What Christian is not frustrated in trying to live a godly life? Why is it so hard? For starters, we are flawed. We enter the world dripping wet with a sin nature and from the very outset need God’s grace. A baby’s temper tantrum was not learned behavior it was already ingrained. We grow up enamored with the world’s offerings—what man is not drawn to lust after a sensual woman or woman drawn to the need for security? We are stubborn, preferring to do what we want. It is completely counter-culture to pursue holiness. There is nothing easy about achieving purity and we are quickly frustrated by adversity, failure, and the clever attacks of Satan who will do all he can to disrupt us from fellowship with God.
Have you ever had a period in life where you felt like an idiot and wish you could crawl in a hole and hide? I think I’m just emerging from the hole.
My college class motto is “Strength As One.” I believe it is more profound than we realized when we selected it. What makes our class special is a collective sense that our ability exponentially increases through our unity. Implied in our unity is an understanding that we are accountable to one another.
Fran* came in the ministry center for food. She is a tall woman with a firm handshake and eyes that tell me she is weathering brutal storms. She sat across from me and shared her story. Her husband is 6’ 3” and once weighed 240 lbs. Now he weighs 140 lbs and is barely clinging to life. For years he sprayed Crossbow, a chemical treatment that kills weeds, on poison oak and blackberries. Often when the summer heat bore down he took off his protective gloves. Eventually, the amount of chemicals that penetrated his skin produced a condition I cannot even pronounce that is now killing him.
The Deschutes River in Oregon is 173.4 miles long. It runs through rugged forest and deserted desert sometimes cascading with terrific roar, sometimes ambling like some peaceful toddler. It is a great river to fish for steelhead and salmon. On the lower Deschutes people often come to whitewater raft. And for that experience, my son, Stephen and I, joined 17 folks from Southwest Hills Baptist Church.
Why did God scatter people across the globe and confuse their languages? The Scriptural interpretation for an offended God is often based on a literal reading of Genesis 11:4, “And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But why would God be angry with people for plotting to fabricate some skyscraping tower? I don’t know any stupid architects. No one can build anything that reaches heaven. Therefore, there had to be something about the purpose of the tower that drew God’s wrath. Marvin Rosenthal provides us analysis from his careful research.
Recently, I met with a man whose marriage is tottering towards collapse. He feels alone and unwanted in his own household. His wife seems more devoted to his children than to him. He seemingly cannot do enough to please her and he is ready to give up. When I asked Him how his relationship with God was doing, he shared that it is anemic. He grew up without a loving father which has effected how he views, relates to and trusts his Heavenly Father. Therein lays the core issue.
“Strength as One” is a great class motto. Attending my 20th West Point reunion was a fresh reminder of a unique gathering of unpretentious classmates who are a joy to be around and a blessing in so many ways. By measured statistics, the class of ’81 is special both in service to our country and in generosity. I found myself again humbled that God would allow me, a scrawny missionary kid from the Philippines, the privilege of spending four years of my life with such outstanding people.
In 1798 the U.S. Marine Band was born. Its primary mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. President John Adams gave the band its charter but Thomas Jefferson coined its lasting title, “The President’s Own”. Marine Band musicians appear at the White House more than 200 times annually. Their music thrills the ear and uplifts the heart.