Monthly Archives: March 2012

Change

Many years ago, an older friend of mine gave me some advice that I’ve kept close to my heart ever since.  He said “if you think about who you were 10 years ago and made a list of what was important to you, what you absolutely knew to be “THE RIGHT WAY” to do things, what kinds of things demanded your time, money and attention — how much of that original list is still in your top 10 today?”  As a young man, this revelation floored me.  I learned that there is wisdom in taking a big ol’ slice of humble pie and recognizing that I need to take a step back and get a perspective outside of my tunneled view.  I can’t possibly know everything today, tomorrow, or in the years to come and my priorities are guaranteed to change.

 

Now, that’s not to say that everything is relative and that nothing is for certain.  There are some things that are not meant to change.  God does not change.  His nature does not change.  God’s Word is not meant to change.  Even in the physical world, there are constants.  Water will always boil at 100 degrees C (given the same atmospheric and gravitational conditions).  With every action there will be an equal and opposite reaction.

 

People react very differently to Change.  Some people love change and even get agitated when things stay stagnant for too long.  Other people are afraid to death of any kind of change and will fight it tooth and nail.  Politicians play on our love or fear of Change all the time (Obama’s CHANGE campaign vs. H.W. Bush’s STAY THE COURSE message).

 

Today, I turned 39.  The last year of my 30’s has begun.  Aside from an unexpected trip to the hospital for our youngest boy last night, this day has been like any other for me (he’s fine now.)  But recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Change. 

 

I’ve been thinking about the seasons of life.  Right now, my oldest daughter is 12.  Before I know it, she’ll be driving a car.  A sneeze later, and she’ll be thinking about college. 

 

Right now, we have one more child still in diapers.Pretty soon, he’ll be potty trained.And then I’ll NEVER have to change another diaper again (well, until we have grandkids).  I still have boys that need to have their noses wiped, laundry folded and put away, dinner cut into small bite-sized pieces, and taught how to read and write.  But hopefully someday, I won’t have to tell them to clean their rooms every night, clear the table after meals, or hold hands when we’re walking in the street.

 

I’m in the middle stages of my career.  If I were looking for work, I’d go right past all of the entry-level positions and look to middle / senior management roles.  Someday, I have aspirations of getting to that Executive level / CFO or CEO job.  I’ve also thought about starting my own business someday, though I’m not all that creative.  Maybe I can find a partner with an idea that just needs someone to make the numbers work.

 

This year has really been a politically and philosophically revolutionary time for me.  My whole life, I’ve been a hard-lined political conservative.  Or so I thought.  Economically speaking, I’ve always been a libertarian though I honestly thought more conservatives were as well.  With each book I read, video I watch, and discussion I have with friends, I am Changing many notions and ideals that were once sacred cows.

 

Even the way I view the church and my faith has Changed over the decades.  Before moving to Texas, my family and I had bounced around to several different churches.  We’ve done everything from the Willow Creek-Mega Church Wanna Bes to Home Churching.  We’ve been in churches that worshiped with guitars and drums to organs and hand bells to nothing but the sounds of our voices.  We’ve been to churches where babies are baptized with a sprinkle on the head to adults being fully immersed during the formal worship.  We’ve been in churches that have children participating in the worship service to places where the ushers insisted that our children be dropped off in Sunday School (because, as he put it, ‘we wouldn’t want the Enemy to use them to distract the Worshippers.’  SERIOUSLY!  Did that guy just accuse my children of being agents of Satan?!?)

 

So many times, Christians miss out on the fellowship, encouragement, and rejoicing together in our common faith because of the lines we like to draw in the sand.  We are quick to point to a single verse to ‘prove’ our preferences (not Biblical doctrine) and thus cast out brothers and sisters who don’t always agree with us.

 

As I look at the road ahead of me, I can’t help but consider all of the things I wished I could go back and undo on the road behind me.  There were times I could have shown mercy where I chose not to in order to be “right”.  There were times I neglected my responsibilities because I was lazy or distracted.  There were people that I overlooked who were right in front of my nose because I could only see their outside appearance.

 

My birthday wish is that the church will embrace the Change that we need – not sacrificing Biblical Truth or a single letter of the Scriptures, but recognizing when the fight is over what we like rather than what God demands.

 

I’ll close with one thought.  There’s a song called You Are My All in All that I absolutely love.  When I’m singing it, I can pour out my heart in worship to God.

 

Before we moved to TX, this is the closest version to what I was accustomed to singing.

 

This version most closely resembles how we sing it in our church today (notice not only the a capella, but also the tempo has picked up).

 

And yet, there’s another version below. 

All three versions of the same song may draw worship out of some, incite anger out of others, and passivity or indifference in still others. 

 

Is there a RIGHT way to sing this song?  Is it possible for me to Change from one to the next?  And more importantly, will God be honored and pleased?

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At What Price?

Lots going on around the homefront these days.  Been away from blogging longer that I’d like.  As usual, David’s given me inspiration to write some more on the topics of Liberty and Tyranny.

