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July 31, 2017

Defining Your Life

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash…

Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, first-hand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”

Philippians 3: 7-8 (The Message)

I have a couple of questions for you today to think about: What defines you? What defines your life?

Consider this—in any given season of collegiate or professional sports —whether college or professional football teams preparing for the fall season, Major League baseball in its stretch run these last few months for the playoffs, or basketball just around the corner—teams begin the year with a focus on being the last one standing with the championship trophy.

In college, hundreds of teams in all divisions begin the year with a dream of being that one. In MLB, the NFL, NBA, the National Hockey League, and others—only one outcome is acceptable and after a time changes occur when it doesn’t occur. And winning, standing at the end of the season, at the end of the day, and even standing at the end of our lives with the trophy in hand—begins to define us and our lives.

And unfortunately, it begins to weave itself into the day-to-day journey of our lives, and begins to define the decisions we make, the roads we take, the schedules we follow, and the people we spend time with. And it begins to happen each and every day of our lives in every setting. Doesn’t it? (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

July 24, 2017

A Golden Calf?

 Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me…” Exodus 20: 1-3 (ESV)

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

Exodus 32: 1-4 (ESV)

How are you doing with your idols? Don’t have any? Great.

The scripture set out above in Exodus 20, is one of the many moments of conversation which God and Moses had in the journey of the Israelite nation toward the Promised Land.

Here, Moses had now gone up onto Mount Sinai to learn even more from the Lord. To spend some time with the Lord he loved, as God laid out for him the laws and expectations He had for his people, that the Lord would expect Moses to share with the Israelites.

Laws, directions, and expectations—all for their good.

But this time, Moses was gone a bit longer than their patience would allow, and the Israelites were feeling insecure again. And they resorted to their favorite pastime—whining. Moses was their leader, and represented God to them, and they needed him there, they needed him to follow, to go before them, to be with them. But where was he? (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

July 17, 2017

God Moments in the Basilica

 Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you…

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Matthew 25: 34-35, 37-38, 40 (ESV)

It was an unexpected moment which could have gone a number of ways. I suspect everyone who noticed wondered any number of things. Perhaps they thought—was he invited? Did he belong here? What should we do? Would he cause a problem?

Society has wired us that way. There are things that are supposed to fit a certain way, and then, of course, there have to be things that don’t fit. There are rules, doctrines, dogma, expectations, certain ways of proper behavior and decorum and etiquette. But Christ, in the passage above, talks about those things that don’t seem to fit, the least in society, and our response.

The unexpected moment was reminiscent of the opening scene in Charles Sheldon’s classic novel “In His Steps.” The man described in that scene by Sheldon looked as out of place as our late arriving guest at the wedding the other day. It was a beautiful wedding of a young man and young lady from families of dear friends. It was held in a beautiful Catholic Basilica. The bride was radiant in her white gown, the groom dressed as you would expect, and the wedding party also. The family and friends in attendance were all traditionally dressed in appropriate business or church attire. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

July 10, 2017

Rope Bridges and the Father’s Hand

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying,

Oh, that You would bless me indeed,

And enlarge my territory,

That Your hand would be with me…” 1 Chronicles 4: 9-10a (NIV)

The skies seem as though they will be blue and clear as morning begins to break over the area. A beautiful reminder of yesterday’s celebration of the eighteenth birthday of our elder granddaughter, Hannah.

Celebrating her life yesterday reminded me of a time many years ago when Lynda and I visited Busch Gardens in Tampa with our son, Nathan, daughter-in-law, Amy, and our only granddaughter at the time, Hannah. It was a glorious day being there with them, and in particular seeing all the exhibits and the animals through the eyes of our precious granddaughter. At one point during our visit, we came upon one of those huge playground areas with ladders, slides, rope walkways and hiding places, all of which towered above the walkway below. By the excited words Hannah began to say, and watching her bolt toward the apparatus, we knew we were going to be there for awhile.

Hannah, under her own power and by her own initiative, not needing my help—although close at hand—began to climb one of the ladders that led to a landing and then made her way up the wooden platforms and stairs, around and around, to the very top. You could tell she was very pleased with herself. (more…)

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts

July 3, 2017

The Day the Stars Danced

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

When America was created the stars must have danced in the sky.”

Bernard DeNoto, Historian

From where I stood, he seemed to be an ordinary fellow. He must have done this a thousand times before for other visitors to the National Archives, I thought, yet the passion in his voice was fresh and new as he read from the original document before us—

When in the course of human events…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

I found myself standing a bit taller as his voice began to soar while reading those inspiring words—

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world…do…solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;…”

And as the curator concluded this memorable moment for us, his expression seemed to claim the words he finished with, as if they were his own—

And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

I will never forget the moment, of many memorable moments, from that pilgrimage to our Nation’s capital, introducing our son, then a teenager, to some of the history of our Nation. As we listened to the curator proudly explaining and pointing out some of the notable things about the Declaration of Independence—which was encased in a secure vault within our National Archives along-side the Constitution of the United States of America—chills and tears flooded my emotions. It was clear that what was before me was not just any document, but a legacy of ideals and determination lived by those who embraced the Divinely inspired vision upon which this great Country was established.

Before me was a document representing the lifeblood of valiant and decent patriots. One, whose fingerprint—darkening through the ages—could be seen on that document permanently etched there as he leaned over that document to pen his name, knowing that by signing that great document he was putting his life on the line and that he stood to lose all that he had, including his wife and his children. But for the sake of all that he believed in and all that he held dear—especially his wife and children—he signed it.

And on this week in our journey as citizens of the United States of America, I wonder if we are up to the same sacrifice of those fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Farmers, planters, merchants, lawyers, doctors, who when they signed that noble document knew full well that if they were captured by the British it would mean the death penalty. But they still signed it, because they had a dream for the future of this Nation, and because—no matter what you may hear to the contrary in some circles today—they had a deep faith in God. I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what happened to them. I wonder if you realize the price they had to pay to establish this sweet land of liberty for you and for me.

Five of the signers were captured by the British as traitors, imprisoned and tortured. Twenty had their homes ransacked and burned. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from the wounds or the hardships of the War for Independence. One, a shipper and planter, saw his ships swept from the sea by the British navy, he sold his home to pay his debts and died bankrupt. One was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family constantly and keep hiding. His possessions were taken from him and he was reduced to poverty. British soldiers looted the property of several others of the signers.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., seeing that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home as his headquarters, quietly ordered his troops to open fire—the home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. Another, Francis Lewis, saw his wife jailed by the British and she died from the hardships of that prison within a few months. Another was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying, their thirteen children fled for their lives, his fields were destroyed, and for more than a year he lived in forest and cave, returning home after the war to find his wife dead and his children forever vanished.

These were not wild ruffians. These were men of means, educated men, but men who loved liberty more than they valued their own lives. They paid the price for us. They paid the price beginning at Bunker Hill, and Lexington, and Concord, and down through Valley Forge. These men—who with burlap wrapped around their feet, and their muskets held under their tattered garments to keep them dry from the winter—they paid the price for us. And that’s what the day which we celebrate this week is about; to remember them and the vision of America they set before us. They made the first payment, and that payment has been kept up-to-date throughout our history.

And the duty for the future has been laid at our doorstep to keep those payments current.

Will it be worth the sacrifice? Those who have gone before have answered that question with their lives. Their answer was—Yes!

I am confident that we will do the same, knowing that the future of our Nation and the civilized world depends on that payment being kept-up-to-date.

And as we celebrate the 4th of July this week—the stars still dance in the sky, as God still blesses America.

In His Name—Scott

Copyright 2017. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 6:00 am
Filed under: Thoughts
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