Archive for January, 2010

1st Date

January 28, 2010

Twenty four years ago today, Gloria and I had our first date.  Here’s my side of the story.

Gloria worked at the deli at NCBC.  I had returned to the college for the spring semester after serving four years in the Marine Corps.  I was home on terminal leave, which means that I had saved leave that I was using at the end of my enlistment.  This allowed me to be at North Central for the start of the spring semester even though technically I was still in the service.  The first couple of days, I wore my dress uniform to attend classes.  I wanted people to know that I was a Marine.

I would stop in at the deli for a coffee between classes.  Gloria was a beautiful young lady with light blue eyes, a wonderful smile, and happy, easy-going way about her.  I would watch her interact with the customers, between sips of my coffee and I was impressed, and attracted.

On the morning of the 28th, which was my official end of active service (EAS), I concocted a plan.  I would mention to Gloria, while I was buying my coffee that it was my last day in the Marine Corps.  I figured that a natural response would be to ask what I was doing to celebrate, and that then I could ask her out to celebrate my EAS.

It went exactly according to plan… except that I lost my nerve.  I told her that it was my last day, she asked me what I was doing to celebrate, I said that I wasn’t doing anything.

I drank my coffee and left.

I went upstairs where I gave myself, first a chewing out, and then a pep talk,  “What if she’s the one?”  “You coward, get down there and ask her out!” and so on…

I finally worked up the nerve and calmly went downstairs.  She was surprised to see me again, (I usually only bought coffee once a morning).  I said something like “I was thinking about it, and you’re right, I should do something to celebrate.  Since I really don’t know many people here yet, since I am newly back to school, perhaps you would go out with me?”

She was so surprised that I would ask her out, that she replied yes without thinking too much about it.  After all, it was her idea.  Her friends later reminded her that she had agreed to a date with a man she barely new, except that he was a student, and a sergeant in the Marines.  The student part, sure, but the Marine?  It gave her something to think about through the afternoon.

The date went well, and the rest is history.  We often laugh about our relationship starting with manipulation, but it’s worked out well.

Revelation, Reason, Faith & Feelings

January 27, 2010

The Christian Bible is God’s revelation to us.  It is a history of God interacting with humanity throughout thousands of years.  It was written by men, but inspired by God.  It should be understood as a single work composed of individual parts that fit together as a whole entity. It provides the information that we need to be in a right relationship with God, both in this life, and in eternity.

The Bible is written using human language and can be understood using human reasoning…to a degree.  It is necessary for the Holy Spirit to grant us the insight to comprehend those portions that would perplex unaided human reasoning.  This insight is not contrary to reason, but rather supplements reason.

Faith allows us to accept that which we cannot see.  Faith is a response of our inner-most being to the Word, and to the Spirit of God, that works together to produce the character of God in our lives. 

As God does His work within us, wonderful feelings of love, joy, peace, and more are stirred up within our souls.  Sometimes people focus on the feelings, rather than the Word, and can be led astray. Our feelings should not guide us.  Be careful to remain guided by the Word,  which is the revelation of God; using reason, which is guided by the Spirit; which works in our lives, through our faith; all of which, is a gift from God.

Haiti:Judgement and Grace

January 26, 2010

Is the devastation in Haiti an act of judgement?

Yes… and no.

Yes, it is an act of judgement in two ways.  First, since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, humanity and the world, have lived with the consequences of sin.  There are many things that take place in this world that would not, and will not happen, in Paradise.   Secondly, even a cursory glimpse at either the Old or the New Testament reveal that God is displeased, even angry, about sin.  The reality of harsh judgement against sin is demonstrated in the flood, the deliverance from Egypt, the conquest of the promised land, the exile of Israel, and the description of a coming ‘lake of fire’.  So, the earthquake can be seen as a  foreshadow of judgement against the sin in the world,  a reminder of what is to come.

And…No, it is not a specific judgement against the people of Haiti.  They are not worse sinners that other places in the world.  If it were not for the grace of God we would all likewise perish.

The grace of God is also seen in the outpouring of support for the people of Haiti.  Many are motivated by their love for God, expressed in their love for humanity.    Help flows to Haiti from people around the world.  People of many faiths working together to provide aid to the suffering.

God’s grace is also seen in that He is willing to forgive us our sins.   We are promised deliverance from the coming judgement of sin,  through our faith in Jesus.  That deliverance may, or may not, take place in this world, but is promised in the life to come.

Raising Hopes and Crushing Dreams

January 25, 2010

I was a Vikings fan in the sixties, seventies, eighties and into the early nineties.  Then I moved into a new area where they were not broadcast every week and I no longer followed their seasons with any real interest.  Actually, I had become increasingly frustrated because year after year they would show wonderful promise and potential, but were never able to win the BIG GAME.  Each year started out with wonderful potential, many years would show promise, but each year ended with a loss.

This year was no different.

Once again the Minnesota Vikings fans had their hopes raised… and their dreams crushed. 

The funny part is that I was drawn into it. I do not consider myself a Vikings fan.  I hadn’t watched a game all year, but last night I went over to a friend’s to watch the game.  ( He is a devout Dallas fan, and was rooting for the Saints.)  It was, for the most part, an enjoyable game.  The only problem was… I found myself wanting the Viking to win, hoping they would win, even daring to believe that they might win.

