Thursday, July 24, 2014

Personal Reflections

We are thankful that we were able to attend a niece’s wedding in Santa Cruz, CA. Because of that Marilyn and I have connected with much of our family that we haven’t seen in a long time. We also have had the opportunity to be with our daughter and her family. Of course there is nothing like being with grandkids. They are funny and entertaining, so whether we are taking a walk or just sitting and listening to a puppet show, we are having fun.
Family is a wonderful gift that God has given to us. We were made for relationships, and family is the place where we can make the most meaningful relationships. We are able to do that because of a commitment to stay together and work out our problems through love and forgiveness. Family is the place where we support and validate each other. The stronger our connection to family, the stronger we are emotionally and better able to cope with the problems life brings our way.
I am also thankful to be around my folks for a few days. They are not as strong as they had been and are losing some of their mobility, but they are still living on their own. It does make it difficult to live so far away and not be close enough to help them more. Thankfully my sister lives close and is a constant help to them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Road Less Traveled

I have always loved Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled” in which he describes a choice he had to make. Before him were two paths, and he knew that he could not travel them both; in fact, he realized that “knowing how way leads onto way I doubted if I should ever come back.” Frost chose the road less traveled, and he was so glad that he did because as he reported, “And I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Jesus talked about two roads, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

On the wide road that Jesus described, the traveler seems to be able to travel with any belief he wants. This road invites travelers because it is wide and not restrictive. Certainly the great number of travelers makes one feel that they are on the right road. What is incredibly ironic about this road is that it leads to destruction, but people don’t know it and don’t believe it.

The second road is narrow, and not many people travel this road. This road is a defined belief or a specific world view that Jesus is the savior of the world. Isn’t it ironic that of most founders of religions, the one who is most used in profanity is Christ? Rarely do you ever hear Mohammed or Buddha cursed. Why is there such contempt for Christ? Why is there such intolerance toward Christianity? Why is the Bible looked upon with scorn and ridicule while the Koran or the Hindu scriptures are held in awe? Richard Dawkins, a proclaimed atheist and proponent of evolution, claims that a Christian education for children constitutes child abuse.[i] This intolerance comes because the Bible presents a narrow view, and the Bible insists that if you want to be a Christian, you must embrace this narrow way.

Today our politically correct culture holds contempt for the narrow minded person. They are branded as bigots, extremists and racists. The very idea of believing that you are right is utterly offensive. It’s outrageous that anyone believes in such a thing as biblical morality, moral restraint, good and evil, and God forbid—an idea called sin. The very notion that you pretend to know the truth for everyone is unacceptable, and yet this is what Jesus says is necessary if you want the right road. No doubt about it, this road that Jesus insists we take if we want his company is not the wide and broad road but the narrow road. Jesus is this road, as he made it very clear in these words, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

[i] Theodore Dalrymple, Not With a Bang But a Whimper, (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, IL 2008) p. 87.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Constitution

The date was July 2, 1787, the Revolutionary War had been won, and the Newburg Conspiracy had been put to rest, but no consensus could be reached on the Constitution. There had been many snags along the way in the creation of the noble document, but none as controversial as the large state versus small state debate. The large states, such as Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina, argued that the large states should have a larger voice than the smaller states, such as Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Though all had agreed on one house being represented by population, they disagreed that they should all be equal in the other house.

Though it had taken four very difficult months to hammer out an agreement, it finally happened. Each state would have equal representation in the Senate by having two senators, and in the House they would be represented by population. The whole design of the three branches and the distribution of power was an incredible proposal. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was signed first by George Washington, then Alexander Hamilton and then the respective delegates, and later it was ratified by the state legislatures. Washington said this was nothing short of a miracle that this document was created and agreed upon and ratified. I think most of us Americans would agree with him.

This unique form of government has survived 238 years and has been modeled in countries all over the world. It is an experiment that has proved to be effective as long as there is respect for the Constitution. If there was ever a day that we should be concerned about the preservation of our Constitution, it is today. This incredible document has guided our country through some of the darkest times and has proved to be trustworthy. Today, however, it is being disregarded by the executive branch. On multiple occasions the Supreme Court has ruled that the executive branch has continued to overstep its authority and has disregarded the Constitution. When an administration disregards the rule of law, we are no longer safe- guarded by our system of government, no matter how brilliant its design.

My prayer is that we Americans will be vigilant to the loss of our liberties and the flagrant trespasses the government commits in regard to the law it is bound to uphold. We need God’s intervention to preserve our liberties.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gave Up Power Twice

As we arrive at our 238th celebration of our Independence, it is good to reflect on the history of that time. George Washington played a pivotal role in the forming of our nation. He led the Continental Army in six long years of fighting from Trenton to Yorktown where it all ended. In 1783 the war with England was finally over, but the mood of the Continental Army was one of discontent. Congress was bankrupt and unable to pay the soldiers for their long years of service. As a result, some officers threatened tyranny if the army was not paid. On March 16, the officers were gathered at Newburg, New York where an anonymous letter was being circulated that proposed that Washington be crowned king. The letter threatened to disband the army at the threat of any arising war or maintain the army in peace to persuade Congress to fulfill its obligations. Washington addressed the rebels with these words:

If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice; this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our country in the extremist hour of her distress or turning our arms against it (which is the apparent object, unless Congress can be compelled into instant compliance), has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather, is he not an insidious foe?...Why, then, should we distrust [the Congress]? And, in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired; and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated through all Europe, for its fortitude and patriotism? And for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No! Most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance.[i]

On that day there was a powerful temptation to accept the coronation of a new King of America, except that Washington would have none of it. It is staggering to think that the future of our country depended on the character of one man that day. King George III couldn’t believe that Washington had refused the throne that was offered to him. He responded by saying he is the “the greatest man in the world.”

Washington served two terms and could have served as many as he liked, but surrendered power after his second term, and John Adams was inaugurated. As we consider how proud we are to be Americans on this Fourth of July, let us also be thankful for those like Washington who made the existence of this nation possible.

[i] Eric Metaxas, Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Thomas Nelson, Dallas, TX, 2013, p. 21.