Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alone In the Dollar General

This past weekend, I sent my eight year old son into a Dollar General store . . . alone.

There should be nothing to that. When I was eight, it was nothing for me to ride my bicycle down to the A & P grocery story or Brown's Pharmacy in Cedartown, GA, to pick up stuff for my Mom.

But times have changed. People have changed. Kids have changed.

It bothered me to send him in there alone.

He and R. had gone to the same store earlier that day so he could pick up a water gun. Patience is not one of the lad's strong points and having decided that we must not be going to get to swim this year - he set his sights on the purchase of a water gun. After all, a kid just has to have some means of getting cooled down in this relentless April heat.

He soon learned that his purchase was a dud. When he filled it up, it wouldn't shoot.
I tried to prime it and pump it, we were visiting with R.'s family and they tried to get it to operate - all to no avail.

Now back when I was riding my Western-Flyer Stingray with the Banana seat and raised handle-bars, if the water gun didn't work, you were only out about 39 cents. Now they are $4.00 - and those are the inexpensive ones!

So Lesson #1 was when you put out good money for a product don't settle for less.

It just so happened that I was on deck for the next kid transport - so I had to take him to take it back. Mom had already set up the expectation by telling him that he would have to take the water-gun back.

I was the one that decided to let him do it alone.

So as AA and his sister and I neared the store, I went over with him what he should say and how he should look the cashier in the eye when he was talking.

Then I sent him in, while Ab and I peered through the window from our vantage point in the first parking spot next to the door.

I have felt compelled to do that with him. He is the youngest child and I know from experience that that slot does not build in a lot of self-confidence. Your always in the shadow of that over-achiever eldest child. So I send him on his own but then like Peter and Jesus . . . I follow at a distance.

Ab and I waited for what seemed like quite awhile, as she pointed out that she never got to go in stores all alone.

Finally he returned... all smiles and sporting another water-gun. This one worked.

I was proud of him and I told him so.

I don't know - maybe people send their 3-year-olds in the store alone - I don't know - but it was a first for us.

I have thought about how Christ does that with us sometimes. He let's us feel like we are just dangling in the wind - all alone. He does it for good reason... maybe to teach us how to trust Him.

If He is like me, He doesn't enjoy they waiting either. I bet He longs to jump in and rescue us quickly and with a mighty flourish.

AA emerged from his test all smiles and with a notch or two of extra confidence.
I hardly think God wants me to learn to trust in me more - but rather His tests teach me to trust Him.

So when I survive what I thought was unbearable, I too can emerge all smiles and run to Him.

The Walls of Jericho

Yesterday morning on Moody Radio, I heard Chuck Colson's Breakpoint commentary.

I knew then that I had to share it here because he declares so much more eloquently than I ever could...the reason I love old movies.

Maybe after reading this, you will -like me - have a better understanding of just what is so missing in what portrays itself as entertainment these days...

The Walls of Jericho

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On National Repentance - a Post for Tax Day

Tax Day will be the scene of numerous protests.
As well it should be.

However, today a new set of thoughts arrived at the door of my mind and heart, I hope I can express it properly here.

Our new president swept into office on a wave of change, and I have to hand it to him - he was as good as his word. Monumental and frightening changes have taken place and are taking place daily. For any of you that are paying attention, you knew that already.

But I am noticing those that are riding this wave, leaders in the administration and in congress - no one seems happy.

They Have Become the Thing They Fought Against

Those who have been triumphant having fought hard to pass historic legislation should be jubilant . . . or at least gracious. Instead we hear a great deal of anger.

The sad thing - and it truly is a sad thing - about many of those that lead our nation today is that they have become the thing many of them fought against all their lives.

It is characteristic of those that abandon all else in the pursuit of power - that having achieved their goal - they find the victory hollow.

". . . vanity, vanity . . . all is vanity says the preacher . . ."

Take for instance, those legislators that occupy the Congressional Black Caucus, they now find themselves reduced to the children whining about name-calling.

It was alleged that racial slurs were wielded during protests surrounding the passing of the recent major health care legislation. If it happened - racial slurs have no place in the platform of public discourse (or anywhere else for that matter) - these leaders do not get to play the victim any more. They are the leaders, they are in charge - they proved that when they passed the legislation despite the will of the people.

They hold the reigns of power now; they hold the leashes -as it were - of the attack dogs at Selma. I do not mean any disrespect to those who sacrificed so much for the right to be treated like anyone else. It just bears pointing out that these leaders hold power; it's time to stop feigning victim status.

A Purpose for the Place in Which We Find Ourselves

Today I read a portion of scripture from Deuteronomy 29, it described Israel's plight if they strayed from God's plan - judgment, destruction and the like. However, God added quickly that if they repented, He would turn things around for them.

This coupled with some verses about repentance from Joel 2, which a friend shared in a recent meeting I attended helped solidify for me the need for national repentance.

If God truly "governs in the affairs of men" as stated by Benjamin Franklin; and if we truly believe that God is sovereign and therefore ultimately in control of the events that occur here on earth, then we must assume that He has a purpose for the place in which we find ourselves.

What Could God's Purpose Be?

Like many people that observe politics, I have placed a great deal of hope in the electorate and the promise of a major voter backlash in the next election. That seems to be the only thing that can possibly happen within the confines of civility and law to change the devastating direction our country has taken.

