Read It Again, Sam

Amazing how different seasons of life can give you such different comforts from the same bible verse.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14.

When Kristy and I had 3 kids under the age of 4, I understood it to mean that a drowning man shouldn’t pummel someone who’s trying to save him.  Just quit fighting long enough to be pulled to safety. Recognize the times when your own strength is not enough and surrender. Still true, of course, and it’s definitely easier said than done. Now that our kids are older and life seems to move at a slower speed (or maybe I’ve just adjusted my own speed?), I see this verser in a new way.

We become fooled in so many situations into reacting as if other people’s opinions carry more weight than pleasing God. We overreact to others’ actions, reactions, and opinions. I can only be concerned about someone else’s negativity and actions if they believe that I fail to honor and obey God, and give my best effort to grow daily toward the character of Christ………and they’re right. When we are fortunate enough to find God’s righteousness in life’s situations, we can find comfort and confidence in this (just can’t ruin it by explaining to someone how righteous we might feel that we are). Pleasing God is greater than pleasing man. If I’m comfortable with how God sees me in a situation, there is no need to confront or debate someone to the death until they apologize or admit wrong. Walk away.
God’s word really is the owners manual for life (except we can’t shove it in a drawer like a betamax instruction manual and act like we don’t need it anymore).

betamax

The same verse can give us God’s truths for vastly different trials in life depending on when we read it. His word, truths, and promises never change…….but our lives do. If we don’t continue to read His word, then lifes changes will surely find us choosing wrong paths, beaten, discouraged, wandering, wondering……..fighting on our own.

Just keep reading!

Daddy, How Can You Be a Christian AND a Democrat?

“Daddy, how can you be a Christian and be a Democrat?”
Honest question. Thirty days later I still don’t have the answer.
I’ve read a lot of bible verses about subjects like “work” and
“looking after orphans and widows”.
I even came across this one:
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13
So now, I have arrived at this conclusion:
I don’t have THE answer. I have AN answer.
Biblical truths form my belief system.
These beliefs determine my attitudes and my actions.
But it’s been awhile since I had a chat with anyone on the supreme court about abortion.
And I’m still waiting for my opportunity to weigh in on a national level
on matters like welfare and healthcare reform.
For Christians, political parties cannot define who we are.
I assume many Christians fall into a similar category; one party consistently
supports or promotes positions that are exactly
“what is wrong with our country”.
But truthfully, picking a side in politics simply dictates how we might vote.
It doesn’t dictate how we live.
My approach to political discussions resembles the exchanges I have with
someone who has a favorite sports team that I despise.
I dislike everything about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Louisville Cardinals.
And I don’t know why or how anyone arrives at the point of being fans, but some fine
people and dear friends are devoted fans of these teams.
Our different views provide opportunities for colorful discussion, but
it can never affect our relationships.
If the guy sitting next to me in a pew (hypothetical yes, because I sit alone….
bad singing and all) happens to run for sheriff or mayor as a Democrat in Smalltown, USA
then I can’t really label him as a baby killer and assume that he will fight to the
death for anything and everything that the Democratic party stands for on
a national level.

boss hog

He could be a 4th generation Democrat that believes in the same biblical truths as me.

Perhaps his interpretation of taking care of widows and orphans differs slightly from my own.

It’s not, and cannot be made to be a huge issue.

What is the huge issue?

I believe it is this:  that Christians should be very careful how they
speak and interact with others when it comes to political differences.

It matters not if someone is Republican or Democrat.

It matters only if they are a believer or an unbeliever.

Christians must have an awareness of refusing to water down or compromise biblical truths.

But as we engage with others in interactions of a political nature we must also be

aware of the dangers of our actions and words ensuring

that unbelievers will remain unbelievers.

Live what you believe…….absolutely.

And know that political debate, while it can stimulate intelligent and entertaining discussion,

is not an effective ministry tool.  It is a good way to identify with those who believe as you do.

It may not be the best way to change the beliefs of those who do not.

And it may not be the best way to spend your time and energy.

The Model Father

How do we measure the lasting effect of a father’s influence?

I’m 45 years old.  I still make daily decisions under the thought process of,

“how would my dad handle this situation?”

KR and Pappaw at Final Four

Why?  Not because he ever micro-managed any aspect of my life at any point.

Not because he talked so much that I quit listening.

My father has modeled for me through the years the simple practice of doing the right thing, making good decisions.

How long will my influence last in the lives of my four children?

When does the talking and the hands-on teaching start to fade away and give way to the

practice of consistent modeling for a Christian dad (or mom)?

cropped-img_0974.jpg

Teaching moments come in obvious forms when our children are small.

Their blunders are obvious.  The inquisitive questions are many.

But what may not seem obvious is that our time with them and their dependence on us diminishes with each passing day.

Before you realize it, your kids aren’t kids anymore.  They become teenagers, young men, young ladies.

IMG_0301

They don’t particlarly want to spend too much time in the presence of their dad anymore (shocking, right?).

You may reach some strange realization that your role as a father is diminished.  You just aren’t “needed” for much anymore.

What happened to the days when you sat in the floor coloring, playing board games, wrestling?

The days of being bombarded with goofy questions?  “Why daddy?”  “When daddy?”

Those days are gone.

What is my value in their life now?

Same role that it has always been for anyone who takes seriously the privilege of being called daddy.

Teacher, protector, mentor, provider……..model.

Your children are no longer standing over your shoulder watching your every move and bombarding you with questions.

