Monthly Archives: February 2014

Playing Second Fiddle

Play second fiddle definition

To play a supporting or minor role in relation to someone else: “Tired of playing second fiddle, she resigned and started her own company.” In an orchestra, the position of second violinist (fiddle) is not as glamorous as that of first violinist.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

 

When I was a child my oldest brother, Dave, played violin in the High School Orchestra. He was always trying his best to earn the first violin position. The first violin is the premier position and Dave wanted it badly. The problem was that there was always someone just a little bit better than him. From time to time he would earn the top position only to be bumped out of it shortly thereafter.

Since his high school days, Dave has gone on to minister as a pastor. He has never been the senior pastor; he has always served as an associate pastor. For him it is not a question of ability; he would make an excellent senior pastor. At Dave’s last church they went through a string of several Senior Pastors.  Dave was the consistent stable influence that held the church together through those troubled years. In his current position he often fills the pulpit while the Senior Pastor is going through chemotherapy. Dave could be a Senior Pastor but God has called him to be an associate pastor.

My brother David has always played second fiddle and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Let me take you on a brief journey through the Bible to look at some of God’s people who played second fiddle.

Jacob

Some people would say that Jacob didn’t play second fiddle but that is not true. For much of his life he was definitely second place. Remember that Esau was the first born and the favorite of his father. Jacob spent 14 years learning the lesson of humble service (or sometimes not so humble) to his uncle Laban before he was allowed by God to be his own boss.

Leah

Often Leah is overlooked in the Bible. Although Leah was Jacob’s first wife in marriage, she was always second to Rachel in his heart. It didn’t matter what she did, she could never attain the prominence of her sister Rachel, but it doesn’t seem to matter. She still faithfully loved and served her husband giving him 4 of his sons. Rachel only had 2 sons. Rachel gave birth to Joseph who eventually became the savior of the Children of Israel. Leah gave birth to Judah the father of the largest tribe of Israel. It is from Judah that the Christ was born, the savior of the world.

Joseph

Joseph really stands out for his position of playing second fiddle. When Joseph was sold into slavery he was purchased by Potiphar. He served him faithfully until he became second in command. Then he was falsely imprisoned, but that didn’t stop him. Once again he went to work serving the commander of the prison until he was second in command. When he was brought before Pharaoh, Joseph was promoted to the ruler of all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. God use Joseph to save the Children of Israel from starvation and to make them prosper and grow into a nation. And all by playing second fiddle.

Aaron and Moses

The situation with Aaron and Moses is a very interesting one. The Bible, the movies and history put such an emphasis on Moses that we fail to see the part that Aaron played. Originally Aaron was the one that did all the talking. Aaron was the one that spoke to Pharaoh. Even though Aaron did the talking; Moses was the undeniable leader of the duo. Aaron faithfully served Moses and God (with a few slip-ups). We are familiar with Moses talking with God, but we forget that Aaron spent his life approaching God with the prayers and sacrifices of the people. Many times great men and women of God live their entire life in the shadow of a great leader, helping them to succeed. We may never pay much attention to them, but they were never doing it for us; they were serving God.

Ruth

Ruth is one of the best stories in the Bible; amazingly everyone in the story does what they should in accordance with God’s law and everyone is blessed. Ruth is a young widow. She chooses to live with and care for her widowed mother-in-law. Through her humble servant spirit she provides for her mother-in-law physically and emotionally. As a result Boaz fulfills his role as Ruth’s kinsman redeemer. Boaz gets a wife, Ruth gets a husband and provider, Naomi is provided for, and Ruth becomes one of the four women listed in the genealogy of Jesus. And all because she was willing to place her mother-in-law’s needs above her own.

Daniel

Daniel is another man who really stands out in his role of playing second fiddle. Daniel was brought into the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar as an Israelite captive. He quickly distinguished himself as someone who had the wisdom of God in him. Daniel advanced to be the chief Satrap, the top official in the Babylonian government, just under the king (second fiddle). Even though Nebuchadnezzar was pagan king, Daniel worked diligently to make him successful. Daniel’s service continued through four administrations and two empires. Through Daniel’s service the people of God were protected and preserved even while under God’s judgment. God was repeatedly glorified.

