Archives for the month of: April, 2013

I need to get something off my chest –

If I see one more political post on my Facebook feed, I may go completely and certifiably insane.

I appreciate that you have an opinion. I appreciate that our country allows for all of us to have an opinion. I don’t appreciate seeing your opinion 24/7. It’s there when I go to sleep and it’s there when I wake up. I literally cannot escape your opinion…ever.

Imagine for a moment that you’re at a party, and the party is going well, but there’s one guy that turns every comment into a political one. What do you do? You leave him alone, because this is a social setting and you don’t want to see the pot continuously stirred…again…and again…and again. There’s a time and place to discuss politics, and Facebook is neither the time nor the place. Why? This is why –

1. Every post makes every person appear to be the extreme of whatever they actually are. There is no middle ground in the post. There is no calm voice of reason. There is only – this is what I believe and if you don’t believe me, then you probably hate America, and the troops, and the children, and the future, and the children of the future. You may not be a dirt worshipping treehugger, but posting a picture from the group “Darwin’s Favorite Children” isn’t doing you any type of favor. You want to discuss your views on taxes, gay marriage, Obama, Rand Paul, abortion, the environment? Let’s do that in person. I don’t want to see a picture of a tree with a quaint saying in Arial in white. This leads me to point two.

2. You’re not helping the political discussion in this country. If there is one thing this country doesn’t need it’s more soundbyte politics. To quote West Wing –

There it is. That’s the ten word answer my staff’s been looking for for two weeks. There it is. Ten-word answers can kill you in political campaigns. They’re the tip of the sword. Here’s my question: What are the next ten words of your answer? Your taxes are too high? So are mine. Give me the next ten words. How are we going to do it? Give me ten after that, I’ll drop out of the race right now. Every once in a while… every once in a while, there’s a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts. Other than that, there aren’t very many unnuanced moments in leading a country that’s way too big for ten words. I’m the President of the United States, not the President of the people who agree with me. And by the way, if the left has a problem with that, they should vote for somebody else.

I realize some of you are rolling your eyes, but I don’t care. You’re short little sayings that actually means nothing, or are intended to fire someone up, are asinine. The current state of discussion in this country no longer focuses on the issues. No longer are their true debates where both sides are weighed out and a reasonable conclusion is drawn. We find ourselves in a time where the only type of debate/discussion we have is character assassination. You don’t agree with the other person? Well, why would you? They’re just an idiot that probably hates America, and the troops, and the children, and the future, and the children of the future. We no longer discuss why we disagree with a stance, we discuss why the other person is horribly flawed and wrong. We do not discuss the objectivity, but the idiocy of the person.

The interesting part of point 2 is the question as to whether we’ve ever truly discussed an argument somewhat fairly. There are records of old presidential debates devolving into something similar to today, so perhaps point 2 is merely to say we’ve left any shred of objectivity behind and we solely focus on the character. Perhaps with the advent of 24 hour news we lost the last of objectivity to the pandering to constituents we so often see. I don’t know…but I know I don’t like it.

3. You’re continuous posts make me dislike you. There’s no other way to put it. Whether I agree or disagree with your talk, I eventually grow to loathe you. No one likes having another person’s opinions and thoughts forcefed over and over and over to them. We may be good friends, but if you post enough, I may start to distance from you. Call me shallow, call me callous – I don’t care. I’m speaking openly here.

Now, you may say – Eric, just defriend them. Just hide them, just block them….Why should I? Blocking and defriending are not always viable options. Maybe we need to view Facebook less like our platform and more like what it really is – study hall. We all get to sit around and chat, we don’t get to preach.

And yes, I realize I’m pushing 1000 words on a blog espousing my own opinions and you’re reading them, but you clicked through. You came to this. I didn’t post this 45 times over the past 3 days forcing you to see it.

You may not like Obama, you may think he’s a terrible president. But if I see one more comparison of Obama to Hitler, I will lose it. Every time you post this, you slap the face of the millions that died at the hands of Hitler. READ A BOOK and you’ll see that Obama is not Hitler. Obama will not become Hitler, Obama CANNOT become Hitler. You know why? BECAUSE WE LIVE IN AMERICA AND THERE ARE TERM LIMITS. So stop it. The fact that Obama is pushing gun regulation does not mean he’s on par with Hitler. How dare you compare the two. How dare you slap the face of those that survived the Holocaust. I’m so sorry that Obama has pushed universal Healthcare. That’s totally the same as Bergen-Belsen.

Look, I know we disagree on things. I know you and I don’t see eye to eye. But I promise you this –

I’ll talk with you. I want to hear you out. Maybe I’ve been a jerk in the past. Maybe I’ve spoken harshly and assassinated your character instead of openly discussing issues.

