Friday, July 27, 2007

Cardinal Nation

I guess I’m a word person. 

I fall in love with certain words and phrases.

Here’s one that is now way overused, but the first time I heard it, I loved it.

It’s when you tack something onto the word “nation.”

For example, we St. Louis baseball fans make up “Cardinal Nation.”

Oh, I know now there is a “nation” for everything.

There’s “Trek Nation” for Star Trek fans.

“Clay Nation” for Clay Aiken fans.

There’s even “Chevy Nation” for fans of Chevrolet.

And then there’s “Carrie Nation”…no wait, that’s a real person.

And what would we have if everyone in the country drove pink cars?  A Pink Carnation. : )

Anyway, I know it’s overdone, but I still think it’s cool.

And you know what?  For the life of me I can’t think of the first time I heard the word nation used that way.  I have taxed my brain, and I just can’t come up with it.

One thing I remember is that as a kid I was fascinated by all the American Indian tribes, and they always went by “such-and-so Nation.”

For example, there’s the Blackfoot Nation and the Cherokee Nation.  I said I was a fan of words, and I still like those Indian tribe names.  They have some of the coolest words:  Navajo, Choctaw, Comanche, Apache, Iroquois, Pawnee, Seneca, and here in Tallahassee our favorite is Seminole. 

I suppose there is a such-and-so nation for just about everything these days.  Now let me ask, why is that?

I think it’s because we all like to be identified with a group.  There is something in human nature that makes us want to be part of a group.

When I was in college, many kids identified themselves by their fraternity or sorority.  Then another group popped up.  They were sort of anti fraternity and sorority, and they called themselves the Romans.

A friend of mine was laughing the other day because he pulled out his old FFA jacket from high school.  That’s a group that some kids were proud to be identified with, the Future Farmers of America.

Some high schools limit what kids can wear so they don’t identify themselves by gang membership.

There is just something about us.  We want to be part of a group.  Our team.  Our “nation.”

I thought about all this while I was reading First Peter 2:9.  There we find a new name for God’s people:  “Holy Nation.”

Can you imagine a member of “Cardinal Nation” going to Wrigley Field in Chicago – and wearing blue?  No way!  When you walk into Wrigley Field you wear all red, and preferably a t-shirt listing all the Cardinal World Series winners.  The last thing you do is try to blend in.

And that’s the way we should be as members of the “Holy Nation.”  We should stand out from everyone else.  First Peter 2:11 says that we should be “aliens and strangers” in this world.  Verse 12 says we are to live amazingly good lives, so much so that even the unholy will see our good deeds and end up glorifying God.

Think of it this way.  If you were charged with being “holy,” would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Our holiness should stand out.  It should shine bright.

When my son was getting a cast put on his arm from a wrestling “incident” I ran into a member of “Gator Nation.”  He was getting a big cast on his leg, and he was insisting that it be “Gator Orange.”  He was in full Gator array, including t-shirt and ball cap.  He stood out.  In a city of “Garnet and Gold” he stood out.

So the question is, do we stand out? 

Philippians 2:15 says we should be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation” in which we “shine like stars in the universe…”

We don’t need brightly colored t-shirts.  Our purity should shine for us.  Our goodness should call out to everyone, “Here we are, children of God, and proud members of the “Holy Nation.”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Umpire Cheating Scandal

It’s a thankless job, really.

Being an umpire.  Or a referee. 

On your very best day you are completely ignored.  And it goes downhill from there.

To be honest, I don’t know why you do it.  Why you put up with it.  I have never been an umpire or referee.  But I have watched you.  You are trying to be fair.  You are trying to call ‘em as you see ‘em.  The action is happening so fast.  It’s impossible to see everything. 


You are trying to do an impossible job.  Perfection is the minimum.  Anything less and you are going to throw someone into a rage, a literal, blood-curdling, “I’m-scared-for-society” kind of a rage.

Imagine this kind of pressure in a different work setting.  Take the middle-aged mother I was watching in the stands at a local girls sporting event.  She was literally screaming at the officials.  Calling them names.  Accusing them of cheating against her team.  She was telling her daughter that her true opponents were the officials.

Now imagine going to the office where she works.  Imagine sitting beside her desk, then screaming, screaming at her when she made any single move you didn’t like.  She makes a type-o on the computer…. “Go home, you moron!”  Stomp your feet.  Shake your fist. 

