Do It Right The First Time

salute

I want to share a little story with you.

My scoutmaster (we’ll call him Scott) once gave a Scoutmaster Minute that has stayed with me for almost 10 years.

The incident took place during his time in the Army. Scott was an officer, and had just gotten off a brutal shift that had lasted nearly 24 hours with no rest. He joked that at the time he thinks he was taking coffee intravenously just to stay awake. Anyway, as he walked to his barracks, a very nervous looking soldier wearing civilian slacks and a white t-shirt approached him. He said, “Sir, can I have a word with you?”

Scott was about to say yes, when it registered with him that the soldier who was addressing him was not in uniform. Sternly, he rebuked the soldier and said, “If you’re going to address a superior officer, you need to be in uniform. Go change and then come back and talk to me.” The soldier protested at first, but Scott was firm. The soldier left and returned in his uniform, but it was disheveled and unkept. Scott again rebuked the soldier for his unprofessional appearance, and sent him back a second time. This time, the soldier took care that his appearance was professional and worthy of standing before the superior officer.

This time, Scott was satisfied. He said, “Now that you’re dressed appropriately, let’s take a walk. What did you want to talk to me about?”

Nervously, the soldier said, “Sir, I’ve been very depressed for a long time. Tonight, I told myself I was going to go out, ask to talk to the first person I saw, and then kill myself in front of them.”

Scott was shocked! The soldier continued, “But after you sent me back to put on my uniform, it gave me time to think, and now I’m not sure what I want.”

Scott spent the rest of the evening counseling the soldier, who ultimately decided not to take his own life. The moral of the story? Standing on ceremony may be a hassle sometimes, but there are good reasons for it.

Never underestimate the impact of insisting that things be done the right way, the first time. Because Scott insisted that the soldier follow the proper protocols of respect, the man’s life was saved.

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5 Bible Verses That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

The Bible has a lot of amazing things hidden deep within its pages. If you look hard enough, you can find giants, epic battles, talking animals, dead people walking, fire raining from the sky, and plagues of epic proportions. As I was reading my Bible last week, I came across a verse that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the kind of verse that gives you chills just from the sheer power and authority emanating from the words. Given that, I decided to look at some other verses that I’ve always found fascinating. The criteria for choosing these was simply to find the verses that really seemed to ooze with unbridled power and authority; the kind of verses that make you stop and marvel at our God of power, and for guys, the ones that you want to quote before rushing into battle! Without further ado, here we have 5 Bible Verse That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine.

#5. When His Wrath Is Great

Psalm 18: 6-11

In my distress I called upon the LordAnd cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind.  He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies.

This passage is absolutely mind blowing. Here we see the Psalmist crying out to God in his distress, and the reaction is like a mama bear reacting to her cub crying out in pain: pure rage directed at some unfortunate someone (except with God, it’s a righteous rage). God is a powerful Father and this passage really speaks to His love for us. It is so relate-able because we’ve all been in situations where someone we love is in danger and we rush to their side, ready to tear apart anyone who comes close. This is like that; except when God talks about it, it sounds a whole lot more impressive. It’s like a mouse crying out for fear of the cat, and Optimus Prime shows up to help.

Optimus

Step away from the mouse.

That’s what it’s like. We are so weak and He is so powerful. Seriously, just read that. He puts darkness under his feet. Take heart, Christian. The earth will tremble and darkness will be crushed under His feet when you call on the Lord. So call on him!

#4. When He Commands You Not to Be Afraid

Josh 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The context here is God speaking to Joshua when he took over for Moses. God instructed him to enter the promised land and to take it for an inheritance of Israel. As Joshua apparently realized, there were still people living in the promised land and God was essentially telling him to march into battle. This takes guts, and in verse 8, God tells Joshua to meditate on His word day and night, and immediately follows it up with the epic proclamation in verse 9. These words completely silence any doubt one could have about how to feel about this expedition. God preempts any doubts by asking, “Have I not commanded you?” If Joshua thought about asking questions, those thoughts were gone, as God commands Joshua to have courage; for God is with him. I imagine a general saying this to his army, someone like Maximus from Gladiator:

Have I not commanded you?!?

