I’m Not Really Gay, Am I Back On the Team?

jason collins

As the NBA season tipped off, I was curious to know if JasonCollins had found his way onto an NBA roster this season after publicly announcing, at the end of  last season that he is gay.  The answer is NO.  But in my search, I came across an article that provides a good example of the double standard that exists in our“Just Be Yourself” nation.  Written by Jeff Pearlman on cnn.com, he acknowledges that fact that Collins averaged just 1.1 points per game last season, but decries the fact that no NBA team has made him an offer.  Here is part of the article:

“Jason Collins, however, ceased being ordinary the moment he announced he was gay.  To thousands upon thousands of Americans, he became a beacon of hope and a sign that maybe sexuality would matter not the in machismo-stuffed world of professional sports.  If LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul could embrace a gay man as a teammate,  what excuse would the loudmouth, homophobic blockhead at the construction site or law firm have for his close-mindedness?  Finally, things were about to change.  Only they weren’t because, well, nobody called.  The NBA has been repeatedly defended in its inaction with predictable attacks on Collins’ game– too slow, too marginal, too worthless. Yet could somebody (anybody?) have at least invited him totraining camp  — land of myriad oafs and fringe players itching to land a job?”

He then goes on with his ridiculous attempt at a Jackie Robinson comparison.  One problem here is that Jackie Robinson didn’t have to announce to the world that he was black.  Jason Collins chose a lifestyle.  Many celebrated his courage for coming out.  By coming out in such a public way, he forced the NBA and the country to react.  And it seems that the same segment that lashes out at those who have the nerve to call homosexuality a sin (because moral views are being “forced” onto others?) are indeed doing their best to force people into reacting in a certain way.  I don’t have a problem with accepting and loving people for who they are.

I don’t have a great desire to judge or change people  (for Christians, if we live as Christ then we are given opportunities to influence others,but that’s another discussion).  I do have a problem with the growing national movement of being told how I’m supposed to react to certain things.  The Bible is my guide for how I view the world around me. 

If I am presented with something that goes against this, I refuse to agree.  In my disagreement, I may choose to simply walk away.

Stop attacking my right to walk away.   Stop forcing a response simply so you can attack my response.  I love you.  I accept you.  I’m not forcing my views on you, so please don’t try to re-define mine.

Pearlman goes on:  “Adding Collins to a roster — even a preseason roster — would likely have meant awkwardness, confusion and weirdness.  There almost inevitably would have been conservative Christian teammates asking to change in a designated private space.  Special press conferences would need to be arranged.”

Ok, there’s the universally accepted shot at Christians.  I guess I should have seen that one coming.  That’s acceptable for all, right?

Shots taken at Tim Tebow on national TV and national media= too many to count  Shots taken at Jason Collins on national TV and national media=Zero…….it’s not allowed.  Neither one is playing the game they love.  Do we have to take shots at either one of them?  Bottom line- Collins created the “awkwardness”.  He forced a reaction.  And here is Pearlman in classic fashion, trying to define for the rest of us what our reaction should be.  Some hail Collins as a hero.  NBA teams try to silently walk away.  I’m sure players and fans alike would accept him as they would any other player.  But his skills and age dictate that he is not “any other player”.   If his ability to play adds nothing to a team, it’s insane to suggest that any team is obligated to give him a chance simply because he is gay. 

Maybe one general manager could take this approach,  “I know all the other teams are trying to win a title.  But let’s try to boost our image as a progressive thinking organization.    Our other players will enjoy a media circus revolving around a guy that can’t play anymore.”  They’d be better off as a team to fill their last roster spot with Bill Russell as a publicity stunt.

And maybe CNN would be better off to replace Pearlman with another guy that can’t write (just because he’s gay?)

Is Your Story Worth Telling?

