Turning One

Today my youngest grandson, Tristan, turns one-year old! I love him with all my heart and am very proud of him. I am looking forward to seeing what the future will bring to him. I got to spend significant time with him during this first year, which has meant the world to me. The last time I would have had the opportunity to be around a person their first year would have been almost 30 years and that would have been with my youngest daughter, Trisha, who happens to be Tristan’s Mama. However, I did not have that opportunity because I was serving overseas in the military for much of her first year, including her first birthday. I still remember the heartbreak and guilt I felt that day. I got through it by the grace of God and the support of some very good friends.

Celebrating first birthdays and anniversaries are of particular prominence in our lives. First year wedding anniversaries are typically a day of celebration. Many places of work make a big deal of an employee’s first year anniversary. People who have beat an addiction look at their first year as a big deal and it is! Even the tragedies of our lives, both the personal ones and the societal ones, while they remain with us a lifetime there is something different about that first year.

I think the significance of the first year is because during that time of a major life change we learn much, we grow in so many ways, and in some of the changes we have the opportunity to decide if we made the right choice or is it time to move on. But regardless, the successes and failures of that first year sets the foundation for the future.

I often think about the lives of the 12 Apostles, even aside from the things recorded in Scripture. These were men who went on a life-changing journey and most of them did great things, but they nonetheless were men. The exchange recorded in Matthew 4:18-20 fascinates me “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

Peter and Andrew had a “wow moment” here. First, I doubt they fully understood what was meant when Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers or men.” Second, to do so would be to fully abandon everything they knew. Finally, and most fascinating to me is that “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

So fast forward a year, to the first-year anniversary of Peter and Andrew leaving their nets. Was it a celebration or “what did we get ourselves into” day? I believe it was a celebration because they stayed and kept moving forward. They had learned but had much more to learn; they had grown but had much more growing to do; and I am certain there were both successes and failures in that first year—but their strong foundation had been set!

Tristan did not roll over the first time he tried; he did not sit up by himself the first time he tried; he did not crawl the first time he tried; he did not master the sippy cup the first time he tried. The key is he tried and tried enjoying the successes while learning and growing through the failures. Year two is going to be a blast!

Personal Responsibility

Earlier this week, while out for her morning run, my wife was attacked by a dog and yes, it was a pit bull. The owner was walking two pit bulls, had her ear buds in and face down looking at her phone, oblivious to her surroundings.

When she got home and told me what happened I immediately had a rush of reactions: concern for her health and safety, anger (at the owner more than the dog), guilt (I should have been there to protect her), and confusion as to what to do next. She did go to the ER and got some antibiotics, prayers for her continued healing are greatly appreciated!

As I decided to write about this event this week, I was not sure where I wanted to go with it. I do not want to get into the debate of whether pit bulls or other breeds should be allowed or not. My thought process led me to think about the concept of personal responsibility.

I often hear that the “government should do this or that” or the “police should do this or that” or “parents should do this or that”. What I do not hear as often as I would like is “I should do this or that”. It is called personal responsibility!

Had the owner taken personal responsibility of her dogs instead of being self-indulged, my wife would not have been attacked. If gun owners take personal responsibility, accidental shootings would be non-existent. If people who enjoy an adult beverage take personal responsibility, there would be no DUI’s. If parents take personal responsibility issues with children would be greatly reduced. If elected officials take personal responsibility many of our society’s issues would go away. Etcetera, etcetera.

Ezekiel 18:20 gives us an eternal perspective of personal responsibility. “The person who sins will die The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” We are accountable for our own actions and do not get to blame others for our short comings. We also do not have to be held captive by them—I believe God is more interested in how we respond to our sin than He is in the actual sin. And as a few men who might be reading this will understand, I have pledged “No More Excuses” and to take personal responsibility.

Freedom

As we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day I could not help but to think of the Declaration of Independence which basically begins with this proclamation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yes, today should be a day that involves baseball, hotdogs, apple pies, and fireworks—we have the freedom to enjoy those things each and every day. But if you could, please take a moment to think about what the founding fathers thought of while declaring to the world that those three basic premise’s of independence. Also, while they were not perfect men, keep in mind that they were willing to sacrifice everything for these foundational ideas. Had England prevailed, these men would have certainly been hung for treason.

Life: This is and has been a subject of disagreement in our nation—the spectrum runs from abortion, to the death penalty, to assisted suicide. So, who has the “unalienable Right” the Founders were referring to? Well when we see that they proclaimed the Creator endows life, they were certainly protecting the innocent—yes, the unborn. The other issues, I leave to debate because I want to have total confidence that those making that decision are correct.

Liberty: By legal definition we are talking about being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. I define this this as you have the right to be you as long as you do not impose yourself on me. I always find it interesting when I hear that “we need more laws” when we do not even do a good job of enforcing the current laws or changing them if needed.

Pursuit of Happiness: This one is kind of tough—what does it mean? Happiness is relative right? What makes me happy does not necessarily make someone else happy. So, who gets to decide? Again, I go back to Liberty, do not harm me or my loved ones with what makes you happy and that is your business. For me personally what made me happy, or I prefer the term gave me joy, was when I started walking in friendship with Jesus Christ.

I remember learning early in my faith walk what is taught in John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and truth will set you free.” Once I learned the truth of Jesus Christ, what He did for me, what He is doing in me, and what He has planned for me I truly understood what Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness meant. I believe the 56 men who declared independence with their signature and lives understood the same.

Have a great and safe 4th!