Deeply Offended…

14 Feb

It was a snowy, but sunny morning as I walked into Panera Bread for a power breakfast sandwich and gently pasteurized OJ.  

I was meeting with a high school student for prayer and encouragement.We had an good conversation about life and godliness and how we can share in the divine nature in order to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

All was going well until we were about ready to leave. I had some “panera points” saved up that earned THIS GUY a free bagel. So I totally redeemed that thang before leaving. 

As I was handed the bagel, the lady behind the counter said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” 

I was shocked, and didn’t know what to say. All these thoughts kept flooding my mind, “Does she think that because I’m an American and Caucasian that I am Catholic?”  “Is this lady going to go through her entire day wishing EVERYBODY a ‘Happy Valentine’s day’ without being sensitive to their religious backgrounds?” “Who does she think she is pushing her Catholicism on me?” and “This is America…”

All these and more thoughts were flooding my mind, and like I said, I didn’t know what to say…I must have had a blank stare on my face for the better part of a minute. Flabbergasted.

I ended up giving her a half-smile and saying “Happy Holidays” as I turned and headed for the door, still in unbelief that I had been ruthlessly accosted by an employee of Panera Bread about her religious beliefs. 

I guess I’m writing this post to encourage anyone who’s reading this to be sensitive to people’s individual beliefs and religions on this fine February 14, 2013. 

P.S.    If you’re a Buddhist, happy Nirvanah day (they were an awesome band)

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My notes from: Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl

14 Dec

 

Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl was written by N.D. Wilson. The other books he has published are all children’s books, and in his writing style you can sense a childish-playfulness that carries you along through each chapter. This has come to be one of my favorite books to read….”read” may be  an insufficient word – enjoy, experience, get lost in…I felt at times that reading this book was like taking drugs. It made me see differently, feel differently about my everyday experiences, leaving me a thirst for more…

The book was written to wake you up to the world you live in, to break the numbness most of us have because of the culture we’re shaped by (too much technology). The author answers a lot of philosophical and academic questions with very poetic, common-sense, real world answers.

This author generates within you a child-like curiosity to the world, at the same time moving around the great themes of philosophy, theology, nature, and art.

The book has a very creative structure moving you through the seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, fall…

My favorite chapter is The Problem of Kittens: Cuteness and Beauty. In this chapter he addresses a popular philosophical question of the problem of evil in the world we live, along with the goodness of God.

This book is worth the read just because of the one-liner gems you’ll find in it, but also the exceptional creativity behind the writing.

Check it out! 

A Public Outcry Against Forks

4 Dec

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but one of the most deadliest items in the world is sneaking around…right under your nose (sometimes 3 times a day or more) and is trying to take your life! 

We’ve all heard that a certain 14 minute video caused riots that led to the deaths of American patriots in another country. 

Some of us heard a half-time speech from a certain sportscaster that if a certain football player didn’t own a gun, he and his girlfriend would still be alive (OJ anyone?).

This may be a little known fact, but the No. 2 Pencil has been the leading cause for high school drop outs – 3,030,300 annually! And when you factor in that 75% of US crimes are committed by high school drop outs, isn’t it about time we rid our schools of those darned No. 2 pencils?!?!

Well, I’m not talking about videos, guns, or pencils…I want to voice my concern about FORKS. forks

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the last 20 years. 35.7% of U.S. adults are obese. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. taking an average of 600,000 lives a year! Coronary heart disease costs the U.S. about 108.9 billion every year. fatso

Forks (and possibly spoons) – We need  more regulations for restaurants and homeowners to posses these instruments of death. 

Ok, so there’s a lot of sarcasm in this post, but seriously…What’s the problem? What’s the answer? 

What does the Bible say? One word provides the answer to both questions: the HEART. 

Luke 6:45 …a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. heart image

Michelle Obama may want to take away your King Size candy bars…but, glutenous people with low self-control/discipline will just buy two.

And I’m sorry…but suing McDonalds because you’re overweight may get you some spending cash, but won’t change your heart. 

 

Our culture is obsessed with blame shifting. Not too many people accept responsibility. 

So how does a nation monitor/control the hearts of it’s people? It can’t. Every individual is responsible for their heart and actions…but, Parents, teachers, and elders in the community should be the ones helping to shape the hearts of the next generation.  

