Broken People Can’t Help but Break Things

When I was younger my understanding of the gospel was that it was for law breakers. God had given his laws, people had knowingly broken them, and God sent his Son to pay the penalty for law breakers on the cross. This is all accurate, but it is incomplete. Now that I’m older and wiser, (though the wiser part is debatable), my understanding of sin and sinners has changed.

Sinners are indeed rule breakers, (I’m one of them), but even more so, sinners are broken. Sinners are people who don’t work properly. Their minds are broken, their hearts are sick, and their entire being is crippled as a result of the Fall of man, (Genesis 3). John Newton said in the hymn Amazing Grace that “I was blind, but now I see.” That wasn’t just a nice sentiment to throw into the song, it was perfectly on target with the Scriptures. Like an Iphone dropped from a twenty story building, sinners are broken.

Like Newton said, a non-Christian is blind. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” (2 Corinthians 4:4). They cannot understand the things of God. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” (1 Corinthians 2:14). By their very nature they reject God, his law, and all the things God has given for their benefit, i.e. his Word, his Son, and his people, (just look at how the world treats the Church and the Jews). The non-Christian doesn’t do these things because they are jerks, but because they are naturally bent against God in their hearts. “For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires…The mind governed by the flesh is death…The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so,” (Romans 8:5-7, edited).

We live a world which has collectively lost its mind because the people living in the world, for the most part, are literally crazy. By their very nature they can’t think, feel, or love properly. Now up is called down. Wrong is declared right. What is depraved is applauded while what is good and sacred is condemned. All of this should cause the Christian to grieve, pray, and get angry. The world around us is being burned to the ground and the lost person doesn’t realize they are the ones holding the matches. But we must remember who we’re dealing with. Yes, the actions and belief systems of the lost are destructive and horrible, but they’re simply broken and enslaved to sin, the devil, and his will. They are slaves to the evil one.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind…,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The unsaved are law breakers, to be sure, and God will judge all accordingly, but the reason they are law breakers is because they are broken. Sin has made them crazy, blind, and enslaved, just as it did to us before Christ saved us. A non-Christian can no more keep from destroying themselves and the world around them than a forest fire can keep from burning down the home of Smoky the Bear.

So what, I hear you say? (Because I have very big ears and I can hear through the internet). So rather than view the lost merely as law breakers, view them as broken. Rather than view them with antagonism and anger, view them with compassion and pity. They need a Savior who can cause them to be born anew with a new mind and a new heart, (John 3). They need a Savior who can give them a new life which isn’t enslaved to sin and the devil, (Romans 6:5-8). View the unsaved, even as they destroy the world around them, with tremendous compassion and pity. They are, just as we were, lost and broken. We are no better, only redeemed and renewed by the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for the broken. Reach out them and love them. Share the gospel. Be angry at their stupidity and insanity, but always remember that they are, by their very nature, ruined enslaved to sin and the devil. In many ways they cannot help themselves. They need the gospel. They need new life. They need deliverance, not only from the penalty of sin, (hell), but from the power and enslavement of sin which has ruined their hearts and minds.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” – John Newton.

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Prayer. It’s frustrating.

christ-asleep-in-his-boat-jules-joseph-meynierI don’t like prayer.

There. I said it.

Why, you ask?

If I have a bad day at work I can come home and ask my wife for a hug. Immediately she will throw her arms around me and tell me it’s going to be okay. If my car breaks down I can go to a mechanic who will look under the hood and within an hour will tell me what’s wrong. If I’m sick I can go to the doctor and that same afternoon I will get a response about my diagnosis and get a prescription to make me feel better. If I’m hungry I can go to Wendy’s and get a tasty #2 value meal within 5 minutes. In each of these situations I have a need, a hunger, or a problem and I can get a response within a short period of time.

Then there’s prayer and God’s response time.

Let’s just say it leaves something to be desired. When you and I have heartache or loss we want the Lord to be with us in the time it takes to get a meal from a fast food restaurant. We want answers to our questions in the time it takes to send a text message. Our friends and loved ones answer quickly, so why not God? Our society is geared around quick and efficient responses, so why doesn’t the Lord work in the same way?

