Making Time to Slow Down

Making time to slow down.  For a number of years now, I have been more and more concerned with just how fast time is moving.  Why does time fly when you’re having fun but it slows down when you’re not?  I think I might have discovered how to make time slow down.  As I was preparing for some of the mechanics of preaching a message on Sunday, I found myself a bit tired out.  I looked down at my phone clock thinking that it must be about 2 hours later, but it wasn’t.  Only 30 minutes had passed by.  How can this be?  Time had slowed down.  What had happened?  I wondered if God had slowed time down for me so that I could get this hard task done and still have time for the rest of the more enjoyable things I had planned.  Then I realized that most really important things we do are hard things.  Time seems to slow down because we feel uncomfortable or tired from the effort.  We want to be in some other place or time doing something else that is more enjoyable, more fun, and less draining of ourselves.

Important things we do are often hard, and time seems to slow down while we trudge through them.  This may be more of a gift than we think.  Often we dream about time away from doing hard things.  We fantasize about kicking our feet in the sand, riding rides at our favorite theme park, or something simpler like laughing with friends around a card table.  And when we look down at our clocks, we see that time has slipped away.  Then we want more time.  That may be less a gift and more a burden as we think that a lot of our time may be wasted doing things that aren’t important at all.  I’m not saying I’ve taken a stand against vacations and having pure mindless fun.  (Please don’t take this away from me!)  But there is something really cool about doing something important, something that helps you reach your God-given dreams and goals- something really hard for you.  While others are trying to find more time doing things that don’t matter as much, you can slow time down by doing something important.  Cool, huh?

Surprises and Disappointments about the Elections

I read an article where President Obama said, “If I watched FOX News, I’d hate me, too.”  I know Donald Trump must’ve felt that way every time he turned on the TV and tried to watch his favorite speedy superhero on Tuesday nights.  And most of the media I’ve seen lately had convinced me that Hillary Clinton was a shoe win for president.  I’m not giving away on this site who I voted for. (Hint:  It’s not who you think. And I’m not telling unless you ask me personally.  Just a little fun I’m having in the whole process.)

Surprise!  The Trump won and Clinton lost the election.  But even more surprising was Trump’s victory speech.  He went on and on and on, not bashing that “not nice” woman, but thanking everyone he could think of for helping “us”, not Trump, through the 2-year campaign for a win.  Wow!  And he was very sincere.  He spoke in a way that was very different in the campaign.  It was… sweet.  That was the same likeable Trump that I remembered from a few years back. The only disappointment I had from Trump was that he almost missed the opportunity to thank Mike Pence his vice president before walking way from the podium.  And also, I didn’t hear anything about Paul Ryan who has consistently treated him better than Trump has ever returned to him.

Surprise #2- Hillary’s concession speech.  I was disappointed that she chose not speak to her supporters last night after conceding to Donald Trump.  This gained a lot of criticism as they waited for a word from their leader.  It came across as a lack of empathy to her supporters.  (I thought it was just bad sportsmanship.)  However, her speech today surprised me.  She was humble and inspiring, in spite of the loss.  She challenged her supporters to give Donald a chance to be president and she wished him a successful term.  Without knowing anything about most of her policies and values, a person could’ve easily been impressed with her words and the manner in which she presented herself and the respect for both Trump and the American people.

All of this included, two thoughts come to mind.  1)  There is a little of the best in the worst of us and a little of the worst in the best of us.  2)  While Christ, King of kings and President of presidents, is in charge, you shouldn’t be too surprised or too disappointed in earthly leaders.   They’re just people, fallen like the rest of us, trying to find their way in this great big world.  The Scripture reminds us not to be too anxious about whose in leadership positions here.  “Some trust in chariots.  Some trust in horses.  But we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

The Presidential Dilemma: Winner Takes All

I admit that I like being the fan of the team that wins the most. Who doesn’t? Except for a few people in the world who like to pick underdogs and cheer them on to be different, most of us feel like winners when our favorite team or player wins, right? When it comes to the election process, our culture, especially the media, who gives us all the information on our favorite past times, values those one top over those on the bottom. That is why the presidential debates only include 2 candidates, the two with the best poll statistics. This is why even though Election Day is not until November 8, the commentator on the first presidential debate says, “One of these 2 will be the next president.” How does he know? The polls are like a cloudy crystal ball revealing the greatest possibilities for the future.

So, whether you think the two “top” performers are the best candidates or not, you feel bound to vote for one or the other. They are the obvious winners, and why would you cheer on anyone else? The crystal ball of public poll has spoken. No one else even has a chance. Maybe so. But let me remind you that before you go to the polls, while millions of Americans are cheering on their favorite team player because they are sure they are the “winners” who will take all, that God may have another perspective.

