Tag Archive: choices


patriotism & football

Image result for freedom and football

trying to put into words what’s going on in our country & how the actions of another affect us all…not easy; but necessary.

as you probably already know, a marginal quarterback on a bad team made a statement by sitting down during the national anthem of a preseason football game.  for the record, he did this for the previous 2 games & no one noticed.  also noted on the record, this young man’s outspoken nature on issues of social justice are well documented on his twitter & instagram accounts.  [no, i’m not going to give you all the links, you know how the internet works]

for a moment, let’s set aside weather or not we agree with his action & consider his message, his protest.  what is he protesting?  his assertion is that the words we sing & pledge do not represent the nation we currently live in.  and i’m aware of the fact that the songs & the pledges we make call us, as a nation, to an ideal & a better way.  so when this athlete makes a statement by sitting down what he’s saying, through words he’s later give,  [my paraphrase] we’ve missed the mark.  the inequality that exists in this country is real.

freedom defended & lived out

many, many people have said that for him to not stand during the national anthem is a direct disrespect to those that serve to defend & provide that freedom.  so the qb said that his protest in no way is a disrespect to those in the capacity of freedom protectors.  i think it matters what those in that service have said about the protest.  yes, there have been many that have said it’s offensive to them & the job they have.  but there have been many others that have said, openly, that the freedom they protect is the very freedom that allows him to protest.  let’s remember, this was not a violent outburst; it wasn’t even, at the start, verbal; it simply was an objection to the inequity that exists in our country.  additionally, the minute we’re telling someone how they can protest & what they can or cannot say – that’s no longer freedom.

suffering’s voice

there has been some debate about whether or not a wealthy athlete should have anything to say about suffering & those that are on the bottom.  the idea that because he’s rich, & lives in the pretend world of athletics, and doesn’t understand suffering & struggle, so therefore; “go play your games & shut up.”  the approach baffles me.  in the world at large it’s understood that those who have a platform [wealth, fame, power] should, at some level, use it to speak up for those who have not.  in this country especially, the poor, abused & used have no voice.  we don’t listen to someone who’s down & out.  so it is the job of those who have to speak up for those who have not.  this is not just a “good thing to do as a good person”, but this is a biblical principle.  your life isn’t just about you, and at some level; regardless of position & power, you should pour your life into the lives of others.

“he should have done it differently”

this is something that i’ve heard, you probably have too.  “if he was going to protest, he should have used a different method.”  what should have been the “different method”?  and even in choosing a different way to protest or bring attention to the issues, would it have been as effective?  the road to change beings with conversation & that is what’s been happening lately.  i’ve then heard some say things like, “his message is getting lost in all the conversation about the protest itself.”  if we’re too willing to talk about the protest instead of what the protest was about, that’s on us.  we’re the problem then.  that leads me to this…

the biggest problem

this is my opinion & i’ve not heard much else said about this, but here’s what i think is at the root of our nation.

we don’t want to talk about racial tension & inequality.  we’ll debate about who’s right & who’s wrong.  we’ll talk about guns & police brutality.  we’ll even try to talk about the politics that surround this issue.  but when it comes to racial & gender inequality we will talk circles around it, distracting ourselves with peripheral issues that may or may not be contributing factors.  they may just be things that distract & dilute issues at play.  this is not good!

listening in the midst of disagreement

this is the hardest part.  congratulations for making it this far in the article, i suppose that there are some who may have rushed to the comments section or have found the unlike/unfriend buttons by now.  and if you decide to unfriend/unfollow/delete/rail against that’s fine.  you’re entitled to your opinion & subsequent action.  but this last part is really important:

dialogue is hard because it requires us to listen to the other side before we jump in & try to change their opinion.  to truly hear what’s happening behind the words.

the book of james [bible] speaks to this idea strongly:

"everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" [james 2:19]

man this is hard!  to be willing to listen to someone that you are certain you don’t agree with.  our wheels are greased on this because of the political we find ourselves in.  we find ourselves primed & ready to pounce the minute that someone speaks.  we’ve found an issue or two we agree with & that becomes our point to make.  and we’ve stopped listening & instead are looking for a break in the conversation to speak our mind; finish reading, but not digesting the content, instead racing to the keyboard to get our response on-line.

