Not The Beer: The Other One

Samuel-Adams-Poster-Worthy-of-AidWe live in the age of chefs who are masters of culinary delights and connoisseurs of fine ales and home brewed drinks. I find it strange that these epicurean tendencies have tapped the keg of notoriety and made a brand more famous than the man.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager is larger and more famous than its namesake, Samuel Adams, who served in several different capacities that benefited the American revolution and the birthing of our nation:

  • He was a member of the Continental Congress (1774-81)
  • He was a signer of  the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • He helped draft the Articles of Confederation (1777)
  • He was a delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention (1779-80)
  • He served in the Massachusetts senate as president (1781)
  • He was the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts (1789-94), and served as Governor of Massachusetts (1794- 97).

In the pages of history, you’ll see references to Samuel Adams as the “Firebrand of the Revolution” and “The Father of the American Revolution.” To successfully achieve the revolution, Adams knew that men of character would be an essential.  In November of 1775, He wrote:  “Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.”

When I think of Adams’ call for men of “unexceptionable characters,” I can’t help but wonder about all the questionable characters we see in government today.

It would seem that Adams had connected the dots, and he believed there was a link between character and the Creator.  He said that, “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness . . . In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator.”

Even though Adams had tried and failed in his efforts to brew beer as a business, I think he would rather be remembered less for his lagers in life, and more for his larger than life role in the early years of our nation.

Is That Prime Rib or Reheated Hash?

PrintHow many times have you pulled up to your favorite restaurant, and you think you’ve found a choice parking spot close to the door only to discover it’s posted with a sign:  RESERVED.  Be honest, you hate it when this happens don’t you?

The last time I pulled into a spot like that, I realized the sign is a good commentary on our lives.  Either we reserve the best for God, or we re-serve Him the leftovers.

It’s easy to find verses that emphasis the reserved life:

  • Honor the Lord with your substance and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10).
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
  • Present your body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

When Proverbs 3, challenges you to honor the Lord with your substance, it means with the essence of your being.  It means body, soul, spirit, gifts, talents, abilities, and all earthly possessions.

Are you honoring God with your substance by living a life that is reserved for Him, or are you giving Him a life that is a re-served bowl of lukewarm hash?

Ragged Genes

genesSilly me, I thought the Washington Post article, “Cheating May Be in Your Genes” was speaking of unfairly playing a game.  You know, bending the rules to get an advantage; however, the focus is on cheating as in having an affair.  I guess that sounds a little nicer than calling it adultery or breaking one of the 10 Commandments.

According to research done by Brendan Zietsch at the University of Queensland in Australia, “an individual’s genetic makeup in general influences how likely he or she is to cheat.” The researchers at Queensland could have saved themselves a lot of time and money.  The answer to their hypothesis is in the Bible.  Ever since Adam and Eve messed things up in the Garden of Eden, 100% of men and women have been struggling with their desires and emotions.

Whenever a person, like these researchers, overlooks the obvious, I remember my old friend Ted and how he expressed his frustration.  His language in such instances was so razor sharp and electrifying he left the recipient of his diatribe shockingly bewildered.  His language was so colorful, it would make your teeter, totter.

My language won’t be nearly as graphic, but I will state the simple truth:  Your nasty sin nature wants you to wallow in the pig pen of life.  It lies to you, and tells you it’s okay to cheat, swindle, steal, and do whatever you feel like doing.  It’s the author of the bestseller: If It Feels Good, Do It.

Here’s a little secret:  It doesn’t make any difference whether you call it your genetic makeup, your DNA, or your sinful nature, you’re still responsible for your actions; and, there are consequences to your behavior.  Sin will always takes you farther than you want to go; it always promises more than it gives and, it always costs more than you want to pay.

It’s time to dial down the static noise and be emphatic about the truth:

  • When you cheat, you rob yourself of your character.
  • When you lie, you exist in a delusional environment.
  • When you steal, you rob yourself of your integrity.

