If you’re a fan of NBC’s The Office, you no doubt felt a lump in your throat in the closing moments of the series finale last Thursday. There were many great quotes: Pam telling us “there’s beauty in ordinary things”. Daryl’s wondering “Every day I came into work and the only thing I wanted to do was leave. So why do I find it so hard to leave now?”
But it was Andy Bernard’s tearful lament “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ole days, before you’ve actually left them” that really got me to thinking about how much time we spend reminiscing about the past instead of living in the present. Not there’s anything wrong on reflecting back, but we should never lose sight of what’s in front of us or around us because there is beauty all around us and before we know it, it will all be over. For me, I’m a father to a seven-year-old and soon to be twin five-year olds and they’re growing up lightning fast. When Amy and I started watching The Office eight years ago, we lived in another state, I was in an entirely different career field. I had no clue what social media was and our only child was a greyhound named Roofus. Times change quickly, so it’s important to soak in our present life stage, despite our circumstances.
The stages for our kids change so quickly that I often forget about a certain stage long since passed until something happens to remind me. At the end of the day, I often get out of my wheelchair to stretch out and relax on the couch. The twins love climbing all over me while laughingly ordering me to “tickle me”, “tickle me”. I enjoy granting their request but often times just want to sit still and snuggle them. But the other day, I saw my seven-year-old on the other couch, perfectly content playing his DS. I asked him if he wanted to be tickled and he said “no thank you”. And then it dawned on me and saddened me that he grew out of that stage two years ago. So I’m going to enjoy every moment tickling the twins.
The last several years have been tough for a lot of people. But really, when was life ever easy? Here’s a news flash, the good old days weren’t all that good. But we know we got through them and that’s what makes them good – that we survived and nothing really horrible happened. By contrast, we don’t know what an hour from now, let alone tomorrow, brings so we allow that uncertainty to give way to unrest which gives way to anxiety. But if truly want a good life, we must, especially those of us who are Christians, meditate on God’s Word to “…not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. And when the struggles inevitably come, take “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3. Live in the moment, live for today – the good ole days!
May 21st Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.” – Deuteronomy 28:14
One of my biggest struggles has always been reconciling the political aspect of who I am with the spiritual aspect of who I am. While I believe God gave me the interests, gifts, talents and abilities as well as the weaknesses, imperfections and shortcomings I possess, it’s always been difficult to mold all the above together in a way that glorifies Him which is His true purpose for creating me as I am. For those that know me, I’m also a huge Chicago sports fan and have fused the lessons learned from both sports and faith into my autobiography – A Chosen Bullet. While in the past I made my sporting interests, teams and heroes into little gods that I’ve served by being overly-consumed at the expense of growing closer to God, I’ve learned through age, and spiritual maturity to balance my sports brain with my spiritual being by allowing the Lord full access to my entire make up, thereby bringing everything under His authority.
Such is a process that I’m still trying to work on when it comes to my political interests. For those of us who God has given a political bend to who we are, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaning left or leaning right. The problem is turning away from the path He intended us to walk on and turning our political interests into little gods and serving them. I truly believe that as a nation, we have become so polarized and
distracted, that we’ve turned so far on one side to the left and on the other side to the right, that we’ve forgotten His commands, instead serving all kinds of small gods in our nation.
