I Met A Traveler From An Antique Land

ozymandiasMy class of 6th graders is in the throes of memorizing the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem “Ozymandias.” Amidst complaints about the length, I am trying to help them see the valuable lesson this classic poem teaches: Build yourself up and you will eventually fall.

“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—’Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’”

 

This poem was said to be about Pharaoh Rameses II of Egypt, also known as Rameses the Great. He ruled Egypt for 66 years and lived to an unprecedented 90 or 91 years of age. The average age for someone who actually survived childhood was only the mid-50s. So he had reason to think he was all that. He led great military campaigns, he built cities and monuments. But in the end, his mummy lies in  a museum in Cairo. Immortality was not his to be found.sandcastles-and-mudpies

You  might recall a story with a similar lesson that Jesus told. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).

And this: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

We spend a lot of time trying to make a name for ourselves. Amass more riches, build a bigger building, create the next latest and greatest. In the end, none of that will remain.

So where should we invest our time and talents? People. Only people will remain forever. Love them well, teach them truth, show them kindness.

In other words, be like Jesus.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says this about serving those in need and being kind to others: “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Go and do likewise.

sandcastle photo by sandcastles and mudpies

What Will Wednesday Bring?

 

Unless you live in a deep, dark hole (and which of us doesn’t from time to time?), you know tamerican-flaghat today is Election Day in the United States. Usually, elections are a time of excitement and anticipation, of change and newness. This year, though, it seems that it’s a time of fear and anger and dread. So we hope and we pray.

And we vote.

For the first time ever, I participated in early voting this year. I wanted to avoid the long lines I hoped would be evident come Election Day. I’ve heard reports of both. My husband went early this morning and there was no line. Another friend in another state had to wait an hour.

Looming questions hang over us like Damocles’ sword. Will the election be fair? Will riots break out if one candidate — or the other — loses? What will life look like on Wednesday morning?

I don’t have the answer to most of these questions, but I do know one thing: God is still on His throne. And America, believe it or not, is not the center of the universe.

So Wednesday morning, I will wake up like I always do, to a praise song playing from myVersion 2

Before I leave my house I will take care of my dog and my birds and my cats and my fish. I will eat what I chose for breakfast. I will leave my mother-in-law to prepare for her day of homeschooling my nephew. I will keep my doors and windows open to the cool Florida November weather.

And I will go teach school.

I will say the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin with my students. I will grade papers. I will lead them in a devotion about the life of Joseph in Egypt. I will pray with them.

And we will probably pray for our nation.

Because Wednesday morning will be like any other morning in America, come what may, and God is still on His throne.

It’s our job to make Biblesure that while some things stay the same, the things that really matter will change. I will be kinder, more generous, more loving. I will listen more and speak less. I will be a catalyst for change in a world that will still be lost and broken after today. No election is going to change that.
Only Jesus.

And I will let my little light shine.

 

America, America, God shed His grace on thee.

A Person’s A Person

hortonMy thoughts are heavy as I sit down to write thinking about how the heart of God must be grieved by what He sees in the world today. But He is bound by His Word that He will not destroy the Earth by flood again, so we are constrained to live with what we have sown.

And we have sown the seeds of superiority and vulgarity far and wide in our culture.

In his classic work Horton Hears a Who!, about an elephant who gives everything he’s got to save a civilization living on a speck of dust, Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) sets forth the idea that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” To Geisel, who used to have very strong anti-Japanese sentiments, the importance of the individual was an exciting new concept after a visit to Japan post-World War II. His Horton story is a reflection of his new-and-improved attitude that, you know what? I was wrong. Everyone is important.

More than 1900 years prior to that epiphany, Someone else knew that those treated as second-class citizens held the very image of God in their being.

Collin Outerbridge, one of my pastors, said the following on Facebook just today:

jesus-and-woman“Jesus treated women like PEOPLE when culture did not.

He defended women’s integrity. (Luke 7:36-50)
He treated women as friends. (Luke 10:38-42)
He looked women in the eye. (John 8:1-11)
He included women on his team. (Luke 8:1-3)
He defied cultural norms. (John 4)

I want to be more like Jesus.

Christian Men,
Let’s OWN our part in the commodification of women in our culture.
Let’s REPENT to the women in our life.
Let’s LEARN from King Jesus—His Way is better.
Let’s SPEAK out and join the chorus that calls for justice.”

I have 2 teenaged boys (one is nearing the end of that era in the next couple of months).

I also have a teen daughter.

I also have a husband who treats me with respect, never belittles his mother and sister, and gives our daughter strength and confidence with his words.

I have never allowed my kids to say demeaning things to each other, but I will be more proactive from this day forward to make sure that they all know that they can neither speak of any person in a way that objectifies them, nor can they accept that kind of treatment from anyone else.

I will call them out.

And I will let them know that they are to call out others they hear or see doing the same thing.

