Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Criticizing Critics


Speaking of the television series Blue Bloods, and we were doing just that just two weeks ago, an episode Beloved and I watched recently included the oldest grandchild of NYC's police commissioner encouraging her grandpa by reading the following manly-man quote from Teddy Roosevelt.




“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Truth is...in these days when people posture and complain and protest at the drop of a hat; when we think we know the facts of a matter when as a matter of fact we have only been reading a Twitter feed; when The Freedom of Speech is defended only for those who agree with me; it seems this quote is as timeless as it is tough.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Still More From My Purpose-Driven Journal


Fifth in a series: Rick Warren (from The Purpose-Driven Life) and me on church...

"Here are seven biblical steps to restoring fellowship:
   Talk to God before talking to the person.
   Always take the initiative.
   Sympathize with their feeling.
   Confess my part of the conflict.
   Attack the problem, not the person.
   Cooperate as much as possible.
   Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution."  -  In other words, the relationship is far more important than the issue at hand.

"The Trinity is unified and God wants us to be unified, too. Our heavenly Father, like every parent, enjoys watching his children get along with each other. Jesus, in his final moments before being arrested, prayed passionately for our unity. And the Holy Spirit is the one who unites us in love."  -  So, if I find myself saying something that emphasizes any disunity, I should stop talking. Rather than point out bones of contention, I should focus on the strengths.



"Nothing is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and it is worth protecting. Part of your responsibility as a believer is to protect the unity where you fellowship. You need to think of yourself as an agent of unity, commissioned by Jesus Christ to promote and preserve the fellowship among believers."  -  Wow! Imagine what a church would be like if every member saw it as his/her priority to promote and preserve unity. [As it is, most of us just want a church that "meets my needs." Hmm...kind of like the difference between infatuation and love.]

Truth is..."Sometimes you'll have to do what's best for the body, not yourself, showing preference to others. That's one reason God puts us in a church family - to learn unselfishness."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Unfunny Funny


Lio is one strange kid.

GoComics.com has an accurate description of the comic strip, LioThe world of Lio is filled with the extraordinary - monsters under the bed, wild reptile pets, robot inventions, weird science - but it's all commonplace for this most uncommon first-grader. Mark Tatulli renders this pantomime strip in pen-and-ink style, giving the artwork a dark, spidery feel to match the strip's dark humor. Lio explores the twisted realm of a kid's imagination - at once bizarre, creepy, and fun.

And in a recent Sunday installment, you could add Good Example to the list of descriptors. It starts with a television set that seems to have become self-aware...and very, very honest.



And then little Lio shows amazing maturity in how he responds to this Truth.




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Truth is...even with the lack of advertisements on Netflix, it's a little disingenuous for me to hold this up as a good example when I'm typing this between binged episodes of Blue Bloods

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

More From My Purpose-Driven Journal

Fourth in a series of posts based on annotated quotes from Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life

Talking about love:

"Since God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love. It is in loving that we are most like him, so love is the foundation of every command he's given us. God wants us to love everyone, but he is particularly concerned that we learn to love others in his family. This is the second purpose of your life and it's called fellowship. Jesus said our love for each other is our greatest witness to the world."  -  This is how men will know we are Christ's disciples: if we love one another. If I have not love, I am a crashing cymbal (and quite possibly, a crashing symbol.)



"The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God's family. It is a lab for practicing love. Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship, and experience the New Testament truth of being connected and dependent on each other."  -  How sad when people throw a hissy-fit and leave a church - either to go somewhere else or nowhere at all. They don't learn anything.

"Jesus summarized what matters most to God in two statements: love God and love people."  -  Faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love. Why? Because it's the only one of the three attributes that we share with God.
     Does God have faith? If so, in whom or in what? No - God is the object of our faith and He does not exercise faith Himself.
     Does God hope? No - He stands outside of time and knows the end of all things. There is no need for hope. In fact, we will not hope when we get to heaven. There, all our hopes will be realized; the time for hoping will be over.
     But love? Ah - there is the one eternal attribute that not only we will always practice, but so will God.


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Truth is...it's not that God loves, but that He IS love. (1 John 4:8)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Keep Swinging!


According to The Selling of the Babe, by Glen Stout, the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, did more than hit his way to a long-standing home run record:

It wasn't just the home run that Ruth was popularizing. He was also taking the stigma out of the strikeout. Even before the pitching distance settled in at 60 feet, 6 inches and pitchers started throwing overhand, the strikeout had been considered the ultimate embarrassment, the batting equivalent of tripping over a base or throwing the ball over the backstop; something to be avoided at almost any cost. Guys like Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, and others took pride in keeping their strikeouts down to only 20 or 30 a season. It was considered better to ground out, pop out, or fall prostrate over the plate and fake a heart attack than strike out.

Not anymore. Fans found Ruth's strikeouts exciting -- and he didn't much care if he struck out, either. Ruth figured it was all part of the process, one that might result in a home run the next time. Every swing and miss resulted in a correction in the following at bat.

No one paid closer attention to that than Ruth's Yankee teammates. He was conducting a clinic in a new way of hitting every time he picked up the bat. Not worrying about strikeouts gave them license to swing and swing hard. And they did. As a team, even without Ruth's contribution, their strikeouts would skyrocket in 1920, but so would their power and number of long hits. The same would hold true for almost every other team.


Truth is...sometimes, you learn what works by learning what doesn't. Besides, you miss 100% of the swings you don't take. So keep swinging!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Son of My Purpose-Driven Journal


Rick Warren and me, on worship:

"When we worship, our goal [should be] to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves. Worship isn't for you. It's for God."  -  We must come to God to compliment Him - not in order to feel better about ourselves. Now, when I praise unreservedly, it always results in me feeling better, too; but that's a by-product, not the goal.



"Like a proud parent, God especially enjoys watching you use the talents and abilities He has given you."  -  This is especially encouraging to me. At times I feel like I am showing off or that I might be trying to get attention for myself (really, it's more like I'm afraid that others will think I'm doing that) - and the real deal is not "Look at me!" but rather, "Look at what God has enabled within me!" Like Eric Liddell saying, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure."

"When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that he is not a tyrant but a Savior; not a boss, but a brother; not a dictator, but a friend."  -  Slavery to Christ is freedom from sin's stranglehold.

"You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always 'be in charge.' Instead of trying harder, you trust more."

"Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God."  -  Is it possible that my life is having more impact as an elder than it could have as a youth minister? And every change of direction along the way has been an attempt to follow Christ. So, it's all good.

"Intimate friendship with God is a choice, not an accident."


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Truth is...To a certain extent, me "getting to know" God is like an ant getting to know the Internet. There is no real comprehension at all. Yet, there is real appreciation, gratitude, awe, love, wonder, respect, joy...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Day in the Life


The 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been making a few waves in pop culture recently. Detractors will want to say it's just a Baby Boomers thing...a desperate grasp for relevancy in a culture increasingly dominated by Millennials and beyond.

Maybe so, but I've got video evidence that it's a little more than that.

Thanks to editor Tom Compagnoni and the Australian arm of Huffington Post, the following 50 Covers... video suggests it's not just old codgers that appreciate creative composing and performing...and music can bridge a lot of gaps that many would say are insurmountable.





Truth is...there's not necessarily anything to be excited about in the lyrical content of A Day in the Life, but this video is a testimony that the world is not as divided and hateful and "us vs. them" as a browsing of headlines would suggest. People of all ages, nationalities, genders, economic standings, and political opinions are more alike than they are different. And if a fifty year old song can help point that out, then crank up the turntable, because I'd love to turrrrrrn youuuuuuuu oooooooon.