For me, I’m a proud evangelical Christian, a conservative – both fiscally and especially socially. I make no apologies for where I stand, nor for being an issues junkie. But I constantly have to keep in balance by being reminded that our ultimate hope can never be in a political figure, party, or movement because what ails us as nation requires a spiritual solution not a political one. When we – speaking broadly now – begin to make little gods and idols out of political issues, we lose our ability to be effectively used by God to achieve His purposes. It’s tough, because I do fight through anger and resentment often times when I see a movement afoot to marginalize people who believe as I believe, and to do so through what I see as lies, distortions and finger pointing. What I’ve learned to do is to try and filter everything through Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So I don’t listen to right wing radio nor read right wing websites – most of which is nothing but anger, as well as not being hosted by Christians and would humbly suggest to my left-leaning friends to avoid the left wing fringe media as well.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t stand for what we see as truth, but we should always do so with gentleness and respect, the filter of 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I’m still a work in progress and most of what I write about is me trying to battle through internal wrestling matches I have within myself about reconciling who I am in trying, multiple failures aside, to bring glory to God. So if you’ve gotten this far into my blog, thank you for allowing me to vent and work through my issues.:)
May 7th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
“…We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
I was pretty athletic growing up. But if there was one sport that I had zero skill for, it was gymnastics. Although I loved gym class growing, I hated the two weeks we spent every school year doing gymnastics because I simply lacked the gracefulness to perform the highly technical routines. Nor so was this more evident than on the balance beam. To this day, my favorite Olympic sport is gymnastics and favorite routine is the balance beam simply because I marvel at the ability to bounce, leap and flip on this piece of wood LESS than 4-inches wide.
Unfortunately, our modern culture can learn a lot from studying the balance beam. Within the American church, we typically lean towards either the “truth” side, where we want to ram the Word of God down people’s throats in calling out sin. Or we lean to the “grace” side where we proclaim “God is love” and we excuse, ignore or rationalize sin. Neither side is capable of finishing the beam routine without falling off face first. I myself struggle continuously as I lean more to the truth side. But the reality is that Jesus was the PERFECT balance between grace and truth. The same Jesus of the four Gospels is the same Jesus of the Book of Revelation. And the same Jesus of the Gospels handpicked Paul to be His mouthpiece in spreading His message – the same Paul who spoke the famous love chapter in Corinthians was the same Paul that didn’t mince words when it came to warning about God’s wrath for the consequences of our sin.
So what are we to make of all this? For me, it comes down to 1 Peter 3:15 – “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Translation – stand for the Biblical truths set forward by Christ, but do so by remaining calm and respectful. This has been a tough balance for me over the years and especially when I’m not afforded the same respectfulness by non-believers, who can also lack balance.
Unfortunately in today’s culture, black and white lines have been drawn, such as in the instance of either accepting homosexuality or being branded as ignorant as well as bigoted. But we must remain steadfast to Christ’s teachings – doing so with gentleness and respect. In the wake of NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay, I’ll close with the views of ESPN’s Chris Broussard – a Christian – because nowhere have I heard it said so eloquently:
“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is,” he said. “L.Z. [Granderson, a gay sportswriter and ESPN contributor] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.
“In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what L.Z. was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle, but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.”
Now that’s grace and truth worthy of a perfect 10 on the beam, in my humble opinion:)
April 30th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
April 24th Posted in: Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16
Reasonable minds can disagree when it comes to matters of faith, politics, how we best protect our nation, how we best protect civil and human rights, how we build a society based on equality and fairness, so forth and so on. Reasonable minds can also disagree on whether or not early term abortion should be allowed by law and under what circumstances. But where reasonable minds SHOULD be able to AGREE is that late-term, so-called partial-birth abortion (a procedure where a viable life in the birth canal often capable of living on its own is basically executed in horrific fashion) is a no-no in any decent and moral culture. Reasonable minds SHOULD be able to AGREE that late-term is immoral, akin to murder and should be banned by law.
The phraseology “partial birth” is an oxymoron to begin with as one is either born or not born. We shouldn’t as a civilized society quibble about such nuances as to whether one or two seconds from the birth canal to exiting the womb constitutes partial or fully live birth. Where all this becomes an issue is what to do with babies who survive the partial birth abortion? The grotesque trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell highlights that dilemma. If you want to read about his atrocities, as well as the shockingly muted silence thus far from the mainstream media, check out this column in USA Today.
Problematic as well is a culture that gives rise to this kind of infanticide. Aside from the silence of the media and the ignorance of the overall population, you have a tax-payer subsidized organization like Planned Parenthood saying the decision of what to do with a baby born alive should be between “the doctor and patient” (shocking testimony to say the least). But most of all, we have a now twice elected president that voted against infant born alive legislation in Illinois. Saying on YouTube audio that there was no reason to have a second “doctor” in the room to determine the viability of a “fetus or child if you want to call it that” after a botched abortion because he trusted the judgment of the attending physician, which is exactly the lack of accountable culture that furthered the barbarism of Kermit Gosnell.
