Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sticks, Stones, and Words

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." So goes the schoolyard chant. I beg to differ. While it may be true that sticks and stones may break bones, it is equally true that words can hurt, often in ways far worse than physical damage.

Now I don't agree with the current way of thinking that wants "trigger warnings," "safe places," and other means of shielding people from speech and ideas that might challenge their own thinking. The desire to only see and hear what agrees with your presuppositions is a fast track to fear and ignorance. The lack of civil discourse is a growing problem in our society, even in the church.

I would agree that there is a point where we can become too careful with our words, walking on verbal eggshells in order to avoid making anyone feel bad. At the same time, I believe that those of us who follow Jesus are called to be careful with our speech. While we are to speak truth, we are called to do so in love. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that using terms of contempt is equal to murder. Ephesians 4:29 tells us we are to not let any corrupting or unwholesome talk come out of our mouths but only say things that build one another up. I believe this goes beyond just an admonition to avoid cussing and dirty jokes.

In his letter, James tells us that our tongues should be instruments of blessing rather than cursing. Paul says that our words should be gracious and add "flavor" to others. All through Scripture we are commanded to guard our speech, to say things that build others up rather than tearing them down.

Most of can remember times when the words of another cut us to the quick and caused long lasting damage. If we're honest, we can also remember times when we have done the same. Churches have split over things that have been said, as have whole denominations. Hateful, evil speech is not just a problem outside the church.

Jesus said that the world would know we are his by our love to one another. May we follow our Master and King by being careful and gracious with our words, and also being gracious and forgiving toward those who blow it, because we all will.
Let us grow more and more into the likeness of Christ Jesus in everything, including how we use our tongues.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

It's getting hot here in the sunny South. The high Sunday is supposed to reach triple digits. And, along with the heat comes the humidity. The NBA finals are moving along and it looks like it could go seven games.

On to the good stuff:

Are you a stressed out millennial?
The death of self.
Good article from Tim Suttle.
A picture.
Faking it.

Funny post from the Babylon Bee.
Jared Wilson on pastoral ministry.
fresh approach to education.
Good post from Trudy Smith.
Good post from Cara Joyner.

As it turns out, you can grow your brain.
Just in case you've wondered what Rob Bell is up to.
Dealing with discouragement.
Good post from Ed Cyzewski.
Creative sentencing.

New theory on PTSD.
Bob Edwards on Gandhi's seven social sins.
Standing desks.
Good words from Chaplain Mike.
Jonathan Merritt on the Gospel Coalition and blocking.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Five Year Plans and Wondering

Last night, I was asked where I saw myself in five years. I had a hard time answering that question for two reasons. First, I'm sixty years old and don't know how a five year plan fits in. The second reason is the simple fact that I have done all the daily, weekly, yearly, etc., goals throughout my life, including thinking five and ten years down the road, and very few of my long term plans have come to fruition.

I used to be one of those who bought the concept of setting all those goals in order to have success in career and life. I had all sorts of plans. Plans to coach at the college level, eventually being part of a national championship program. Plans to have a great impact in the lives of young people through my coaching.
Before that, I had plans to be an Olympic class sprinter.

Anyone want to take a guess at how those goals turned out? If you have followed college basketball or international track and field with even the smallest interest, you will know that I never reached those heights. While I was an assistant coach of a women's basketball team for one year at a small college, and I did spend one year running for a nationally recognized track club, those were quite a bit below where I wanted to be.

I used to be somewhat envious of those I knew who had their career track in mind at an early age and were doing exactly what they had envisioned. They had no deviations from the straight and narrow on their career path, while mine looked more like a drunken sailor on his way back to the ship. Not only did the path take some back roads, it sometimes ran along trails that seemed to go nowhere.

I have come to realize that my journey has not been of my planning or of my doing. I know, some of you may be saying, "Here we go. All of the excuses for why he's not successful." And, you may be right. I beg to differ. I believe long ago, God decided that I was not to do this whole planning, accomplishing, and succeeding thing on my own. I tried. I went to school, earned degrees, did internships, sent out resumes, all those things I was supposed to do. I watched folks less qualified get positions I was wanting. I spent time in jobs that didn't come close to fitting my plans. I never did grab the brass ring.

But, you know what? As I look back on my life, I realize that I wouldn't change a thing. Well maybe a couple of things here and there, but overall not a thing. I have had the opportunity to travel as a part of jobs I had. I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people and coach some amazing young folks, whether they were star athletes or not. I have had opportunities to learn some lessons that were life changing. Most importantly, I have had a wonderful wife by my side and the privilege of being a father to two wonderful children, both of whom I had the opportunity to coach. And, I have experienced the love and grace of fellow followers of Jesus that I am grateful to own as my brothers and sisters.

To quote the philosopher, Jerry Garcia, "What a long strange trip it's been." I am thankful for the way my Father has led me through all the twisting and turning. I am grateful for all those who have helped me along the way. I guess it's turned out pretty well. I think I'm looking forward to where the road takes me over the years to come. Should be fun.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

The first day of hurricane season came last Wednesday, and we already had two named storms prior to that. Could be a harbinger of a busy season. The NBA finals have begun. Can the Warriors repeat? It's warming up here in the sunny South and we have a chance of thunderstorms each afternoon.

Enough small talk. On to the good stuff:

Ten worst U.S. airports.
Voices.
Funny post from Babylon Bee
Christian pop.
Ayn Rand's Mary Poppins.

Daniel Bush on doubt.
Feeding the beast.
Time and space.
Steve Brown on forgiveness.
David George Moore has questions for James K. A. Smith.

This is pretty cool.
Keith Giles on preemptive love.
Five myths about gentrification.
Jared Wilson on play.
Challenging post from Scot McKnight.

Keep your heart safe.
Good post by Chaplain Mike.
Stories.
Another look.
Carl Trueman on the public square.

Have a blessed week!

Church Signs: "The Best Thing We Can Give Someone​...

...Is Our Prayers." Usually my church signs posts are about the disagreements I have with the message on a particular sign. This time...