Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

What Had That Kid Done Now

August 31, 2017

It’s Sunday afternoon. The middle-aged couple is sitting home. Relaxing. Just had lunch. It’s a good day.

Some men come to the door. You’re “requested” to come to the courthouse to confirm that a man who has been testifying there is really your son.

Our son? He’s been homeless for years. Last we heard he was begging down by the courthouse.

The judges ask when you arrive, “Is this man your son? Is he the one who was crippled from birth? How is it that he’s now completely healed?”

You live in fear of the judges. They have the power to drive you out of the community. You’d lose your job, friends, family if they got mad at you.

“He’s our son. We have no idea what happened to him. He’s an adult, let him speak for himself. Let us out of here.”

I’m still contemplating the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John. Let’s think about the parents of the healed blind man.

Here is their son. He’s encountered the Son of Man or Son of God–Jesus. He’s been healed. Both his physical sight, and as we will learn in a moment, also his spiritual sight. He could introduce his parents to this man. His parents could have rejoiced and thrown a big party that their son is now whole.

Such is the power of fear. They didn’t want to offend the authorities. In a sense, who can blame them. Who among us wants to stand up to the authorities?

What is holding each of us back? What fears lurk within us that stop us from accepting the good news? From reaching out to others in service? From introducing others to the Son of God? From resting in peace and joy?

Life In The Fast Lane

August 21, 2017

Life in the fast lane, surely makes you lose your mind.

Following a quick visit to Houston on business last week, I was on vacation in Michigan combined with a wedding in Grand Rapids on Saturday. I ran out of time, so no post Friday.

Watching people’s clothing choices (including mine) at a resort is always interesting.

I see a guy wearing a tee shirt that proclaims “Fast Lane.” No further explanation. Like restaurant or bar or something.

The first thing I think of is the Eagles. He was a hard-headed man, he was brutally handsome. She was terminally pretty.

What a way with words.

What a thing to proclaim on a shirt.

If this was a proclaimation of life in the fast lane, did the wearer know that the song is sarcastic? Or prophetic?

But we all can get caught up in a version of the fast lane–hopefully without drugs, alcohol, and a death wish.

Suddenly we look at the week ahead, or weeks ahead, and everything is filled. We are going to be running here, meeting there, classes, visits, vacation, business. 

When are we going to breathe.

That’s when we need to recall “Be still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46. Another translation says “stop your striving” in place of “be still”. 

What I need is a reminder to stop and take a few deep breaths.

Only then can I refocus and remember to just tackle one thing at a time. Or as the first self-help guru/management consultant I heard some 40 years ago said, “Try…easy.”

And maybe take care about the message you proclaim to others.

Christianity Is Not Found Useful

July 18, 2017

Young people do not find Christianity useful. 

Scanning my Twitter feed and saw that tweet.

First thought–this sounds like a recycled news item that pops up every few years. Young people have been abandoning the church for generations.

But the writer didn’t say church, he said Christianity.

Is that the same thing?

The term useful is intriguing.

Maybe in terms of a church… It’s perhaps a place to meet people and be with people.

But maybe at 20 you’re thinking that those are not the type of people I’d like to meet. Perhaps not cute, or fun, or smart? Maybe not useful for meeting friends and a future spouse?

Maybe at 30, I’m thinking about contacts for getting ahead in business or my profession? Maybe not useful for that?

Maybe they are so young that they have not experienced a spiritual crisis, yet. Or they haven’t recognized that they are searching for something undefined.

Or maybe, they have. And they can’t find a church more interested in people than they are in politics.

Not being there on that personal level when a person is seeking spiritually or in spiritual need (which in reality we all are) is a failure of the church far too often. 

Church as a social place or political place, well, that’s bound to turn people off.

Church as the embodiment of Christianity–now that’s useful. Useful because it helps people. 

A half-hour ago, I had only the idea with no idea where it would lead. Then, much like how Jesus would take a physical concept and move it into a spiritual concept, I let the idea take me from the absurd to the spiritual.

We See Your Heart Reflected In Your Face

July 14, 2017

He experienced a late-in-life conversion. Or maybe it was an epiphany. It was something. 

He quit his job. Started a ministry. Was religious.

Funny thing. He never smiled. His face was in a perpetual mild scowl. There was neither joy nor peace reflected in his face.

Rather than attract people, his countenance rather pushed people away.

Do you ever observe people and try to tell from their appearance/posture/face what their personality is like? You look and think, Whoa, I wouldn’t want to be married to that person!

Or like a salesman only out for the next sale who smiles with only his lips? Those are dangerous people.

Or there is the super attractive person. Well, attractive until they open their mouth.

How great it is to meet someone who smiles. Who greets you warmly. Who, even when they are concentrating on something else and you see them, still have an appearance of restful contentment.

There are people who think Jesus was political. Or to be a Jesus follower we must be political. And pursue politics of divisiveness. 

But Jesus turned all that stuff on its head. He criticized those for their outward displays of being religious–who smiled with their lips and not their eyes. He said it’s all about the state of the heart. And Paul later listed the fruit you’ll show and feel when you are in the spirit. Peace and joy–these should be reflected in a follower’s appearance. Not hardness, divisiveness, scowling, frowning.

Makes me afraid to look in a mirror.

