The Golden Calf

The children of Israel were camped before Mount Sinai, far out in the desert. Moses had left the camp; going up into the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments and he put his brother Aaron in charge of things while he was away. It had been an amazing few months for the Israelites. They had witnessed the miraculous wonders that brought Egypt down to her knees, watched in awe as God parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army in the process, and ate manna in the midst of a desolate wilderness while sustaining themselves with water brought forth from a rock.

The Promised Land was in their future; after all, God had promised as much and so far He had not been slack at all concerning His promises. Everything was as close to perfect as could be hoped for with nothing but proverbial blue skies on the horizon. What could possibly go wrong?

Moses was on the mountain a little bit longer than they were comfortable with. The days went by with no word and they began to grow restless. (Camping will do that to you; I know all about it from my own experience) Sure, God had brought them out of bondage, but maybe they no longer needed either Moses or Him to get to where they were going. In a nutshell, the Children of Israel wanted ‘change’. They wanted something they ‘could believe in’. (This is fun!)(Might get me into trouble...)

Exodus 32: “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Left to their own devices and with weak leadership holding them in place, they fashioned their own golden calf to worship. Then the party started.

But God can see all, hear all, and He knows all. He pointed this out to Moses: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

I was pondering this story while watching the television news this morning. An official being interviewed stated that those citizens that are against the government’s programs introduced during the past few months – those that instead call such well-thought-out plans ‘socialistic’ and protest them as such, may be considered as ‘unreachable’. I was floored. Me? Unreachable? Probably so.

You see, I still think of my country as a Christian nation because it was founded as such. Like it or not, the people that settled this nation escaped from the bondage of oppression and bravely founded a country that became one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Hard work, sacrifice, and determination were required along the way, not entitlement programs or tolerance initiatives.

I’m afraid that somewhere down the road we lost our way. The God that blessed us and guided us as a nation was removed from our courts and schools and replaced with a form of secular humanism. Now we are reaping what we've sown. With no God left to worship, and being that we are creatures that were created for praise; the government has stepped into our hearts and filled the void.

In essence, we aren’t so different from those misguided Israelites dancing around a man-made idol out in the desert so long ago. We’ve turned aside (quickly) from the way that God commanded us and turned to the golden calf of government to solve all of our problems and lead us to greener pastures as we shamelessly worship at its feet. What made our country great? It was our government. Who led us into freedom? It was our government. Who sustained us and provided for our care? It was our government. We have literally corrupted ourselves with this manner of thinking.

I think Moses has been gone far too long. He better get back soon, or there may be nothing left to return to.

Judgment and Grace

When I was a kid, we used to ride the bus to school. Back in those days, in either sunshine or rain, we would trudge up the hill to catch the bus. Excuses to our parents were neither made nor accepted. It wasn’t so bad, and a person could get used to it since all the other kids performed the same feat every morning. It was an era of seldom-traveled rural roads - most of them dirt; and big-old yellow school buses with numbers painted on their sides.

Everyday was the same and I even liked riding the bus – until he showed up. He was a year older than me, tough as nails from growing up dirt poor and being the product of a broken home. The boy was vicious, and he took it upon himself to make my life miserable from the very first moment that I met him. Being that he was much bigger than me, when I could not avoid him I merely accepted whatever punishment he dished out on any given day. After all, I figured since he was in a grade above me, once we made it to the school he would have to go his separate way and I would be left in peace to lick my wounds. This worked for a year or so. Until he failed a grade in school, which is what we called it back then. Today I think it is called being ‘held back’ a year, but it was the same thing. What it meant was that now even the arrival at school was no consolation as he was now in the same grade as me.

It only got worse. A few years down the road he began visiting my church on Sundays. I did my best to avoid him as it was the well-learned path of least resistance to his antics, and needless to say I didn’t welcome him or thank him for coming to church as we usually did for our visitors. Thinking back in honesty, it would have made no difference to him, either. He would have met my well-wishes with sadistic derision, or a swift and painful thump on the ears, or both.

One Sunday morning I was appalled when he walked down the aisle and surrendered his soul to Jesus. The nerve! I thought to myself. Surely he did not mean it, as hateful as he was. After services it was part of the routine to join in a line and welcome new members into the fellowship of the church. I stood off in the back, refusing to go down the aisle and shake his hand. It angered me even more when I saw the sweet, dear old ladies of the church obviously fawning over him. I decided he may have fooled them with his act, but he wasn’t going to fool either me or God. We both knew better!

Years went by and I am proud to say that I got over it. He must have as well, because there was a noticeable change in his life from that day forward. Yes, he slipped a time or two; we all do. But his hatefulness and cruelty stopped as if someone had turned off a faucet. Although we became friends later, I never told him how I had felt that day he gave his life to the Lord. It was probably due to a sincere sense of shame on my part that I never did so.

In Romans chapter 2, Paul opens with a fantastic thought: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Sin is sin no matter who commits it and we have all shared a common blame since Adam and Eve went Dutch on a fruit-salad back in the Garden of Eden. We like to compare ourselves to others because in our deceptive hearts we think we look better when we do so. Sadly, God is not going to compare us to each other. He will compare us to His Son and the perfect example He set for us while he walked here on earth.

I may not ever commit murder or adultery, and knocking over a convenience store is probably not in the near future for me. But I cannot judge others that do those sordid deeds and believe that my sins will look smaller or somehow pale in comparison. I’ve missed the mark in my own life on countless occasions. In the end, God will judge me for sin in the same manner that he will judge a serial killer – by His Word. His Word states that all have sinned. Not some. Not a few. All.

It is exhilarating to me when I attempt to comprehend it. The same grace that God provided to save my soul and furnish me with eternal life is also available to even the vilest sinner on death row. God can forgive us both. Jesus died for us both. Heaven has been prepared for us both.

It truly is an amazing grace.

Roger and Me

For clarification, because some of you have asked: Roger is a character from my novel Fast Asleep. Therefore, although he is close to me, he is fictional! Sorry for the confusion...

ME: “I’m here this afternoon with Roger Connors and he has reluctantly agreed to an interview with me. (Laughter in background) Roger is an old friend from the small town we both call home and he went through a bad scrape a little while back. Roger, first off, it’s good to have you here in my blog and I appreciate you coming by today.”

ROGER: “No problem, Shannon. It’s great to be here from my end as well. Thanks for having me.”

ME: “Well, first off, let’s get down to business, shall we? (Roger nods) “Tell me about this big turn-around in your life over the past few months.”

ROGER: “There’s not a lot to it, at least not insofar as it was something that I myself did on my own. I was always a Christian and was raised in church and stuff. I guess after my wife passed away I - how do I say this? I lost my faith a little bit.”

ME: “So you are saying that you were lost again?”

ROGER: “No, that ain’t true. I was saved all along even though I wasn’t exactly living it. I just kind of stopped caring about anything but work and my dog. You know, dropped out of the social scene and definitely didn’t go to church anymore. (Pauses) Oh, and I had a little bout with the bottle going on there, if you know what I mean. Some would say I was in a shell, but it was more like sleep-walking through my life. Yeah. That’s it. But I was never, how did you put it - lost. I believe that once you have the Savior in your heart you can’t lose him. If that was the case we’d all have to get saved daily. It makes no sense to me otherwise.”

