I am a man, in the middle of life. What that means to me, you and us is what I hope to frame in my attempts at this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"Sometimes in life you meet people that inspire you, sometimes you meet someone you want to inspire, and sometime you meet people that make you want to bleepin stab yourself."

-Jamie Oliver

I was watching the ABC show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" a few nights ago, and was struck by this quote. Jamie Oliver, who is a Chef from England and is trying to change the awful eating habits of Americans in our fast-food, our schools and our homes spoke it about one of the fast-food restaurant owners he was interacting with. In the episode, he was trying to figure out how to introduce healthy choices to a man who thought that customers did not need or have any interest in healthy foods or knowing what was in their food. He even said at one point that his customers didn't care about the quality of what they eat, just the quantity. That alone was sad to hear.

But the quote was golden-amidst the frustration of running into a stubborn man and many stubborn people around him, he spoke to the honest feelings in his heart. He was angry and he was real, and his emotions were raw and out there. They were the words of a passionate man with a passion he could not get others to understand and subscribe to.

Sometimes, I feel the same way as him. There are people that are influences or ones I would like to influence, and then there are the ones that make me frustrated to no ends. They may not make me feel like stabbing anyone, but frustration with others is there-it has been there since the fall of man and will always be a source of difficulty.

As the show goes on, Jamie offers a way for the owner to keep selling his high calorie food while still allowing him to offer his healthy alternatives. He humbles himself to not challenge the owner, but instead to work with him and not against him to hopefully get his passion out there and to as many people as possible.

When we don't work well together, I need to remember that disharmony dominates and unfortunately will influence that interaction. My points have been remembering to be humble, to see Jesus in the face of all the people around me and to pick my battles. That seems to be the key in my life-working hand in hand with the difficult people I run into, not trying to push against but to flow with them whenever I can. When life hands me a frustration-focused relationship, I have been trying harder to get to know that person's story, and they become more full, more 3-dimensional and easier to understand and (hopefully) eventually easier to work with.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

him and I

Last night, I played video games, ate marshmallows and m&m's and watched transformers cartoons. No, not by myself, but with my 4 yr. old son.

I have seen a shift in my relationship with my son. He and I have had a couple of awesome adventures, time for just him and I including a trip to the Palace to watch the Pistons. During that drive home, he told me that our evening was "the best day he ever had", and-exaggerated or not, still felt awesome to hear.

We are closer I think as he gets older, we enjoy doing things together and sharing boy stuff like video games, football, mountain dew and pretend guns. As I teach him what these things mean and how to grow up, I pray that God helps me to guide him into the man he is meant to be.

I once read that good coaches don't need to give that one "big talk" if they have done the right thing all year long, talking and communicating their plans and hopes for the team. In that same way, I try to make sure each day is lived in such a way that it speaks to my son as an accumulation of plans, hopes, dreams and focus for his life. It is not the final push, but the season of preparation that will make a difference in his life, and I am honored to be the coach called dad for him.

"Point your kids in the right direction—
when they're old they won't be lost."

Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)

photo: Arvind Balaraman

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Winners Manual

"In the yearly evaluation process, I’ll talk with a player about something
he’s written down. In the “General Thoughts” section beside the
Spiritual/Moral component, it says, “Above all else, I realize that my
spiritual beliefs and my moral values will shape my life. I will do what
is right!”"
The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life
Copyright © 2008 by Jim Tressel. All rights reserved.

I just started reading the book "The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life" today. Ironic, isn't it that the day I start digging into it is the day that Yahoo! publishes this article: http://tinyurl.com/43gy468 that highlights the formal NCAA charges against Jim Tressel laid down today.

The first chapter highlights "The Winners Manual" and what it means to those who have read it and will read it. It sounds like a great book and resource that these athletes that are growing into men can have at their disposal to grow into the upstanding citizens that many have done.

But now, with this news-what does it say about Tressel? What does it say about the words in the quote I started with? "I will do what is right!" is a strong mantra-but he didn't this time, did he?

And we all fall short, and we all eventually and many times over will fall on our faces-but what makes this bad is he played Adam, he hid and tried to make it ok-he played Cain, and by burying it into the ground he wanted to make it all go away.

But it doesn't, does it?

Our words speak-our books and blogs and conversations they speak volumes to those around us. What I write frames me, it helps you to get a better understanding of who I am and what I believe and think and feel.

But our words aren't us-are they?

Our actions, our visible and observable activities are what we do and subsequently who we are. It doesn't matter how nice I frame something in words, it is what I do that screams who I am. And to me, that is what is sad about this event, his words do not reflect his actions. I respect his coaching and team-focused approach towards football and life in general, I do. But he sets out to be an example, a mentor and what he has done is not right. I can only hope that when placed in circumstances to influence, I say and do "what is right".