I’m sorry. I’m working on it.

Will you?

ImageFor a little over a month a small group of us have gone to a neighborhood soccer field and played soccer with a group of kids. It is easily the favorite part of my week. The kids are kind, respectful, and energetic. We play for about an hour and eat snacks together for another 15 minutes or so. The best part is watching the kids share the snacks without us asking. There is a genuine care for their friends; it is love.  

The pictures and stories continue to come in from the tragedy at The Boston Marathon. Though the question of evil and pain is right on the surface, there is also the stories of kindness and human love. From the man in the cowboy hat to the many others did whatever they could to help on the scene to those who continued running to near by hospitals to donate blood. In tragedy we witness the violent, capricious evil of humanity, but we also witness genuine love. 

Somehow the injustice and evil draw us to ask questions much more than the later; however, the love cannot be dismissed. Throughout the gospels we are told Jesus looked on the crowd and had compassion. Compassion means to suffer with. In the same way, God in Old Testament heard the cries of Israel and saw their suffering then acted. 

These same desires compelled hundreds, maybe thousands of people into loving action. They saw and heard and were moved to action. Deep in humanity there is this compassionate strand; a desire to suffer with the other. 

The people who gave their clothes or their blood or their words. Those people who gave their time or their phone or their food or their money. These are the signposts of God. 

Whether they are Christian or Muslim or Atheists or Humanists or Immigrants or Children or Fireman or FBI or Brothers or Sisters their kindness points to a loving God. 

We still pray. We pray for peace in a society that continues to struggle with violence. We pray for the 100+ people who were injured. We pray for the people who were killed. We pray for answers and for justice. 

We also pray for an increase of those moments when we act out the compassion of God. We pray for the love of our fellow humans to increase. The command at the heart of the New Testament is a two-fold command. We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and we are to love our neighbor as ourself. 

Luke follows this up with a parable about The Good Samaritan. This man who saw and heard his neighbor, who also happened to be his enemy, and acted for his salvation. This parable came to life on Monday in Boston and this kind of love can change the world.

May we learn to love our neighbor. The ones who are in proximity and those who are not as close. May our society become a community of neighbors instead of a collection of individuals. And May we be attentive to the people who are already practicing the kindness and love of God. Sometimes it is our neighbors, like the kids I play soccer with that are the great teachers of love.

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This blog hasn’t been around for long and yet in its short existence we’ve covered two national tragedies. First, Sandy Hook and now Boston.

Frankly, I’m at a loss. I’m tired of trying to wrap my head around evil. I’m tired of trying to comprehend darkness. I’m tired of this world and all its sorrow.

I’m not interested in explaining this to my kids. I’m not interested in hearing rhetoric from those responsible. I’m not interested in seeing the perpetrators be the people remembered long after we lay to rest all the victims of today.

I want grace. I want peace. I want hope. I want joy.

Now.

Not tomorrow, not the next day, not in a week. I want these things now because these things are of the kingdom. I want to see brokenness made whole. I want to see the joy of Christ cutting through the darkness. I want to see families mended, daughters and sons welcomed home, estranged fathers rectifying relationships, single mothers loved, orphans sewn into families.

I want the good of the kingdom and its creator now. To see our world made whole and a new creation come now.

I don’t want politics and I don’t want self-serving airbags pontificating about new reform and lack of reform or repeal of laws or amending of laws. I want the spirit of the living God to come and bring the only change that is good and pure.

Don’t quote me quaint niceties, or trite sayings. These mean nothing in the face of reality. Quote me meaty, deep thoughts that challenge me. Quote me truth. Quote me grace. So that I may pass along truth and grace.

Pray for Boston. Pray for Sandy Hook. Pray for any and all tragedy. Pray for you pray for me. Pray for the person you despise. Pray for the weary. Pray for the heavy laden. Pray for the poor, the sick, the rich, the healthy, the beautiful, the ashamed, the righteous, the sinner, the lover, the hater, the wicked, the good, the strong, the weak, the young, the old, the Muslim, the gay, the straight.

Never cease praying.

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I have a new obsession and frankly it is tearing me up at work –

Microsoft Word’s Grammatical Check

I am not speaking of the standard check. I am talking about the version that checks passive voice tense, first person usage and “wordiness”. This version is eating me up as I apparently use passive voice all the time (and will throughout this post).

I work hard to make sure my emails at work are clear, concise and thoughtful. I want people to read my emails and think – here is a guy that is smart and well educated….I like him.