patriotism is a delicate & valuable thing.  & when it’s challenged we want to push back; and we should. but we should also remember that the founding fathers believed in an ideal of what it meant to be a nation; where privilege isn’t dependent upon social status or wealth, where speaking up should not be censored simply because we don’t like the message or method, where dialogue matters & challenges to the system are in our roots.

so listen well, think hard & speak with wisdom…

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in a new learning opportunity through udemy i’m taking a course with seth godin as the facilitator.  if you’re not familiar with him you should be…if you’re interested in learning & thinking about things in new ways.

part of this course if an interaction with others through the on-line community, both that we’re already connected to & a new community of those that are also taking the course.

the first session is distinguishing the difference between leadership & management.

the prime difference here is that management maintains the direction that a group or organization is already heading.  so managers are important, very important.  leaders are different though.  they are the ones that have an idea or a new approach to something.  they may not know how to get there but know that it needs to be pursued.  godin says that it’s even possible; likely even, that they don’t quite know how to get there, to that thing that needs to be done.

so one of the questions posed to us doing the course work: is leadership a choice?

i do believe leadership is a choice.  any of us can choose to follow the lead of another, and we often do just that; again, nothing wrong with that.  i sure don’t want to  have to discover everything on my own, i want someone to show me which car to buy & where the best new place to eat is located & what to order when i get there.

but there are places that i desire, very much, to seek out the thing that hasn’t been done yet, the new thing, the refurbishing what was once discarded, understanding a new direction.  i could look at those things, which are difficult & filled with potential problems & chose not to engage.  but i make a conscious choice to jump in & pursue what others may set aside.

another part of this is that leadership is something that’s done in concert; there are those that come along with you; and without them the new thing, the unattainable, the impossible remains just that.

i love the communal aspect of this, that together we do something that cannot be done alone.  if you work alone, godin says, you’re an artist.  but it you engage in something that requires the addition of others then you’re a leader.

oh may i be a leader…

670px-React-to-a-Gift-You-Do-Not-Like-Step-1

just this past sun., and in fact the past couple of weeks have been difficult to get out what i’ve felt like God has placed inside me.  leaving me with a feeling of things unsaid.

yesterday, while putting the house together with Christmas decorations this thought hit me; as if saying, “this is what you were trying to say on sunday.”

john5 tells of Jesus walking to the pool of bethesda where the man crippled lay for 38 years.  in short, Jesus heals the man & does what Jesus does, He slips away only to return later.  the man is carrying his mat; which Jesus told him to do; and the keepers of the law [we could call them “good church-folk”] aren’t happy that he’s working on the sabbath.

by the time Jesus shows up on this particular day to do this particular work of God working on the sabbath had 39 different categories.  within those categories there were some specifics on what you could & couldn’t carry.  specifically you were not allowed to pick up & put down things in a manner that resembled work.  so what the man, who use’ta-couldn’t walk, was doing was way out of bounds.

the thing that hit me yesterday was that the religious people, who were very good at being good, rushed right past the miracle on the way to the ordinary.

i don’t mean to say that being a good person should just be put aside & not recognized.  but being good isn’t what God came here for; that you and i would be good people.

He comes to do the miraculous…

and then the question that should come to mind:  am i guilty of doing this?

in this season may we make sure that we’re not simply engaging in the ordinary, the usual, the common-place of the season

…as good & enjoyable as all that is;

only to miss out on the miraculous that God is desperately trying to unveil right before our eyes.

by the way, merry Christmas!

very recently i was drawn into a conversation that, truthfully, ranged all over.  these are good conversations because they have the possibility of opening doors that we may never consider.

part of the conversation touched on thoughts of what “used to be”; that is remembering a very fond time with a specific group of people & a little of mourning the loss of & disconnection to those relationships.

i was a part of that time in history for this person & i remember those times & those days & i have to concur with the sentiment; those WERE good times!  i remember them well.

