A Sidekick's Blog

Reflections on the Collapse of the American Republic

July 6, 2015
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Originally posted on chantrynotes:

fireworks So now that the fireworks are over…

As I told my people yesterday morning, I endeavor to never do two things in our church: preach the newspaper and preach the secular calendar. Nevertheless, I did both in one sermon, noting the passage of the republic’s birthday with a sermon addressing its recent demise.

And why do I say that the Republic has collapsed?

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Lessons From Isolation

July 1, 2015
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I wasn’t supposed to be home already, but my company could not find another load for me to haul that would get me back home in time to say goodbye to my little girl before she heads off to Papua, New Guinea as a part of New Tribes Mission‘s team. And since that was of top importance, they’ve got me home early.

I spent all day yesterday looking for local work in my home town and not surprisingly, there are still no jobs that pay much better than part-time minimum wage. So it looks like I’ll be back in the truck again on Monday, out for two weeks. It’s awful, but profitable both financially and spiritually – at least for me, at least for now. It’s kinda funny how some things can be good for one person and tragically devastating for another. Truck driving turns some guys into nasty, dirty, profane animals, while other drivers can take pride in their work and live above the moral grime even out here, living in a box for weeks at a time.

This is the box I’ll be living in again starting Monday:

She’s a beauty, ain’t she? A 2012 Freightliner with a 10-speed transmission, and auxiliary power (so I don’t have to idle the engine to run the air conditioner or heat when I’m not driving, and providing AC electrical power too). This is the first time I’ve enjoyed such luxury in a truck. The last time I tried this was horrible. Idling was forbidden, no auxiliary power was available, so you got your “rest” lying in a pool of your own sweat when it was hot, or shivering where it was cold. When I wake up after a rest break in this truck, I’m refreshed and truly rested. What a difference!

Oh, and it’s not red like I expected. It’s green… like in the original Boy Wonder’s uniform. But that dark green color is my favorite color, so I don’t object. Look for that 474 on the side and if you see me on the road, give a wave! When I’m home someone else uses that truck, so um, maybe you shouldn’t wave after all… unless you see a handsome sidekick in the driver’s seat, singing at the top of his lungs while cruising down the road. I do that a lot. Oh, y’wanna see the inside? Lookie here:

I’ve got lots of storage space, a cozy comfy bunk, stereo speakers, lights, desk space, counter space, padded walls (my first thought was “padded cell“), and a refrigerator that supposedly works (I see lights on, but it hasn’t cooled yet, so to me it’s more like an icebox).

When I get a little money for something other than bills, I’ll add a 12-volt coffeemaker, a throw rug, and maybe a CB radio because some places insist on using CB to inform the drivers that a door is ready for loading or unloading (other than that I have no use for a stupid CB radio). A signal booster for my cell phone too, since several places I’ve gone so far have no cell service (Sprint). And maybe a wifi antenna. I refuse to pay for wifi service, so I really only use it when it’s free. I have no need for a TV or any of that stuff. But I am gonna collect CDs of sermons I miss at church so I can listen in the truck, since decent Christian radio is increasingly rare. There are usually some of those “Christian” bubble-gum stations, but good stuff like Moody radio is hard to find on the road. I could try one of those satellite radio things I suppose, when money isn’t so darn tight.

Okay so much for the physical / material stuff. The important stuff is how my Father and Hero are using these circumstances for God’s glory and my good! It has been so amazing. To sum up in a single word, I would choose the word TRIUMPH! Here is how:

I am winning my battles in the same way that my Lord Jesus Christ won His own victory: Surrender! Stay with me now, I know that doesn’t sound very much like victory and triumph, but hang in there and I’ll explain.

