Choices, Consequences, Cares, and Peace

How nice it would be to live in a world where I could be completely carefree!  It really is a nice sentiment.  But it is not realistic.

Life is made up of situations where you have to make decisions that have many consequences to them.  And when you begin a family, then the results from the choices you make could cause different issues for you and your family.  (I am married and we will be having a son soon!)  The one thing that is true for me is that I want peace in my household.  Moreover, I want there to be love and peace between me and my wife and the boy-child that is to be making his entrance into the world in a few months.

There is nothing like coming home and having a peaceful household.  Trust me: you can have a world full of cares, but if you have a household full of peace, then the world can take a backseat when you are home.

I have cares because of decisions that I made long ago.  I lost college scholarships, which has put me in a place where I am now living in the land of never-ending student loans.  I chose a major in school (anthropology if you are wondering), which caused me to still be longing for that job with a great salary.  (There are sites like Forbes that declares anthropology as one of the worst college majors!)  Well, it is my fault too.  I did not make plans and create goals for myself when it came to what road I was going to embark upon after receiving my undergraduate degree.  My point is if one does not reflect on decisions before they are made, then there may be a myriad of ramifications that will cause future headaches.

The thing is past mistakes that have brought a sometimes frustrating present has not taken away my peace.  I find my peace in Jesus the Christ, which has abounded in my loving and peace-loving wife.  She loves peace, I love peace.  It has made for a wonderful marriage and a home that is in a (for the most part) perpetual state of serenity!

I have come to realize that living or being carefree is not truly possibly for most adults.  I hope to give my son a carefree childhood.  But adulthood comes with responsibilities, and responsibilities for one reason or another causes you to care.  Although life brings about cares, the peace that one has (especially if in abundance) can block those cares from turning into worries and may allow an existence that still exudes joy.

Do not worry about being free of cares; desire to be wrapped in blankets of tranquility and running through fields of peacefulness!

Cowardice

Cowardice is not now or ever has it been a good thing to live by.  Truth resounds in the old saying that goes: “Stand for something or fall for anything.”  Unfortunately, too many people live with some form of cowardice when it comes to standing for the truth.

You see so many different ideologies and worldviews in the world today and so much all-inclusive attitudes toward what people present as a new way of thinking or philosophy.  Moreover, it is believed  (by people’s actions and words) that the truth does not need to match with reality.  So, when reality conflicts with the truth or vice versa, then more and more people tend to reconstruct reality with what fits best for their viewpoint.

The problem is that truth is exclusive by its very definition.  For something to be true, it cannot have part truths and part falsehoods.  That obviously does not make any logical sense for a lie to be in the essence of what is the truth.

So, if truth needs to be heard, then it needs soldiers, or proponents, to stand up for it and speak it and write it boldly.  To allow a lie to continue in the marketplace of ideas without speaking out against it or exposing it as weak and not in alignment with reality is an act of cowardice, especially when you know it is not the truth and you allow others to fall prey to its enticing pull.  Now, what can be considered true or a universal truth may be another argument entirely because sometimes ideas have to be debated over.  However, when there can no longer be an argument for or against a truth, and people’s subjective ideas have been pushed to the side in favor of objective analysis, then there can be no excuse to allow an untruth to continue in existence unscathed.

The Man in the Other Room: An Analogy for Apologetics

Theology in Motion

The Man in the Other Room

The Room

Imagine you and a friend are sitting in a room. There is another room on the other side of the wall that you’ve never been in. Your friend explains that there’s a man in the room next door. How would you know if he is telling the truth?

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Politics As Usual (My Eyes Opened)

You have to love politics and the media’s coverage of it.  Well, I take that back.  You don’t have to love either of them.  I don’t.  I’m sorry, I cannot help it.  The older I get, the stronger my cynicism about politics gets.

I wasn’t always like this.  Once upon a time, I really looked forward to the first time that I got to vote for a president, a senator, a governor, and so on.  It was when I was young, a bit more naïve, and gave little, if any, attention to the words spoken by politicians.  Whether or not they were speaking the truth, when they stated ideas or policies that they espoused, was not deeply important to me.

I still remember when I voted for President Obama in 2008.  It was an exciting time for me.  I had graduated from college the same year, I was hired for my first full-time job, and I had voted for our first African American (or biracial) President, amongst other great events.  Honestly, like many other African Americans, voting for Pres. Obama meant a lot to me.  I didn’t think we, as a country, would get there in my lifetime.  For me, Pres. Obama was like the John F. Kennedy of my generation.  He was good-looking to me and spoke well and he connected with young people.  I am not saying that it is right to vote for a person, based on those qualities, or lack thereof, but respectable or not, that’s what I did.

