Have you ever
watched a rowing team in action? You probably won’t see much television
coverage outside of the Olympics, but there’s always YouTube. These teams are
incredible. The amount of unity it takes to be successful in this sport is
nothing short of amazing.
Do you know how the
eight-man (or woman) teams get every single team member working together in
such perfect sync? The secret is the coxswain.
The what? The
coxswain is a member of the team (a 9th person on board an 8-man
team) who sits in the stern facing the bow (while the rowers sit with their
backs to the direction of travel). He or she is responsible for steering the
racing shell, coordinating the rhythm of the rowers, executing race strategy, giving
instructions, and encouraging and motivating the crew to give it all they’ve
got. He’s literally the coach in the boat.
If the coxswain
(pronounced “COX-en”) provides the right guidance and the team follows his
lead, then their vessel will take a straight course toward the finish line and find
But if the team
members fail to follow directions, then not only will they struggle to even
make it to the finish line, everyone will grow quickly frustrated with the
effort, the team will implode with accusations and blame, and their very safety
in the water will certainly be jeopardized.
In our nation today,
we’re like a rowing crew who’s thrown the coxswain overboard. We quit listening
to the one voice who knows the direction we need to go, who can steer us in the
right way, and who can provide all the encouragement and help we need to be
successful. Everyone, it seems, hates being told when to pull, when to take
correction, when to change pace, or when to do anything. No wonder we’re so far
When everyone thinks
he’s in charge, then nobody’s in charge. And if there’s not a single, clear, unifying
voice we all agree to listen to, then there’s no hope for unity and no hope for
victory. We’re each rowing to the beat of our own inclinations, our own
opinions, our own philosophies, our own standards of right and wrong, and the
results are becoming predictably disastrous.
Friend, the voice we
need to hear is the voice of God. It’s His Word that provides clear instruction
for our good, for our success. It’s His way that we need to follow in order to
navigate toward the goal. “This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord
proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm
The division and
disunity we’re seeing today – in the home, in communities, in our nation, etc. –
and all of the disastrous consequences thereof, can be traced at its root to
the fact that we don’t like God telling us what to do. We’d rather do whatever
seems right in our own eyes, not realizing that, “There is a way that seems
right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Let’s come together
on Thursday, May 3, and pray for unity in America. Join us on the west lawn of
the Menard County Courthouse at high noon, and let’s agree that we need to hear
the voice of God and follow His truth. Let’s tune our hearts, our minds, our
words, our attitudes, and our actions to His will. And let’s row in unity as He
calls the shots to see our nation start moving in the right direction.
Spring, O Spring,
where art thou?
It’s snowing again
in Petersburg as I write this [April 16], with a 17 degree wind chill that makes it feel
far more like February than April.
I think a great
title for a book would be, “The Spring that Never Came.” Here’s the opening line:
“With the tenacity
of a snail slugging past the Stylianos Kyriakides statue at the Boston
Marathon, winter just wouldn’t quit.”
Perhaps I should
enter that line in The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for terrible opening
sentences. I might win a pittance.
Seriously, though, I
want that 83 degree day back we had last week. Anyone else ready for a few nice
At least it’s good
to know the One who’s in charge of the weather and the seasons, the days and
nights, the sunshine and the rain, the snow and the wind – and I assure you
it’s not Cheryl Lemke. There’s not a moment that God is not fully and firmly in
control of this creation of His. He spoke it into existence and He sustains it
by the word of His power. I’m glad to know that.
Really, it takes the
worry away. Because I trust that His ways are higher than mine, His purposes
more perfect, His wisdom flawless, and His goodness unquestionable, there’s truly
no need to fret. I can’t control the weather, I can’t control what’s happening
in Syria, I can’t control what other people do, I can’t even control many
things about my own health. So what good does it do to worry?
Someone has once
said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but won’t
get you anywhere.” The Bible says that you can’t add a single hour to your life
by worrying (Matthew 6:27).
I’d rather trust
that a Sovereign God has it all under His control, and I’ll choose to rest
peacefully and contentedly in His will whether the timing, the method, or the
outcome works in the way I think it should, or not. I can only see a sliver of
the picture, like looking through a crack in the door. God sees it all,
beginning to the end, and has already written the full number of my days in His
book. And since He’s the Author of the story, I know the book unfolds for my
ultimate good (cf. Romans 8:28).
What about you? Are
you worried and troubled about things? Anxious about the “what ifs” in life?
Let me encourage you to take your burdens to the Lord in prayer. “Cast all your
cares upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
And here’s what
happens when you learn to trust God with all your stuff. “And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). If you’re looking for peace, turn to the
Prince of Peace – no matter the weather going on in your own life – and find
rest for your souls.
Oh joy, tax day is
coming quickly! Who else gets excited about filing taxes and forking over your
hard-earned money to Caesar? Yeah, me neither.
I should go back and
delete that line. I’ve been trying to cut back on sarcastic remarks for a
number of years now, but haven’t made as much progress as I’d like.
Here’s a thought: What
if we renamed April 15 “Governing Administrators Gratitude Day”? We could call
it “GAG Day,” for short. There I go again.