Have I not commanded you?!?

I imagine this is something that is said by a general of an army, specifically, Maximus from Gladiator. Just imagine him yelling that line in his powerfully masculine voice, like he did when he asked, “Are you not entertained?!?” God is with you, Christian. Have courage.

#3. When He Knows What Is in The Darkness

Daniel 2:22

He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

This is the verse I read the other day that sent chills down my spine. As children, we’ve all feared what is in the dark, and sometimes, the darkness can still be a scary place.

Scary creatures lurk in the darkness

Scary creatures lurk in the darkness

And when it’s a spiritual darkness, the fear is a whole lot more intense! But we do not need to fear, because God knows what is in the darkness. We fear what we can’t see because we don’t know what is there, but God crushes that notion because He does know what is there. And the next line delivers the final blow: He is light. He has the only weapon that can destroy the darkness and it doesn’t stand a chance against him. And He is on our side. Incredible. Don’t be afraid of the dark; it’s power has been dissolved. This verse has a companion verse in Job 12:22, “He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light.”

#2. When He Tells You to Be Immoveable

1st Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

This was my anthem verse when I was a senior in high school. It just felt like such a good capstone to my education. After all God had taught me, now was the time to get down to work and put your nose to the grindstone. It’s one of those, “Man up, man” verses that always gets to me. In Christ, we are complete. In Christ, we have everything we need. And in Christ, nothing can move us. In Christ, we are like this to the enemy:

Your move, Satan.

Your move, Satan.

We are to be immovable, unshakable, completely solid in our faith. Jesus never wavered, and neither should we. Go Hulk on Satan and be immovable. Because who is on your side? The One who commands you not to be afraid, and who knows what is in the darkness, and the who crushes His enemies. Be immovable.

#1. When He Kills Death

1st Corinthians 15:55-57

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Also in 1 Corinthians 15, this is perhaps the most powerful verse in Scripture. The cross is in vain without the resurrection, and here, Paul mocks death because it has been vanquished. This is the greatest hope we have. Jesus freed us from the fear of death; and because of this we can do anything.

Like vanquish hell.

Hades, where is your victory?

We have victory over death; how much more spine-chilling does it get? It’s too big for us to comprehend that as Christians, we will never truly die. Because death has already been defeated and its sting is no more. Take heart, Christian. Christ has won the day, a devouring fire pours forth from His mouth, He has commanded you not to be afraid, He knows what is in the darkness and light dwells with him, He tells you to be immovable, and He has defeated death. What greater King could we serve? ——————————-   I hope you enjoyed that! It certainly gave me the chills a few times! If you liked it, please like our Facebook page at Two Snows and A Blog for more stuff like this, as well as content from my wife’s blog.

How Sick Is This World?

 

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

This world is sick.

We all know it. We all feel it. We all live it.

Sometimes being a Christian feels like a shadow walking through a party. You don’t really belong there, your presence is fleeting and you’re easy for the guests to ignore. C.S. Lewis once presented this metaphor in his book The Great Divorce where he alluded that this world is a world of shadow and illusionment, and the realness of the spiritual world is beyond our comprehension, so real that the blades of grass in heaven would pierce our feet; the feet of shadows. It’s an apt metaphor because in this dying world, we really are strangers. We are meant for another place and our time and mission here is fleeting.

Being a shadow  allows you to see the emptiness of those whom you flit between. Their drawn-out eyes, loud, empty laughs, pasty makeup clinging to dying faces; nothing but mascara on a corpse. It reveals a world of death and decay hidden beneath a facade of merriment and amusement. A viciously self-destructive whirlwind that claims equality and justice and truth yet cannibalizes itself in a never ending battle of competing equalities. A world that screams for egalitarianism and yet is hurriedly engaged in the business of undoing the foundations of justice.

