In the Mansions of the Lord

Fort LoganTerry and I will be moving to our new home this week. For that and other obvious reasons I thought it appropriate to send this week’s edition of Perspectives today, Memorial Day.

I’m including below the words of this moving video and song, just over eight minutes in length. Theological purists, please show a bit of grace when viewing this link: http://worriersanonymous.org/Share/Mansions.htm.

This DVD is dedicated to the U.S. servicemen and women who paid for our freedom with their lives. Music is by West Point Military Academy Cadet Glee Club and Metro Voices, Tenor Ronan Tynan and Sgt. MacKenzie. DVD is by John Langskov.

In the Mansions of the Lord

To fallen soldiers let us sing, where no rockets fly nor bullets wing. Our broken brothers let us bring, to the mansions of the Lord.

No more weeping, no more fight, no prayers pleading through the night. Just divine embrace, eternal light, in the mansions of the Lord.

I pray in the night, deep shadows fall. My heart surrenders all, hush of the evening bells toll.

Where no mothers cry and no children weep, we will stand and guard though the angels sleep. All through the ages safely keep, the mansions of the Lord.

Way up to heaven floats my plea, calling the world far beyond. Angels sing with me, so sweet in reverie.

Lay me down in the cold, cold ground, where before many more have gone. Once a year say a prayer for me. Close your eyes and remember me.

  • American Cemetery, Luxembourg: 5,076 buried
  • WW II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  • Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  • Vietnam Three Soldiers Statue
  • Pentagon 911 Memorial
  • Manila American Cemetery: 17,201 WW II buried, 36,285 names missing in action listed
  • American Cemetery, Brittany, France: 4,410 buried
  • American Cemetery, Aisne-Marne, France: 2,289 buried
  • American Cemetery, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium: 7,992 buried
  • American Cemetery, Normandy, France: 9,387 buried
  • American Cemetery, Meuse-Argonne, France: 14,246 buried

May no soldier go unloved.

May no soldier walk alone.

May no soldier be forgotten.

Until they all come home.

SoldiersAngels.org

This day and every day, thank God for our servicemen and women, past, present and future.

Fishing, ISIS, Waco

FishingThat’s a seemingly strange title for a Perspectives article. I chose it because it reflects activities in which I was involved or which caught my attention this past week.

Fishing

The past two years I have been the recipient of a special Christmas gift from our daughter Angie and her husband Todd: a guided striped bass fishing trip on Lake Buchanan in central Texas with their son Kolby and their daughter Kayla, who just happen to be Terry’s and my grandchildren.

This year’s trip took place last Friday. My lucky catch was a 34-inch striped bass weighing 16.25 lbs. Our guide said it’s the largest such fish he’s seen taken from Lake Buchanan in the past 6-7 years. All four witnesses wanted me to mount it, which I was considering until I heard the cost: $18/inch. Do the math. Guess what I told the guide: “Clean it!”

To see the fish (before it was cleaned and eaten) go to: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=860028237406000&set=a.860028470739310.1073741825.100001964954873&type=1&theater

ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Over the weekend, ISIS militants seized the key Iraqi city of Ramadi. An Associated Press report said: “The contested city of Ramadi fell to the Islamic State group on Sunday, as Iraqi forces abandoned their weapons and armored vehicles to flee the provincial capital in a major loss despite intensified U.S.-led airstrikes.”

“Bodies, some burned, littered the streets following mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians. Humvees, trucks and other equipment sped out of Ramadi, with soldiers gripping onto their sides. More than 250 civilians and security forces were killed, including police and others shot dead in the streets or their homes, along with their wives and children.”

Waco

Monday’s Austin American Statesman reported details of what first appeared on Sunday’s newscasts: “A chaotic shootout Sunday between rival biker gangs that also involved Waco police left nine dead and a city on alert for further violence.

“The shooting erupted at the Twin Peaks restaurant just after 12:15 p.m. Sunday during a ‘Bike Night’ event police had sought to shut down. Waco police said they had feared the large gathering of up to 200 bikers from at least five different motorcycle gangs would turn violent after tensions had risen in the past month.”

How strange that while deadly manifestations of ungodly greed and childish pride erupt around the world and places closer to home, in this land of the free and home of the brave I spend a morning on a lake catching a big fish. I am blessed! And so are you! Don’t take those blessings for granted. All of us are blessed to be a blessing!

Traditional Hymns vs. Contemporary Praise Choruses

HymnalRecently a college classmate friend of mine and I were discussing the positives and negatives of traditional worship and contemporary worship. Our conversation reminded me of this story:

Old Farmer Joe went to the big city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

“Well,” said the farmer. “It was good. They did something different, though. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”

“Praise choruses?” she asked. “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re OK,” said the farmer. “They’re sort of like hymns, only different.”

