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On the Road Again...
Vol. 1.1

A Personal Anthem

I know I'm so way behind on my updating, I've just been transitioning a bit. I'm now in paradise; palm trees rustle in my front yard. I'll make this short because it's already Midnight thirty over here--eastern time. And I know you guys get tired of my long posts. Or well you guy--sheri being the only one who reads, or posts. Two things: 1. a brief synopsis. 2. God is so good.

1. I've been here a week technically now since it's Friday by about 30 minutes. It's been a whirlwind, and a lovely one at that. I'm tired. But not spiritually drained. Just sleep deprived. I've been to the Keys and back again. That was fun. Took the seniors who just graduated. We went snorkeling and had a a blast. Met two seniors who are headed to MC and one I'm working on convincing to drop Samford and head to the real baptist college of choice...

I live with a great family. Three kids--now four--2 girls and a boy. They are sweet and very understanding of my hectic schedule. Tonight was my first dinner at the house and only my second or third meal altogether since I've been here. I want a new guitar and I found out Tacoma guitars are sold at the shop just down the road...

2. God is so good. My anthem for years now has been that God is good and God is beautiful. He IS so good. So real. He's not distant and far off. He's not angry or spiteful. He's not indifferent to my troubles and loves. My struggles are His strengths. My fleeting desires are interests to Him. My passions are His joy. My dreams are His promise. My life is His passion. His love never ceases through my falterings or my triumphs. This God who paints the sunsets and freckles the night sky, who rings Saturn and craters the moon, who shined a star 10,000 years ago just to reach us for one small flicker tonight. This is the God near to the broken-hearted and who dances with the rejoicing, who heals the wounded and frees the captives, who redeems sinners and brings prodigals home. He is intimately involved in every aspect of these miniscule lives we consume our every thought with. He longs to show us compassion; He yearns to be merciful. He is good. And He is real.

I've believed for a long time now that God is good, even when times are not. God is always good. He can't be otherwise. I've longed for some time now to again see His beauty. And recently I've realized that God is faithful even when we are not, and even when we don't believe that He will be. But He will be. And more and more I'm discovering with this adamant clarity that God is real beyond measure, beyond reason, beyond what our finite minds and fickle hearts can weather or dare to believe. God is good. God is beautiful. God is real.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever." Ephesians 3.20-21.



The Giant Elephant in the Blog

I plan a full-scale rebuttal to last week's
post (click on the purple word, Dad). It's my friend Jeff's blog and a lovely blog at that--however misguided his latest posting reveals it to be. Ah, I'm just teasing. As a Republican, proud and CHRISTIAN, holy smokes, I am an apparent contradiction and most assuredly a mischaracterization. However, before I post the myriad reasons why Republicans best serve my interests and the interests of most Americans with their policies, I'd like to address the giant elephant that was in his blog. And no, it wasn't an Irish-Mexican Republican.

As a Christian, I support the War in Iraq. And no doubt, the beginning of this blogging dialogue between two friends alluded to this topic in describing people who "give their unceasing loyalty to a party rather than ideas or the like." Previous posts have more blatantly spoken up against war. So let the games begin, and Jeff note that I respect your feelings, truly, especially since they are heartfelt and not political.

I just think you're wrong.

Jesus says we should turn the other cheek and "Blessed are the peacemakers" to be sure, but he also speaks of not building your house on sand, not being foolish and not being legalistic. He speaks of hell and damnation, love and fulfilling the law. I say this not to justify my beliefs or anyone's actions, but to counter any justification in His name--FOR or AGAINST. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we are to love Him with all we are. Sure killing someone isn't loving them really, but I'd just challenge that if someone killed a loved one of mine and was coming after me next, turning the other cheek might be more foolish than wise. Now that's me. Maybe some want to die without putting up a fight and defending themselves, resigned to whatever fate befalls them through peace on their end. Jesus certainly did this himself as was prophesied. But I dont know that He intended us to. Personal opinion I guess, and again, Scripture can be twisted either way on this. Israel was violent; Jesus was not. Some say America was "founded on God." Others think it was wrong to try to overthrow the British because the Bible speaks to respecting your rulers who God placed in control. Ah stupid "priesthood of the believer" complications.