They didn’t.

Turnovers.

Sigh….

Congratulations Saints, good luck in the Super Bowl.  Vikings, thanks for  a great season for your fans, and an exciting conclusion.

Maybe next year?

Censor Public Prayer?

January 21, 2010

On Thursday January 14th, 2010 Pastor Brad Cranston of Heritage Baptist Church, Burlington, Iowa; said the opening prayer for the Iowa House of Representatives.  Later that day, a ruling was made that all future opening prayers that will be said in the House be written out and submitted for approval before usage. 

Whose approval?

What criteria?

Isn’t that opening a rather sticky mess of coercing religious leaders to become politically correct?

Of course, the reference in the prayer to marriage being between a man and a woman; in a state that allows gay marriage, may have created a stir.

Is prayer the time to address issues?  Or to address God???

When I had the opportunity to open the House in prayer a few years ago, I asked God’s forgiveness for our sins, and asked for wisdom to make right choices.  ( I pray regularly that God will guide our leaders in their decisions.) No one seemed upset in the least.  Most of us recognize that we fall short, and that we could all use some divine guidance or help.

Should public prayer be censored?        No.

Should public prayers be carefully worded?     Yes.

Are public prayers an invitation to preach?    No.

I do not believe that prayers should need to be pre-approved.  I also believe that religious leaders who are asked to pray for public events, balance the need for religious integrity, with a sensitivity to the diverse views of others.

Changing Tide

January 20, 2010

Yesterday, Republican  Scott Brown was elected to fill the Senate seat long-held by Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. 

That is quite a change.

This election should be recognized by democrats as  a sign that people are not comfortable with the direction that they are leading our country.  A distaste, and distrust, of the proposed health care reform; a sense of weakening security, a fragile economy and spiraling debt: this is not the change that was expected when President Obama took office a year ago today.

Perhaps democrats should rethink their strategy.  It’s not so much of a mandate anymore.

Happily Ever After

January 19, 2010

“Happily Ever After” is the conclusion to a fairy tale or a romantic comedy.  People encounter serious problems if they feel that life is supposed to be like what they read in a book, or watch on television.

Real life has its share of up and downs.  There is a reason that traditional marriage vows included the phrasing “For better, for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; for as long as we both shall live. (In premarital counseling, I like to add “and no fair killing each other”!)

It is not just in marriage, life itself has a cyclical nature.  Our lives run the gamut of experiences: of success and failure, of excitement and mundane, of blessings and trials, and so on.

Perhaps we watch too much television, or read too much fiction.  Real life is a wonderful thing, but it is not a fairy tale.

Death and Life

January 18, 2010

There has been much real life drama recently.  The earthquake in Haiti has devastated hundreds of thousands of lives and there is a large international response trying to help bring stability.

Locally, in little more than a week, there has been a suicide, a murder, a heart attack, and an automobile accident; that have all claimed young lives.

My heart goes out to those who have been touched by these tragedies. 

These events are a reminder to me to appreciate the simple things of life.  Each day, each moment, is a gift from God and we should appreciate everything that we have, from a place to sleep, clothes on our back, food to eat, water to drink, and people who care about us.  Some of the things that we can get so worked up about, are just not quite that important when we realize the fragility of our mortal existence.

It is important to mourn the death of those who have passed… and to appreciate life for those who remain.

“All About Steve” a commentary

January 14, 2010

The movie All About Steve starring Sandra Bullock was very different from The Proposal or The Blind Side, all of which came out this past year.  Basically it is the story of a women who creates crossword puzzles for the local paper for  a living.  She loves what she does, but does not make much money, still lives at home, (with a cover story of her apartment being fumigated) and is not in a relationship.  Still, she appears happy with who she is, and her life in general.

One day, after a particularly disastrous appearance at a local schools career day, she literally throws herself at Steve on their first date, which had been set up by both of their parents.  She writes a crossword focussed on him, loses her job and chases him around the country.

At first, I thought the movie was pretty stupid, but then I realized that they were trying to make a point.

Be happy with who you are, don’t let other peoples’ expectations guide your life. 

I like that.  Once I realized that the movie was not just a silly spoof, but a social commentary on how pointless it is to try to fulfill other peoples’ expectations it became much more enjoyable.

New Semester

January 13, 2010

It is the start of a new semester at the college.  There will be a new group of students starting classes that will run until springtime.  In the beginning there is excitement, with some apprehension, over what the new semester will bring to their lives.

As a teacher, they are the same classes that I have been teaching for years, but there is always something different.  Every class has its own personality.  Some are better than others.  Some are a joy to teach.  Some are more of a challenge, than a joy. 

Some things are certain.  Both the students, and I, will learn something through the time spent in the classroom. Both the students and I will have to do some work.  Sometimes hard work.  Sometimes inconvenient work.  Some students will not complete the semester.  Most will.  Some students will not be happy with their final grades.  Most will.  (I think.)  The time will pass.  May will come.  This semester will be over, and, after a break, we will begin again.

Isn’t it great?