hal

Be Like Jesus, Not Daddy

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

I love my kids, and I think I know what’s best for them, just like I think I know what’s best for me.  I think I know the decisions that they should make, and the things they should value, and the sins and temptations that are coming for them down the road.

So I sometimes tell them what they should do, and what I would do, and how to prepare for what lies ahead.  And it’s good that I do this.  We’re supposed to be having these discussions.  This is parenting.

But in the midst of all this instruction and teaching, there is a danger for them.  And the danger is that they’ll hear my counsel and my wisdom and my experiences, and what they’ll take away from all of that knowledge is, “I should do my best to be like Daddy.”

And there’s something heartwarming about that, isn’t there?  There’s something loving and respectful and utterly innocent about the little boy who looks up at his dad and says, “I want to be just like you, Dad.”  Or the little girl who sees her mom trying to hold things together and completely stuns her with the words, “Mommy, I want to be just like you someday.”

Kids don’t realize how fragile we are.  They see us as confident decision-makers.  They see us with control and command of a situation.  They have no idea what’s really going on in our heads and our hearts.

What if, with all of our counsel and wisdom that we give them, the message I end up mistakenly communicating is, “Just be like me”?  That’s not the right message.

The message they need is, “Just be like Jesus.”

So, officially and for the record, here are three ways that I hope my kids will model Jesus instead of Reggie. (And yes, I realize the potential for such a list is infinite.)

1.  Don’t look for joy in games and sports like Dad did.  Experience real joy in seeking God’s kingdom.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Mat. 13:44)

Jesus gave all that He had for the kingdom of heaven, and He did it for joy – real joy, not the kind of fake joy that ends when the video game’s over or the sports are done.  The joy of God’s kingdom is eternally satisfying.  It is genuine and fulfilling.  It doesn’t leave you empty, looking for another game or another league.  It doesn’t disappoint.  It’s not ruined by pulled hamstrings or computer crashes.

It’s real!  That’s the joy I want for them.

2. Don’t look for peace or power or satisfaction in money like Dad did.  Find all of those things (and so much more) in God.

“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1 Tim. 6:9)

Money will not protect you from catastrophe.  It will not immunize you to cancer.  Insurance for your house, car, life, and health may be wise and prudent, but if your peace rests in your bank accounts and insurance policies, then you’ve built your life on sand.  And when the tide comes in, and when it strikes at the foundation of your life, you will crumble.

The power and satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that money affords will not be worth the cost when you stand before the Lord and give an account of all that you’ve done.

So make money.  Make as much money as you honorably can.  But don’t keep it.  Don’t horde it.  And, for the sake of your own soul, don’t trust in it.  It will fail you.  It will fail you every time in the end.

Use your money with a vision of eternity in Heaven.  You will be glad that you did.

3. Don’t lie to yourself about your own sinfulness like your Daddy did.  Humble yourself, confess your sins, and see Jesus for the Savior that He is.

Jesus has always been honest about my sin, even when I wasn’t willing to be.

I understand that you hate your sin.  But denying that it’s there won’t help you.  Turning a blind eye to it, or (worse) trying to justify it, will only hurt you and those you love.  Ignoring or justifying sin rips a hole into the heart of the gospel.

If you can’t see your sin for what it is, then you won’t see your Savior for who He is.

Paul wrote, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim. 1:15)

You cannot fight an enemy until you admit that he’s there.  You cannot fight against the power of sin in your life until you recognize its presence (confession), assess your own strength (salvation by grace alone), and attack it at its core – those evil desires that have tricked you into thinking they’ll give you something good.

Jesus will never lie to you about your sin.  He’s given His life to save you from it and all its ugly consequences.

So Halle, Ashlynne, Jocelyn, Reggie, and Evelyn – don’t be like Mommy or Daddy when you grow up.  Don’t set your sights so low.  Be like Jesus, and never see me or your mother for more than what we are:  chief sinners, saved only by the blood of our cross-carrying King of kings.

hal

pirates2

Pirates Attack Lumber Liquidators

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

Something happened Sunday night.  Pirates tried to kill Lumber Liquidators.  By the time the sun came up, the Lumber Liquidators ship was sinking fast.  Now they’re bailing water, and preparing to fight back.

Let me explain.

In case you don’t know, Lumber Liquidators is a company that sells flooring.  They sell it out of storefronts, and they sell it online.  It’s been a huge success.  My wife and I bought flooring for most of our house through their website then picked it up at a local store.  So have a lot of other people.  The company’s stock price has been a bit of a roller-coaster, but very profitable.

