Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I was not a fan of Ted Kennedy's politics. He was the leader of the Left. I am mostly a conservative. While he may have argued against various expensive, and expansive, programs at different time in his career, he was clearly part of the movement that stretched the US government envelope in the direction of bigger government, impacting, even controlling, a steadily increasing portion of the personal lives of US citizens. In his younger years Senator Kennedy became well known for his failure to control various appetites. I regretted, and continue to regret the fact that the well-known politician was clearly part of the redefining of what is accepted, and even expected, morally and ethically, in the realm of public service. Apparently, in his latter years, the Senator gained the victory over some of these personal demons.

I did, however, observe a trait in Kennedy's public career that is admirable; one we could use more of in politics on a local, state, and federal level; one that many conservative and even Christian leaders need to learn. Ted Kennedy once spoke at Liberty University. He did not compromise on his liberal views, but he made his points in a gracious way. There was no doubt that the late Rev. Jerry Fallwell was his political counter-pole, yet he graciously responded to Fallwell's invitation and behaved like a gentleman. (BTW, he was treated like one, while on the Liberty campus.) In the Senate Orin Hatch was close friends with Kennedy. Again these men were, on most issues, political enemies, yet they were united by a profound friendship. Brent Alderman comments on this unexpected trait in the Lion of Senate, referring to the remarkable friendship between Kennedy and conservative columnist, Cal Thomas. I'm not suggesting that we compromise on matters that are non-negotiable, or that we adopt a go-along-to-get-along mode. I am appealing for a more civil tone. I fear that too many of us look to Sean "Never-Let-Them-Finish-A-Sentence" Hannity rather than to our Lord, Who though He clearly confronted evil, was always more concerned about people's souls than their politics.

This is not just a concept that I am recommending for the big guys up in Washington. My little part of the world is currently involved in an argument over consolidation. A friend told me that some former friends were still divided because of the last consolidation vote, twenty-five years ago. My church, not long ago had to make a decision related to our building. Unfortunately, in the discussions leading to the decision, eternal values sometimes were sacrificed for stuff that won't even last a lifetime. Even when talking politics over a cup of coffee, I need to maintain a civil tone.
  • We need to remember that hindsight has shown us that there are times when we are sure that we are right, but we aren't.

  • We need to be reminded that the person who holds to whatever ridiculous view we are arguing against is a creature of God, a person who bears His image, and one for whom Christ died. How can we have such disdain for one whom Christ loves so much?

  • Ultimately, the answer is not the president, senator, governor, or dog-catcher we elect, but the Savior we serve.
Last night I prayed for Senator Kennedy's family. I encourage you to the same--whatever your political persuasion.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Family Time:

We are finishing up a week at Sandbridge, near VA Beach.
It has been one of those rare times when all of us have been able to be together.

We have had perfect weather and a wonderful time.

Chad and Tanisha & crew leave in the morning for PA. They'll be packing up to move to Louisiana. They leave on Tuesday. Chris and Nancy and their two fly back to Texas on Saturday, as we'll be driving back to Covington.
Above: Chris's daugheter, Kira, Kendal, Chris's son, Silas,
Madeline, Carringtom, Christopher, Tanisha & Chad, H&K, and
Chris and Nancy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sand & surf & family:

Here we are at Sandbridge, near Virginia Beach.

Christopher is trying to catch a wave, while his uncle watches.

Three of my grandkids found a memaid lying on the beach
Kira running from a wave, and Carrington looking more grown up than her dad or I are comfortable with.
It is a lovely start to a week with family.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michael Vick apparently has another advisor:

Interesting connections abound, in this life.
Though I'm not sure if he has been reading, I've been offering advice to former--and probably future--NFL quarterback Michael in this column. At the same time that I was advising Vick, I've been receiving advice from another football great, Tony Dungy. We are going to be using Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength, as the guide for our study in our Men's Prayer Breakfast series this year. I hear that Michael and Tony have been getting together. I say "Amen!" to that.

About the same time that I got news that these two football stars were hanging out together I was reminded of the importance of reaching out to those who are hurting, who have been hurt. and even those who have hurt others, if they are willing to repent.

Michael, I have been impressed with Dungy's dedication to the Lord, his desire to right the thing, and his commitment to service. I encourage you to hang with the man.

Tony, thanks.
When we invest in others we are doing the Lord's work. BTW, if you are going to be in the neighborhood in the next several months, let me know. I'd love for you to have breakfast with my guys. Bring Michael along. He used to play ball just down the road at Blacksburg. We'll have some good biscuits and gravy, and a great time in the Lord.

Our first Men's Prayer Breakfast is September 12, at 8:00.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Power of Prayer:

Many of you let me know of your prayer on my behalf in relation to the funeral last Saturday.

Thank you.

Daniel was a young man of exceptional promise. He had a passion for sharing the Good News that is way too rare. He was a budding scholar, learning Hebrew, Greek and Theology. He was also a naive youngster, who plunged ito situations he should have avoided. I'm not sure the precise route, but one of those plunges proved deadly.
In his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner says that the question of evil--especially as stated in the book's title--is the only Theological question that really matters. Of course, I don't agree with that assessment (nor with the conclusion of the book) but I do appreciate the emphasis. It is a question that often trips up unbelivers, who may be moving toward the cross, and it often causes the believer's ship of faith to wreck on the reefs of doubt.
I felt that Daniel's death required wrestling with the issue.

