Gratitude for My Calling

While I don’t write this blog every morning, most mornings I do consider whether to write and what needs to be said. Specifically, I pray for God’s guidance. It’s easy to write a blog that critiques the government and culture—and often that’s what I believe I should do—Jesus didn’t spare His words toward the sinfulness of the culture in which he walked, particularly the hypocrisy of those who considered themselves leaders.

Yet I also want to highlight the good and help readers recognize the blessings the Lord bestows. That’s where I am today.

I think of what God allows me to do as a professor of history as I attempt to direct university students into the renewed mind that should characterize all Christians.

Take this semester, for instance. I’m teaching four courses that permit me to showcase Biblical principles.

In my historiography course, I do this quite specifically as we examine disparate worldviews in the philosophy of history and survey the various schools of historical thought over time. The Biblical worldview and the principles associated with it contrast nicely with what secularists want us to believe.

My American history survey course introduces the facts of history (of which many of the students are unaware) and shows how to evaluate what has happened in light of Biblical truths.

My course detailing the American Revolution, which should be more properly called the American War for Continued Self-Government (but that’s a topic for another time), is more than an account of battles. It deals with all the historical background that led to the conflict and reveals that the controversy had a Biblical basis.

Ending that course with an examination of the Constitution and with a book that delves into how the Founders understood issues that continue to bedevil us today is illuminating.

A new course I’m teaching is on America from 1877-1917, in which I show how the thought processes of many changed with the advent of evolutionary theory; again, that lets students know why we are where we are now. I can also lead them through an analysis of the nature of progressivism, the pros and cons of big business, and the principal leaders of the era, both positive and negative.

There’s so much talk about critical thinking in edu-crat world that the term has become nearly a meaningless cliché. I hope that my courses actually fulfill that goal.

On top of those opportunities, I participated in a forum where I could present my viewpoint on the unbiblical nature of socialism and nanny-state government. The room was packed to overflowing. While I afterwards thought of a hundred and one other things I wish I had said, the feedback on what I was able to say in a limited time has been encouraging.

There are very few institutions of higher education that allow someone with my views to openly declare them. My thanks to my institution, Southeastern University.

I’ve been free to develop specialized courses, some of which one would be hard put to find anywhere else: Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism; The Witness of Whittaker Chambers; C. S. Lewis: History and Influence.

Outside the official classroom, I’ve had other opportunities. Starting in January, I will be teaching an evening class on Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters at a local church.

Some people my age think of retirement. I’m not there, at least not seriously, despite my jokes on that subject at times. God has given me so much to do, and it is so productive, that it would be wrong to let go of it at this time.

So today I reflect with gratitude on my calling, and I continue to carry it out with enthusiasm. Thanks be to God for His great love and favor.

Why Sin Is So Sinful

I’m contemplating the nature of sin this morning. It’s not that sin is suddenly abounding in the world in a way it never has before. Sin is sin; it’s always been the problem ever since the Garden.

But when I think about the nature of sin, the complete and utter selfishness of every sinful thought and action is what comes to the forefront in my contemplation. Self-centeredness—the absurd perspective that places what we want above what God desires for us—is the height of stupidity.

We take all the potential blessings God has given us—our ability to reason, to feel, to choose—and we twist and distort those potential blessings into something horrid and destructive.

C. S. Lewis, in his Letters to Malcolm, follows this line of reasoning as well, except that he puts it in much clearer terms than I can ever hope to do:

The only way in which I can make real to myself what theology teaches about the heinousness of sin is to remember that every sin is a distortion of an energy breathed into us—an energy which, if not thus distorted, would have blossomed into one of those holy acts whereof “God did it” and “I did it” are both true descriptions.

We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege.

We take what is meant for our good and turn it into an abomination. Nearly every sin I can think of is the abuse and misuse of of what a loving God has given us.

That’s what makes sin so sinful.

If not for the amazing mercy extended to us through the Cross, we would be without hope. Why should God care so much for us? We don’t deserve His love. It truly is unfathomable.

