Tag Archives: maturity

I Went to Pakistan (Part 4): Roads

I love to drive, and I love to drive fast. As a matter of fact, every automobile I’ve owned (with only a few exceptions) has been taken up to 100mph at least once. It’s just a thing I do.

Have you ever driven on a freshly paved road? Remember when in the movie “Cars” they drove around on a freshly re-paved road and loved it? That’s the kind of driving surface that cries out for speed! I love it.

And then there was Pakistan.

Rough Roads

Honestly, the roads in Pakistan were not as bad as some others on which I’ve driven (or ridden). The roads in Zimbabwe were pretty darn rough. They were so rough that guys would sit on the side of the road with air compressors and offer to air up your tires for a dollar. The roads were so bad that your tires would lose pressure!

Then there are also the roads where I live in middle Georgia. The paved roads are just fine; it’s the DIRT roads that are sometimes a challenge. There are a lot of dirt roads in middle Georgia.

However, in Pakistan the roads, on average, were not capable of sustaining any kind of speed. The only time that was possible was when one traveled on the main highway between major cities. That was as nice as a modern American highway.

Rule-less Roads

But it wasn’t the roughness or the smoothness of the Pakistani roads that stuck in my mind. No, what contributed to my PTSD was the fact that there are NO RULES!

Oh, I know what you are probably thinking. You think that I’m overreacting. You think that it’s only because I’m used to the rules of the road in my own country, that there are rules, but I was not culturally sensitive to them.

And you would be wrong. Sorry.

Look, the only – and I mean ONLY – rule I observed over the many hours my life was put in danger was that there were two directions. In other words, when you want to go somewhere in Pakistan, you go in that direction. When you are going in that direction, you and all the other people traveling in that direction are to use only one side of the road. All the people going in a different direction are to use the other side of the road. That’s it!

Oh, wait… I just thought of another one. My bad.

The only other rule has to do with who has the right of way. It’s pretty simple, though. The bigger the vehicle is the more right of way it has. It’s called the “Get out of the way or die!” rule.

Only Guidelines

Now, remind me … did I say that there were essentially only two rules of the road in Pakistan? I’m sorry for misleading you. Actually, there are no rules – they are only guidelines.

Remember how I said that you only need to stay on one side of the road? That’s not entirely true. You know those lines we have in the middle of roads that separate lanes? Not in Pakistan. No, all you have is a road. YOU decide where it is on the road you want to be, depending on who is in front of you.

Here in America, we have rules regarding when it is safe to pass another vehicle. One of the rules of which you might be familiar is “never pass when there is a double yellow line.” Not in Pakistan. When someone is slowing you down, just pass them … even if traffic is coming in the opposite direction. I mean, they will move over into the dirt when they see you coming, so do what you need to do!

Something Strange

But there is something strange about the differences between Pakistani driving and, let’s say, the way people drive in a large American city.

For example, when I drive through cities like Nashville, Chattanooga, Augusta, and Atlanta, what I see are multiple lanes of organized and heavily regulated traffic. Here there are clearly delineated lanes, traffic lights and signs, and even plenty of law enforcement to keep a watch on things.

Pakistan vs. Atlanta, GA

When I traveled on the roads of Pakistan, there were no lines, no regulations, very little law enforcement, and hardly any street/traffic lights or signs.

Yet, the whole time I was in Pakistan – no joke – I never witnessed a single accident. Not one!

THAT should make a person question a lot of things, right?

Travel down any American highway and you will see accidents all the time. Even in the most orderly and regulated settings, somebody is going to do something stupid and crash. And even if you don’t witness cars having a wreck, let somebody cut another person off and you WILL see fingers raised and maybe a little road rage.

Travel in Pakistan and you will see people weaving in and out, cutting others off, driving aggressively and pushing themselves into flow, yet you will never see anyone flipping another off or hear anyone yelling obscenities. No, what you will see is mutual respect, acceptance, understanding, and this attitude of “it’s just the way things are, so don’t get your panties in a wad.”

With all our rules, American drivers are less mature than those with no rules or regulations. Strange.

A Powerful Lesson

So, I think there is a powerful lesson to learn from all this talk about traffic. It has to do with the rules and regulations that are constantly pushed upon us and down our throats.

It’s not only America, but in most all Western nations there is this idea that the government knows best. They treat all us citizens as children, not adults, who need to have our hands held through every facet of life, especially when driving.

One of the greatest examples of this is the traffic camera. Because the government (local and otherwise) cannot trust us to drive responsibly, they put of cameras that check our speed, watch us at intersections, and generally track us wherever we go. It’s like, “I’m giving you rules to show you what you’re allowed to do, but I’m not going to trust you to make the right decisions.”

People who are treated like children will act like children.

But in Pakistan, where there are literally no lines, no lanes, no signs, no lights, and no cameras, the ones treated like responsible adults act like responsible adults – and even in the most dangerous traffic don’t have wrecks.