The Enemy is sin and death. Not Satan, not evil, but sin and it’s effects. If the enemies of Christ had understood what He was up to, they would not have crucified Him (1st Corinthians 2:8)! Yet “He has now reconciled us in His body through death (Colossians 2:22),” paying the penalty for our sin and liberating His followers from the terrible justice of God for our guilt. His surrender is our victory! But He was not ultimately defeated. The Father resurrected Him following His atoning sacrifice, and in Him we too will inherit resurrection! Ultimate victory! His surrender is more than just victory over the PENALTY of our sin, but also over its POWER over us. And one fine day, over it’s very PRESENCE which interferes at times with our relationship with Him, now that we are sinners are reconciled to holy God.

“If You wish me to live in a truck until You return for me, I’ll do it,” I said, finally, after two days of random, uncontrollable crying jags at the so-called hardship of trucking. I have been reading Peter’s epistles lately in my quiet time, and following Peter back to the Old Testament scriptures he frequently quotes in his letters. In those passages I continually find that rebels get away with nothing in the end; that God always rescues a faithful remnant that serves Him; that even death itself is no victory over His own. In such surrender to Him, I continually win victory after victory over the “after-effects” of my forgiven sin.
The Surprising Effects of Victorious Surrender

It gives me immunity from road rage. There are a lot of really stupid idiots on the roads these days. My victory keeps me from cursing them and allows me to do the opposite! “Lord bless that poor idiot so that he doesn’t kill himself or anyone else” comes out of my mouth instead of the “normal” calls for damnation. As a forgiven sinner, I am certainly in no position to condemn anyone else!

The isolation I have surrendered to gives me victory over my old carnal thought life. “Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2nd Corinthians 10:5)” is something I never truly acknowledged as even being possible for me until now. I can recite His word, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs at the top of my lungs all day long (impossible in most jobs, but easy in a big rig), and pray literally all day long! Prayer in which I actually do more listening than speaking, which is awesome. Idle time is a huge threat to most people. In fact being idle has usually been very dangerous – spiritually speaking – for me! But now I am never bored. And never really idle, since I fill my time behind the wheel with worship and prayer.

I’m losing weight! I worried that I’d get fat and disgusting sitting on my well-fed butt for a living, but I rarely ever get hungry even when I’m not driving. I don’t snack out of boredom like I used to. And I drink more water now than before. I feel healthier and happier surrendered to a Master who cares more for me than anyone.

You benefit from my victorious surrender as well. Because I pray all day long for you. My prayers are guided by His word and Spirit, by the names in my church directory; family, missionaries, churches, leaders both spiritual and civil, members of the military, prayer for God-breathed revival instead of this manufactured fake stuff that we see so far. With a prayer warrior on your side who is free to battle in prayer all day long, you too, dear reader, directly benefit from my surrender. I think it’s the least I can do, since I owe such a vast debt of love not only to my heavenly Father, but to all those who have battled in prayer for me for many years! I am happy for a chance to replay the kindness, knowing that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).”

My church is studying the book of Romans on Sunday mornings. We may be there for years, the way our pastor handles it, expositing a single book at a time. I can hardly wait ’til we get to chapters 7 and 8 where it tells more about this wonderful surrender! It’s okay to look ahead… to know more of what I’m writing about here, please refer to Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

Back on the road soon,
Robin


The Document No Man Can Shred

June 30, 2015
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Robin:

So relevant among those of us (including me) who have mistakenly placed far too much faith in the Constitution!

Originally posted on CredoCovenant:

When my daughter sets her mind to something, she’s always devastated when she doesn’t get it. I try to tell her that she should not invest so much hope in the object, but she inevitably sets herself up for disappointment. If we adults are honest, we do it too. I would argue that many of us have done so in recent years. We have placed our hope in men’s words, when really we should be putting our hope in the word of our God in heaven.

The Shredded Constitution

Nothing new to your ears, I’m sure, but the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down a major decision yesterday. SCOTUS essentially broke contract with the states by interpreting the United States Constitution in such a way that gave them permission to override the sovereignty of the states and the voice of the people who had voted in those…

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Another Adventure Begins!