Look at how the story of King David unfolded. The Lord tells Samuel to go to Bethlehem and find the new king of Israel to replace fallen King Saul. Samuel arrives at the farm of Jesse, a successful sheepherder (shepherd, for short) with 7 striking sons of age. As the young men are lined up, beginning with the eldest brother, Samuel begins the process of choosing. As he comes to the first, tall and strong and evident to every other person in the world, the Lord whispers to Samuel, “He’s not the one to lead my people.” On and on down the line, Samuel hears the same as he looks at the young men. Oh, but something’s wrong. One is missing- no. 8! Where is he? Why has he been forgotten? Why doesn’t he show up in the polls? Jesse embarrassingly reveals that it is the runt David who is out to pasture, serving the family, caring for the sheep. (We know from David’s story that he was also writing psalms for the people of God and developing character that would be strong enough to single-handedly defeat a 9-foot Goliath and passionate enough to plan for a house of worship.) On bringing the boy to Samuel, the Lord exclaimed, “This the one. Rise and anoint him.”

Is there someone serving, someone caring, someone with character, someone forgotten by the polls? You won’t get the answer to that by looking into a crystal ball.

The Presidential Dilemma: Lesser of Two Evils? Part 2

The other viewpoint the Christian should avoid when we come to the polls is political primacy – all of our problems can be solved through the use of political influence, power, and policy. i-want-youPolitics plays an important role in this world. The Bible tells the history of many political figures who were written into the story of Christ Jesus. But politics isn’t the answer to all of our problems; Christ is. Politics, rightly surrendered to God, is a tool in His hands for His kingdom purposes. We should neither avoid it nor give our full allegiance to the political powers that be. We “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And what God wants is you and me, our whole hearts. God wants our vote. And He wants to make our votes count in the upcoming election.

Not sure my (or your) Election Day problem is solved yet. But a people who are fully given to God can be confident that no matter who sits at the Oval Office, they can see a brighter, more powerful picture of Jesus who sits at the right hand of God in Heaven. What do you think would happen if we wrote in the name Jesus?

The Presidential Dilemma: Lesser of Two Evils? Part 1

I had hoped that the first of the presidential debates on last Monday would’ve set my mind at ease a bit about the new presidency that is coming at us in a little more than 3 months. But it didn’t, and I’m sure as I’ve talked to others that many of you feel the same. Who can we trust? Who can fix our $22 trillion national debt? Who can provide national security against the threats of radical Islamic terrorist groups and mass killings from within? Who can heal the racial hurts and establish policies and systems that are fair for all, both rich and poor? Who can be the inspiring character our children look up to and want to be like? After last night’s debate, I need help. Election day is November 8 and I want to be decided by then. What do we do?

I think the first step in coming to a decision is what we don’t do. Two viewpoints often dominate the conversation. One of the most widely held views is the cynical approach– all politicians are self-propagating at best (popular term is “narcissistic.” I’m already sick of the term.) or, more likely, evil men and women plotting a takeover for their own tyrannical benefit. Add in lawyers, doctors, and a few other professions and we have a whole pile of dishonorable career paths that every parent should tell their children to avoid. But don’t we benefit from lawyers who defend our rights and speak up for our causes? Don’t we enjoy a cure for our ailments or at least comfort from them from our doctors? Don’t we rely on our government for certain securities ranging from violence to theft to the pursuit of the American dream? Plus, cynicism is hopelessness. And in a democratic nation, we have choices. At the least, we have the choice to write in a name on the elections ballot. I have heard that Mickey Mouse has been nominated many times. He might do well.

Trail Life USA Court of Honors: Is Honor Something I Really Want?

The Court of Honors ceremony had just concluded. As people were making their way back to the fellowship hall for refreshments, a young boy who had just joined our Trail Life USA troop stopped his father and an adult leader with a question I overheard. He asked, “Why did the man handing the staff grab it back when the young men went to take it from his hand?” The Trail Life leader explained, “To receive the standard (a wooden staff representing the highest level of Adventurer) is to receive the responsibility that comes with it. He wanted to make sure the trailmen understood the importance of what they were doing”

I had other thoughts to add that I didn’t speak then. I thought that it’s easy to just reach out and take something that is free or cheap, something our present society takes for granted along with a host of other things handed to us by others. And then what happens? It gets shoved in a box or it gets shuffled to the back of the closet along with a thousand other gifts or items received in a very prosperous world. I wondered if the adult leader, when he jerked back the standard while the trailman was holding it, was testing him in that moment, “Do you really want this I’m giving you? Are you sure you’re willing to hold onto it? Life can try to take away what it stands for- Adventure, Character, Leadership (the core values of Trail Life USA). With these come great responsibility. If you want to keep it, you’ve got to hold onto it with a grip that says, ‘I really want this.’”

Gary George, our Charter Organization Representative (COR) explained to us that the trailmen were trustworthy young men we all hope will grow up, to “Walk Worthy” (the Trail Life motto) in being godly men, husbands, and fathers in a world that is increasingly dark and against the Christian values that made America a great place to live. These young trailmen held up their standards as if to say, “I accept my place in God’s kingdom and my role in His mission in the world.”

I was inspired to walk worthy, too.