Now, I am older.  I have gotten to see a person, who I thought was going to be the antithesis of the politicians that came before him, end up being just like the politicians that came before him.  This was partly my fault.  I was looking at Obama as some sort of superhero, who was going to be bipartisan and really unite our country.  Of course, my eyes opened from a dream to the reality that he is imperfect and would make decisions that I would disagree with.

So, let’s bounce back to 2008 again, then come back to today’s political climate.  Back in 2007 and 2008, Obama was running for the president’s seat and he just so happened to be going toe-to-toe with Senator Hillary Clinton (now Secretary Clinton).  Back then, they bumped heads quite a bit on the road to gaining the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.  That is nothing new since many politicians get into heated debates with one another about each other’s ideologies.  But what was strange (to me anyway) was that Pres. Obama decided to nominate her as his Secretary of State.  Really?  You all had just been dogging each other throughout your debates and campaigns and misrepresenting each other’s beliefs, but now you are good with each other and trust each other in high political positions.

I did not look then, but over time, I have thought more and more how politicians flip-flop over their stances with one another when it’s possible to get a position with whomever becomes the winner.

So, we come to today, where we can see that President Obama has endorsed Secretary Clinton to be the next President.  But I read an article on NPR’s website that reminded me of how they were bitter rivals that became the best of allies.  I still feel that it is fake and just a means to keep Donald Trump out of the White House, but again this is politics as usual.  They all seem like pawns in some game that goes on and on and on.  Nobody really wants to change the rules or be different than what came before them and we continue on in this endless game.  I hate to call it that, but that’s what it feels like.

When I saw the news that President Obama endorsed Clinton, the first thought that came to my mind was: “Was that supposed to be a surprise to anyone?”  What else would he have done?  Endorse Sanders?  I do not think so.  Yes, Obama could have chosen anyone because he has nothing to lose at this point.  He has had his two terms.  But Sanders is a long shot to getting the nomination and Obama (and most Democrats) will do whatever they can to keep Trump out of the office.

I have come to accept that politics in our country is like playing chess on a much grander scale (from what I have seen since I am no real chess player).  You have to make moves and decisions that can effect the outcome of the game in different ways.  Just like chess has a winner and a loser; politics has winners and losers.  Maybe one day, we will see a man or a woman step up to lead this country not in the usual fashion that has caused so much political friction and inner turmoil that still plagues us today.

An unusual presidential candidate that is about civil discourse and stand on their own two feet away from the platforms of what looks to be corrupted political parties.  Here is to dreaming of that person!

[Addendum: Here is a link to a podcast from the Hoover Institution.  It is: The Classicist, with Victor Davis Hanson: “10 Commandments For The Next President” – (“Victor Davis Hanson presents a decalogue to guide the behavior of the next inhabitant of the Oval Office.”)

 

Intent on Being an Intentional Parent

What a moment it is when you come to the realization that you are soon to become a father. This is true of me as I am at the point in my life, where a baby will be running the show. My wife and I are expecting our little “bundle of joy” some time in September. But, honestly, I am not overly ecstatic about the child yet. That probably sounds terrible, but I am a realist, therefore, I know that all of his life (we’re expecting a son) and our lives will not just be one big Happily Ever After story.

I never had the desire to have children. Well, not never! When I was a child and knew nothing of the work and money behind raising a child, I would say crazy things like I wanted a ton of kids as if having the children were all that was required in being a parent and a happy parent at that.

Things change when your parents bring in children when you are old enough yourself to help babysit them. I was an only child until I was sixteen years old when my parents adopted my first sibling. Nothing could have prepared me for the late night crying sessions or the diapers that smelled like it should have come from someone who had just ingested mounds of trash. Yes, there were times of laughter and happiness (I was there when this particular sibling first learned to walk, a milestone in his life that I am quite proud of because I was there). Plus, my own father has told me time and time again that it is different when it is your own child. He has tried to get me to understand or accept his belief that I will love having my own child, even when he does things that cause me heartache or disappointment. Lord knows that I gave my parents their fair share of heartache and disappoint. But I understand that life is filled with ups and downs and trials and tribulations and I desire the best for this kid.

My desiring the best for him excludes my knowledge of what his personality will be like and the different episodes he will face that will shape his life.

Regardless, I still desire that he becomes a successful person (whatever that looks like I don’t know, nor do I have a specific standard that he will need to meet). His mother and I do hope and will work toward him enjoying some of the things that we like. My wife and I both enjoy reading, listening to music, and both believe that everything in our lives hinge off of our Christian faith. So, we have had discussions about intentionally rearing him up in the Christian faith, making sure that he reads more books than he watches television, and that he listens to sacred music as well as some secular music that I find to be beneficial to him in positive ways. (That means most of the pop music in the last 20 to 30 years and for the next 18 years will be carefully scrutinized by me.)

