Monday, August 31, 2009

The book of First Opinions

A former pastor often made reference to this book. Though we’ve never seen it, we all know of it and hear it quoted occasionally—sometimes even by preachers.
A short time ago, my wife and I heard a pretty decent sermon (just for the record, not in our own church) based on Ez. 33:3 “…warn the people….” It was really a pretty good message warning about the realities of Hell, consequences of a godless life and a couple other things right out of Scripture. But then the preacher digressed. Instead of quoting, or even paraphrasing the Bible, he went into an area of opinion, and used unreferenced sources for information that seemed to me a bit on the shaky side.
When we hear a sermon it should resonate with the truth of Scripture! There should be no other authority than that of God’s Word itself. There is certainly room for opinion from the pulpit—indeed that makes one preacher different that the other; but opinion should be expressed for what it is: the belief of that person, and it should be backed up by Biblical principles. The absolute authority of what comes from the pulpit should be Scripture and Scripture alone. Other information should be given for what it is. If it's fact, reference the source; opinion or statement, do the same. Failing to do so can lead to a misinterpretation of the information as all being from the same source.
I’m not trying to castigate this particular preacher because he’s really a good man, and has been used of God to work in the lives of many folks in his area; besides, probably all preachers and all Christians (at least the outspoken ones) fall into the same trap on occasion, but I’m sensitive to the fact that preachers and pastors play an extremely important role in the lives of God’s people. Generally, they are working hard to impress upon their people what God has impressed upon them, but sometimes make their personal convictions—which God may well have laid upon their hearts—doctrine to be held by all.
I’ve seen that happen in other places where over a period in time the pastor’s decisions dictated the way his people lived, even to the point of choosing jobs or mates for some of their congregants. That’s a dangerous situation. A good pastor should give the Biblical facts, in all cases pointing out sin for what it is, and then let the Word penetrate the heart. Then each man and woman can make decisions for him/her self.
At least that's my opinion!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Do What You Do Best

The other evening, I was following a friend on a secondary road along the edge of a lake. Two classics (or so we'd like to think), running two classics---that's two middle aged guys, one in a marginally antique Corvette (he calls it Red), one on a Harley Davidson (which a friend nicknamed Harvey) of similar vintage. It was a perfect mid-summer evening with just a few clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky.

I was on the bike following the 'Vette and was enjoying watching the way the old car held that winding road. Though we were not going fast--pretty much holding to the 45 mph speed limit--it stuck to the road like it was on rails. I was in something of sweet spot behind the car and could hear the well tuned small block's subdued, but mellow tone. My bike was purring like it was designed to, making that distinctive "potato, potato" sound that only the V-twin makes, and was smoothly and powerfully executing the turns, dips and hills as we made our journey--a "real" car and "real" motorcycle running the roads. The sounds, blended together with the evening and the scenery made for a special ride. Along the way it occurred to me that in some ways we were doing what we were designed to do. Machines are meant to serve their masters, and men to control their machines. This was one of those moments that went perfectly for both man and machine.

Further introspection got me thinking deeper into the whole thing. Red and Harvy are both still able to do their jobs--and both are used often as means of regular transportation and pleasure; however a newer model car and a newer model motorcycle will out perform, out ride and generally just give better results. They're more powerful, have better suspensions and are loaded with better technology than either of the machines my friend and I own and enjoy.

I've been in my profession for over thirty years now, and though I like to believe that I'm still able to do my job well, I'm well aware that the newer officers are a different breed. They have better training than my generation had, have more tools at their disposal than I had when I started, and get the benefit of watching actual videos of police officers doing their jobs right--and sadly, doing them wrong also.

I'm also aware that I don't have the endurance I once had. As a matter of fact, this state of semi-retirement I'm in fits my endurance level very well. I just can't do some of the things a younger officer can do, or can't do it well for as long. Twentyfive hour weeks or so are just about what the doctor orders at this point, not the 40, 50, or even 60 hours I once worked. The years have given me expience and wisdom that the younger folks don't have, but maybe that's why this "classic" and a few like me still enjoy working are well received by those younger men and women. We share the war stories and thereby teach some of the things we learned the hard way so their lessons might be easier, their bumps and bruises lessened a bit.

Sometime in the future, the day will come that the old Harley and the old 'Vette will be used less often, and relegated to being ridden in parades and special events, not used for everyday travel. So it will be with us. Though I will always feel like a cop--and I use the term proudly--there will be a time I'll be unable to do the job; I'll either be a danger to myself or to the others I'll be with. I pray that I'll have the wisdom to know when that is. Though there still might be places I can contribute, they'll be fewer and far between.

I hope that day comes a long time from now. Maybe when it does, I'll polish up Harvy and just ride in the parades. Hopefully I can find my friend and Red to go along for the ride. Men and machines, doing what they do best.