Monday, September 7

Mom was ridiculous…

Growing up, I had a rule: DO NOT CROSS THE STREET. As I think back on this: it was ridiculous. There was nothing wrong with the street, nothing wrong on the other side of the street, noting wrong with my legs, but for some reason, this was a solid rule for me. If I broke this rule I would get in serious trouble. My older brother could cross the street, but not me. What difference was a few years? What would change in me the day I became “old enough to cross the street”?

The street was only a few hundred yards from my house. I could go twice this distance in any other direction but I was not to cross the street. What was it about this one direction?

I know you are thinking this is stupid, that at my age I could get hit by a car. And you would be right. 

Sometimes rules are made to protect us. Not to restrict us. Was I restricted? YES. Was I protected? YES!

Over the past few months I have seen a lot of people posting out how ridiculous some of the rules of the Old Testament are (were). Things like eating pork or shellfish, others like wearing different woven clothes and even tattoos (marking the body), to name a few. But what if the rules were not as restricting as they are protecting? Maybe the rules are there to teach us something, maybe teach us about the heart of God? 

What most people don’t know about these rules is that they came shortly after God introduced himself to an entire nation. A nation that had adopted rules, habits and customs from surrounding nations. These rules were set to establish Gods people with direction, protection and an insight into the very heart of God, rules to set His people apart. After all, wouldn’t a rule restricting a person to clothing of a single material teach us something about purity? One material would be pure-only one material-Like God, only one.
I really don’t think God cared much about their fashion but much about their loyalty. And to a people who was surrounded by nations who sold out to the latest greatest god with the most to offer, they needed to learn loyalty. To a nation that would one day hear that there is only ONE Son, ONE sacrifice and only ONE way to God, they needed to become a nation of loyalty. 

So when reading these “rules” Ask yourself these questions: Would breaking them hurt me? Would breaking them hurt others? if the answer is no, ask: what was/is God trying to teach us through this rule? After all, every rule falls into two areas: Love God or Love others. So if breaking the rule does not hurt others, does it hurt/offend God?

The New Testament changes things. And when it comes to sin, this really is where we should be reading. In it we read that we all fail at the rules (sin) and that’s when the ONE Son came, lived, died and rose to pay the price for my sins and everyone else's. 

So before we are quick to determine for ourselves what is and isn’t sin, knowing how much it hurts God and the price he paid for it, We might want to really dig in and see what He thinks sin is. After all, God gave His Son. Thats a pretty serious price for our sins. One we should take pretty serious. 

Out of 27 books in the New Testament, the word repent is in them 66 times in 60 verses. Sounds like there might be a message here.

P.S. this is about our personal sins, not the sins of others! How we handle others can be a sin in itself if not done through the love others command!!!!

Sunday, July 5

In my neighborhood...

I have 4 neighbors. I’ll call them number 1, 2 3 and 4.
I speak to 1 a lot. We often have long conversations about any and everything.
I speak to 2 less than 1 but whenever they come or go, I always say “hello” or “have a great day”.
Number 3, I don’t speak to very often at all. Once or twice a year we will have a conversation or if something happens in our neighborhood, we will certainly talk then.
Then there is number 4. I never speak to him. There are no hard feelings, I just never really connected with him.

So I feel closer to number 1 than the rest even though they all live exactly one house away.
How can number 4 who is so close feel so far away? It is simple: distance is not just the amount of length it is also the amount of relationship. We feel closer to those who we know the best, spend the most time with. We feel distant to those we never talk to, listen to, care for or even acknowledge.
A side effect of my lack of relationship with number 4 is that my perception of him is entirely based on my assumptions and not the facts. I assume he is quite, I assume he doesn't really like me. In fairness to him, I should get to know him. It is not fair for me to place assumptions on him that may or may not be true.

You have probably figure out by now that I am talking about us and our relationship to God. Some people feel really close to Him while others feel miles apart. In reality, He is right there. He is right where he has always been and will alway be. The more time we spend together the more I understand Him, the more I hear from Him and the more I trust Him. When there is distance, it is because I have walked away, not Him.

So I ask: Is God more like number 1, 2, 3 or 4 to you?