So, consider the following scriptures. One is from the Old Testament, while the other is from the New Testament (quoting the one from the OT).

But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. – Jeremiah 31:33
For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: – Hebrews 8:10

Where legalism exists, the one subject to the rules and regulations rarely makes the issues of right and wrong a matter of the heart. No, the primary response to legalism is the temptation to push the limits and/or rebel against the authority. This is why so many people who grow up in overly strict religious environments go hog wild when they get out on their own.

Yet, when people are taught what is right and wrong and eventually trusted to make the right decisions as responsible, mature adults, the “law in the heart” guides even when the cameras are missing.

Your thoughts?

Leave a comment

Filed under America, Christian Maturity, General Observations, legalism, Pakistan, places

Tough Questions That Should Make Every Christian Think

Daily Live Stream

Every day at 2 p.m. I do a live devotional and prayer time on Facebook. This is in addition to Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.

All total, I am either live or showing recorded content eight times a week. That’s way, way more than what I was doing before this pandemic forced everything online! But it’s all good.

His grace is sufficient for the challenge.

This Week’s Theme

The theme for this week’s videos was found in Exodus 23, verses 29 and 30. In those verses God says that He would not drive out Israel’s enemies all at once, only little by little.

God was capable of wiping out all of Israel’s enemies. He was more than strong enough. However, doing things as a matter of process was better for the land and God’s people (verse 29).

God could have given the children of Israel everything at once, but his desire for them (and us) was to mature through adversity. Even more, He wants us to become more and more sanctified (set apart for His glory and use) through the purging away of worldly idolatries that trap and destroy us.

Today’s Tough Questions

Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection: For Everything That Really MattersTherefore, This afternoon I pulled a book off one of my shelves and flipped through it until I found what fit the theme of this week’s devotions. In the book Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection For Everything That Really Matters I found on page 48 and 49 “20 Tough Questions.”

This afternoon I shared the first 10 with those watching live on Facebook.

  1. What specifically are you gong to work on in the next week to become closer to God?
  2. What do you feel is a little thing stopping you from getting closer to God?
  3. What is one thing you need to confess this week?
  4. When did you conquer sin this week?
  5. In what areas of your life do you find it easiest to compromise your standards?
  6. Does you faith point others to Jesus?
  7. What are you going to give Jesus in the next week?
  8. Can you give a recent example of a time you had to depend on God?
  9. Where do you know you need humility in your life?
  10. What would improve your prayer life?

As you can see, these are not easy questions for most people to answer. They weren’t completely easy for me, if you want to know the honest truth.

But the fact is, if we are not struggling, and certainly if we are not growing and maturing in our Christian walk and faith in God, then we cannot expect to claim the blessings awaiting in the yet-to-be-conquered “promised land.”

I’ll share the remaining “tough questions” in the next post.

3 Comments

Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christian Maturity

A Question of Dignity

Much is said about how people should dress, like “dressing down” and dressing for success.” But how should a minister, a pastor, a “reverend” dress? For that matter, how should a pastor behave in public? How should his position affect his demeanor? Ever thought about that?

It’s a question regarding the appropriate level of dignity exhibited by those in ministry.

Differences

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I do believe that there is something to be said about the differences between pastors and the congregation. If you are Catholic or main-line Protestant this is probably a non-issue, but it is an issue in other circles, specifically in evangelical churches.

Many of us are well aware that Scripture teaches that there is no essential difference between one believer and another: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, many of us treasure the biblical doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer” that confirms all Christians have equal access to God, not needing the intercession or mediation of an earthly priest (Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19; and 1 Peter 2:5). Some folk, especially many of my Baptist brethren, even refrain from using terms such as “clergy” and “laity” because, in essence, we are all the same.

anthony political

The “official” me.

However, if we are all the same, if there is no difference at all, no difference in expectation or qualification, why then do we have such passages as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9? Why would Paul have instructed Timothy and Titus to ordain godly men to the work of “bishop” in the first place if there were no need for men of distinction?

The truth is that there is a biblical mandate of conduct for the role and specific offices of pastor, bishop, elder, teacher, and deacon. Those persons should be known as set apart, qualified, mature, devoted, and serious about the work (Titus 2:7).

I Struggle

I will admit, I struggle with this issue from time to time. You may not think it’s a big deal, but I think it is. The thing I don’t want is to be legalistic, prideful, arrogant, or aloof and never fun, accessible, down-to-earth, and humble.

But where does one draw the line? At what point can one say, “That [activity] is not appropriate for a person in that position” without coming across as elitist?

vbs ice cream head

The “ice cream” me.

Let’s face it, when it’s time for a fall festival or children’s activity, every one wants a pastor who is not afraid or too proud to look like a fool for the sake of a smile. It was Jesus who had little children running up to him, sitting on his knee, and enjoying being in his presence. The pastor who never laughs, never takes a shaving cream-pie in the face, or dresses up like a farmer for Vacation Bible School will never win the heart of a child.