ME: “I like the way you put it, Roger. So what brought you back from that place you found yourself in?”

ROGER: (Smiles broadly) “Well, let me tell you. I had a weird summer, unlike any I’d ever seen in my life, or lived through, at least. Let’s see, I lost my job, made a new friend, got involved with some scientific folks, and met a girl. The main part was meeting the girl, Rikki. She’s very spiritual. I guess I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that it rubbed off on me.” (He laughs and looks out the window as if remembering the summer he was talking about)

ME: “Go on, tell us more.”

ROGER: “Most of the big stuff you wouldn’t believe unless you were there. I thought it was over when I lost my job; I had nothing to do and all day to do it by that point. I met this guy and he hired me to do some work over on his construction site, strange stuff they were doing over there. But even though I knew he was strange we hit it off pretty good. It was through him that I met Rikki and the others. He was a good man, even for a Yankee.” (Laughs again) Me and Rik were getting pretty close by the time the others moved out there and…”

ME: “Moved out where? To the construction site?”

ROGER: “Yeah. They were all about some science and figured it would save the world, what they were working on, or at the very least they would save themselves. Turns out they were wrong, but that’s another story. We, being Rikki and me, ended up stuck underground deep in the earth with no way out. But through our faith we made it. God took care of us. There’s a Bible verse she taught me later when I was in the hospital that fit the bill, it goes, ‘He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.’ I think that’s in Psalms 40 if I’m not mistaken. God did in fact pull us literally out of a pit and now He leads us through each day of our lives together.” (Smiles)

ME: “Sounds like a wonderful story. Roger, my time here is just about up, and I thank you again for coming by. Is there anything else you can tell us?”

ROGER: “Only that when you think all is lost and things aren’t looking so good for you or your life, well, that is when you can depend on God to show up, big-time. But you gotta have faith, my friend. It is all about your faith and trust in Him. You have to let go of what you know and what you think you can or cannot do and realize that He has all the answers and all of the power. This is true, I’ve found, no matter how bleak the situation appears to be.”

ME: “How’s Rikki these days?”

ROGER: “She’s doing good. We both are. I love her and I know she loves me so I can’t ask for anything more in the way of blessings – my cup runneth over! (Smiles again, contagiously) She’s at home with Shockey right now. No telling what they are up to.”

ME: “Thanks again, Roger. You take care of yourself.”

Roger: “You too.”


One of the things that can really irritate me is an Internet pop-up ad. Despite utilizing the best virus, spyware, and adware tools, it seems as though nothing can prevent them from reaching their goal of getting in the way or slowing down my computer. This usually happens when I am in a hurry or concentrating while performing important research on a project.

I will be reading a web article and once I am finished and ready to go to the next page, I click my mouse on the link and bam! An ad pops up for almost anything you can imagine, but always something that I am not interested in. Sometimes two or three may pop up at a time. I tell ya, it’s not a pretty sight! I particularly hate the ad that has an x for ‘ignore this ad and continue on to the web page you requested’. Another that causes me particular chagrin is the pop-up (usually in the middle of the screen) that warns me that my computer is infected and if I will simply click ‘ok’ I will be taken to a web site where I can purchase a software package that will un-infect me. Usually the displayed ad itself has already infected my computer; at least they are not lying about it. This manner of solicitation borders on the tactics of a bully, if you ask me.

And I have to wonder, does anyone ever buy anything that is forced into their lives in this manner? Is this what we have come to in the Brave New World of advertising?

Maybe there is someone out there on the Internet right now who actually likes these kinds of things. An ad for Viagra? (Sure! click!) An on-line degree from a college no one has ever heard of? (click! Ink me up immediately!) Old classmates you can find now for only $29.99 a month? (Sounds good to me! click! click! click!) I’d like to meet that person simply out of curiosity, if he exists, just to see if my suspicions can be confirmed on the matter.

I ignore these ads. Even if they were giving away free gold (and I’m sure there’s probably an ad that proclaims as much) I would not follow the link. Usually I'll carefully search the ad first to make sure there is a way to clear it. Sometimes if you simply click ‘no thanks’ it could also be an actual acceptance in some form or another. I look for the ‘x’ in the top right corner and if that fails, I use ctrl-alt-del and allow task manager take care of the problem for me. Worst case? I close my browser and reboot, and then run either a spyware or virus scan program. I have to do these things all because of an advertisement for something I am not interested in. Gr-r-r!

These assorted pop-ups in many ways remind me of daily temptations that can come out of left field and blind-side me if I am not constantly vigilant. Satan loves to attack me in the same manner as these ads and I cannot foresee when an attack of his will suddenly ‘pop-up’ in my life. I can be reading my Bible when something will cause me to lose my train of thought and the same example works during my prayer-time. Satan sends a sudden interruption that causes me to lose my thoughts on God and instead will turn that focus elsewhere. How about when I am sitting in church and I become distracted from the preaching of God’s Word by contemplating things from my job or my family, to even the NASCAR race later that afternoon? These attacks sent from the evil one are pop-ups, and I need something that will stop temptation in its tracks before I allow my heart to become infected with sin.

I Corinthians 10 states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The temptations that are thrown my way by Satan are the same ones that we all face. I am not different than any other Christian in this matter. And temptations will continue to pop up from time to time and usually they will be unexpected when they do. I do not sin when I am tempted; I only sin when I give in to temptation. This passage of scripture tells me that God will give me an escape in order that I will be able to bear the burden of my temptation and prevent me from falling.

I’ve learned to deal with pop-ups on the Internet. They still bother me but if I am careful and keep my software up to date, I usually do not have a major problem as a result of a chance encounter with them. I am not always successful with temptation as it is a much tougher nut to crack. But God is there, and He is faithful in making sure that more temptation than I should be able to handle does not come my way. He believes in me and knows me better than I know myself. When I am strong and make a stand against evil and find myself successful, with His help, He is proud of me. When I fall flat on my face and give in to temptation, He is there to forgive me and pick me back up again. There is no better friend than Him!

Mobile Bay

One of my favorite places to visit is the southern end of Mobile Bay. On a trip to Gulf Shores, if time permits, I prefer to take the ferry across from Dauphine Island instead of the Interstate that passes through Mobile. Despite the oil rigs and heavy barge traffic in the area, great care has been taken to preserve the sea coast region and the water is still immaculate for the most part. Of main interest to me are the two forts left over from the Civil War era; Fort Gaines on Dauphine Island and Fort Morgan on the eastern side of the bay.

During the Civil War, with the fall of New Orleans and Galveston, Mobile was one of the last remaining Southern seaports and it was used primarily as a place for blockade runners to dock and refit. It was heavily defended and to augment the two forts, a small fleet was stationed in the bay, including an ironclad that was christened as the Tennessee. The small fleet was commanded by Admiral Franklin Buchanan, who was notable as the captain of the famous ironclad Merrimac a few years before.

