Friday, May 28, 2010

The Price Of Freedom

Freedom...What an awesome concept! I'm not sure if we totally understand just how truly great it is. Living in America, we've not known anything but a life of freedom. Because of that, if we aren't careful we'll take for granted this freedom we've been given. We all know that the freedom we have wasn't free, but how often to really ponder the price that was paid for it? When we speak out without fear of being prosecuted for what we say, do we ever think that some fallen soldier secured our right to do so? When we choose to go to Baptist church or a Methodist church or some other kind of church, do we ever stop to think of the men and women whose blood spilled in order for that choice to be our own? When we choose to be a doctor or mechanic or school teacher, do we truly think about those who died in order to create and preserve a place where young and old alike could pursue their dreams of becoming whatever they want to be?

No greater price can one pay than the giving their own life. And throughout the years, countless numbers of men and women have been willing to pay that price in order for freedom to reign in this country. At the same time moms and dads have lost sons and daughters, sons and daughters have lost moms and dads, and all of us have lost some of the greatest heroes this world has ever known. Yet, so often we live our lives enjoying the freedoms they secured without thought of the price they paid.

This weekend we set aside time to remember those heroes. But like so many "holidays" we have become very good at forgetting the whole meaning behind it all. We get with family and friends, crank up the grill, take a week-end get away, or just enjoy the extra day off. Somehow, I'm thinking our fallen heroes would be totally ok with all of that. For somehow it all speaks of the freedom they gave their lives for. That being said, I'm thinking the price they paid is deserving of so much more. It is true that the debt we owe, we could never repay. However, we can honor them all by taking time out to remember them and the sacrifices they made. In addition, we honor them when we choose to fully embrace the freedom they gave their lives to secure for us all.

So, enjoy your weekend. Chow down on that bar-b-que and take time out for family and friends. But, in the middle of it all take time out to remember those men and women whose sacrifice made your weekend possible. And when this weekend is over, determine to live life to its fullest fully embracing your freedom, always remembering that somebody paid a hefty price in order for you to do so.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Search Of Honor

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Dallas to take my 4-year old son to a place called Medieval Times for his birthday. This is a place where you eat a meal while taking in a reenactment of Medieval knights jousting, sword fighting, and engaging in other knightly events. I have to admit it was a really enjoyable evening. And while it was only men acting out the role, there was this bit of awe in the crowd as these knights entered the arena. Sure, they appeared to handle their swords and lances with great skill, but the awe factor was more than that. I think it was just because they were knights and the fact that they carried themselves with this sense of honor. Again, I know they were just actors, but its really impossible to play the part of a knight without the honor thing.

I mean, honor is at the core of being a knight. It's part of their code of chivalry. Honor, bravery, honesty, etc. It's what defines them. It's what makes a true knight. It's what makes a good knight. It's what sets them apart from all others. Its the balance between handling a sword well, while at the same time taming the inner man with the same manner of excellence.

As I watched these actors play out this role, I couldn't help but think, "where have those men gone?" I began to take a bit of a snapshot in my head at our society today, and I was left with that thought. Where are they? Where are those men of honor? Where are those men who are determined to do what's right because its right? Where are those men who refuse to allow integrity to fly out the window when pressure is applied to their life or when dollar signs get in their eyes?

Ok, I know that there are honorable people out there, but it sure seems like they are few and far between. I was talking politics with someone recently and we mentioned the void of great statesmen today. Think about it, how many "Give me liberty or give me death," or "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" guys do you know? How many Franklins, or Washingtons, or Lincolns are on the scene today? Where are those men whose greatness was determined by the content of their heart and the measure of their character? No, its not a democratic or republican issue, its a national epidemic.

No area of our society has been spared when it comes to this vacuum of honor. Our politicians are simply a mirror image of the spiritual and moral climate of our nation. From Washington to the classroom, to the church doors, to the business world, there's evidence of this decline in honor everywhere you look.

At first glance it can all look a bit hopeless. Yet, I can't help but think that the search for honor will never come up empty if that man I see in the mirror every morning will simply determine to live an honorable life. If he'll simply make the decision to do what's right because its right and let the chips fall wherever they fall. If he'll choose integrity over compromise. If he'll determine to please God at the expense of pleasing men. If he'll take responsibility for his actions even when its the most difficult road to take. If he'll prefer others at the expense of self. Then every morning in that image I see in the mirror, I'll find honor.

No, honor didn't fade out with era of the knights. And, no it didn't end with the Washingtons or Lincolns. And, it'll be here long after the "Greatest Generation" has left, if each and every one of us will determine to take a hard look in the mirror every morning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Man, Do They Have A Problem

Think for just a minute about somebody who has some major problems. I’m talking about some major character issues and flaws. People with bad tempers, selfish attitudes, rude behavior, dishonest, etc. Pretty simple task isn’t it? The truth is most of us can think of a huge list of people. The trouble is that in the process of making that list, how many of us put ourselves at the top of it? I’m sure there are those who don’t even include themselves anywhere on that list. Lets face it though, we are all messed up. We are all works in progress. We all have much room still left to grow. It’s just so much easier to see the problems in another person’s life. We often do well at fulfilling the roll of judge and jury when it concerns others while overlooking the faults in our own lives.

I was listening to the radio today when they read an email from a lady who encountered an irritated driver who apparently wasn’t happy with the fact that she was traveling slower than he was but was in the fast lane. He reacted in a way that was inappropriate and made it apparent to her that he was quite angry. Her response? She prayed for him. She didn’t retaliate with anger or malice. She just simply prayed for him.

