A Sidekick's Blog

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.


It’s All About Me, Right?

May 4, 2015
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Let’s say I’m on a boat on the ocean that was struck in a storm and sank, and I found myself floating on a raft for a couple of days awaiting rescue. On the horizon I see a ship! It looks like it’s getting closer and closer, but then it looks like it’s just going to keep right going past me. Suddenly it turns toward me and I’m rescued!

Am I grateful to the captain of that ship? Oh, yes!

But suppose I assume that the ship is out there only to rescue me. That it has no other reason for being out in the middle of the ocean. Let’s say that I suppose it’s primary mission is saving me. I might tend to think less of her captain even if I am rescued. “What the heck took you so long?”

If I was captain of that ship that had rescued the presumptive, arrogant version of me, I’d order the crew, “See to his medical needs, some dry clothes, a hot meal, then throw his sorry butt in the brig.”

Y’know what? It’s little wonder that so many of those that have been picked up from the Sea of Dead Works are languishing in the brig, so to speak. It’s that arrogant presumption that God’s sole purpose for being is to rescue me, care for me, provide for me, love me, satisfy me, and fulfill me that lands me in the brig – safe, but unhappy; resentful instead of eternally grateful; ashamed instead of humbled; envious instead of content.

When we present the offer of salvation to sinners, we must not do it in a way that leads those who accept it to wind up in the brig with other bewildered souls. It’s not all about saving sinners, it’s all about the glory of God! His ship does not sail the ocean exclusively on a mission to rescue unworthy stowaways. We are sinners, deserving only death and hell. When He rescues one of us, He does so for the glory of His mercy towards the unrighteous, unlovely, filthy, rotten, and undeserving. Those who end up in hell do not do so because He failed to reach them in time. They end up in hell because it is what they deserve, as do I. Even in hell, they remain for the glory of God. They bear testimony to the glory of His holiness, purity, and justice.

The gospel begins and ends with the glory of God, not the well-being and comfort of His enemies! It is good news for the wretched, evil, and undeserving. But it’s purpose is the glory of God, from eternity past to forever beyond time itself.

Perhaps fewer people would respond to the gospel of God’s glory, but at least of that number, fewer will end up in the brig for their arrogance and presumption.

Sorry sinners, it’s not all about you and me. It’s about Almighty, thrice-holy, all-sovereign God. We exist for His glory, whether we are rescued or left adrift to die.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Morality and Education

May 4, 2015
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Robin:

A further explanation of one of the main reasons I decided to drop out of college for now.

Originally posted on CredoCovenant:

In the previous blog, I addressed the second major issue regarding American college education – the promotion and fostering of the autonomous self. Although most social and academic commentators tend to believe that the entitlement mentality of the current generation of students is a relatively recent phenomenon, I believe that this is the fruit of a deeper problem that extends back multiple generations. Over the span of less than 60 years, the mission of college education has dramatically changed. We have abandoned the view that education is a virtuous endeavor (which seeks to train and disciple the mind) and have replaced it with a pragmatic view of education that primarily trains us for future jobs.

Moreover, the morality of education has also taken a rather dramatic shift and this shift has been consistent with the promotion of the autonomous self. Coupled with this moral change, I want to address…

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Imagine

May 1, 2015
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Originally posted on chantrynotes:

lennon Sorry, John, but I had to do it.

In an excellent post in which he admits that he’s a recovering TGC fanboy, Justin Bullington put the following words into the mouth of an imaginary objector to his criticisms: “Imagine if TGC didn’t exist!”

So I did.

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