Buchanan knew that sooner or later the Union forces would attempt to take control of Mobile, so he worked hard on strengthening the two forts in preparation for the attack that was sure to come. His whole plan hinged on keeping the Union Navy out of Mobile Bay proper, because once the fleet was in the large bay, the forts would no longer be able to fire on the ships and the various Union forces could then capture Mobile at their leisure.

Finally on August 6, 1864, the Union fleet commanded by David Farragut attempted to run the gauntlet between the two forts. The wooden Union vessels were lashed together into a column formation, with their own ironclad monitors placed in a row between them and Fort Morgan. Things apparently went well for the South at first, as the Union fleet was battered and the Union monitor Tecumseh was sunk in front of the fort. It was at this moment with the Union fleet facing indecision that Admiral Farragut, perched high in the rigging of the Hartford, gave his famous proclamation ‘D__n the torpedoes, full steam ahead’ and the tide of battle suddenly shifted. The Union fleet made it into the bay area, between the forts and the city of Mobile, and destroyed or captured the Southern ships in the bay one at a time. Cut off from the city and with no way of being resupplied, both forts fell within a few days. Not long afterward, Mobile surrendered as well. It was a tremendous loss to the Southern cause.

Today, Christians are being hammered by all that the world apparently has to offer us. The various media outlets from television and radio to the Internet are on constant attack with messages to conform and give in, accept defeat, and follow along with the status quo. We may be strong in our faith and feel that we have done all that we possibly can to prepare for this fight, and we may even win a few battles, but it only takes a small break in our defenses to bring us down to ruin. What more can we do? Is there any weapon that can prosper against these relentless attacks we are assuredly going to continue to face daily in our lives?

In Ephesians 6 we are admonished, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Jesus is our Captain, and our defensive strategy should be left up to Him. When we are weak, He is strong. Our best posture is to stand firm in the power of His might, and to rely less upon our own devices. Satan is crafty and he has many ‘wiles’ to use against us. He is a roaring lion and he is out there actively seeking to devour us.

The battle may appear to be going against us at times, but we also know that the battle belongs to The Lord! With His help we can stop sin before it enters our hearts and causes us to fall.

Morally Bankrupt

This is not a religious column with an emphasis based on the notion that I am a member of the perfect Christian denomination and therefore all of the other denominations are wrong. Far from it, in fact, because I can see the flaws in some of the doctrines held by my own church. Having said that, I also believe those flaws are miniscule and I can live with them as they do not reflect on salvation, faith, or grace in general. Most of the other Christian denominations are similar in this vein with some being more/less liberal than others, etc.

But every now and then a story will jump out at you that will leave you shaking your head in wonder at how things are apparently heading these days. Last Friday one of the major Christian denominations was featured on Fox news and the story reported was their decision to ordain ministers that are openly homosexual - as long as those minister’s relationships were kept monogamous. This gives a whole new meaning to the ministerial requirement of being the ‘husband of one wife’ as instructed by the Bible in 1rst Timothy!

The story revolved for the most part about the fear of a loss of membership in the denomination and the possible ramifications within the church that would result from the passage of this ordinance. Of course, since it was a news story there were interviews of various individuals, both pro and con. The one interview that struck me most was provided by a church leader who said, “We can learn not to define ourselves by negation.” This quote was from a lesbian minister as she warned the church followers about “flouting Scripture when they had made past changes that are now seen as successful”. She was referring to the doctrinal change that allowed women to be accepted and ordained as ministers only a few years previous.

In 1rst Corinthians 5:1-2 Paul writes, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” There were sexually-deviant things going on in the church at Corinth, and some of those things were so bad that they were even considered taboo by the Gentiles. Paul questioned that instead of allowing it to happen; they should have been ashamed of it and put that person out of the church to begin with. But instead they became ‘puffed up’ (pious) and accepted it as the right thing to do. I see a lot of similarity here, and though the sin mentioned here is not exactly of a homosexual nature, what Paul records here is still a sexually-perverse sin. That is close enough to being ‘apples to apples’ for me.

I also can’t help but wonder if the modern church denomination mentioned on the Fox News report had actually preached the Word (‘thus saith the Lord’) by proclaiming that homosexuality is sin and an abomination to God; would they have had members within their churches that would have lobbied for this amendment in the first place?

This, overall, is yet another example of what happens when we disregard what the Bible teaches and instead try and conform to the standards seemingly set in place for us by the world. If you take a stand and proclaim that homosexuality is a sin, you are called a homophobe or worse and immediately discredited by everyone, it seems. However, although the fact may be submitted by a perceived homophobe, it does not change the truth that a homosexual relationship is sinful and morally wrong.

God’s Word teaches us that we should love sinners. We should be actively doing our best to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world as instructed in the Great Commission. Salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ brings about a change in our lives. That should be our goal as a church. It may prevent things like this from happening in our own churches if we do.

The Secret Cricket


I’m an early riser even if I do not have to be at work on a given day. It became ingrained within me several years ago when I used to drive to work down in New Orleans, thus necessitating a need at the time to leave early out of self-preservation due to traffic. These days the solitary stillness before dawn is a great time to meditate on scripture and a perfect time for prayer.

This morning was a normal morning for me, at least during the beginning of it. I got up and grabbed a glass of apple juice and walked into the den as per usual. As I reached for my Bible, a sound caught my ear, a sound that I have heard possibly millions of times during my life. It was a cricket and he was obviously located somewhere within the house - at least it sounded that way. With my advanced age I’ve realized my auditory senses aren’t what they used to be. I started to ignore it, but it is one of those things that once you notice it you simply can’t let it go. He appeared to be getting louder, serenading me in the early morning silence. I had to find him because there are consequences if you don’t.

That’s the thing about crickets; they are often overlooked. If you see a roach or a spider in your house you take immediate action. You call an exterminator or at the very least you grab a shoe and kill them whenever you see them. I can catch a cricket in my hand and more often than not I’ll release him out into the back yard safe and unharmed. I would never do that with a roach (gross!) or a spider (yuck!). They’re dead meat when and if they inadvertently cross my path.

Crickets are nice. I love to listen to them out on the porch during warm, summer nights as it is a sound of home that I have grown accustomed to.

It took a few minutes but I found him over by my abandoned-shoe pile. I easily captured him and carried him over to the back door, returning him back out into the wild. Why did I do this if I like crickets in general and have acclaimed within this page the tunes they play for me? He meant no harm and obviously found something in my old shoes that he liked – at least he appeared to be content in the situation he found himself.

I had my reasons.

You see, despite the fact that crickets play agreeable music and are less-apt to scare you in the manner of their arachnid cousins: they can cause damage when left to their own devices in a human environment. Crickets love to eat fabric. Take a seldom worn shirt or a favorite pair of slacks out of the closet and you will see what I mean. They sneak by under the radar, laughing with glee as we blame the poor moths for the damage that we’ve discovered. So you can’t just leave them alone, ignoring their presence while you listen favorably to their musical ability. You have to throw them out – they will not leave on their own.