The grand jury report for the Gosnell case placed the blame directly on pro-choice policies on the regulatory failure that allowed the clinic to remain open for decades. So what does all this mean? To me, it means shame on all of us who do nothing, remain willfully ignorant or empower politicians at the highest levels of this nation to foster an environment where this could happen. No wonder we have a violent culture. If we
don’t protect the most vulnerable among us, who can we protect? Any discussion on regulating business, looking out for human and civil rights, calling out atrocities, inequality, calling for fairness, fair share, etc. needs to begin with looking out for the truly innocent and voiceless, the core of our humankind and existent. All else is the very definition of hypocrisy. God is listening, how will we react?
April 16th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
For those that haven’t seen it, I would recommend watching this 60 second MSNBC Ad where a network host and university professor shares her vision of what’s best for our children. If you don’t have a chance to watch it, here’s the quote “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everyone’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”
Frankly, while being engaged spiritually with what goes on in this nation, there’s little that surprises me anymore. But this ad was shocking and frightening to me. So much so, that I watched it five times in a row because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was talking in the context of education (as if “better investments” and not stronger homes conducive to learning is what’s needed to fix our ailing education system). But this communal approach or collectivism is right out the socialist or communist playbook where the state knows what’s best for us.
This kind of mindset is very frightening to me and I think dangerous to the future of this nation. I’m all for entertainment (exhibit A is my sporting interests). But while we as Americans saturate ourselves with our busyness and our various bread and circuses, this is the kind of thought embedding itself into our culture. What makes it even more frightening is that it wasn’t a “mis-speak” that we see when people speak impromptu in news interviews, etc where they inevitably walk back their word choice. This however is a pre-planned, well thought out script by a media figure and university professor – reviewed by layers of editors and producers – for a media outlet owned by NBC!
Where as this global village agenda was once coded and covert it’s now blatant and out in the open for all to see, as secularists have been emboldened by recent national elections and polling on once taboo social issues that are now mainstream. Look, our children are PART of the community and PART of the global village. They and we should all learn to invest in others and give back while tolerating opposing views. But our children are OURS and nobody else’s. If this women as part of a “church community” and used the exact same phrasing, she’d be branded a cult leader!
Regardless of one’s political beliefs, we have to recognize as Christians what God’s very specific Biblical plan is for strong communities, marriages and families. And we need to be willing to fight, albeit with respect and gentleness for God’s truth. But beyond that, we have to MODEL to a lost world always seeking new and different “solutions” that the best solution for stronger community and families is what God gave us in His word!
April 11th Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The biggest misconception in the on-going dialogue in our nation over same-sex marriage is that if you stand for the historical, traditional definition of marriage then you’re either hateful, intolerant, judgmental, a narrow-minded bigot or all the above. It’s been defined that way by advocates of same-sex marriage and while strategically successfully in marginalizing their socially conservative opponents as extremists, the “you either love us or hate us” choice does little other than to polarize our already fractured nation. The danger in dividing to conquer in such a fashion as to demonize your opposition is that constructive dialogue to at least respectfully disagree with your opponent becomes impossible. In essence, the agents of the tolerance movement only tolerate those who believe as they do.
For those of us who hold a Biblical worldview, we do so because we believe the Bible is the Word of God; we believe it’s a living, breathing book. We believe this because it’s a book that’s completely and supernaturally transformed our lives, our marriages and our families. Although we may still struggle with various aspects of sin (the old self), we’ve largely been freed from the overall bondage of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit as we read His Word. We’ve seen the transformation work firsthand and thus see God’s Word as infalliable truth!
So it’s problematic to look at the act of homosexuality as anything other than what the Bible describes as sin. As Christians, we are to look for consistent threads of scripture from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation in how we form our beliefs as opposed to obscure, one off verses, usually found in the Old Testament. And consistently as well as directly, seven times to be exact – which doesn’t include God’s plan for marriage laid out Genesis or Jesus’ reiteration of that plan in Mark – and seven times homosexuality is cast in a sinful light.
