Tag Archives: Pride

What Do I Say?

USS Sperry (AS-12) 1941 - 1982

USS Sperry (AS-12) 1941 – 1982

For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

On the way to a coerced bargain safari with my wife, June, I pulled into the local Quick Trip to silence the nagging Low Fuel warning light on our Altima. At the pump, I popped the fuel port cover latch, got out from driver’s seat, and walked back to uncap the fuel fill port. Lost in the mindless routine of inserting the gas card, making the fuel selection, inserting the pump nozzle into the fill port and squeezing the handle to the start the flow of liquid gold, I hardly noticed the black compact sedan that pulled up at the pump behind me.

As I scanned the rows of gas pumps and observed how others practiced a similar routine, I caught him approaching me from my right side. Instantly my internal alarms sounded as the wiry frame came near. His shirt-sleeve shirt exposed tattooed arms without a hint of normal skin tone. Beneath the tattered ball cap flowed long stringy locks of jet-black hair that hung in clumps of greasy strands just past his shoulders. His face was leathery and wrinkled, probably more from years of too much smoking than from age, and the trimmed portion of his scraggly beard looked like it hadn’t met a razor in weeks. His tattered, dirty jeans, wrinkled, untucked, button-down plaid shirt, and muddy work boots gave him the appearance of a homeless man. A woman, that looked old enough to be his mother, got out of the passenger’s side and busied herself looking around the car for the place to put in the gas.

Without pausing one second to help his mother, he walked directly toward me right hand extended. I thought, “Here it comes. This guy is going to hit me up for some gas money, and he’ll have some sob story about his dad suddenly having a stroke, and he has to drive his mother up to Oklahoma City to see him.” As I formulated my response, his hand invaded my personal space, and I took it. He said, “Thank you for your service.”

What? I had forgotten that I was wearing my Navy-blue ball cap with the white and gold fowled anchor and the bold embroidered USN identifying me as a Navy veteran. “Thank you,” I stammered. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. He nodded and turned around and walked back to his car. I’m sure he was a little let down by my lack of enthusiasm. To be sure, the encounter was not what I had expected.

I’m proud of my service for my country. I often wear apparel that displays that pride like that cap. But after I put it on, I never give it a second thought. I am often approached and offered similar sentiments of appreciation for my service, and I am always at a loss for how to respond.

I enlisted in the Navy in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, and served on active duty until 1974. Later I served another eight years in the US Naval Reserves. When I first joined, there was a draft, and my number was up. The Army was in bad need of “grunts,” and anti-war sentiment dominated the prevailing national mood. Many young men my age were getting married or going to college to avoid the draft. Others burned their draft cards in protest or ran away to Canada to avoid service. I had no one I wanted to marry at that time, and I was too poor to go to college. The other options of burning my draft card or running away to Canada were unthinkable for me.

I honestly felt that I owed my duty to my country, but at the same time, I wasn’t eager to spill my blood in a war directed by politicians rather than generals – a war that those in charge did not intend to win. That made no sense to me, yet I still felt a strong obligation to serve my country. So, I joined the Navy and fulfilled my obligation. That is what I did. I did my duty. I did what I was supposed to do. I served, and I was proud to serve. I did nothing outstanding or extraordinary. I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I executed my responsibilities to my shipmates, to my ship, to the Navy, and to my country. I did my job; that’s all.

So when I am thanked for my service, I really do not know how to respond. I only did what I was supposed to do. Why is that so special? Is it that somewhere along the way we have lost our sense of responsibility, our sense of duty, our sense of honor? I served my country. It was my privilege. It was my duty. Next time I’m thanked for my service, perhaps I will just respond with, “You’re welcome. I just did my job.”


Filed under Current Events, Random Musings

Mad At God

Mad at God

And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God (2 Chronicles 14:2)

Have you ever been mad at God or do you know someone who is, or has at some time been mad at God? People get mad at God for various reasons, all of which are unjustified, but more on that later. Some are angry at God, and therefore doubt His existence, because they see evil in the world, and they hold God responsible for allowing it to go on. They reason that either God does not exist, or if He does exist, He is either indifferent to evil or impotent to do anything about it. Others are angry with God because at some point God did not answer a specific request in the specific way they requested. Some are mad at God because after years of faithful service God disciplines them for some sin they commit.

That was the case with Asa, the fourth king of Judah since David. David was not perfect, but he had a heart that sought after God.[1] Solomon started out strong seeking wisdom from God rather than riches,[2] but in the end his weakness for women sucked him into paganism and idolatry.[3] Rehoboam listened to his friends rather than the advice of the old men, and his lack of wisdom divided the kingdom.[4] “And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 12:14). What was that evil?

And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. (1 Kings 14:22-24)

Abijah, Asa’s father, only ruled for three years. Even though God had given him victory over Israel (the northern kingdom),[5] Abijah followed in the godless steps of his father. “And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 15:3).

Asa followed the example of his great-grandfather, David, rather than in the steps of his father and grandfather. He “did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father” (1 Kings 15:11). Consider some of Asa’s accomplishments:

  • He took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made (1 Kings 15:12; 2 Chronicles 14:3)
  • And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16)
  • And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. (2 Chronicles 14:4)
  • And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13)
  • But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. (2 Chronicles 15:17, emphasis mine)

One might think that Asa was a pretty good king. In fact, the Bible records that He “did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD.” Asa probably felt pretty sure of his standing before God, and there he failed. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame” (Proverbs 11:2). “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Syria had been menacing Israel up north and Asa, wishing to stave off any trouble took it upon himself to take some of the Temple treasure and give it to Benhadad, king of Syria, to buy him off.[6]  It was not so much the misuse of the Temple treasure that angered God, but the fact that Asa failed to consult God first. “Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.” (2 Chronicles 16:7, emphasis mine). God reminded him, “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand” (2 Chronicles 16:8, emphasis mine). Then God gives Asa a lesson in Theology 101: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). The consequence of that lesson was this: “Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”

“Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Asa was angry at God and rather than accept responsibility for his actions, he took his anger out on the messenger and anyone else who might be around. But God did not abandon Asa. He afflicted him with a disease of the feet that “was exceeding great” (2 Chronicles 16:13). The disease was likely intended to bring Asa to his knees in repentance, but instead “he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.”

So died Asa – a good king even in the sight of the Lord, but his pride and lack of repentance in the end destroyed the fellowship he had with the God he loved and the God that loved him.

It is understandable to get mad at God sometimes. It’s okay. He has big shoulders, and He can take it. He understands our heart. But God is God, and we very rarely understand what He is doing in our lives. We need to understand and accept that everything that He does is right. He is never wrong, and He is never unjust. We, as His children, need to trust that He is working everything for good in our lives (Romans 8:28). So, the next time you find yourself mad at God, talk to Him about it, and even if He doesn’t give you the answer you want to hear, keep in mind that He is God, and you are not.


[1] See: 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22

[2] See: 2 Chronicles 1:11; 2 Kings 4:29-30

[3] See: 1 Kings 11:3-11

[4] See: 2 Kings 12:1-19

[5] See: 2 Chronicles 13:3-20; 2 Kings 15:4-5

[6]  See: 2 Chronicles 16:1-6; 1 Kings 15:16-22

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion, Theology