Sunday, June 18, 2017

Intentional Fathers

Happy Father's Day!!

The following is a great article I read today about how important it is for us fathers to not just be present - but be INTENTIONAL.

Stepping Up as a Dad

"A few years ago, my son Ben and I had the opportunity to go to a World Series game in St. Louis. It was awesome to see my beloved Cardinals square off against the Detroit Tigers.

The Cards won 5–0 (and went on to win the Series in five games), but the highlight from that evening’s experience was when my friend Chip turned and asked my son, 'How would you describe your dad in one word?' Watching Ben think for a moment, I quietly speculated about what he might say. I was hoping it would be some noble character quality like 'loving' or 'kind' or 'forgiving.'

Instead, my grown son’s one-word conclusion of me was 'intentional.' ”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Today’s Riddle: How is Bernie Sanders like an Alarm Clock?

"The truth of Jesus Christ has always been offensive.

From the start, no one liked being told they weren’t good enough for God. Especially not the ones who were doing all they could to be good enough, and who felt very satisfied with the job they were doing.

The truth at the core of our faith is so offensive, the first Christians were threatened, cast out of their places of worship, bullied, pressured to be silent, exiled, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, stoned, and killed."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What Would Cliff Huxtable Do?

Thursday night was Cosby night. Growing up as an '80's kid, I looked forward to watching the life of the Huxtable family on Thursdays.

TV Guide wrote that "Cosby" was "TV's biggest hit in the 1980s and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre."  They ranked TCS as #28 in the top 50 Television Shows of All Time and Cliff Huxtable #1 in their top 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.  

My family enjoys watching TCS on DVD.  Currently, we are watching season two.  Besides having to get over the fact that it has been more than thirty years since it first aired, I see the show through a lens now that I missed in the 1980's.  "Cosby" is a remarkable work of art.  It was an incredible effort of Bill Cosby and company to present a healthy, happy, successful African-American family.  This was not Sanford and Son, Good Times, or The Jeffersons. "Cosby" was The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie - only set in modern times in a black family that was living the American Dream.  Cliff, a doctor, and Clair, a lawyer, afforded an upper-middle class lifestyle to their children.  Extremely well-rounded, the couple enjoyed everything from participatory sports, Jazz music, art museums, and junk food.  Bill Cosby's collection of fine, African-American artwork was often used in the series, decorating the walls of the New York townhouse.  The show was a subtle, but firm, cultural statement.  It was a way to celebrate a healthy, wise, and positive black American family.

At the heart of the show is the love and respect of family members.  Cliff and Clair wisely shepherd their children, administering proper authority, discipline, affirmation, correction, and warmth.  They challenge their children to excel.  They require their kids to face consequences.  And they shower affection on each other, like the famous "zerberts" that the show made into a cultural phenomenon.  A zerbert, or ZRBTT, is a sloppy kiss, when you blow air out and make a loud sound.

Yes, I enjoy having my children watch the positive show.  My sixteen year old even commented, "It is so nice to see a strong, good dad on tv." Good old Cliff Huxtable. 

In recent days, my heart aches when I see the daily headlines regarding the ongoing trial of Bill Cosby.   The reason for the trial does not need repeating.  You have been under a rock if you are unaware of the accusations against him.  As of the writing of this column, a verdict has not been issued.  However, as Samuel Jackson said, when there is that much smoke, there has been a fire.

Irregardless of whether or not Bill Cosby actually drugged and raped these women, he has admitted to having sex with various females to whom he was not married.  The Bible has some words for that behavior - fornication, sexual immorality, or adultery.  We have heard in recent years of Cosby's numerous trips to hang out with his buddy Hugh Heffner at the Playboy mansion.  The Bible has a word for that too - stupid.

Though I know it is not fair to expect an actor to be just like the person he plays, I do believe that anyone in the public eye has responsibility to set a good example.  And the greater your place of influence, the greater your responsibility of setting that example.  

I cannot get out of my head the image of Cliff Huxtable.  Would Cliff walk away from his love affair with Clair to chase after numerous women?  Would Cliff, who enjoyed friendships with many influential and exciting people, run out on weekends to check out the Playboy mansion?

Pastor Jack Hayford shares in his book "Fatal Attractions: Why Sex Sins are Worse than Others" that though certainly forgivable, sins of a sexual nature carry long-term consequences physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially.  Their affects far outlive the passing pleasures.

I believe there is still cultural value in The Cosby Show.  Art can stand alone in spite of its artist.  However, regardless of the outcome of a trial, the legacy of Bill Cosby is forever tainted.

The Greeks used masks in their dramatic performances.  These masks hid the faces and expressions of the real people.  The root of the biblical Greek word for hypocrite means stage actor, pretender, or dissembler.  The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy.  They claimed great piety outwardly, yet they were "white-washed tombs." Their inner life did not match their outward claims.

Growing up, my mother occasionally warned me from the Old Testament book of Numbers. I still can hear her say, "Son, you may be sure that your sin will find you out" (32:23).  In other words, don't be a fool.  You can only hide dirty laundry for so long.  If you choose to continue in wrong behavior, it will catch up with you, and it will often become public information.  That is the nature of sin.

That can keep us humble, motivating us to keep short accounts with the Lord.

If I could ask Bill Cosby just one thing, it might be, "What would Cliff do?"

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Intolerance of Bernie Sanders and the Left

"What does a man's theology have to do with the U.S. economy? A lot, if you're Russell Vought. The respected economist, President Trump's pick for deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, thought he'd have to answer some tough questions at his Senate hearing last week. But like most of us, he thought they'd be about finances -- not faith.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) flipped that script, launching into an aggressive and bizarre attack on Vought's Christianity (which Sanders called 'hateful,' 'indefensible,' and 'insult[ing]'). Shouting until he was red in the face (see the video below), he accused the president's nominee of being an Islamaphobe for believing what the Bible says about salvation. In a tantrum that made the James Comey hearing seem tame, Sanders managed to expose one thing: which one of them is truly intolerant. To Sanders's crazy, Vought was the picture of poise, calmly explaining that he believes every person is made in the image of God, but that Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation and path to heaven.

It was an eye-opening display for most people, who may not have realized the level of contempt many liberals hold toward the majority religion in America. Just think: this is a senator who almost won the Democratic Party's nomination for president -- a man who thinks there's no room in the public square for people who believe the Bible! I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that the same party who wanted God out of their platform also wants Him out of public service. As far as the Left is concerned, Christians in government have four options: they can hide their faith, deny it, recant it, or work elsewhere. Ironically, that makes most liberals guilty of the same prejudice they're trying to pin on men and women of faith!"

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Quote of the Day

"You're not the shepherd of your life. You're following Him [Christ]. You may be overwhelmed and confused about the next step. Stay close to Him - He knows your path. His hand is on you on the best day of your life, and it is on you on the worst day of your life. He will use both to accomplish His purpose in your life." - Steve Farrar, MANNA

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Quote of the Day

“God is full of surprises.  The same God who created the world is able to carry you through and to work out every situation of your life, no matter how impossible it may seem.”  – Ray Stedman

The Whistle Stop Cafe

Here's my favorite restaurant from our trip a few weeks ago. We ate at The Irondale Cafe on Mother's Day. Food was excellent. Fannie Flagg, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, used TIC as the inspiration behind "The Whistle Stop Cafe" in her book and movie FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE. I read the book in 1991 as a senior in high school.  And yes, they did have fried green tomatoes.