Sunday, July 27, 2008

Made In His Image & Likeness

My wife and I have just returned from Fort Leonard Wood Missouri where we attended the graduation ceremony of my oldest son from boot camp in the US Army. He is following in our family tradition of military service to this country.

My father served in the U.S. Navy, I served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps and now my son, Alonzo is serving in the U.S. Army. I must say that it looks as if Army life agrees with him. He stands taller and for the first time in his life I have noticed that he is determined and has a sense of pride in himself. It is as if he has been waiting to do this all of his life.

During boot camp he would call me on Sunday evenings to tell me what he had accomplished during the week (qualifying at the rifle range, running the obstacle course, attention to detail, etc.) as well as to "gripe" about how the drill sergeants gave he and his fellow recruits absolutely no slack. I would encourage him as much as possible and give him the benefit of my experiences in similar situations. I do believe that for the first time in his life, he actually listened to me, his father. No matter what the future brings, I am proud of him for taking and embracing this change in his life.

I got to wonder about how often I seek God and listen to His words. Just like I am here to help any of my children, I need to realize that God is here to help me (His child) benefit from His past experience if I ask Him. Now understand that "I do pray and ask God to help me and my family." The question then becomes "Do I listen to what God tells me and then do I do it (no matter how formidable the undertaking or step may be)"? I have to honestly answer, "Not as much as I need to."

In my opinion, the key to being free from "stuff" (sickness, poverty, problems with our children, problems with our jobs, mates, etc.) is knowing that if I am going through this "stuff" with God then everything will be all right. By being free I mean being free of the worry and fear associated with whatever I am going through at the time.

No matter what, I will always have to go through "stuff". The key thought here is to not attach myself to any potential outcome of my circumstance or situation. I know that God is with me every step of the way and, if necessary, will fight my battles for me. I have to learn how to stay in the present and in the presence of God. I should not worry about a future outcome that in most likelihood will never occur. I just need to allow God to lead me. However allowing God to lead me is much, much easier said than done. I have to keep reminding myself that John 8:36 says "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!" Jesus did free us didn't He?

Now, when I am going through what seems like the "valley of the shadow of death" I do so boldly knowing that He will bring me safely through it. And when God sets a table before me in the presence of my enemies (i.e. "haters") I will be able to smile and wave at the "haters" as well as give God the glory that He so richly deserves.

In summary, our children need us as much as we need them. We need God as much as He needs us.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Shhh, don't tell anyone but I didn't go to church this morning. There is nothing wrong with me but my wife and I spent all day yesterday just hanging out and I am a just bit tired. Now before you all start in on me the Bible says that we are no longer bound to the law. In this case the law being that you "have to" go to church every Sunday. If that were so then it would be our deeds that get us into heaven and those of us that did the best deeds would assuredly be saved, right? Not so fast Homey because the Apostle Paul says that it is faith alone (not works) that does the trick. So let's get back to what I really wish to say.

After I got up, I got on the Internet to check my e-mail and play an Internet card game. Have you ever played an Internet card game? My favorite game is Internet Spades. In this game you are paired with a teammate from around the world and the main objective is to get to 500 points before your opponents. In order to gain points you and your partner determine how many points you will make on each hand. It is a contract system, kind of like bid whist for those that majored in it while attending college or bridge for our upscale listeners. There are different levels of expertise (beginner, intermediate & expert). I play at the expert level because I am pretty good.

I have found it interesting to observe the number of players that will quit the game if they do not achieve their bid. I would guess that the percentage of those that quit the game is 75% or higher. This fact leads me to think about the game of life and the number of those that dropout if they fail to obtain an objective.

It reminds me of one of my past experiences. After graduating from the University of Texas, I was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. While attending The Basic School (a 6-month training course for new Marine Officers) in Quantico Virginia I determined that I wanted to become a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) and fly in fast moving combat jet aircraft.

When I got to flight school in Pensacola Florida I found out that I had to pass a water survival test in order to move from ground school to a flying status. Nobody ever told me that because this native of Chicago, Illinois did not know how to swim.

Well, I promptly began to learn how to swim. Every day for approximately 5 weeks I would go to the pool after class to practice what was needed to pass the water survival portion of my training. This test included treading water for 15 minutes as well as swimming one mile both while in a flight suit.

To make a long story short when the day of the big test came, I failed it "bigger than Dallas". I was disappointed and momentarily thought that maybe flying was not for me. After working through my disappointment I analyzed the portions of the test that I failed and determined to make them my strengths. I was given 2 weeks to pass the test and then did so with flying colors and went on to earn my "wings of gold".

This leads me to ask, "What areas of our lives do we need to improve in order to walk closer to God?" The bible says that David was a man after God's own heart, but even he had huge short comings (lust and murder to name a few). However David persevered in his walk with God and I believe was rewarded with a heavenly home.

My point here is no matter what you are going through "Do Not Quit" because the goal of spending eternity with God is worth it.

Just think, all of this because I did not go to church this morning and played an Internet card game. Who would have figured it?



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rev. Jackson's comments about Sen. Obama


I must admit that I was a little disgruntled by Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent comments about Barack Obama.

Jackson made the comments to a guest before an interview on Sunday’s “Fox & Friends,” whispering that Obama was “talking down to black people” and that Jackson wanted to “cut his nuts off.”