The Psalmist writes in chapter 51, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Because I am human I can have a secret part of me despite my outward façade, and I can have sins hidden there that no one will ever find out about. Also, if I live with that sin long enough I may no longer even notice that it is there myself. I can get used to it, much like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water, unable to jump out of it until it is too late to do so. The sad part of hidden sin is that it is not hidden. God knows all about it and we cannot hide our transgressions from Him. God searches the inward parts of us, our hearts, and He desires to see truth when He looks in there. It is there in the hidden part of us that God teaches us to learn and know His wisdom.

Hidden crickets can cause a lot of problems if we leave them unattended. Hidden sin can cause us to stray from God and will definitely cool our relationship with Him if we allow it to fester and grow in an unchecked manner. Fortunately for us, God can wash away all of our sins, even the ones we think are secret or the ones we have grown used to. We can be whiter than snow, with His wisdom abiding within our hearts.

A Lack Of Understanding

There has been a story in the recent celebrity news, call it sensationalism if you like, but it revolves around a high-profile marriage that has apparently ended due to adultery. I find it almost humorous how people still seem to choose sides on what actually caused the breakup and will even go as far as to provide their own generalization of the matter. This is despite the fact that the act of adultery was committed in public view and captured on film by the media on various occasions.

His wife deserved it. She was domineering and hounded him at every opportunity. She literally drove him into the arms of another woman; it was only a matter of time. This is what I hear when I actually take the time to listen. In my own (admittedly jaded) mind it’s just another disconsolate tale of a celebrity marriage that went up in flames.

It’s not just Hollywood or celebrities in general that display this type of behavior. Politicians have certainly had their fair share of incidents over the years. It seems as though at this point in our culture it is no longer a big deal to cheat on your spouse or loved one. Those caught in so doing are advised to breathe in, breathe out, and then move on. Seriously. You can get a new wife or a new family and start all over again from scratch and no one will look down on you for doing so. With arguments such as these bombarding us from the media on a daily basis it is no wonder that marital statistics are becoming downright appalling.

As I examine this symptom of the state of our morality, I've also noticed another point that is worth considering. In most cases the spouse that commits adultery has no intention of making the forbidden union into a permanent arrangement. In their mind they believe that their marriage will continue on, and though they may offer promises to the hidden party they usually have no desire to leave or divorce their spouse. In essence the impetus, if not the attraction itself, seems to revolve around getting away with it all. Though the guilty party may not be able to acknowledge it - from the spouse’s point of view this will not appear to be such a great idea. When the situation finally reaches the boiling point, then we usually get the tear-filled interview with him (or her) admitting they were wrong and now promising to do anything they can to make it right and work things out.

I believe that despite the amount of sugar-coated reasoning provided, there is no moral excuse for adultery. We are warned against this sin in the Bible in many, many chapters and verses, and there is no room for an alternative translation of the verses.

The Bible states in Proverbs 6, “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” I can find no greater example in secular literature than this one as explained to us by King Solomon. A man that would forsake his marriage vows and the family he holds dear for a mere moment in time with an ‘outsider’ is a man that ‘lacks understanding’. By committing this act (even if he gets away with it) he is destroying his own soul. Back in Solomon’s day this was more likely to happen with men. But in our day and age it is no longer a shock when we hear that a woman has committed adultery, yet the consequences are the same regardless of gender. A lack of understanding that results in the destruction of a soul. I’ll buy that. I can see that. I can understand that.

Jesus also warned us that adultery is a sin that first begins in our heart. We have to guard the heart twenty-four hours a day, it seems, because Satan surely knows this as well. One glance, a casual flirt, or an inappropriate comment can put us on the path of shame. Adultery is not a victimless-crime and it is definitely avoidable, by both common folks like you and me as well as those that are in the spotlight.

That’s easy enough to comprehend if you have understanding.

Saying And Doing

The world is ever-changing. And most of the time it is not for the better as things appear to only steadily get worse. It’s gradual, and if you do not keep abreast of current events it can look as though things are continuing along in the same manner as they always have. Each day seems to bring a leap forward in technology coupled with a step backward in our morals and philosophies.

This morning on the talk radio show I listen to on the way to work, the host brought about a dramatic point during my drive in. A famous Hollywood actor is making a lot of noise about possibly running for Mayor of New Orleans. He is well-liked, wildly popular, and could conceivably have a solid chance of winning the office should he choose to run. Having no experience in the political arena does not seem to matter. These things happen and if there is a fatal flaw in democracy, this might just be it.

During a television interview, when questioned in more detail about his aspirations he responded that his platform would be ‘no religion, legalize marijuana, and allow same-sex marriage.’ Same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana will happen eventually; it is no longer a matter of if but when. Helen Keller could see that and besides, I'm a jaded pragmatist. The point that seemed to open the flood-gates on the call-in lines this morning was the first part of the actor's response. The host used a quote from an earlier interview in which the actor explained that he ‘grew up religious but that a belief in God no longer worked for him’ to ratchet up the early morning debate. As you can imagine, the calls came in at a furious pace with both pro and con views being expressed by the listeners.

I don’t think it was his intention, but the host made a comment as I pulled into the driveway to the office that was far more profound than anything mentioned on the show by either him, the actor, or the various callers up to that point. He brought up the fact that several officials for the city who were ‘religious’ men had been caught in some form of egress within the past few months. His stated belief was that maybe it was time to allow someone who was not religious to take a shot at governing the city. In a strictly secular frame of mind, that appears to be logical. If something does not work, you change your methods and try something else. I’m an engineer - I get that.

But the simple fact that it was true bothered me more than anything else. When a supposed Christian gets caught either pilfering funds from public coffers, engaging in lewd conduct, or attempting to cover someone else’s wrongdoing it reflects on Christianity as a whole. Maybe those officials were not really Christians to begin with, I don’t know. That’s a cop-out to think that way. It makes it easier for me to excuse what really happened in my own mind. Though some of the officials may have ridden on the coat-tails of religion to garner extra votes, more than likely some were in fact Christians who simply got caught up in the power and prestige of their position.

James writes, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” Whether you find yourself an elected official, the head of a company, a preacher, or a man on the street; saying and doing are still two different things. If you are going to profess Christ and that you are one that reads his (or her) Bible and believes in prayer, the results should be on display for all to see as exhibited not just by our mouths, but by our lifestyle. The world is watching Christians closely these days and they are taking an inventory of the things we say and do. We should never forget who and what we are and most importantly, whom we belong to.

I saw a comic-strip a few years back in a Christian magazine. The first frame had a preacher reading the morning paper over coffee. The second frame was the article he was reading and it was about a pastor who had absconded to the Bahamas along with his secretary and the church building fund. The third frame showed the preacher praying, and his prayer was, “Lord, if I fall, please don’t let me be a cliché”.

This morning I’m praying that I will always live my life in such a manner that I’ll always honor God, and never find myself becoming yet another example of a Christian who got so caught up in the world that he fell by the wayside.

