Robot and Frank

There is a billboard on Richlands Highway as you enter Jacksonville for a motel on Rt. 17. The ad’s byline, its draw, is that they offer free internet during your stay. The problem with the billboard is the wording. It says “Free wireless WiFi!”
Here ’s the problem.

noun trademark
noun: WiFi; noun: wifi
a facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area.

WiFi is wireless by definition. Now some may accuse me of being a grammar nazi, and sometimes I am. But I think this betrays a sad fact that older generations refuse to engage and understand younger generations. We don’t take the time to learn enough to effectively communicate to someone younger than us. Its been said that any technology that existed when you were born is natural and was always a part of your world. Any technology created after your 15 is exciting, new and must be explored. Any technology created after your 40 is demonic and must never be touched!

In the church we shoot our wounded, we all know that. But we also shoot our young. They grew up in a radically different world than you did. And you will never draw them back to your world except that they enjoy it as a “retro” experience.

I turn 50 in two months. I am officially an older person. You want proof? My first morning full time here in Jacksonville I went to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. I ordered a large black (because they always put too much cream in) and the young lady, without looking at me said, “That’ll be $1.84…” then she looks up at me, looked back down at her register, hit a few buttons, and said, “That’ll be $1.39 sir.” I got the Senior Coffee. So I am old to the majority of those I meet.

We from previous generations MUST do all we can to understand, engage, and even enter into the culture of our youth. Look, I will never get a Hipster haircut (That’d look silly with my bald spot) or wear skinny jeans, or order a half-caf skinny soy latte. But I can learn what my kids are doing, I can educate myself on their culture, their language, their music, their technology and their worldview. It makes me more accessible to them. They will be more willing to listen to me dispense wisdom if I can speak their language.

We have to quit trying to make our youth live like we did. They never will. Instead lets understand them and help them craft a Christian worldview within the culture they were birthed.

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Exodus 33:1-3…And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

The Children of Israel were fed up with the changes they were being brought through. When Moses went up to the mountain, they turned to Aaron and asked him to make a golden calf, an idol they could worship just like they did back in Egypt. They would complain later on that they would rather be slaves in Egypt again than endure more journeying and uncertainty. Their uncertainty came from their refusal to accept their circumstances, their stiffnecked attitudes towards the journey God had set them on.

So they would rather worship a god they made with their own hands than the God who delivered them from the plagues and parted the Red Sea.

Following God requires a few things most people are afraid to do. Embracing the unknown, taking risks, and changing to meet the new challenges.

Therefore in our daily walk with the Lord, and in our personal, work and even church life  we have a choice: protect the status quo, or take the risks necessary to win decisively.

On a recent JOCKO Podcast, Jocko Willnick, a retired Navy Seal and Leadership Consultant said something that hit me square between the eyes. I wrote this in my notes app, and I hope I got the quote right. “Whenever you’re entering into a new venture, and make a plan, that is detailed somewhat rigid and exact, at best, your assessment, your goal is incomplete and inaccurate. You must be willing to reassess and adapt at every step throughout your  plan.”

Every day you wake up, there will be new challenges, different situations, and usually scary possibilities. Adapt. Overcome. Things will never be the same again. That’s a good thing. You will not be singing the same songs five years from now. You won’t be reading all the same books (except THE BOOK). You won’t even know the same people. Its an adventure. Don’t resist it. If you do, you might find yourself an idol worshipper. Bowing before a tradition, an opinion, a preference.

Remember ye not the former things,
neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing;
now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:18, 19

Change is good.

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Those of us who love Biblical Prophecy are not in style these days. The overwhelming trend in Christianity is to focus on what God can do for me now. Living with purpose, intentionality, in community, or whatever catch word is popular this month. To look towards Heaven is ok. But don’t dwell on that too much, cause, you know, you gotta die to get there.
And so Prophecy, with its’ emphasis on God Redemptive Plan, not on God’s Plan for you now, is out of fashion. Especially because the Prophecies of the Bible that are yet to be fulfilled are quite violent.
Violence and Grace seem to be opposites, so we recoil from Prophetic Scriptures. Even those who study Scripture struggle to reconcile the Judgment of God with the Grace of God. But the Judgment of God is not always reconciling. Men and women reject Him and His Son’s sacrifice. We want to believe that a loving God would never commit, cause or condone violence against His creations. That betrays a basic misunderstanding of what a creator is.
A poor illustration, but somewhat helpful, it to look to creative people. I would argue that those who make it a life’s goal to create are closest to God’s plan for humanity. We were made in His image. We were placed in the garden and told to till, plant, arrange. In other words, we were commanded to create in this world with the supplies God provides. Creatives at their core are violent and destructive. We rip apart what’s not working and use the parts to create something better. Creation for us is all about recreation. To recreate you must destroy what is already there. When I taught art at a local college I encouraged my students to draw over, erase, even throw away pieces in order to find the best art they could produce. My sketchbooks and trash can are filled with art that will never see the light of day. Scratched out, rubbed out, thrown out. Drawing or painting or writing is all about how the world is, should be, or would be. That process can be very violent.