I’ve heard many times of the importance of Christians being able to tell their “story”
How they came to accept Christ as their savior.
Circumstances and people that led them to this point, and the changes in their life after being born again in Christ.
new life old life
Of course I’d never done this because
1) I just didn’t find my own story to be of any interest to other people and
2) Men only take action out of necessity and I’d never actually had to do it.
But I had the opportunity to do something for my church where being able to tell my story seemed to be a necessary preparation.
Also felt the need to be able to explain why I choose to attend my church.
Result?
 I still don’t find my story very intersting and I don’t have any interest in telling it to stadium sized crowds.
metallica_concert1
But…..this reflection of my life, where I was and where I’ve been compared to where I am now,
and the prize that I work toward and try to influence others toward……
overwhelmed me with a greater understanding, appreciation, and love for the people that God has placed in my life along the way.
So what IS my story?
That salvation can come in that moment,
but true change (consistently growing in faith, love, and understanding God’s word) is a lifelong effort.
It is slowed down terribly by guys who employ an “I got this” attitude and fail to embrace the concept of surrendering to God.
Surrender-Control
Our growth is crippled by using our own strength and vision instead of our almighty Father’s.
So why do I go to FCC Grayson?
Because that is where God has placed all the people who He has apparently placed in charge of destroying the old me.
They probably don’t even know what their job description is or has been,
but they have been willing to allow God to use them to do all those little things along the way that show no immediate results.
I am definitely left with a deeper appreciation for my church family.
God uses ordinary people to do amazing things.
So even if you don’t want to tell your story , we should all make it a point to at least know our story.
Get a clearer picture of how God has used others to work by faith in your life.
Only then can we see more clearly just how He can use us to make an impact in the lives of others.
My life each day is my story.  If I do it in a way that honors God, one person and one relationship and one encounter at a time…….
Only then do I become a credible messenger of His story.

Through the Eyes of A Child

 kal cincy
A different perspective.
It’s good sometimes to see things through the innocent eyes of a child.
I took my 7 year-old son Kal to his first Reds game today.
The Clark Griswold came out in me (“getting there is half the fun”),
so we took the scenic route through the roughest parts of Newport, KY (vintage Pabst Blue Ribbon & Weideman signs on every corner bar,
wiedemann
steel bars over store windows, dirty streets, houses in disrepair…..”roll em up”).
I saw a crumbling 150 year-old brick house painted with a horrid color of blue, separated from the dirty street only by 3 feet of broken sidewalk.
But Kal saw it differently, “Dad, look at that pretty blue house.  That’s my favorite color.”
I saw a 77 Buick with a cracked & shredding vinyl top, unmatched paint and tires, and a spare tire sitting in the middle of the road for some unknown reason.
But Kal’s perspective was different once again, “Dad, look at all these old cars…..how cool they are.”
I saw block after block of hopelessness; homes, cars, and streets showing no sign of pride or upkeep, wouldn’t want to drive through it at night or walk through it in the day.
But Kal didn’t see it this way,
“Dad, what’s the name of this town?
These houses look like they might be haunted, and they’re pretty ratchet, but this place is awesome!”
I saw only signs of people struggling through a sad existence.
Kal saw things as being unique, special!
God has placed beauty…..good…..all around us. 
When we fail to see it or find it, it may be time to find a different perspective.
He also fills this world with beautiful people; God does not make mistakes.
We can’t simply love the obviously nice, pretty, and desirable people.
Refuse to judge by appearance.
Matthew 5:47  (New Century Version)  “And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends.”
See things, see people…..through the innocent eyes of a child.
Search for a perspective that matches our Heavenly Father’s.
Hope for the lost depends on this.
Absence of hope only happens when we collectively judge “what someone deserves.”…..when we turn away……fail to love.
hilton head 2013 etc 116Seeing things for the first time, through the eyes of a child.

Control Freak 101

Man, life is tough being married to a control freak!
Just kidding.  Some of you kept reading, waiting for the boom.
“Man, is he really gonna blast his wife like that?  She’ll kill him!”
Riding down the highway one day with a friend who shall remain nameless,
he sensed that his driving made a little antsy.
When he asked if his driving made me uncomfortable, my response was,
“I’m not as comfortable as I’d be if I was driving”. 
 control freak
I guess I am more guilty of being a control freak than I realize or want to admit.
Always wanting to control, not only where I’m going, but how fast (or slow in my case) I get there,
and every turn along the way.
Not really a good trait when combined with a perceived possession of a crystal ball and an appetite for instant gratification.  Translation=
I look at situations and think I know exactly what result my involvement will bring,
and I choose to do nothing if that result is not an immediate positive one. 
People who find themselves in a bad place over and over due to bad decisions……..I’m not gonna do anything to help,
they’ll just screw up again.
Or that person who has no interest in church or a relationship with Jesus……
their family has done everything they can and prayed relentlessly for them over the years.
My actions surely won’t make a difference.
But it’s a terrible mistake to act only when we can safely predict an immediate favorable result.
God’s timing is not our timing.
The action that I take or fail to take today may be only the first step or the last in a long process.
My actions could be the beginning of an answered prayer on someone else’s part.
I don’t have to be able to see the end!  I just have to know Who will be there for every step.
God’s intervention can happen whenever His people act in faith and trust Him with the results and the timing of those results
……..instead of playing control freak and fortune teller.
Keep praying, don’t give up, and be ready to move even when it doesn’t make sense.
And stop stomping your foot in search of that passenger side brake…..it’s not there.
Trust.