It’s a world of fine contradictions, of carefully levied jabs at each other, of private distaste and public acceptance of various ideological threads. We fight each other with sharp words and take stands against perceived injustice and a great tragedy looms above us that so many do not realize; the tragic irony of no longer knowing what a true injustice looks like, for we have nothing solid to compare it to. We rail against threats to our comfort; against restrictions to our sexual freedom; against 140 character manifestos that cross our inner-moral compass of right and wrong. It is a compass that has changed with the times. North is south, east is west, but where shall we go? Our cultural compass points us to sex and drink and having fun and letting it be and standing aside while true injustice carries on under the lethal banner of “progress”.

And yet we continue on, moving along in our shadowy existence. And do we remember our God’s words, the God who made our world, the God who gave us life, the God who gave us a noble and true standard by which to measure injustice? Do we remember the words of the Lamb who was slain, of the Lion of Judah, who viciously and ruthlessly struck down true wickedness? Do we remember that He told us to love Him first, and everything else second? Do we fall to our knees because we are faced with a knowledge that is so deep, so profound, and so wretchedly uncomfortable that we cannot bear it? Do we believe Him when He says that He has a plan? Do we bow our bitterly prideful heads in submission to a true King? Or do we sit in our broken castles, lamenting the loss of “the good old days” when our problems were more carefully concealed?

We won’t always be shadows. We won’t always be unnoticed. But while we are, we have a profound and terrifying call upon us, to reach out to a broken, contradicting, disgusting, filth-ridden world and say, “There is justice. There is truth. There is love. And He has a name.”

May God give us the grace to see how we have failed Him, and to crawl back for the grace to stand up against true injustice. May He give us clarity to know the difference between the empty screams of the world against bloated insecurities that masquerade as deep issues, and the silent screams of the truly oppressed, of the broken human being made in the image of God who so desperately needs something real. May God help us to be shadows, so that others may look through us and see Him.

 

To Him be the glory.

 

Why “Marriage Isn’t For You” Is Wrong

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

Yesterday, I reposted the viral article, “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith. While I normally write my own stuff, I reposted this particular article because, on first glance, it looked good and I was rushed with some wedding plans and didn’t have time to write. However, a friend (who is married and has more credibility on this issue than I) commented on my repost and brought some really good insights forward.

Namely, that the author is actually wrong.

The whole premise of his article is that marriage isn’t about a selfish quest to make yourself happy, and to a certain extent, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But a lot of Christians, myself included, read through that and thought, “Oh yeah, that sounds Christian. And after all, the only young people to get married are Christians, so this must be from a Christian guy writing about Christian marriage!”

Wrong.

Here’s the thing. Marriage is a beautiful relationship that God created. It should not be about you because marriage shouldn’t be selfish. But it should not be about your spouse. Why? Because you’re marrying a flawed, sinful human being that cannot possibly bear the weight of your worship. Because at that point, that’s what it is. Your spouse becomes an idol when the entire marriage is all about them. If your entire reasoning for getting married is solely to make another person happy, you’ve missed something along the way. Of course, this makes sense considering the author’s viewpoint (a Mormon who subscribes to the “Anasazi Way”, a New Age spiritual philosophy about communal living).

But in some ways, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But it’s not about your spouse. It’s about Jesus. I don’t expect Sean to write about that because he doesn’t believe in the Jesus that I believe in. But Christ has to be the center of a marriage. He brings balance to the whole thing and He is the one we worship. When two people are worshiping Christ within their marriage, then everything else really falls into place.

So is marriage about you? No. Is it about your spouse? No. Is it about Christ? Yes. It has to be about Christ because marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Apart from him, the institution doesn’t make sense. It’s in the picture of Christ giving himself for the Church that we can understand marriage and the love that binds it together.

As my friend said, “Love is centered in Jesus, and true love may not always make your spouse “happy”– sometimes love is shown from one spouse to another through loving rebuke when the other is in sin.”