June 18, 2015
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This is my last selfie from the Batmobile. Our heavenly Father has seen fit to send me on another new adventure, but not as a sidekick this time. After a failed attempt to make it in the insurance business, which was basically door-to-door sales to businesses, I have been forced to seek out a “regular” job. But in this economy, jobs are scarce. Part-time, minimum wage, you get the picture. Thank you, Democrats and RINOs. May none of you pretenders ever influence public policy again. Anyway:

The Robinmobile is red (naturally), diesel, 10-speed, and weighs 40 tons fully loaded. Yessir, back in a big rig again. It breaks my heart to have to do it. But believe it or not, I’m the youngest driver there. Almost all of these guys are on Medicare and Social Security but they have to keep working, thanks again to Democrats and RINOs. I swore I’d never do this again after the last time just about killed me emotionally, being alone and lonely for so long, with no practical “life” outside of the truck. But it pays the equivalent of $18/hour approximately. That’s enough for us to climb out of this fiscal hole we find ourselves in again, thank you Democrats and RINOs – and one Boy Wonder for letting it get this bad before dumping the Aflac business for something that depends on my own time and effort rather than waiting for someone else to finally say “we’re ready, let’s do this.”

Remind me to swap that W for my Robin logo

It’s been many years since I did this over-the-road thing. I thought I was all done with that life. I very nearly gave up my CDL for a regular license just because it’s a lot cheaper (and tickets have far less impact on a regular driver’s license than on a CDL). I’m deeply sad about it. I cried for an hour yesterday and couldn’t turn off the tears. Again today in the pastor’s office talking about it. Actually, it’s very good that I can weep openly about the loss of my “normal” lifestyle, while at the same time rejoicing in God’s provision and feeling excited about what He’s going to do next!

I wouldn’t dare compare what I’m feeling to what my daughter must be feeling, but I think it might be similar. She and her husband are flying across the planet in a little over two weeks to begin the missionary work they have been preparing for for years. Giving away most of their stuff, all their worldly possessions fit in a couple of suitcases and carry-on bags now. Off to Papua, New Guinea! Please have a look at their blog (www.ntm.org/Josh_Verdonck) and send up some prayers for them! You might even join me in partnering with them financially. It’s an honor and privilege to do so! I don’t know if she’ll have a crying jag like I did, but Erin, if you’re reading this, it’s okay if you do or don’t – but I sure needed it. I’m thinking she already has. And I don’t even know if mine is really finished yet. :D Anyway, I think I can kinda sorta relate a little to how Josh and Erin must feel, and I hope my own divided heart somehow brings us closer “in spirit.”

Anyway, I’m gonna make this fun. Audio sermons to ponder while driving, lots of time to sing at the top of my lungs without anyone telling me not to, seeing different places all over the country. No matter how old I get, I’m still the Boy Wonder. Just ask my wife. So I’ll post pictures and stuff, and thoughts while on the road. It’s likely to be sporadic, both here and on Keachfan’s Theology Thursdays column, but I love to write and communication is very important to me – as I’m sure it is to every missionary who may feel forgotten by those back home when they don’t hear from them often! So if you get nothing else from this post, at least get that: Communicate with those you love! Especially to those who are far away (geographically).

Heavy-hearted and excited all at once,
Robin


Naturalism and Education

June 16, 2015
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Robin:

Why those “fluffy” Humanities, History, and Philosophy college courses really matter.

Originally posted on CredoCovenant:

In this blog series, I have been examining the effect of sin on the quality of higher education. In particular, I have been examining how worldview changes (and their subsequent effects of society) have led to a change in the quality of higher education as well as the mission of higher education. Most of these changes can be described by examining how the presence of sin in our hearts negatively affects and undermines the human mind and intellect (otherwise known as noetic effects of sin). In previous blogs, I addressed general problems with higher education, but in this blog I want to focus my critique on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. In my view, the fourth major issue associated with contemporary education is the growing neglect of philosophical self-reflection and training in the STEM fields. One important aspect of contemporary education which needs to be recovered is the…

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A Word to Insurance Company Recruiters

June 6, 2015
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A Word to Insurance Recruiters: It’s Not a Job, It’s a Business!