drake-hold-on-were-going-home

a phrase i’ve heard before; “you can never go home”

we can physically go back to places we’ve been before, but it always feels a little different, not quite the same.  i remember this walking into my elementary school dropping off or picking up my kids as they attended the same school.  that place feels small now!  it must have shrunk!  it had to have changed, because it doesn’t feel the same.  grant it, it still looks the same, but it’s not the same…at least for me.

obviously we’ve all experienced this, and it’s why that phrase is true; you really can’t go home again.  this is a mental issue much more than a physical issue.  when we remember & recall we’re remembering some very specific things about a specific place in time, many times with some very specific people.  and that moment is calcified in our minds.  so if the memory is good, the calcification is a good thing.  if the memory is bad; well, not as good.

when the memories are good this human condition can also known as nostalgia.  this is when we look back with great fondness on something & little parts of us want to return to that moment.  the trouble with nostalgia is that not only that our memories are built from our specific vantage point, but that they are always in the past.  i know, not a revolutionary thought, and not what you came here for.  no one’s ever said, “i remember tomorrow fondly.

WHAT GOD’S UP TO

one of the things that God does with us, if we’re willing to pursue Him, He’s always drawing us into the future, creating new paths for us to walk, new understandings of Him & what He has for us.

the trouble with nostalgia is that it can take a strong root in our hearts.  yea, our hearts.  when our hearts get involved there is a great possibility to grow increasingly emotional about an event or moment in time or a way of doing something.  this can become problematic because that nostalgia can keep us from seeing a future God has in mind for us, thus keeping us  in a perpetual state of longing for something that will never return.

community is tricky.  it requires a level of transparency that many of us are uncomfortable with.  community, for it to really work well, needs to have some honest, truth-telling.  even truth-telling about the past; “hey, that thing you remember so fondly…let me tell you about it from my perspective, the people involved, the larger picture of what all was going on then.”  done with grace & love for one another, this can be a beautiful thing.

WHEN DOES NOSTALGIA BECOME A HINDRANCE TO TOMORROW?

at the risk of being vague or providing no real handles for us today, i do think it depends on one thing…you.

if, in your remembering, your longing for what once was is greater than your hope for the future…

if you remember yesterday with fondness & angst or frustration or even anger for the future…

if more of your conversation revolves around “the good old days”…

if reasons for not venturing into the new are “we’ve never done it that way before”, or, “i don’t think i’d like that”…

if you’re living out the words of the springsteen song, “i hope i don’t sit around trying to recapture the glory, but i probably will”…

if we are surrounded by a community of people that are very much like us this is a trend that will be harder to break.  because this is a trend that will show up in our lives.

if though, our community is diverse in age, race, economic demographic, taste & even fashion our hearts will be soft toward change, the new, unusual & different.  and it is there that God has great freedom to moves us, change our direction & draw us closer to Him.

to my friends that are struggling to connect with a new group of people, to those that find it hard to experience the new, hoping to not forget the past, to those that fell like part of them dies with the advent of new things, remember;

“He is new every morning, great is His faithfulness” [lam.3:23]

meaning that God is already in tomorrow waiting for you…in the new things He desires to show you.

so recently, after a series of worship & teaching gatherings at church, someone said to me something along these lines; “i’m just sad for the people thatrotator_0005_community-togetherness chose not to take part in what we had.”  she was telling me, along with a few other people that the recent gatherings we’d had were among the most meaningful in recent memory.

i try to be careful & not hang too much of my ego on these kinds of things, because i can start to believe the hype & begin to think, “i am pretty great aren’t i?”  thin ice, very thin ice!

but as she said those things i was recalling the way we evaluate our attendance at such events & gatherings.  more to the point, the reasons we have for not attending.  and i am in no way wanting to discredit our attending or not attending.  i know that some of the reasons we have are highly legitimate & valid.

part of the struggle comes down to our expectations on what we think will happen at such events.  then there’s the expectation we have on what it will cost us.

at the event/gathering

some of us are so trapped in our thoughts & memories of what used to happen & what was that we can’t see it being any better than what it was or it’s going to be just at bad as it ever was.