Now, I want to emphatically state that authentic, mature Christians should never hate anybody regardless of their sin because, biblically speaking, we were all born sinners. I love homosexual family members and acquaintances in the same way I love any family member or acquaintance that’s engaged in a sinful lifestyle – be it drug or alcohol abuse or heterosexual sin outside of marriage. But while I love them doesn’t mean I have to accept their lifestyle choices or decisions regardless of whether or not they were predisposed with those traits at birth because, regardless of whether or not they were “born that way”, people choose if they pursue or act upon their predispositions. And because I don’t accept their choices doesn’t mean that I hate them or are being bigoted in my beliefs.
In wrapping up my two-week series on gay marriage, this is a good place to re-state that I believe that God knows best what constitutes a healthy and vibrant society. One that’s based on the healthy pillars of faith, communities, marriages and families; all of which he lays out for us in His Word. The more we try to social engineer away from God’s plan and redefine what we think is best using human wisdom and reason apart from God, the less we should be surprised that society continues to falter. Marriage is a key pillar. If we change the historical meaning, how far do we go in redefining marriage and what we allow? Should so-called bi-sexuals be allowed to marry one of each because they’re pre-disposed to be attracted to both genders and thus have a “civil right” to be happy? What do we do when the polygamists inevitably start filing lawsuits? In the end, if marriage can mean anything, then it means nothing which I suspect is the end goal for many who seek to redefine it.
April 2nd Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
I’ve typically found insufficient, the dialogue from Christians when it comes to the concept of same sex marriage. We either hear nothing, especially in recent years with the inevitability of where the culture is going, or we hear inflamed hostility which does nothing to advance our cause and support for traditional marriage and, in fact, just does further harm. So my attempt today is to offer a diplomatic and reasoned dissent beyond my thoughts offered Here after the Chick-Fil-A fiasco last summer.
Going back almost 60 years in this country, Conservatives and Christians in particular largely dropped the ball when it came to the Civil Rights issue for people of color in this country. Giving credit where it is due, our liberal and progressive friends were on the right side of history on this issue. We as conservatives were not and have been playing from behind ever since as we’ve been demonized every step of the way in the compassion debate by those who co-opted the moral high ground after the Civil Rights movement. So historically, we really have no one to blame but ourselves for not standing alongside our black, brown and red brothers and sisters so long ago.
Unfortunately, shortly after the Civil Rights issue was resolved in the mid-1960s, liberals “progressed” from seeking equality and not judging solely based on skin color, to granting so-called equality across the social spectrum by not judging period (extending from not only judging based on skin color or ethnicity to not judging behaviors, lifestyle choices, so forth and so on).
As Christians, we believe a healthy, stable functioning society is based on four strong pillars: Faith, Family, Marriage and Communities. And for 50 years, this pillars have been very slowly, very gradually, very stealthy chipped away at; reminding me of the story of the frog in the pot of water which tells us that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you throw him into a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature of the water to boil, the frog will not jump out and instead will die. Such is our slowly boiling and decaying society.
Biblical Faith has been undermined by progressives who hold the view (simplifying for the sake of time) that if Christians were largely on the wrong side of race relations in this country going back to slavery, we need to disavow any and all attempts to have the Christian faith involved in the future of this nation. And so, rather than reform, we’ve had a systematic effort by liberals to rid this country of the Judeo-Christian principles, such as a strong family unit, in which it was founded upon. In essence, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water.
Taking family, marriage and communities together, the same liberal-progressive movement gave us the sexual revolution – again, extending the realm of “not judging” to behavior. Gender equality has blurred the roles between men and women. Christians believe that there are unique characteristics passed on and instilled in children by fathers that cannot be fully passed on by mothers and, likewise, that mothers pass on and instill traits that cannot be passed on by fathers. But society today no longer sees a father as necessary to properly raise a child.