Then came Sunday night’s episode of 60 Minutes.  The CBS reporting juggernaut that prides itself in its investigative journalism ran a segment on Lumber Liquidators, and boy was it bad news for the company!  According to 60 Minutes, Lumber Liquidators has been selling tons of laminate flooring that contains unreasonably high levels of formaldehyde – the stuff that causes asthma, leukemia, and other kinds of cancer!

Just stop for a second and ask yourself:  if I wanted to ruin a company, what would be the worst possible story I could come up with to absolutely destroy them?  Could I come up with ANYTHING that compares to the story 60 Minutes reported?

I mean, if the report from 60 Minutes is true and can be proven in a courtroom, this is the end of Lumber Liquidators.  It would be better for them to be caught in the middle of a prostitution ring than to be knowingly selling flooring that causes leukemia and other kinds of cancer!  Can you even imagine the potential cost involved with removing all the laminate flooring they’ve sold, replacing it, and paying all the medical claims that would undoubtedly be made against them?

Forget it!  They’d be finished!

And, by the way, the 60 Minutes report is totally believable.  Lumber Liquidators buys most of their laminate flooring from Chinese manufacturers.  Anyone who has worked with Chinese manufacturers could tell you that the inspection process is not always on the up-and-up, and when it comes time to actually mass produce a product, every importer has essentially two choices:  the legit way, or the cheaper, somewhat-legit way.

So it’s very believable that Lumber Liquidators has been using sub-standard material in its laminate flooring and making a killing by beating out their competitors who’ve been paying (and charging) more money for the proper material.

But wait – wasn’t there something about pirates in the title of this article? Yep!

Enter into the scene the actual attackers of Lumber Liquidators, because if you thought CBS’ 60 Minutes came up with this “investigative report” on their own, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you!

See, in the financial world there are basically two types of bets.  You can either bet that a company is going to do well by buying their stock, or you can bet that a company is going to do bad by “shorting” their stock.  And without going into too much detail, let’s just say that if you’re shorting a stock, you want that company’s stock price to go DOWN, DOWN, DOWN.  And if it goes down quickly, that would be even better!

See the people who buy stock are like cheerleaders.  They root for that company.  They tell their friends how great the company is.  They cling to any good news that the company reports.

But the people who short stock are like hecklers.  They’re boo-birds.  They’re worse actually, because a heckler just stands up and screams, “You SUCK!”  But if you’re shorting a stock, you do more than stand up and scream.  You find reasons to stick the refs on them.  You accuse them of cheating.  You officially protest every win.  You wait for them in the hallway after the game and hit them in the knees with a baseball bat.

Well as it turns out, some pretty powerful people decided awhile back to short Lumber Liquidators, and they’ve launched all kinds of attacks at the company.  They’ve sued them, they’ve accused them of cheating on their financial reports, and now they’ve persuaded 60 Minutes that they might be selling cancerous death sticks instead of normal laminate flooring.

This is the equivalent of a Tonya Harding baseball bat to the knee.  This is the pirate ship that sails up alongside the unsuspecting freight-liner in the night and fires every single cannon at the same time just to see how fantastically they can sink the other ship.

And boy was it sinking this morning!  Lumber Liquidators’ stock price dropped immediately by more than 20%.  It dropped so quickly that they had to stop all trading!  That’s the kind of stuff that happens when the sky is falling and the CEO excuses himself to go jump out of the 30th-floor window.  They stopped trading!  Then they fired back at the 60 Minutes reports with everything they had.

It’s been quite the spectacle, and if you’re a private company thinking about going public on the stock exchange, you should certainly be thinking twice this morning.  After all, the pirates can essentially go after anyone they want.  It’s so much easier to run a smear campaign than to defend against one.

Now there’s a lot of different ways this could play out.  Lumber Liquidators could successfully prove that there’s nothing wrong with their laminate flooring.  If they do that, this whole fiasco is still going to hurt them because defending against these types of allegations is expensive.  The same type of thing happened to LINN Energy recently, and even after they proved that all the accusations were false, the company’s still in the tank.

Or, the pirates could actually be right.  After all, this is Wall Street.  The people who run these big companies doon occasion, lie. And if they can actually prove that Lumber Liquidators knowingly did this, then people are going to go to jail, and the company is finished.

More than likely, something in between will happen.  There probably is bad flooring out there (and maybe a lot of it), but if Lumber Liquidators can shift blame to the mills and the inspection agencies (which are certified by the state of California), they’ll take a hit as a company but survive.