Of course no one would put up with that kind of abuse.  You would be kicked out of the building.  If you kept it up you would be arrested.  There would be a restraining order.  If you insisted on screaming at the office worker, you would end up being psychiatrically evaluated.

But instead of an office worker trying to do her job, we are talking about an official trying to do his job – and suddenly everything changes.  Suddenly, for some reason, it is acceptable to lose all sense of decorum, all sense of propriety and decency. 

And I am not talking about drunken maniacs with painted chests.  I am talking about middle class, middle aged mothers with little children looking up to them.

Stop and think.   These officials are just doing their job.  Do you remember when the last big umpire cheating scandal rocked the nation?  It never happened!  There is no cheating conspiracy among officials against your team!

I thought of all this as I read Matthew chapter nine this morning, where Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means…..I desire mercy….”  We don’t show mercy because someone deserves it.  We show mercy because we are merciful. 

When someone cuts you off in traffic, show mercy.  When someone talks about you behind your back, show mercy. 

And when someone does something so completely insignificant as calling a penalty on your team during a game….please, for the sake of your own dignity….show mercy.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dating Advice

Yes, I do think it is best if a couple does not get physical before marriage.

Yes, I realize that sounds terribly old fashioned.

Yes, I know the physical aspect of a marriage is important.

But I do not think it is foundational, therefore I do not think it needs to be tried out beforehand, like so much tire kicking at a used car lot.

Now before I continue, let me say this.  If half of all marriages end in divorce, then the system is terribly broken.  We have got something bad wrong, and the result is millions of broken hearts and broken homes.

Here is my opinion.  I think the divorce rate could be cut way down if people made wiser decisions before marriage.

Remember the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?  He said he dreamed of the day when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This is the foundation for judging people – the content of their character.  If you want to make a wise choice in a marriage partner, you must take a good, long look at the content of their character.

I think Hollywood and pop music often get it wrong when it comes to romance, but here is one way they get it right.  It’s all about love.

Now by love I don’t mean love at first sight, or a crush or an infatuation.  I don’t mean, “They just look so gooooood, I think I’m in looooooove.”

And I don’t even mean “do they love you?”  When I say love, I mean is this person a loving person?  Do they show love to their parents and their siblings?  Do they show love to their neighbors and coworkers? 

Listen, if they aren’t showing love to the people already in their life, what makes you think they are going to show love to you after the thrill wears off?

Now listen to this.  Even if someone shares your faith, but they don’t show love to the people already in their life – that is an important piece of the puzzle they are missing.  They may wear a godly label, but if they aren’t showing love to the people around them, you better take a good, long look at that.

You’ve heard the phrase “Love is blind.”  That’s true when you are talking about infatuation.  In your eyes, the other can do no wrong.  This is why it is so important to keep your distance before marriage.  You need the space in order to accurately judge the content of their character.

So you need to examine them in various situations and ask yourself, “Is this a loving person?”

Now here’s another important question to ask.  “Is this a person of commitment?”

This is so vitally important.  When you marry someone, you want that to be a lifelong commitment.  So the question is, how do they handle the smaller commitments in their life?

If they can’t keep little commitments like calling you when they say they will, how well will they fulfill their marriage commitment?

I mention love and commitment, because these are cornerstones to a long and happy marriage.  You need to measure these very carefully in your future spouse. 

And you need to look at it this way.  Their level of love and commitment to the people already in their life is a good indicator of their future level of love and commitment to you.

Here is why love and commitment are cornerstones to marriage.  If two people truly love one another and are committed to one another, nothing can stop them.

No matter what comes their way, their marriage will thrive. 

And let’s say some surprises do pop up.  Let’s say there is no getting physical before marriage.  Then let’s say things don’t go so smooth in that area after the wedding. 

Listen, that is minor.  That is peanuts.  If two people love one another and are committed to one another, they will overcome all obstacles.  In fact, as they handle the obstacles together they become more and more bonded.  Their love just grows as they make the journey together.

Back to Hollywood and pop music.  Even for them the romantic ideal is two lovers totally committed to one another forever.  They just foul it all up by getting physical before it’s time.

“But Doug, I think it’s important that people find out whether they are physically compatible.”

That’s silly.  Everyone is “physically” compatible. 

It’s time we put the emphasis where it belongs.  And that means long before marriage, before anything physical clouds the picture, we need to take a good, long look at the content of their character.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)



Friday, July 06, 2007

My Brother Came and Got Me

“So you were a thug, a criminal, a gang-banger type with the scars and bullet to the skull to prove it?”