Esther

Through a series of very unique circumstances, Esther became the Queen of the Medo-Persian Empire. She was second to the king. Well kind-of. In the Medo-Persian Empire the queen didn’t have any official power and Esther wasn’t even the first wife. She was wife number two. But God used her to save the Hebrew nation from a plot to drive them out of existence. Amazing what God can do working through the person in the second chair with no official power.

The Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 Woman is exhausted as the example of what a Godly woman should be. The focus of most of the chapter is on this woman of great Godly character, diligence, strength, kindness, wisdom and more. I have heard many people praise all of these positive attributes, but I have never heard anyone comment on her position as playing second fiddle. The passage is not addressed to women, rather it is address to a young prince telling him the type of woman he should seek as a wife. The real quality of this woman is that she will serve her family and husband in a way that will allow him to be successful. The passage talks about how he, the husband, is among the elders in the gate of the city. This is where the city leaders hangout and direct the affairs of the city. It is the Proverbs 31 Woman that makes this possible for him.

Throughout scripture God consistently uses this secondary position in a powerful way to accomplish His will.

Jesus

We place such emphasis on Jesus as God that we often forget that He played second fiddle to God the Father.

John 5:30 (NKJV)

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

If you read carefully the healings and miracles of Jesus you will find that the crowds did not praise Jesus. They marveled and praised God.

Matthew 15:31 (NKJV)

So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus never did anything of His own accord; He only did the will of the Father. All that He did was to bring glory to the Father. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus does receive glory honor and praise. He is exalted above all of creation, but even in His exalted position He is in the second chair, sitting at the right hand of the Father.

It seems that God has always had the idea of doing His greatest work through those in a secondary position. From what I can see, it is a consistent pattern in scripture. In God’s plan there is special honor to be place on those who serve faithfully in the second position.

The opposite is also true; those who seek to exalt themselves are humbled. The most horrific example of this is Satan himself. He sought to exalt himself.

Isaiah 14:13-15 (NKJV)

13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

I cannot leave this discussion without commenting on a specific application. Once you understand God’s design for honoring people who serve by playing second fiddle it should create a whole different attitude toward the subject of submission. I have watched pastors as they bring up the subject. They fidget, hem and haw, and make all kinds of qualifying statements before they bring up the subject. I have watched the women stiffen up and clinch their teeth. The muscles in their necks tighten (a stiff-necked people) as they hear the words, “wives submit to your husbands”. And yet all through scripture God has accomplished His greatest work by those who faithfully served from the second chair. This has happened repeatedly even when they were serving under very corrupt masters. These are God’s servants who have received and will receive the greatest honor.

With this understanding I would think that every Christian would be running for the second chair.

Blessed are those who faithfully play second fiddle, God hears the music and is pleased.

Hit Man

The arguing, the yelling, the accusations, the frustration, fear, hiding, guilt, and condemning looks; she just couldn’t go on living like this anymore. Her life was falling apart. This wasn’t what she envisioned her life would be.

She just couldn’t see herself putting up with his shit, fixing his meals and picking up after him.

How she concluded this was the only answer, she was not sure. Never in her wildest dreams would she imagine herself hiring a hit man. How could this be? She glanced to the sides as she got out of the car and headed to the door. She had never been this nerves and afraid in her entire life. They had arranged their meeting at a small business in a strip mall. The place was simple, clean and sparsely decorated, almost sterile. Not the kind of place you discuss such matters. Somehow it seemed inappropriate. Deeds of death should be discussed in hushed whispers, in back allies, hidden in the dark of night.

