Brexit, Baby! Give me liberty or give me death!

Brexit-11-650


“Love your neighbor, but put up a fence.” ~Russian proverb


With the globalists stunned by the will of the British people to take control of their own lives again, there will be doomsday reports of a worldwide crash. Everything is falling apart. The American news agencies ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, et al (aka, the media arm of the Socialist Democratic Party) will pronounce doom and gloom and do their best to make their proclamations prophetic. They will stir the pot of panic because it sells their product and it serves their purpose.


Europe’s failings — and they have been conspicuous over the past decade — are simply not sufficient to explain what Britain has done to itself. This was a vote against the global economic and social order that the first 16 years of the 21st century have produced. Where it leads is unclear. The worst is not inevitable but it is plausible. Britain will remain an important power. But it will punch beneath its weight. It faces serious, long-term political and economic risk. – Roger Cohen, NY Times


 Globalists are furious. Someone dared shake their fist in the face of these internationalists, these one-worlders who thirst for global power, absolute control, and unprecedented wealth. These are predators who count on the stupidity of the people over whom they desire to lord. (And that stupid prey includes the airheads spat out by institutions of higher learning, armed with socialist/globalist indoctrination and shoved in front of a camera with their makeup, hairspray, and bleeding hearts all intact.)

Fences make good neighbors. They set boundaries and impose order by restraint. Come what may, I support the spirit of the British. It is a spirit that Americans once held more dear than life itself.

“The euroseptic genie is out of the bottle and it will not be put back.” ~Nigel Farage

#Brexit baby.

 “Give me liberty or give me death.”

 

Posted in (Gene)tic Rantings, Current News, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Unexceptional beginnings? Don’t stay where you started!

Ancestry.com is an exceptional tool for learning how unexceptional you really are. Like most people around my age, I spend more time thinking about roots and origins and the “old times” than I did, say, 20 years ago. Can it, then, be a surprise that, when the opportunity to pop my family name into an Ancestry.com search box popped up on my Facebook timeline, I did so?

The invitation was to search the meaning of your surname. Heck, who hasn’t asked himself at some point, “What the heck is a ‘Strother’?” I know I have. So, here I go. Hang on.

And the answer is…

strother name

Are you kidding me? What a letdown.

Strother Name Meaning: Northern English and Scottish: topographic name from northern Middle English strother ‘damp land overgrown with brushwood’, or a habitational name from any of the various places named with this word, as for example Strother in Tyne and Wear, or Struthers in Fife and Strathclyde.

It means “damp land overgrown with brushwood?” A Strother is a dadgum swamp?

Figures.

Here, I was hoping for some noble origin, fraught with meaning, bound to inspire one to live up to his own name. How the heck do you live up to a swamp? How does one draw inspiration from a name derived from mostly worthless marshland in some remote and forgotten place?

But I shall.

I shall aspire to be as difficult to navigate, as resistant to taming, as dangerous and unpredictable, as uninhabitable as the remotest, wildest swamp.

Or, better still, I shall aspire to resist letting that which predicated me predict me. I may come from the swamp lands. I may hail from unremarkable stock. But unexceptional shall never be acceptable to me.

I would say more about this, but right now I am swamped.

 

 

Posted in (Gene)ric Ramblings, Family, In(Gene)ious Insights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Insanity revisited, or Life in Review

randy travis mug shotI like Randy Travis. I know he fell hard and landed naked on the side of a north Texas road, broke and broken by a life he hadn’t found a way to keep up with. I like his song, “1982,” because it resonates with my soul. Now, it is about a love lost, but I feel it more as time lost, opportunity lost, what might have been never actually being…

I like this line from the song:

“They say hindsight’s 20/20, but I’m nearly going blind…”

I have not literally been found in the condition Randy was, but I wasn’t that far away. It was around the turn of the century and I was a mere three years into the wasteland of aimless wandering after my world had come undone at the proverbial seams. I was left with a family to feed and no feeder nearby, a career to pursue and no idea what it might be or what were my prospects. I had never been but one thing in my adult life and I wasn’t that anymore.