He doesn’t though. I know parents who have prayed for years for their wayward children to return to God and to their families, but nothing has happened, (yet). I have friends who have cried out in their pain, with tears rolling down their eyes, but God does not answer in a timely fashion. In my own life I can think of prayers which I prayed for over 10 years with nothing to show in return, (as far as I can see). If my friends called to me for help and I acted the way God did, then I wouldn’t have many friends. If my wife poured out her heart to me and I ignored her tears then I would consistently be sleeping on the porch. So how is it that God can act in ways which we could never get away with? Is this how he shows he cares for us? With silence?

And yet we’re called to pray! We’re called to engage in an activity where we typically get no sudden response and our needs are not met, (seemingly). How crazy is that?

At this point the writer in me feels the temptation to tie this up in a neat little bow with a helpful theological answer, but that just wouldn’t be honest. I don’t understand prayer or God’s ways. All I can say is I’m learning. I’m learning prayer is so far beyond my own perception and expectation. It involves waiting, sometimes a very long time, and trusting God knows what he’s doing as I wait. I’m learning it means pouring out my heart to Him and trusting that He loves me, even if he doesn’t respond like my wife or friends would. It means continually coming and asking, like the widow in Jesus’ parable, even when God appears to be like the disinterested judge. I’m learning his response time is not on par with the 21st century, maybe with good reason.

I’m learning to cling to truth in the meantime, that He has made everything beautiful in his time, (not mine). He allows us to feel like we’re drowning, like David in the Psalms and the disciples in Mark 4, so we can be drawn closer to Him and know him in a deeper and more profound way. I’m learning not to trust myself, my feelings, or my thoughts, because they will deceive me. I’m reminded of how much I need solid men and women to speak truth into my life when I doubt God’s goodness. I’m learning to remind myself of truth through God’s Word, that He loves me and He’s better at running the universe than I am.

In the meantime the waiting still stinks, and I still don’t like it.

Parenting & the Secret Service

SS1My wife and I can’t hit bull’s eyes on gun targets, we don’t wear cool shades, don’t have fancy com-links in our ears, and we don’t protect high ranking members of political society, but we do have the unique training required to be members of the Secret Service.

Really all parents do. Unless you’re a parent who has never taken their children out in public, you are a highly trained in observing and protecting precious cargo, and you didn’t even have to take a 6 hour lie detector test to get the job. Parents are trained in observing, protecting, and communicating effectively to protect and preserve their children.

Let me give you an example. My wife and I took our kids out in public where they were offering free food and free bounce houses. (Trained agency wives know how to find these wonderful events). When entering this crowded spectacle with our children, my wife and I instantly went into SS mode, protecting #1, #2, and #3, (the children’s code names).  Continue reading

The 7 Stages of Long Trips with Children

DoctorGoing on a long car trip with your kids? Planning that big vacation to the beach, grandma’s house, Disney, or that random relative you have in Kansas?

Are you worried or stressed? Concerned about how y0ou, your spouse, and your children are going to handle all of those miles in the car together? Well Doctor Travis is here to help. I’m going to share with you the 7 stages of long trips with children. Knowing these stages will help you be better aware of what’s to come and plan your trip accordingly.

Stage One: Unbridled Optimism – “Yay! We’re going to Disney/Grandma’s/the Beach! What fun we’re going to have! We’re on vacation! Family memories will be made!

In stage one everyone is happy, excited, and blissfully unaware of the difficulty of what’s to come. This will be the best part of your trip by far.

Doctor Travis says: Enjoy stage one as long as possible.Savor your unrealistic expectations now because it won’t last long. Children can ruin stage one in the time it takes to drop a drink on the floor of the van or hit their sister in the face with a stuffed animal.

Stage Two: Settling In – “Okay people we’ve got six hours to go. Get out your drawing pad/books/toys. No, we’re not stopping; we just left the house.”

In stage two the driver of the vehicle has settled into cruise control, the GPS is set on your destination, and the other parent is trying to get the children to bunker down for the trip. If a parent has planned well the children will now have their hands full of games, snacks, activities, and other distractions guaranteed to keep them occupied for at least the next 5 minutes.

Recommendation: Accept the fact children will fight against stage two. They don’t want to settle in. They just want to get there. Here we begin the annoying question you’ll hear for the next 5 and a half hours. “Are we there yet?” Accept this annoyance, it’s not going to stop. Ever.

Stage Three: Interruptions  – “I’ve gotta go to the bathroom. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. Are we there yet? I don’t like this movie! My stomach hurts. So and so touched my foot.”

Now things begin to go downhill.