The hit man was an oddly pleasant man with a soft, deep voice and troubled but understanding eyes. He spoke in terms carefully chosen to hide the reality of their agreement. He was very businesslike. The place, the time and the money; that was all there was to it, at least for him. He tried to make it comfortable and casual, and for him it was. She on the other hand was deeply troubled. As he talked to her mind trailed off. There were so many questions. How would he do it? She wanted to know but she also wanted to separate herself from the details. Wouldn’t someone find out? But how would anyone find out? No one knew him. His life was wrapped up in hers. He could disappear and no one would know. No one would care. She was the only one who had ever cared for him. It was just the two of them and no one else. He could disappear and then she would disappear; go somewhere else and start over, finally free. In some ways it seemed so easy. Yet it shouldn’t be. Could it be? Tomorrow she would be free.

_____________________________________________________________________________

She woke up in a cold sweat. She was cold and shivering. Her legs were shaking uncontrollably. The doctor brushed her hair way from her forehead and in his soft, deep voice he tried to console her, “It will be alright. You can get on with your life now?” His understanding eyes could not hide the deeply troubling truth. The attendant quickly tried to clean up the remaining blood that testified of what she had done.

She burst into tears, crying uncontrollably. “What have I done?    What have I done?     My baby!     My baby!     I’ve killed my baby!      I’m sorry!     I’m sorry!     I’m so sorry.     What have I done?”

The hit man brushed away her hair one more time. Tried to give her a comforting look, but it was empty and cold. He silently turned and went on to his next patient.

As she left the clinic, she cried and cried. She cradled her bag and wished that she had her baby. To hold him, to change his diaper, to feed him, to clean up after him. She was so empty, so alone. Would she ever be free? Free from the knowledge of what she had done?

Michael Sam

Homosexual activists continue to drive gay issues to the front of the news. It has happened again with University of Missouri football player Michael Sam announcing publicly that he is gay. He is a likely cadidate for the NFL. News commentators are picking up the news. They are touting it as a major historic moment. They are claiming it as a major milestone in the gay rights movement. Some are comparing it to Jackie Robinson as the first major league baseball player. There are also the questions as to what this will mean for his career.

I am tempted to just let this go without commenting on it. I hate to give the gay rights movement the attention. At the same time I need to respond to some of the claims and to put the whole issue in perspective.

I really don’t think that anyone is surprised that there is a homosexual in college or professional football. With the case of Jackie Robinson it was clear that blacks had been discriminated in major league sports. I don’t know if there has been discrimination against homosexuals in professional sports. I would think that every team is looking to obtain the best players. I doubt if they would refuse a player based on who they like to have sex with. It would not surprise me if gays have been discouraged from making their sexual preference public as it would likely create controversy and could affect the fan base.

My question is what does a person’s sexual preference have to do with football? Does being gay make you a better football player? Does it make you worse? Of course not. It is really totally irrelevant. Sexual orientation has no bearing on athleticism.

But professional football is not just athleticism; it is much more. It is athleticism and its business with ticket sales, product sales and professional endorsements. The publics attraction to, or rejection of a particular person or team can affect business. The team owners will need to take that into account in this case. Owners have had to deal with these types of issues before. Some players are a real draw because of their personalities and even their personal lives. Others have had personal lives and public behavior that have caused real problems for the owners. Sometimes the more colorful players have helped to keep focus on the team by staying in the news even when their behavior would be considered bad.

Another factor that plays into professional sports is celebrity status. Like it or not, famous athletes are idolized. People worship them and seek to emulate them. I don’t think anyone has a problem in setting them up as examples of people who set goals and work hard to achieve them. In other words athletes should be praise and admired for their athleticism. The problem is that our nature is to go beyond that. We tend to want to create crossovers. We can error in two ways. First we can find someone who is a good athlete and set him up as an example for more than his athleticism. The other is that we don’t like him for some other reason in their personal life and we refuse to give them proper credit as a good athlete.

In recent years we have had some good athletes that are outspoken Christians. Some people have had a problem with that and I can understand why. What does being a Christian have to do with being a good athlete? Nothing. I can also understand that athletes who have the microphone want to use it to speak about things they care about. If a person is a Christian and that is a defining aspect of their life I would expect them to speak about it. Why would they have to hide who they are?

