As I have just spent the last two days driving across the “fruited plains” I have had time at the wheel to think again about the rich (and sobering) history of this Great Land. And I love to day dream about what life would have been like for myself and my family had we lived in a time when crossing it wouldn’t have been in an air-conditioned mini-van with cruise control and fast food stops or look-a-like rest areas on paved Inter-states – but perhaps along the Oregon or California Trails of 1840? A time when it took months at walking pace to travel hundreds of miles into the unknown leaving all comfort behind and going forward with only hope and courage.
What would “Karl the Pioneer” be like? I have often been called a “Pioneer of the Internet.” In today’s definition of a pioneer I suppose that is true. If being a pioneer is to ‘bravely go where few have gone before,’ then sure. O.K. I was a pioneer. I was building webpages in HTML when most people didn’t have an e-mail address and “blogging” before WordPress or Blogger existed. I survived the “Dot Com Crash” because I built my “Dot Org” on a membership model instead of advertising model before PayPal existed and before AOL even had the World Wide Web. So sure, I guess I “pioneered” the Internet.
But please. The more I learn about the Pioneers of our country, the more insulting it is to them to call anything we do today “pioneering.” We claim to “pioneer” a field of science or sports or entertainment or music. But do we face sickness? Starvation? Or death by some other horrible means if we fall short of our destination?
I’ve been enjoying the AMC series Hell on Wheels on Netflix. Now, I know some of my dear Christian brothers and sisters just choked on their Testimints because I typed the word, “hell,” and if so, they’d better not watch the show. It is a pretty gutsy and probably fairly realistic portrayal of a post-Civil War America that struggles to balance racial tensions, religion, national expansion and good ‘ol American entrepreneurism in the gritty railroad town of “Hell on Wheels” where the railroad is pushing West through Indian territory. It centers around a rough and tough character named Cullen Bohannon, and he ain’t no Roy O’Bannon. (If you know what I’m sayin’ – bonus points in comments if you know who that cowboy is!)
You’ll need to put down your “it has to be Sunday School pure” grid in order to travel back to a time where life was rough and God was hard to see. While certainly not a Christian show, there are glimpses of grace at work in several of the toughest characters and you can see God working if you look carefully. It’s interesting to see that woven in even as the “preacher” isn’t one of the most redeeming characters. It’s a raw show, but then, so was life back then. So it accomplishes it goal of pulling back the curtain on a time that shaped our nation, for better or worse. As the iron tracks made their way across the beautiful pure land, greed and impurity and the worst of fallen human nature came with it. Driving these roads today, it is amazing how much we have “cleaned up” after ourselves, to some extent.
But when I watch things like this (and The Patriot, one of my favorite movies) – I can’t help wondering, “How would I have coped in those times?” Who would I be? How would I have survived and gotten by? What would my occupation be? If I am considered a ‘pioneer’ today, would I have what it took then to be a pioneer?
What you have been? A business owner? A law man? A gun slinger? An outlaw? A farmer? A pioneer? One third of the people heading West were women. So this isn’t just a question for men!
Would have left the security of the East Coast and headed West in search of gold and a promised prosperity? (People expected to pick up gold just lying on the ground in California!)
Would you have what it took to be a Pioneer when the word truly had meaning?
Imagine if the President of the United States heard about your kids ministry and decided he needed to see if for himself?
That’s exactly what happened to a Sunday School Director named Dwight Lyman Moody… and the President was none other than Abraham Lincoln!
I have the honor of being the first children’s pastor on staff at the church he founded well over 100 years ago, The Moody Church.
While he is known primarily as the Billy Graham of the previous generation, his ministry began as a children’s evangelist and he had a HUGE impact on the creation and growth of Sunday School. At a time when many churches were supported by ‘rented pews’ Moody rented pews for street kids. When he was told the children weren’t welcome in church (Big Church) he started a Sunday School for street kids that grew so big and well respected that Abraham Lincoln visited one Sunday to see it for himself! Imagine having the President of the United States drop in to see your kids ministry. Moody was passionate about kids but as his ministry grew, his focus shifted to adults.
