Safe And Sane – A Reprise


Timing. I suspect many people in the US are well on their way to their Fourth of July long weekend get-away. And here I am, writing a blog post.

Plus, we’re celebrating our Independence when a good many Americans don’t feel so independent. Instead of having representatives vote on some key lifestyle issues, we’ve had a handful of scholarly, appointed-for-life judges make decisions that are redefining the American way of life. The procedure reminds me more of an oligarchy than of a democracy and certainly seems more oppressive than anything King George did those two hundred plus years ago.

With both those factors in mind, I’ve decided a reprise of this Safe and Sane post is in order—with some small revisions.

* * *

It seems odd to me that a holiday which should engender joyous celebration has needed to be tempered by the sound bite “safe and sane,” at least here in SoCal. It seems we’ve had too many children maimed by firecrackers, too many injuries from stray bullets, and too many brush or house fires caused by illegal fireworks.

Safe and sane indeed.

The morning after the big Independence Day celebration, the air is clogged with the residue of fireworks across the LA basin and into Orange County. We’ll breath the thick air until we get an onshore breeze that will blow it all into the next county. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the leftovers of our safe and sane celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. I find fireworks—the legal ones, especially the big shows that are accompanied by patriotic music—fascinating. They’re beautiful but also demanding of respect. Not to be misused or abused.

I’ve sat on the grass at Dodger Stadium or at Angel Stadium and looked up at the sky lit as bright as day while the concussions vibrate in my chest. It’s an awesome sight—far removed from the street rockets and sparklers and the less safe and sane fireworks going off all across the city.

Holidays. Seems we need one during the summer so we have an excuse to shoot fire into the sky, to light up the barbecue in the backyard, and to bring family and friends together.

It all seems so divorced from the cause which it celebrates—a day of independence which was not noted for being sane or safe. Or frivolous, purposeless, or just for show.

Too bad we can’t celebrate the Fourth of July by doing something as radical as the founding fathers did—standing up to tyranny, setting free those enslaved to senseless laws. You know, something that actually has a connection to freedom.

Ah well, we can dream, can’t we. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll enjoy the show—I can see four or five legal fireworks displays from my front porch and then there are all those behind-the-house or in-the-street family affairs. It’s quite a sight.

For those of you in the US, may your celebration be safe and sane on the outside, but radical and freeing on the inside. 🙂

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20)

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Putting Christ In Christmas?


Call me cynical, but I find the call to put Christ in Christmas to be a suspect cause.

Here in California one city has banned the display of all holiday decorations because of the brouhaha over allowing or not allowing a nativity scene. We’ve had similar confrontations about displaying the Ten Commandments.

I do think there’s a legal issue at stake–the US Constitution guarantees the freedom to express and practice our religious beliefs, but that freedom is slowly being squeezed out of the public arena. The ban on such expression is just one more instance.

And yet, I can’t help but think too many Christians are willing to fall on the wrong sword.

Was Paul beaten because he wanted to put up a manger scene? Was Stephen stoned because he insisted on saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy holidays”?

I’m not suggesting we should roll over and go the way of the world just to get along. But I think we too often draw a line in the sand over the symbolic rather than the significant.

First of all, Christ should not be in Christmas only. Christ should be part of our lives, and I don’t think we should approach Christmas in a way that is particularly different from any other day as far as our witness for Christ is concerned. Hanging up a “He is the reason for the season” sign falls short, in my way of thinking, because He is the reason for EVERY season, for every breath I take–or He ought to be.

Then, too, becoming angry at and hateful toward those who disagree and who want to eliminate the religious from Christmas seems to contradict much of the Christmas message. Joy to the world, not anger. Peace on earth, not enmity. Of course, joy and peace come through knowing Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior–no other way. But when Christians treat non-Christians as the enemy, as the ones against whom we are to fight, then we’re missing an opportunity to take them the message of redemption that first manifested to the world in God’s incarnation as a little baby.

If we can no longer put up a symbol of God come down, perhaps we need to think more creatively and see how we can show that message ourselves. When was the last time we served in a soup kitchen or made a blanket for a homeless person? Have we ever volunteered to teach English as a second language or tutor at our local public school . . . for free? Have we encouraged our church leaders to reach out to the needy in our community–families of those in prison, unmarried women who chose to give birth to their babies.

The point is, God did come down. And because of His redemption, each person who believes in Him and accepts the forgiveness He made available through Jesus, is now a Christmas tree ornament, a bright light announcing Emmanuel.