We will see about Michael Sam. It may very well be that his sexual preference is something that he didn’t want to hide and getting it out in the open is a way of not making it become an issue later. It may be that it is a defining aspect of who he is and he will want to make it an issue every time he gets the microphone. The public will have to decide how they want to respond to this aspect of his life. I just hope that the interviewers will let him take the lead. Michael Sam is primarily an athlete. I hope that people and particularly the media will let him be an athlete and not make him an unwilling spokesperson for gay rights. It would be a shame to have his athletic abilities be overshadowed by his homosexuality.

Bill Nye, Ken Ham Debate

Creation / Evolution Debate

A few days ago I watched a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

Bill Nye is famous as the host of Bill Nye the Science Guy, Ken Ham is the director of The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The debate between these two didn’t begin at the Creation Museum. It started when Bill Nye made a U-tube video under the Big Think label. Ken Ham later responded with his own U-tube video. The exchange continued until it culminated in a challenge to a formal debate.

My interest in the debate was not so much about learning something new; I am familiar with most of the arguments on both sides. My real interest was in critiquing the arguments and point out the fallacies on both sides. I am happy to say that the debate was pretty straight forward and kept to the main points without slipping into false arguments and name calling.

I have decided not to go into the specifics of the debate, which would be too tedious. You can watch the debate for yourself online. I am sure there are plenty of people commenting on the arguments and who won and who lost. Instead I will comment on the original comments that led to the debate and why we debate these things at all.

Behind this debate is Bill Nye’s stance that Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design are not scientific theories and should not be taught in schools. He takes it even further to say that to teach such things undermines science as a whole and would slow down, stop or even reverse America’s progress as a world leader.

I would like to pose another question.

Why do we teach the origin of the universe, the world, and man in schools at all?

In third grade we spent a great deal of time teaching about dinosaurs, making papier-mâché models and dioramas. If we really care about America’s future wouldn’t that time be better spent teaching the students to read at grade level, or studying the biology of animals living today. Of what practical value is studying dinosaurs? Rather than studying the evolution of man, why don’t we spend the time teaching the anatomy of man? Students in America can name more extinct plants and animals than they can live ones. They know about “millions of years” of rock formations in the Grand Canyon but they have no understanding of the chemistry of concrete or ceramics that they encounter every day. They know about trilobites but don’t know how to treat an insect bite. Maybe the reason we are falling behind the rest of the world in math and science isn’t that we are not teaching enough evolution, maybe it is because we are wasting our time teach evolution rather than real, practical science.

Back to the question, why do we teach origins at all? It seems that it has almost no practical value. In fact it appears to me that it is a total waste of time. So why are people so adamant that evolution be taught or creation be taught? Ken Ham is right is his analysis to this question. The reason that we teach creation or evolution is that they each reinforce a world view. And that world view is the filter through which all other learning takes place.

Biblical Creationism and Intelligent Design reinforce the idea that there is a creator God. There is meaning and purpose to our existence; we are not just a complex set of chemical reactions. There is a God who created us and we are responsible to Him. If we are to understand creation then we must understand the creator. The convers is also true we can enter into a better understanding of God by understanding His creation and what it teaches us about Him. Stated differently, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Following closely on creation is the fall of man. Man is a fallen and sinful creature desperately in need of a savior. Without God and the work of Jesus we are utterly lost.

Evolution reinforces the principles of humanism and naturalism. The universe has come into being through natural means. There is no evidence of a creator, there is no need for a creator as an explanation of anything that we know. Everything that we know and can know is found through what we can observe in the natural universe. There is no spiritual realm at all. Based on the laws of evolution everything is improving and moving toward levels of higher complexity. Mankind is the pinnacle of evolution; we are at the top and we are responsible only to ourselves. God is non-existent or irrelevant. In the words of the humanist, “Man is the measure of all things”.