He said at the end of his life,
“If I had my life to live over again, I would devote it entirely to reaching children with the Gospel.”
His school is still training kids workers to this day!
You may not see the President of the United States visit your kids ministry, but someone who far out-rankes him visits every week… Jesus! Is your ministry worthy of Him? Are you doing your best? Are you reaching as many kids as possible, and not just the ‘easy’ ones, but the ones that others reject or overlook?
If so, Jesus will show up at YOUR MINISTRY to see it for Himself, and to add His blessing and power while He’s there!
Image from Sandy Hook Principal's Twitter account, Yesterday
I am the father of a kindergartner. I can not fathom the feelings and emotions of those who lost their children today. I have cried today. I have struggled to focus. I suppose in one sense I feel sympathy, which by definition is an extension of empathic concern, or the perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being. But at the end of today, I will get to cuddle with my son, while those parents will somehow try to sleep without their child, with Christmas decorations throughout their home and hidden presents that will never be opened. How can I possibly understand their agony? How can I possibly answer why?
Politicians will resume the “gun control” battle, as though any laws could have prevented the events of today. Perhaps there is some merit in addressing guns… but that does little for those families. Others will decry the lack of prayer in schools or the decline of morality in our culture. Still, empty words to address empty beds tonight.
Many have e-mailed me today or messaged me on Facebook asking what to do on Sunday at church. To that end, I started a thread on Kidology.org. I’ve collected links and letters and sources all day and posted them there. Perhaps you will find some help there, and I encourage you to post your own thoughts and resources there as well. Many have shared helpful thoughts. It’s become a great source of collective wisdom.
But still I grieve. But at the same time, I am renewed in my passion to reach children – and families, and to look into the eyes of those around me and look for hurt. Adam Lanza, the alleged murderer, needed help. To do this, he had to be a lost and broken young man. Society or the Church failed to rescue him. While he is responsible for his actions, we share some responsibility for failing to reach people in need. He is a victim as well, a victim of a broken world. I am not making excuses for him, nor excusing his crime. He is guilty. But had someone reached him or realized he was slipping, perhaps 20 children and 6 adults who cared for and loved those children could have been saved.
So our mission remains clear – love the children and reach families. And always be seeking who around us is flailing and struggling. We never know who we may save when we reach out and share God’s love with the lost around us. There are people losing hope and don’t know there is Hope.
Hug your children, but don’t stop there. Spread God’s love to everyone around you. More people need it than we realize. We don’t need more laws in America, we need more of God’s Love in America.
OK – I’m a political junkie… (if you don’t like politics, skip this post.)
Right now, here is the latest standings according to one of my favorite political pundants, Karl Rove: (click to view bigger)
I decided to download the iPad App FOX NEWS You Decide 2012 Map, which lets you track your OWN Electoral Map – (kinda cool, for politcal junkies, like me.)
I went ahead and played with it:
I gave Florida to Obama…
As much as it hurt, I gave up Colorado too.
But for reasons I won’t get into here, I took Ohio for Romney, along with Wisconsin due to the success Scott Walker has had despite three recall attempts, but gave up Michigan.
I gave up New Hampshire as well. The East Coast is too close to Washington D.C. to get what really runs this country.
And just to be generous, I gave up Nevada (though I expect a lot of Mormons to vote for Romney, I dont’ assume they are the majority of the state? But then again, there is Las Vegas values there too. So I just don’t want to assume.)
Then I took Iowa as good mid-western state with sensible people and due to tracking polls I’ve read.
The result shocked me. I’ve not seen anyone predict a possibility of this:
(Click to View Larger)
269 to 269?!
Oh, boy. Wouldn’t THAT be interesting!
The good news is, I think Florida is going Romney. But this would be a very interesting scenario!
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A TIE? (very entertaining!)
My eating at chic-fil-a today had NOTHING to do with my support for marriage being defined as that between a man and a woman, nor because I oppose gay marriage. BUT BECAUSE I AM AN AMERICAN.