Part of the problem is that we assume that what think--or more accurately feel--as bad really is. Not necessarily.
Here is a summary of some of what I shared:

What we want is peace . . . It doesn’t come as a result of more knowledge. It comes from greater intimacy with and greater trust in the God of the Universe.
Peace will not come as a result of knowing something more; it will come as a result of trusting Someone.

Here are 4 things we need to know:

  • Know that you don’t know, and know this, that those who claim to have a greater knowledge don’t know either.
    Anybody can claim ignorance. I’m ignorant about far more than I’m knowledgeable about.
    A greater level of maturity leads us to know what we don’t know. That is a powerful piece of knowledge.
    The greatest maturity of knowledge is when one comes to the place that he knows that there are some things that in the here and now are unknowable. It is beyond us. I read a moment ago that passage of scripture from Romans. “who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35) Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”
    I would submit, that knowing everything that we want to know about this tragedy is beyond us. I’m not saying that looking for more answers is wrong. In fact, if I have the opportunity, I’ll probably look into it some more. What we absolutely need to know is that no matter how much we know, we will never get to the place where this whole thing will make perfect sense. That is beyond us.
    What we want is peace . . . It doesn’t come as a result of more knowledge. It comes from greater intimacy with and greater trust in the God of the Universe.
    Peace will not come as a result of knowing something more; it will come as a result of trusting Someone.
  • Know that evil is an ever present reality in this world.
    Now don’t check-out on me, because what I am about to say is definitely not the final word, whether the ultimate attack was from outside of Daniel, or whether it was from a battle that raged within his own heart and mind, on August 1, 2009 Satan won a victory.

    I told you to not check-out, because we need to know that any victory that our great enemy won was only temporary—even illusory. His ultimate defeat is sure, and for Daniel Aaron Livick it is already accomplished.

    Let me put 2 passages of scripture about death together:
    Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15) and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14-15, NASB95)
    54) But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57) but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57, NASB95)
  • We need to know that while death is an enemy, it is also a tool in the hand of God to accomplish His will, and do what is best for His child.
    In 1 Kings 14 the prophet Ahijah uttered this strange prophecy about King Jeroboam’s young son. He was dying. 13) “All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. (1 Kings 14:13, NASB95)
    The rest of the King’s family would suffer through the coming calamity . . .
    In a couple of New Testament passages it appears that death is the Heavenly Father’s ultimate tool to keep His child as His own. He will not allow his child to continue in sin, but will take him or her to Himself.
  • Know that it is ight to take a chance and invest in people—that is the essence of love.
    Length of life is not a valid criteria. I would venture to say that there will be more people in heaven because of Daniel’s witness during his short life than there will be as a result of the 80 year long lives of most Christians.
    Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58, NASB95)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sadness and Bewilderment:

Our church family has been clobbered with devastating news.
A young man who appeared, to me, to be on track to becoming a Bible teacher of rare ability, and even rarer passion, has been taken from us at the young age of 24.
It would have been bad enough if his death had been the result of a car wreck, or cancer, but his death had a bizarre element to it, unexplainable. There are many unanswered questions. Every time I think I have a handle on it, something else comes up in my mind or some new piece of information surfaces. I'm sorting out what I know, and what I don't know. My pile of ignorance is way higher than my comfort level.

I'm acutely aware that I'm the one folk are looking to for answers. I don't have any, or many.

Perhaps that is the answer. Job didn't know either. God told him to trust.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Does He still have value?

As is often the case, AOL is following and exploiting the popular media. This time it was about someone I've been looking at through my keyhole. There is a nice, in a football sort of way, picture of Michael Vick. Next to it there is a question: "Does Quarterback still have value?" Let me cut to the chase, "Yes, yes he does!" And it has nothing to do with whether Vick can still pass and run, and elude defenses.
OK, in AOL's defense, I need to let you know that if you click on the link it opens up an article about Fantasy Football; the question has to do with whether or not Vick will be a good pick for a fantasy team. In a way though, I still find it subtly disturbing. People playing a pretend version of a game deciding whether a pretend version of a real person has worth, and doing it based on a rather narrow set of criteria in real life. That's cold.
All of us, talented athletes, and those who only passed Phys. Ed. because the only way to flunk was not to dress-out, need to understand that our worth does come from our performance. I am worthy because God says I am. I'm created in His image and He loves me and that gives my life worth.
I've been reading Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength. That lesson of where ones worth comes from is a question with which he struggled. And the answer he came to was "Not football." It is not the answer for you, either, Mike, and for me it has nothing to do with how well I preach.
I'm not saying we shouldn't do what we do well. We just need to understand that that isn't the source of our worth.

By the Way: I'm still expecting--though I am wondering because it is taking so long--that invitation for a beer at the White House. I understand that Joe Biden drank a non-alcoholic beer substitute, at the recent beer-lubricated public-relations meeting. I guess that is a possibility, but to be honest why would I want to drink something that I don't like, just because it is a substitute for something else that I don't like either? Would the President be offended if I asked for Diet Dr. Pepper, or a cup of coffee?