So that is it in a nutshell. The only reason to teach origins is to establish a world view. The Christian wants to teach creation to establish a Christian World View, where we are responsible to God. The Evolutionist wants to teach evolution, where we are only responsible to ourselves.

What do you think? Should we teach Creation, should we teach Evolution or should we just stop teaching origins at all and let the students bring their own world view into the classroom?

Choosing Your Heritage

I remember when my oldest son Johnny entered Junior High School. He came home one day and told me, he didn’t know what group he belonged in. He went on to explain that all of the kids had divided into groups. There were the skaters, the jocks, the Mexican kids, the ASB kids, the nerds, tough kids, punks, etc.

Johnny had discovered that things had changed from earlier years. Persons who had been his friends in the past no longer wanted to associate with him unless he clearly identified with their group and disassociated from all others. This was a big dilemma for Johnny, his mother is of Mexican heritage and I am mixture of many white ethnicities. So Johnny had many “Mexican” friends wanting him to identify with them, but he also had friends among the ASB kids, the skaters and others.

I am proud to say that Johnny didn’t give into the pressure to self-segregate. He maintained his friendships within many different groups and it worked out well for him.

As time went on I watched each of my kids go through this struggle of choosing their heritage. For some it was more of an issue than others, but they all went through it at some level.

All of us face the issue of choosing our heritage. Now some of you are saying, “I don’t come from mixed races; it has never been an issue for me.” I beg to differ. Everyone chooses their heritage. Everyone looks at their family history, at their friends, and at their personal history and makes a clear decision and as to who they are.

Recently I have been listening to the books of Kings and Chronicles in my Audio Bible. One of the amazing things that happen is these dramatic shifts from one generation to the next. In the line of the Kings of Judah, David and Jeroboam stand out as the foundational characters against which most of the kings of Judah are measured.

Ahab, an evil king, is the one by which the kings of Israel are measured. The passage will say something to the effect of king so-and-so did evil in the sight of the Lord and followed in the path of his father Ahab. Or it may say that the king did good in the sight of the Lord and followed in the path of his father David. Each king had good and bad in their ancestral line. Each made a choice as to who they would follow; they choose their heritage. Not only did they choose their heritage but they became identified as a descendant of the person they chose.

Each of us chooses our own heritage. If we come from an average family we have many positives and negatives to choose from. We choose who we will follow and in what way.

There is more to it than that. We choose our heritage in our personal lives too. Our lives are filled with good and bad. Good things that have happened to us and bad things that have happened to us. We have done good things and bad things. But we make a choice as to what will define us. We choose our personal heritage. David was a warrior, a murderer, and adulterer, a coward running from Absalom, and the great psalmist of the Lord. But how is he remembered? He is known as “A man after God’s own heart”. David did many things, good and bad, but the thing that stands out above all is his heart for God.

For some people it is difficult to find anything good in their past. There are a few persons who seem to only have bad characters in their families. God has made a series of amazing provisions for this situation. Romans 4 teaches that Abraham is our father in faith. Strange, Abraham, who is not our father, becomes our father when we choose to follow his example of living by faith. Amazing! It gets even better. Romans 5 goes on to teach that we are descendants of Adam and as such we have inherited death, but God has provided for us a new Adam, Jesus. Through Jesus we obtain life in exchange for death. It is just a matter of choosing our heritage. Are we children of Adam, being in Adam when he sinned or are we in Christ and partakers with Him in the resurrection?

There is more! God is the father to the fatherless. He adopts all of us into His family. No matter what your heritage you can become born again and become a child of God.

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! …

Many people feel bound by their past. They make excuses for themselves based on their family history, home life, upbringing, social status, race, childhood tragedies, and past mistakes. The Bible teaches that God gives us the freedom and ability to choose our heritage.

So examine the people in your family line and decide who you are a descendant of. Look at your personal history and decide what will define you. Will you choose to live a life of faith and follow in the pattern of your father, Abraham? And most important will you be born again and become a child of God?

Everyone chooses their heritage. What heritage will you choose?