So, I did the one thing I have always done when I am happy, sad, thankful, angry, confused, certain, hungry, full, or whatever…

I wrote. I wrote a blog. I wrote a book.

I wrote a poem.

And it went like this:

In Sanity

All he ever wanted was to live in sanity,
To wake up in a world that made sense.
If he could trust the spinning of the planets he
Would face his every trial with confidence.
But all that was wrong
Was all that was right,
And what had been day
Now seemed like the night
He wanted to run
He needed to fight
So, he beat on himself
With all of his might.
So, this is his story,
Sad, but it’s true…
Of a man whose confusion
Replaced what he knew.
What once was insane
Was insanely true.

I ran across this poem today. I had not seen it in 15 years or thereabouts. I read it and re-read it. I felt again what I had felt on that now long-ago day. I felt the pain, the confusion, the fear, the guilt, the anger, the doubt.

Oh God, I felt the doubt.

How I doubted…just about everything.

Yesterday, Donya and I celebrated another anniversary. Thirty-six and counting. They are piling up. My girls are grown and each happily married or soon to be. I have an 11 year old grandson, the apple of my eye as cool as the other side of the pillow. For the first time since I was a pastor in Paris, I have a job that I really like, where I feel appreciated and valued, where I feel I can and do make a difference.

It was a long and winding road back from the edge of insanity.

I read that poem and I realize the problem then was that I simply didn’t have perspective. How often had I preached this very thing? “Life,” I would thunder confidently from the pulpit, “is a matter of perspective.”

I got caught under the pointed heel of Circumstance –where I had so often warned people never to be found –and it nearly crushed me.

If only I had more…

Foresight…

I would have seen the impending dangers that destroyed our ministry and left me all but ruined…

Insight….

I would have better seen that my self-reliant heart was the heart of my problem.

Hindsight…

Oh, sweet 20/20 hindsight. From here I see where I was then and why. I see there was a way through, if not out.

But all of that is just sight.

Foresight is knowledge. Insight is wisdom. Hindsight is experience. But it is ALL JUST SIGHT.

And I remember something else I used to preach. Maybe you could remember it with me…

For we walk by faith, not by sight.   2 Corinthians 5:7

I do not need to know the end from the beginning, nor do I wish to, for it would surely drive me mad. I do not need to know what the future holds, because I know who holds the future.

My Mom used to sing this song in church. I loved it then and need it now…

 

 

Posted in (Gene)ric Ramblings, Christian Living, Devotional, Faith, Life Experience | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Muhammad Ali – The Greatest that ever lived has died. Or…has he?

aliI did not like anything Muhammad Ali stood for in life. I will not pretend I did now that he is dead.

I detested his arrogance and cowardice (when it comes to military service for his country). He was anti-America, anti-Christ…and, oh, so entertaining. He “danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee.” He fought epic battles with magnificent opponents. He captured the attention of a generation and was immortalized by the distinctive tones Howard Cosell.

He said he was “the greatest that ever lived.” Yet, for all his dancing like a butterfly, death still stung like a bee. The grave is his conqueror.

It shall not be so for even the weakest, most fragile among us whose faith is in Christ. Unlike Muhammad Ali, you and I may lift our hands despite our weakness and declare…

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Plenty with access to more colorful words than I will eulogize “The Greatest That Ever Lived.”

 

I will, instead, remind you that “The Greatest that ever lived” needs no eulogy.

He lives still. And because He lives…

 

Posted in (Gene)tic Rantings, Blog, Current News, Society, Sports | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Seven “Ships” of Leadership

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan transits the Pacific Ocean with ships assigned to Rim of the Pacific 2010 combined task force as part of a photo exercise north of Hawaii. RIMPAC, the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise is a biennial event which allows participating nations to work together to build trust and enhance partnerships needed to improve maritime security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord/RELEASED)

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan transits the Pacific Ocean with ships assigned to Rim of the Pacific 2010 combined task force as part of a photo exercise north of Hawaii. RIMPAC, the world’s largest multinational maritime exercise is a biennial event which allows participating nations to work together to build trust and enhance partnerships needed to improve maritime security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord/RELEASED)

On this Memorial Day, it is good to remember the vital contribution to leadership thought contributed by those charged with guiding, leading, and commanding others in the most trying circumstances.