If I ate somewhere because of my political positions, I would have to get rid of the MacBook Pro I am typing on, my iMac, my MiniMac, my MacBook Air, my iPhone, my iPad, my Apple TV, (even my Newton! LOL) and the countless Apple products my staff use and close my Christian non-profit business account I have with Apple who treats my Christian organization wonderfully giving me great discounts despite the very liberal (and often non-Christian political beliefs) of it’s owners, founders and probably a vast number of it’s employees.
But they make excellent products. And this is America – the Land of the Free.
Free to disagree with me. And free to create awesome products despite what we passionately believe religiously or politically.
That is America!
Have people FORGOTTEN THE TYRANNY our Founders FLED to found this country?
Chic-fil-a should ALSO be free to make chicken, sell chicken and it’s owner have political views that are different than what some liberal Chicago or Boston or San Franciso mayors and politicians may have and not face political and government threats.
I’m not eating at Chic-fil-a today because I agree with Chic-fil-a, but because I OPPOSE TYRANNY wherever I see it.
And I like a good chicken sandwich as much as I like my Mac.
(OK, I like my Mac a lot more, but that’s besides the point.)
God Bless America. And if you don’t believe in God, I hope He blesses you anyway!
This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #11: Freedom
Today, on Veteran’s Day, I am thankful for the Freedom we enjoy in America and for those who defend it.
I am one of those Americans who cries during the National Anthem at sporting events. I am one who stops mid-sentence any time someone in uniform walks into a restaurant and I look at them in awe. I don’t care what rank they have. They have volunteered to serve and protect our Great Nation. I bring a boom box with patriot music to the fire works display on the 4th of July and I weep. And I’ve never seen a battle field. But I know how unique and incredible America is, more than most Americans. Why?
Because I have traveled to fourteen different countries on three different continents and despite those here who criticize our country, they ought to get out more. This Land is Amazing, from sea to shining sea. I have seen the fear in the eyes of people who lived with a citadel on the hillside pointing massive guns at their homes ready to blow up their house if they criticized the government. I have seen land torn by war. I have seen the poor living in cardboard boxes and digging through the garbage for a meal and relieving themselves in a hole in the ground. I have seen the poor, the hungry and the politically disadvantaged. Those who whine and complain here about “injustice” so they can live immoral or sinful lives or demonstrate to have “rights” to not work, not repay debt or not be responsible, have no idea what poverty, injustice or inequality is. They drive a car to rallies, use a cell phone to text complaints and video tape it all on expensive cam corders while celebrities, part of their hated 1%, ironically, cheer them on.
All while our soldiers are overseas giving their lives to protect those very rights. We live in a country were you are free to be a spoiled rotten selfish moron with out a clue what makes America Great – OR you are free to pursue the American Dream, by working work hard, failing, trying again, and succeeding to provide for your failing and loved ones.
All because men and women and fought and died all as volunteers time and time again on battlefields all over the world to protect the Grand Idea that it is individuals, not government, that makes this Nation Great!
We are FREE because we choose to be unshackled by the restraints of oppressive governments that hold individuals back from pursuing their God-given dreams.
That is under attack and at risk in our nation… let’s hope it changes in the next election, but in the meantime, enjoy the freedom you have, and be THANKFUL for the military we have, and those who serve and who have protected it against evil threats against our ideals from without for generations.
It’s really just something I need to DO MYSELF – but I thought maybe others might want to join me, and I’d enjoy reading/seeing what others are thankful for. So you are welcome to use the Word doc, or just post in the forum what YOU are thankful for! So let me begin today, with my first post. These are NOT going to be in priority order, otherwise I’d have to go God, Family, etc. and then later on, people might judge me for putting one thing “above” or “before” another – so right out of the gate let me say, these posts will be in RANDOM ORDER of things I am THANKFUL FOR!
For Luke’s Fall Break, we came up to Breckenridge and on Monday we headed out for what we thought would be a 2-4 hour tour of the area to see the changing leaves… it turned into a twelve hour tour of Colorado! But we had a great time!