I do believe that the Church should show compassion to all people--not just Americans--and it should embrace justice. It should not seek out war, should not seek out violence, should not champion the desolation of entire countries and their people. I contend, however, that is exactly what Saddam did. He massacred hundreds of thousands, mostly because of race, including by use of yes, weapons of mass destruction. He raped mothers and daughters with their husbands and fathers forced to watch, and then he murdered them afterwards. He tortured. He eliminated political enemies, even allies who were rising too quickly politically. He was the personification of Sadistic Injustice, and he was reigning hypocritically free. I'm not speaking to eliminating him and his regime out of vengeance, but justice. The Lord is sovereign and just. He would have got his eventually, but the evil would have continued until then. And it threatened us here. I have not a single doubt that Saddam shipped his WMD to Syria or buried them in the desert along with
these. Maybe it wasn't a grave enough threat in many people's minds, and as a Republican I was truly nervous to initiate an unprovoked attack. But the madness of a man the likes of Hilter, Stalin, Kim Jong Ill, or even Ahmanijanad in Iran now, could not and should not be underestimated or "over-compassioned." He was in violation of some 14 UN resolutions stemming back to the Clinton White House, and he was constantly attacking US fighter jets in the No Fly Zone, itself an act of aggression. He supported families of Palestinian terrorists, and despite the tales to the contrary, had at least minimal contact with leaders from al-qaeda. All this to say, compassion is okay to an extent, but when it blurs the border of injustice for 50 million citizens and the safety of 300 million Americans and some 6 million Jews, the limit has been exceded. "Poor steward of what was given him," is a dramatically understated way of putting it I suppose. I sort of equate this with a murderer here in the States. Should we let them go on killing in the name of compassion? In the name of peace? In the name of turning the other cheek? To quote Paul, "by no means!" Somewhere justice has to be served for the safety of the people. I think God is okay with that. Again, that's me being my own believer and priest, but it's my conviction.

Strikingly (since I am a "party line" guy and apparently inherently sinful or "vexing" as "someone of faith" for finding similar ideals mostly championed in one party), I feel we need to stop injustice everywhere. President Bush's 2nd Inaugural Speech spoke to the sweeping desire for liberty to be realized in all persons as they were created to be free. That is beautiful and something Christians should desire. God gives us freedom to make choices, including giving Mr. Calvin the free will to choose to be Calvinist. He has set it in our hearts, pitting us choose between Him or the world. Man should be free to choose in life too. But oppression prevents this obviously. I am not proposing, by military force, that we liberate every oppressed people. But where the limit is being drawn, where patience has run its course, all options should be on the table in ensuring liberty for mankind. The Cold War ensured (limited) liberty for Russians and all the Eastern European nations now rallying to its cause. I have no doubt a free Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will encourage more freedom in Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Libya and Kuwait. Rwanda was a disgrace to civilized governments and conglomerations of governments. At the time I was probably opposed to intervention, but the elimination of entire races of people because they are that race is a sin against all humankind's history. Something should have been done. Sudan is hopefully transitioning toward peace through negotiations. Hopefully that's all that will be needed to ensure justice for the people. I desire justice and liberty for all people. So should other Christians.

I understand when people counter that LOVE is revolutionary. I believe this too. I believe love has the ability to change lives and ultimately no life is saved or realized without it. People need Jesus and see Him through love. But love does not always take the face of non-violence and inaction. Sometimes love is called into action. Discipline is an example of love enacted. But so too love in action can be removing despots and tyrants and freeing people to experience LIFE and LIBERTY and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. To free people to LIVE and not die, to love and not fear, to care and not always hurt. Love can be rescuing the sick and dying and tortured and massacred and raped from the bondage of injustice, indecency and inhumanity. Love can be action sometimes, and sadly sometimes through violent means. It doesn't make war less violent or less saddening or less collateral, but it does offer an end of hope and peace and love.

Democracy doesn't always come easily (see our own difficulty of 10-15 years), but it must prevail, it must persevere, it must become reality. Iraqis want it. They wouldn't turn out to vote in higher percentages than Americans, amidst life-threatening conditions, if they didn't want liberty, if it wasn't set in their hearts. Yes, Iraq is really awful right now, but running away in this critical juncture would be devastating. To quote our First President (apparently it carries more weight than other quotes), "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a tree of rapid growth." Persevere. Out of compassion, out of a love for justice, out of a love for people. Persevere. Out of a love for things greater than ourselves and for things set in the hearts of men. Persevere. Out of a desire to see Liberty take root.

One last thing I suppose. I think it is. I'm not his biggest fan and often times find him over the top, carelessly rude and needlessly insensitive. But that doesn't disqualify him from making sense sometimes. Well his website has video of the beheadings that have occurred in Iraq. It is awful. It is gruesome. It is controversial and probably reason enough for people to dislike him. But my older brother and I looked one day, and I watched in UTTER GUT-WRENCHING HORROR, something I have never experienced in my life. The DEPRAVITY of mankind right before my eyes. The INHUMANITY of these "religious" animals. This religion of peace that has waged war on Christianity and America and Israel. And the epitome of the jihad evidenced in a simple video recording. I don't encourage you to watch it for me or out of some morbid curiosity. But if you want to know why I feel war is necessary at times, then go. Nick Berg is a hero to me, unfortunately he had no choice but to turn both cheeks.