Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Milked the First Cow?

I often wonder who the first person was to milk a cow. Maybe it wasn’t a cow; maybe it was a goat or some other animal instead. I’d like to think it was God who showed Adam how to do it because the thought of some man (or woman) approaching a random cow disturbs me. I know it’s not a big deal today, but the first time it happened? You have to admit, that was a strange thing to do. Yes, I’m sure hunger was a good motivator, but still, that had to be awkward…for the cow, I mean.

My grandfather was a dairy farmer so I often thought of this as a kid when I saw him milk cows. I never asked him the question though because he kept trying to convince me that chocolate milk came from brown cows. I knew better because if that were true, then his cows would have given us milk that looked like ‘cookies and cream’.

Hmmm, still I wonder…. who was that brave cow?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Boogie Boarding & God

Boogie boarding and our relationship with God have a lot things in common. Both are fun, invigorating, and worth the effort. A day out boogie boarding can be compared to being on an adventure with God. Here’s what I mean.

Step one - prepare for the adventure. We’ve decided to go boogie boarding, so we set a date, time and place to boogie board. We gather our equipment: bathing suit, wet suit, boogie board and fins. With God we prepare through prayer, counsel and the word of God.

Step two - get into the water. The water is cold and uncomfortable. There’s the initial period when you’re in water up to your knees and debating whether to walk in any deeper. You’re counting the costs. Will boogie boarding be worth the physical discomfort of being cold? Much like when God calls us to do something, we may decide we want to do it, but we approach with caution. We get our feet wet before we decide if we’re going to fully submerge ourselves or turn back. We may or may not be willing to get out of our comfort zone. The cold water has deterred many a person from going boogie boarding just like a little discomfort has deterred many a Christian from moving forward.

Step three - face the resistance. Once we’ve decided to stay in the water, we have to push past the breaking waves to get deep enough to catch waves. Some days the ocean is calmer than others and pushing past the waves doesn’t seem that difficult. Other times, the waves pound and toss us around and it takes great effort and determination to get deeper. The same is true when we take a leap of faith to do the will of God. We face resistance such as doubt, discouragement, financial or relational hardships, etc. Sometimes the resistance knocks us around a bit, but we have to be willing to fight harder to get past it.

Step four - wait patiently. We’ve made it past the breaking waves and now we’re ready to boogie. The water is calmer and by now our bodies are starting to get acclimated to the water temperature. But, now we have to wait. Our patience is tested. Are we going to take first wave that comes along or are we willing to wait for a better one? God’s timing is not our timing. Most likely, we’ll have to wait on God before we can move ahead. Sometimes we get impatient and move to quickly and we end up settling for something less than what God had intended for us.

Step five - catch the wave. Now you may think that this part is easy since we’ve already submerged ourselves in cold water, been pounded by waves and have waited patiently. But, it’s still going to take a lot of effort to catch a wave. You have to be on the lookout for just the right wave. When the wave approaches, your board needs to be in position and you have to know just the right time to paddle and kick like crazy. Despite all our effort, we still might not catch the wave. Likewise, we need to be ready when God calls us to move or we may miss Him as well. This is not a time to slack off, we must remain in a ready state by continuing to pray, fellowship and read His Word.

Step six – ride the wave. The payoff for all the hard effort is riding the wave. Once we catch the wave it doesn’t take much of our own effort to stay on it. The wave is doing all the work and we get to go along for a wonderful ride. This stage is what I call riding the waves of God’s grace. It’s at this point in our journey where we’re walking in the grace of God and very little of our own effort. Oh how truly magnificent His grace is.

Step seven – repeat steps 2-6. That’s right, catch another wave. Go for a ride, again and again. Each ride is different and exciting. Every time we step out in faith with God, we’re in for a new experience.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Sox, Yankees & Politics

The democrats and republicans remind me a lot of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. You’re either a fan of one and hate the other or you’re not really concerned about the game of baseball at all, in which case you could cheer for either team on any given day. I grew up a Red Sox fan and always hated the Yankees. I’d get very angry every time the Sox lost to the Yanks. In 2003, after a particularly frustrating playoff loss to the Yankees, I got extremely angry. I mean, I was really, really angry and wanted to smash something. I was surprised how angry I got from just a baseball game. I asked myself the question, why do I hate the Yankees so much? The answer was simple. I was raised to hate the Yankees. I never really decided for myself whether or not I should hate them. When I thought about it – I mean, really thought about it, I decided it really didn’t need to hate the Yankees in order to love the Red Sox. I had based my opinion on my parents and friend’s feelings. I decided right then and there that I had already wasted a lot of energy hating something that I really didn’t have a good reason to hate. So, I looked for things I could like about the Yankees such as they have a lot of talented players, they have cool uniforms, their fans are loyal, some of their players are cute, etc. Getting rid of the hate has really brought a new level of enjoyment to the game for me. I can actually watch and occasionally cheer for the Yankees now.

So, why did I go off on the baseball tangent? Because, I think elections are a lot like the Red Sox/Yankees game. Most people either love one party and hate the other. For those that don’t I hope they vote their conscience and not popular opinion (like band wagon fans – you know the fans that only cheer for the team that’s supposed to win). For those that vote either straight democrat or straight republican I hope they ask themselves why? Why am I so loyal to one party and am I being ridiculous in not looking at the other, especially if the other team has a better player?

What is it that really shapes our political views? Do we adopt our parent’s views? I would think that would probably depend on how we view our parents. Most likely we’d agree with them politically if we respect them and vote opposite them if we butt heads. Or maybe our college professors influenced us? After all most of us don’t begin to even think about politics until we’re old enough to vote, which often coincides with our entering college and discovering our new found independence. It’s kind of scary to think of a college professor’s influence on us since most professors have only ever lived in the academic world and base most of their opinions on what they read rather than their own real world experience. It’s easy for them to criticize and theorize when they’re basing they’re opinion on data rather than human experience. Maybe our demographics shape our political views. Are we afraid to go against the popular opinion of our friends, co-workers, neighbors rather than cause a riff in our relationship? Probably the biggest influence on our political views is multi-media. You can’t go anywhere without being exposed to some type of political opinion on television, the internet, radio, newspapers, sign posts, junk mail and on and on. The problem with multi-media is that it is almost always biased towards one candidate. Not to mention the candidate with the most money can really flood the media and draw more attention to themselves.

I wonder how many people actually think about the candidates and research their ideas and their character? I’ll bet the vast majority of Americans decide on a candidate based on someone else’s opinion rather than searching their own hearts and finding the candidate whose stance coincides with their own core beliefs. How many people vote straight party line and never question the character of their party’s candidate?

Personally, I don’t look at the party affiliation when I look at a candidate. However, I tend to vote one party over the other because the candidates usually line up with my personal beliefs. I’m not going to limit myself in how I vote just because my pride won’t allow me to choose the candidate from the other party if he/she is better qualified. Just like voting for MLB all-star candidates, I vote for the best player regardless of whether they’re wearing a Red Sox or a Yankee uniform. Vote responsibly.