We Just Disagree

July 5, 2017

So let’s leave it alone, cause we can’t see eye to eye

There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy

There’s only you and me and we just disagree

–Dave Mason, We Just Disagree

We can’t just disagree and let it go.

We have to score points. Crush the opponent.

Split a nation. Split a church. Split a family.

People putting philosophy or theology above people.

We forget the basics–Love God, Love your neighbor.

In our hubris and narcissism we think we have all the answers.

We don’t. 

Do Not Be Like The Hypocrites

July 3, 2017

Many times I have lost money in business dealings with self-proclaimed Christian business men. They wore religious jewelry, placed religious tracts in the reception area, and they talked the language of the religious–“Christianese” as I recently heard two men in a conversation put it.

On the other hand, I’ve dealt with many people whom I know were Christian–but I knew it because of their behavior. Ethical, moral, plain-spoken

Michael McCausland described the difference in a podcast with John Fischer as the difference between a Christian business and a Kingdom business. In one they say all the right things; in the other they do the right things.

As Jesus said:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:5)

And again he said:

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 9-14)

So much relates to attitude. The rest relates to values. 

It is a choice. It is also a discipline and a habit. How do we build our daily lives including our business lives?

The Light of the World

June 8, 2017

John has long been my favorite Gospel. We associate John with spiritual–perhaps the most “spiritual” of the Gospels rather than historical or apologetic–and with love and with vision. His gospel is literary weaving metaphors such as the play of light and dark, playing of the word “I am” which has rich theological tradition.

I talked about his powerful opening and how it plays like the opening of his scripture (Genesis). And how first God had to separate light and dark before he could proceed with the rest of creation. And how Jesus came (returned?) as the embodiment of light.

We can think of light penetrating the darkness. You hear something drop in the night. You grab the flashlight you always keep by your bed. You switch it on. The beam of light penetrates through the darkness exposing what was hidden.

Our conversations reveal our inner thoughts. Thoughts that if exposed to light would shame us. As “good Christians” should we be thinking those thoughts. With the light of Jesus exposing those thoughts, are we humiliated? Or defiant?

I heard a conversation yesterday. It disturbed me. I am too easily disturbed by conversations. But I have to admit that when they described someone, the thought “Darwin Award” did enter my consciousness. And it didn’t just flit in and then drift out. It stayed for a full minute or two. That’s a long time for a thought. Please forgive me for I have sinned.

We cannot stop our thoughts. We can choose what thoughts upon which to dwell. We do become what we think about. If the light of the Spirit penetrates the darkness of our soul, what is exposed?

Is it time to practice a discipline of choosing the thoughts we dwell on with intention? Time to focus on things above (as Paul puts it)?

Which Wolf Are You Feeding

May 30, 2017

As the story goes, a grandfather is talking with his grandson about a battle that goes on within all people.

“My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern,  uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision, and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement, and action.”

The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked, “Which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

We are living in an era where many (most?) leaders are feeding us with fear. Many of us are feeding the Fear wolf.

What you choose to read, what you choose to listen to, whom you choose to follow–what are they feeding you?

It really is our choice. Feeding Fear or Feeding Faith.

Choose wisely.

Mother’s Day Is Coming

May 11, 2017

Interesting that Jon Swanson wrote about Mother’s Day this morning.

I got into a conversation with an Israeli journalist yesterday in Las Vegas at the computer conference I attended. The subject of Mother’s Day came up. He was staying in the States for a second conference, so he would be here for the holiday. But he was confused about it. His English was not fluent. We could not translate “Hallmark Holiday” into terms he could comprehend.

According to a Wikipedia article, a certain Anna Jarvis began campaigning in 1905 for a day to be set aside as a national holiday in commemoration of her mother–a Civil War peace activist. Some states began recognizing it by 1908. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1911 setting Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May.

But it didn’t take long….

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Gee, sounds like Christmas all over again. And Easter. And Father’s Day (well, maybe not so commercial, you can’t buy for men, you know). Did you know Sibling’s Day? Grandparent’s Day? Groundhog Day? Ooops, I think that one is different.

It is certainly hard to maintain your focus on meaning in the midst of hype.

My mother passed away quite a few years ago. I still remember the last time I saw her alive. But my wife reminds me that she is the mother of my children, so I should remember and honor her. And I will. For the 17th time in the past 22 years, I’ll be overseeing the referees at a soccer tournament. So, I’m out of her hair and she can do as she pleases.

But, maybe dinner later.

And to my many international readers–perhaps you don’t have a national holiday, but you could still take a day and do something special for your mother.

Treat Each Other With Love

May 3, 2017

I heard words I never heard in the Bible. –Paul Simon

“Hi, Honey. How was the game?”

“(mumble, mumble)”

“What? And you seem to be home early.”

“I can’t believe it. They threw us out of the park. Me and my friends just had a few beers and started yelling names at the other team’s center fielder. Then one of us threw something at him. And then we were out of there.”

I often imagine conversations. How do you go home and tell your family that you’ve acted like an irresponsible jerk? And then suffered the consequences.

There is a story in this morning’s local newspaper about a guy who had too much to drink, chose to drive his car, caused an accident that killed someone. Now he has very public consequences–three years in jail.

We all do something stupid at times.

For some people, it’s a lifestyle.

It is possible to change.