Although, her response to him was a really good one, I couldn’t help but think that she might be missing something. I’m sure the angry driver didn’t take time out to ask himself, “Why am I so upset,” or “What’s the driving force behind me losing my temper?” While he needs to find the answers to that before his road rage injures him or someone else, I also believe the lady could benefit by asking herself a couple questions. Rather than just pray for the man, the lady needs to ask herself, “Why is this man so upset,” and “Is there something I’m doing that is facilitating his behavior?” No, I’m not excusing his temper tantrum, I’m just adding a perspective I think we often don’t want to examine. It’s true that he’s responsible for his behavior, but its also true that she’s responsible for hers. We are really good at judging the actions of others with a magnifying glass while excusing our own.

While this man could probably benefit from some anger management courses, I’m just wondering if its possible for this lady to benefit from a deeper look at the encounter. I’m thinking that had she been driving in the right hand lane, it would probably be a non-issue. A quick glance in the rear-view mirror to see an approaching car should have prompted her to move over if she was in a position to do so. Perhaps, there was traffic in the right lane and that wasn’t possible, but if the lane was clear its just a respectful gesture to give way to faster moving traffic. Again, I’m not saying its her fault that he flew off the handle. I’m just saying perhaps being more aware of those around her and respecting them, could have prevented this event from ever being played out.

I know that there are people with major issues and regardless of what we do, they’ll still leak those internal issues all over the place. All I’m saying is that, I think it’s extremely healthy for us to examine ourselves and why we do what we do and how those actions affect those around us. Personally, I feel as though while I’m driving I have a responsibility to those driving around me. I’m just constantly aware that there are more people on this planet than just me. When I’m sitting at a red light, I feel a responsibility to the people behind me to watch the light and go once it turns green. In the same way when driving on the freeway I try really hard to make sure if there are cars behind me wanting to drive faster that I move over and allow them to pass. That being said, I’m not always paying attention and while I don’t take kindly to the unseemly behavior of some drivers, I have to admit that I may have added to the problem. Again, I’m not saying that others don’t have problems. I’m just saying that I’m in the same boat and that I need to worry about fixing the holes in my boat and stop trying to figure out who has the most water in their boat.

The truth is, so many times we become totally oblivious to those around us. We are focussed on ourselves, our agenda, and our world. Then, when someone around us acts in a way that is selfish and immature, we step back and think, “Man, do they have a major problem or what?” And while praying for them is great, I just think there is a bigger picture here that includes us. Jesus said it something like this; We walk around with this honkin’ big 2×4 sticking out of our eye and all we are focussed on is some tiny little speck in somebody else’s. Ok, so maybe this temper-tantrum throwing, irate, needs to get off the road driver had something more like a railroad tie sticking out of his eye. The point still remains that if we only focus on his flaws and fail to examine ourselves with that same lens, we’ll miss a huge opportunity for growth. I know from experience that self-examination results in growth while judging others produces nothing positive.

Lets determine to put up that lens we examine others with and take out the high powered microscope to examine ourselves with. Then,….oh, wait a second….I’m having a little trouble seeing….I guess I’m gonna have to run….it appears I’ve got something in my eye.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Moms...So often in life, so much of what they do goes unnoticed. As a child, I can't ever remember spending too many brain cells trying to figure out how in the world I always had clean clothes, or how the refrigerator was always full of food. It's crazy, but when I was sick, or sad, or upset, it seemed Mom just always had the answer or knew what to do. I never gave it much thought how inconvenient it might have been to drive me to soccer practice, or baseball practice, or band practice. Looking back it seems that Mom had somehow been supernaturally endowed with gifts of nursing, cooking, teaching, counseling, and multitasking, just to mention a few.

As we walk through our childhood, Moms are so good at doing it all without a lot of fanfare. They just do it. Behind the scenes they work most of the time unnoticed and unappreciated. Cleaning this, cooking that, folding this, driving here, driving there, picking up this, putting away that. And then because we are so grateful we set aside one day every year to say thanks.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking even if we had a whole year we called "Mother's Year," it would still fall way short of the honor that's due. I mean, I'm glad we do the whole Mother's Day thing but a card, dinner, and some flowers or some other gift pales in comparison to the sacrifices made in our upbringing. I think what I'm saying is, I really don't believe we can ever pay in full the price Moms have paid for us.

That being said, I think honor is a pretty good down payment. Scripture tells us to give honor to whom honor is due. Honor is simply stepping back and recognizing the value in someone and choosing to acknowledge it. It's treating another more highly than oneself. It's recognizing the position one holds and the grace of God that is on them and choosing to respect them accordingly. It has little to do with what someone does, and has everything to do with who someone is.

This Mother's Day, and in the days, months, and years that follow, let's determine to truly honor our Moms. Let's appreciate the sacrifices they've made through the years, but beyond that let's choose to take a step back and recognize the treasure they are. Then, let's make an effort to communicate that in a way that convinces them we see just how precious and valuable they are. That's honor, and it's more valuable than any gift you could ever buy them.

Oh, yeah Happy Mother's Day Mom. Just wanted to let you know that no deed has ever gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Sure, it may have taken 43 years to recognize them, but recognize them I do. But, your value is far beyond all the sacrifices you made for me or any of your children. You're the best and my life is great, largely because of the mother you've been.