God’s endgame is all about finishing His work with Israel, and judging the nations of the earth for their treatment of Israel and their rejection of His provision of salvation. That process will and must be violent. Offering your enemy an alternative to violence never works. The Enemy of the faithful will fight to the last moment before he is chained in everlasting darkness. God has offered the world His alternative in the form of faith in His Son Jesus Christ for Millennia. At some point the Father’s patience will end. Then He will deal with the unrighteous in the only way left.
I fully believe that there will be a Rapture of the church, a seven year tribulation, a world leader the Bible calls the Anti-Christ, and a war to end all wars at Armageddon. And I am not scared. I’m excited. God is going to have His Justice. As someone who loves God, I love that He gets His way. He’s God after all.


Diy And New Technologies

I have many wonderful tools. The Laptop I am writing this on. A Tablet that is so powerful it could nearly replace this laptop. A Smart Phone that’s as powerful as the tablet. Tools are supposed to make your life easier. Imagine trying to remove a screw from the wall without a screwdriver. You would have to be very inventive, so inventive you invented a screwdriver.

I saw invention like that happen during my time working in a Jail as a Deputy Sheriff.  I found many homemade screwdrivers. Inmates would get metal, any metal like the band holding the eraser to the pencil and use it to undo the little screw holding the receptacle plate to the wall. Then they would use that same metal to unscrew the wires, touch them and make sparks. Some even used this source to melt the end of their toothbrush and while the plastic was still hot press it to the security screws which were round heads with snake eye holes that only security companies sold the bits to. The plastic would dry as it cooled and then they would have a crude screwdriver to take out the screws holding the security plates on the walls. We alway found them before they could get through the plates and discover the solid concrete wall behind them.

That’s the way many of us work though. We spend incredible time and effort trying to get out of the situation we are in right now, instead of making the most of our present duty and finding purpose, meaning and joy in the task at hand. So we make, buy and yearn for bigger and better tools.

The problem with tools though, is we tend to think the tool is the thing we need to do better. I need a  better widget to be more productive, creative, valued. Its because we are always looking for shortcuts. We think that the end goal of our work is happiness. Work hard enough and at some point you will have enough to be happy. But the goal of work itself is happiness. Do you get that? Work doesn’t lead to happiness. Work is happiness.

Genesis 2:4…These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,                                                                         5.… And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground                                                                                                                                                                     7… And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.                                                                                                      15… And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Its in the founding of our Nation… Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I heard Evangelist Marine Tim Lee (@MarineTimLee) say once the way to pursue happiness is to get a job and work it!

Work is a gift of happiness. If you dread going to work, take a risk and search for work  that feeds your soul.

Then you won’t be searching for a tool to keep you from having to work so hard. You will want the work to be hard. You will enjoy and embrace the difficulties and challenges of your job. That’s what makes it worthwhile.

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Its weird sometimes when God starts moving in your life.

Since coming on board as General Director in January and moving to North Carolina, there have been several areas of my life that I have struggled finding balance in. My weight shot up in the months between my hiring last fall and my leaving First Baptist to take this position at the start of this year. I still have not found the magic combination to get rid of the excess weight. My old routine of running hasn’t resulted in weight loss. Getting older changes things. Balancing my need to learn as much as possible with the pressure of raising additional support has not come easy as well.  I quickly fell back into my old workaholic ways, but that’s because I love my new ministry so much. Its not a job at all. Its a life, and I love every minute in my office, at dinner with the Marines, leading Bible Studies, visiting on base. Its incredible to love what you do this much. New Home, new town, new office, new challenges, and what fell by the wayside? What every pastor, missionary and Christian worker will tell you (if they are honest) is that our proclivity is to let our personal devotional life suffer for the sake of the work. Because Though we tell our people God won’t understand their intentional abuse of His grace, we secretly think that He will understand ours, because, well we are professional ministers,a after all.

So I hit the reset button a while ago, and gave up my OCD need to be in the office at 6:30 every morning. Instead, I still get up at O-Dark Hundred, but now I stay home for an hour or so, electing to spend my first hour at home with God, instead of my first hour in the office with God. Its much more productive this way. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you have seen my early morning posts where I have shared Bible verses and quotes from Spurgeon or Oswald Chambers, along with my pithy comments. I am taking a break from those early morning posts to concentrate on this blog.

I challenged myself in October two years ago to write everyday for 30 days on my old blog I am planning this October to do the Inktober challenge with other artists and produce one ink drawing a day that month and post it online. Until then, I am challenging myself to post on this blog daily. So keep me honest. If you don’t see a post, message me.

The posts probably won’t be 500 words like this one. But what they will lack in length I pray they will make up for in value. That’s why I writ this anyway. To add value to your life. So check in every day and see what I have observed and written. I’ll likely share some happenings at the Center, but I plan for most posts to be about life, work, whatever I see that day that helps, challenges or interests me.

See you tomorrow.

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