So this confession really brings me to the point of this post – I want people to think I am smart. I spend more time than I care to admit making sure I come across as smart. I wear the right clothing (sometimes), I listen to intelligent music (sometimes), read books (sometimes), see films (sometimes) and generally try to expand my mind. Is it because I am interested in these things? Yes, I only read books that interest me, but in same ways I do these things to keep up appearances.

Growing up I was what you could call “nerdy”. Yes I know that may come as no surprise to you, but it just feels good to say it, ok? There are two kinds of nerds – smart ones and dumb ones. I quickly found that I’d rather be in the smart nerd pecking order than the dumb nerd line. I found if I used big words and read books, I could then judge another group and be found superior.

This path brought me to today – I still want to be seen as superior. My brother in law says I am a snob and yes, he’s mostly right. I am a self aware snob though – and I hide that self awareness under layers of indie music and Wes Anderson films.

It is interesting that I/we spend so much time worrying about how other people view us. Those of us seeking after Christ are already freed from the world, yet we keep getting dragged back into its dramas and messes. How does one avoid all this?

For me – finding a wife that loves me with all my quirks has made a difference. I would like to think that I am easier to be around now than I was five and ten years ago. That my self awareness is paying off. That perhaps my desire to be seen as smart isn’t so overpowering that I come across as fake or a jerk. Also seeking God – seeking his truths makes a difference. When I seek him and see the world as he does, my perspective is changed. The weight I put on my own reputation is lowered as I am not bound to this world. I’m freed. I’ve passed from death to life.

Am I going to stop listening to Dylan and reading? No. If you give over to those things eventually you grow a taste and you cannot go back. It is like the wine drinker – drink enough good wine and you lose the taste for the cheaper wine. What all this means is that I should not use it as a tool to judge others. Nor should I expect people to look upon me favorably because of it

This thought process is so tough and frankly this whole post is a half thought as I am still sorting through my own makeup.

Just as dawn broke, Mary went to the tomb. Things were not as she expected. The tomb was open, something was not right. Over her shoulder, a man stood. Certain it was the gardener, Mary said, “If you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Then the risen Lord said, “Mary.” Can you imagine how that felt? The words of the crucified Jesus. How could this be?

 Just as dawn broke, Mary went to the tomb. Things were not as she expected. The tomb was open, something was not right. Over her shoulder, a man stood. Certain it was the gardener, Mary said, “If you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Then the risen Lord said, “Mary.” Can you imagine how that felt? The words of the crucified Jesus. How could this be? 

In a locked room, the disciples listened to the words of Mary, but they still feared the Jews. Then all of the sudden Jesus came into the room, through the door. The risen Lord, the Son of God, stood among them and proclaimed, “Peace be with you!” The text says the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Can you imagine how they felt?

Another time a zealous Jewish leader was walking between cities. He was traveling with the intent of persecution. You know this story right, on the Damascus road, Jesus spoke up. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting the me?” He saw a vision of  the risen Lord. Can you imagine what that felt like? Laying your eyes on the risen Lord like that?

Evangelism begins at the empty tomb. Each of us stand in the presence of the risen Lord. Maybe you have never touched the hands and feet of our savior. Maybe you have not been blinded by a vision of Jesus, but we are the people who dwell in God’s presence. We are people of the Immanuel. People who have met Jesus. Those who have looked the risen Lord in the eyes and have accepted the salvation of God through his name. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is our story. This story is where we find life. It is this story that breathes new life into our dry bones, like in Ezekiel’s vision.

At the culmination of the ages, God through Jesus Christ broke in and changed all things. For you, for me, for Farmers Branch, and for all creation. Evangelism starts with the fullness of the good news of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is not this myth that we believe. It is not just the day when salvation broke into your life. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the victory of God over all things. It is the “Yes” to the broken world that God will stop at nothing to put things back together. So the good news is that Jesus is the son of God who came into the world to bring salvation to everyone, first for the Jews and then to the Gentiles. So just like Mary, the Twelve, Stephen, and Paul we are the people who have been graced with the Good news that Jesus saves. God, through Christ, breaks down the dividing wall of separation, and welcomes a sinful people and a broken world into his open embrace.

We are Witnesses — A people joining God’s Mission

Back to that locked room and that Damascus road. Those events were the catalysts for the people who saw Jesus. The resurrected Lord meant something special to the witnesses.  The disciples left that day witnesses to the greatest story on earth. A story they could not hold in. They became radical witnesses of the way. A people called to carry the good news to the ends of the earth. This calling is nothing new. It is the very life of the people of God throughout history. Last Sunday, we celebrated Resurrection day; it is a day that compels us to live as witnesses, proclaimers and performers, to God’s salvation.