That’s what marriage is about.

Marriage Isn’t For You

As someone who is getting married soon, this post struck a chord with me. Also, as someone who is getting married soon, I have very little time for my own original posts, so here’s a repost from Seth Adam Smith and his blog. Original post can be found here. 

Marriage Isn’t For You

By Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raisethem? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

SKwedding394

Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

What Can This Antarctic Shipwreck Teach You About Resilience?

Click for some cool color pictures of The Endurance

Click for some cool color pictures of The Endurance

The world is full of courageous men who risked their lives for a cause. Whether it’s an expedition into the remotest parts of the world, or fighting off the enemy in the most epic war in history, some men have a way of distinguishing themselves. Indeed, we tend to admire those who have stared death right in the face and gritted their teeth, never to back down. We long to be like them in some small measure and we read their stories, hoping to glean some insight into how they did what they did. One such man is Ernest Shackleton. What did he do?

Ernest Shackleton Saved All His Men From A Frozen Death

If you haven’t heard the story of The Endurance, you need to know about it. It was the year 1914, and the popular notion of conquering the Antarctic continent was alive and well. Ernest Shackleton had put together an expedition. He placed an ad in the paper promising death, darkness, poor wages, constant danger and honor as a reward if successful.

shackadvert2

Text of the ad Shackleton put out

Twenty-eight men answered the call, and the good ship Endurance set sail in December of 1914. The mission: to cross the Antarctic continent and gain the glory and honor accompanying such a feat. But it was not to be…
Historians tell us that The Endurance was built for loose ice floes, and was extremely strong. However, it was not a bowl-bottomed boat (which would be squeezed up out of ice packs that closed in). This proved to be a mistake, as the ship became caught in impenetrable ice in early 1915. Shackleton decided to try and wait it out, but by November of that year, it was clear that the ship was lost. The crew was forced to abandon the vessel and face the harsh prospects of survival on the ice floes.

endurance splintered

What was left of the Endurance after the ice was finished with it.

Imagine that you have to leave your ship and live on a block of ice, with nothing but seal meat for food…for two years.

That’s right, the crew of Endurance was stranded for more than 24 months. Furthermore, in almost every shipwreck story in history, casualties are high, morale is low, and the outcome is usually disastrous. It’s the norm for shipwrecks to boast a tremendous loss of life. But not Shackleton. He managed to lead his men through two years of life on the ice against incredible odds, until eventual rescue. And not a single soul was lost.

Resilience Is Learned

There are lots of lessons to be learned about leadership and endurance from this story. Ernest Shackleton is one of the few men in history to have faced death like he did, and he had a courage that is incomprehensible. It also tells us a lot about resilience, and facing reality head on. These men had to fight to survive the elements, low morale, mental fatigue, and a fiercely unforgiving ocean. But they came through it all. They had to come up with some creative ways to keep from going crazy, including writing in their journals about their experiences and singing songs to keep their spirits up. They had to fight to see their situation in a positive perspective, and while I don’t know about Shackleton himself, I’m sure that there were a lot of times on that voyage that those men cried out to God. They had to have resilience, and understand that getting out of that situation was going to be very, very difficult. But they did it.

One of Most Incredible Seafaring Voyage in History

Oh by the way, how exactly did that rescue go down? Well,  after months on the ice, the crew eventually got to Elephant Island (which is basically a couple giant rocks sticking out of the ocean near Antarctica. Very little native vegetation or wildlife to speak of.) They survived by hunting seals and penguins, and soon, after realizing that they would not last long, Shackleton made the courageous decision to seek rescue. The nearest inhabited land was over 800 miles away, and the only way to get there was in a tiny little boat, with no modern navigation equipment, across treacherous oceans and perilous seas. And he did it. It’s still considered among the most incredible nautical feats in the history of the world.

Elephant island

See? Not even Google can do it. But Shackleton did.