It was great having a convertible at a time like this!
We had driven past this scene and a mile past I ended up doing a U-Turn to go back and took about twenty amazing amazing pictures here…
It ended up being one of the most beautiful stops of the entire day…
The horses kept posing for me in different arrangements!
But Luke’s favorite was when we spotted a UFO back in the hills that had just landed! We got a picture and then got out of there before they abducted us!
Here is a close up zoomed in:
That had to be the highlight of Luke’s day! For me, it was just being out with the family, cruzin’ with the top down in the PK Cruiser:
Later, Sara said her favorite stop was by this old tractor and wooden barn, and I must say, I did enjoy photographing my favorite subject here:
And he was a great sport as daddy made him pose this way and that… but then, he was getting to climb all over a tractor, so it was a pretty cool deal for both of us!
Even peeking into a mysterious old shed has it’s appeal! (I found my way in, but didn’t tell him, there were too many ways to get hurt… but it was cool!)
I dread the day the cooperation with the camera will cease… but right now he puts up with it, knowing it is our love that drives the click, click, click. Perhaps there is a little vanity in him that enjoys looking at the pictures later? I’ll take it! I want to remember these days.
The barrel was filled with spools of old string. Letting him keep one was the deal that got him to climb in for a picture, though later I realized he probably would have climbed in anyway… it was kinda fun!
Even Sara agreed to pose for a few pictures for me!
Now there’s a facebook profile pic!
I thought it funny that we both got pictures of ourselves in the car mirrors:
That’s the road up the Continental Divide she is taking… which I took up at the top:
and then from the other side of the Divide as well, looking the other way:
It turned out to be a pretty crazy day, though fun. We chose a route on the Lodge “Activity Guide” and charted it out on the map, thinking it was perhaps a 3-4 hour drive and it turned out to be a nearly TWELVE HOUR drive! We went over the Continental Divide a total of FOUR times by the end of the day. We were laughing that they would give guests a “leaf viewing tour” that was a 400 mile tour of Colorado and not tell them it takes 10-12 hours. We only stopped for one meal and one store and to take pictures a few times, so it wasn’t like we lengthened the trip by much. We were just glad we had left around 10a.m. and not after lunch!
Of course, as the driver, I was getting most of the blame from my weary passengers, but I kept blaming the piece of paper we were following. But in the end, we mostly laughed it off and just enjoyed the day together.
I did end up deciding there were some lessons from the day, and you can hear all about that in my Kidmin Talk Podcast #3 which I recorded earlier today. There were really quite a few fun applications to the Adventures of the day to ministry, but I won’t go into that here, it’s best told on the podcast already.
But it was a great day with the family! Fall is definitely here – and God did a spectacular job showing off His creative abilities with splendor. He didn’t have to make the changing seasons beautiful you know. He could have just been practical. But He chose to do it with class and color and have a little fun with it, just for our enjoyment. The same opportunity is given to us. Why be practical all the time? When you can, do things with class and splash a little color and fun into life too. Not because you have to, but just because you can. That’s how God operates. And guess what? You were created in His Image! So stop being so practical and waste some time and be creative and unpractical for a change!
Do something beautiful and unnecessary, before you forget how.
That will make God’s day – just like He made mine this week.
This was the first Memorial Day I got to hang the American Flag with my son’s help and explain to him the meaning of “Memory Day.” He asked very thoughtful questions like, “Why do we celebrate when none of our family has died?” and “Why would people die for us when they don’t even know us?”