“What’s the difference?” said his wife.

“Well,” said the farmer, “If I said, ‘the cows are in the corn,’ that would be a hymn. But if I were to say to you,

‘Martha, Martha, Martha, O Martha, Martha, Martha,
The cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the black and white cows,
The COWS, COWS, COWS are in the CORN, CORN, CORN!
They’re in the corn, they’re in the corn, they’re in the CORN, CORN, CORN!’

….and if I were to repeat the whole thing four or five times, then that would be a praise chorus.”

The next weekend his nephew, a young Christian from the big city, came to visit his Uncle Joe and Aunt Martha. He attended their local church in the small town. When he went home his mother asked him how it was.

“Well,” he said, “it was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of praise choruses.”

“Hymns?” asked his mother. “What are those?”

The young man said, “Well, it’s like this. If Uncle Joe were to say to Aunt Martha, ‘the cows are in the corn,’ then that would be a praise chorus. But if he were to say:

‘Oh Martha, dear Martha, oh hear thou my cry; inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thine whole wondrous ear by and by, to the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broken free from their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night,

They all my mild Chilliwak sweet corn have eschewed!’

And if he were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change in the last verse, then that would be a hymn.”

Seriously, folks, this exaggerated illustration is obviously overstated. The ongoing conversation regarding personal preferences in worship style or format could be summarized in many ways, not the least of which is simply this: So long as the words are Christ centered, biblically based and faith strengthening, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

My contention has always been simple. If we’re going to do traditional worship, let’s pick hymns that are easily and joyfully sung. If we’re going to do contemporary worship, let’s pick songs or praise choruses that are easily and joyfully sung, especially by groups and not just by soloists.

In both cases the objective is to aid and assist worshipers in singing praises from their hearts to our great and gracious God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen? Amen!

A non-Mom speaks about Mother’s Day

Woman 1Late last night I saw this article. It’s worth sharing, even as a second Perspectives article on the same day: http://timewarpwife.com/open-letter-pastors-non-mom-speaks-mothers-day/

An Open Letter to Pastors (A non-Mom speaks about Mother’s Day) by Amy Young

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman.

Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering. I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out.

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

This article is a wonderful reminder of the importance of pastoral sensitivity at all times, especially on occasions that may not be as joyful to some as to others. Thank you, Amy! God bless you!

The Ultimate Job

mothers-day-48957_1280Recently I read an article in The Federalist Papers that caught my attention. It seems appropriate for this week’s Perspectives article since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so here we go:

There seems to be this belief among some that women who eschew a career to remain home and care for their families do not know what it means to work hard. This preposterous assumption is based on the belief that it takes much more effort to go to school, earn a degree and work long hours at the office than it does to care for a family.

But anyone who is or has ever had a mother (that’s pretty much everyone) should know that the role calls for significant effort. Whoever wrote the following certainly understood that:

A woman renewing her driver’s license at the County Clerk’s office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

“What I mean is,” explained the recorder, “do you have a job, or are you just a …..?”

“Of course I have a job,” snapped the woman. “I’m a mom.”

“We don’t list ‘mom’ as an occupation. ‘Housewife’ covers it,” said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title like “Official Interrogator” or “Town Registrar.”

“What is your occupation?” she probed.

What made me say it? I don’t know. The words simply popped out: “I’m a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations.”

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard.

I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

“Might I ask,” said the clerk with new interest, “just what you do in your field?”

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply: “I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn’t?) in the laboratory and in the field (normally, I would have said indoors and out). I’m working for my Masters (first the Lord and then the whole family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?), and I often work 14 hours a day. But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money.”

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk’s voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants — ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model (a 6-month-old baby) in the child development program testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than “just another mom.”

Motherhood … What a glorious career, especially when there’s a title on the door! Does this make grandmothers “Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations” and great-grandmothers “Executive Senior Research Associates?” I think so! I also think it makes aunts “Associate Research Assistants.”

This story, brought to us by The Federalist Papers Project, makes an incredible point. Just think about how much work it takes to raise and care for a child — work that really never ends. The job starts the moment a child is born and continues indefinitely, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year!

And you had best believe that there are no breaks. A mother must be ready 24/7 to tend to her child, regardless of whether it is a holiday or not and regardless of how she herself feels.

If anything, being a mother is the ultimate career choice, for no other job on Earth matches it in intensity and labor — pardon the pun!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!