Leadership indicates one who is out in front, navigating choppy and uncertain waters, charting the course for those under their charge. These fine military minds give us a fleet of ships to sail with confidence.

So, all aboard the leader ships…

Ownership

Those who command themselves, command others. ~William Hazlitt

If you would be an effective leader, you have to own yourself…your mistakes, your missteps, your miscalculations. There is a vulnerability in self-ownership, but there is also the power of transparency.

Another aspect of owning oneself is commanding your own passions. A leader incapable of controlling his passions, cravings, and predilections creates some level of doubt in his followers.

Stewardship

Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility. ~Peter F. Drucker

The biblical equivalent of this is found in Luke 12:48 –

“unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

Great expectations accompany – and rightfully so – great authority. The closer to the top you find yourself, the more others will expect from you. A position of leadership is more than a feather in your LinkedIn cap; it is a stewardship. Some person or entity has placed great faith – and the success or failure of an organization or venture – in your hands.

Study the recent firings at Baylor University. President Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles were stripped of their positions because of their failure in the area of stewardship. That failure had disastrous consequences for some young ladies on campus and for the integrity of the institution itself.

A leader is a steward of something greater than himself or herself. Handle with care.

Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance. ~J. Donald Walters

Partnership

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. ~General George Patton

Ask any honest successful head coach with multiple championships to his name how many he has won and he will likely reply, “None. My players won them.”

Regardless how indispensable your strategies and team-building skills may be to success, you cannot succeed alone. Recognize that – publicly. Reward it – generously. Relish it – completely.

Scholarship

‘Tis skill, not strength, that governs a ship. ~Thomas Fuller

Ignorance may be bliss, but it is no excuse. It is also deadly. The woodsman is not wasting his time when sharpening his ax. The rocky shores of “might-have-been” are littered with the remains of ventures guided by dull minds and dim wits.

Life is education and education gives life to any endeavor. The more you know, the more you want to know. The more you want to know, the more you know.

Discipleship

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. ~Harry S. Truman

I believe the most powerful, influential, and successful leaders are born leaders. I also believe many more are born with such qualities than actually reach the potential of them. The difference is desire…and discipleship.

Put yourself under the proper tutelage.

In the ’70s and ’80s, the Reverend Jerry Thorpe was a sought-after youth speaker. He used to say…

“If you are a D student, run with the C students. If you are a C student, run with the B students. If you are a B student, run with the A students. If you are an A student, hang out with the teacher.”

In other words, seek the influence and guidance of those most likely to improve you, to make you better, stronger, smarter.

Who do you read? To whom do you listen? Who are the influencers in your life?

Hardship

In the military, I learned that ‘leadership’ means raising your hand and volunteering for the tough, important assignments. ~Tulsi Gabbard

No victories are won without sacrifice. Many live in the shadow of greatness, content to be comfortable, where the risks are few and the rewards are so-so.

What will you risk for greatness? What will you lose to gain the victor’s spoils?

Know this: The road to Heaven is as paved with blood, sweat and tears as the road to Hell is with good intentions.

Salesmanship

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.

When I was in Seminary and learning vast theological concepts encapsulated in important-sounding words like Soteriology, Hermeneutics, and anthropomorphism, one of the best things any professor told me came from an octogenarian named R.O Woodworth. He stood all of 4’10” and was completely brilliant. He was also adept at “cutting to the chase.” Dr. Woodworth told a group of would-be preachers…

“When you are speaking on an important subject, forget trying to impress your audience with your knowledge. That is self-serving. If you really want to be heard and remembered, then put the cookies on the bottom shelf so everyone can reach them.”

Effective communication is key to the success of any endeavor. What you can’t sell won’t sail. And you cannot sell what you cannot explain in clear, concise, and compelling terms.

Decide right now whether you would rather “impress” everyone with all the things you know that they don’t or effectively inform them and inspire them to achieve your goals. Would you rather send them scurrying for the dictionary (or Google, as it were) or charging into battle, Hell-bent for glory?