If you will ask yourself these questions, they will help you temper your temptation:

  • Is 15 minutes of pleasure worth risking an eternity of joy?
  • Is the self-soothing value of false pretense worth losing the value of a good name?
  • Can I find genuine satisfaction and fulfilment in stealing something that belongs to another person?

Fortunately failure is not final, and you can learn this from the example of the Prodigal Son.  He was starving and stuffing “himself with the food the pigs were eating.  When he came to his senses he said, My father’s servants have more food than they can eat and here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go back to my father .’”

When you come to your senses, you can come back to your Father—He still loves you.

Piers and the Power of Peers

dockThe answer to the question you may have is, “No and yes.”  There is not a misspelled word in the title of the blog, and I do know the difference between a peer and a pier.  Homophones like “pier and peer” can be a source of confusion:  They sound alike, but they are spelled differently and mean different things:

  • A pier is a structure built on posts that extends from land into the water, and it provides a place for boats to dock.
  • A peer is a person who is equal to you in one or more ways (ability, age, social status, etc.)

This next statement might muddy the water instead of clear it up:  Because a peer is also defined as something of equal worth or quality, it’s possible for piers to be peers.  It’s even possible for you to act as a pier for your peers when you provide a safe harbor for them in the stormy times of life.

As a peer, you exert influence that is either positive or negative.  Solomon paints a powerful contrast of the two:

  • Proverbs 1:9: “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.”
  • Proverbs 27:17: “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” character?  Have you been enticed or are you the enticer?  Have you sharpened or dulled the character of your peer group?  Are you the shelter in the time of storm or the storm? general

The storms of life are a common denominator of humanity—everyone will face one at some time.  General Douglass MacArthur knew this, and he offered this pray for his son:

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then I, his father will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain. ”

I hope you will do more than just read this and lay it aside and forget it.  I encourage you to peer into the meanings of piers and peers and try to develop a life of peerless character.

Honoring the Sacrifice & Service of our Veterans

burdenToday is the day for  the fine  people of El Dorado, Kansas to kick off their week-long activities that begin with the annual Celebration of Freedom Parade.  This is the week where we pay homage to those who have served this country.memorial

The names of many of these are etched in stone at the Celebration of Freedom Memorial.  The brick-paved sidewalk reflects the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and paid the price of freedom with their lives.  Many veterans will pause here today, and they will see their names beside their feet, and they will remember what they can never forget–the faces of those who fought beside them and the battlefield scars that still mark their bodies and minds.  brick

Regardless of whether they served in a time of peace or a time of war, this memorial has a special place in the hearts of those who pledged their sacred honor to defend this great nation.

As a tribute to all veterans and as a reminder to everyone, I am including this brief video clip of one of President Reagan’s stirring speeches:  A Soldier’s Pledge

The Mumble and Grumble of Whinersville

grouchI had to get my atlas out last night to make sure I wasn’t lost.  It seemed like whether I was listening to my radio, watching TV, or reading the newspaper, people were whining:  “I deserve this,” or “I didn’t deserve that!”  I thought I had been mysteriously transported to Whinersville.

Whining, mumbling, and grumbling is a worldwide problem of epidemic proportions.  Europe, South America, Asia, Canada, and the good old USA are afflicted with this debilitating attitude.

This must be a centuries old problem because both Peter and Paul said  people should be careful about the expression of their attitude:

  • Peter said we should, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (I Peter 4:9).”
  • Paul said to, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation (Philippians 2:14-15).”

Before you complain to God, and say:  “This is something I don’t deserve.” Think about it.  Do you really want Him to serve you a plateful of what you deserve? When God fills my plate, I’m like a child:  I want a tiny portion of the Brussel sprouts of His judgment and heaping-helpings of His mercy-filled dips of mashed taters and cream gravy.  I never want what I deserve—the wilting heat of His anger.  I’d much rather bask in the Son-shine of His forgiveness.