I am left open-mouthed when I meet some of the people recently recruited as independent agents for the insurance company I represent. A number of these folks seem to think they’ve been hired at a job, rather than invited to start their own business. I must admit, I started the same way. But I quickly came to understand that being an independent insurance agent is not a job. There’s no hourly wage, no boss to report to. My pay depends on a great investment of both money and time. It took me two months to get any return on my investment, since I couldn’t invest at least 8-10 hours a day for weeks just to build a base from which to work.

I didn’t tell my recruiter how desperate for money I was. Like many Americans, one or two paychecks away from homelessness. I needed a paycheck immediately. Another new recruit I met this week is using a borrowed car with only a half tank of fuel, living with relatives, and desperate for a fast buck. It’s not going to happen. If this were a regular job, maybe in a week or two. But this is your own business. You have to spend money to make any. You have to invest time (in training, prospecting, licensing), and money (in gas for getting to the training, meetings, and prospects; in appropriate clothing, sturdy shoes that get worn out going door to door; in the little trinkets that make approaching businesses effective). Why was someone like this kid recruited anyway? Why wasn’t he (nor I too for that matter) told that this opportunity is a big investment with the promise of handsome returns if one has the time and money to invest in starting their own business? The newest recruit is a nervous, awkward, clueless nerd who wore the same outfit to work three days in a row. He couldn’t sell insurance any more than I could fly to the moon. Stringing him along is a cruel waste of his time.

It’s cheaper to retain good people than to hire new ones. And it’s reasonable to expect a recruiter to explain the nature of the opportunity, rather than to set needy people up to fail and leaving them worse off than before. Recruiters, take note: Most people – especially kids right out of school – don’t have a clue what being an independent insurance agent entails. Do a little screening before you have a needy person sign a contract, willya? Insurance agents can’t invest the time and money they should to succeed when they’re counting pennies and worried about late rent, having utilities cut off, cars repossessed, and money just to eat and buy gas to get to work. Don’t sell Independent Insurance Agent as “a job.” It’s an opportunity – and a great one! But it isn’t for “job seekers.” Do yourself – and the rest of us – a big favor by recruiting honestly and choosing new recruits wisely and with kindness. Don’t bring on a clueless newcomer to compete with your experienced agents in the same market. It’s cruel, and it’s plain stupid. Too much is invested in training new agents to see it all get flushed because a recruit wasn’t told what he’s getting into.  An agent can’t follow through on accounts he creates if his car has been repossessed by the time they finally “pull the trigger” and arrange an enrollment, or he has run it out of gas, or his electricity has been turned off, or he’s answering an eviction notice.

Wednesday I’m starting a new job. A regular job with a regular paycheck. My sales coordinators won’t like it, but I’ve got to go part time as an agent, and full time at a job that can keep the bills paid. Technically they can’t “fire” me since I’m an independent agent; my own “boss,” so to speak. But it’s likely they’ll “encourage” me to turn all my accounts over to someone else and quit altogether. That’s okay with me.  I’ve only actually closed one account, and my commission was a three-way split between a broker and another agent. So no big loss.

Back to the regular workforce, with a regular paycheck, for a regular guy.  I gave it a good shot and it was worth it, but insurance sales is a cutthroat business with great potential for high income – and along with it high responsibility, high competition, high drama, and high risk.  It’s not for the timid.  And not for needy, clueless kids like “John” who stand no chance of making it in such a high-pressure cutthroat business.  I know that my regional and district sales coordinators are required to regularly recruit a certain number of new agents every month, but the rush for “good numbers” should not leave such tragedy in it’s wake.  While the company I represent has won awards for being among the most ethical companies in America, this recruiting game is, to be blunt, unethical and cruel when the numbers come to matter more than the people who get recruited.