095-002

But they’re still watching.  In many ways, their need for you may be greater than ever during their teenage years.

The opportinities to be a positive impact in their lives haven’t gone away, they’ve just rearranged a bit.

Do your kids hear people only talking about the importance of prayer and bible study?

Or do they witness their parents consistently doing these things?  Do they see that it’s a priority in your life?

DSC00841

To understand the importance of Christian modeling by parents is to come to realize that each day is filled with endless opportunities to do great things that will make a lasting impact in the lives of our children.

How will they understand the concepts of love, grace, and obedience to God if we don’t bring these things to life consistently in their presence each day?

So many chances each day……to do the right thing…..to simply obey God, even when it’s not the easiest path to take.

They may not be asking questions, but they’re watching.  And they’re grading you.  Do your actions match up with what they’re learning that it means to be a Christian?

Every word, every encounter, every day, they all count.

Honesty, integrity, and purity in every situation.  No exceptions.

Treating others with kindness, respect, and love.  Choosing our words and tone of voice wisely.  They’re listening.

Grace.  Do we forgive?  Do we quickly admit our own mistakes and ask forgiveness?

I’m not sure when kids pass that tipping point of whether or not they still want to be just like dad when they grow up.

But I’m positive that if I give my best effort each day to obey God and to match my own character with that of my savior Jesus Christ……

that desire will never leave them.

Seek the type of lasting impact that has positive eternal consequences.

OK, I guess I really am still needed around here!

I’m Not Gonna Do It, So Don’t Ask

I swear, if one more person asks me to do
something, it’s gonna get ugly!
“I’m not really looking for anything else to do right now.”
“I’ve got about all I can handle.”  or even,
“I could probably do more,
but I’m just not going to right now.”
I can promise you that I have said these things out loud
or thought them thousands of times.
It’s easy to drift into that
“if I can just get through this day” mentality.  Survival.
The craziness of a full-time job and raising kids.
Plus, there are people at church that ask me to do things
all the time……surely they don’t understand how BUSY I am.
Nobody else could possibly be as busy as me, right?
Get somebody else to do it.
I AM FULL
But……I can also promise you the biggest
failings that I’ve had as a Christian
(and father, husband, business person, etc)
have not been due to sin, but instead due to apathy and
laziness.  Overestimating how busy or tired I am,
not caring enough about others to get off my butt and
get moving.  And most importantly, failing to take into
account the love, strength, and guidance of my
Heavenly Father when making plans or figuring
out how much “I” am capable of taking on.
I sit still.
I fail to serve, grow, love, or live life to the full
because I simply fail to trust God.
1 Peter 4:11 tells us, “If anyone serves, they should do so
with the strength God provides, so that in all things God
may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
I don’t know of any organization that is made up of
individuals who view themselves as slackers, lazy,
underachieving, or doing just enough to get by.
But every family, church, business, and sports team is
filled with people who think they are giving their best
and doing all they can do, when they’re really not.
We’ve all seen that person and been that person.
Doesn’t do any good to have others tell us we can do
more and be more until we decide to change,
to trust God more and rely on His strength and not our
own to get us moving in the right direction.
Whether you need God to push you or pull you,
you have to trust Him enough to take the first step in the
right direction.  Stop living uphill, fighting a losing battle
on your own.  Find positive momentum.
Start moving and let Him keep you moving.
You might surprise yourself.
You might even (gasp!) start looking for something more to do.

Maybe I Am a Role Model?

barkley role model
Nobody wants to follow a loser
(unless you’re a loyal Bengals fan).
Acquiring followers requires success,
credibility, winning.
Most of us don’t seek to rule the world
(or even the entire tri-state area if you follow Phineas & Ferb)
or seek 1,000 Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
And we might buy into the old Charles Barkley
“I am not a role model” line.
But like it or not we all influence the people
each day that our life touches.
Pretty serious business when we call ourselves Christians.
Ultimately we aren’t looking for “followers”, but trying to
live in a way that will lead others to follow the One that
we follow.
I’ve never been so wowed by someone’s biblical
knowledge that I was motivated to make
major changes in my life.
But I have certainly been influenced by those
who lean on the understanding of God’s word and
His promises, especially when they hold close to these
things in life’s most difficult times.
Do we live like winners or losers?
The Bible was not written to simply be studied.
Possession of knowledge by itself has no real value.
The Holy Bible was written to change us….constantly.
change obama style(If we could change him, that would be nice also), but seriously………
Success?  Certainly not financial or in ways of the world.  Success (being a winner) shines brightest in our relationships.  Do our relationships cause others to look favorably on our faith…..our Lord?  Sure relationships are tough because
we can’t correctly do anything that we simply do not
understand (insert husband, wife, or boss joke here).
We must constantly seek understanding daily from
God’s word that changes our hearts……
and changes our lives.
When we struggle with relationships,
we may not necessarily struggle with God,
but solutions are certainly found in HIS living word.
Credibility or our ability to influence those around us in a
positive way, comes not simply from knowledge, even
Biblical knowledge.  It comes from living powefuly for God
in our relationships as evidenced by unconditional love,
sacrificial love, and extending to others the same grace that is given to us.
People can’t see our minds, our hearts, or our intentions.  But they form opinions of our faith based on our words, our actions, our reactions, and the times we fail to take the necessary action.
Winner or loser?
Direction of your influence?
Figure out where it’s going and use God’s word each
day to begin to steer it in the right direction.
If someone seeks faith-related answers from you, will
your life dictate that you will have credibility in your answers?

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?)