Monday, December 28, 2015

Stuck in the Middle

Warning: Political post ahead.

Back in the 70s, Stealers Wheel had a hit song titled, "Stuck in the Middle With You." Now, I am not going to refer to any particular presidential candidate or candidates with, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right." Although, the process of picking a nominee does seem to be a circus.

It seems that politics in the United States has become more polarized over the last thirty years. Both major parties have moved further to the right or further to the left, and the middle seems to be a no--man's land where few dare to go. So many campaigns for public office are telling voters how terrible the candidate on the other side is rather than presenting positive policy ideas. Policy debate often devolves into attacking the other side in order to win.

Politics has become more and more like a war, where one side is trying to gain ground and ultimately defeat the other side. There is little room for working with those across the aisle with a willingness to take the best ideas from all sides in order to actually govern.

What really bothers me is what I see on social media and hear from those who call themselves followers of the King of Kings. I have no problem with Christians being involved in politics, but when you see and hear some of the nasty and unloving things that some Christians say about those who disagree with them, it seems that some have forgotten that their allegiance is to be given to Jesus Christ, not to a person or party. There are many examples of political parties saying what Christians want to hear, and then disappointing those Christians by neglecting to follow through.

I believe there is a middle way in much of what is facing the country today. Many of the problems do not lend themselves to easy answers and could use ideas from many sources. I also believe that this would be a good way for Christians to be involved. Instead of working for the benefit of a party or ideology, maybe we could do the hard work of asking how the Kingdom of God would tackle the problem. Admittedly many things that government does are exclusive to a kingdom of this world, but there are areas where Kingdom values can be brought to bear.

At the very least, we who follow the Prince of Peace can keep our political leanings from causing us to vilify those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Sestina for Christmas

This is one of my earliest attempts at poetry from a few years ago.

It's the time of year we call Christmas
A time we spend with friends and family
It's a time for us to worship
We worship a baby
Who was born in a stable
But do we worship the King?

The child who came was born a King
Do we just see a baby?
Who do we worship?
During the time we spend with family
In this season of Christmas
Who do we see in the stable?

It was strange there in the stable
Not the usual place for the birth of a King
But there was the baby
His mother welcomed him to the family
We call this Christmas
Who do we worship?

There is only one worthy of worship
He lay in a stable
Surrounded by his family
At Christmas
We too often forget the King
And focus on the baby

It is wondrous that he was a baby
Born in a humble stable
So we celebrate at Christmas
Who do we worship?
A King?
Or an infant in a human family?

Yes, part of a human family
Born a baby
In a stable
He is more. He is King
He is worthy of worship
At Christmas

As we celebrate Christmas, surrounded by family
Remember that we worship much more than a baby
Born in a stable. We worship the King!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Birthday Reflections

As of today, I have completed my sixth decade on this earth. I remember, when I was young thinking that sixty was so old. I don't feel that way anymore, except when I get out of bed in the morning.

It's been an interesting journey so far. As a wise man once said, "What a long, strange trip it's been." It's not been a story for the ages, although there have been many moments that were memorable, at least to me. As I look back I see a life that was just a little bit outside of what some would call normal. Of course, what is normal?

Like everyone, I have had highs and lows. I have been married to a wonderful woman for thirty five years now and that union continues to be a high. My two beautiful children are happily married and are making their own way in the world. Looking back I see that my family has always been the best part of my life. I have had good jobs and bad jobs. I have lost good jobs and bad jobs. While I never got what I thought was the dream job, I've always had the sense that I was in the right place, even if I was there in order to learn some lessons. I have had good friends through the years. Some continue as friends, others have been lost and replaced by better friends.  I have been hurt by people and learned to forgive. I have hurt people and I hope they have forgiven me. I have learned from each of them.

I have traveled through the Christian landscape, from fundamental Baptist circles where I didn't quite fit in, to a small Presbyterian church where I feel love and acceptance. Along the way I dabbled in Reformed Baptist, non-denominational, simple, and house churches. I have been fed up with church and ready to call it quits. I have gone from being an advocate of attractional worship that uses music to bring in a crowd, to believing that it is in intimate community that we really are formed into the likeness of Jesus.

As the years have gone by, I have become far less convinced that politics can make lasting change, and far more convinced that being an agent of Jesus' Kingdom is the only thing that can. I have grown less tolerant of those who are convinced that their way is the only way, and that those who disagree are the enemy.

I have traveled the back roads on this journey. I have not been been successful in business, have not built any empires. I have not been named man of the year, or been roasted in front of a large crowd. I'm not famous. Hopefully I'm not infamous. I don't really care about all that stuff. I do hope that I have touched some lives in a positive way, that I have made a difference in a small way, that others have seen a bit of Jesus in me.

Sixty years. It does seem like a long time. But, it's not enough. In many ways it feels like the start, like there's much more out there. Maybe with all the advances in medical science, I'll have sixty more. Who knows?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings is going to be on hiatus the next couple of weeks. I'm going to try and post some original content and maybe some reposts as well. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

The first two weeks of December are in the books. The big news was another mass shooting, this one evidently the work of Islamic terrorists. I don't know if stricter gun control laws would have prevented this, although I do believe some way needs to be figured out to keep massive arsenals out of the hands of certain people.

Here is the good stuff:

Who knew pillow fights could be so dangerous?
There seems to be a shortage of chefs.
The first Black Friday.
Good Advent post.
Just coffee?

The gift of identity.
Good question.
Some things are meant to be not shared.
Good story.
Learning from failure.

The cult of likability.
A good story about a program that is helping.
This is probably not a good thing.
An article in favor of proselytizing.
Rules, rules, rules.

Mallory Ortberg on Charlotte Bronte.
Jeff Clarke on God's love.
CJ Green on the cycle.
Donavon Riley says sin is boring.
Jonathan Algner on the liturgical calendar.

Have a blessed week!

Weelend Wanderings

The first weekend links post of autumn is here! The weather is beautiful here in the sunny South. It was fifty degrees on our back porch thi...