What’s your role? Do your part in influencing others.

An Elephant Never Forgets

30 Nov

If you’ve ever seen the Jungle Book, then you probably remember the phrase, “An elephant never forgets.” Do you know why that is?

Elephants have an amazing memory! Do a study on elephants sometime, I think you’ll be impressed. 

Do you know how elephants have been trained for the circus in the past?  Trainers will us an elephant’s memory to their advantage. They will chain a young elephant to a tree. The elephant will then tug, pull, and scream with all their might to break free…leaving a scar on their leg. 

Past Scars

Because the memory of  the pain they experienced is so vivid, an adult elephant’s leg can be tied with rope, and attached to a steak that’s hammered in the ground…and they won’t try to escape. Is an adult elephant ABLE to rip that steak out of the ground? Absolutely. But it won’t, because the scar left a memory too painful for them to even try to bee free. 

I have met people who refuse to exercise the strength they have in life because of past scars. 

Circumstances from our past have a tendency to act as an anchor (holding us back from the person God wants us to be), OR they can act as a rudder of a ship (steering us through future storms of life). 

What are some of your scars? How are you responding to them? 

Accepting forgiveness and forgiving others is important to move forward. 

You cannot stay where you are in life. There is a better version of yourself that God wants to bring out. 

God has a purpose for your past, and a purpose for your future. 

 

 

What You See Is What You Get…Maybe?

18 Apr

What I have to say probably won’t effect everyone’s Facebook habits, but I still think there is an important issue to address…the difference between 

TRANSPARENCY and VULNERABILITY

These words are sometimes used interchangeably. If you share some of your deepest thoughts, regrets, pain, etc…with someone, you could be described as being vulnerable or transparent. But the words are very different.

The Facebook “wall” got me thinking about this, and I won’t quote anybody’s comments word-for-word, but here’s a paraphrase of some random wall posts:

“I could just crawl under a rock and cry all day, I don’t feel like talking, so don’t bother…”

“I’m so pissed! No one call me!” 

“Some days I just wish I were dead. my phone’s off, so don’t call. Don’t txt.”

The difference between Transparency and Vulnerability is this:

TRANSPARENCY  is allowing others to see the real you. To see what’s going on inside of you. Your emotions, thoughts, and feelings are easily seen. Your emotions are on your sleeve. You are clear. Obvious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VULNERABILITY  implies a posture of openness, and allows others to enter into your problem with you, in order to give you direction, offer forgiveness, tend wounds, possibly rebuke or admonish you, encourage, or confront you. 

A lot of comments I see on Facebook are characteristic of transparency, which allows an ENTIRE community to SEE and HEAR your pain, anger, regret, or annoyance…but does not  give permission or invite ANYONE to do ANYTHING about IT. 

Being transparent is easy. Being vulnerable involves risk. 

Which one leads to growth? Which one leads to tighter community? Which one allows others to exercise love? 

Would you be vulnerable?

Would you submit, or YIELD your thoughts, emotions, and problems to someone who cares about you?

Swimming in the Deep End

3 Apr

This morning I ate breakfast with a friend and then headed to the gym to pound some weights and do some crazy speed walking on the treadmill that would put the 65 year old “mall-walkers” to shame. Then I proceeded to the pool to end my work out with a couple laps…

In the pool area there is a sign that I’ve seen a hundred times, but never really read it…you know, the sign with all the rules on it? Well, I actually read some of it this morning betwixt some laps, and the first rule really grabbed my attention: 

“THE LIFEGUARD HAS ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY WHILE ON DUTY AND MUST BE OBEYED.”

I couldn’t help but think to myself about the difference between POWER and AUTHORITY. Here’s my thoughts:

There might be a bully in the pool who has the POWER to dunk you repeatedly then pick you up, throw you out of the pool and make you not want to get back in the water. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the bully has the POWER to do what he does, but not the AUTHORITY. What does that matter? He still did it? How does AUTHORITY make a difference? In this situation, if you do not have the POWER to stop the bullying, you can CALL ON THE LIFEGUARD who has the AUTHORITY to ban the bully (and his power) from the pool. 

How does this apply?

Because Sin is still present in my world and in my life. I have daily temptations and struggles and sin still has a degree of POWER in my life…and a lot of times, I feel completely powerless! 