However, as dramatic as all this is, one question matters to me more than anything else:  DO I HAVE CANCER-FLOORING IN MY HOME?!

Isn’t that what every other average person is wondering because of this?  And unfortunately, if I want to the know answer, it’s fairly expensive to find out!

A one-time, disposable formaldehyde test can be bought for about $100, but if you go that route, you can only test one area of your home.  Also, formaldehyde levels change with the seasons and climate, so just because your test looks good now doesn’t mean you’re safe in six months when when summer rolls around.

The other option is a formaldehyde monitor.  Just like a carbon monoxide monitor, these stay on all the time and give you an up to date measurement.  However, their are only one or two reliable ones that are made, and they cost a ton!  Like $400!

You can get a cheaper Chinese version, but isn’t that somewhat ridiculous?  Why would you buy a cheap Chinese version of a formaldehyde monitor to test the cheap Chinese version of flooring that got you into trouble in the first place?  If you can’t trust the flooring, how good are you going to feel about that monitor?  This is CANCER we’re talking about!

Now I could go on and on and on about financials and sickness and companies and testing devices, but for me – that’s not the point.  At the end of the day I’m going to do what I have to do to check the air in my home and hope for the best.

The real point of this whole article is just to say that last night, when I went to sleep, I had no idea that I was potentially breathing cancerous formaldehyde air into my lungs.  I didn’t know my children might be breathing cancerous air.  I didn’t know any of this even existed as a potential danger.  Formaldehyde, in my mind, was just the stuff that smelled horrible in biology class when we dissected things.

And now?  Well…now I have reason to be concerned, and it makes me wonder:  how does anyone survive in this world without a faithful relationship with God that they can rely on and trust?

We are so ignorant to the details of 99.999% of the things that we do on this earth.  I’m a person who tries to be informed, and I’m still no better off than most anyone else.  If I can’t trust that God’s in control and working all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), then I don’t know how in the world I’d keep from worrying myself to death.

I would have to constantly distract myself with television, movies, sports, parties, the internet, social media, games, adventures, relationships, drugs or some combination of all those things just to keep myself from dwelling on the fact that at any moment I could be stricken with cancer from something as innocent as a flooring selection I made three years ago!  And I guess that’s exactly what people do!  They don’t think about danger and death until they have to!

Well, this morning a whole bunch of people woke up and realized that now they have to.  Thanks a lot, 60 Minutes.  Thanks a lot, Lumber Liquidators.  Thanks a lot, stupid pirates!

pirates2

 

The-Patriot-movies-72629_1024_768

The Patriot

This evening, after I’d finished going through the sermon and preparing for tomorrow morning’s service, I laid down on my couch to relax.  I wanted to watch something.  Not something funny or lighthearted – no, I wanted to watch something that mattered.

(As a side note I think this is why people love sports as much as they do.  For all the colors and cheerleaders and jokes and bloopers, sports feel like they matter because they’re real.  They’re not actors playing on a stage.  In the best of moments, the passion and the heart of the athlete shines through in a way that feels meaningful.  This resonates with what we’re really looking for in entertainment…or in life, for that matter.)

I briefly looked through a slew of movies that we’ve collected over the years, mostly lighthearted ones that any child could watch and chuckle at.  After all, that’s the way of things with five children in the house.

Then I stumbled upon a movie I hadn’t seen in quite some time:  Mel Gibson’s, The Patriot.

Setting aside my concern for the blood and violence and mature themes that I knew it contained, I turned the movie on, somewhat relieved when all of my children seemed totally uninterested by the opening scenes and moved on to other activities.  The movie starts with beautiful scenes of 18th century farm life, a cinematic introduction they found utterly boring.

It doesn’t stay boring for long.  Soon there are battles, villains, atrocities…there are betrayals and heroic sacrifices.  There are children experiencing the inglorious realities of war as those who love them try to keep them safe.  Homes are burnt.  Lives are lost.  And all the while the subtle theme of a greater cause underlines the narrative.

“The cause,” as it’s referred to time and again in the movie is, of course, The American Revolution.

The Patriot isn’t a perfect movie. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was panned by most historians, probably for good reason.  They would know better than I would how those events truly unfolded.  The movie is a lot of things, but a history lesson, it is not.

Yet there’s something about it that is nonetheless compelling, something far more human than historical.

There is a man, Benjamin Martin, with the weight of his former sins hanging on his conscience, fearful of what their consequences might be and aware of a divine Judge who will hold him accountable.

There is a son, Gabriel, played by the late Heath Ledger, totally committed to a cause that is greater than himself, all too willing to risk his own life (as well as others) to see victory achieved.