What We Leave Behind

Death is inevitable, and we know this. Sooner or later it will all boil down to us simply running out of the allotted time we have here on this earth. Sickness, old age, or even an accident may play a part in bringing about our demise. With that being the case, it is best to always be prepared and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I’m sorry if I appear to be delving into the macabre this morning, but an old memory resurfaced yesterday and set me on this train of thought. For Bible School during the summers when I was young, if you had perfect attendance for the whole week the church would load up a bus and take a group of said ‘perfect attendees’ to Pontchartrain Beach. (Yes, I spelled that right thanks to Google) Those were the days – the rides and camaraderie we shared with each other, the less than tasteful food, and our first experience with a pay toilet all created many fond memories of a time long ago. The amusement park might best be remembered by many of us ‘children of the seventies’ for the Zephyr and Raging-Cajun roller coasters, as well as the Wild Mouse.

But what made my memory wheels turn this morning was the old Haunted House ride. You were always standing in line forever it seemed, and as you waited there was a fake cemetery located in front of the building. Some of the epitaphs written on the mock-tombstones still stick in my mind even today. One of my favorites was ‘Maw loved paw, paw loved women, maw caught paw with two in swimming – here lies paw.” Sure, it was most definitely corny, but it was also a lot of fun.

I came across a picture on an email the other day of another tombstone, this one was supposedly real. A computer expert died and requested his tombstone read in the following manner:

“Connection reset by peer: He came, he saw, he logged out.”

Although these may be humorous examples of what people may choose to leave behind when they finally cross to the other side, it should also make us stop and think – what do you really want your tombstone to say? What will be the final words written about you and what will they, in turn, tell the world? Most would want to be remembered as a loving parent, or a caring son, daughter, etc. I’d like for my own to be able to say that I was faithful, and that I did my utmost to trust in God. In any case I definitely do not want my epitaph to be something that would cause undue embarrassment to my family and friends who remain behind in my absence.

An example of what I am talking about can be found written in I Kings 21, “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”

Ahab’s story is a sad one. His story begins in the Bible with him as the new king of God’s chosen people, and it all goes downhill from there. All that God had blessed him with he abused and destroyed, finally ending his life completely broken and dejected. His bitter epitaph written in the verses above serves as a warning to all of us on how not to live our lives.

The way we choose to spend our time here should be in such a manner that displays glory and honor to God in everything we seek to accomplish. That’s a tall order, and it is harder to pull off at times than it should be. A well-lived life makes for a well-worded epitaph, and if you’ve done your best to follow Him, your actions will speak louder than mere words spoken or written after you’re gone.

Leaving Home

Long before the actual moment you were born I loved you, and my heart has since remained seemingly entwined within everything that you are. The first time I saw your face, all red and wrinkled, misty tears filled my eyes. You are something of my own, a part of me, and our hearts and minds have always seemed to cooperate together and ponder upon the same things.

The years have gone by now, and I am older, as are you. And the time has come for you to leave. Allegories about cocoons and butterflies would only be wasted words written here, for you have always been beautiful. For so long you have been ‘my world’ that now it seems ironic that I have to let you go and share you with ‘the world’. By the way, there is no doubt in my mind that you will do wonderfully well out there.

The trip will be a long one. It always is when you are ‘looking for space and to find out who you are’, to quote one of my favorite songwriters. You have all the mental and physical tools to make your journey, and if I wasn’t assured of it I would be reticent to release you and send you along your way. Spiritually I’ll never cease to be amazed by you; you hold firm to what you have been taught and most of all, to your faith and what you believe.

Still, before you walk out to your car and sail away to the other side of the rainbow, there are yet a few more things that I need, as your father, to remind you of.

1. Number one and always first and foremost – never forget that I am your ‘daddy’. Daddies are much more important than fathers. A daddy tries harder to understand his daughter, and he always wants to be there even when he knows he cannot be. A daddy will cry, even if it is in a secret place where no one knows he’s doing so.

2. I’m not supposed to say it, but you can always come home and regroup and that offer is a twenty-four-hour, seven-day-a-week promise. If the world gets too rough and you need to lick your wounds and recoup your losses there is no better place to do so than home. He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.

3. No wooden nickels. Satan will come to you in many forms with many extravagant offers and promises. If you examine those things closely and remember God’s Word, you will recognize that they are worthless. Try not to learn that lesson after the fact.

4. Come home for church. Read your Bible. Pray daily. Ask the Lord for guidance and if you are sincerely looking for Him, he will direct your paths. You will have a lot of trails laid out in front of you and choosing the right one is important. Allowing Him to help you choose is sure prevention for getting off the right paths in the first place.

5. Be careful - everyone you meet will not always have the best intentions. If Satan cannot touch you spiritually it is not beneath him to attack you mentally or physically. Always go with a friend, stay in well-lit places after dark, and keep your cell-phone handy!

6. Most of all, if you find yourself unable to obtain any of the lofty goals you have set for yourself, I will always be proud of you regardless.

God has His eyes on you and created you for a purpose. My thoughts and hopes pale in comparison to the things I know that he desires for you. Knowing this is fact, you need to remember to try and be the very best you can in whatever you decide to do.

In the book of Esther, she found herself on the precipice of making her mark as high as a woman could go in a kingdom back then. There was a catch; making it to the top might require her to abandon her family, her people, and her faith. I do not know her mindset at that exact point in time because the Bible does not say. However you can read within the words that she was torn about what to do. Her uncle, Mordecai, reminded her that making the right choice is always the most important choice:

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 5:14

God may have placed you where you are at this exact time and place for a special purpose; for such a time as this. In fact, I know that He has. Ponder this thought as you go out into a world that is spread wide-open before you.

I’ll always love you, and I'll never cease to be proud of you.

My Little Gooter

An Update

You’ll notice a new gadget on the side of my blog today, and I’m not talking about the poll on healthcare. I’ve added a link to a new book from me. The book is, in essence, a rendition of my blog in hard-copy with some added extra features I’ve thrown in – my personal testimony for starters. It is also available for download as an e-book for those of you who are slanted that way.

So if you have friends that are computer-challenged and would like to allow them to have access to some of the things I’ve posted within this site, then click the link and ink yourself up for a copy or two. If you want a book for yourself and would like for me to sign it - I can gladly do that as well.

I’m still on the long, hard road of getting Fast Asleep published, and it continues to be an arduous task for me in the process. My agent is working hard and I’m giving her a lot of room, but the bottom line is I have nothing new to report in that area. I just pray a lot about it and if it is God’s will then it will surely get published in the end. I’m a patient man these days.

Meanwhile I’ve started another fiction novel with a working title of Azalea, and it is set back in the early 1940’s in a rural town that will probably remind you a lot of McNeill. I’ll update my progress on that project as it gains momentum.

I don’t know what has gotten into me but I’m happy about it. I’ve always loved to write and have been accused more than once of having an imagination that was a little too vivid in its scope. Had I known it would be so enjoyable I would have started a lot earlier in my life. And it’s not that I favor myself a great writer, my love of telling a story is what set me on this weird course I now find myself on today.