Yet I accept it with an eternal gratitude, and I now want my life, and all the gifts God has bestowed, to be a testament to His love. May we all have that response.

A Meditation on Turning 64

On this day, as I commemorate my 64th revolution around the sun, I look back on how God has led and guided and am grateful. Many people make fun of small towns, but I’m glad I grew up in one. My neighbor children first invited me to go to Sunday School with them; that was how the Lord drew me to Himself, as I readily accepted the Word given to me.

Explo 72My undergraduate days were a time of solidifying what I believed and meeting the one to whom I have been married now for almost 43 years. I look at this picture and think, well, we haven’t changed much, have we? At least I used to think that, but when I show the picture to my students without telling them up front just who those people are, they have a hard time recognizing me. Yes, time marches on.

I’m grateful for early opportunities to work in the media, primarily as a radio announcer, which helped me develop as a speaker. Then I learned invaluable lessons as headmaster of a Christian school. The most valuable is that God continually works with us to bring us closer to Himself, even when we do our best to walk away from Him.

Bearded WonderYes, I had a time that I now consider the dark night of my soul. I wandered for some years, spiritually almost-dead, but the Lord specializes in bringing people back from the dead. This picture is rather embarrassing now, but I thought I looked really cool during this time in my life. I’m thankful for a wife who weathered all the storms and stood with me. She still does.

After the Lord redeemed me a second time, and I looked upon Him as the God of the Second Chance, more opportunities opened, and He allowed me, in spite of myself (and that’s exactly how I see it) to begin a career/ministry as a university professor. That part of my life didn’t start until I was 38. I used to joke about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that I didn’t figure it out until I was almost 40.

2001 CommencementMy experiences at a number of Christian universities have been varied, but no matter what I’ve had to learn on this journey, one thing has remained constant: God has put me here to teach students, and I have to devote myself to that task. Most of the time, it’s been a joy to do so. One of the blessings of this “later” time of my life has been the connection I’ve maintained with former students—from Indiana Wesleyan, Regent, Patrick Henry, and now at Southeastern.

SpeakingIf you compare this photo with the first couple, you can see that I’ve definitely changed. But inside, I’m still the same. I’m still someone who truly wants to serve God in whatever way He leads, and for as long as He lets me.

And you know what? I don’t feel too old yet. I sense there are many years of ministry remaining to me. Yet I know the caution in the book of James about not making plans without first saying, “If the Lord wills.” That is the attitude of my heart today.

So I celebrate the fact that God has given me another year to accomplish His will. I’ll hang around and continue to do so for as long as He wants.

A Message of Gratitude

I’ve been writing this blog for more than three years. Most days, I have no trouble thinking of something to say. I guess I just have a lot of opinions, and I’m interested in so many vitally important issues. My passion is to communicate Biblical principles and see them operating in all areas of our society.

Today, as I sit in front of my laptop, I’m a little tired. Nothing seems to be flowing. The only thing going through my mind is that I have so much for which to be grateful. I have a wife who has faced a cancer scare for most of this year, and who now has a better prognosis. I thank God for that.

I have grown children who are following God and raising families of their own. Maybe we did something right after all. We now have grandchildren who bring joy into our lives. For this blessing, I give praise to a God who loves us when we don’t deserve that love, and who teaches us what forgiveness really means.

My job is more than a job. I have a ministry of teaching, and despite the obstacles and trials of the classroom, most of the time it is fulfilling. Fulfillment is found only in doing what God has called you to do.

Materially, although we can hardly be classified as rich in the world’s eyes, we are comfortable; we lack for nothing really essential. How much of the world can say that? Yet I have grown to understand better than ever that what we have one day could easily disappear the next. We are to hold on to earthly blessings lightly. We are to have the same attitude expressed by the apostle Paul when he said:

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

So today’s post is simply a message of thankfulness. It’s a quality that needs to be nurtured in all of us.