Sin has the POWER to hurt my mind, my heart, my relationships, my physical body…but only when I’m passive about it, when I invite it, when I allow it, when I entertain it…

Matthew 28:18 Jesus says “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Look at scripture and see all the things Jesus exercised authority over: the wind and water, diseases and sickness, physical ailments, demons, death…and sin. 

And as a believer, with Christ living in me…sin has no authority.

You and I will constantly have a bully (Satan and sin) with us on this side of Heaven. We need to learn to continually RUN and CALL ON the lifeguard (JESUS) who overcame death and has AUTHORITY over the power of sin. 

He restores, He heals, He protects, He loves, He gives life, He serves, and He loves.

Thoughts on Kony2012 – Part #3 A Challenge Before Criticism

10 Mar

I know Invisible Children is not a perfect organization, so… Would YOU please, please, please consider quitting your current job to start up a non-profit that will be able to raise the same amount of awareness, and do something about the injustice in the world?

I know this might put a strain on your family, and you will have to think creatively on how you can get numb, apathetic, over-entertained, over-sexed, over-stimulated young adults to actually care about anyone else besides themselves, let alone give you their time and the little money they earn. Also, if you are a white-middle class person…you might have to take some criticism if you are helping people groups that have dark skin – you probably have a “White-Man’s burden” complex and you may be seen as “trying too hard” to relate to and culture people who are “less civilized” than you.

After you’ve raised a decent amount of awareness, you’ll have to come up with some way to get bad guys from doing bad things. Maybe you think getting our government involved is NOT the answer, because we are far too busy preserving video game centers and making sure that South African men are washing their genitalia, but I’m sure you’ll come up with something.

Along with this process, you’ll have a handful of children and teens running around that have been rescued from being made to literally commit war crimes, and you’ll have to set up a way to help care for and educate them.

So after you’ve done all this, and you’ve done it more effectively and fiscally responsible than Invisible Children (a bastion of greed and selfishness)…then by all means, feel free to criticize them. 

I hope you could read through the sarcasm to get my point.

The following are a list of blogs that either support or criticize the StopKnoy2012 movement. Read them for yourself and form your own opinion, but then ask yourself What am I doing about it?

Andy Kristian – A young man studying in the U.S.A that I met from Uganda http://andykristian.com/2012/03/09/how-ugandans-can-leverage-kony2012-publicity-a-ugandan-view/

Time Magazine has a blog: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/03/08/why-you-should-feel-awkward-about-the-kony2012-video/

Max Read – outlined a bunch of different arguments about Kony 2012 http://gawker.com/5891610

The Daily What http://thedailywh.at/2012/03/07/on-kony-2012-2/

Thoughts on Kony2012 – Part #2 What do You spend money on?

10 Mar

Knowingly or unknowingly you and I spend LOTS of money on things, causes, and people.

To all the individuals and organizations who are criticizing Jason Russell and Invisible Children Inc. I have one question for you: How much money and/or time did you donate to their cause? It must have been quite a lot, because of how sharp-tongued and angry you are with how they use money.

My guess and assumption (I know what that makes me) is that a majority of the critics have NOT GIVEN a dime to Invisible Children. At least none of them have admitted to it.

My thoughts? If the time and energy were to be refocused on criticizing our GOVERNMENT SPEDNING…you know, the MONEY(taxes) that you and I HAVE to give to the government…we would live in a different country. For example, based off of a report by Senator Tom Coburn – 2011 – here’s where our government is spending our money:

$48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry.

$765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital.
$113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York.

$15.3 million (so far) in building bridges that literally lead to nowhere in Alaska

$75,000 of your tax dollars went to increase awareness about the role Michigan plays in the production of Christmas trees and poinsettias.

$100,000 in federal stimulus funds went toward purchasing iPad 2 tablets for Kindergarten students in one school district in Maine.

$600,000 went to Researchers at Columbia University to study how heterosexuals use the internet to meet one another, and how that activity influences their sexual behavior.

And these last two were taken from Cobrun’s 2010 report:

$800,000 went to The National Institutes of Health to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.

