Did you react the same way I did to Trump’s victory?

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Yesterday I went with my wife and youngest daughter to cast my vote. It was a daunting/depressing prospect to vote for the presidential candidate that I picked.

Thankfully, little Isabelle really wanted to be held while I was casting my vote. It was a good reminder to me that I needed to make a hard decision for the sake of serving her. I needed to cast my vote in the selection because I needed to work hard to make the world a better place for her. So I held her close, and made my votes.

After dinner Ashley and I stayed up for a little bit keeping track of the results. We actually chose to watch Big Bang Theory reruns while we track the elections on our computers. We didn’t feel like listening to the commentary on the elections.

We hit the sack around 11 not knowing of course who would win but needing sleep. I got up at 12:30 and 2 AM checking my iPad and watched Donald Trump inch his way to victory. Waking up in the morning around 6:30 AM I was like coming out of a dream. When my iPad told me that Trump had won, I wasn’t sure if I was awake or in an alternative reality/dream.

Now, the president elect of the United States is Donald J Trump. What do I think about that?

What I think about this is of course governed by who I am. I am a fairly committed Christian. I believe that the moral teachings of the Bible are very important. I am also a professional pastor. So I have a vested interest in my faith. Of course, I am a husband and father. I am also an American and I love my country.

With this all being said, here are a few thoughts on the election.

It concerns me that a man of Trump’s morals will be my president

Donald Trump is in his third marriage with a collection of children from each of his marriages. He has had multiple affairs and relationships with other women and bragged about them. His comments about women are sexist and demeaning quite often.

Financially I don’t know the truth about his dealings.

I know that we have not selected a “pastor in chief” as James Dobson put it. We have elected a leader a, “commander in chief.” That said, I want to like and respect my president not just for the position he holds.

I wonder if Trump will be able to get cooperation to accomplish the good goals he has set out

Trump has made many broad statements about dramatically improving the country. I wonder if he will pull it off. Trumps party, the Republicans now control both the Senate and the House. If he can play nicely, he will get a lot done. I hope and pray this will be the case.

By saying “good goals” I don’t mean all of his goals are good. I mean I hope that he will accomplish good things in service of our country.

I am happy for religious liberty

Hilary has been quoted saying that “regarding gay marriage, abortion, and other things… Christianity needs to change.” As a pastor and of course believer I say that Christianity cannot change it stance on these things. The values of purity and life are inbedded far too deeply in God’s Word.

I can’t honestly say where Trump really is on all these issues. I don’t know what stands he has taken for the sake of the contest and what stands He will support. I do know he has painted himself Republican and he has a Republican Congress to deal with.

I do know that if Hillary were elected she would pursue changing Christianity. She would pursue pushing me as a believer to accept things which I cannot accept. For this, I am happy that she is not heading to the White House.

I hope Trump can use his business skills to serve our country

Again, I don’t know how much success Trump has or has not had in individual businesses. However, he has at least apparently successfully run a massive company over the last three or four decades. I would love to see him run America and the American economy successfully.

Regardless of how good or bad Trump is, God trumps Trump!

I really couldn’t help it, sorry.🙂 Seriously though, check out these two passages from the Bible:

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”-Daniel 2:20-21 (NIV)

The God in whom I place my trust is greater than all the human powers that be. I look forward to the next four years because God will still be just as in control as He has always been.

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” – Psalms 103:19

So, my first responsibility is to serve God, the greater King. Regardless of who is in the White House, who is the governor, or the mayor, God is my Lord. I will live as a subject of heaven and a citizen of America.

Conclusion

I am looking forward to the next four years. Not because my hope is in my president. No, I look forward to the next four years because I trust God. I believe that He will win in the end. I believe that He will preserve me, my family, and His church.

To this end I will pray that God blesses and leads my president-elect Donald J Trump.

Hail to the chief!

Saving Money

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Faced with some potential financial hardships Ashley and I have decided to go back on the Dave Ramsey budgeting system. This means we are using cash for everything. This means we’ve given every dollar a name and we are trying to save money every way we can.

I’m going to share some of my journey here as I experience what it takes to save money, pay off debts, and live frugally.

Today I was in the middle of a busy day of office work at the church. Mondays are pretty administrative catching up on things around the office. My office got pretty overheated in the afternoon since we turn off AC for the winter. So I decided I would head out and head up Starbucks for a coffee this afternoon.

Now, I we are supposed to be saving all the money we can. But, I figured I still had $21 on my Starbucks gift card and what is a coffee that cost $2.20? It would not be a big deal.

So, I hopped in the car and went towards Starbucks. Doubting myself, I pulled in to get gas at Kroger.

