Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category
Sunday, November 4th, 2012
Be honest; how many times in the past few months have you uttered the phrase, “I can’t wait until this election is over!”?
I already confessed a few weeks ago that election fatigue had set in, and the commercials, regardless of which candidate is represented, were sending me diving for my remote control’s mute button – they still do! In less than a week, however, it will be over, although we here in Virginia get only a short break until we ramp up again for a gubernatorial race in 2013.
Have you given any thought, however, to what you’re going to do the day after the election, and the days which follow that?
Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Note: This is the main text of a letter I wrote in response to a brother in Christ who disagreed with the statement in my last article, “Time to Build an Ark,” that “I am no longer looking to the political process for solutions.”
Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate the thought you gave to my article.
I wouldn’t expect Christians to disengage from the culture; in fact, I encourage it. I simply believe that we’ve put too much faith in the political process and not enough in the power of God to do amazing things through His church stepping out boldly in every community across the land.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Noah: Who is that?
God: It’s the Lord, Noah
Noah: Where are ja?
Noah: What you want? I’ve been good.
God: I want you to build an Ark.
Noah: What’s an Ark?
Note: Does remembering this skit above make me older than dirt? Post a comment below or on Facebook, or send me a tweet if you know who did this!
It’s pouring buckets outside as I write this, so I hope the title isn’t prophetic! This phrase, and the thoughts behind them, have been in my head since Monday when, in a conversation with Dr. Steve Samson, one of my colleagues here at Liberty University, we discussed the current state of world affairs and where we seem to be headed.
Thursday, April 26th, 2012
As a Christian, I believe the Holy Spirit lives in my heart to provide comfort, correction and conviction. It’s the divine process that changes us as we live out our days so we are more Christ-like as we mature. Sometimes that process is disrupting, as it should be because we still battle our flesh, which is firmly ensconced in the world and finds its satisfaction and comfort in worldly things. The more serious we are about giving up our desires and asking God to replace them with His, the more disruptive the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.
What I just described won’t make sense to non-believers, but it is definitely what I’ve been experiencing over the past few months as I’ve found myself troubled and unable to do many of the things I used to do with ease.
Monday, February 27th, 2012
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”~ Psalms 46:10, English Standard Version
If one believes, as I do, in God as a heavenly Father, then I suppose that as a parent who knows what is best for us, it is His prerogative to put us in a timeout when He thinks it’s important for us to get our heads and hearts right. Whether that timeout is one He imposes directly, or one where He allows Satan to “sift us like wheat,” His purposes are always good, even if it doesn’t feel like it, and I’ve had to remind myself of that often in the past few months.
I want to share my experiences and lessons learned during my timeout because so many who follow my work have affirmed me and expressed their support for me to continue, especially in these turbulent times in which we find ourselves.
I haven’t been able to write anything, however, other than the occasional social media post since the remarks I prepared for the Clarion Community Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration in Clarion, Pennsylvania on January 26th. It’s almost as if my gift of written expression has been suppressed.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:37-40
Depending on which survey you read, Calvert County, Maryland is either the 13th or the ninth richest county in the United States. Given its proximity to Washington, DC, this isn’t surprising; Forbes Magazine put it best when it said, “Wealth radiates from the Capital.” That publication puts nine of the top 25 wealthiest counties in America either within or just on the outskirts of the DC Metro Area. Newsweek lists seven counties in the region among the top 10 richest in the nation.
It is fitting, in a surreal way, that the nation’s capital, where decisions are made that affect the lives of millions of Americans, knows little of what the rest of the nation is experiencing. This is particularly apparent when you consider that even in wealthy and beautiful Calvert County, where I made my home for ten years, thousands of people are going to bed every night hungry.
Saturday, December 10th, 2011
I had the pleasure this past week of sponsoring Tim Goeglein, former special assistant to the president during the Bush Administration, and currently the vice president of external relations with Focus on the Family, during his visit to Liberty University to promote his memoir, The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era.
Tim is a friend as well as a fellow author, and he is a living example of God’s grace who inspires me with his candor, humility and a countenance of joy whenever I see him. The most powerful political leader in the world showed him mercy at a time in his life when he will tell you he deserved scorn and disgrace, and the experience made him an even more powerful witness for Christ. God is always made strong in our weakness, and while the world, and many Christians for that matter, do not grasp that fundamental aspect of God’s character, it is essential to living the contented life he promises, with a peace that passes all understanding.
