A New Language

Text MessageIt’s hard to believe that today’s edition of Perspectives concludes the sixth year of these weekly articles. I don’t mind admitting that the deadline is sometimes a bit daunting and that topics of interest sometimes come more readily to mind than at other times. Feel free to send suggestions.

In addition, in a world of sound bites, brevity is important. Often I find it difficult to address complex topics with only a few words. When Perspectives first began, my St. Louis LCMS International Center staff insisted that I restrict these articles to two paragraphs. LOL! For a while I did pretty well at that. Not so much lately. However, beginning today and at least for a few weeks, I’ll make an effort to be brief. But don’t expect miracles!

Today’s article comes, with permission, from a devotion presented at this summer’s Florida-Georgia District LCMS Convention by Rev. Brian Kneser, convention chaplain. It’s not feasible to include here all the comments Pastor Kneser included in his devotion, but I think you’ll get the point from the information he projected on the screen in simple PowerPoint format.

Psalm 89:1: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”

A New Language: Text Messaging

  • LOL – Laughing out loud!
  • LOLH – Laughing out loud hysterically!
  • LSHMBH – Laughing so hard my belly hurts!
  • ROFL – Rolling on floor laughing!
  • T+ – Think positive!
  • 2G2BT – Too good to be true!
  • 10Q – Thank you!
  • 143 – I love you! (check the number of letters in each word)
  • 1432 – I love you too!
  • If Jesus texted, what would he say?
  • IFYP – I feel your pain.
  • IKYS – I know your sin.
  • 143 – I love you!
  • ISLY – I still love you!
  • IWALU – I will always love you!
  • RYB & PTL – Read your Bible and praise the Lord!
  • EMB – Engaged in the Master’s Business (convention theme)
  • MGBU – May God bless you!
  • AMEN – Amen!

Think Before You Speak!

megaphone-147176_1280Some people say things seemingly without thinking. Here are a few examples I saw recently:

  • A question asked of a contestant in a Miss America contest over 20 years ago: “If you could live forever, would you and why?” The answer of the contestant and subsequent winner: “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.”
  • A famous singer/actress: “Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.”
  • A well-known actress during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign: “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”
  • A college basketball player: “I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.”
  • A former mayor of Washington, D.C.: “Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”
  • A major league baseball team manager: “Half this game is ninety percent mental.”
  • A former U.S. Vice-President: “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”
  • Another former U.S. Vice-President: “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.”
  • A collegiate ROTC instructor: “We don’t necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.”
  • An Australian government official: “Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.”
  • The Department of Social Services in a U.S. city: “Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”

A well-known adage is this: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Proverbs 21:23 says: “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut and you will stay out of trouble.” And David said in Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Think before you speak! What you say and how you say it does make a difference!

Have Courage! Be Kind!

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 9.44.57 PMThere’s a very inexpensive movie theater fairly near our home. Tickets are $2.00 each. For seniors they’re $1.50. Sweet! On Wednesdays seniors get in for $1.00. Even sweeter!

Understandably, newly released movies don’t show up on the marquee right away. That’s OK. For that price, a guy like me who was raised during pretty tough economic times can wait.

So occasionally, when something interesting is being shown, I’ll meet Terry on my way home from my work day at Concordia University Texas. We’ll go to a late afternoon matinee, followed by a shared entrée at Hunan Lion, our favorite oriental restaurant.

Movie and dinner for two: Under $20. Time together with my wife of nearly 50 years: Priceless!

Last week we saw Cinderella. It wasn’t really in the same category as my favorites, like Indiana Jones or James Bond. But watching it was time well spent. Actually, it was a wonderful movie!

It’s probably not necessary to review here the plot of this classic fairy tale. Suffice it to say that the story portrays a mixture of the power of parental love, the pain of dysfunctional blended family abuse and the pleasure of romantic fantasy becoming reality.

Along with memorable scenes and remarkable animation, one of the most powerful highlights was the deathbed dialogue between Ella (later derogatorily named Cinderella by her evil stepsisters) and her biological mother. Mother asked daughter to forgive her for leaving so soon by dying. Ella obliged. Then mother advised daughter: “Have courage! Be kind!”

Good advice that Cinderella followed consistently. That included her parting words, late in the story, to her cruel stepmother, Lady Tremaine: “I forgive you.” Regardless of the reason for the pronouncement, in any context those words require both courage and kindness.