Kids are no longer interested in their toys. Their bladders, which you made sure to empty before you left, are miraculously full again. You end up having to stop at a seedy gas station and what should be a 5 minute rest stop turns into a 20 minute disaster. If you’re lucky you won’t reach stage three for at least an hour. If God has poured out his favor on your trip, then maybe you make it an hour and a half. More realistically, you could reach stage three in 30-45 minutes.

Doctor Travis says: Buy yourself your favorite candy bar and drink, (non-alchoholic, remember you’re still driving), to console yourself.

fatigueStage Four: Weariness – “Are we there yet? Why is this taking so long? Why did you take this road? What is that smell in the backseat?

Now fatigue has set in. You’ve still got a long way to go, but you’re sick of driving. Your body aches from sitting in one position for so long. Parents get chippy with one another. The children are in outright revolt in the back seat. If you’re lucky you’ve got some sort of DVD player they can watch, but even that is no guarantee of relief. You can only pacify your kids for so long.  Every mile mocks you with how far you have left to go.

Recommended Prayer:”Help me Jesus not kill my children, wife, husband, dog, or other drivers on the road. Amen.”

Stage Five: Losing It – “Ha ha, hee hee, Woo hoo!

Here you start laughing uncontrollably. The stress of the trip has worn down your brain so much that you sort of lose your mind. You don’t care anymore. Anything and everything can and will be funny in stage five. This is one of the better parts of the trip because it can lead to great memories of you and the kids doing absolutely ridiculous things and making everybody laugh.

My thoughts: Enjoy it. Entering stage five means you’re probably almost there, but you still have…

Stage Six: Zombieland – “………………………………………………….

The laughter is gone. The movies have been watched. The snacks have been eaten. All your CDs have been played. Your brain is fried. The children are whimpering in the backseat. Your body feels gross and stiff. The dog may or may not have thrown up in the back, but at this point you don’t care. Everyone is staring blankly at the road ahead, which drags on and on and on…You’re wondering whose idea was it to go on vacation in the first place.

Recommendation: Hey don’t look at me. This was your idea.

we-made-it-001-e1403402026904Stage Seven: You made it – “Everybody get out.”

Congratulations. You survived. Now go and enjoy your trip. But don’t enjoy it too much.

Remember, there’s still the ride home.

In Response to Dallas

Dallas policeOn Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,

And cast a wishful eye,

To Canaan’s fair and happy land,

Where my possessions lie.

 

All o’er those wide extended plains

Shines one eternal day;

There God the Son forever reigns,

And scatters night away.

 

(Chorus) I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

 

No chilling winds, nor poisonous breath

Can reach that healthful shore;

Sickness, sorrow, pain and death

Are felt and feared no more.

 

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

I am bound, I am bound,

I am bound for the promised land.

 

When shall I reach that happy place,

And be forever blessed?

When shall I see my Father’s face,

And in his bosom rest? (Repeat Chorus)

 

– Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

 

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, hymn written by Samuel Stennett. Photo Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News / AP.

The Mystery of Children

MysteryToday let us examine one of the great mysteries considered by parents everywhere. It’s one of the truly baffling baffles which ever baffled a baffler, (shout-out to Dr. Seuss). Scientists have pondered. Investigators have investigated. Physicists have physicized. Journalists have journaled. Politicians have put forth legislation. Instructors have instructed. All around the world the great and mighty, the high and low, have tried to sort out this mystery, but none are able to solve it, to address this issue, and answer the parent’s question:

Why do my children act this way? Continue reading

Abraham, the writer, talks to God

[Today’Abraham%20on%20the%20plains%20of%20Mamre%20(Grant%20Romney%20Clawson,%20(c)%20IRI)s blog features quotations from the THNSIWV Bible, i.e. The Travis Hendley, Not So Inspired  Writer’s Version, Genesis 18:20-33.]

And the Lord spoke to Abraham the writer and said, “Abraham, I’ve seen you slacking off on your writing. I want you to keep writing, blogging, and otherwise perfecting your craft as a writer. By the way, I’m about to wipe out Sodom.”

Abraham: “Whoa, stinks for Sodom. Would you mind rescuing Lot, my cousin?”

The Lord: “Yes, I’ll take care of Lot, but don’t change the subject. Get back to writing on a regular basis.”

Abraham: “But Lord, if there are only 30 people who read my blog, should I continue to write?” Continue reading