 

I caught an interesting article the other day.  The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study showing evidence that a single dose of LSD significantly improved the chances for people to beat alcoholism.

 

I’m not a medical researcher or psychopharmacological expert.  So, I can’t comment on how the study was performed or if the conclusions were biased.  But let’s say for a moment that everything was legit and everyone agreed it was done correctly.

 

According to the US Federal Government and the DEA, if you’re suffering from alcoholism, you are not allowed to try this drug to help curb your addiction (without risk of imprisonment).  Doctors, psychiatrists, and medical facilities are not allowed to offer monitored trials to see if you can be helped.  In fact, due to Mandatory Minimum Laws, if a medical facility had more than 1,000 doses of LSD (>1 gram) in their possession, the judge would be required to give everyone 5 years in a Federal Pen for their first offense no matter what the circumstances.

 

So here’s the question you need to ask yourself.  If you were addicted to alcohol (something that we once tried to make illegal but failed miserably and thus it became legal), and you were desperate enough to try something other than a 12-step program to kick your habit – how would you feel knowing that there’s a potentially life-saving drug available but made arbitrarily illegal by some politicians hundreds of miles away?

 

Then ask yourself.  What if, long before the Journal of Psychopharmacology published its findings, there were people that already knew that LSD could help cure alcoholism decades ago?  How would you feel knowing that countless alcoholics and their loved ones might have been saved had LSD not been demonized by the DEA?

 

Now, I know what most of you old school conservatives are thinking.

Well, serves them right for getting addicted to alcohol.  I have a drink every now and then, but I never let it get out of hand.  They must just be weak willed or not spiritual enough.  Besides, what if LSD was made legal?  We’d have a bunch of crazed, tripping hippies running around the country jumping off buildings and shooting babies. . .

 

So all facetiousness aside, let’s pull apart some of the issues here.

 

At the top you have the definition of addiction.  Whenever people have the power to choose anything, society runs the risk that some people will consume more or less than the average.  We arbitrarily decide how much is too much of anything, and our definition is ALWAYS changing.  Whether it’s food, sleep, coffee, exercise, television, vitamins, collecting, spending, and yes, drugs and alcohol use, there’s a never-ending stream of research and debate on what’s a reasonable amount of consumption.

 

More importantly, though, is the following dilemma – let’s assume we were able to establish for everything that can be consumed a huge table of what society considers to be “reasonable” consumption.  On the list, it might say that it’s reasonable for a 6’ 2”, 50 year old, white man to consume 2 beers a day.  What if a man wanted to have 4 today?  Or 6?  Or 10?  How should society react?  Will every 6’ 2”, 50 year old, white man react equally to 2 vs. 6 vs. 10 beers?

 

Hopefully, you’re looking at this dilemma and see the ridiculousness of it all.  I’m actually hoping you are outraged at the very thought that someone can determine what YOU, as a grown man or woman, should be allowed to put in your own body.

 

This is the point where most skeptics will ask:

But what about the greater good for society?  What about when someone chooses to drink and drive and kill a busload of preschoolers?  What about the guy that gets hooked on meth and robs people?  What about the morbidly obese woman that ends up in the ER via a forklift because she can’t walk by herself (implicitly meaning that she can’t pay for the cost of her care on her own and society has to foot the bill)? 

 

And this is my response to the skeptics. 

 

I believe in the virtues of Liberty, meaning adults in a free society should be able to choose what they can consume, how much of it, and accept the consequences of their choices as long as it does not infringe on or endanger another person’s same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

 

Interestingly, Jacob Sullum shared in his speech: In Defense of Drug Use how most illegal drug users are perfectly functional, employed, productive members of society but that prohibition has forced them to go underground and in the closet.

 

Even so, if you want to sit at home and trip on LSD until your brain turns into Syd Barrett’s mush, that should be your choice.  If you, however, get high and go on a shooting spree, I believe law enforcement has a right to stop you from endangering us.

 

I believe that if I’m suffering from alcoholism and want to try LSD to ease my cravings, if I have cancer and want to smoke pot all day so that I can eat a meal, or I just want to sniff glue to get high – as long as I’m not causing you any harm, you have absolutely no right to stop me.

 

For those that still disagree, I ask AT WHAT PRICE are you willing to champion the cause of greater good?  And how far are you willing to push the definition of the greater good?

 

If society’s experts deem a Venti mocha frappa caramel extra shot chilato is just too much decadence and caffeine for you to have in one sitting, are you going to sit back and let some agency determine that for you?  If the experts want to ban chicken because it can cause salmonella infection, are you willing to abdicate your rights?  If enough experts conclude that not only processed sugar, but raw sugar, honey, splenda, nutrasweet, and all artificial sweeteners are causing obesity in kids, are you going to let them ban it?

 

The only rational, equitable, and moral way to handle consumption is to allow grown men and women to decide what and how much to consume and live with the consequences.

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Billy Graham on technology and faith (1998)| Video on TED.com

Wow.

Billy Graham on technology and faith | Video on TED.com.