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I have heard people ask, “How do I do a relationship with Jesus, when I can’t see or hear Him or touch Him?” The frustrations that are accompanied with the lack of a present God in the here and now ring deep for many people, and I can say it has been a frustration I have experienced as well-if we compare the child-to-parent relationship, or the bride-to-groom, each one of those relationships at least has a two-way aspect, a reality in the moment of interaction and discussion for both parties.

But what does it look like to have the relationship when you can’t interact? I can’t have a discussion or feel a bond to someone who doesn’t talk back to me, or discuss things or embrace me, or can I? I can’t really say I have a friendship with Paul McCartney, even though I would like too-it is a 1-way street, even if I do know (or at least think I know) how he feels and thinks and what he believes. Without the interaction, what kind of connection is it really?

But for us, Jesus gives us a keystone to starting and keeping a relationship with Him. Numerous times in the Gospels, He tells us that the way to Him is through each other…that the way I interact with Jesus is the way I interact with you. And not just my minister or wife or guys I like to hang out with, but how I interact with that person that annoys me, or the not-so-popular person at school, or the atheist/agnostic/non-Christian in my life. It has little to do with me, but more to do with them.

In John 21, Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves Him, and in response to that with a yes, Jesus tells Him "than feed my sheep". In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus tells us that there is a time in the end, when there will be two camps you can be in-the group who saw Jesus in the ones around us and cared for Him through them, and the ones who didn’t. The sick, the broken, the homeless and the ones truly in need around us-these people are Jesus. These individuals are the way we relate and bond to God.

When I look you in the eye-I see Jesus. And in that, I can treat you like a friend, like a person who I need and desire to love and serve. How can I see you any other way if I really yearn to be in a relationship with an Almighty God?

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20

Image: tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, April 15, 2011

Horse and the Cart

"The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy of it." AW Tozer

Sometimes, in my own life, I feel like I am trying too hard to put the cart before the horse as it were. Many opportunities to "spread the gospel" arise each and everyday, and when I am posed with those chances, I either take the chance to speak or feel a sense of guilt for not doing it later.

In the Acts if the Apostles, Jesus tells his apostles:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And we read this, and the first notion is--do it, spread the Word and get it out there in whatever package that looks like and however we can. That sometimes is productive and worthwhile and positive in growing people in their realization of their walk with God, but sometimes...sometimes it's a bullhorn or a judgment with condemnation or a harsh tongue or a clanging cymbal.

But what does it look like to put the spreading of the Gospel in front of the actual implication and understanding of it in our own lives? Tozer touches on this, in that as Christians, we get to the latter-the spreading of the Word and message of God sometimes well before we are truly worthy of it. Our lives become more of a check mark-based system of do this, do that and "get them in the doors", with little regard to our own self-reflection of growth and deemed worthiness of the gospel message of love. When we try this, we are literally trying to get the cart to lead the horse-it isn't going to go where you point it and ultimately leads way off path or sits there and does nothing because it wasn't constructed to work that way....all of which leads to danger or idleness. Which is worse?

photo © Elizabeth Alcinoe
for openphoto.net CC:PublicDomain

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Poetic God

I have been reading Don Miller's book "Searching For God Knows What" recently, amongst many other things I love/need to read. The subject matter continues, like it is in most of his books, to be focused on him and where he struggles/shines/etc. But a recent part got me thinking...

He talks about the change in tactic/approach by the church in the early-mid 20th century, and the introduction of Darwinian Theory and science beating down on the door of faith, and how during this time the church gained an apologetic tone, and a focus towards providing answers and defenses to every question. And the most important thing lost during this approach was our appreciation for the poetry of the Bible.

Yes, poetry. Obvious books like Song of Solomon, and the less obvious ones like Ecclesiastes and the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the really less obvious ones like Genesis, chapter 1. These expressions of work cannot be dissected and labeled and broken into so many little points, they scream to be felt and explored and enjoyed not in our western approach, but in the more eastern view of things.

The Bethel Bible Series taught me that there is a vehicle, and there is cargo; there is the message and the stuff used to get it to us. The poetry of the Bible is part of the vehicle that gets it to us, and when we over-analyze and critique passages and words and structure, we loose the message-the simple truths God puts into writing for us.

When we always try to have an answer for something in the Bible, or one of life/science/philosophy's quandaries, there can sometimes be that effort to fill every hole of doubt or question-giving firm, all-compassing answers. But God leaves room for questions, doesn't He? He leaves room for uncertainty and questioning and most important-He leaves room for Mystery. Our God is a mysterious God. But not in a shady way, but in a way that says "You don't know everything there is to know...your laws and bounds cannot hold me...I AM."

Our God is poetic, beautiful and transcends any of our attempts to answer for Him or frame Him in to a neat little box.