You’ve read and heard it many times before—you cannot do what you’ve always done and expect anything to be different. The key to moving forward is to think in reverse. Under the Lord’s guidance, what outcomes do you desire this year? Next, what must you do differently in order to realize these desired results? Finally, ask the Lord God Almighty to grant sufficient courage to break free from fear and redundancy. A dry docked disciple is an oxymoron. God’s will demands an intrepid spirit to join Him in the adventure of obedience. Are you up to the call?
“Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” (Oswald Chambers)
Whatever else you choose to do as you close the books on 2021 and move toward the starting blocks of 2022, be sure to reserve time and space for honest self-assessment. Consider yourself not in the light of others you hold in low esteem, but over against the saint Christ created and called you to be.
“The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” (Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets)
I had one of those “it’s a small world after all” moments today. In a large city other than where I live an elderly gentleman walked into the restaurant where I was standing in line to order pizza. I noticed his LSU cap and simply said, “Go (geaux) Tigers!” His face lit up and in conversation he mentioned that his brother once played quarterback for the NY Giants and was in the pro football hall of fame. I asked the brother’s name and he replied, “Y. A. Tittle.” I told him it was an honor to meet him, and then he said that some good things had come out of a small place I’d probably never heard of—Marshall, Texas. I said, “You won’t believe this, but I graduated from East Texas Baptist College there and later served 15 years at the school. Small world!” Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Frederick Buechner: “The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked together. No man is an island.”
Whose life will you touch today for good or ill? God grant that it be a Christ-honoring touch.
We are stuck in a black hole popularly labeled “cancel culture.” The media tries to convince us that a majority in this country are either gender confused or unhappy the way God made them. Any conviction to the contrary is not only disregarded out-of-hand, it is castigated as being intolerant—as if intolerance is the basest of all human qualities. The inevitable fallout of the paradigm shift some are promoting is silence from good people who are neither confused about nor ashamed of who they are, all the while acknowledging we are all equally sinful and desperately in need of a Savior.
Make no mistake about it, speaking up in this toxic climate may cost you something, perhaps everything, but we are not called to cowardice. Speak the truth in love—definitely, but for Heaven’s sake, speak truth. Truth is not relative. Experience is obviously unique to every individual, but refuse the tide of pop philosophy and theology that pushes to interpret truth on the basis of experience. Rather, interpret experience in light of truth. I am not ashamed to say God made me a man, flawed as I may be. Condemn me as homophobic if you like, but I denounce same-sex relations and transgenderism as perverse. I am attracted only to a woman, namely, my wife. In addition to standing on biblical truth, I am also proud of my southern roots and unapologetically both salute the flag and bow my head to pray. I say “Yes Ma’am,” and “No sir,” and teach my family by example to do the same. Chivalry is not dead until you kill it, and I choose not to put it to death. Superseding all else, I belong to Jesus Christ heart and soul because I was bought with the price of His precious blood. Know who you are in Christ and never apologize for it.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16 | ESV
Thought you might appreciate reading the oath a service member takes and subscribes to when he or she is sworn in to the Texas military forces (other than the Texas National Guard):
“I, __________, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the State of Texas and to the United States of America, that I will serve this state and nation honestly and faithfully against all enemies, and that I will obey the orders of the governor of Texas and of the officers appointed over me, in accordance with the laws, rules, and articles governing the military forces of the State of Texas.”
Few days offer the opportunity to do the right thing simply by remembering; Memorial Day is one such privileged occasion. The key to making the most of sanctified reminiscence is to move beyond the general to the particular. In that way, honoring is not all that different from interceding. We may pray for certain occurrences or against others while remaining comfortably aloof, tucked safely behind abstraction; that is not intercession. Petition becomes intercession when we willingly and intentionally accept another’s plight as our own and wrestle on their behalf until a desired future outcome becomes present reality. In a similar vein, Memorial Day achieves full significance when we remember certain individuals and offer thanks for them by name.
Two such men come to mind today; the first was well known to me, while the second conjures far fewer memories yet deserves deep appreciation despite holding a far less familiar place in my mind. Henry adopted me and loved me unconditionally. He demonstrated that same commitment by serving this country faithfully as a tank commander in the United States Army during the Korean War of the early 1950’s. I owe to him a debt larger than life; though separated by death for nearly thirty years, he occupies a unique place in my mind and heart I revisit every day. I share his last name and enduring legacy. The other individual is a man to whom I owe a different debt. Though I only learned about him a year ago and met but twice, he is the reason I have anything or anyone to remember at all. I do not bear his name but carry his DNA, and I hope I honor him in a way he will never know. He, too, served this country in the Korean War, as a sailor in the United States Navy aboard the USS Taluga.
Sacrifice is measured best by cost and honored most highly by remembering. On this Memorial Day, I thank you Henry and thank you Pete for standing tall in the face of fear, danger and duty. I am not worthy of your courage, but I will not fail to honor your memory. I salute you both with my heart.
Last night to close a gathering of law enforcement spouses, I shared a very brief word that may be an encouragement to you as well: God does not promote weakness; He redefines strength.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 | ESV)
Wednesday was a special day for me as I was sworn in at Camp Mabry by Commanding General Robert J. Bodisch as Chaplain (CPT) of the Texas State Guard, 6th Brigade.
My first act as Chaplain was to autograph a copy of my book Ordinary Glory that the Chief of Chaplains brought with him to my swearing in ceremony.
Each new day I stand on a precipice not of my own choosing. I will then either remain perched on its uncertain edge paralyzed by an onslaught of reminders of how miserably I have failed to that point and how utterly inadequate I am for any task at hand, or I will hurl myself forward whooping a prayer like a battle cry that Almighty God may save me from impending destruction. Refuse the hellish lie that you have nothing to offer. Allow the Father to salvage what remains of an abandoned life and make of you a champion of dependence. After all, the companion to reliance is expectation, and another word for expectation is faith.
“If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead” (George MacDonald).
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 | ESV