You are currently viewing archive for May 2006
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: an okie gardener
I am giving this letter to this year's high school graduates of the church I pastor.

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations on this milestone in your life. You now are among the best educated, most privileged people on the planet, with opportunities before you that most of the human race could not even dream of. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48b) Live your life wisely, in a godly way, and be a blessing in this world. Whether God takes you around the world, or keeps you in Apache, remember who you are—a Christian, blessed by God to be a blessing—and be careful who you become.

(cont. below)

» Read More

Category: From the Heart
Posted by: an okie gardener
Adding to my thoughts on the sin of Despair (see earlier post Life Is Unpredictable):

In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien contrasts Despair with various virtues. Sam, the true hero Tolkien later said, demonstrates Loyalty, and so helps save Middle Earth. Frodo demonstrates many virtues, including Duty, and so helps save Middle Earth. And so on. The heroes persevere, even when all looks hopeless, carried forward by loyalty, duty, honor, courage.

Two important figures illustrate the sin of Despair: Saruman and Denethor. Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, beheld the might of the enemy, and concluded that all would be lost. He killed himself and tried to kill his son. Saruman, the Wizard, also beheld the might of the enemy, and concluded that resistance was futile. He allied himself with the Enemy, Sauron. A shared characteristic of each of these characters is pride.

Despair is a form of pride, assuming we know infallibly that things are hopeless. Not a bad thing to remember in these days of terror amidst the War against militant Islam.
A couple of weeks ago I had to be out and about in my car for a few evenings. Listening to a geezer rock station I heard a nationally syndicated program hosted by Alice Cooper. What a trip! Rock music, anecdotes, Bible lessons, and occasional libertarian/conservative political commentary. In the 1970s who could have imagined Alice Cooper on the radio explaining the context of a New Testament story? Or warning against the dangers of excessive drinking? Life is totally unpredictable.

For much of my life, from childhood until about fifteen years ago, I had a recurring dream: I was standing in the back yard of my paternal grandparents. I looked to the southwest and saw the top of a nuclear mushroom cloud (the direction of Kansas City), then I looked to the southeast and saw the top of another mushroom cloud (in the direction of St. Louis). I assumed, given the talk of those days, and later given my own analysis of the world's political situation, that nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was inevitable. (Boy did I feel that in the early 80s). I also recall, growing up in the 60s, having the feeling that America was doomed by enemies without, and by problems within. The same thoughts recurred in the late 70s with oil shortages, strong inflation, and the hostages in Iran. But, the U.S.S.R. is no more, the United States is still here, and my premonitions/predictions did not come to pass. The future is unpredictable.

For me this unpredictability gives me hope. Traditionally Christianity has regarded Despair (not to be equated with depression) as a sin. Despair is the rejection of hope. It is a sin because it is a form of pride, an assumption of omniscience. The person who chooses to despair assumes that he/she knows all the facts of the present, and knows what will happen in the future. We never know enough to declare that life is hopeless.

Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
As May is the month for graduations, this magnificent commencement address from two years ago deserves your consideration. (Please Note: I have omitted a few graphs of introduction, self-deprecating remarks and material specific to the event and venue, Vanderbilt; I have also emboldened the must-read sections for skimmers):

Remarks by the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
May 13, 2004

The Southerner in me is happy to be here, a little closer to my roots in this region that has changed so much so quickly.

You are here because you worked hard. You are here because you value education. You are here because this university saw in you the raw potential that is now being realized.

But let's be very clear. Merit alone did not see you to this day. There are many people in this country, many from your hometown, some even from your own high school, who are just as intelligent, just as hard-working, and just as deserving, but for whatever reason, they didn't have that one teacher that inspired them, or parents who made it possible, and they didn't enjoy the opportunities that came your way.

Don't ever forget that when you leave here. Don't ever forget that just because you deserve something it doesn't mean that you'll necessarily get it. And don't ever assume that just because you got something, it meant that you deserved it.

Commencement is an opportunity to graduate to humility.
Also never forget

» Read More