the memory of yesterday can be a difficult one to shake.  if you’ve ever had  a bad church experience; well, let’s just say “if you’ve ever been to church for very long at all…” then you probably have an association with a problematic situation, person or event.  and that memory can easily cloud everything else.  just think about names for a newborn baby.  make a suggestion & anyone who’s ever had a “bad association” with that name & you’re going to hear about it.

so our imagination can struggle to keep up with the “reasons why this is thing here, is going to stink.”

so we choose not to attend.

the day of the event/gathering

there’s also the struggle with the energy we have, knowing that it’s only so much.  and when the energy & strength is gone we know we need rest.

it’s so true that we need to be aware of the limited time & energy we have on a given day/week.  so many people have taxing jobs with deadlines & things that must be done & we don’t have much to give or attend to at the end of the day

because of these expectations there is a fall-out.  we don’t end up making it a priority, it never makes it to the calendar & we end up missing out entirely.

those who may also attend

if we’re aware of who else might be there, and we have a difficulty with that person/family/group that becomes the dominant issue keeping us from being a part.

“i don’t like the way i was treated by them.  i’m not a fan of that person.  we had a little blow-up a while ago.”

overall i also believe that we’re trapped into thinking in very limited terms.  

the limitations aren’t confined to just us.  i also believe that we end up limiting God in what He can do for & through us.

we end up thinking & then believing in very human terms.  meaning that our actions are built out of the limited world we live in.  and so we don’t allow the limitless power & scope of God to enter our decision-making paradigm.

here’s how it’s played out in my own life:

“i’m so wiped out tonight, i don’t think i can go.  i just don’t have the energy”

“i’ve been to one of those before & it just wasn’t that great.”

and the list of reasons continues to pile up.

and as they pile up we become more and more convinced that there is just no way that we should be there.  and that’s the human dynamic of this life.  but as people of God shouldn’t there be a supernatural component to our lives, that connection with God that supersedes our humanity.

i’m not talking about something that you make up or play make-believe with.  but the activity of God in your life that reminds you that you’re not in charge & that He’s the one who’s really “got this”.

out of that sprouting a belief that God can meet you in the midst of your tired, weary body & spent emotions;  and restore you so that you end up receiving something powerful.

that in the midst of the failed programs of the past God can do something brand new, and that it might just need your involvement & connection to make it new & beautiful.

a belief that maybe, just maybe God can restore broken relationships.  you can receive healing where you need it.  and that you will have the courage to offer healing to those that are in need of it.  because remember, in broken relationships there are 2 people that have participated to some degree; and you’re one of those people.

it’s critical that we realize that the communities that wed’re a part of need us & that we need them; in all of their flawed, failing, difficult, messy, beautiful & God-revealing wonder.  so get in there, stop standing on the outside waiting for the right moment.  that moment is now…

 

this issue has been brewing in me for a while now…bill-of-rights there are a host of difficult issues at play with the activation of the religious freedom act.

 FEAR

both sides of this issue have fear as a motivating factor.  for those that believe on one should be with-held services because of their sexual orientation through the lens of religious belief the fear could be placed at the feet of the question; “what’s next?  who are they going to bar next?  don’t i have the right to eat & sleep where i want?  isn’t this a free country where no one shall be unfairly judged or mistreated because of their nationality, creed, etc.?” the fear coming from the other side of the issue may sound like this; “if we, who morally object to this lifestyle, are forced to set aside our beliefs what’s next?  what will they take away next, our right to freely gather, our right to worship our God without mistreatment & persecution?” for the follower of Jesus the conversation, for me, begins in the wrong place. Jesus tells His disciples [and us] to not be afraid.  to let go of our fear, to trust in Him.  i kind of wonder, as one who is a follower of Christ, that our fear [Christ-followers] is a simple lack of faith that God has all things under His control.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

-mk.4:40

 something’s that at stake here for us all, is the answer to this question:  will you & i live in fear with what might happen if…? if we get under the surface at all that’s much of this is all about.

“are we headed back to segregation?”

“what will the government make us do next?”

“is this the end of religious freedom?”

“is this the end of my personal freedom?”