The fact that number 4 and I never speak does not change the physical distance at all and it does not change the fact that number for is real. At any time I can walk over and start the relationship.

Here is my simple challenge: start tomorrow and give God just 2 more minutes more each day than you do now. That’s 120 seconds! If you spend 10 minutes now, make it 12 minutes. If you spend no time with Him, then 2 minutes will be easy. I promise He will seem closer and closer to you.
Give him one minute of prayer- thank him for whatever is good in your life, ask Him for help with the stuff thats bad and give Him one minute reading His word- read Luke then James in the Bible. Its kinda like one minute of Him listening to you and one of you listening to Him.
Once that is habit for you, feel free to add another minute.

Friday, March 6

Saving the Titanic

A short story: 2100 People from point A going to point B
A complicated story: 1250 People from point A never make it to point B

What sank the titanic? Was it her speed after the final broilers were brought online?
Was it her lack of turning radius?
Was it the size of the iceberg?
Lack of proper radio communications?
I venture to say it was simply: the timing. The ship could turn, and did, too late. The ship was designed to do exactly what it did. It was well aware of the hazards of ice. 
So it wasn't a malfunction and it wasn't the unknown. 
It was the time they started the turn that sank them or it could be said: the amount of time the ship did NOT turn.

We know our crisis: obesity, illiteracy, crime, poor choices and we more than know how to avoid them. Then why, as a culture do we wait till it is upon us to react.
It is believed that a mere 30 seconds sooner and the titanic would have been spared the icy depths.
30 seconds! 
We respond in the 30 seconds (or when the crisis is upon us) when what would it have looked like if we had 3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 years sooner?
30 seconds sank the Titanic after extreme panic and efforts to save her. 60 seconds would have resulted in the exact same maneuvers and panic of operators but saved the ship (this is also where we respond) but why don't we start a dock? When mapping out the course? that is exactly what the Boys & Girls Club is doing. We know the crisis and we know the results of subtle maneuvers and how they don't just save lives, they avoid the whole panic mode by avoiding the problem years in advance. 

If Titanic would have left port with just 1/4” of a variance in her course, she would have missed the iceberg by miles. We are not looking for collisions or even near misses, we are looking for a clear path to a successful future and that is accomplished by knowing the obstacles, knowing our capabilities and reacting in the proper time: when setting the course.

This is the simple effect of a well placed encouragement, a recognized achievement, help with homework and a pat on the back for doing the right thing. These little gestures result in slight course changes that save lives. I still remember, and feed off of, the encouragement I received as a child. It fueled future behavior and some of these course changes have guided me past what could have been a crisis but instead was an amazing view off the port side.

One kid at a time, we can…and do avoid crisis.

Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, October 22

The answer to many questions is: Keep doing what we are doing. And do it well.

We were asked at our weekly leader meeting: what can we do to put a dent in poverty and hunger?

At first the question was heavy and without a lot of hope. Then I thought about the very core of what we are doing at the Boys & Girls Club, our mission: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

After much thought, that very mission is, in reality, the answer to the question. Our local organization sees over 1000 kids a day. When we achieve our mission, those kids, some of which are living in poverty and are hungry, will grow up and break the unfortunate cycle they were born into. 

I cannot think of one person who reached their potential, who is productive, who is caring and who is a responsible citizen, that is in poverty and hungry. Oh it is possible, just not probable.Those thousand kids will grow up. Lets assume we meet our mission. These kids will marry and likely have kids of their own. Now our 1000 kids and the values we instill have impacted another 3000 people (their suppose and at least 2 children), not to mention any friends they might have mentored along the way. So we, by simply following our mission will put 4000 plus people our of poverty and hunger. 

In the grand scheme of things, 4000 isn't a lot. But according to the Boys & Girls Club of American: “In 2012, Boys & Girls Club youth development programs, training and services impacted nearly 4 million children and teens.” So what if these 4 million kids grow up and get married and have 2 kids of their own: thats 7 million people that may have been on the path to poverty but are now productive, caring, responsible citizens. 7 million is a dent!

I read somewhere that if you feel your job matters to someone, you will find satisfaction in it. Couple that with a good team, measurable goals and a strong since of community and now you know why I love my job.