“A bullet to the skull?”

“Yes. See? Here’s the scar.”

“So even being shot in the head didn’t make you come to your senses?”

“No, it was something to be proud of, a battle scar.”

“So what did help you come to your senses?”

“Well my brother came and got me and…”

Stop right there. That’s part of a conversation I had with a young minister in Tallahassee. God reached out and pulled him out of an obviously very rough life. But who did God use?

Listen to his words again….

“My brother came and got me…”

At a time when others would have said, “Throw his rear end in jail,” “Lock him up and throw away the key,” his brother said, “I’m going to go get him….”

Now this young man is serving God and the people of our community. But someone had to bring him to Christ.

Would it have been you? Would it have been me?

We need to change how we see these young people. When we see young ruffians, we need to see them through the eyes of Jesus.

Our natural response might be to call the cops, or fight back. But if you really want to fight back, fight back with the love of Jesus.

Don’t look at todays young and restless like strangers, look at them like family. They are blessed and loved creations of our Heavenly Father, just as we are. We need to reach out to them, go and get them, just as if they were our own little brother or sister in trouble.

Remember the parable of the lost sheep? Jesus left the saved and secure behind, and went and got the lost sheep.

Remember the parable of the wedding banquet? The servants were told to go out to the highways and byways and compel them to come.

There is no such thing as a stranger. There are only people waiting for us to come and get them and bring them in.

Be inspired today by the words of a former bad guy…

“My brother came and got me….”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Takin' Care of Business in a Flash

Have you ever been to Graceland in Memphis?

I thought it was kind of cheesy, but interesting.

My wife thought it was a big waste of money.

One thing that caught my interest was all this stuff with the initials “TCB.”

What is TCB?

Well it stands for “Taking Care of Business.”  Elvis even had jewelry made with a TCB logo on it.  It included a lightning bolt, making the motto “Takin’ Care of Business in a Flash.”

Elvis Presley doesn’t rank anywhere on my list of great wise men, but I love the idea of “Takin’ Care of Business in a Flash.”

It makes me think of Proverbs 22:29.  The old King James says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business?  He shall stand before kings...”

In the NIV it says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work?”

Notice the difference.  The King James says the man is “diligent” in his work.  The NIV says he is “skilled” in his work.

The original Hebrew word is “mahiyr” (maw-HERE), which means skilled and prompt.

So how should we do our work?  Good and fast.  Skilled and prompt. 

See, if we are good at what we do, but we drag our feet, we are not taking care of business. 

If we are fast, but don’t do a good job, we are still not taking care of business.

To take care of business, we must do a good job, and do it quick.

One time I had an employee who did good work.  But he was so slow!  He reminded me of Proverbs 10:26, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.”  One day I had to get on him, once again, about not finishing a job by the deadline.  I just flat out told him, “You are like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes.”

See, he had the skills.  But so often it was like smoke in my eyes – it was irritating and it made me want to cry!

This Hebrew word mahiyr tells us how to take care of business. 

First of all it means skilled.  Whatever job you do, you must do it with skill. 

And the good news is, skills can be acquired.  You can take classes.  You can buy books, or even check them out from the library.  You can talk to someone who has the skills you want and learn from them. 

Listen, there is no excuse for not increasing our “skill set.”  God has given us this great brain, and we should never stop expanding it.

Second, the word mahiyr means prompt.  That means you get your work done by the deadline, or even before.

What if you don’t have a deadline?  Then make one up.  It’s easier to be motivated when you have a deadline. 

I remember one summer my goal was get into extremely excellent physical shape.  I even made a little poster for myself, “Six pack by the sixth of July.”  There was nothing special about that date.  It just rhymed, and gave me something to shoot for.

Remember, a goal without a deadline is no goal at all. 

So you have the skills, and you have the deadline, then you need the glue that brings them together:  diligence.  Once you have the skills to do good work, and the deadline to get it done by, you need diligence.  Diligence means you just keep working until you get it done. 

If Elvis lived today his motto might have been “Git-R-Done!”

Now how did I just go from Elvis to Proverbs to Larry the Cable Guy? 

Well, it just goes to show you the universal value of doing good work in a timely manner.  Everyone appreciates good work done by the deadline.

So as you do whatever it is you do, plug this little phrase into your brain, and remember, it’s even Biblical:  “Takin’ Care of Business, in a Flash!”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)