WORRY

are you, am i [as a follower of Christ], willing to trust in God that He has it under control? Jesus was very explicit that if we followed Him it would get tough [putting it lightly – He actually said we could die].  but that struggle, difficulty, persecution doesn’t mean that God had let go of the wheel & mayhem is on the loose.  it simply means that the struggle continues & government, no matter it’s form or goals, does not have the last word. “but what about the WORD of God standing tall?  don’t you want that?”   of course i  do.  but judgment is best reserved for God and God alone. accountability for actions is served best in the context of relationship.  picket lines & petitions don’t allow for any relationship & draw lines of one side against another; and i’m just not that interested in doing that.  i’m more interested in the love i show & how it reveals the work of Christ in me, broken & hypocritical as i can be.

 LOVE

as followers of Christ we are continually walking a thin line between demonstrating the love of Christ & doing whatever we want.  i saw a facebook post earlier this week from a friend when he simply reminded us that Jesus hung out with the prostitutes, tax collectors & those who partied too much.  and in the eyes of the religious elite, ruined His character. Jesus’ time here on earth was spent with those that the “church folk” didn’t want to have anything to do with.  and all Jesus does is spend time with them, offering them a chance to have a relationship with God. a God they may not have known. 1283-Indiana-Religious-Freedom-Restoration-Act-Frequently-asked-questions a God they may have felt abandoned by. a God they were not invited to know. we all have a tendency to get our rights all mixed up in all kinds of things.  as a follower of Jesus my rights take a back seat to the real call on my life; to love well.  Jesus tells us that how we love communicates whom we follow, so He says love others in the same way He has loved us.

 there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. the one who fears is not made perfect in love.      

1jn.4:18

 so our worry & fear stand in the direct path of God’s working in the midst of the muddy, murky water of life.

 FINALLY

the whole truth of how this all plays out is yet to be determined, but i have said this for a long time.  i believe that it’ll be settled by the wallet & not much else. we like money more than we like almost anything.  and this decision will have a financial impact on indiana more than the religious or LGBT community. when our wallets are affected we become different people, almost entirely regardless of our beliefs & convictions.  we have placed a great deal of importance on money & the false security it provides…

…but that’s probably a topic for another time.

so in the mean time love well, in the manner that Jesus loved. lay your worry to rest; and don’t let you fear be your spokesperson.  that guy gets enough air time.

50/50

friendshpin a recent conversation with my wife we were talking about a difficult situation where a leader had misused his power & influence; and had mistreated several people in the process.  the story goes that he & some of the people he leads had been overlooked in the midst of an accomplishment.  it was, from what i could tell, an honest mistake; but a mistake none-the-less.  this guys response was less than gracious & he really went after the people responsible.  what makes this worse is that some of those he went after were high school students.

this is all, of course, very disappointing.  but it spurred an interesting conversation with my wife & i.  and let me just say, she is very smart!  what she said, i think, we’ve talked about before but she immediately hit the nail on the head.

she said this:  “i’ve learned that it’s only about 1/2 of what you actually know [in your given field] & the expertise that you bring to the table that matters in how well you do your job.  the other 1/2 is how you treat people.

i know, brilliant!

i do believe this is absolutely true.  the measure of who we are as people is reflected in how well we treat others & the respect that’s given.  and here is the thing that takes it up a level:

the strength to consistently do this; give respect to those that we work with & give them space for mistakes to be made, this is found in a consistently deepening relationship with Christ.

if we’re going to try and do this; treating one another well, dignified & filled with grace we’re going to eventually tire & just scrap the effort.  because we will tire, we will grow weary, we will decide it’s all too hard, we will decide it’s not worth it.  the only way to battle that is finding that Jesus is the strength in our weakness.

Jesus’ mission statement [if we could call it that] can be found in john 10:10,

“i’ve come to give you life to the full.”

if we look at the whole of Jesus’ ministry we can see that this is the way that He lived.  He consistently gave dignity to people that had none in the social circles.  gave grace to those in the greatest need.  offered freedom to those that felt trapped.

so as we roll through this season, and really year around, are you offering life to those you’re in contact with?  a life connected to Christ, showing that He is the reason you act & live they way you act & live?

do you demonstrate that your skill-set; in whatever it is that you do, is only 1/2 of the things that matter in your life?

do you show that the people around you matter more than simply completing the job?

if not, make sure that changes today.