As I opened the trunk to get my cash envelopes  I saw an alarm clock that I needed to return. I thought to myself “that’s a $10 errand that I can’t forget.” Then it struck me, if I went and spent $2.20 at Starbucks it was almost like or drinking a fourth of that $10 I would make returning the alarm clock.

So, I decided it wasn’t worth it to go to Starbucks. I went into Kroger and bought some peppermint mocha creamer. I love the stuff! The creamer cost $2.50 but it would probably last me for 30 cups of coffee. While I was in Kroger I saw at the managers special section the mac & cheese that Ashley always gets for the girls. She just told me yesterday that you “can never find it for less than one dollar.” It was marked at $.69 a box! I bought six of them!

Then, when I checked out the machine printed off a coupon for me that said next time we came and bought more of the Annie’s Mac and cheese they would give us two dollars off our next shopping trip.

So, instead of me spending $2.20 for one cup of coffee at Starbucks this is what I spent

  • $2.49-Creamer (30 cups of coffee-worth)
  • $4.14-Annie’s Mac and Cheese ($1.86 off the lowest we’ve seen it)
  • -$2 Coupon

Instead of me spending a couple dollars I was able to make my money work and go a lot further! Got to keep my eyes open and stay disciplined if I’m going to keep saving money!

This was pretty fun though…

A Dangerous View of Life


Great loss

You are a billionaire playboy. Your friends say that you could out James Bond James Bond himself. You are 28, good-looking and in the prime of your life. Suddenly in the moment it is all stripped away in one accident. One rainy morning you are struck by a motorcycle and turned from James Bond  into Mr. quadriplegic.

You fight to come back for the first year. Then you realize that it does no good. Nine months of PT 40 hours a week give you a little more movement on your finger and that’s it. 

Haunted by your past

There you are. More pain, exhaustion, and pointlessness then you could have ever imagined. Your dreams are the truly haunted by memories of the man you were. You cannot face your future as a man you are. You are not you.

So you come to the decision. It’s not one you’ve ever thought you would make. At least not as James Bond. But James Bond died a year ago in a motorcycle accident. The man he is now stares at you in the window reflection as a shell. You have decided to end your life.

Makes perfect sense! You are your self made man, thanks to the wealth of your family. You have lived life to the fullest. You have crisscrossed the globe. To be confined to this new life for the rest of your unknown days is unthinkable and unworthy of you.

Yet, what if there was more than you? No, I’m not talking about your mom and dad who love you with all their hearts. I’m not even talking about the girl you fell in love with over the last six months. What if you were created? What if the story writer was sitting somewhere and penned out your accident? What if he wanted more of you to live out your life in this new reality? What if he really wanted to see you try and do your best to learn to fullest as this new man?

A different idea of dignity of life

What if the concept of “dignity of life” much more than just a dignified, healthy life? What if it could mean facing with dignity every stroke that’s the story writer pens for you? What if it meant facing your quadriplegia with dignity? What I meant allowing the one who is writing your story the authority with which to pen the last chapter? He did a good job with the first 28 years.

The sad thing about this story line which comes from the movie “Me Before You” is it’s selfish pessimism.The man in the wheelchair, Will is unable to accept himself as the man he has become. Despite the love and affection of Lou he refuses to go on.

I can’t help but wonder how much more he could live if he had a relationship with his creator? The Bible teaches about a life that is far more than our own personal sense of well-being. For a Christian “dignity of life” is about facing with dignity anything that God allows in your life.

 Conclusion

In my life I hope to trust God and find value and meaning in what ever he permit in my life. My reason for existence is not dependent on a certain standard or quality of life. Whereas I cannot imagine what it would be like to live with quadriplegia, I do hope my faith would give me a broader perspective on life.

Additional thoughts

A better example

My wife and I know a man who has suffered a similar accident. He now lives a fulle life as a quadriplegic with a wife and two children. It would definitely be worth your time to learn more about him. Click here to learn more about Chris Skinner.

The Problem with “Me Before You

The Guardian did an incredible article about how this movie shines light on Hollywood trend to denigrate those with disabilities. Far too often those with disabilities only shown as tools to provide a fuller life to those without disabilities. Worse yet, this movie portrays that Lou’s life improved dramatically by Will ending his. Check it out here.

Purpose beats pain!


Tonight while watching a movie with my family I wished for the thousandth time in the past week that my pain was gone. With phlegm in my throat and a cough in my lungs I have been fighting cold symptoms for the last week. Adding insult to injury I went to a fitness class last night and now every time I sit down my body is in pain because of the squats I did. From my internal organs to the muscles that bind my rear I wished that I was totally free of discomfort and pain.

