My Kingdom for a Desk

Monday, January 28, 2013

What makes us wish for things that are beyond our means? I'm perfectly happy with our 34-foot sailboat. Except . . .

I want a dedicated desk.

Roland and I have taken two vacations on Freizeit (one with my brother along), and she also became our temporary home when the remnants of Hurricane Ike flooded us out of our permanent one. So I know we can live on her. And although she's a little cramped to use as a long-term residence, she works fine for our purposes. Except . . .

When I have to move my laptop off the table so we can eat breakfast or dinner.

Stowing it in my laptop bag under the chart table is inconvenient, too. I could use the chart table as my desk, but that table also has other uses, and I would have to move my laptop every time we wanted to lift up the top to get something out of the drawer under it.

So I would love to have a dedicated desk, like the four I saw at the Strictly Sail show in Chicago on Friday. Two were on Beneteaus that are larger than ours, and the others were on Sun Odysseys (also larger). All boats we can't afford and don't need.

Really, I'm fine with the way things are. Not ideal, but workable.

But I can still dream.

Living Mercy

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yesterday was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It was instituted in the wake of Roe v. Wade to remind us that the yet unborn are people, too. I totally agree with that purpose. I believe that we are human from conception and that abortion is wrong. And having a day set aside to remind us of that is a good thing.

But Christians can't stop there.

Honoring the sanctity of human life requires more than just taking a stand against premature termination. Our responsibility doesn't end when a child is born.

As Christians, our responsibility is to care for those in need--spiritually, physically, or emotionally--no matter what their age.

We do this in many ways. We care by volunteering time or donating money to programs such as food pantries and emergency relief organizations. We also care by taking a casserole or a listening ear to the neighbor down the street who is out of work or dealing with a death in the family. But however we do it, we do it because Christ did it, and we want to follow his example.

Christians are called to live mercy. The word means treating people with compassion and alleviating their distress. And when we do, we serve God.

As Christ himself put it in Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV):

     Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

     Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

     The King will reply,"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me."
So go out and live mercy.


Failing Grades

Monday, January 14, 2013

What do they teach children in school these days?

This past Wednesday I crossed the state line into Illinois to talk to an eighth grade class about being successful. My main point was that successful people don't give up. They try and try and try until they reach their goals.

I used several examples, mostly famous writers who were buried under rejection slips but kept submitting their work anyway. The class seemed to know who Dr. Seuss was, and a few of the students recognized the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. One girl even said she checked one out of the library but hadn't read it yet.

None of the eighth graders had heard of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell or knew who Jack London was. That didn't surprise me. With all the good literature out there and so little time to read and teach it all, I understand how some of the works we thought of as classics can get lost in the crowd.

But one of my examples left me speechless.

Only one student knew who Thomas Edison was.

Thomas Edison, who invented the phonograph and perfected the light bulb. Thomas Edison, who saw every "failure" as a success even when it took him over 3,000 tries to find a filament that burned long enough to be commercially viable. Thomas Edison, who has been called the greatest inventor who ever lived.

Where have these children--and their teachers--been?

I realize there are other schools that do a better job of connecting children with their heritage. This was a suburban "inner-city" school and probably had more than its share of problems to distract teachers and administrators from their primary job of educating students.

Still, I have to give that school and its staff a failing grade.

I have high hopes for the student who knew who Thomas Edison was. As for the others, I pray the school's failures don't become theirs.

And that they don't give up.

Predictions for 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Only God can see the future. Still, I think he will agree with my four predictions for 2013.

Prediction 1: As long as this sinful world exists, there will be personal, social, political, and financial crises; sickness and death; mass murders; wars; and man-made and natural disasters. In Jesus' words: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places." Matthew 24:6-7 (ESV)

Prediction 2: Some people will predict that the world will end at a certain date and time, and others will believe those predictions. But if the world does end, it will happen when it isn't expected. Using Jesus' words again: "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." Matthew 24:36 (ESV)

Prediction 3: We will make plans. Unless ours are consistent with God's, however, ours will ultimately fail. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Prediction 4: God will be with his children. Although he allows sin to corrupt this world and those in it, often resulting in hardships and suffering for Christians and non-Christians alike, Jesus Christ has overcome it for us. We will still know pain and sorrow, but we have a compassionate traveling companion who stays by our side and sees us through the hard times as well as the easy ones. As the Apostle Paul put it, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:35 & 37 (ESV)

And that will make it a great year.