I’m grateful that my parents were intentional with me and still are with my younger siblings. I can remember my father and second mother doing things like taking me for walks and discussing with me different issues at my school or in the news. They wanted to listen to the rap music that I listened to and paid so much attention to my room that they found some of my “gangster rap” music and lyrics that I wrote that showed that kind of influence. My parents received some flak for being what some called “strict.” Sometimes, they received some criticism by folks without kids and who may have considered themselves to be a bit more liberal. They were not able to keep me out of harm’s way and innocent all of my childhood, but we all think the work paid off in the end. (I would like to think of myself as a decent person.)

After thinking back through my childhood and remembering things they worked in my growth into adulthood, I came to the conclusion that my parents were intent on being intentional parents. When I thought of myself as being a mediocre person because of my skin color and afro-textured hair, my second mother made it her mission to intentionally make me read and study up on African-American history, which caused me to see the beautiful heritage that I came from. I have never truly excelled in the subjects of science and mathematics, but, in spite of my lack of love for these fields of study, my parents were intentional in going over my assignments with me to help me reach my potential. My father believes that a boy needs help with coming into manhood, therefore, he guided me as best as he could and resolved to have discussions with me about finances, marriage, and discipline and integrity.

My parents showed me that there is more to parenting than giving rules and maintaining authority to the human being(s) that come(s) from your loins. There can be such a thing as lazy parenting or bad parenting. I imagine that educators in the public school system can testify to the prior statement. Nevertheless, there can be successful parenting or good parenting, even if the child leaves the home and makes bad decisions or lives opposite of how they were raised. Maybe an alternative word for “successful” when it comes to parenting may be “active”. Active parenting can mean a kind of parenting that is alive and seeks to put the child in a place where they are a benefit to the society surrounding them; molding the child to understand and reach their potential.

So, successful parenting, good parenting, active parenting….is intentional parenting, and intentional parenting is parenting with a….PURPOSE!

How I dream of being half the parent that my parents were to me. Hopefully, my child will come to see, understand, accept, love, and appreciate Intentional Parenting!

(originally posted on – Ricochet.com – on May 3, 2016)

Reaffirming the Importance of Community

It seems that never before has there been a time, like now, when people the world over should genuinely and intentionally commit to maintaining community with their neighbors.  It seems that people are more and more likely to not know the folks right next door or even sitting right next to them.  This personal knowledge of your neighbor is not for gossiping and it is more than just having the ability to recall their name; it is a personal knowledge of the person under girded with intentional desire for an intimate connection which benefits both persons.

Why is this important?  Why should connecting with others in your community be a vital aspect of existence?  Because of the disconnect that flows through communities showing (rather revealing) a lack of support given to one another and issues that may face each neighbor directly or indirectly, especially during moments of trial and tribulation.  Looking for interpersonal connections to develop in the very area in which one lives may allow for a strong and bonded cohesive unit to coalesce.  This emergence of a community may allow for there to be open dialogue between members of the community to build understanding between one another and to possibly share in one another’s hopes and dreams.  Also, we get to know what is going on around us and our families if nothing else.

But how else can you build trust for someone that you have not taken the time to get to know?  How can we keep our families safe (possibly by even making preemptive moves) if we have no clue what is going on right next to us?

Recently, back in January of this year, an event was put on in a church in Norcross, Georgia, called “Understanding and Answering Islam.”  The event was about getting Christians to gaining a better comprehension of the Muslim faith and how to have a civil discourse with a Muslim brother or sister about Christianity and Islam.  Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian apologist with Ravi Zacherias International Ministries, made this statement: “Let’s not just call people the ‘other’, but understand them from their perspective.”  Qureshi gave some insight on the importance of not looking at a group as some category in a study somewhere, but remembering that any group, whether they are immigrants or a persons of a different faith, should be still treated as human beings.  We should desire to leave our prejudice behind to move forward in solidarity.  We may be surprised by how much we have in common with the neighbor next door.

Now, it is important to be realistic about the times that we live in.  Many people only have the energy to go to work and to come back home to be with their family.  Also, we live in an age when it is of the utmost importance that parents are aware of where their children are and who they are with.  These things are reasonable and realistic when it comes to being a bit hesitant with connecting with others, but these things (and any other reasoning outside of your neighbor being dangerous and possibly causing you harm) should not cause total hindrance to connecting with those closest to you in your neighborhood.

Is it possible that we live in a time that communing with others may mean something else?  So, it may mean less connecting with other physically and more at the hand of technology!  If what is considered as community today stays that way, then can we get it back to a healthier form?

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