It’s so subtle, we hardly even notice. But I’m not turning a blind eye or a deaf ear anymore.

I will tell my son that calling his girlfriend “hot” objectifies her.

I will tell my friends that drooling over the male judges on The Voice is not acceptable.

Women are not “eye candy.” You aren’t allowed to touch them if they don’t want to be touched. You are not allowed to refer to them by anything but their names or their official positions. If they say stop, you stop. End of story. There is no “boys will be boys.” No. That’s not acceptable.

Men are not “sugar daddies.” You can’t watch football because you like the tight uniforms. You aren’t allowed to buy the Firemen of Orange County calendar. Big muscles just show that a lot of hard work has been accomplished.

I am not an object. You are not an object. Nobody, no matter how they dress, no matter how they act, no matter what they’ve done, is an object that is fair game in the crude comment and demeaning acts department.

No one.

And no one is so important that they are exempt from these rules.

 

second image from shawnakersministries.com

Fairytales: A Guest Post From Instagram

My 13-year-old daughter recently posted something on her Instagram that I wanted to share. I was blown away by her words. I fixed the spelling but left the punctuation as is.

prince on horse“You know the perfect fairytale has a prince and a princess, and in the tale, the princess is in danger and the prince comes to rescue her? Well let me tell you one of those fairytales right now.

It’s about a prince, a noble, kind, and truthful prince who loved his princess very much, but his princess was in danger, she was in danger of herself, she was broken.

The prince made it his mission to help her, for even though he loved her, he could not be with her if her shattered parts were never mended.princess by hedges

He sacrificed everything to be with her, fixed her with the power of his blood, and he took her and told her to trust him, he loved her with all of his heart, and he promised her that one day, she would be his bride, and they would live happily ever after in his kingdomperfect kingdom. The End.”

Sappy teenaged-girl story? Or a truth for the ages?

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.

 

 

 

 

 

photoillustrations from: imgur.com and Pinterest (2)

Freshman Lessons

ucfOn the brink of his first day of sophomore year, I asked my eldest what he would tell someone just entering college. Here’s what he said: Get a longboard and study harder than you did in high school.

That was it.

I would have wanted something like:

  • Always listen to your parents because they know way more than you give them credit for.
  • If you don’t know time management yet, learn it quickly because you’re going to need it.
  • Get enough sleep!

Th0se are some things that I would have said, anyway. But that’s not what I got. And that’s fine. I’ll give you, then, just a few things I would tell a person just entering college.IMG_0531

  • This is your time to do things yourself. You need to make the phone calls or send the emails to professors or financial aid offices or academic advisors. Trust that there are people around you who know a lot more than you do about college and your major, and their job is to help you. Don’t let opportunities to pick their brains pass you by. You have to take the initiative. Mom and Dad aren’t (or shouldn’t) be doing it for you.
  • College costs a lot of money, so even if you’re on a full-ride scholarship, you need to make it your priority. Believe it or not, you’re not in college to just make friends and have a good time. You’re actually there to learn things that might help you in a future career. The “study more than you did in high school” advice that my son wanted to give is good. Don’t blow off classes. Get a good assignment reminder app and USE IT. Zeroes will suck the life out of your grade. Don’t miss turning things in.
  • Just because you pick a major early on doesn’t mean you have to keep it. If you get into your studies and determine that you actually find the subject boring or just not what you thought it would be, it’s not too late to change. Maybe the last semester of your senior year is too late to change. Or maybe even your junior year is pushing it pretty far, but freshman and sophomore years are good times to really try and determine what you want to do. Don’t live someone else’s expectations for you. Figure out what it is YOU really want to do.

IMG_5024Do I wish my son had done some things differently? Yes. He thought he could breeze through and, as a result, he lost his scholarship. And he can’t get it back. But he’s not out drinking, doing drugs, sleeping with his girlfriend. He has a good job and a vehicle he’s responsible for. He’s respectful and doesn’t get into trouble. He learned his lesson: study harder than you did in high school. I expect that this semester will go a lot better than his previous ones.

As for the longboard: be careful of uneven pavement.

We The People, part 1

There’s a burneIMG_6773d-out house on a quiet street where I often ride my bike. It’s been empty for months, with just plywood over windows and a dumpster in the driveway. What caught my attention was the American flag still flying by the front door. The house is going to need major overhauling, but the flag still flies.

It reminds me of our country. The mess becomes more and more evident during an election year.
But patriotism is still evident. Americans still love their country. Sometimes they just don’t know how to express that.

I am a registered Independent. I am a compassionate conservative. I am an American. But most importantly—and this is what should make all the difference—I am a follower of Jesus.

I am not in favor of big government. I think it has come about because the church has failed to do its job of helping the poor and loving the downtrodden. I think this big government has created a state of dependency and has not encouraged hard work.