Then we stood and recited the Pledge to the American Flag which he as learned at school. We surprised me by asking me to explain it phrase by phrase – and my tears surprised even me as I explained in language a five year old could understand:
“I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…”
“Luke, that means that while we love all nations and God created all nations, I am feel blessed and proud to be an American and live in this country because of how wonderful it is – and this flag is the symbol of this nation. A symbol is something that stands for something – just like you recognize cars by their symbols, people recognize our nation by this flag at world-wide sporting events, on rocket ships, and even by the flag on the moon that shows we were the first to land a space this there and have a man walk there three months after I was born. That’s why we respect this flag. Some say it is only cloth and you can do anything to it – they fail to see that it was only cloth until it was formed into the symbol or our country. Just as two sticks were just two sticks until we form them into a Cross and suddenly they remind us of what Jesus did when He died for us. Of course you can break the sticks and you don’t hurt Jesus, and you can hurt the flag without hurting our country, but we try our best to show respect to the flag to show how thankful we are for our country. Those who are mean to the flag are not reflecting a thankful heart for the blessings of this land.”
“…and to the Republic for which it stands,”
“Luke, a Republic is a land that is ruled by the people instead of the government. We have a government, but unlike most of the world, and unlike most of human history – we the people ARE the government, and we CHOOSE our leaders. You won’t understand who wonderful this is until you are older, but it means every four years we get to choose our President. If we don’t him or her, we can pick a new one. We pick the leader of our city, our state, and even our neighborhood. That is why we love our flag so much, because each of those stars stands for one of those states that all are part of the One Republic for which it stands.”
“…one nation under God,”
“Luke, under God means that our nation, when it was started was planned as a nation that would follow God’s Laws – in a minute we’ll talk about Liberty and Justice – but those needed limits, and they needed to be limited by God’s Laws, otherwise anyone could do anything they wanted and the world would be a crazy place. Someone has to decide what is right and wrong, and there is no better Person to do that than God. So our founders (the men and women who started our nation) said all our laws would be based on God’s Laws so things would never get too crazy. Anything in our culture that is crazy, is usually because our laws are going against God’s Laws – you remember that.”
“Luke, I’m sad to say, our nation tried to split once. It was a long and terrible battle you will learn about in school someday called the Civil War. We weren’t at war with another country, but with ourselves. It was a war between the North of America and the South of America and whether we would divide and become two countries or one, and whether all people would have Freedom and Liberty and Justice for all, but you’ll more about that too when you get older. But we have decided to be One Nation from now on.”
“…with Liberty and Justice for all.”
“Luke, I’ve been to fourteen different countries around the world, and while every country has wonderful and beautiful things and the people are special and love their land and are equally loved by God – every time I came back to America I could tell how blessed and lucky I was to have been born and live here. Liberty is the freedom to live your own life the way you want to without anyone (especially the government) telling you how to live your life. It is something constantly under attack, and something we need to defend always, even here in America. But Liberty is something that is rare around the world. For many people around the world what they will do, how much money they will make, who they will marry or other things are determined the day they are born – but in America we have something we call The American Dream. Some think the American Dream is that if you are an American you should get this or that – nope. The American Dream means if you are willing to work hard, you have the opportunity to have whatever you dream. There is no one telling you “no” except you. Dream it – and work toward it!
Justice means that no matter who you are, the Justice System is available to you. In many places around the world, only the rich or famous or powerful get Justice, the unknown, poor or unconnected can only hope for justice. Here, if you can’t afford a lawyer, one is given to you. You are assumed innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around!”
(I was starting to lose him by now, he is only five, after all! But he was listening intently!)
“But Luke, a nation like America isn’t just something that happens easily – it has to be fought for. There have been evil nations that have sought to destroy us – and while many nations make their young men become soldiers, our soldier are all volunteers! That means they all sign up on their own! They just love America so much, they sign up so go and fight for America. They go to far away places to defend our Liberties, to free people who are in trouble – America is the Super Hero of the world, and our flag is like the S on Superman’s chest – when people in trouble see the USA is coming they know help is on the way. And when we win, we don’t conquer or take over, we help rebuilt and leave!
And Luke, we even help rebuilt our enemies and become their friends. Many of our friends today, Japan, Germany, Russia – were once mortal enemies – but we are a Good Nation, we stand for what is Good, so we win, and then we hold out our hand and help those who were trying to kill us, unlike any nation in World History.
That is why your dad is proud to be an American, and that is why I want to raise you to be a Patriot and why today we Remember those who died so that we might be free.”
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey