lives by comparing themselves to other people, and feeling confident that they are good enough, end up missing salvation. They make the mistake of believing that since they are good people, even the best people, they don't need God. This warped perspective renders the Cross unnecessary, making us savable apart from Jesus. If our good works could save us, why would Jesus have gone to Calvary? Why would God be pleased to see Jesus die?

God was pleased because Jesus' death made our forgiveness possible—forgiveness we all need because we are dying in our sins. Even the best of us.

Don't misunderstand me: we should strive to be our best, but not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved. Stop comparing yourself to other people; stop trying to be good enough on your own, and trust in the only One who is good enough. Call on Jesus, trust in what He has done, and not what you can do. He truly is the best.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...
Titus 3:5

Monday, June 12, 2017

Brainwashing our Kids

Brainwashing our Kids

Are your children being brainwashed? I hope you understand that there are faceless entities working hard to influence your children towards their worldview, while undermining the worldview that you or your church are trying to model.

While schools have been part of American culture from our earliest days, compulsory education is a fairly new concept. It was during the Progressive Era that Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson pushed hard to take children out of the home where they worked alongside their parents (receiving both book knowledge and job knowledge), and putting them into government run schools. While the idea seems natural to those of us who grew up going to school, the "progressive" idea was really quite sneaky. Wilson, a noted racist, tipped his hand when he said, "Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life...[but] to make them as unlike their fathers as we can."

Wilson was a Protestant (admittedly not the member we pride ourselves on), and he feared that the immigrant children, who were largely Catholic, would be bad for the country. Along with Roosevelt, Wilson understood that a forced public school would be the perfect place to take children away from their parents and brainwash them according to their Protestant, Manifest Destiny ways. The more students were at school instead of with "their fathers," the more their world views could be shaped by the government.

(This is not an anti-public school post. I'm thankful for the teachers, administrators, and others who work hard to give kids a good education.)

We live in a different era, but there are still entities that wish to influence your kids to be unlike their fathers and mothers. It could be that professor that prides himself on outwitting his unprepared freshman, or the TV station that strategically selects their programming and advertising to influence your children, or the shows that slip in, "billions of years ago" into every episode. We cannot be so naive as to think these influences don't matter. They do.

That's why as parents (or grandparents or other relatives) we must realize that it is our job to decide who or what influences our children. It is our responsibility first and foremost, not the school's or church's, to raise them right. No one loves them more than you, and God gave them to you, so please make the most of every opportunity to guard their young minds.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dewey Defeats Truman

Possibly the most famous newspaper blunder of all time, the Chicago Daily Tribune incorrectly announced the results of the 1948 Presidential election in their bold headline.

Truman, who ascended to the presidency following the death of FDR, was a popular leader for his part in bringing World War II to a close, but he faced a furious challenge in New York Governor Thomas Dewey. Dewey spent the campaign hammering Truman as a big, wasteful spender, and as Election Day dawned, the candidates were in a dead heat. Long before today's exit polling data and around the clock coverage, Americans would go to bed and find out the results in the morning. In an effort to get their paper out quickly, the Tribune had to go to press on a hunch, and in the morning they had a very public humiliation when the President mockingly displayed their headline (this may have been the original case of "fake news").

The media was humiliated again last November when, after almost a solid year of the major outlets predicting a Hillary Clinton landslide, Donald Trump won the Electoral College, nabbing a half dozen states projected to go for the Democrat.

These cases, and many more like them, demonstrate that the experts can get it wrong, and even be way off base (see: meteorologists). The average person is inclined to believe these experts because they are, well, experts. We assume that they are well trained, using the best resources, and wanting nothing more than to get it right. That same level of trust leads us to believe some other experts.

We believe the History Channel when they say, "For 50,000 years humans have been evolving..." We buy into the professor who states unequivocally, "The Bible is full of errors." We binge on advice from the television gurus who advise us, "If it feels good, do it." And then we balk at the pastor who tells us God is Creator, Lord, and Judge.

Sure, the pastor means well, but he doesn't know what the experts know. We need to remember that many of the so-called experts operate from what they want to be true, not what they know to be true. Entire volumes could be written on false headlines, deceptive articles, fraudulent science, and outright lies perpetuated by experts, and not one credible paragraph can be written disproving the Bible. Don't reject God's Word just because of the experts. Do your own research, and you will find God's Word hold up.

For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89