Proverbs 3:5

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

Revising History With Grace

University of Kentucky vs Duke 1992.
Considered by many to be the greatest basketball game ever played.
I can’t watch it.  Too painful.  Bad ending.
I will never ever watch it.
Those final seconds, the replay of the shot made by “he who must not be named”
will make any UK fan scramble to find a remote any time it pops up during a college basketball broadcast.
i-still-hate-laettner_design
As a high school senior in 1986, my high school team made our school’s first ever appearnce
in the state basketball tournament in Rupp Arena.  Thrill of a lifetime for a kid in a basketball
crazy state.  I’ve always had a copy of our first round (and only) game on VHS and recently had
it copied to DVD.  But I never watched it.  Too painful, worst game ever, no desire to watch a game
that left me with years of memories of letting down my school and teammates.
27 years later, I finally sat down and watched the game in it’s entirety. Conclusion:  I didn’t stink as bad in that particular game or as a player as it has lived on for all these
years as a faulty memory.  Was I scarred for life by a faulty perception of the past?
Of course not.
But it reminds me that when we look back at our worst moments, others don’t remember them quite as well
or as critically as we do.
Christians still fail too often to fully accept God’s grace; to live boldly for Him moving forward
…..because we are hindered by shame, inability to let go of the past, and an inability (or unwillingness)
to forgive ourselves and others.  We must accept God’s grace.
 But also we need to remember that just because God forgives us doesn’t mean that the times we have wronged others are forgiven and forgotten.  This is one case where we may need to take steps backward before we can move forward.
Our misdeeds may become insignificant over time compared to the fact that we have failed to apologize,
admit fault, or show any signs of remorse or peacemaking.
Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Forgive yourself, forgive others.  I can’t waste time waiting for an apology from others but I should
always consider if someone is due one from me.
We can’t change the past but we can deal with past
mistakes in a way that improves relationships moving forward.  
We can’t live in the past but we can surely clean it up.
Mend fences today,
from mistakes of the past
for better relationships tomorrow.
Stop littering the landscape of your past with “Laettners” (things that are so horrible, you want to push them from your mind).
Start make better endings today,
Forgive and be forgiven.
The next time one of the kids that I coach asks me if I was a good basketball player,
my answer will change from “nah, I sucked” to “I was decent.”
And I will NEVER watch the 92 Duke game!
That is a part of my past that I still struggle to make peace with.

Do Look Back

In a family of six, there are so many days when the kitchen sink is stacked with dirty dishes, just waiting for their turn in the dishwasher as it completes its cycle.  In the name of speed and efficiency, cabinets are arranged over time to allow for quicker unloading operations.

Most important part of this particular system is storing all drinking glasses in the cabinet just above the dishwasher.  This works pretty well as long as the unloader is wise enough to swing the cabinet door into its fully opened position.  But it’s easy to forget when your mind is jumping ahead to the next five things that need to happen as soon as you tame the dirty dishes.  When inattentive dad (me) raises up at full speed with glass in hand from the bottom rack and finds the partially opened cabinet at full-speed, the impact of a bald head on the corner of the cabinet door is a painful experience.  Not sure what Yosemite Sam words came out of my mouth, but I did momentarily fear losing consciousness.

Remain standing, no blood, only a small bump.

As I regained my wits, I began to wonder how each of my  four kids would react if they walked into the kitchen to find me crumpled in the kitchen floor beside my best friend, the dishwasher.

My oldest daughter, 17, would certainly kneel down beside me and put her hand on my shoulder, “Daddy, are you ok?”  (COMPASSIONATE)

My youngest daughter, 15, would quickly assess the situation, “Hit your head on the cabinet, didn’t you dad?  You ok?”  (ANALYTICAL)

My youngest son, 7, would just start searching around on the floor for the wasp that his dad surely leaped up and swatted off the ceiling.  (ADVENTUROUS)

My oldest son, 13, would straddle my lifeless body to put a dirty bowl in the sink instead of the now empty dishwasher and say, “Hey dad, I think I wanna pre-order the new Black Ops.”  (OBLIVIOUS)

Four children, raised in the same home by the same parents, with such drastically different personalities.  How could this be?

