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.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Sacred Acre

Ed Thomas was a legendary high school football coach in a small town in Iowa. It wasn’t just his success under the lights on Friday nights that endeared him to the people of Parkersburg; Thomas was a father figure to his players, even years after they no longer played for him.

When an F5 tornado devastated their town, Thomas and his wife helped lead the rebuilding efforts. In addition to the work around town, Thomas also declared that his football team would play their first home game the next season on schedule, a game that was just over 100 days away. The field, scoreboard, concessions stand, and the bleachers were totally destroyed, and no one believed the coach’s goal could be accomplished.

The field had already been named after the coach, but most referred to it as the Sacred Acre because Ed Thomas had his field looking better than many Division I college fields. But now Ed Thomas Field and the entire campus looked like a war zone, and the town worried their school would be consolidated into another school. Thomas new that the sooner his team took the field at home, the quicker the town could recover, and the more likely they would be to avoid consolidation.

When the new season began the town packed out the new bleachers to see the Falcons take the field in what would be an undefeated season. That season also turned out to be Ed Thomas’s last.

Despite being a local hero and National High School Coach of the Year, Thomas was murdered by one of his former players who had been diagnosed with a mental illness and escaped from a mental hospital. The Thomas’ son Todd and his wife were on vacation in Jamaica when they heard the tragic news.

During their flight home they had a long layover in Miami in which they had to sit in the airport watching the news scroll on CNN, constantly updating about the coach’s death and the subsequent murder investigation. In Mark Tabb’s book The Sacred Acre, he describes the scene: “People around them went on about their business. Children laughed; couples bickered; a middle-aged guy a few seats down took a nap…No one had any idea who they were or how much each news report hurt them.”

Paul told the church to bear each other’s burdens. There are people all around us who are hurting, but when we keep to ourselves we miss the opportunities to help them. We need to intentionally get out of our comfort zone, find out what people are going through, and love them like Jesus. Look for someone you can minister to today.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Revolutionary War

In the lead up to the Revolutionary War, the British Parliament fiercely debated the American rebellion and the course of action they should take. Despite some opposition, Parliament overwhelmingly supported King George III’s desire to engage the colonies with deadly force. The war seemed like it would be quick and decisive for the monarchy, squashing the Sons of Liberty’s talk of freedom, and teaching them to think twice before defying the crown again.

John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich (and yes, the inventor of the meat between two slices of bread), famously said of the impending war: “Suppose the colonies do abound in men, what does that signify? They are raw, undisciplined, cowardly men.” Echoing those sentiments, General James Grant made the bold claim that with only 5,000 redcoats he could march from one end of the American continent to the other. It has been said that Grant did more to bolster American patriotism than any of the American generals.

The colonial army, under the leadership of the Commander in Chief George Washington, was anything but cowardly; and the claim that only 5,000 soldiers could march across America? 24,000 British soldiers died in their humiliating defeat. How were an untrained, “rabble in arms” able to beat the world’s superpower? Many answers have been offered, but it cannot be ignored that the American pride was stirred into action after the derogatory comments made their way across the Atlantic. We might say the British unwittingly stirred a sleeping giant.

The church in America may well be called a sleeping giant. Jesus promised that the gates of hell could not prevail against the church, but many churches seem to be in a state of hibernation. We need to be stirred into action, not from wounded pride, but from understanding our duty. We are soldiers engaged in spiritual warfare, but for many Christians, we go about our busy day giving little thought to the spiritual needs of those around us.

Let this serve as our wake up call. Satan, the accuser of the saints, has called us every name in the book, hoping to convince God that we are worthless. But God has called us loved and forgiven, so we should spring into action and be the church we are called to be.

“For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:12