Like David, we can find comfort in the loving nature of God and shout: “Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; and, Your abundant loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You . . . guide me along Your path, so that I will live in Your truth (Psalm 86:10-11).”  Even whiners grow mute and their grumbles are silenced when they turn their thoughts to God’s “abundant loyal love.”

My Pinky Finger or My Whole Hand?

flowerWhen you think of the stories of the Bible, which one pops into your mind?  Is it Noah and the ark, or Jonah and the big fish?  One of the more familiar stories is the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).

To help you remember this story, let me remind you of the main characters.  It involved a thief who beat a man and the reactions of a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.  Each of these people pondered a question.  The question asked by the priest and the Levite was: “What will happen to me, if I stop and help this man?”  The Samaritan asked the question from a different perspective: “What will happen to this man, if I don’t stop and help him?”

Both the priest and the Levite barely noticed the injured man, but the Samaritan was eager to help bear his burdens.  Of the three, it seems that the Samaritan was better acquainted with the words of Solomon:

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.  Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?  And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”

I’ve wondered how much this story influenced the thinking of William Penn, who said: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

Some of the simplest acts of kindness, like lending a helping hand, are the most noble.  The following quotes focus on this kind of ministry:

  • Martin Luther King Jr: “Life’s most urgent questions is: What are you doing for others?”
  • Booker T. Washington: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

God calls us to try to see each other through, not to try to see through each other.  We do this best when we labor together; lift each other up; and, support one another.

That’s No Lie


Promises_of_God_BannerAfter hearing the latest political sound bite without a bit truth, I was reminded that the Apostle John said, “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.”  Promises and sincerity go hand in hand, and a promise is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

The object of my faith and hope is God, and His promises are more than egg shells and jell-o—they’re rock solid.  Moses said, “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it (Number 23:19).”

You can trust the promises of God for several reasons:

  • You can trust the truthfulness of His Word: “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what (The Message, Hebrews 4:12-13).”
  • You can trust His faithfulness knowing that, “ Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture (The Message, 40:11).”
  • You can trust Him because He loves you: “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children (I John 3:1).”

To keep a promise, a person must have the strength and resources to fulfill the commitment.  There are several places in the Bible where God is referred to as the “Almighty God.”  He is no puny 90 pound weakling, but the Almighty God and the Great I Am. Psalm 91 confirms this: “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

I’ll close with these words from D.L. Moody: “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.

A Parade of Champions

kcrIf you know anything about sports, you know that the Kansas City Royals just won a hard fought and entertaining battle on the baseball fields of Kansas City and New York; and, they have been crowned World Series Champions.

With child-like enthusiasm, baseball fans from near and far are descending on Kansas City today to celebrate with the Royals.  They will savor the sweet taste of victory and delight as their team winds its way through the streets of Royals Town USA.

The language of sports has been spoken for thousands of years.  Paul used the competition of the Isthmian Games as means to share spiritual truth.  He also spoke of a parade of champions that features Jesus as the parade Marshall:  “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him (2 Corinthians 2:14).”

The parade route in Kansas City with be lined with thousands of spectators, and it will be a great time for adoring fans to shout out to their favorite players.  The procession that Paul spoke of is one of triumph that calls you to more than a mere spectator.  You are to be a participator and speak up for Jesus.

You are the means through which God spreads the sweet fragrance of His love and mercy.  Wave your banner, and give thanks for the victory you have in Him.

The Time Is Right

whatever2I hate the two times each year that we’re forced to try and manipulate time by changing our clocks.  Regardless of whether it’s forward one hour in the Spring or back one hour in the Fall, my internal clock doesn’t change; and, I’m out of sync with the rest of the world.

As I was setting my clock before I went to bed last night, I thought about a time related statement from the Apostle Paul:  “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly . . . demonstrating His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).”

As I thought of Paul’s “right time” statement, it occurred to me, that the right time is the time when God is present:

Because God intervenes at the right moment, you can know He is always present: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you (2 Chronicles 20:17).”

God promises to help battle the bullies, calm your fears, and give you hope for tomorrow, “for the Lord is with you.”