In order to come to some sort of conclusion about what I believe and for whom I will cast my vote in November, I began to ask myself what the role of government is. I took a look at the preamble to our Constitution:

“We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

I tried to define what each of those meant and how that looks today. I am not a Constitutional lawyer. I am not even a Constitutional historian. But I’d like to share what I came up with in a two-part post.

In order to form a more perfect union, a government must

Establish justice: A country must have laws. We’ve seen what happens when lawlessness reigns. Businesses are vandalized, property is demolished, barbarism comes out of the depths of dark hearts. But people need to be able to trust the system. Man’s justice will never be perfect, and there will be those who are corrupt, no doubt about it. But even man’s imperfect justice has got to be given a chance. In order for people to trust the justice system, everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender or affluence, must be held to the same standard. Corruption in our court system must not be tolerated.IMG_6772

Insure domestic tranquility:  I see the need for the rule of law in order to insure domestic tranquility. But I also see a need for compassion and caring. I see a need for the underprivileged to be given a voice and an opportunity to improve their circumstances with dignity. But I don’t think that’s the government’s job. It’s the job of the neighborhood church. Government is impersonal. It’s people who need to fill this need. There are so many non-profit agencies right now devoted to helping those in need. Instead of disallowing and discouraging faith-based organizations from pursuing such endeavors by enacting laws against them or threatening lawsuits if they don’t comply with restrictive guidelines, the government should embrace those who are trying to help insure that domestic tranquility. Laws only insure domestic tranquility if they are helping the people be more content and happy. Laws that are enacted to stifle anyone’s voice, be they faith-based or not, are an over reach of the rule of law. If the marginalized are heard, peace is much more possible.

Provide for the common defense: I believe in a strong military, which I think aids in providing for the common defense. I believe it is the government’s job to protect its people from its enemies, foreign and domestic. Some people call that being nationalistic. I think it’s called being the government. A quote that has been ascribed to several different people including Donald Rumsfeld, Vladimir Putin and Bobby Jindal is, “Weakness is provocative.” In order for a government to protect its citizens and its union, it must be strong. The weakest in the pack is the one that gets eaten.

My next post will cover the last two points: Promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. Hope you’ll stick with me!

 

We The People, part 2

img_6772I rode by that burned out house yesterday that I mentioned in Part 1, (read that here before you continue: We The People, Part 1) and there were workmen there and they had the front of the house torn down to the studs. The word that came to mind when I saw that was “rebuild.” Seems apropos.

As promised, here is the second part of my examination of the Preamble to our Constitution. Previously we looked at establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility and providing for the common defense. Use the link above to read that post.

Promote the general welfare: To me, this is one of the biggest issues. I see the need for compassion in order to promote the general welfare, but not entitlement and dependence.  Allowing for the killing of unborn children,  attacking the traditional family, legislating parenting rather than encouraging faith-based organizations to help teach good techniques doesn’t promote the general welfare. Promoting the general welfare means doing what’s best for everybody. I think the role of government is to ensure that everybody has the ability to prosper.

Making sure quality education is available to everyone helps promote the general welfare. Giving handouts does not. Arresting parents who let their kids play in the park a block from their home does not. Policing in such a way that people of color are afraid to have an encounter of any kind with law enforcement does not. Encouraging anger when those angered don’t know what to do with that emotion does not.

But again, if man is sinful and separated from God, and people’s views of what is best differ, then hearts need to be changed before the general welfare is going to be achieved.

Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Liberty. Freedom. We have a Bill of Rights. I think the role of government is to ensure that those rights are upheld. Once those rights start being revoked, the blessings of liberty fall by the wayside. I fear that our bent toward not offending those who are utterly too offendable is trampling on those rights. When we have freedom, we actually look out for each other better. Or at least that’s how it should be. The Bible says, “Don’t use your freedom as license to sin.” Oh man, those are good words. There is no blessing in a “me-first” attitude.

People need to be heard and they need to believe that they are cared about, and they need IMG_6771to be taught to stand on their own two feet. That’s a part of the government’s job. But that’s also the church’s job. The two entities absolutely must work together instead of being poles apart. People have so misrepresented the idea of the separation of church and state that the church has become a shell of what it was intended to be: a force for good in society. The separation of church and state was enacted so that the state didn’t take over the church. That’s why the Pilgrims left. The free exercise of religion is essential. If only the government would see the good that the church could do, and not be so afraid of it. If only the church was bolder and less concerned about popularity and more concerned about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Nothing short of a revival is going to heal our land. I don’t think our nation can be great again without it. The question is, which leader is more likely to lead us in that direction? And who is willing to give the church a kick in its collective butt to do what it’s called to do?

Rebuilding. That’s what we need in our country.

And revival in our own hearts.

God bless America.

I’m open to civil discussion on any of these matters. Feel free to comment, but keep it civil.