There is a racist, white man fighting next to a black slave, slowly realizing that the color of his skin does not make him a better man. There is a small-town pastor with a good heart (and, albeit, a questionable way of applying Scripture) who goes to war with his people.

And there is a villain, totally evil, unquestionably reprehensible in all of his unconscionable brutality.

And then there is the “the cause”, this whisper of an idea, barely spoken of throughout the movie’s dialogue, more felt than heard.  “The cause” will lead to a new world.  “The cause” will lead to liberty.  “The cause” will lead to life and happiness and relief.

“The cause” is worth dying for. And many do, in fact, die.

There’s no sex in this movie.  There’s no language to speak of, either.  It’s rated “R” for violence, and there is no shortage of that.  But as I watched the movie, and as my five children were slowly drawn into it as well, I couldn’t help but feel that a certain amount of violence was worth the principles that were being conveyed.

“Why does he keep burning the toy soldiers, Daddy?” asked my daughter, 9.

“Because those belonged to Thomas – his son who was killed.  He’s turning them into bullets.  Thomas wanted to fight in this war, so he’s using Thomas’ toy soldiers to fight with.  It would have meant something to Thomas.”

My dad would never let us watch a movie with a sex scene, and one sound of an “F-word” was a sure fire way to get something immediately turned off.  But Dad could respect the kind of violence that is necessary to convey a higher truth.  If it could help teach his two sons, my brother and I, that there were things in life worth dying for, than he could stomach a little (or, a lot) of blood.

I suppose the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

As I look back at the movies of 2014, I see super heroes and fantasies, sci-fi flicks and comedies, and some ridiculous movie about an actor who used to play a “birdman”.  It’s hard to believe that last one was the film of the year.

And while I’m sure there are a few noble character builders in the mix (many will point to American Sniper), the foul language and the sexual themes will make most of them off limits to my children.

So I miss the older movies that were rated “R”, not because of their vulgarity or their nudity or their drug use, but because they were violent…violent in a way that depicts loss as loss and sacrifice as sacrifice.  We have remnants of that in The Hunger Games and The Hobbit.  

But I wish, for all his personal faults, Mel Gibson was running to war to risk it all for the greater cause.  He’d probably need a walker or a wheelchair these days.  Such is life.

Maybe I’m just fond of reminiscing about “the good ole’ days”, but it seems that modern-day movie-making has turned away from noble character-builders.  I’m not a movie critic, so I could be wrong.  I probably am.

But here’s hoping there’s a few more like The Patriot next year and a few less like Birdman.  If somebody’s gotta’ get shot at the end of a movie, I’d like it to actually mean something.

Preaching On Money

Sermon Money Pt. 3 – Matthew 6:24 – FBC New Paris, OH 2/22/2015

 

Last Sunday I finished preaching through Matthew 6:19-24, a section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that explicitly deals with money.  It was a hard three weeks for me.  I don’t like preaching about money.

I don’t want to be associated with preachers who beg for money and promise their listeners that God will make them wealthy in return.  That’s not what the Bible says, but there are so many people preaching that message all over the world that anytime you talk about money, you risk being automatically lumped in with them.  So I don’t like doing it.

But Jesus gave a lot of instruction about money, and so, as I preach verse-by-verse through Matthew’s gospel, this subject is going to keep coming up.

So let me share four verses from the Bible that deal with money, and that lay out the warnings of Scripture in an unmistakable way.

1.  We are not supposed to desire to be rich or wealthy.

(1 Timothy 6:9) “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

Notice, Paul doesn’t say, “Those who desire to be rich might fall into temptation…”  He simply says that they do fall into temptation.  We’re not supposed to desire to be wealthy – I don’t care what Dave Ramsey or any other Christian voice tells you. Try to defend a desire for wealth and riches (on this earth) from the Scriptures and you’ll fail.

2. There is no evil that a love for money can’t lead a person to.

(1 Timothy 6:10) “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Oh, the sadness of this.

3. Don’t love money, but be content with God.

(Hebrews 13:5, ESV) “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for [H]e has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

Christian contentment comes from a heart that believes, “If I have God, I need nothing else.  God satisfies every longing He created me to desire.”

4. Lovers of money will mock what Jesus says about it.

(Luke 16:14) “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.”

When you hear Jesus say hard things about money, and you feel the desire to reason His hard sayings away so that you don’t have to listen or change, be careful.  The Pharisees heard Jesus’ money messages, and they thought He was crazy, too, because they loved their money.

Jesus would have them part ways with it; they would not.