The sexual revolution for the first time in our culture embedded the attitude within society that “if it feels good do it”. Legalized abortion in the early 1970s gave us the “action without consequences” generation. No longer was the societal ideal of a stable relationship or marriage necessary to gratify sexual desires. All of which has led to a spike in out of wedlock births and children being raised in a one-parent household. To be sure, there are exceptions to every rule and many, many, many parents are single – due to no fault of their own – and do a tremendous job raising their children. But we have the evidence of a crumbling country with entire communities that are in disintegration with, not incidentally, out of wedlock birth rates approaching 75%, where fathers are nowhere to be found.
Adding to societal dysfunction and community breakdown, not only do we financially subsidize through tax dollars almost three generations of bad choices and decisions which further enslave people into dysfunction, we don’t even ask the right questions or seek the right solutions because – going back to the furtherance of Civil Rights from one of rightly liberating based on skin color to wrongly liberating based on lifestyles. If we can’t judge homosexuality as sexual sin, so the rational goes, then we can’t judge any sexual behavior as sin. By the way, this would be a good place to point out that people cannot choose their skin color or ethnic background. And while I do believe people cannot choose who they are sexually and emotionally attracted to, they can choose whether or not they pursue those attractions. (See article here – Catholic, Gay and Feeling Fine – on a courageous gay man who reconciles his Catholic faith by realizing he Biblically needs to “die to self” by giving up the pursuit of his sexual gratification).
So in summation in getting back to the title of this blog – Why Not Gay Marriage – any marriage not between one man and one woman is one more chip in the decaying pillars of society. No, gay marriage alone isn’t going to cause the end of Western Civilization as we know it. As pointed out above, heterosexual marriage isn’t doing very well either. But to legitimize one based partly on the rational of the dysfunction of the other isn’t the answer in my opinion. And once we inevitably legalize same sex marriage, where will the progressives lead us next? Should the third initial in the L.G.B.T quartet be allowed to marry one of each? Once we redefine marriage beyond one man and one woman, where do we extend that definition. Because in the end, if marriage can mean anything, than it means nothing and neither faith, families or communities.
March 26th Posted in: Uncategorized with 3 Comments
March 18th Posted in: Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 5:22
If you’re bored at the end of the business day this Thursday, just camp out in your car in front of a Publix, a gas station, a roadside stand or anywhere you can buy a dozen roses for $10 or individual roses for $.99. The sight of frantic men in shirts and ties running in, and then out, of the store with their Valentine offerings firmly in hand are visuals to chuckle at; while the first thought is amusing, the second is “Really?”, is that how you’re trying to save face in rewarding your spouse for being married to you?
In case you haven’t figured it out, the above scenario is what to avoid when it comes to a fulfilling Valentine’s evening. As far as how to fulfill your Valentine – while I’m certainly not going to dissuade the romantic impulses inside you, I would say that if you’re taking care of business the other 364 days, than what you do or don’t do this Thursday night should have little impact within your marriage.
The best advice I can give (disclaimer – I haven’t always been the best at taking my own advice) is simply LOVING your spouse and by loving your spouse I mean loving them completely and totally unconditionally regardless of what they do and don’t do to you (disclaimer #2 – I realize there’s cases of physical or emotional abuse, unfaithfulness, etc.) and when I say “unconditionally” that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is, by and large, we have to get past the “it’s all about my happiness” and “I have to do what’s best for me”, “pay for performance” attitudes that have so permeated our culture that they’ve seeped unknowingly into the church. So what we end up with are Christian believers that base their love of their spouse as conditional on what they’re getting in return.
The danger becomes when one spouse pulls back and stops meeting their spouses’ need based on not feeling fulfilled. The other spouse pulls back even further and an endless cycle of drifting further and further apart occurs until fingers are pointing and the marriage reaches a breaking point. The answer (disclaimer #3 – we have a way of always making things so much more difficult than they need to be) is simply, especially as men, loving our spouses as Christ loves the church, unconditionally and without fault or blame. When I’m abiding in Christ’s love and looking at my wife, as God sees her, I see a perfect woman, one that’s easy to love. And when I’m loving her with a Christ-like love, the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 follows which makes for a Happy Valentine in my wife as well as a wholesome and healthy marriage:)