These are the ships built for leaders. They are seaworthy. This is the fleet that, if you command it well, will sail you to that distant, enchanted shore of the satisfaction that can only come form a hard-fought victory.

Bon Voyage!

Posted in In(Gene)ious Insights, Personal Observation, Preaching and Preachers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Like the rain: a retrospective of this life, love, and marriage

Driving from Dallas to Houston through the driving rain in the wee hours of the morning, I soon found myself out of the range of my default sports talk radio station.

So, I turned to my trusty Amazon music collection.

Something about a rainy morning driving away from home brings on a warm and bitter melancholy. It isn’t long before the mind wanders along the trails, the highways, and bi-ways of a life as unexpected and painful and glorious and beautiful as any ever imagined by novelist or storyteller.

As if to create a soundtrack for my thoughts, the music selection set to “random play” lands a on a song by one of my favorite singer/songwriters. There he is, singing his haunting, beautiful song, summarizing how I am feeling about this life you and I have built together…

Any relationship that stands the test of time must withstand its share of storms. It may have begun with sunshine and song, but the thunderstorms will soon roll in.

For us, the first real challenge came in 1983, when we learned God had selected us to provide guidance, love, and hope to a child born with a physical disability.

And the thunder rolled.

The dark clouds of doubt and the chill winds of despair swept across our souls like a merciless wind on an empty Texas prairie, howling its insults, whispering its accusations.

In 1989, at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, a million miles from home, we waited 12 hours while a team of skilled and heroic doctors fought –mostly in vain – to give new structure to our daughter’s badly damaged frame.

We were young parents, feeling our way along, clinging to faith, grasping for hope, begging God for wisdom and strength.

There would be other storms, of course. Like the loss of everything we had ever known professionally, when we were left clinging to one another and the few friends and family that remained at the moment.

I never liked the rain ’til I walked through it with you.

It’s ironic how the most painful experiences become precious memories, mile markers along the road of a successful, rewarding, fulfilling, can’t-imagine-it-any-other-way life.

All that we are and all that we have is the result of everywhere we have been, everyone we have met along the way, and everything we have endured, cherished, celebrated, mourned, loved, lost, found…

And here I am, more than three decades removed from the altar and “I do”… like the rain…falling for you.

Posted in (Gene)ric Ramblings, Faith, Family, Life Experience, Love, marriage, nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello, Spring and Happy Birthday, Dad

dadDad didn’t pay much attention to his birthday, the way I remember it. Maybe that is because I was a kid most of his time on earth and kids figure birthdays are mostly for them and not so much the old folks.

He’s been gone 25 years already. He would have been 76 today. It’s funny how little time I spent thinking about him when he was around and how much I think about him since he’s gone.

One thing I do remember about his birthday is how he liked to point out that it marked either the first day of Spring or the last day of Winter. I guess he liked it that he was born when nature was reborn every year. That reminds me of the analogy the Apostle Paul used for the way we should think about death as it relates to God’s own:

But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”h But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be likei the heavenly man.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,j this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.k

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?l

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:35-56

spring-green-road-landscape-high-definition-wallpaper-desktop-background-downloadI say Dad “would have been 76,” not because he ceased to be all those years ago, but because he ceased to be bound by time and all of its implications. There is no need to celebrate birthdays in Heaven. Every day is a celebration of everlasting life with the Giver of life Himself.

It is kind of ironic that we make a big deal about our birthdays, isn’t it? It’s like we are celebrating the finite nature of our journey. We are marking milestones on the sometimes long and sometimes not-so-long march to the grave we work so hard to avoid.

(That’s a little morbid. So, if today is your birthday… Happy Birthday!)

At any rate, I do not know what it feels like to be free from the constraints and cruelties of time. Dad may be even less inclined to acknowledge his birthday now than he was when he was here. But not me. I still celebrate them like nobody’s business.

Happy birthday, Dad. I will see you “when the roll is called up yonder.” (Yours is still the loudest voice in my head whenever I hear or think of that song. The way you belted it out helped me believe and want my name on that roll.)

Oh, and hello, Spring. Glad you are here.

Posted in Christian Living, Faith, Family, nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment