June 28, 2012

Judging Jerry Sandusky

 From Monday through Friday, our son, Doug, sends an email “Quote of the Day” to friends, loved ones and employees. Most quotes are one liners that bring a smile or a challenge, but occasionally a remark is so thought provoking, it demands a second look ____ like this one from Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho:
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think yours is the only path."
After checking his biography, I feel certain Coelho is referring to the fact that his mother and father wanted him to be an engineer, but even as a teenager Coelho wanted to become a writer. His parents thought he was throwing his life away and even committed him to a mental institution in an attempt to get him to change his mind.

I read Doug’s “Quote of the Day” when Jerry Sandusky's trial was front page news, and I assumed Coelho was suggesting I can't make a "judgement" about the man whose name will forever define sexual predation.  But I can make a judgement about how he lived his life.

Jesus tells us, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Certainly, we are not to judge where a person stands with God, but Jesus also instructs us to "discern both good and evil" in the actions of ourselves as well as others.

As difficult as it may be, we are called to forgive Jerry Sandusky if he admits his crimes and asks to be forgiven, but as Christians, I believe we can judge his acts of depravity as evil and recognize he must be severely punished to the complete and full extent of our laws.

June 22, 2012

Landscapes from the Creator’s Hand

Years ago, my wife and I traveled to Bangor, Maine to visit Wayne Glick, the former President of Keuka College with whom I worked for many years.

During our visit, Wayne and his wife, Barbara, drove us to Acadia National Park, one of the most visited parks in the United States .  .  .  and for good reason.

All the beauty that is Maine comes together in this popular park where the mountains meet the rolling surf of the Atlantic.

As we stood together overlooking this pristine landscape, Wayne said, “This is where God goes to take a vacation.” And I answered, “And the Finger Lakes is where he spends the rest of the year."

Anyone who lives in Upstate New York surely would agree that when it comes to natural beauty, the Creator has certainly blessed us abundantly.

Yet some skeptics, some I know well, suggest that the wonders of this earth are merely happenings . . . bundles of molecules that in some mysterious way, just happen to come together.

For me the natural beauty of my home in the Finger Lakes is an ever constant reminder and proof that This Is My Father’s World.

June 14, 2012

God's Amazing Grace

All Christians are familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but Philip Yancey in his book What's So Amazing about Grace, puts a new twist on this beloved story. The Runaway appears here edited to fit the Contemporary Parable format.

After a very severe argument, a teenage daughter, who tries her parents' patience often, decides to run away to Detroit, a city known for its gangs, drugs and violence. There she meets a man who offers her a place to stay and gives her pills which make her happy and content. Before long, she is living in a penthouse as a prostitute.

When disease ravages her body, she is thrown out on the street where she continues to turn tricks to support her drug habit.

Sick, cold and frightened, she calls her parents and leaves a message informing them she is coming home, arriving by bus at midnight the next day. She tells her parents she will look for them in the terminal. If they are not there, she will get back on the bus and leave again.

The next day when she walks into the terminal, she is not prepared for what she sees. There stand 40 family members __ brothers, sisters, uncles, great aunts, cousins, a grandmother and a great grandmother. They are all wearing silly party hats and blowing on noisemakers. And on the wall, a huge WELCOME HOME sign.

She looks through tears as her Dad approaches, and she begins her speech. “Dad I’m sorry. I know I was wrong.” But Dad interrupts her, “Hush child. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for your party. A banquet is waiting for you at home."

In the stories of the Runaway and the Prodigal Son, we learn of God’s amazing grace. No catch. No strings. All we must do is cry, “Help” and God welcomes us home, forgiven and free.  And that's what is so amazing about God’s grace!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works … " (Ephesians 2:8-9)

June 7, 2012

A Warrior Ethos

Three experiences that occurred within a week prompted this Parable.

First, I found a new book in the Penn Yan Library titled, The Warrior Ethos. It was written by Steven Pressfield who admits in the introduction that it is an attempt to answer the question, “What Is the Warrior Ethos?"

A few days later, Nancy and I toured the Gettysburg battlefield where we stood on Cemetery Ridge and envisioned 12,000 Confederate Warriors emerging from the woods on Seminary Ridge in the afternoon of July 3, 1863. We imagined ourselves as Union Warriors standing bravely watching the men of Lee’s Army march shoulder to shoulder over open ground, closing ranks as their Warrior Brothers fell wounded and dying.

The following Monday, Nancy and I, our daughter Tammy and our sons, Doug and Steve visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia where we were reminded of generations of Warriors who boldly went to “the sound of the guns” at Belleau Woods, Tarawa, Fallujah and many other conflicts throughout our nation’s history.

After our visits to Gettysburg and the Marine Corps Museum, I need no further definition of what constitutes a Warrior Ethos. The term is defined for me by the men who fought at Gettysburg and by the United States Marines.

All Marines are tied together with core values and traditions that have been passed on for generations. The Warrior Ethos provides guidance to all Marines, and the Corps Motto, “Semper Fidelis” pledges loyalty to God, Country and the Corps.

To be a member of the United States Marine Corps, whose values are honor, courage and commitment, means you are part of a brotherhood for as long as you live. I am proud to claim the title of United States Marine.

June 1, 2012

Our Sixty-Four Year Love Affair

On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Nancy and I celebrated our 59th wedding anniversary.  We began going steady in 1948, so we have been in love for 64 years. Here are a few simple observations about how our loving relationship has survived for so long.

First, we communicate freely.  That means our relationship is built on candor and frankness offered in a spirit of love and respect. We have always tried our best to be good listeners, but while we are frank, Nancy has always accepted me for who I am, and I have accepted her in the same way. We have never tried to change one another.  Expecting to change someone after marriage is a scenario for certain failure.

Though we have always tried to meet one another’s expectations, there were times when each of us was a disappointment.  When that happened, we were always quick to forget and forgive.

We compliment one another often, and we have always been polite. We are courteous and respectful, and we never use sarcasm or make snide remarks.

The famous basketball coach, John Wooden, said, “They do not love who do not show their love,” and after 64 years, we still hug, hold hands and kiss often. My favorite is a kiss on the back of Nancy’s neck every day.

Finally, it is an undeniable fact that married couples who regularly worship their God have happier and longer marriages, and Nancy and I have attended church faithfully ever since we began dating.

On her high school graduation photo which she gave to me, Nancy wrote, “I am always happiest when I am with you,” and after 64 years, we are “still happiest when we are with each other.”