4478910885_2f984019fa_zin our day & age to be reminded, or maybe notified, that our time here on earth is very short in the grand scheme of human history.  it’s even smaller when we consider the eternal existence of God.  in our life-times it’s easy to believe the hype that we know all we need to know, that our judgement is darn near perfect, & our decision-making, and that our understanding of the circumstances is well in-hand.  and to boot, when situations don’t turn out in our favor or the way we would have chosen we are tempted to rail our fists at the heavens & say, “hey God, what were You thinking allowing that to
happen?!”
 
this is what we see with habakkuk the prophet when he complains to God.

“why do You force me to look at evil,

stare trouble in the face day after day?

anarchy and violence break out,

quarrels and fights all over the place.

law and order fall to pieces.

justice is a joke.

the wicked have the righteous hamstrung

and stand justice on its head.” [hab.1:3 & 4, msgB]

seems like i’ve said those words to God before.  but God is gentle with habakkuk here & simply says, “i’m not passive or bro.  i’m going to do something about all of this.” [my paraphrase].  in the story of job God also receives a complaint about the conditions of life and here God responds a bit more direct.  God monologues for 4 chapters on how little job [and we] know about the universe.  and then God says this:

“surely you know, for you were already born!

you have lived so many years!”  [God from job 38:21]

i just love the way God speaks to one of his sons here.  what he’s doing is reminding us who He is, and simultaneously reminding us who we are.

the real question is this; are you, am i, willing to trust God even when i don’t understand how He’s rolling things out?  the things that go on in my life, the things that happen in my country, in the world at large.

it’s easy to point the finger at all that’s wrong & suggest ways to fix it & make it right.

just an aside, i think it’s important that as followers of Christ we do long for the redemption of ALL His people.

but God also gave us the freedom to choose.  and in the midst of that things will be broken, lives will be wrecked.  the scope of what i see is limited to right now.  even as i look backward my vision is cloudy & i don’t see things as clearly as i think i do.

god-alonerecently i was talking with a friend about  difficult situation they’re walking through & they confessed that they are carrying a lot of guilt.  guilt about how things have gone sideways & the affect it’s having on the family, etc.

now to be fair, when there are difficulties in relationships there is usually equal parts of blame to pass around.  it’s a rare circumstance when one person in a relationship just goes off the rails on their own…although that does happen.  that’s not what this post is about though.

here’s the gist of what i thought about later that night:

guilt is a powerful “prevent-er”.

as we move through this advent season, this week focusing on what it means to “worship fully” if we are carrying around guilt it prevents us from doing the things that we were made to do, the things that God is calling us to do, the things that we were made for.

when we carry around guilt it distracts us.

i wonder: “isn’t guilt a kind of motivator?  doesn’t guilt move us off of doing things that don’t please God?”

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

 –  2cor.7:10

the difference between what God does & what the world does is literally life & death
guilt keeps us from fully worshiping
guilt prevents us from seeing the future God has in mind
guilt keeps us in a state of sorrow & loss
guilt prevents restoration from taking place

make sure that this season isn’t over-run with guilt & a sorrow that you don’t need to be carrying around.  be willing to lay down the things that you were never meant to carry.  let go of the heavy burden of past mistakes, seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness, search out true repentance with God.

may the God of this season truly be the greatest thing you experience this Christmas.

our own worst enemy

Restaurant Receipt

Justin Lee: When Christians Are Christianity’s Worst Enemy.

the link above is to an article that i’m seeing far too often!  is’s about Christians that, when eating out, instead of leaving a tip for their server they will write something regarding the server’s lifestyle [gay, lesbian] or about God getting 10%…therefore no tip is given to the server.

this is absolutely unacceptable!

we are to be Christ’s ambassadors & we end up defaming the name of the One we say we love, the One we sing about & the One we worship. we end up tearing down everything we believe in when we act in this way.  the article linked above says it really well, so i encourage you to read it.  and consider the message we send while this season of hope is upon us.

john15:12 “love each other as I have loved you.” – Jesus