The Old Testament relates the advice of Moses to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous.” That encouragement was followed by this promise: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:7-8)

Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32)

Have courage! Be kind! Those wise and biblically based words for living are worth heeding. Even when the reminder to do so comes from a fairy tale!

More Thoughts on Fatherly Influence

Father and SonMy June 25 Perspectives article was a post-Father’s Day reflection on the importance of healthy fatherly influence. My intention was to follow it last week with another look at the same topic, but the Supreme Court decision on same-gender marriage interfered. So here we go.

Let’s begin with this question: Wouldn’t it be great if every person born into this world would be blessed with a positive paternal experience? Sadly, that’s simply not the reality.

By the grace of God some do just fine in life without the influence of a mature, responsible, godly father. In other cases, the absence of positive male parental guidance results in disrespect for authority and lack of development of proper boundaries. Not infrequently in such cases, life with minimal meaning, purpose or productivity, or something much worse, is the end result.

This topic has been researched for years, with conclusions similar to this one:

“A review of literature relevant to delinquency and adolescent behavioral and academic success revealed that there may be a correlation between a male role-model and the teaching of self-control and socially appropriate behaviors. Indeed … compared to children raised in two-parent homes, children who grow up without their fathers have significantly worse outcomes, on average, on almost every measure of wellbeing.” (Jennifer Flood Eastin: Impact of Absent Father-Figures on Male Subjects and the Correlation to Juvenile Delinquency—http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4332/)

What’s the bottom line? Consider these encouragements:

  • If you are blessed with a father who was or still is a positive role model for you of what it means to be a Christian person, especially expressing unequivocal love, care, guidance and direction in your life, thank God for that wonderful blessing!
  • If that blessed man is still alive, let him know how much his influence has meant to you. A phone call, handwritten note, email or text message will make his day!
  • If you are a father, do not underestimate the importance of your presence, attention and guidance in the life of your child, regardless of his or her age. A loving, caring, affirming, encouraging, godly father (and mother) are the most important people in a person’s life.
  • Speaking of mothers, if you are a father, do not underestimate the lasting impression on your child made by the way you love, respect and cherish your wife. Especially in relationships between husbands and wives, actions speak louder than words!
  • In relating both to spouses and to children, remember the adage: Wives and children spell love T-I-M-E!

It’s my prayer that your life has been molded and shaped by a positive paternal experience. If so, join me in thanking God for the lifelong influence of a good and godly father! If that’s not the case, don’t hesitate to let me know. Perhaps I can help.

A Simple Question

Question MarkBefore getting to this week’s topic, a note about two very important events observed this week:

  • July 4 is Independence Day in America. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. America has been called “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” That distinction is being challenged these days. God bless America!
  • July 5 is the 21st birthday of Terry’s and my dear grandson, Kolby Ryan Keith. He’s a very fine young man who brings much joy to his family and to many other people. God bless you, Kolby! Mimi and I love you very much!

Now to A Simple Question. Lots of bad things happened last week and, so far, this week:

  • The savage and satanic killing of nine Christian women and men in a Charleston church.
  • The massacre of at least 39 people, mostly foreigners, on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia.
  • The mid-air explosion of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after Cape Canaveral liftoff.
  • A 350 point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • The Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states of the U.S.

The Supreme Court ruling drew lots of attention. Almost immediately after its release, religious and political leaders from the U.S. and other parts of the world offered their opinions. Some were emotional. Some were rational. Some were theological. Some were political.

Rather than add a lengthy opinion to that growing body of literature, I suggest we consider one simple question. Carried to its logical conclusion, if same-sex marriage someday replaces traditional marriage, either totally or essentially, from whence will the next generation(s) come?

God ordained marriage as a special, lifelong union of one man and one woman. His plan includes the natural order of procreation by which the population of the world is replenished by the fertilization of an egg from the body of a woman by a sperm from the body of her husband.

Artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, both still requiring egg and sperm and both including their own set of moral and ethical questions, are the current options. In the future, watch the soaring value of companies that specialize in those procedures.

Hard decisions for church and clergy may very well lie ahead. In the meantime, the church needs to continue to be the church, proclaiming the Word of God in all its truth and purity. That includes the miracle of God’s grace, his undeserved love and forgiveness for sinners—male and female, young and old, black and brown and white, heterosexual and homosexual.

The church should never condone what God’s Word considers sinful. Nor is it our place to judge, a responsibility reserved for God alone. Here’s one Law and Gospel reality: When we think someone else does not deserve God’s grace, we need to remember that neither do we.

Especially at this time of previously unthinkable developments, Lord, have mercy!