On the other hand, the one dying in a hospital (or on the side of the road) wants more than a clown or a hip public speaker to kneel by his side or take her hand.

I struggle with where to draw the line, where being like everybody else must give way to the demeanor of one elected to lead. Sure, context is always going to make a difference, but is there no place for  gravitas in the modern church?

Grace and context. …Grace and context. That’s the only way I know to approach this.

I’d love to read what you think! Where do you see the line between dignity and doofus? 

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, clothing, General Observations, legalism, ministry

The Aging Mr. Potato

The Gift

Last year for my birthday our foreign exchange student from South Korea took it upon herself to make me a present. Because of the resemblance between my bald head and a potato, she hand-crafted a Mr. Potato Head from a REAL potato.

image

Being Sentimental

Because I am a sentimental kind of guy, I hate getting rid of gifts, especially the hand-made kind. Therefore, even though the birthday gift was made from a potato, I just couldn’t toss it; I let it lie on my computer desk on top of some CD cases.

A few months later I took the following picture.

image

People never thought a potato would simply age without rotting, but mine did. And not only did it age without stinking, it did something I have not been able to accomplish with age…

…grow hair!

image

Spud Mirroring Life

Is it “life mirrors fiction,” or “fiction mirrors life”? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that potatoes evidently mirror my life.

As potatoes age they grow hair, but the hair seems to come out of places other than just the scalp. That’s a lot like real life…like my life. Between my nose and ears I could replace what disappeared from up top.

Another way the aging potato mirrors real life is in the way it shrinks. Even though the mid-section around us guys may increase, over time we all shrivel up into the wrinkled raisin-like reflection of what we used to be.

image

Aging is not always a pretty thing to watch, but it is something that is happening all the time. We start off young, but we get old. We start off with a whole life ahead of us, then we find ourselves contemplating the look of our tombstones. For some it only takes a short time, like with Mr. Potato; for others it takes multiple decades.

The results are always the same…we wither and fade away.

For all flesh is as grass [or potatoes], and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  – 1Peter 1:24

image

But there is hope!

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. – 1 Peter 1:25

Now, do I bury the poor tater? Or hold on to him another year? You tell me.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, Life/Death

A Question of Dignity

Much is said about how people should dress, like “dressing down” and dressing for success.” But how should a minister, a pastor, a “reverend” dress? For that matter, how should a pastor behave in public? How should his position affect his demeanor? Ever thought about that?

It’s a question regarding the appropriate level of dignity exhibited by those in ministry.

Differences

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I do believe that there is something to be said about the differences between pastors and the congregation. If you are Catholic or main-line Protestant this is probably a non-issue, but it is an issue in other circles, specifically in evangelical churches.

Many of us are well aware that Scripture teaches that there is no essential difference between one believer and another: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, many of us treasure the biblical doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer” that confirms all Christians have equal access to God, not needing the intercession or mediation of an earthly priest (Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19; and 1 Peter 2:5). Some folk, especially many of my Baptist brethren, even refrain from using terms such as “clergy” and “laity” because, in essence, we are all the same.

anthony politicalHowever, if we are all the same, if there is no difference at all, no difference in expectation or qualification, why then do we have such passages as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9? Why would Paul have instructed Timothy and Titus to ordain godly men to the work of “bishop” in the first place if there were no need for men of distinction?

The truth is that there is a biblical mandate of conduct for the role and specific offices of pastor, bishop, elder, teacher, and deacon. Those persons should be known as set apart, qualified, mature, devoted, and serious about the work (Titus 2:7).

I Struggle

I will admit, I struggle with this issue from time to time. You may not think it’s a big deal, but I think it is. The thing I don’t want is to be legalistic, prideful, arrogant, or aloof and never fun, accessible, down-to-earth, and humble.

But where does one draw the line? At what point can one say, “That [activity] is not appropriate for a person in that position” without coming across as elitist?

vbs ice cream headLet’s face it, when it’s time for a fall festival or children’s activity, every one wants a pastor who is not afraid or too proud to look like a fool for the sake of a smile. It was Jesus who had little children running up to him, sitting on his knee, and enjoying being in his presence. The pastor who never laughs, never takes a shaving cream-pie in the face, or dresses up like a farmer for Vacation Bible School will never win the heart of a child.

On the other hand, the one dying in a hospital (or on the side of the road) wants more than a clown or a hip public speaker to kneel by his side or take her hand.

I struggle with where to draw the line, where being like everybody else must give way to the demeanor of one elected to lead. Sure, context is always going to make a difference, but is there no place for  gravitas in the modern church?

I’d love to read what you think! Where is the line between dignity and doofus? Or is there one?

5 Comments

Filed under Christian Maturity, clothing, General Observations, legalism, ministry