I know it’s easy to
bemoan the government’s wasteful spending and overreaching bureaucracy (and I’m
all for keeping our leaders accountable and our laws less intrusive), but at
the same time let’s not forget the many benefits we do enjoy as citizens of
this nation, which remain the envy of the majority of the world population.
Here then are seven
reasons to be grateful to those who serve in the government we have – at any
level, and in no particular order.
1. The protection
and service of local emergency responders. From our police presence to
firefighters and EMS workers, when there’s an emergency I am glad for those who
can arrive at the scene quickly and handle the situation. We’re blessed to be
able to call 911 and know that help is on the way. Many thanks to the likes of Dave
Coulter, Rod Harrison and Mark Oller, Patrick Rebbe, Mayor Rick Snyder, and the
countless others who serve our community well in this way.
2. Our national
defense. Terrorism is real, obviously, as are threats of war and all kinds of
security issues, and it is to our great blessing that our military provides a
strong national defense against those who would love to destroy us. To all who
now serve or have served in our Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, we say a
huge thank you!
3. Accessible transportation.
Despite the potholes you may be dodging on your way to work, the fact that we
have such open interstates, highways, bridges, back country roads, and city
streets bear evidence that our governing officials seek to keep the Monday
morning traffic moving, commerce flowing, and vacation-bound families on their
way. Add public transportation options to the mix and you see that we do have quite
a fine transportation system going here. Toll roads notwithstanding.
4. Parks. We are
fortunate to have two outstanding parks/recreation spaces in our own backyard.
Lincoln’s New Salem and Jim Edgar’s Panther Creek provide beautiful open air
venues to soak in the goodness of God’s creative glory. Or if you like to venture
out, our National Park Service and other tax-funded organizations offer a
plethora of thrilling sites all across America. I am happy to help pay to keep
our parks open.
5. Education. We’re
blessed to have wise school administrators, outstanding teachers and coaches,
good bus drivers, and all kinds of helpful and caring support personnel at the
PORTA schools. I wish they could all be paid double what they’re making now. Thank
you to all who work and serve in our local schools!
6. All the others I
don’t have space to mention, like Civil Works, Veterans Affairs, our justice
system, postal system, FDA, FCC, FEMA, and more. I have a feeling we don’t even
know how much good such governing bodies do for us.
7. We can be grateful because God ordains and
appoints the governing authorities. The Bible says, “the authorities are
ministers of God;” so, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes
are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:6-7). And if God designs and desires
government to work for the good of the people, who am I to argue?
I’ll try to remember
all this when I write out my check on April 15.
funny for you. As the new baseball season gets into full swing, I keep hearing
people talking about how the Chicago Cubs won the World Series two years ago. HaHaHaHa!
I don’t know what
medications they’re taking, but the Cubs winning the World Series?! LOL!
Impossible! It never happened, people. You’re delusional. Come on back to the
real world now, and face the facts that the lovable losers will always be
So, there were some
38,000 people who saw them win the game in person, you say? And more than 40
million who watched it on TV? And you would have me believe that another 5
million showed up in downtown Chicago for a victory parade?
Big deal. It’s a
conspiracy, folks! These Cub fans have colluded together to produce the biggest
whopper since, well, since the day the disciples of Jesus claimed that He
actually rose from the dead! In the immortal words of Vizzini, “Inconceivable!”
Now, that was quite
a ruse, wouldn’t you say? Can you imagine a man coming back to life after
having been crucified on a cross? Not likely. Do you know what crucifixion does
to a man? It sucks his life right out of him. If you could devise the most
torturous way to make a man suffer unbearable pain before killing him, you’d
crucify him. And the Romans were experts at the craft.
No, there’s no way
Jesus escaped that one. His fans likewise are delusional. They said He appeared
to them alive and well three days after being killed. They say they touched
Him, spoke with Him, and ate with Him. They say later He appeared to more than
500 people at one time. And then He was just “lifted up” to heaven in a cloud.
Poof! He’s gone! “Beam me up, Scotty!”
It never happened, people. Don’t be so naïve. Dead men don’t come back to life.
And they don’t get beamed up to heaven.
Oh, and get this. They
say He’s coming back someday as a King! Yeah, right. Like this one Jewish
rebel-rouser who was tried by the authorities and convicted as a criminal is
the “Savior of the world” and the “King of kings.” It’s foolishness. This is
the biggest scam ever, and people are still falling for it!
The only way this
could ever happen – and I mean, the only way – is if somehow God Himself came
down from heaven and took on the flesh and blood of a man. Then I suppose He’d
have authority to lay His life down, and He’d have authority to take it up
again. I guess then it would be impossible for death to hold Him down. And I
reckon the whole thing about Jesus being the “sacrifice for sins” and “the
resurrection and the life” might actually make some sense.
If He were God then
He would be the King of the world. He could have healed the sick, opened the
eyes of the blind, and cleansed the lepers. He could have turned the water into
wine, calmed the raging storm, and walked on the waves of the sea.
If He were God He
could give everlasting life to whoever believes in Him. He could turn our
mourning into joy. He could give rest to the weary, make beauty from ashes, and
replace our darkest night of despair with a peace that passes all
But that sounds
pretty ludicrous, doesn’t it? Just like the Chicago Cubs winning the World
“For the word of the
cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is
the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).