The blog will continue on. I’ll keep posting, making sure that other projects are relegated behind my blog. Why? This blog is my testimony and I want to treat it as such. If it affects one soul out there in cyberspace, then it will be worth it and I know God will be glorified through it.

I’ll try to stay on-subject and continue to be as non-political as possible, but man! There is so much going on today in this country of ours and I love to rant! However, I do not believe that going in that direction would bring any honor and glory to Him.

Thanks for reading, for the comments, for the emails, and especially to those of you who figured out how to add yourself as a follower. I love each and every one of you.

No Other God

I read a quote today that could begin a thesis on how the world perceives things during these dark, dreary days we now find ourselves in. The author states, “It’s not that God is being replaced by technology, but that He ceases to be relevant for many because of it.” At first glance, I took umbrage with this statement, as most Christians probably would. But then I calmed down and read it again, slowly, and caught the drift of what was being said. You know what? I’m sad to say he may be ‘spot-on’ with his line of thinking. The statement itself borders on the profound.

A God that is no longer relevant to the world we live in today. Do tell.

Carl Sagan wrote (and I’m paraphrasing) that as people replace the mystery and awe of spiritual institutions (church and religion) with science and technology, they will find themselves becoming more gullible to false religions and also susceptible to junk science. I highly doubt that ‘ol Carl cared a hoot about religion to begin with, but in many ways the truth of his manner of thinking, at least in this case, has been proven correct.

It’s been thousands of years since the Red Sea parted or someone was raised from the dead. No one has displayed the ability to walk on water lately. (Although it may seem as though some might have the skills to do so) I can name many, countless miracles from the Bible as it is full of examples of such written therein. Yet the miracles that fill us with wonder and awe these days are no longer portents of faith, only products of our science and technology. Christianity is considered passé, beliefs from a past age that are no longer relative or current for the discernment of modern man. At the same time other ancient religions, Wiccan for example, are becoming popular and all the rage. But I believe that even more so, religions as a whole have been usurped by worship of technology and deeper still, the worship of our government. Your faith cannot change your financial status, but the government can. God cannot or will not heal you, but modern medicine along with our breakthroughs in technology can save the day. There will be no Great Tribulation or Great White Throne judgment, but we should be getting prepared for global warming and/or climate change. And this new religion is punctuated daily by the sacrifice of unborn children on an altar built of free-thinking, choice, and political correctness.

Exodus 20: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

These verses constitute the first two of the Ten Commandments as delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai over three-thousand years ago. They are more than commandments; they are warnings that have apparently been disregarded by our world today. God allows no one and no thing to take his place in our lives if we are going to reside in His will. And these verses close with the promise that if we keep His commandments, we will in turn receive mercy.

The world does not need more knowledge. Our country does not need advanced technological enlightenment. We as people do not need yet another government program. What is needed today, in the worst way, is a Savior. I’m not talking about a political leader; though I’m convinced one will be coming down the pike before too much longer. I’m taking about a Savior that can deliver us from our sins and make us right with God. A Savior like that is worthy of our worship and adulation, while neither technology nor government never will be.

It is wise to obey the laws put in place by our leaders, it is good to vote and pay taxes, and I will always do those things. To fail to do so would be wrong and sinful on my part. Yet at the same time, it is important that I be careful of what I serve and to whom I bow down to. A Christian should be able to discern the difference, while always remembering that God is indeed relevant in everything.


I like to study the etymology of words, you know - where they came from and how they were derived. You can learn a lot about our language in so doing, and discover things that are really interesting in the process. Maybe it’s just me, but I do enjoy it.

I researched the word 'tantalize' this week, thinking that it might possibly have something to do with 'tentacles'. (Why not?) Of course I was wrong, but I was also very happy when I found the origin of the word because its source was from a story I remembered reading in a college Lit class many years ago. In fact you could say that I should have figured that one out for myself.

In Greek mythology, a mere mortal named Tantalus was graciously invited to dine with the gods. He felt he should repay them for their kindness and hospitality, but in his pride he also decided to see if it was possible to deceive the gods during the process. With this in mind, he murdered and roasted his own son Pelops, and served him as the main course for the feast. Demeter, one of the goddesses who lived with the mortals accepted the food, but was immediately repulsed when she bit into the child’s left shoulder. The rest of the gods also ate and became violently ill; at once leaving for Mt. Olympus. As his punishment for such a heinous act, Tantalus was chained to a rock in the middle of a river in Tartarus (the Greek version of hell) with a berry bush hanging just out of reach above his head. The gods also cursed him with an unquenchable thirst and unending hunger. Although Tantalus constantly tried to reach the water or food, each time the water and berries would quickly recede out of his reach. It is from Tantalus's name and eternal torment that we derive our English word "tantalize".

Although it is a myth, I can see so much of Tanatalus’ predicament in the story of my own life. I always seem to find it hard to be satisfied with what I have, and Satan knows this all too well and uses it against me. I’ll buy something for myself or for my family, and before the new wears off I am already searching for the next big thing; all the while flailing my arms and hands at the proverbial berries above my head. Complete contentment on this earth always appears to be just out of reach, yet it tantalizes me because I easily convince myself that it is over there waiting to be purchased behind curtain number three.

In 1rst Timothy, chapter 6 Paul writes, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

I’ve written in another column about being content, and I was pretty sure at the time that I had it all covered when I posted it. However, I am beginning to believe that being content may be harder to achieve than any other facet of my Christian life. The things of this world and the hope they instill in your heart as far as possible ownership can in fact tantalize you. But it is an empty promise, and in the end those things never fully satisfy anyone.

There is an old saying that, ‘the higher up the berry tree, the sweeter grow the berries.’ Although that might be true (I’m a short person) what is the use in going after those ‘upper’ berries if the ones within reach are enough to mitigate my hunger? If God promises to supply all of my needs then why shouldn’t I choose to be happy with what He, in His wisdom, has provided me with?

Hmm. I do hope I can get the hang of this tantalizing-business.

The Rescue

We took the distress call around 5 PM from a shrimp boat out in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat reported seeing a wind-surfer approximately five or six miles offshore and they stated that he appeared to be heading south; farther away from land and deeper into the Gulf. It made no sense to us at all and we shook our heads incredulously. The things that some people will do on the water never failed to amaze us.

It was 1986 and I was a small-boat crewman at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Panama City Beach, Florida. Spring break was just around the corner and the natives were already growing restless; we had noticed a severe ramp-up in the amount of calls we were taking on a daily basis. I was a rookie and this was my first early-spring experience on the base, but the veterans assured me that it was nothing unusual with the rise in distress and assistance requests.

We headed out past the rock jetties and into the open water on a stellar spring day. The Gulf was calm with a cool breeze blowing mildly offshore. Our 41-foot patrol boat glided effortlessly through the clear, teal-green waters and it did not take us very long to arrive at the reported location. Scanning the seas with our binoculars, we spotted the sail of the windsurfer but by that time he was even further south. We closed with him, coming alongside and hailing him, and he immediately asked us what he had done wrong which is what people usually do when the Coast Guard approaches them out on the water.