So do we need to fight to keep Christ in Christmas? As long as His followers live for Him, there’s no way anyone can keep Him out of Christmas, or any other day, for that matter.

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm  Comments (2)  
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Safe And Sane


It seems odd to me that a holiday which should engender joyous celebration has needed to be tempered by the sound bite “Safe and sane,” at least here in SoCal. It seems we’ve had too many children maimed by firecrackers, too many injuries from stray bullets, and too many brush or house fires by illegal fireworks.

Safe and sane indeed.

The morning after, the air is clogged with the residue of fireworks across the LA basin and into Orange County. We’ll breath the thick air until we get an onshore breeze that will blow it all into the next county. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the leftovers of our safe and sane celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. I find fireworks — the legal ones, especially the big shows that are accompanied by patriotic music — fascinating. They’re beautiful but also demanding of respect. Not to be misused or abused.

I’ve sat on the grass at Dodger Stadium or at Angel Stadium and looked up at the sky lit as bright as day while the concussions vibrate in my chest. It’s an awesome site — far removed from the street rockets and sparklers and the less safe and sane fireworks going off all across the city.

Holidays. Seems we need to call one during the summer so we have an excuse to shoot fire into the sky, to light up the barbecue in the backyard, and to bring family and friends together.

It all seems so divorced from the cause which it celebrates — a day of independence which was not noted for being sane or safe. Or frivolous, purposeless, or just for show.

Too bad we can’t celebrate the Fourth of July by doing something as radical as the founding fathers did — standing up to tyranny, setting free those enslaved to senseless laws. You know, something that actually has a connection to freedom.

Ah well, we can dream, can’t we. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll enjoy the show tonight — I can see four or five legal shows from my front porch and then there are all those behind-the-house or in-the-street family affairs. It’s quite a sight. 😀

Published in: on July 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Living for the Weekend


Living for the Weekend … or the summer … or the next holiday. I’ve been there, even lived there you might say. 😉

But I’ve been thinking about the culture in America that can’t wait to be away from work, that can’t wait to do the Next Great Fun Thing. For it seems that the race to leisure time actually means a race to fast-paced, adrenaline-rushing, heart-pounding Entertainment of some sort.

Not too many people talk about looking forward to the weekend so they can have a nice chat with their spouse or so they can clean out the garage as they promised last week. Not too many kids talk about looking forward to the weekend so they can play board games as a family or read the novel they checked out from the library.

And does anyone talk about looking forward to the weekend, the summer, an upcoming holiday so they can have a longer, more relaxed, uninterrupted quiet time alone with God?

Somehow, this cycle of enduring the workweek in order to get to the Fun Times seems off to me. It strikes me that moms don’t live by this cycle. Their families still need to eat, still need clean cloths, still need the hurt of bumped elbows and skinned knees kissed away.

The difference seems to be that moms don’t live for themselves. But what about everyone else? Is selfishness what drives people to live for the weekend?

I don’t think it’s that simple. From my own experience, I can say, living for the weekend has more to do with medication than it does exhilaration.

So much of our American culture finds normal life wanting. Work isn’t satisfying, problems exist at home, the news is always bad, and the government is a mess. What good thing can we look forward to on a Monday morning?

Better to grit my teeth and survive until I can get to the weekend when I’ll be able to immerse myself in sports or shopping or movies or parties or … something, anything mind-numbing.

Except, that worldview is the world’s, not the Christian’s. God gives us plenty to look forward to on Monday and every day. He Himself is new every morning. He gives us purpose and joy in fulfilling it. He puts a song in our hearts and invites us to “offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy.”

Christians, of all people, have life to celebrate, because we’ve been born and reborn. Even if we sit in the doctor’s waiting room or at the bedside of a dying loved one, we still have available to us the peace that passes understanding, the fruit of the Spirit, and His comfort. We have forgiveness in Jesus and the hope of Heaven. We have a Savior who will never leave us nor forsake us. We have His unending love.

Yet we find Monday too wearying? Too mundane? Too tedious?

Perhaps the problem has more to do with where I’m fixing my eyes which reveals my true worldview, no matter what I say my perspective is.

Here’s what Scripture says:

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory …

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

– Col 3:1-4, 15-17 (emphasis mine)

Nothing in there about a separate focus for Monday through Friday.

Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm  Comments (6)  
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