$442,340  was given to The National Institutes of Health to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

I’ll admit it…I gave a couple bucks after a presentation of a documentary, and bought a bracelet as well. Man, if only I could get that back…gosh, with all the awareness raised and good that’s come out of it…I can’t believe they squandered around 10 of my hard earned dollars. (That’s like 2.5 gallons of gas I could use to go to the mall). ~Sarcasm~

The point is: If people choose to give their “running-around money” to a charity or non-profit to support a cause they’re passionate about, isn’t that their business? And shouldn’t it be up to them to make sure the organization is being fiscally responsible with the funds? Shouldn’t we all (here in America) be a little more critical and ticked-off about our government supporting “research” and “causes” with our money that we probably do NOT want to support?

I mean, I like chocolate and pancakes, and I’m ok with people playing video games (to an extent). It would be nice to have an iPad2, but I don’t NEED one, and it would be great for males in South Africa to see the impact that washing your “balls” can have, and I’m sure male prostitutes in Vietnam have a lot to teach us here in America…but,

I wish someone would have run some of these decisions across my desk before they went and spent money on it. But hey…let’s get out the magnifying glass and focus our negative press towards an individual and organization that wants to stop bad guys from abducting children, making them kill their parents and fight in wars.

Thoughts on Kony2012 – Part #1. What Did You Do?

9 Mar

First off, I’d just like to say that I understand that I am not a very significant voice pertaining to anything about Invisible Children or the situation in Uganda. But I have 3 thoughts for us about the situation…

What did you do?

Before the Invisible Children films or this “Make Kony Famous” campaign, what did YOU do and/or what are YOU doing to raise awareness about the situation, what have YOU done to try to stop Kony and rebel forces from abducting children and turning them into soldiers, and what have YOU done to care for and educate the children that have been rescued from the injustice done to them?

Your answer is probably the same as mine… “Not a thing.” I DID NOT make trips over to Africa to form relationships and to see first-hand the injustice going on. I DID NOT try to utilize my gifts (in film-making and marketing) to raise awareness about the issue. I DID NOT use the education that I worked hard for to educate and care for children rescued from such abuse (did you?).

Furthermore…I HAVE NOT made it my job and life’s work to see injustice stopped, not just in Africa, but even here in America (have you?).

Forget the whole child-soldiers-in-Africa subject for hot-minute and ask yourself the question: What have I done about the injustice that is happening in my community? When was the last time you put your Xbox controller down and either spent money, time, or energy on raising awareness and fighting against injustice down the street? Have you even made the effort to expand your concern for humanity beyond yourself?

If you have, great! I’m just asking…not judging.

Knowledge and Desire…what’s missing?

31 Jan

Everybody knows (or at least should know) how to lose weight. It’s the same as saving/managing money…

You burn more calories than you eat. You spend less money than you make. 

Oh, if only it were that simple…So, why’s it so hard?

Knowledge is not the problem…in fact, a lack of knowledge is hardly ever the problem. The problem is the lack of desire and motivation to put the knowledge we already have into daily practice. Our greatest desires will beat out knowledge every time. I “know” how to be a good person. I “know” what’s right and wrong. I “know” the moral standards that I have set up for myself. I “know” the moral standards that go with the decision to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. But I always fail to meet even my own expectations.                                                     I “know” how to lose weight.

“Knowing”  does not guarantee “accomplishing”. 

And even having the right or strong desires to meet expectations is not enough. I “desire” to be a good person. I “desire” to do what’s right. I “desire” to meet the moral standards that I set up for myself. I “desire” to follow the moral standards that go with the decision to follow Jesus Christ. But even still, I fail to meet those expectations with my desires.                                                                                  I “desire” to lose weight.

“Desiring” does not guarantee “accomplishing”. 

So what’s missing?

I do not want to hear this word, and I know that you do not want to hear this word…but here it is: DISCIPLINE

ugh…it’s a cold, prickly, word. But it’s the key ingredient in a formula for ACCOMPLISHMENT. Physically and Spiritually. 

DISCIPLINE is the road that KNOWLEDGE and DESIRE must share in order to reach ACCOMPLISHMENT. 

Of course there are many, many other factors (grace, adversity, encouragement, grace, attitudes, pain, commitment, grace…did I mention grace?)

Self-discipline is a lost art…at least to me. I need the grace to re-learn and practice it. 

I hope you will as well!