As we offered to bring him back to shore he replied that he knew where he was going and required no assistance. We asked him what was his destination and he said that he had been out for a few hours and was returning to the beach. He had no idea of his bearing or direction and though he was heading farther into the Gulf, he thought he was going back home. Once you pass a certain distance from shore (at least before the high-rise condos went up along the beach) you can lose site of land on the horizon and it is easy to become confused. Had the shrimp boat not reported him it could also have resulted in a fatal error on his part. As he continued to insist that he ‘knew where he was going’ and he ‘didn’t need our help’ we nonetheless almost forcefully took him and his wind-board on board our vessel and took him back to port. He was not intoxicated, as tests later confirmed; he was simply lost and did not realize it.

Paul writes in Romans 3: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” And then he sums it up in a later verse, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Looking back over time and knowing the situation and how things appear on the water, I can understand why the surfer had no idea he was lost. You can lose site of the horizon when you become wrapped up in what you are doing and in a sense can very easily ‘go out of the way.’

A lot of folks face the same situation in their lives. So many things appear to be more important in life than going to church or seeking to know God personally. Satan uses that trick and it seems to be one of his favorite ploys. A surfer who does not know or understand that he is lost can never be found. In his own mind he was never lost – the idea never crossed his mind. He had things under control and knew exactly where he was going, or so he thought.

A person who thinks he has it all covered can fall into the same boat (no pun intended!). We can raise our children and be a good husband or wife, and avoid committing the really bad sins in our lives. We can never use alcohol or drugs, abstain from the other things that the world sees as wrong, and even show up at church on Easter or at Christmas. We can compare ourselves to others and in our own mind we might look pretty good. But despite all the good things we may do, the Bible assures us that without Jesus in our hearts we are lost.

We can’t ignore God. We can’t distract God by pointing our fingers at others that we perceive to be worse than ourselves. And we can’t get to heaven by utilizing supposed credit accrued from our good works. We have to realize that we are lost and going in the wrong direction spiritually. Once we accept that basic fact then we will find ourselves able to reach out with our hearts for the grace that is readily available to save us. Admit the mistakes, give up the controls, and Jesus will provide the safe ride home.

Something New

I love my truck. She is almost two years old now, but it is the first truck I've had the opportunity to buy ‘new’. It seemed to me at the time that I had waited a long time in my life to finally be able to do so. There is nothing wrong with it and I have managed to keep the mileage down, only going over the twenty-thousand mile mark on the odometer just last week. I have managed to keep the oil changed on-schedule and even had the tire rotation performed at the correct interval. Those two steps are also new to me as I have had a tendency to let those kinds of things slide on other vehicles I have owned in the past.

This morning on the way to work I reminded myself that it is time for another oil change and there are also a few routine service items I need to have checked. I’ve also started to notice a few rattles and squeaks that did not seem to be there before. Maybe it is just my imagination and the solution I should take is to turn up the volume on the radio. I know it is inevitable with a truck or any other vehicle for the matter – they are simply going to degrade due to both mileage and age.

There is an added emphasis in the news media and politics these days on global warming or ‘climate change’, and whether fact or fiction it is obvious if you take a drive across this nation of ours that we are ruining our environment. If not with pollution or carbon emissions, then we are doing so by cutting down the forests and building quick stops and Wal-Marts all over the place. In my own hometown, areas that once were fields and pastures have now become subdivisions and trailer parks. And it appears to get worse with each passing day that goes by.

What do you do when your truck gets old or your house becomes dilapidated with age? You replace it with a new one, if you can afford to do so. If not then you patch or exchange parts and pieces a little bit at a time. But in all cases you simply try to maintain what you have in hopes that one day you will be provided with an opportunity to get something new. I know because I have been there, and I have also learned that you can only ‘maintain’ something for so long.

The things on earth that we purchase or trade for are always going to be temporary in nature. In fact, the earth itself will not last forever and we are promised this in the Bible. Jesus told John in Revelations 21: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” How is He going to do this? How can Jesus Christ provide a new heaven and a new earth? He answers that question within the same chapter: “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” Jesus is the original creator, and He has been in the business of creation since the beginning of time.

There will be no blighted areas in critical need of repair or areas that were once better at some other point in time. He is not going to ‘fix’ or ‘repair’ the existing earth along with what we have ruined through our own selfish and sinful natures. He is going to make it all ‘new’. Notice, too, that he tells John to write it down because His Word is ‘true and faithful.’ It is enough for me and I get excited just thinking about it!

One other note this morning is that it is not just the earth and nature that Jesus can make new. Those things are all going to happen in the future just as He has promised. But you don’t have to wait until then for something new to be created. He promises us that if we will just accept his offer of salvation by grace through our faith in Him, He will make us into a new creature right now. No, we won’t be younger or better looking, but we will be able to look at things in a whole new light and will also be able to comprehend what it means to live abundantly within the Kingdom of God.

That’s a good deal, and you won’t get a better offer from your local car salesman.


As a boy and even into my teenage years, I was always a huge football fan. I never played the game in an organized manner; I was fast but my slight frame carried all of 115 pounds on my heaviest of days back then. I did however love to watch it and my favorite team was always the Dallas Cowboys. Those were the years of Roger Staubach, Leroy Jordan, Ed ‘Too-Tall’ Jones, and Bob Lilly. The coach was Tom Landry and he represented all that was good in our country at the time. At least he did so to me.

The game has changed and it no longer seems as innocent as it did back then. These are the days of free agency and an almost constant barrage of off-the-field problems for a lot of the players. The athletes have changed and it seems as though very few play the sport simply for the love of the game. I still watch it throughout the season but my viewing is now centered on my lovable losers, the New Orleans Saints. Watching or going to a Saint’s game, and I’m borrowing an unknown quote, is like going to a piano recital that your kid is not performing in.

But there are some players out there that have a resolve to do the right things and it is apparent in not only how they play the game, but how they handle themselves off the field. One of my favorites is Kurt Warner, although I seldom pull for the team he happens to be playing for. He is an obvious victim of free agency as well; moving from one team to another over the last decade. The difference in his case is that he moves from team to team when he is given up on by his current team and it never appears to be about the money involved. He admits as much and in a quote he stated, “I believe in things that are more important to me than money or fame. I’m grounded in what I believe in, and my faith and my morals are all going to stay the same.”

That sounds like an old-school player to me, and I like it. It reminds me of some players that are mentioned in the Bible. Three Hebrew children found themselves captives in Babylon. The Chaldean king made a decree that everyone was going to bow down to his statue at a certain time and the penalty for not doing as commanded was certain death. By the way, this death wasn’t going to be by lethal injection, no sir, it was going to be excruciatingly painful. It was death by being thrown into the middle of a fiery furnace. The time for homage to the statue came, and the boys did not bow and worship as they had been instructed to do. The king gave them another chance, and they still didn’t conform. Meanwhile everyone around them was very busy bowing and praising the statue – the threat of a fiery furnace will have a tendency to do that to people.

