Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

In the United States of America, it is officially Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, despite many serious chronic and systemic problems in our society, we have much to be thankful for. The challenge for all of us, and the Christian in particular, is to live a life of thankfulness; a thankfulness that is a part of the other 364 days of the year. May the spirit of this day be a reminder to do just that...

"Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." ~Psalm 106:1

Saturday, November 10, 2012

With God on Our Side

"Sir, my greater concern is not whether God is on my side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."

~ Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

An Evening in Ada

We are in the van, on our way to pick up the grandsons to take them to the Wednesday night church activities. What's that sound? Why is the van driving weird? Do we have a flat tire?

Pull off busy main highway into subdivision. Pull over and stop. Exit van and check right front tire. Flat! OK, first time I've had to change a tire on this van. Where is the jack? Hah! Why doesn't the jack come out of there? What's that wing nut? Okay jack is available for use. Where is the spare tire in this thing? Oh! Under the back of the van. Okay, How does it come down? It is hard to see because it is dark, and the only light is the street light and a feeble flashlight. I'm laying on the ground looking underneath trying to figure it out. Scratch head.

Get up and go get manual out of drawer under front passenger seat. Look in back appendix for "tire". "Changing tire - 222." Turn to page 222. Ah! Okay... Use jack handle wrench to turn do-giggy under the floor mat in the back to let spare tire down. Fumble around figuring out how to get tire off the lift do-wacky. Okay,now we can change the tire. Pop hubcap off. Look under van at frame trying to figure out where to set the jack. Hum... Get up and refer to page 222 in the car manual. Ah! Get back down and look under frame for the little thing-a-ma-jig the jack lift needs to fit into. Okay! We're on our way!

Crank jack up until there is a little lift. Slightly crack lugnuts... Crank on jack some more and van raises up. Wait a minute. That don't look right... As the jack is going up, it starts leaning... Not good at all! Visions of van crashing off jack flash before my eyes. Crank jack back down. Reset jack and then crank it up again. Much better! Finally flat front right tire starts to lift off the ground. Stop cranking and loosen lugnuts some more. Crank jack some more and flat right front tire clears the ground. Remove lugnuts. Try to take tire off and it doesn't budge. Rusted? Kick at tire. No movement. Look closer. Sigh... Remove remaining top lugnut I thought I had already removed. Flat right front tire comes off.

I grab spare tire and swing it into place.. Hum... This spare looks like it has seen better days... Probably has never been used. Oh well! Here goes. Spare is on and I put the lugnuts on snug. Crank jack down until spare touches ground. Snug lugnuts tighter, then reef on them hard to tighten. Crank jack rest of way down. Throw flat tire, hubcap and jack into back of the van. Finally we can go!

I get in van where wife and daughter have been patiently waiting. Start van and put it in gear and start moving. OH OH! That doesn't sound good. Stop van about ten feet from were it had been sitting when I had changed the flat right front tire. I get out and go around and look at the spare tire. Flat! We are going nowhere.

I get back in van. Find insurance paper in glove compartment with the 800 number to call for road service. Automated answering voice tells me to punch one number for hurricane Sandy related claims, and another number for "normal" claims. I punch "other number". Finally a live real human being is talking to me. Live real human being's first question, "Are you safe?" Yes, we are safe. Live human being asks for insurance info policy number and verifies I am who I am. Live human being asks what the nature of problem is. I explain to live human being I have a flat tire and a flat spare tire. Live human being asks where we are. Duh... What street is this? I had been so concerned about getting off the highway that I didn't see the name of the street I had turned on to. I walk back to street corner and verify name of street. I tell live human voice where I want van with flat tire and flat spare tire towed to. Live human voice verifies insurance will cover tow to that place, and informs me the tow truck will be at van location in about an hour or less... I will get voice messages or texts regarding ETA.

Wife calls next door neighbor to see if they would be able to come and pick up wife and daughter and give them a ride home. Kind neighbor friends says, "Sure!" We sit in van and wait. Kind neighbor friend arrives and takes wife and daughter home.

I sit in van and wait for tow truck. I listen to the radio. A few times I turn on van engine and warm van up. I finish off a partially filled bottle of water. I realize finishing off said bottle of water might end up being a mistake pending how long I may or may not have to wait for tow truck. Phone buzzes and I am told tow truck ETA is 15 minutes. Tow truck arrives about 40 minutes after taking to "live human being". Tow truck driver hooks up van with flat tire and flat spare tire. I get into tow truck cab. Tow truck driver tows van back to repair shop in Ada. Favorite youngest daughter and Charlie Brown are there with other van and and give me ride home...

I am home. There is no whiskey or other alcoholic spirits in the house. Probably a good thing at this point.

- The End -

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Resisting Evil

According to some comments made in the heat of the recent Presidential election campaign, I am suppose to stand up to "evil", and that apparently in a way and manner that would involve destroying a recently renewed and cherished friendship. I rather think the evil that needed to be resisted was the one that would destroy and deny me that cherished friendship,and that was the evil I choose to oppose.

Those who know me well at all have a pretty good idea which way my political opinions lean. I don't feel obligated to make those leanings a test of friendship or even Christian fellowship. And as I don't like it when other people shove their politics in my face, I am obligated to treat them as I wish to be treated. And with regard to the times when I have not done so, I confess my need for repentance.

I am very concerned and disturbed about the shrillness of political discourse these days from both sides of the political spectrum; a shrillness that lends itself to increased polarization, anger, and hatred for one another. Sixty second sound bites and media focused political campaigning does not lend itself to dispassionate and thoughtful political discussion.

If the principles of the Sermon on the Mount have any meaning at all, they have meaning for how we participate in political discussion. The implications of that was the focus of a previous post, so I will not repeat all of that here.

The questions remain for each of us in our conscience to answer before God. What is the evil in myself I need to stand up to and confront? Is it possible to stand up to and confront evil in an evil manner? What does the Gospel have to say about the manner and way of my political conversation, and for that matter, all areas of my conversation? In my focus on the political evil I see, am I forgetting my own need of repentance and forgiveness and subtly becoming smug in my self-righteousness?

It is true that we need to stand up to and confront evil. What is not always so clear is what evil it is we personally need to stand up to in a given moment. May God grant us the wisdom and discernment to see clearly what the real evil is that confronts us in our hearts.

Kyrie Eleison!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Assessing Election Campaign promises

"I promise you that by the next morning I will build a skyscraper in your backyard. You wake up in the morning and there is no skyscraper in your backyard. You then ask me why I did not keep my promise. Well, why did you believe me in the first place."

(My paraphrase of a conversation I heard on the radio this morning...)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

How to Vote in An Election

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them

1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy

2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against

3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."

~ John Wesley 1774