Unfortunately my wife Ashley is actually sicker than I am today. So, when the girls needed someone to get them a drink or more pizza I was on base. On the 20th trip back to the kitchen I realized something. I was holistically uncomfortable but the purpose that drove me beat the pain I was in. Ashley and the girls needed someone to help get things around. I was able to serve them and make them happy and not stew in my pain. Certainly I still felt my quads every time I get out of my seat. And breathing is still a chore with pain in my throat. But I realized my purpose beat pain.

Then I looked ahead to the rest of the evening. It was 7:30 PM. I have the rest of the evening to look forward to and did not anticipate feeling better. I could spend the rest of the evening trying to be distracted and hiding from the pain I felt. Or, I could double down on my purpose and beat the pain.

Maybe write a blog…🙂

Maybe try to be the worlds best husband and love my sick wife a little bit.

Then I realized purpose often beats pain. 

Women endure the pain of pregnancy and childbirth for the sake of bringing a new life into the world. Purpose over pain.

Men and women  endure hours on the brutal factory floor to provide for their family. Purpose over pain.

Athletes train months and months to win in the contest. Purpose over pain.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

Purpose over pain.

Conclusion

Here’s my commitment. I commit to live for purpose more than comfort the rest of the night. When I wake up tomorrow first thing I want to do is dial-in to God’s word to get a better handle on my purpose. Because, I don’t know if I will feel much better tomorrow. But I do know that God’s purpose for me will be there tomorrow. I intend to let purpose beat pain in my life every time.

Deadly Men

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Think about the terror strikes in the United States over the last decade. Everyone of the shootings, bombings, stabbings, and etc. have been perpetuated by men. Of course, there are exceptions but it remains that many of the most deadly attacks have been perpetuated by men.

Think about the industries that have caused systematic harm to Americans. The drug trade, fueled by purchasers and headed up by men. The sex trafficking industry is fueled by the desires for the most part of men. The pornography industry is led by men.

Broken men are at the heart of destruction throughout our society. Even in the church the most famous and most destructive incidences of failure are failures by men. Men have caused great harm in their brokenness.

Our world needs godly, ethical men. To suggest any other change than fixing the hearts and souls of men only covers up a problem. If you have a society with more rules, laws, and regulations you will still have a society with men capable of great distraction in it.

Now, Think for a moment about great corporations and great not for profits. Samaritans purse, the Salvation Army, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery are all started and lead by men. Great corporations like Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Walmart, Apple computers, and Microsoft are all started and lead by men. Men have also been at the heart of great, good change.

I am a man and I am proud of the good things other men have done. I am also painfully aware of the mistakes my gender has perpetuated. I want to be a man more like Joshua was.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

I want to be a man who takes a stand for the right. I want to be a man who seeks God out with his heart, soul, and mind. I want to be a man who makes a great, positive impact on my family and my community. I want to be a man actively engaged in finding healing for the brokenness in me and in the world around me. Join me!

Doubly Counter-Cultural

 

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Imagine if you will that you  left the United States and lived in Europe for a decade. You haven’t been back to the stage for a long long time. Upon returning and moving back to the states you discover that instead of churches meeting and people worshiping on Sundays people worship and gather on Monday mornings now. Monday morning is still the first day of the workweek for 99% of Americans. However, the church felt that something so significant happened on a Monday that it was worth changing everything for.

Author and speaker Andy Crouch said, “The church at the beginning was not culturally relevant it was resilient.” The church believed so much in the significance of the resurrection of Jesus that they changed history.

The church was born out of Jewish traditions and following a Jewish teacher – Jesus. Jews worship on Saturday because that was the day God set aside as special. Jesus and his disciples and honored Saturday or Sabbath.
However, the resurrection changed everything.

Jesus was crucified on a Friday as memorialized by “Good Friday.” He was raised from the dead on  Sunday.

Jesus coming back from the dead means that he won. It means Jesus defeated death. It means everything that Jesus taught was true. It means that Jesus steps into heaven as our defender and high priest. The resurrection means that God has accepted the greatest sacrifice of all time. It means that all victory has been won.

OK let me step back a little bit from the excitement of all the resurrection means…

The early church rightly saw the resurrection as the best thing since sliced bread. Therefore, they made the choice to begin gathering and worshiping God on Sunday. They made this change because of the life changing belief they held.

Saturday was the day that choose worship God and so Christians probably looked pretty weird to Jews. The rest of the world really didn’t have a special day they took off. So when the Jews took off Saturday and the Christians took Sunday to worship it was countercultural.
The early church made a doubly countercultural move not because they thought they could be culturally relevant but because they were resilient. They believed in the power of the son of God and his teaching. They believed that something happened on a Sunday that changed the world.

How about me today? How resilient am I? As a Christian in my cringing in fear at the swirling culture around me? Or am I consumed by the magnitude of what Jesus has done? Am I acting out of a spirit of fear or a spirit of power and of love?