Obviously, parents love and cherish the uniqueness of their children.

I feel fortunate to have had an understanding in the early stages of parenting to avoid at all costs the disastrous approach of the “why can’t you be more like your sister!” mentality.  I’m blessed on the flip side of this with the “error in someone else’s ways” approach where you can remind a child who witnesses a sibling’s misdeeds.  “Don’t ever repeat the words that you just heard your brother use!”

Confession:  I have trouble loving the uniqueness of God’s other children. 

I set others up to fail by setting unattainable and unfair expectations.

I expect others to behave in certain ways or perform certain tasks that I perhaps think they should have the awareness to do without being asked.

Maybe most of us share in this dark secret:

We allow our opinions of others to be based on “who they are not” or on actions that they fail to take. 

We expect every co-worker to be as hard-working and dependable as that lone overachiever……but we fail to do anything to encourage them toward better performance or help them find success.

We expect our spouse to notice the exact same unfinished tasks, messes, behavior problems, and hurt feelings, and to place the same value on them as we do .  We expect them to share in the same level of patience, problem solving efforts, and discipline.  But we fail to share with them our views or feelings.  Fail to plan together……….and we silently stew when they don’t choose the paths that we think they should have.

“Were you just waiting for me to unload the dishwasher……AGAIN?” (because you knew I might kill myself in the process?)

At our churches?  Maybe we fail to praise and encourage those who selflessly serve, while we’re too busy noticing or commenting about someone else failing to do something that we silently expect them to do (nobody ever told them or asked them…….they should just know, right?).  Maybe we unfairly compare someone in a particular role to the person who held that role previously.  They should “just know” all that is expected of them, right?

Forming opinions. Setting up people for failure in our own minds.   Judging people for who they are not, for what they are NOT doing.

I can tell you what I’m not……..enough like Jesus.

God loves me anyway.

God’s hope really is that all his children would be like His greatest , the Son of Man.

To be more like Jesus with each passing minute, this is our Heavenly Father’s desire for us.

To be transformed into the chracter of Jesus Christ our Saviour?

A tall order, I know.

A journey with no destination on this earth.

A path.

At what point others have reached on this path, we do not know.  Nor do we know the speed with which they travel.

But we do know that we make a choice to help them or hinder them on that path.

Our words, our actions, and our love can make their next step clearer and lighter.

God empowers us!

If someone is apparently sitting still, maybe we are the answered prayer to help get them moving again in the right direction.

We don’t want to miss that wonderful opportunity because we are busying our minds with thoughts of what they “should” be doing.

I can’t make Him love me less.

But I can please Him more.

God does not want us to fail.  He sets us up for success in every way.  And sometimes success God’s way requires us to enter the uncomfortable world of surrender.

I can talk behind your back about what you’re doing wrong or failing to do at all.

Or I can approach you and trust God to help us find a better way together.

On that same path, moving at different speeds………..I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters who were willing to wait for me, to patiently help me find the next step.

Glad that others didn’t give up on me and leave me behind.

This is one instance where it’s ok to look back.  Might be leaving somebody behind.  Do not give up.

                MATTHEW  19: 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

                                           26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Might want to look up also.  Might be a sharp object waiting for you.

Or you might find a patient, loving God…..waiting for you to trust Him enough to take the next step that He has prepared for you.