 


Those Dastardly Young People Leaving Church

May 30, 2015
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Robin:

Read this one first, then it’s follow up at https://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/the-real-reasons-why-youth-are-leaving-church/

It’s not what you think, I promise.

Originally posted on hipandthigh:

hipsterThe last few years have seen a crush of hand-wringing, panicked stricken articles and books bemoaning how today’s youth are abandoning traditional churches and Christianity altogether once they reach college age.

The authors of these garment rending laments are often self-appointed pop cultural analysts who believe they are on the front lines of the modern culture war assailing Christians everywhere. They are anyone from parachurch apologists to popular youth personalities, and they are sounding the alarm about the exodus of young people from Christianity who were raised in loving Christian homes whose parents took them to church regularly, taught them the Bible, and in many cases enrolled them in Christian schools or homeschooled them.

Once they leave home for the first time, those fresh young people are genuinely exposed to the “real world” and their naivete is dashed up against the rocks of secularism. They come to recognize the folly of religious…

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What Walter Chantry Really Said in 1966

May 18, 2015
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Robin:

Even as the Reformation is making inroads back into the Southern Baptist Convention, this is still as relevant today as it ever was. As long as we have SBC ministers in good standing who cannot even articulate the true gospel of Christ, the need for the rest of us to associate for the greater good remains.

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

wc Chantry at the 1966 Pastor’s Conference

It came to my attention over the weekend that my father’s sermon from the 1966 Pastors’ Conference in Carlisle, PA has been going the rounds on the internet. That conference was the first formal gathering of Reformed Baptists, and it was also the scene of earliest efforts to establish a Reformed Baptist association. Those efforts bore fruit two years later in the establishment of the RBA – forerunner to RBMS and ultimately to ARBCA.

The subject of the address – Christian Unity – has obvious implications for the project to build a confessional and associational movement among Reformed Baptists. As such, I thought it worthwhile to have a listen myself. I have never heard one of my father’s sermons from so early on; what struck me most was the presence of certain themes which I have heard from him all my life and continue…

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6 Things Christians Should Stop Saying

May 15, 2015
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Robin:

A plea against Christian triteness…

Originally posted on Gospel Relevance:

We all have that one friend that consistently says cheesy Christians clichés. I think most of us would agree that this is typically, well, very annoying. This is intensified when the sayings aren’t biblical. The motive behind saying them are usually noble, but they often simply aren’t true or helpful.

So, what are some of them?

Stop Saying

Below are six things that Christians should stop saying:

1) Let Go and let God.  This phrase is typically used when in a trial. In a sense, I adore the “letting go” part if that means resting in God’s sovereignty, but when facing trials and tribulations, there are simply a lot of things that we can actually do. We can pray, study Scripture, confess sin, repent of sin, seek help from wise counsel, weep, mediate on Scripture, serve others, etc. “Letting go” has too much of a passive feel to it; it denotes that we…

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Simplify!

May 5, 2015
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I have got to un-complicate my stressed-out life before I work myself into a heart attack or something. Maybe I’m getting too old for all these new beginnings, I dunno.

  • I’m training for a new career as an insurance agent and it’s high-pressure, high-stress, very complicated stuff. I have some prospects, but nothing certain.
  • I quit my lousy-paying job to do this, so I was already behind the eight ball when I started.
  • I have final exams at college this week, and I’m not doing well in two of my classes.
  • I’ve decided to drop out of college for now until I figure out what I’m doing there. Teaching as a second career is off the table.
  • I need a paycheck RIGHT NOW. I’m that close to the edge of oblivion.
  • I owe back taxes and can’t pay them.
  • My shoulder hurts a lot. It might keep from getting a decent-paying job.
  • My daughter is moving half a world away soon, to a third-world country.

Is that enough stress yet?

There’s always Calgon, but with my luck I’m probably allergic to it.

I covet your prayers, dear readers.


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