I tell you all this not to pitch Tim’s book, although you should buy it — I’ve read the excerpted first chapter, and I will buy it when money is less tight — but to touch upon a couple of points he made during his presentation to 92 students, faculty and visitors at the Helms School of Government, and a comment he made to me later over dinner.
He laid down a couple of statistics that I found staggering. The first is that, in absolute numerical terms, there are more Americans out of work than at any time in our nation’s history, even more than were unemployed during the Great Depression. The second sobering statistic is that two-thirds of the unemployed have been out of work for a year or longer. Tim’s recitation hit me where I live because, until I was hired into my current position this past August, I was in that number.
At a Hanukkah Dinner later that evening, hosted by the campus’s Stand with Israel club, I shared with Tim my own story of failure, repentance, redemption and grace related to my recent experiences with unemployment and underemployment. He said to me, “You need to tell that story.”
I’ve been pretty transparent about my job struggles of the past five years, and I’ve reflected in numerous articles and my book the trials and despair I experienced, and the lessons I learned as a result. Tim is right, though – I need to tell the story again, in one place, and pray that God can use my words to bring hope or peace to the tens of millions who are still out of work or who, like me, are underemployed, making much less than they did before, but still blessed to have work.
Sunday, September 18th, 2011
I have a confession to make.
It hit me last night, as I returned from watching my Liberty Flames go down to defeat in football, 27-24. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful evening of tailgating with a couple of my new colleagues and their families, and I got to hang out with my son, who greatly enjoys live sports and is even teaching me a thing or two about how the game of football is played these days.
After I got back to the house and prepared for bed, I decided to check in on my Facebook “public figure” page, which has become the center of my political social network based on sheer numbers and participation. I did the usual scan of updated comments, responded to some of them, and added a couple of items of interest to wrap up the evening.
As I was reading, though, I felt the good feelings of my evening out draining from me, and I reached a point where I simply couldn’t read or respond any more. I went to bed thinking about it, and I woke up much earlier than I wanted this morning because it was still on my mind.
I am tired of the arrogance and condescension of my ideological adversaries, who consider policy disagreement a character flaw or a sign of intellectual poverty, rather than a different worldview with the benefit of historical, evidential and observational merit.
I am tired of people who think my faith forbids me from even expressing my point of view publicly, much less participate in the political process, and that they have the power to suppress my unalienable rights, rights they did not grant to me, because I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I am tired of refereeing disputes between people who agree 80 percent of the time, but think that less than 100 percent purity is apostasy and those lesser beings are pond scum, thereby refusing to acknowledge that a demand of absolute fealty leads to an all or nothing outcome, most likely nothing.
In short, I am exhausted by today’s politics.
Monday, May 30th, 2011
I have been to Arlington National Cemetery only three times that I can recall, twice as a tourist. I cringe at the word “tourist” because each time I visited in that capacity, I felt like I was dishonoring holy ground, as were my fellow tourists.
Please don’t get me wrong; it is absolutely vital that as many Americans as possible visit Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the men and women who dedicated themselves to the protection and well-being of this blessed republic. We need to remember the price of our liberty, and those who gave their last full measure of devotion to preserve it.
It’s just that I couldn’t reconcile the idle chatter, summer garb and general conviviality of the hundreds of visitors with our presence at this somber and eternal resting place of the honored dead. My inclination was to be still and silent, and bow my head in reverence at every grave site; even then, I had to break the silence to explain to my guests the significance of a particular grave or tomb.
I was appalled at the ignorant yet apparently innocent lack of protocol during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Hats remained on heads, conversation continued, salutes were unrendered, not even a right hand over the heart, and people behaved like – well, like tourists.
The third visit I paid to Arlington National Cemetery, however, was an honor and a privilege. I was invited to join the family of my former commanding officer, brother in Christ, and friend Raymond Allen Vitkus, on January 5th, 2011 as we laid him to rest. He succumbed to cancer on September 25, 2010. (more…)
Monday, February 14th, 2011
Our church held its semi-annual congregational meeting last week, and it was a time of celebration, challenge and commitment for the year to come. Since I’m mostly working from home these days, I was able to arrive a little early and help out.
It was a busy evening for me compared to past meetings; I sang with the worship team, and I was accorded the honor once again of being nominated for the position of elder. But the moment in which I felt God speaking to my heart didn’t involve singing or the affirmation of my church family. No, that moment came in the form of a two-month old baby boy named Elijah David Palmer.