However, this morning I took a different view; one that is more of the attitude of "embracing the cross". If this is God's plan, then I seriously doubt that His plan would be fulfilled by the Republicans taking congress in the Fall. Calling that a "victory" would be akin to electing McCain in the last presidential election - it would only prolong the misery.

No, there comes a time in which we just have to say, "go ahead with Your plan Lord, 'not my will but Thine'". There is a place in which our best option is to take whatever medicine we are given - no matter how bitter - just to have done with it.

I remember an "embracing the cross" moment that happened to me awhile back. R. and I had been struggling to stay together for some time. We had been on an emotional roller coaster - sometimes hopeful, other times devastated - for some time. We recognized that our marriage had not gotten into the shape it was in over night and it would not be reset over night, but it was hard.

Near the end of that "testing" period, God had especially done a work in me and helped me learn a great deal about myself and how I had so contributed to our struggles. It was then that I remember praying that He would not take me out of those struggles until it was His time. I was "embracing the cross" I wanted that test to be completed in its entirety because I did not want to go through that again!

Maybe that's where we are right now as a nation. Maybe God's definition of "done" is not a change in congress - not even a change in the presidency. Perhaps instead, He seeks a change in the hearts of our nation.

It is a Time for National Repentance

Man's response to guilt - man's way - is often to either hide it or to overcompensate for it.

Our nation, despite her honorable heritage, bears more than her share of guilt: When we look at the way our country clung stubbornly to slavery and when we view the way many of our grandparents turned a deaf ear to the cries of the victims of lynching and other abuses.

Through the years we have either ignored that guilt or we have overcompensated - we've attempted to assuage our guilt with our pocketbooks.

When we choose either of those false solutions we only exacerbate the problem.
Perhaps that is the reason that in spite of their positions of power, many of our national leaders still cast themselves as victims.

The guilt we bear as a nation can only be resolved through repentance - and I am not referring to "reparations", no that is just more trying to pay our way out of the problem.

We need to repent before God.

I truly believe that our current direction may bring irreparable damages upon our nation and our liberties. It saddens me to see such a great heritage thrown away so flippantly.

It is likely however, that we have the leaders we deserve for this time; perhaps we even have the leaders we need . . .

. . . . to either lead us into a proper recognition of the Sovereign God . . .

. . . . or to drive us there.

Some Thoughts on Upcoming Elections

Many conservatives are feeling pretty confident these days - just holding on until November and then until 2012.

I learned something recently when reading The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes; FDR's presidency looked alot like Barack Obama's. He went in and made monumental changes from the get-go, he went after industry, he pitted people against one another, he introduced Social Security - which was deemed to be (and was) a policy of socialism, he was influenced in great measure by a "brain-trust" of idealist intellectuals that were all about "planned societies" and level playing fields and such, he introduced the idea of a "jobless recovery" and when election time began to roll around, things did not look good for FDR.

But he quickly pulled away from his Utopian friends and began to set in motion a political strategy and has been characteristic of democrat campaigns ever since. He played to various constituency groups - Labor, African-Americans, Senior citizens, etc. He pushed legislation favoring these groups and purchased their block votes. With that plan he pulled out the next election and more to follow.

I have a couple of sincere concerns regarding our next presidential election: there is a possibility that Barack Obama could mellow out or move to the center and woo the voters back that his idealism has lost. This might not even be so bad, in retrospect Bill Clinton took that tact and didn't do too much damage his second term.

My second concern is a more sinister one - I am concerned that the right to vote could be severely altered by that time. While that may seem unthinkable . . . so was national healthcare, and the government's take over of numerous industries.

But as you will see in my next post, I am no longer so sure that winning elections should be the major goal in all this. I think the problems we face in this nation go much deeper than "who is in office".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dancing with the Stars

Having children has taught me a lot.
I know the lyrics to the "Veggietales" theme song and can sing at least a portion of most all the "Silly Songs with Larry" songs.
I now know why my Dad often seemed grumpy.
And I have learned that despite the speculations of many in my life (R. included) - I do in fact have a sense of rhythm ... in fact, I am a virtual Boogie-Machine.
I arrived at this latest discovery while contemplating the annual "Father-Daughter Dance" that is organized by the American Girl group at Ab's school. We made that scene last Friday evening.

This was the third time, she and I had taken to the dance floor at this event.
It was only a day or so before the dance that I had decided that my oft-stated goal of Ab waiting until age 30 to start dating - just might be within reach....

But alas, there is something magically transforming about a ball. . . and my little girl soon changed quickly into a frighteningly beautiful young lady...

She was so poised and so demure....

Fortunately she did occasionally lapse back into Daddy's Little Girl . . .
I am very pleased to say that this year - as has been the case with all three of these events - she saved all her dances for me alone. I am, however, painfully aware that my days are numbered.

Now back to my dancing: It know that it would be difficult to believe, but I have never had a dancing lesson - never.

The only thing that came close was when Tammy Watkins tried to teach me and Donnie Smith the "Hustle" in her living room - a day or so before I was to go to the Senior Prom with her niece. Other than that - nothing but a few rounds of "Saturday Night Fever" and some Fred Astaire movies. I guess you could say I'm self-taught.

I think I noticed some of the other dads kinda' stop and stare as Ab and I tore up the dance floor Friday. In fact after I bumped into a couple of folks that sort of got in our way - people just made room for us.

It was one of those magic moments.
Actually, I really was a Boogie-Machine . . . at least my daughter made me feel as if she thought so.
And that was all that really mattered.