Eventually, he got to South Georgia island, where there was a small whaling station. Oh, and did I mention the only inhabitants were on the opposite side of the island? Across a mountain range? In the middle of winter? So not only did he have to sail 800 miles to a little rock with a whaling station, he then had to cross the mountains with the handful of crew mates he brought along, and do it quickly before they ran out of food or froze to death. But he succeeded.

He got help, and sailed back to Elephant Island to the men he had left there. He found them in 1916, and they had survived. Of the original crew of 28, a crew of 28 awaited him. Not one casualty throughout the whole ordeal. And it was all because of Shackleton’s unparalleled leadership in making the right choices at the right time (and God’s grace, of course). So what can we learn from this about resilience? Don’t give up. There were so many times that those men wanted to give up but they didn’t and it paid off. Keep going.

This story truly is incredible. I highly recommend reading the book. 

3 Reasons to Not Send Your Son to College

exam-finals-loan-officer-college-ecards-someecards

A while ago, there was a blog post that was circulating the social media world about how girls don’t belong in college. It was titled 6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College and it’s by Raylan Alleman. Then, there was a response from Rachel Miller (news editor for The Aquila Report) on the question of whether or not it’s wrong to send young women to college. Rachel has written some really cool stuff that I enthusiastically agree with (Google “Rachel Miller Aquila Report” and you’ll see what I mean). Of course, the whole idea that a woman shouldn’t go to college is kind of ridiculous, and the article that advocates it doesn’t really give good reasons and overall, Rachel gives a good answer. But I want to get away from the whole notion of going to college as a necessary activity for young people and, instead of responding for why women SHOULD go to college (which they should certainly have that freedom if they want), I want to talk about good reasons for anyone to skip college. Sons included.

1. College is expensive

This is one of the reasons Raylan lists for why women shouldn’t go to college. While I disagree with his premise that girls shouldn’t go to college because they’re girls, it’s actually a really valid reason for anyone to skip out. College is expensive. Like, really, really expensive. In a world where a degree is worth less and less, it’s not always in the best economic interests of students to subject themselves to a mountain of student debt. For your son who needs to provide for a family someday, an apprenticeship or self-education might be a better option, and avoiding that $27,000 of average student debt may be a wise decision. Of course, a degree is still a requirement for many jobs so college may be unavoidable for some, but the high price tag is enough to give anyone pause.

2. College extends adolescence

Rachel talks about how college is like real life with training wheels, and is a good place to learn how to own your faith. While this has elements of truth, I think there is a larger culture of “college as an extension of high school.” You have 4 years where you’re largely free from the responsibilities of adult life. The typical college student might be living on campus, is funded by student loans, maybe has a student job, and whose primary responsibility is homework. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, the culture of college still treats you like an adolescent that constantly needs to be reminded to be an adult. It’s no surprise that many people push off important decisions like marriage until they’re almost 30 ( 28.9 for men, to be exact) when we have a culture that treats you like you’re a kid until you’re 25. College life leaves a lot to be desired in terms of actually preparing you for the “real world”.

3. College and education are not synonymous

My biggest beef with college has always been that it’s not necessarily the best place to get an education. Education is really important and is absolutely necessary to be a well-adjusted member of society. It opens up tons of opportunities and is the best indicator of social mobility. But college in the last few years has been less about education and apparently more about social engineering or raising tuition (at least that’s how it feels). I question the effectiveness of general education requirements (read: thief of time and money) and the semester system in general. If you can educate yourself better by reading books on your own or working under an expert, then why go to college? Better yourself through education, but realize that college may not be where you get that education. Especially if you get $27k in debt from the experience.

That’s all I have for now. It’s a little difficult to respond to Raylan’s article that seriously lists the danger of parents using contraception as a reason for daughters not to go to college, but I agree with the idea that college may not be a wise choice for everyone. Rachel makes the case for college so check out her blog as well at Daughter of the Reformation. 

What do you think? Is college the greatest thing since sliced bread or an expensive scam?