I feel that a Public Figure and a man with as much time in front of the microphone that he has should know not to express deeply personal feelings that may be eavesdropped upon. Additionally, anyone that holds the position as a minister should be mindful of his or her duties to the church body as a whole.

Now with that being said we must remember that we are not perfect and neither is Rev. Jackson. The bible says in Matthew 7:1 to judge not lest we be judged. In my opinion this means that we should not make emotional or rash decisions without examining all the facts. Let us not form a "Rush to Judgment" as so often occurs in high profile cases. Let's look at some history of Rev. Jackson.

Myself being born and raised in Chicago, I remember him during the Chicago riots of the 1960's. I would hear him repeatedly stating "I Am Somebody!". I was too young to understand what he meant at the time but since then I have come to understand that he was helping blacks to establish a sense of self worth and pride in themselves. In the early 1970's he created the P.U.S.H. organization (People United to Save Humanity).

Rev. Jackson was involved in the Civil Rights movement along with Dr. Martin Luther King. As a matter of fact he was with Dr. King in Memphis when Dr. King was assassinated. Since then he had a tumultuous relationship with Ralph Abernathy who, after Dr. King's assassination, headed the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference).

Rev. Jackson has continually been in the public eye and during the 1980's twice sought the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. You might say that Sen. Obama is standing on the shoulders of Rev. Jackson (how ironic!). Being a former Naval Aviator, I was especially interested in the fact that Rev. Jackson was involved in the negotiations for the release of an American pilot that was shot down over Syria as well as the release of 22 Americans held by the Cuban government.

Public record states that he is the father of 6 children (one of which was born out of wedlock as the result of an extramarital affair with one of his staffers).

Thanks for bearing with me because I am finally coming to my point. In Luke 6:44 the bible says that a tree is known by its fruit. If he is Christian the fruit will be the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which according to Galatians 5:22-23 are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

At any point in time it is my belief that, given the right circumstances and situation, anyone of us can fly off the handle and not exhibit these fruits. However we should look at the history and current activities of a person to determine the fruit that he/she bears and not condemn them for a spur of the moment comment for which he/she will have to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Do I wish that Rev. Jackson had not made those comments about Barack Obama?....Yes! Do I condemn him?.....No!

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)

When I was younger there was a song that was sung by the Stylistics and also recorded by Marvin Gaye & Diana Ross. It was entitled "Stop, Look, Listen (To your heart). Maybe you know the lyrics "Stop, Look, Listen to your heart, hear what it's saying".

Well my friends, maybe it is time to Stop, Look and Listen to what is going on around us and to what the word of God has to say about it. From an external viewpoint the news is full of stories about natural disasters, wars, suicide bombings, parents killing their children, wrong doing by leaders in high places of authority and responsibility (including our government and places of worship). Every day it seems as if there is something new and sensational to grab our attention. It seems as if we are surrounded by doom and gloom. Maybe we should Stop, Look and Listen to what God is trying to tell us.

From an internal viewpoint, what is it that is going on in our lives that should be raising a red flag to get our attention? Are we controlled by our addictions (sex, drugs, alcohol, money, gossiping, pride, power, etc.)? What is going on in our lives that we do not want other people to know about? What is it that is keeping us separated from God? It seems as if our attention is always being directed from one thing to another. Either we are having a problem with our mate (or lack of one), our children, with the cost of food and gas, our health or that of a loved one, our job, etc. What can we do in order not to be negatively affected by these things?

I am reminded of when the Israelites were in the wilderness and complained that their path to the Promised Land was too difficult. They spoke against (i.e. "dissed") God and Moses in chapter 21 of the Biblical book of Numbers. They also complained about the nourishing food (manna) that God had been providing them daily since they left Egypt. Rather than complain, the Israelites should have Stopped, Looked & Listened to what God had to say. Maybe He would have said "I know that the road is difficult, but remember that I am with you and am protecting you from all evil (i.e. stuff going on around you) as long as you trust me".

Does this ring a bell? Are we complaining about life? Are we now starting to doubt that God can take care of our needs as He has done in the past? Do the obstacles in our lives seem insurmountable?

Maybe what we are going through will equip us to help someone in the future. Let’s take inventory of ourselves. Do we have a fair portion of health and strength? Do we have a place to live and clothes upon your back? Can we contact and talk with loved ones? Let’s count our blessings. Then maybe we can thank God for what we have and Stop, Look & Listen to the rest of the story told us in Numbers chapter 21.

As a result of the Israelites complaints and lack of trust God sent poisonous snakes among them and many died. God then told Moses to set a fiery serpent upon a pole and anyone bit by those poisonous snakes would live if they look towards the pole and not down at the snakes in their midst.

My conclusion is that even though there are poisonous snakes (wars, suicide bombings, personal problems and addictions) all around us and some of us may have already gotten bit or have been affected by them, let us not become agitated, angry or depressed but let us call upon God to help us. Then we shall live.

Some of you may say, “That is the Old Testament and was written in ancient times for the Israelites.” I would answer that comment by saying this particular narrative shows us what God expects of His people and how He responds to those that trust Him. Additionally in John 3:14 it says:

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up”.

This New Testament passage states that we should now place our focus and trust in the crucified Christ and remember “those who look to Him by faith recover spiritual/mental health, even as all that looked at that serpent recovered physical health.”

If we do this, we shall live peacefully and confidently in the midst of all that is going on around us. It is time to Stop, Look & Listen to what the word of God has to tell us.