But what did the three children (teenagers) do? Their answer is given in the book of Daniel, chapter 3: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” This is one of the most profound quotes you will find in the entire Bible. No matter what it cost the three boys, and even if God did not choose to miraculously deliver them – they were going to do the right thing regardless. The king was furious, and he pretty much lost his self-control at that point.

In the world today we do enough bowing and playing homage to all of the wrong things around us. We need to be more careful in what or even whom we choose to worship. I have been guilty of this many times in my life, sad to say. Oh to be able to stand and say, ‘Enough! I will not succumb to what the world has to offer me’ and to mean it no matter what the cost entails me.

The boys were thrown into the fire, of course. But God did deliver them. And what is important to note here is that when the king peered into the midst of the fire, he not only saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; he saw a fourth person that in his own words looked very much like the Son of God. I can’t help but get the message here that when we do take a stand and things seem to be falling apart (or burning down) around us as a result – Jesus is right there beside us, watching over and taking care of us.

I don’t know Kurt Warner personally but I like what I hear. A man that cannot be bought by what the world has to offer is my kind of guy.

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Meet Jim Nicholson. He works as a teller at a bank branch in Seattle, Washington and was on-duty a few weeks ago during a robbery. The suspect entered the bank wearing a beanie-cap and dark glasses while angrily demanding money. He also threatened both Jim and the other workers and patrons of the bank with a supposed concealed weapon, promising to take action if they did not meet his wishes.

Rather than succumb to fear, Jim allowed his instincts to take over. He threw the bag that had been handed to him by the would-be robber onto the floor, leaped over the counter, and demanded to see the weapon. This was not the way the suspect intended things to go evidently, and he turned and fled from the bank on foot. Jim followed, chasing him down the street, finally catching up with him a few blocks away and holding him until the police arrived. When asked why he went beyond the normal call of duty for a bank teller in apprehending the robber, Jim responded, “I thought if I let him go he would rob more banks and cause more problems." At its best, this appears to be a rational explanation and in many people’s eyes (including mine) Jim is a hero.

However, two days later he was fired by his employers for violating a rule that tellers are not supposed to confront would-be robbers. After all, they reason, the money is insured by the FDIC - a department of the government. Jim admitted to being trained to act in that manner by his employer, but he said that in that particular moment his instincts took over and the response came natural to him.

What would I do in a situation like that? Sometimes I wonder. I hope that if circumstances placed me in such a position that I would have the fortitude to act in the same manner as Jim. He did, in my opinion, what is right and honorable. Instead of backing down to criminals, he stood up for both himself and all that is decent and right in the world. Was it a dangerous response? You betcha. But sometimes the right response or a just action will place you in harm’s way.

We are taught today from an early age to go along with what is considered to be ‘politically correct’ and to dare not make waves in our society. The ultimate trust and faith should not be in ourselves or our talents and abilities, but in the government and those that are otherwise in charge of us. We have become in many, many ways almost a custodial society, most of us, depending on others to make our decisions and to tell us what we should do. This is sad.

I may not be totally correct in this manner of thinking, but I have no doubt in my mind that I am very close. I also believe that it is going to get worse as the years go by.

James said in chapter four, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” There have been several times in my life (so far) where I had to make a decision that I knew would affect not only myself, but others as well. In those situations I usually think things through carefully, wanting to benefit others with my choices as I hope they would want to benefit me if they found themselves in the same situation and faced with the same set of choices. I am not always good at this, but I do strive to do my utmost when called upon to do so.

However, there have been several times when I have sat back, unwilling or unable to act during scenarios that required or even demanded that someone take action. I am speaking of secular situations as well as spiritual ones I have been confronted with in my past. To remain stoic when the Holy Spirit has moved you to do something is a sin, as explained by James. We think of sin as something that someone has to commit, but sometimes we can sin by omitting things that we should do.

Sometimes doing the right thing will not be the popular or ‘hip’ thing to do. And sometimes the right thing might place you in a bind or cost you something that you may hold dear to your heart. But as Christians we are called out by God’s Word to do the proper things at all times and this means no matter what the consequences may turn out to be for us in the end.

Wherever you are today, Mr. Nicholson, I wish only the best for you. When you foiled that robbery in my way of thinking, you did the right thing. I appreciate and I also admire you for it.

A Bad Attitude

It was very hard for me to get excited about going back to work this morning. A week off from work always makes me look forward to a time in my future when I will be able to retire. I look forward to the stress-free lifestyle that it surely will be and the chance to live in the sort of freedom I can only explore when I take some precious time off from work.

Some of you who may happen to be reading this are already furrowing your brow, jumping at the chance to correct me because it is no picnic, you’ll say. I won’t be listening. Retirement is my last remaining dream while I am on this earth, so let me live it! Anything is better than having to get up and go to work for a living, right? At any rate, it should be easy to top the mundane existence that I daily find myself in.

This is all tongue in cheek and I hope you caught that in between the words I’ve written. I have a little problem with my attitude today, and as a result I forgot for a little while about how thankful I should be to even have a job in this time we are living in. Again, though my job may be mundane as I have mentioned, at the very least it pays our bills. It is easy to forget what we have been blessed with when we do the same old things every day and there appears to be no end in sight. And it is also very easy to carry around a bad attitude about the way things are apparently going for you when you find yourself in that mind-set. It reminds me of a story in the Bible that is one of my favorites, and that being the case, it is a story I should always remember and take to heart.

Naaman was a Syrian and his story is found in Second Kings, chapter five. He was a great man the Bible tells us, but then it mentions that he was a leper. On the advice of a servant girl, he decides to pay Elisha the prophet a visit seeking help for his condition. He travels many miles, very tough to do especially with his health, and he finally arrives at Elisha’s house. Instead of healing him right away, or at least coming out to greet him, Elisha sends word through a messenger that Naaman should go wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. This obviously wasn’t the way he thought things would play out, and I’ll let the Bible give you Naaman’s response. “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.”

He left in a rage. I only thought I had a bad attitude this morning! He had travelled for many days expecting a miracle or something of that nature at the very least - and this was all he was going to get? So he turns around, ready to leave, ready to give up, and ready to go back to the way things were at the beginning of the chapter; a great man that was oh-by-the-way, a leper.

As he is leaving, one of his servants musters up the courage to find his voice and asks, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” Finally a voice of reason, and sometimes it takes someone stating what is blatantly obvious to cure a bad attitude. Naaman reconsiders, goes down to the Jordan, washes as instructed, and then he is cured.

I’m thankful for what God has given me and how He takes care of me and watches over me. All He asks is that I serve Him and live the life that He would have me to live. It is not really hard to do so either, certainly not most of the time. I need to remember that He has not asked me to do anything that I cannot do with His help for that matter. Instead of washing in the Jordan River, I have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

Cleaning up in that manner is a sure-fire cure for the common, bad attitude. Whether you find yourself a leper or a regular, run-of-the-mill sinner, it’s all the same to Him. It’s all about the cleansing that only He can provide.