Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

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On Thursday, October 31, 2019, President Trump announced he would end preferential trade benefits to Cameroon, citing “persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” I can already see eyes widen or squint, your mind flashes, “Cameroon?” Cameroon means nothing to most of us. President Paul Biya is an obtuse factoid in Jeopardy trivia. The ongoing atrocities perpetrated by the French speaking majority against their English speaking brothers goes silent to the indifference of a world with no skin in this perverse game. But I know, I feel it – not because I’m some cosmopolitan globalist – no, I feel it because I live and fellowship  with the men and women who have escaped the assault of their own people. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “It is a mighty good thing to know men, not from looking at them, but from having been one of them. When you have worked with them, when you have lived with them, you do not have to wonder how they feel, because you feel it yourself.” And thus begins our story.

Monday night Bible study began like any other. Silly banter, hearty laughter – what else would you expect from an odd collection of men? The door opened, a young man entered. A bit nervous, he flashed a big smile, “Hi, my name is Lewis.” Before the night was out, we heard the gripping story of a young man’s journey to America, a tale of a boy from Cameroon who dared to dream.

Lewis grew up under the heavy hand of President Paul Biya, the only leader Lewis has ever known. His family, members of the English speaking minority, felt the every pressing persecution of Biya’s rule year upon year. Lewis, the eldest son, saw his prospects dim. Life was hard. He quit school at sixteen, a crushing blow. But fate put a man’s burden on a boy’s shoulders. Lewis was now the sole support for his family. 

Months, then years passed. Lewis once dreamed of going to America. He dreamed of going to school, securing a good job, winning the heart of a woman and raising a family. Instead he toiled at menial work, a hated minority, his prospects bleak. Dark nights brought tears in the silence. “God, can I still dream? Where is my hope this side of heaven?” Morning came, nothing changed. Lewis went to work, and he toiled.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, was introduced in 1990. Millions apply every year, all with the dream of coming to American. Mere thousands will get the chance. Lewis worked his job in the heat of another Cameroon day. His foreman gave him an envelope, it was from the United States Government. His name had been drawn. Lewis collapsed, he burst into tears, pent up pain and joy flowed indiscriminately from secret places he knew not where. In that moment, an angel touched a young man in Cameroon. His dream no longer a dream, Lewis is completing a nursing program in the United States. Someday soon his young bride will join him and by God’s grace they will raise a family in America.

Lewis and his story instructs the lives of each of us. We hope in God regardless of circumstance. In our darkest hour, we hope, we trust. This much we know, God knows. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8,9

Letter to Kanye

Posted: October 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Meditations

download.jpegMy heart thrilled when I heard you sold out, lock stock and barrel, to follow Christ. I’m an old man, nearly 65 years old, and it feels like yesterday that I made that same leap of faith. I was 17 when I cried out to God, “If you’re real, please be real in my life.” Kanye, 48 years later, I can say, “If I had it to do all over again, I’d serve Jesus every day of my life.” I have no regrets, my relationship with Christ has never been stronger, never more intimate. But life is messy and the spiritual warfare has a violence all its own.

Never forget, you belong to God. Christ is your king. Any number of people will want to use you for their purposes, their causes. And why wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want your brilliance with words, your perceptions on life? You see and speak what many of us can only sense in part. You give voice to the soul of man. That is a gift from God – guard it. Never take it for granted.

Each day is a partnership with your friend, the Holy Spirit. I adopted a spiritual discipline from the legendary Pastor Cho from South Korea. Every day when I wake up, I utter these words, “Good morning, Holy Spirit. You are my senior partner, I am the junior partner. What are we going to do today?” My life is full of daily heavenly assignments. Each moment is a gift, an opportunity to be God’s hand extended. The Holy Spirit will guide, teach, and warn you. As you get to know him, that partnership will flow – much like your music. Just remember, there is no shelf-life. It’s like the manna of Moses. It goes to worms the second day. You’ve got no choice, Kanye. Hang onto Jesus and let the fur fly.

Always respect spiritual mentors. They are the patrons of the Christ follower. We all need grounding, we need men to hold us to account. The more successful you are, the more you need that pastor and those elders in your life. Pride and the flesh are insidious bedfellows. So, Kanye, hold these individuals tight. You know who they are.

Finally, treasure your wife and your children. Be patient, be gentle with your correction. Remember, they belong to God, you are a trustee. Kim may be in a different place than you and I’m sure she has a different temperament. You are now a much different man by your own account. Encourage your wife. Affirm her. Be measured and prayerful with your constructive criticism. The best thing you can do is love her and honor her. The one thing we can’t redeem is time. Give your family the gift of time, be present, invest in their lives.

I will pray for God’s protection on you and your house. You have declared war on the devil. Trust me, the enemy has declared war on you. He will seek to destroy your family and your credibility. Job, at his low ebb, declared, “Tho you slay me, yet will I trust in you.” We serve a Great God, Infinite Goodness. Welcome to the family. I’m so proud to call you “Brother.”

Ode to Conan

Posted: October 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Meditations

A tribute to a special friend

I stood at the veterinary clinic counter wallet in hand. “Go home, sir, go straight home. We’re not doing money today.” I nodded and walked out, face quivering, tears streaming down, an emotional wreck. An hour before, I came with my little dog, Conan. I drove away alone. My buddy left me forever. Grief bubbled out. Gasps exploded into sobs. My lament betrayed a love I rarely admitted to.

I never wanted a dog. Conan belonged to my  firstborn son. But John took a job that sent him overseas. Conan now lived with us, the kids’ dog, and especially Mama’s dog. What’s a man to do? I had no alternative and that little ball of fur wormed his way into every crevice of my heart over the course of the next thirteen years. Good days, bad days—they meant nothing to Conan. Every day was a great day for him. Not one moment ever passed without receiving his unconditional love. He asked for little and gave so much. I still grieve. Flash memories haunt me, his last breath, the light departing his eyes. God, I miss him.
I still sort through my emotions, always searching for clues about myself. My mind says, “He’s just a dog.” But my heart knows better. My little buddy affirms fundamental truths. We are created for relationship, to love and be loved. Our pets often point us toward a better way to live. In our selfishness, we can be so volatile, so petty. God meant for us to be so much better. Conan, in an elemental way, points me to God. Trust, faithfulness, selfless love—this is the legacy of my special little friend. Conan, thank you. You are forever in my heart.