Please Pile One More Thing On My Back

work overload

I took a personal oath to not use these phrases:
 I’m tired (I’m tarred or plum wore out….are acceptable in extreme cases)
I’m stressed
I’m overwhelmed
I’m so busy
But today, in a moment of weakness, I let my guard down.  My wife called me at work and could tell I was struggling, asked how I was doing.  Without thinking, I responded with the queen mother of all dirty words……
“I feel defeated“.
I knew better.  But… it was out of my mouth and I couldn’t take it back.  Fudge!
The spirit of the rule is to stay in motion to conquer those days (pretty much every day) where life pulls you in too many directions.  Work, parenting, crazy schedules, difficult people, sickness and physical pain, family and relationship problems, taking care of a home.  That last nerve often dangles on a thin thread.  It leaves little margin for error and things can run downhill in a hurry when things don’t turn out as planned (or especially when we simply fail to plan).  Maybe there is an unspoken fear or just the voice of experience that tells us the walls might cave in if we stop moving and stop getting things done. That familiar feeling of having too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get them done.  It’s a hard feeling to shake off day after day.  We get fooled into thinking that our peace and our happiness depends on accomplishing everything that we fool ourselves into thinking we have to accomplish.  We become prisoners of our circumstances and our tasks. and maybe even tell ourselves that we will serve and trust God a little more as soon as we get our head back above water.
Fear and stress can bring you to an abrupt halt and your state of mind only worsens.  Paralized with fear or defeat.
“I can’t do this.”
You pray.
For what?  For God to do your work for you or to fix the mess you made by not planning well or working hard.  Pray and wait?  No…maybe….sort of.   Pray for peace, guidance, and strength.  Pray for the wisdom of growing in the understanding of God’s ways each day.  And get your butt moving.  Day after day, time after time, the to-do list is done, the work is done, and God lends peace from a better perspective of seeing more clearly the worthlessness of worry.
Matthew 6:27 ” Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
When we pray, we don’t know God’s timing, and we do have to wait.  But I don’t think we really need to sit still while we wait.  We’re not doing it ourselves because we don’t trust Him.  We’re simply making a choice to not ask Him to carry us out of a rut that he has given us the ability to walk out of.
It’s usually not until the end of the day that realize that I have “won” yet again.  I always do because my hope is in Jesus.  Why couldn’t I see it that way when that feeling of defeat hit me?  Perhaps because I failed to pray previously for His strength and guidance?  Or maybe I did pray and I just failed to listen for an answer; an answer that could have been something as simple a reminder of where my hope lies.  Sometimes it’s a reminder from an event or a person that lets me know I need to serve and glorify him through life’s storms, large and small……not just before or after the storms.   But on those crazy days where I charge BLINDLY ahead
“I GOT THIS”
like I can conquer this day on my own, it doesn’t seem right to ask Him to carry my burden once I have dug in so deeply in the wrong direction.  Finally realizing my own weakness and stubbornness, turning to God in prayer, my load sure got lighter when I asked him to walk with me………..once I stopped griping and started moving again with HIM.
Of course He was there the whole time, I just turned my eyes and thoughts in the wrong direction.
So go ahead.  Pile it on.
“WE GOT THIS!”

Philippians 4:13  (NCV)

13 I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.

What the Flock Did You Say?

A “potty mouth” doesn’t necessarily reflect the condition of one’s heart.  But a sharp, critical tongue that pours negativity and gossip usually does.
Dirty words.
Maybe I have cleaned up a really colorful vocabulary over the years?  Does this make my choice of words any more pleasing to God?  No, not unless I clean up the way I talk to and about His other children.
I’m not suggesting that we all start unleashing a slew of “bowling words”.  But I am suggesting that Christians should ease up on their judgement of those who use them.  Sure, I’m going to speak up when certain language is used around my kids.  But nothing says “holier than thou hypocrite” than a Christian who speaks harshly or down to others while sticking their nose up at the guy who “lets one slip” occasionally.
I assume I am, by nature, a lot like everybody else; if I really wanted to break down all my sins, it would be hard to find many that didn’t involve something that came out of my mouth that shouldn’t have.  For those of us who tend to have to do a lot of apologizing, many times it boils down to reacting to something, toward someone, in a way that is both hurtful to another person and disobedient to God.  Our reactions are gaged largely by our words and our tone of voice.  “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted that way.  I shouldn’t have SAID THAT.”
JAMES 3: 7-10 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
It’s pretty convenient to convince ourselves that we have tamed our tongue simply because we may not use 4-letter words.  I bet satan loves this false sense of achievement and security that we cling to, while we shred people with our tongues without even giving consideration to the error of our ways.  Consider the person who would never ever drop an f bomb but they devote a good portion of their conversations each day with words that have only the purpose of making others look bad…….to make one person lower their opinion or level of respect for another person.  Ouch.  Doesn’t make it ok just because we finish blasting someone with a cute phrase like, “it is what it is”, “bless her heart”, “I’m not gossiping, I”m just telling you what happened…(or even worse) what I heard happened. To build up or to tear down?  Choose words carefully.
James 1:19  “…Everyone should be quick to listen, SLOW TO SPEAK, and slow to become angry”